Chelsea Buns.

My parents visited today to help us tackle our extremely overgrown garden, so I made these to share with them.

  • 275ml plant milk (I used soya)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 50g coconut oil/vegan spread (I used Vitalite)
  • 500g wholewheat bread flour, plus a little extra for sprinkling
  • 6 tablespoons plant syrup/sugar (I used carob fruit syrup)
  • 1 teaspoon yeast

 

  • 1 tablespoon vegan spread (I used Vitalite)
  • 2 tablespoons plant syrup/sugar (I used carob fruit syrup)
  • mixed spice to taste
  • 175g mixed fruit

 

  • 25g sugar (I used cheap white)
  • 2 tablespoons water

Begin by making the dough. Put the ingredients into your breadmaker in the order the machine instructions suggest. In my machine, that means putting the plant milk in first, adding the oil/spread and salt to it, and then sprinkling over the flour so that it completely covers the milk. Then I make a dip in the flour, and pour the plant syrup/sugar into the dip. I sprinkle the yeast on top of the sugar, and then it’s ready to go into the machine. Set it to make dough and let it do it’s thing.

Once the dough is ready, sprinkle a little flour onto a clean surface and roll out the dough into a fat oblong(ish) shape. You want to roll the dough to roughly half a centimeter thick.

Melt together the spread, syrup/sugar and spices. I gave it a quick blast in the microwave, but you could also melt it over the hob. Brush the spiced spread over the dough, and then sprinkle over the mixed fruit – leaving a border of about 2 1/2 – 2 cm along one long side.

Starting at the long edge that is covered with mixed fruit, carefully roll the dough into a log. Use the border to seal the roll.

Cut the roll into fat slices – mine were probably about 2cm? Lie them flat on a tray, cover with a clean tea towel and leave them to rise for about 45 minutes. If your home is quite cold, they may need a little longer; try to find the warmest place you can to put them.

Once they’re ready, bake them at Gas Mark 6/200C/400F for 20 minutes, until risen and golden.

Once the baking time is nearly done, make the glaze. Put the sugar and water into a saucepan and heat until a thick syrup forms.

When the buns are ready, turn them out onto a rack to cool and brush them liberally with the sugar glaze. To catch any drips, I put the baking tray underneath the cooling rack. This will also catch escapee raisins, of which there will be several.

I made 12 buns from this recipe, and they went down well with everyone – though I think my Mom would have preferred if I’d used white bread flour. If you choose to use white flour, you may fine that you need a little less milk. When I make these again, I’d like to try leaving out the glaze and drizzling a little icing over them instead.

If you try these out, or have any questions, it would be great to hear from you 🙂

chelsea bun

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A Way of Being.

This book, ‘A Way of Being: The Founder of The Human Potential Movement Looks Back on a Distinguished Career’, is written by Carl Rogers, who as well as founding the Human Potential Movement also found time to found the Humanistic Psychology Movement and create person-centered counselling. I’ve recently started studying person-centered counselling at college, hence this book review. Rogers was a really interesting guy; totally controversial in his time, and honestly some of his ideas are controversial now. The book I have borrowed is published by Mariner Books (Houghton Mifflin Company), and the American RRP is $15:95. I found it online for between £10:32 and £3:56.

The book is kind of like an anthology by just one author; it’s a collection of papers and talks Rogers wrote in the 60s, 70s and 80s, along with excerpts from letters written by other people. They are organised into four parts; Personal Experiences and Perspectives, Aspects of a Person-Centered Approach, The Process of Education – and it’s Future, and Looking Ahead: A Person-Centered Scenario.

Rogers shares a lot about his own thoughts, feelings and experiences in this book, and he’s very honest about his successes and failures. I actually found such honesty a little challenging at first. I’d say that the first and second parts were the most useful from a person-centered counselling point of view; it was helpful to see more of  the thinking of the man who founded the approach, and how he came to his conclusions. ‘Six Vignettes’, and similar parts of other papers, was useful as you are able to read the experiences of a client and then Roger’s thoughts and commentary on that. It’s definitely been helpful to me as we’ve done role-play in class to practice counselling skills.

As I’m not a teacher of any kind, and have no plans to become one, I expected to find ‘The Process of Education – and it’s Future’ a bit pointless, but actually it was interesting, and kind of inspiring. I wish we would model our educational systems on these ideas; I feel like I and others like me would have done far better at this kind of school (I became mentally ill when I was eleven, and completely dropped out of school at fifteen). The final chapter is just one paper, ‘The World of Tomorrow, and the Person of Tomorrow’, and again I found it unexpectedly…inspiring? Hopeful? Rogers sets out his hopes for what humans could become, and honestly it sounds pretty good. I’d like to contribute to creating that kind of future.

There were some interesting ideas in this book on counselling, power and new ways to work in a group – and, to my total surprise, about spirituality, altered states of consciousness and psychic abilities. The paper ‘Do We Need “A” Reality’, and similar paragraphs in other papers, I personally found very interesting and encouraging as a polytheist and animist.

If you’ve also read this book, or have any questions, it would be great to hear from you 🙂

Control the Transgenderds!

Yes, yes this is going to be a rant.

In case you haven’t seen other posts mentioning it; I’m transgender. I also have/used to have (argument also in progress lol) EUPD; Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (previously known as borderline personality disorder).

I came out of the trans closet four years ago, and have been living as a man insofar as that’s possible ever since. I *epicly* do not ‘pass’ – I bind my chest, but the boobs are still really obviously present. They’re pretty large in proportion to the rest of my body – if I was actually a woman, it’d be brilliant. But I’m not, and being stuck this way – looking like a woman but having to live as a man a) for my own wellbeing and b) because I won’t get treatment if I don’t – is kinda stressful. ‘Gender-appropriate’ body language and dressing and like a guy does not help; people just assume I’m a lesbian.

Waiting lists to get seen at a gender identity clinic in the UK are loooong – I know that the current waiting time for my clinic is is excess of two years. Waiting that long was incredibly difficult, but like everyone stuck on these lists I kept holding on, telling myself that things would improve once I got to the clinic. Now I’m actually at the clinic and, as you may have guessed by now, things have not improved.

I’ve had four assessments, set three or four months apart, and I’m still nowhere. It’s standard to be prescribed testosterone on your third assessment, and some people get it on their second, so to have nothing by assessment four is not usual. As far as I can tell, their main excuse for this delay is my mental health history.

If I were massively unstable, making attempts on my own life or severely disassociated from reality and constantly in and out of hospital, I’d understand (though, if that were being caused by gender dysphoria, wouldn’t it make sense to start treatment asap?). My situation is nothing like that, though. I’ve been doing volunteer work once or twice a week for almost eighteen months, I’m going to college once a week, and I care for my mentally ill husband 24/7. I haven’t cut or otherwise harmed myself for about eight months now, I’m eating and sleeping properly, I’m in control of myself and not acting extremely on impulse…I’m just generally speaking stable and doing well.

When I wanted to get a civil partnership, no-one gave me a mental health check to make sure I was ready for the commitment. When I go to the bank, no-one runs checks to make sure that I’m not manic and about to blow all my money (though I did get refused service recently because my records say ‘Mr’ and I look like a woman lol). When I get tattooed – now there’s a ‘permanent and irreversible’ decision for you – I don’t have to pass tests first. I have capacity. But apparently I’m not capable of knowing if I’m ready to medically transition or not without professional help? Hmmmm.

They also seem to really dislike the fact that I want to get chest surgery before I begin on hormones. As I explained above, my tits are pretty obvious no matter how painfully small a binder I squeeze them into. It just *makes sense* to me to get rid of them before starting hormones – I mean, who wants to be a guy with tits? Yeah, that’s totally gonna help with my anxiety. Thanks. Also, my face is already reasonably androgynous. I think I could really begin to pass if I had chest surgery. I don’t see why the fact that ‘standard procedure’ is to have hormones first should be an issue – in fact, I don’t think there should BE a standard procedure. Each individual has a different personality and life situation, so each individual should have the freedom to transition in the way that is best for them. It seems totally ridiculous to me that we have to live for such a long time in our ‘chosen gender role’ (what is this, a play? Also, at what point was gender a choice?!) before we’re permitted access to medical treatment, and that we then have to follow a set pattern of treatment decided by some fucker else. We’re adults – why can we not be trusted to navigate our own damn transitions in our own way?

And I think this is what’s really pissing me off…I’M A THIRTY YEAR OLD MAN. I do not need a nanny to hold my hand and tell me when it’s safe to cross the road. Advice is one thing, but the last thing I – or any adult trans person – needs is some fucker else telling us how to live our lives. If I choose to transition in the teeth of family opposition? That’s my decision. If I choose to go it alone and transition without support? That’s my decision. If I choose to begin a medical transition before beginning my social one? That’s my decision, or at least it should be. I am so angry that the gender clinic can control my life in this way, and it just seems wrong to me. It feels more like we’re being forced to jump through meaningless hoops than being helped to transition.

If I make a joke about Chief Bromden and The Combine at this point, is anyone gonna get WTF I’m on about? 😆 Seriously though, tell me what you think. Do you agree with the clinic, with me, or have a completely different angle on things? If you didn’t know all the stuff about gender clinic gatekeeping I just spent a blog post ranting about, does it surprise you that we have so little control over our transitions, or do you agree with it? Hit me.

Vampire fairies? some first thoughts

British Fairies

goth

Gothic Vampire Fairy Fantasy Fine Art Print by Molly Harrison ~ “Twilight Wandering”

I have written several times about fairy blights and the perils of contact with fairies.  I want in this post to draw your attention to a couple of references suggestive of an even more sinister aspect to the character of some fairies.

Breath

Firstly, a few lines from Shakespeare’s Comedy of errors.  In Act 2 scene 2 the character Dromio of Syracuse exclaims:

“This is the fairyland.  O! The spite of spites,/ We talk with goblins, owls and elvish sprites: If we obey them not, this will ensue, They’ll suck our breath, or pinch us black and blue.”

I hope many of you will be familiar (at least by now) with the idea of pinching as a regular punishment; it is a fairly harmless sanction for the relatively minor transgression of poor housekeeping. But, “suck our breath”?…

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Chocolate and Ginger Cupcakes.

The advantage to cooking these yourself is that you can adjust the levels of ginger-ness to suit your tastes. This is the recipe as I make it.

  • 1 flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flax mixed with 3 tablespoons water)
  • 50g coconut oil or vegan spread (I used Vitalite)
  • 150g sugar (I used cheap white)
  • 100g wholewheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 20g cocoa
  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 100ml plant milk (I used soya)

 

  • 75g vegan spread (I used Vitalite)
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 50g dark chocolate
  • 5-6 cubes of crystallized ginger (or you could use something like 75g of ginger chocolate)

Begin by mixing together the flax egg, then set it to one side to thicken.

In the meantime, cream the sugar into the oil/spread.

Mix the cocoa, baking powder and ginger into the flour so that they are all evenly distributed. Then mix together this flour blend, the creamed sugar and oil/spread, the plant milk and the flax egg until they become a thick dough.

Scoop the dough into cupcake cases and bake them at Gas Mark 4/350F/180C for about 35 minutes, until a small knife or toothpick stuck into the center of a cake comes out clean.

Once they are baked, put them out on a rack to cool. You need to let the cakes become completely cool before you ice them.

To make the buttercream, cream the icing sugar into the spread. Then chop up your chocolate and ginger into the tiniest little bits that you can, and mix these little bits into the buttercream.

I got 12 small cupcakes from this recipe. The chocolate and buttercream are the first flavors that you taste, with the ginger coming through afterwards. I definitely prefer using crystallized ginger to the glacé ginger I was using around Christmas time – the sweetness and the spice are much bolder. Crystallized is the way forwards.

Happy Dead Birthday!

Yesterday, Husband and I celebrated my Grandfather’s birthday…despite the fact that he died several years ago lol. But once you set up an Ancestor shrine, burn candles for them and send them regular cups of tea, celebrating their birthdays with them just makes sense.

Since this isn’t the standard Western attitude, I thought  I’d write a little about how we do things. It’s not based on research into the Ancient Norse or Celts or anything…None of our Ancestors that we’ve actually met in this lifetime were Vikings or Druids! We wanted to do something that would be familiar to them and make them happy.

We pretty much treat the day as we would the birthday of a living relative; we put on T.V. shows, movies and music they like, get in their favorite foods and bake a cake. Father-In-Law’s birthday, for example, involves bags of sweets like strawberry laces and chocolate buttons, loads of those shows about restoring old cars, followed by an Elvis CD and a Fast and Furious marathon. Instead of giving cards and gifts, we burn candles and incense.

Lately I’ve been using a rough-and-ready form of divination to enable our Ancestors to choose what cake they want for their birthday. I begin by placing all my cookbooks containing cake recipes on the Ancestor shrine (or, since we moved, next to the portable altar), so that the Ancestor in question can find the recipe they want. I then write the title of each book on a little slip of scrap paper and drop them all on the floor. Whichever slip lands writing-up and closest to me is the book I’ll take the recipe from. I then write the page numbers of the cake recipes on scrap paper and repeat the process to find out which cake they want. This year my Grandfather chose chocolate ginger cupcakes (recipe up next lol).

The real point of this is the same as any birthday; to pay some extra attention to that relative, so they know we care and haven’t forgotten about them. I feel in a lot of ways that it would actually make more sense to ignore their birthday and celebrate the day they died as you would their birthday, since it’s the day they were born into a new life. But birthdays are what were doing right now.

I’d love to know your thoughts, or if anyone does anything similar 🙂

Archangel Oracle Cards.

The Archangel Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue was one of the first angel card decks I brought for Husband when he became seriously interested in angels. It was the first deck he really gelled with, and he uses it a fair bit. It’s published by Hay House and it’s American RRP is $15:99. In the UK you can pick it up for around £14:99, or £13:49 from the Hay House website (https://www.hayhouse.co.uk/archangel-oracle-cards)

The deck consists of 45 cards illustrated by various artists, a little guidebook explaining how to use and interpret the cards, and a box to keep it all in. The whole thing is fairly straightforward and no studying is really required, unlike with tarot. You don’t even *have* to read the guidebook – each card has the essential meaning printed underneath the illustration as if the featured Archangel were speaking directly to you – for example; ‘Prosperity. Archangel Ariel: “Your material needs are provided as you follow your intuition and manifest your dreams into reality.”‘ Husband basically just picked them up and began.

It is an essentially Christian deck – as well as angels it talks of God (singular) and Heaven. So I chafe with it somewhat. Also, some of the messages are…all a bit love’n’ light for me (my personal least favorite is ‘Love is the only power that exists, and its light shines away any seeming darkness.’ Uuuuuuuurgh). However, Husband likes what he sees as the helpful and uplifting messages. He finds that they’re positive yet grounded in reality and not ‘airy-fairy’ (his words lol). He also likes the artwork, and seems able to overlook the monotheism. So it all depends on your outlook as to how well you will get along with this deck.

If you use this deck, have any thoughts you wanted to add or any questions you wanted to ask, it would be great to hear from you 🙂

Easter Egg Review 2018.

Sorry this took me so long to publish! I just…I don’t really have an excuse. Except tiredness! Anyway, I was lucky enough to get three eggs again this year 🙂 All from Moo Free.

Moo Free specialize in ‘free from’ chocolates – everything they produce is free from dairy, gluten, soya, wheat, lactose and casein, suitable for vegans and organic (!). It’s all produced in a dedicated  factory, so there can be no cross-contamination. They make sure that none of their factory waste goes to landfill, recycling when possible or using waste for things like zero carbon energy generation. All their packaging is recyclable or bio-degradable, but they do use plastic in their packaging, so…Meh. They also are not Fairtrade certified, or certified by any similar body as far as I can tell. They cite that their products are ethically sourced, but I haven’t seen any information more specific than that, so I’m not sure exactly what they mean by it. However, they do use organic products 🙂

Awesomely, there is no gender-based pay gap at Moo Free – people doing the same job at the same level get the same money. Radical! And Moo Free put on MooFest every year, which is like a festival for employees and their families. Around 20% of their workforce consists of people with autism – Moo Free are working alongside a local charity (the website doesn’t say which) so that these people can be employed and do well. They’re also putting into the local community – they’ve paid for kits for Bude Ladies and Bude Boys football teams, and contribute towards St Peter’s Fair, improvements to the local sports and community pavilion, and provision of free WiFi in the local town square.

To find out more about Moo Free, their website is at  https://www.moofreechocolates.com/.

(P.S. Was also somewhat fascinated by this page; https://www.moofreechocolates.com/en/info/moo-free-characters. I didn’t know that Hammy Hamster and Mikey Bunny were married! Perhaps this is why they’re so keen to promote equality at Moo Free. I imagine this was a controversial match in the more conservative quarters of the hamster and bunny communities.)

 

Moo Free Easter Bunnycomb Egg.

Husband and I both got these 110g eggs. They’re ‘milk’ chocolate with ‘honey’comb pieces mixed in. I thought they were about right; Husband thought they needed more ‘bunnycomb’. Also, the bunnycomb in Husband’s eggs kinda clumped together, so there were bits with lots of bunnycomb and then bits with no bunnycomb and only a very thin layer of chocolate. I don’t think this stopped him from enjoying them though, as he ate two of them! Also, they smell fantastic (as did all the eggs; a proper chocolate smell. They are like regular milk chocolate…as far as I can recall, anyway lol. It’s been a while since I actually ate any).

 

Moo Free Organic Cheeky Orange Egg.

Also 110g, this was a really nice egg that tasted of orange as well as just smelling like orange (I can’t remember which company it was now – a supermarket own-brand, I think – but not long after I went vegan I tried an orange chocolate bar that smelt great…but barely even tasted of chocolate, never mind orange). Husband also tried some of this egg and thought it was good.

 

Moo Free Art Collection Caramelised Hazelnut Nibs Egg.

I liked this egg because it’s actually marketed towards adults instead of children lol. It’s also bigger, at 160g. The Art Collection is a new, limited-edition idea from Moo Free that features artwork from up-and-coming artists on the box, to support them and help them to gain recognition. This egg features Determination 1 by digital artist Carlamaria Jackson, which celebrates female boxers and the power of women. You can find out more about Carlamaria Jackson at her website,  http://www.carlamariajackson.com/. The egg itself was good – I thought the almond nibs being caramelised might make the whole thing super-sweet but actually it was fine; if anything the caramel-ness didn’t come through enough. The only small fault with this egg was that it hit the same problem as Husband’s bunnycomb eggs, only more so – there were two big clumps of hazelnut nibs, then gaps of very thin chocolate (as in; holes in the egg) with no nibs at all. I definitely enjoyed the egg and would get it again, but I think this did put the ratio of chocolate to nibs out of balance.

 

Finally, I should mention  https://www.dairyfreechocolates.com/, who sell Moo Free chocolates online. We ordered some of our eggs from them and they arrived in good time and in perfect condition. They do monthly deals and even sell off broken chocolate at a big discount – I wish I was not on a diet lol.

If you’ve tried any of these eggs yourself, or have any questions, it would be great to hear from you 🙂

Earth Day Prayer.

This Earth Day we celebrate You, Lady Jörð.

We rely on You for so much – the food we eat, the fuel we burn, fabric for our clothes and homes, wood that we carve or pulp into paper, the clay from which we fashion so many things, the metals we find endless uses for, the ground upon which we walk.

Despite all this, we are not treating You well. This Earth Day our focus is on plastic.

We pledge to do more to stop using plastic, to ask the companies we buy from to stop using plastic, to re-use and recycle and any plastic that we do use, to remove plastic litter we see in the environment, and to let others know about the problem of plastic.

Thank You so much for all that You do. Please help us to know how to be better to You.