The meandering thoughts of a modern-day hearth witch.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Lemon Thyme Shortbread

As promised in yesterday's post, here is a biscuit recipe using Lemon Thyme. This buttery shortbread is melt-in-your-mouth delicious and the thyme adds a wonderful surprise flavour. 

You will need:

55 grams caster sugar.
2 tsp lemon thyme leaves, finely chopped.
115 grams unsalted butter, softened.
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons.
170 grams plain flour.
Extra caster sugar to dust.

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C.
Set aside a lightly buttered, non-stick baking sheet. 
Beat together the butter, sugar, lemon zest and thyme until creamy. 

Beat in the flour to form a soft dough. 
Place the dough onto a sheet of cling film or baking paper. Cover with a second sheet and roll out thinly.

Using a cutter, cut out your biscuits. Lift carefully onto the baking sheet and bake for 8-12 minutes until the edges turn a pale golden brown colour. 

Take out of the oven, sprinkle with caster sugar and leave to cool on a wire rack. 


Friday, 28 May 2010


This often-overlooked little herb is fast becoming one of my favourites. Its culinary benefits are undoubted; it is a staple of Mediterranean dishes and accompanies meat particularly well. I use it in soups and casseroles, for making stock, in pasta and - most recently - even in biscuits! More to come on that tomorrow!

Thyme is a pungent herb that really packs a punch for one so little. (Perhaps that's why I like it!) It is pretty hardy and loves a sunny spot, growing in most soils and on rockeries well. However, it won't forgive you for over-watering so do be careful.

At this time of year it is really blooming and the leaves taste best through June and July so it is an excellent time to pick and use fresh, or begin to dry for later in the year. There are many varieties, including the silver-edged 'Argenteus' (above) which grows particularly well in containers. Also to be found is the beautifully scented 'Citridorus' or 'lemon' thyme (below) which works fantastically well in recipes that require a citrus flavour: this is one type of thyme that goes particularly deliciously with fish.

In medieval times, Thyme was considered to impart courage upon those who ate it and, therefore, came to symbolise vigour and heroism. It was reputedly added to beer and drank by those who needed to overcome nerves. The ancient Romans also considered it a remedy for melancholy. Today, its health benefits are largely related to its essential oil which contains large quantities of thymol - a powerful antiseptic and antibacterial. Applied directly to cuts and scrapes, crushed thyme leaves act as an instant garden remedy to cleanse. 

Thyme also possesses antispasmodic and expectorant properties, making it particularly useful in the treatment of chest infections such as bronchitis. A tea may be concocted, using a teaspoon of crushed thyme leaves, added to boiling water. Allow the herbs to steep for 10 minutes before straining and sweetening with honey. This tea should be drunk 3 to 4 times daily for the treatment of persistent coughs. 

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Flower Moon

Like my beautiful anemones, tonight's moon will be full and blooming. 

May's full moon is often referred to as the Flower Moon or Planting Moon. Some traditions name it the Hare Moon and with its associations of fertility and romance, it is easy to see why. This month has seen an array of flowers blossoming and the feeling all around us is buoyant and lively.

Use tonight's powerful lunar energy to consolidate plans that you have been working on in recent months. Get your fingers into the ground and spend time cultivating your garden - be that literally or metaphorically. This time of year is perfect for focussing on professional and personal development and turning those seeds you have been sowing into tangible progress.

As a ritual this evening, you could plant or tend your garden, offering blessings under the moonlight. This symbolic act shows that you are releasing positive energy into your endeavours allowing more fruitful blossoms to arise from your work. 

You could begin a scrapbook of positivity, using images, thoughts and messages from others. This will represent a growing source of warmth and love which will be of great comfort in the colder and darker months when our energy is naturally lower. 

Alternatively, return to your lists of aims and wishes from earlier in the year and focus your mind - and the energy of commitment which flows from this full moon - to reaffirm your goals. For each goal you have already achieved, light a candle and, in the growing light, meditate on those hopes which you still wish to work on. Repeat your affirmations and ask your chosen lunar goddess for her assistance in keeping your will strong and your focus steady.

Full moon blessings to one and all.  

Saturday, 22 May 2010


I am now covered in stings from nettles after walking through the knee-deep grass of our neighbouring field...

...and lying amongst the stems to stare at the sun-filled blue sky...

...and crouching down, not daring to stir, while trying to capture this wonderful sight...


Dock leaf in hand...and on arms...and legs...I don't care that my body is tingling with tiny white bumps... 

...because my soul is tingling too. 

Friday, 21 May 2010


Today I am thankful for many things.

For a small space to call my own, in which I could plant things that I hoped would grow.

For the warm sun, after weeks of nourishing rainfall that, combined, have made these blooms possible. 

For a camera, and the right bit of light, that have meant I can capture the wheel of the year as it turns in my humble little corner of the world. 

For these beautiful reminders that, if you tend to your hopes carefully and have a little patience, you will be rewarded. 

Brightest blessings to you all. 

Thursday, 20 May 2010

The simple life

One of the most joyful aspects of living on a farm is seeing these little guys popping across the yard for their morning walk...

Everything is an adventure and filled with intrigue.

However, not all eggs can become little balls of chickadee cuteness.

So the bonus is that I get to have fresh ones for my tea. 

Yum yum yum.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Making changes

After an unproductive day, when life feels barren and empty...

...the best thing you can do is nourish the soil, plant some new seeds and wait for something beautiful to bloom out of the desolation. 

Saturday, 15 May 2010


Today, while carrying a somewhat heavy box of my kids' books to be marked, this happened...

Down a step I step, straight onto one laptop charger. Over on my foot I go with all my weight, plus that of thirty-odd books.  Crunch goes my foot. Green goes my face and I collapse on the floor. 


Thankfully I have a wonderful boy who knows first-aid and can lift me like I weigh no more than a feather. 

I wonder what the kids will say when they see me hop in with crutches on Monday...

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

An Emo Moment

Today I feel a little bit lost. 

My head aches, I feel tired and on-edge and I seem to be experiencing the full carousel of emotions in exhausting rotation. And I wonder. I can't quite figure out why the past couple of days have left me feeling so bad. 

And then I remember...

The sky is dark again.

I often do find this time of the month challenging; the waning moon seems to affect me strongly and I'm not the best company to be around. 

And then I feel horribly guilty. When I think of the people around me who are affected by my mood, I want to take back every snappish word...

...every stubborn silence...

...and blow away all the dark clouds. 

Because really I am blessed that they are in my life.

At this point last month, as we watched my father fade away with the moon, they were there and they made it bearable.

So this new moon, I will be focussing my energies on diminishing negative thoughts... 
...and focussing on the good stuff. 

Blessings and love.
With thanks to Pon and Zi.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Friend or foe?

Whenever I see cow-parsley it makes me smile: this plant's delicate flowers, reminiscent of lace, seem at odds with its ugly-sounding name.

Wild chervil, as it is also known, can be found all over the British Isles, along hedgerows and roadside verges.  At this time of year, thousands of tiny white umbrellas can be seen down our country lanes.

These flowers look so fragile and harmless - and the plant is in fact edible. If indeed it is cow parsley you are picking.

The family of plants of which cow parsley is a part - known as umbellifers - also contains a less friendly and far more harmful species: poison hemlock.

Poison hemlock can be deadly to both humans and livestock if ingested and looking at these images, I wouldn't like to try to tell the difference. I couldn't even say with certainty if my photographs are cow parsley and not hemlock. 

Advice for telling the two apart suggests crushing some of the leaves - the hemlock will smell musty, like the smell associated with mice. The hemlock is also likely to be a taller plant than the parsley and there are likely to be purplish blotches on its smooth stem. 

As with any wild plant, unless you are absolutely certain, it is best to be avoided. 

Monday, 10 May 2010

Life is good...

I was delighted to find that I'd been given this beautiful award by Crystal Rainbow over at Sparkle and Shine today - what a lovely surprise! And a fantastic idea to help us all get to know one another in an interesting way.  Life truly is good.   

So thank you, Crystal, and here are my answers to your thoughtful questions...


1. What would you perfect day consist of?
Waking up to the sunshine pouring through my windows, breakfast in my pjs with B and the papers or a good book, followed by a long walk, a big family dinner and finished off with cuddles and a bottle of wine on the sofa. Bliss. 

2. How would you describe yourself if you were an item of clothing?
A little pair of ballerina pumps - small and dainty. 

3. What hobbies are you currently working on?
Writing, photography, reading, needle crafts, cooking and a bit of knitting.

4. Walking in the woods in wellies or bare foot on the beach?
Oooh, tough one - both are favourites. Bare foot on the beach - I love feeling the sea and sand between my toes.

5. Have you ever hugged or sang to a tree?
Hugged and spoken to all the time. I think I sing like a crow, so I'd be worried about offending the poor tree!

6. Growing your own veggies or nipping to the supermarket?
Growing my own veggies. Sadly my 'garden' is tiny and mostly in containers so that is limited, but one day I am determined to have enough space to grow everything myself. 

7. Have you found anyone exciting in your family tree?
No-one 'famous' that I'm aware of, but I think discovering your roots is always exciting.

8. Slap up meal in a posh restaurant or fish 'n' chips from the wrapper?
A bit of both for balance. 

9. Which element do you most resonate with, Earth, Air, Fire or water?
I'm a real Earth girl but I work with Fire a lot also. 

10. Do you believe in fairies?
Oh yes. 


My own nominees for this award are...

Faerwillow at ~serendipity~
Mother Moon at Mother Moon's Message

...and here are my questions to them...

1. What is the most memorable dream you have ever had?
2. Do you have a 'spirit' or totem animal or an animal you feel particularly connected with?
3. If you could go on any journey tomorrow, where would you end up?
4. A cozy winter's eve by the hearth or a warm summer's day by the sea?
5. If you could conquer one fear, what would it be?
6. What is your favourite poem?
7. What are your most frequently used herbs and what do you use them for?
8. Savoury snacks or sweet puddings?
9. What is one thing you wish to achieve this year?
10. What would your perfect day consist of?
(I loved this question, so I have pinched it!)


Sunday, 9 May 2010


'You must have been warned against letting the golden hours slip by.
Yet some of them are golden only because we let them.'

I must apologise for the lack of time spent writing my blog over recent weeks - a combination of work and wanting to spend my precious 'golden hours' with family has led to an unintended hiatus. I have, however, been stopping by each day to read your thoughtful musings. 

Today actually marks the 150th birthday of J.M Barrie, the creator of 'Peter Pan' - a story which focuses on one boy's attempts to halt the passage of time, to avoid ever having to grow up. While there are times when I too desire time to stand still - so I can relish a moment or catch my breath - there are also instances when I appreciate time's flight. 

When I can look back at a weekend all too quickly gone, I know that it has slipped by in a blink of an eye because I have made the most of every hour and become lost in those moments, enjoying the company of loved ones and friends. For that I feel truly blessed. 

Saturday, 1 May 2010

May day musings

As mentioned in yesterday's Beltane post, May day marks the start of summer. This morning, as I watched the swallows whip in and out of the barns, swooping down to mere inches above my head and soaring back up against the sky, it did indeed feel like summer is upon us.
Sadly the swallows were too quick for me to get a good photo, so this 
illustration from the RSPB will have to do. 

It was Aristotle who famously said...

'One swallow does not make a summer'

...and by three o'clock, as the dark clouds set in and the rain came tumbling down, I felt a renewed understanding of those wise words. Here in the UK, our weather can be so temperamental that sometimes it does not feel like we have a proper summer at all. 

And then I thought, if we can't always have the sun, what does make summer here?

Oh yes...

...these play a pretty big part!

And so I spent the rest of my afternoon cheerfully potting up a hanging basket of strawberry plants for outside my window. 

As I filled my humble basket with the nutritious soil and watered in my little summer-fruit bearing plants, I smiled thinking that this is exactly what May day is a celebration of: the start of things to come. It marks the beginning of the season which will provide us with food to harvest, in a month or two. 

Or perhaps even sooner, in the case of this little one...

Strawberry plants are pretty versatile and can be grown in all sorts of pots and containers, as long as they have drainage. I was really pleased with my basket which, when I look out of my window, will remind me of the harvests yet to come, both in my garden and in my life.

I can't wait to taste the fruits of my labour soon - hopefully to be enjoyed with a little bit of that elusive sunshine.
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