Friday, January 31, 2014

Respecting the Home and Guests

Now I can’t speak for other devotees of Hearth and Home deities, but man, pregnancy is no excuse for a dirty house, let me tell you.  I have guests coming over tomorrow (actually today, wrote this last night) and my house is a wreck.  I was going to clean, then I got a headache and was exhausted and wasn’t going to.  After my son went to bed, I just started cleaning.  I had some help from the hubs (he “straightened up” our son’s toys; well, he picked them up off the floor like I asked—kitchen, too).

I’ve done a lot of cleaning within an hour, fueled by my need to be a good hostess and present a warming, clean home to my guests tomorrow.

That’s the thing with being the devotee of a Domestic Goddess, for me anyway.  If I don’t clean up, I feel like I’m not only disrespecting Her, but also my home, my family, and my guests.  It’s like, I didn’t care enough about them to get up and present a home that they can feel at home in.  There is a bit of vanity involved, I think, too.  I want it to be presentable.  I want to impressed.  I want them to be comfortable.  Not tripping over toys, crushed goldfish, clothes, or breathing in the delectable scent of diaper and ferret cage, you know? 

No matter how exhausted I am, I’ve got to do it.  Gotta.  And my headache is somewhat gone.  House is cleaner, in better order, smells better, and my headache isn’t nearly as bad. 

I just wonder if other devotees of Domestic Deities have the same experiences?


Cleaning the Clutter

As I sit here, resting, on this first day of 2014, I'm proud to say that I'm actually doing some of what I listed in my New Year Tries.  I know, I know, it's only the first day of the year, but it's better than nothing.  I'm cleaning, cleaning up my old and wall altars, refreshing some, packing away others; performing much needed maintenance on my shrines.  It feels pretty good.  But then, cleaning usually does for me. (Jan 30, still keeping up with my Tries.)

The end of 2013 was spent cleaning, clearing the clutter.  The physical clutter that overwhelmed me.  We donated 11 bags of stuff.  We tossed out trash and a worn, broken couch.  Cleaned up the kitchen to make room for a bread maker, my pride and joy.  Can't wait to use it.  Grains are a major offering in this home.  Grain, oil, and fire.  (Cleaning and actions, too.)

For the start of 2014, I'm starting a different type of cleaning, one that I'll also repeat throughout the year, and actually used to reserve only for the Spring Equinox.  A cleansing of the energy in this home.  "Out with the old, in with the new."  Out with the stagnant, in with the energetic. 

Some of the steps I take to kick out the negative nasties is to dust everywhere, even if it takes a couple of days!  Start from the top, work to the bottom.  Then I sprinkle baking soda and specific powdered herbs on the carpets, letting it sit for about 15 minutes, then vacuum it up. 

Herbs and oils (don't necessarily want to add oils to a powders, it'll clump), many of them overlap with their energies--what they promote--but here's a few ideas for your home:
  • Bedroom: Lavender (peace, harmony, relaxation, sleepytime), Jasmine (sexuality)
  • Kitchen: Lemon (energy, healing, cleanliness), Sage (protection), Crushed Coffee Beans (energy, warmth)
  • Bathroom: Eucalyptus (healing and purification)
  • Studio/Craftroom/Office: Rosemary (clarity), Chamomile (peaceful), Orange (energy and happiness)
  • Anywhere: Rose (love, peace, harmony), Dragon's Blood (protection) 

Often, I'll just use my favorites for all of the house, which are Lavender, Orange, Lemon, and Dragon's Blood (not necessarily combined, I live in a small apartment after all).  Before adding them directly to a blend,experiment with cotton swabs.  As I learned from the Renaissance Festival years ago, when the scents get too overwhelming, cleanse your nostrils by sniffing coffee beans.

Research, make/get what you can, and familiarize yourself with substitutions, in case you can't find "the one".  Honestly, I'd start with familiarizing yourself with herbs/flowers you may already have in your spice rack or that grow in your area.  Ask yourself if you prefer essential oils or synthetics.  Often you'll hear arguments from the community that synthetics are no good, stay away, blah blah blah.  Personally, I've never had a problem.  Plus EO's can get rather expensive and hard to find!  Decide for yourself.  Experiment with both and see which works better.

You can make your own; nah, they're not always as fragrant as the professional stuff, but the energies are there.  Take pine for example.  I gathered a bunch of fresh needles (some broken, some not) and put em in a bottle.  I added olive oil to the bottle and let it sit in a cabinet for 7 days (although some sites say to go about a month).  Strain and label. 

And of course for powders, all you need is the herb/flower and a grinder, be it a coffee grinder, a mortal and pestle, or whatever's at your disposal that grinds. 

Herbs and oils aside, I also vacuum the tile floors, picking up a lot of the big crumbs and things, given that it's hard on my back and knees to kneel and sweep it with a dust pan.  It ain't so easy with a growing human in the womb to get down and get up!

Turning to the floor, I swiffer dry and wet. 

I turn to the mirrors, there aren't too many of them in the house, but I do like to clean them with a mixture of salt and Clorox Green spray (although natural cleaners are beginning to replace the expensive chemical cleaners in my home).  I give my mirrors a gentle dusting of salt or smoke every time I touch the mirrors because I'm paranoid like that.  Supposedly it gives protection against anyone who would scry through mirrors at you.  But then part of me wonders what kind of Witch would want to spy on me?  Especially on my naked days...  Seems like a waste of time and energy...a bit traumatizing for the scryer.  But hey, better safe than sorry, I suppose. 

I know of some people who wash their walls with special mixtures, for me, that's just doing too much!  That requires taking down a lot of frames and paintings, and just no.  I'm not a wall washer, at least not in the physical sense.  I prefer to smudge my home with sage, lavender, or rosemary.  But being pregnant, there are some herbs and actions that doctors recommend you not doing.  Sometimes I simply cleanse the air of my home with an oil burner, using my favorite oil/resin Dragon's Blood.  Or I'll make a potpourri blend.  Some might use incense...but me and incense don't get along; keep in mind if you have allergies or perhaps are asthmatic, or live with others who may have respiratory problems.  Shit, just get a house plant to cleanse the air (not to mention, some are just good to have on hand concerning other matters).  Or use vinegar or baking soda.

Dragon's Blood is a very good space cleaner and can help in the prevention of miscarriage.  Given my history, that's fucking fantastic, and I used the crap out of it when I was pregnant with my son, in the place of my other oil favs, like Lavender!  Rose can also be used. (But like all essential oils, be sure to dilute them with a base oil like olive, grapeseed, safflower, sunflower, coconut, almond, hazelnut, and jojoba, to name a few.  Do your homework before applying them to your skin, due to potential poison, irritation, allergies, or pregnancy.)

With the inside of my home nearly done, I may sprinkle the carpets with some magikal waters, like Moon, River, Rain, or Sun waters to name a few, which may depends on Deity, Spirit, or the energy you want to attract to your home.  Instead of waters, I'll spritz with an oil/water mixture for promotion of harmony, protection, and to set the mood, depending on oil used.  Although now, I just settle for Febreeze, natural or not, the scent is there, and thus can be used for the same purposes.  Though some would argue that it can't be, but I've never had a problem, so poo on you. 

Once the inside of my home is cleansed, my windows open allowing in sunlight, the air smudged, I recharge my barriers and turn to the protection of my outdoor property. 

When everything's said and done, and my home is free of the stagnant and the negative, then I'll focus on decluttering my spiritual self.  If you follow the Dragon's Blood link above, you'll see other methods of clearing your space, ranging from oils to smudges to water to salt to stone usage.

If you're looking for a more natural approach to cleaning, especially if you're expecting and the doctor practically forbids you use anything to clean, you can use vinegar.  Vinegar is often forgotten, but is an amazing cleaning solution!  Often cheap, too.  I've used it, combined with other agents like baking soda, peroxide, dawn dish soap, oranges, salt, and hot water, to unclog my drains, to clean my shower heads, my kettles, bathtubs, toilet bowls, sinks, and other hard to clean surfaces.  But it can be used to freshen and neutralize odors as well.  I'm slowly starting to use vinegar more and more because it's just awesome.  I can see why it's the only cleaner that my great and grandparents ever used!

Here are some links for vinegar uses and recipes:

Vinegar Tips
The Vinegar Institute
Huff Post Green
Little Brick Ranch (to take away that smell)
Beneath the Witch's Moon:  Witchy Green Cleaning

Hope this post wasn't too boring for ya.  I'm off to continue my cleaning rampage!

* Also scented candles also work in the place of oils and powdered herbs.

* I've read that vinegar can damage wood, so test on a small, unseen area before using on such surfaces! Or just check online!

** I'm not a professional, an herbalist, or a doctor.  Do your research and cross-check your sources!  Ask doctors, real herbalists, etc.  Be smart with your experiments!  I'm just a Witch and these are my experiences. **


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Ever the Experimenter

Earlier today, I was adding material to my physical Book of Hearth and Home, including copying some Scouring tips from Beneath a Witch's Moon.  The author has some tips for what herbs and oils to add to your powder for the different parts of your house.  One of the places was the bedroom.  For the life of me, I can't think what I'd scour (scrub) in my bedroom (without damaging the surface)?  I like her suggestions though, but I dunno.  I guess if I had tile floors, maybe.  Scouring aside, the herb/oil combinations she suggested could be used in other ways, such as spritzers, carpet fresheners (add the herbs to baking soda), an oil burner, and such things.  Even wall cleaners and window washers.  Personally, I'm not a wall scrubber, but I do enjoy cleaning my windows.

Still, I'm stocking up on borax and salt so I can try some of these powders the author provided.

A couple of days ago, while cleaning my tub, I poured some vinegar into my toilet, today, I really got to see the difference between the bowl and the wall.  Huge difference.  Obliviously the vinegar didn't cling to the wall of the toilet, therefore they stayed dirty.  Dirty indeed!  I let them get even dirtier!  I figured that the chemical reaction between vinegar and baking soda was my solution.  Today, I flushed so that the walls were wet, then sprinkled baking soda to the walls and to the bowl.  Let it sit for some time.  During this time, I also added half water and half vinegar to my bathroom sink and let it sit.

Turning back to the bowl, I added vinegar and watched it foam!  The foam climbed up the walls, almost to the lip of the toilet bowl.

I came back a bit later, grabbed my toilet brush (which I had soaking in vinegar to disinfect and clean it).  I scrubbed and flushed.  Holy crap, I don't think I've ever had a cleaner toilet bowl.  I put the brush back into it's vinegar bath, and am waiting for the bubbles to dissipate in the sink.  I filled it halfway up, so I could see if there was a difference in the sink.  If so, I'll post a picture.  Wish I had thought ahead with the toilet!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Hearthstone Blessing

So I posted the other day about wanting to find a non-Wiccan take on the Kitchen Witch's Creed.  Tell me how I forgot about the Hearthstone Blessing?

Hearthstone Blessing

'On this right and ready hour, We call upon the age-old power..

East and west, south than North, Ancient ones we call you forth..

Bless this hearth, bless this home, Keep all who gather round this stone.

Hide this sack of deep black coal, As we add the warmth of fires old.

Salt and stones, keep safe & sound, This witches charm is now bound.'

= Barbara Morris 2oo1


I forgot all about this piece.  I had found a meme a couple years ago and simply fell in love with it.  It's currently holding a place in my physical Book of Mirrors.  I need to edit it a bit, print this bad boy out, frame and hang it in my kitchen.

I could smack myself.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Discovery

I'm currently building up a natural cleaning arsenal of baking soda, white distilled vinegar, salt, dawn dish soap, and hydrogen peroxide so I can try some of these links that I've provided up in the tab.  My grandparents always had baking soda, vinegar, and peroxide on hand, always!  Be it for cleaning around the house or personal care.  Well, those and bleach, for one grandmother.

I had already knew the secret of deodorizing your carpets and fridge with baking soda, as well as using baking soda and peroxide together for toothpaste, but my eyes were opened one clogged evening.  (As a note, I sprinkle baking soda on my carpets about 1-3 months, leaving it on for 15 minutes, then vacuum it up--it helps with my dust allergies, and animal stench.)

It wasn't until I took a tip from Facebook and saw what all of the hubbub was about.  I used that one recipe for clearing out clogged drains: vinegar, baking soda, and hot water.  Draino wasn't working--none of the industrial "sure-fire" chemicals were working against my and my husband's long and thick hair!  I needed something.  Preferably a cheaper, natural method.  At the time, I was pregnant, and if you've ever read the ever-growing lists of PREGGO NO NOS, using many cleaners are on the list.  How else was a SAHW gonna clean the house?  I needed an alternative!

Now granted, hubby could've helped, after all it's half his mess, too; but as a Hestia devotee, cleaning is spiritual for me, and it is one of my ways of honoring myself, my home, and my Goddess.

Away to the bathroom I went.  First I tried it out on the sink drain, not using any measurements at all--that's usually how I roll, btw, I just go by my eye, taste (when cooking), and judgement.  It worked okay.  Then I went to the tub.  I poured in 1 cup of baking soda, then 1 cup of vinegar and covered the drain.  If you've ever made a volcano in elementary school, you're aware of the chemical reaction that occurs when the two are mixed.  Safe, but foamy!

After about 15 minutues, I uncovered the hole and poured a kettle of boiling water down the hole and had success.

I repeated the process with the sink drain, and eventually got it to work, only I had to wait longer than 15 minutes!  It was GUNKED up!

Well, that worked, what else would work?  I turned to an old kettle who's insides were chalky with stuck on lime scale.  I poured in some vinegar and waited a few hours.  I poured it out and saw that some of the nastiness was still there.  So I poured again and decided to turn up the heat.  After a few minutes of boiling, I poured, washed, and saw that the lime scale was gone.  Nifty!

I moved onto cleaning my stinky, clogged, POS dishwasher.  Following the instructions from 1001 Uses of Vinegar, I simply put some vinegar in a bowl, set it in the dishwasher, and ran a cycle.  Stunk at first, due to the sitting water, but it worked!  I don't use my dishwasher for washing dishes, because it's a piece of shit, but I do use it for drying my dishes.  Once a month, I run the vinegar cycle.

Over the past week, I've use vinegar to clean my loofa, bathroom/toilet scrubber, too.

So far, every time I've used vinegar, baking soda, whatever cleaning recipe it's worked.  The only failure I've encountered was when I had a fruit fly problem.  I sat out the bowl and only attracted a few of them.  It was like, for every one I killed 8 took it's place.  I found the source of the little buggers--rotting onions in a drawer, that I didn't even know were there!--cleaned it, drowned the drawer with lysol.  Eventually, they died out, but my bowl of vinegar remained untouched.  So, good for cleaning, not so good for fruit flies.

I still have many other uses left to try, but my stock is ready for it!  So far, I'm impressed.  I think one of the reasons why something so simple has fallen by the wayside, is because people nowadays want result here and now.  They're not willing to wait.  Personally, I'm not one for a bandaid or harsh chemicals.  So far, I've found that the recipes I've tried have cleaned better than most of the other main brands I've tried.  Yeah, it may take a little while, but it's better than me dealing with the chemicals (especially since I'm expecting #2), or having to spend money on a new appliance, fixture, or repair person!

Have you had much success with the vinegar method?  Failures?  Thoughts?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Technical Difficulties

Ugh, well I'm trying to add gadgets to this blog, like a follow button and a tag cloud, but Google Chrome removed the arrows on their scroll bar, and I'm unable to scroll through the gadgets.  So freaking frustrating.  However, if you have Blogspot, you can copy my address, go the the blogger dashboard, click the "add" button, and paste my address there, that way my post ought to pop up in your feeds.

Sorry.  Stupid Google Crap, I mean, Chrome!  And no, I can't go back to Firefox, because every time I do, it becomes infected with Adware and my cheap Anti-Virus blockers can't defend against it.

Kitchen Witch's Creed

Here it is:

The Kitchen Witch's Creed

In this pot, I stir to the sun 
an' follow the rule of harming none.

Banishment of bane when goin' widdershins; 
an' with water and salt negativity is cleansed.

Household duties are more than chores. 
Magick abounds when mopping floors.

With this broom, I do sweep 
to clean my house and safely keep.

Marigold, Basil, Thyme, and Yarrow 
my spell is cast for a better tomorrow.

Lemons for joy and apples for health 
the pow'r within brings great wealth.

And, in this kitchen I do pray 
To truly walk the Witches' Way

Very well put together.  Yet, it's also Wiccan, what with the "rule of harming none".  Other than that, I do like this piece.  And have often thought about placing it in my kitchen, it's not so much a set of guidelines to follow, I just do my own thing for the most part, it's just something that I find beautiful and witchy.

For the last couple of years, I've been trying to find a non-Wiccan version.  I googled and found links to both times that I wondered this, for my Book of Mirrors and from Pagan Place, which I thought was kind of funny.

BOM, Autumn Damiana suggested, "How about replacing the first line with "In this pot I stir sunwise,"
and second line: "Sacred rite in mundane guise," since that's what Kitchen Witchery is all about!  For some reason, another thing that popped into my head was "Land and seas, sun and skies" because those are the 4 elements, described in a more practical, tangible manner".

Wow, I forgot all about her suggestions.  I think I may try some of those personal edits later, in private.

Over on Pagan Place, I got a couple of suggestions, too; I love the internet sometimes, because I am not that clever or even remotely poetic, minus those accidental rhymes!

Other than that, I haven't been lucky enough to find a non-Wiccan alternative to the Kitchen Witch's Creed. Yet, I keep searching.  But until then, well, until I can get Beluga Whale to help me out, the above will just have to do.

All Right, Got Another Blog Rolling

Yep, this makes four:

Well, five, if you count my random Wordpress, Scorched Ice.

Why make another blog, one might be wondering.  Well, on my main blog, Book of Mirrors, I'm participating in the Pagan Blog Project for the third year, and I'm trying to write about new topics that it hasn't seen before, including information about the Hearth and Home.

I've written a few topics already and well, they're kind of...they don't quite fit into the overall feeling of BOM.  Maybe I'm being silly, but that's just how I feel.  Away from the virtual world, I have many books dedicated to my faith and craft, one of them is the Book of Hearth and Home, which covers Hestia, spiritual cleaning, natural recipes, and overall everything that has to do with the home and family, essentially my brand of Kitchen Witchery.

I'm hoping to put some of that binder information here, to share and to get feedback and tips.

Right now I'm working with natural cleaning solutions, such as the power of vinegar.  So, we'll see what comes of this little blogging experiment.  Maybe it'll blossom like Book or Mirrors or maybe it'll fall flat like my Handfasting blog.  We'll see.