— Latest news from Urban Witch HQ.
This weekend I was pondering a name change… Suburban Witch seemed more appropriate as I collected branches from Hertfordshire’s weeping willows for wreath-making and chose pottering in the garden over London’s bank holiday festivities.
I’m growing my own vegetables and herbs for the first time this year, and have watched with wonder and childlike excitement these past few weeks as the shoots of my tomatoes, kale, broad beans and borage have pushed up out of the soil.
If you live in the city or don’t have much space to grow food, here’s an easy, inexpensive way to start your own mini organic food garden, that requires minimal maintenance. You’ll need:
First, I painted the container with some years-old black paint found buried in the garage. The result was bit shiny but there’s lots of creative ways to upcycle and create cool and beautiful containers. Drill some holes in the bottom (I made ten) and then cover the bottom with stones and pieces of broken pots for drainage.
I put down a layer of cardboard, grass cuttings, followed by more cardboard. The idea being this will break down over time, releasing more nutrients into the soil. You can use food waste and other stuff usually bound for the compost bin. Fill the container with compost and plant your chosen vegetables and/or herbs and water in thoroughly. I planted borage (a favorite with bees!), broad beans and lettuce but will be experimenting with other combinations too.
Make a couple of pin holes in the milk bottle and bury it in the soil, fill with water and this will release slowly without you having to water every day. Find out how much sun your plants need and place the container somewhere appropriate. This is a great site for more self watering container ideas. Happy growing! x
We’re thrilled with the awesome review of our Yoga & Writing Escape in this month’s Psychologies magazine. We took ten fabulous guests to the heart of the Suffolk countryside, blending together yoga, meditation, beach walks and herbal balms, to create the perfect recipe for inspiration and allowing imagination to flow freely.
Paul from Psychologies mag says, “The yoga was fantastic. Both relaxing and demanding, locating the parts forgotten… I left with that elusive thing: motivation; with mind open and receptive.” We’d like to say a big thanks to Paul for coming and to all our guests for making it such a fun weekend. You can read the full article here “Psychologies Magazine Feb 13“.
It may be nine months away but we’re already excited to return to Potash Barns for our Yoga and Creativity Escape in November. Places are starting to fill up so contact us if the sound of “infinite tea” and “tables groaning with cake” floats your creative boat. UW x
It was a blustery and darn right freezing Sunday afternoon in East London but inside the welcoming Shoreditch Pilates studio we were keeping warm with yoga, rose and lavender tea and blending sensual massage oils with a gorgeous group at our “Loved Up” workshop.
Plus we had a box of spiced chocolate buttons to keep our fires stoked. Here’s how we made them:
Remove the cardamom seeds from the pods and buds from the cloves. Toast with the chilli flakes in a dry frying pan for a few minutes making sure they don’t burn. Crush the spices with a pestle and mortar. Melt the chocolate gently over a bain-marie and once melted add the spices and stir.
Line a tray with baking paper and drop the chocolate onto the paper using a teaspoon so they look like chocolate buttons. They take a couple of hours to solidify if you can wait that long! They also make a cute gift (if you feel like sharing). Enjoy xx
It’s rumoured that Cleopatra would burn incense of this aromatic spice before Mark Anthony visited her boudoir, and in Asia it’s been employed for its aphrodisiac properties for centuries. She’s fragrant, feisty and known as the Queen of Spices… she is the mighty Cardamom.
But how exactly does she spice things up in the bedroom? Cardamom is a stimulant, which boosts circulation, warms the body and helps to banish fatigue. You won’t hear the words “not tonight darling, I’m tired” with cardamom on your evening menu! She’s used as a treatment for impotence and loss of libido, as well as helping to build courage and bringing clarity to the mind.
Not only that, but cardamom is used as a breath freshener, aids digestion and prevents wind (also beneficial properties if you’re planning some action!)
We’ve been making cardamom chocolates by lightly toasting and crushing the seeds and blending them with melted dark chocolate, as well as brewing the seeds in chai masala tea. Why not experiment with these cardamom infused chocolate truffles and see what effect they have?
We’ll be talking and tasting more spices and herbs at our Loved Up workshop on Sunday 10th February in Shoreditch, along with 90 minutes of blissful yoga and guided meditation. Want to book a place? Well you can right here. x
We’d like to say a huge happy birthday to Youth at Risk who are celebrating 21 years of helping disaffected and vulnerable young people transform their lives with their intensive programmes. Their approach? Ruthless compassion! In their own words,
“All young people, no matter what their start, can be the best. A wake up call, a line in the sand. Absolute compassion, absolute love. Wings to fly. This is what we do. It is our passion. Love is the toughest thing.”
Check out their website for stories by the courageous young people they’ve helped over the years. We’re certainly feeling inspired and wish Youth at Risk an endless supply of ruthless compassion to continue their incredible work.
If you’d like to support YAR too, you can donate securely via their website. x
Our New Year’s Resolution for 2013… to do more of what we love!
Listen to your heart, follow its sweet whispers and it’ll lead you to places of wonder and magic. What do you love? What are your passions? What fills you with joy? How can you bring more of it into your life this year?
Follow the gentle tugs. Take risks. Know the nagging voice of fear is silenced when we act out of love for ourselves and for others. What does your heart want to create in 2013? Get lost in your imagination and believe your dreams are real. Anything is possible!
Yoga, herbing, crafting and sharing stories with wonderful guests on our Escapes are some of our biggest loves of 2012. Our passions are learning, living lightly on this beautiful planet and connecting with like-minded folk to create a world of peace and abundance for all. We find joy in the potential and perfection of every moment when we simply allow our mind to be still.
Wishing you a Happy and Love-Filled New Year and in the words of mighty Bob “One love, one heart, let’s get together and feel alright.” xx
The festive season is in full swing and we’re getting ready to celebrate the winter solstice this Friday (from the wilds of West coast Canada!) The Festival of Yule celebrates the birth of light and life, the birthday of the Sun. As the longest night of the year passes, the darkness and death of winter give way to the promise of rebirth and creation.
This year the 21st December is a date of much interest with Pagans and non-Pagans alike, as the ancient prophecies of the Mayans, Hopis and other traditional peoples hit the mainstream media. While some may be retreating to bunkers fearing the end of the world looms with an apocalyptic catastrophe (totally believable if you watch the news for five minutes!), this date marks the beginning of a new world cycle, the changes of which we see happening all around us now.
My friend David Sye sums it up perfectly:
“If anything is about to die in this world, it’s the idea of how we have all lived our lives up to this point; the virtues we have upheld, the institutions both personally and professionally we have consciously and unconsciously supported. Now an age is upon us where everything is up for the deepest scrutiny about what is authentic and what is not, what serves our ultimate existence, happiness and personal evolutions (and what does not).
Don’t follow scriptures, don’t follow politics, don’t follow gurus, don’t follow your friends, don’t follow the world, don’t follow your family, don’t follow the lies, don’t follow anything but your own beautiful heart.”
Magical times ahead! With love for 2013 xxx
What herb has been used for over 2,000 years to treat problems of the liver, and boasts liver loving properties proven by extensive scientific research? Ok, well the title kinda gave it away but we can’t stop singing the praises of this purple prickly plant .
The chemical compounds found in milk thistle seeds not only repair damaged liver cells, they also protect them from harmful free radicals and encourage cell growth.
These actions are particularly important at this time of year with Christmas parties and the ensuing consumption of champagne and cocktails. And it’s not just alcohol that puts a strain on the liver, rich and fatty foods are harder to digest and can make us feel slow and sluggish. Luckily our dear friend milk thistle stimulates the production of bile that will help to break down those mince pies and extra helpings of Christmas pudding.
So to look after your liver this festive season and give it hand in the detox department, take milk thistle daily (or as directed by the manufacturer) as a tincture or capsule. You’ll find them in any health food store or speak to your local herbalist to see what they recommend. We think you’ll notice the difference. x
This time last week we were hurtling up the A12 to our Yoga & Writing Escape in Suffolk. For me, a retreat always starts with the journey there, and driving through the English countryside (note to self: must focus on road, even when Hayley points out the window saying, “Wow, that’s amazing!”) never fails to fill me with calm and wonderment.
Ten guests; a marvellous mix of women, men, experienced yogis, newbies, novelists and performance artists… plus a cat called Ali, joined us at Potash Barns. We couldn’t have asked for a more brilliant bunch.
Everyone had different reasons for coming; some to work on stories and others to delve deeper into their yoga practise, but whatever the reason, we kicked off the weekend together by setting intentions. Through a guided meditation we planted seeds for the ideas, creative projects and even relationships we want to grow over the coming months, before getting down to the serious business of eating cake and writing.
The concept of planting imaginary seeds may seem fluffy but consider what happens when we place physical seeds in soil. We give them our energy, water, love and attention, and trust when we step away that Nature will do her thing. And so with our dreams and visions, we may not know yet exactly how they’ll be achieved, or even if they will be, but by giving them focus and believing in their growth, magical opportunities can present themselves, seemingly from nowhere.
And the weekend certainly wasn’t short of magical moments… sharing stories by the fire, witch stones on Walberswick beach, a murmuration (love that word) of starlings and a mountain made of parsnips (yes, really!) It was a truly special weekend and we’re very grateful to everyone who came.
Now we’re busy with our own “seeds” and planning Escapes for 2013. Details coming soon. Watch this space. Peace x