Vashti poem

Lascelles Abercrombie (1881–1938), a British poet aka“The Georgian Laureate,” wrote a 40-page poem entitled “Vashti” which contains the famous lines, spoken by Ahasuerus to Vashti, on women’s beauty:

What beauty is there, but thou makest it?

How is earth good to look on, woods and fields,

The season’s garden, and the courageous hills,

All this green raft of earth moored in the seas?

The manner of the sun to ride the air,

The stars God has imagined for the night?

What’s this behind them, that we cannot near,Secret still on the point of being blabbed,The ghost in the world that flies from being named?

Where do they get their beauty from, all these?

They do but glaze a lantern lit for man,

And woman’s beauty is the flame therein.

Omnious Clouds

Nature has a way to express her beauty in ways that we cant always see. See below the photos taken near sunset. 

The huge imposing black clouds had gathered to bring much needed rain to us! How omnious it seemed! When the rain started fall first in a gashing thunderous torrent then later slowing to a gentle patter, I seear that I could hear the plants sigh of relief…..

Stilling our minds

The more we practice stilling our minds, the easier it will become over time.

Like a cluttered house that needs to be cleared if it is to have room for movement and new life, our minds need clearing if they are to be open to new information, ideas, and inspiration.

Activities like yoga, dancing, or taking a long walk help to draw our attention to our bodies, slowing our mental activity enough that our minds begin to settle. Deep breathing is an even simpler way to draw attention away from our mental activities. Once we are mentally relaxed, we can begin the process of clearing our minds. Most of us instinctively know what allows our minds to relax and release any unnecessary clutter. It may be meditation or time spent staring at the stars. Whatever it is, these exercises feel like a cool, cleansing bath for the brain and leave our minds feeling clear and open. 

Setting aside time to clear our minds once a day creates a ritual that becomes second nature over time. Our minds will begin to settle with less effort the more we practice. Ultimately, the practice of clearing our minds allows us to be increasingly more open so that we can perceive the world as the fresh offering it is, free of yesterday’s mental clutter.

Xmas/Yule Game Ideas

1 Play Christmas Movie Trivia

Get in the holiday spirit by having a Christmas movie marathon, then play a round of Christmas movie trivia to see who is the most festive of them all.

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(Photo via Warner Bros.)

December Dice Game

 White Elephant is a traditional gifting game that we all know and love. This year, switch things up a bit and play this dice game. It’s a fun take on the gift exchange. (via Play. Party. Pin.)

3 Have a Cookie Decorating Party

Bake a batch of sugar cookies (or buy them) and set up a cookie bar with all the fixings to make the sweetest holiday treats around. The best part about this party is you get to eat it all when you’re finished.

4 Play Spoons With Candy Canes

Pick up a pack of candy canes and playing cards to spend QT with the family. Spoons is a classic card game that’s usually played using just cards and (you guessed it) spoons, but you can swap it out for candy canes for a festive spin.

5 Lucky Last Line Gift Exchange

In this gift exchange game, a poem tells players to pass the gift left and right. You end up passing the gifts all around the room, and whichever present you have in your hands at the end of poem is the one you get to open. (via Play. Party. Pin.)

What are your favorite Christmas activities? Let us know.. 

Planets in Retrograde

Mercury Retrograde

Mercury retrograde gets blamed for a lot things that go wrong in our lives. Does it deserve all the attention? What exactly is a Mercury retrograde?

In mythology, Mercury was the messenger of the gods but in astrology for those of you who don’t know about this astrological “happening,” here’s the lowdown in layman’s terms: The planet Mercury rules communication, travel, contracts, automobiles, and such. It goes in a retrograde motion—or motion that makes it appear to be going backwards in the night sky—three times a year for approximately three weeks at a time.

As Mercury approaches its “switch point” (the day it actually turns retrograde), it will progress along a path that it will later retrace in the sky over the next few weeks. The two- or three-week period prior to Mercury retrograde is called the “impending shadow period.” If you initiate anything important during that shadow period – that is, in the time before Mercury begins to retrograde – you still may encounter problems.

Here is another vital point to keep in mind: Mercury is more powerful on the onset and finish dates of its retrograde. I call them the “bookend” dates of the retrograde, and static and dust seem to fill the air more noticeably than any other time.

When Mercury is retrograde, it will delight us, as usual, with interrupted communication, malfunction or complete failure of computers and other electronic devices and general uncertainty and confusion concerning any contracts, legal documents or agreements.

Mercury will be retrograde:

  • in Capricorn/Sagittarius between 20 December and 8 January 2017.

Note: We sometimes start to feel the effects of Mercury retrograde a few days early. It’s nice to give yourself a bit of leeway on either side of the prescribed dates!

Astrologers recommend against starting anything new when Mercury goes retrograde. But even if you can’t begin new endeavors, you can still put this aspect to good use. You just need to learn to work with the energy of Mercury rather than against it. Let’s explore the pros and cons of this cosmic force and how to wait out this period until Mercury goes forward or “direct.”

Now, you can’t stop your life just because a Mercury retrograde hits. There’s always something you can’t avoid or put off. But if you have time to plan ahead, do so; you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches. Since Mercury also rules travel and trips, it is not a good time to travel unless you have backup plans in place. Expect delays, double-check accommodations, and check everything.

What Not To Do During Mercury Retrograde
DON’T:

These phases are also considered poor times to launch any new endeavors, even if they are not related to the communications industries.

Make important decisions as a example buying or selling a property, signing a new lease agreement, filing a lawsuit.The only times you can buy something expensive during a retrograde period are if you are returning something you already bought.

Purchase a motor vehicle, computers, appliances, TVs, radios, etc, if you absolutely have to get that car, computer or Phone, TRIPLE-check all the paperwork, and make sure you have a warranty!

Travel without back-up plans. Some people do not travel when Mercury is retrograde, and perhaps that might be wise if your trip is business-oriented. However, if you are returning to see a former client you’ve worked with in the past, traveling during the retrograde is fine. Sales people know that business is always most likely from former clients. If you are in sales, earmark all your former clients for special attention during these phases.

The good news is that You can take a trip for pleasure during these periods. Actually, this could be a perfect time to go, for you get away from it all, and everyone back at the office will “feel” the retrograde – they will miss your quick problem-solving ability and advice while you are away! During a retrograde phase, you might want to travel to a place from your childhood that you loved but haven’t seen in a long time. It could be lots of fun because going back to places you knew is favored.

Sign contracts or Negotiate a contract. Make sure to read the small print on any contracts. Ask lots of questions as there might be  something in the details that you may miss.

Mercury rules the mail and the conveyance of information, be extra careful when sending important documents. If you send faxes, be sure to call the people at the other end to let them know your documents are waiting for them. Otherwise, they may never see it. If you work in an office and have to photocopy an important document, be sure to retrieve the original. Be equally careful about whom you send email to – you don’t want to send a private email to the wrong person or have a sensitive email forwarded to others.

Start a new job

Begin a new class. Avoid launching new projects or making that “big presentation.” People may either not understand it or oppose it. You may find out later that you left out a vitally important detail that you didn’t think of. If your project is adopted, it may either fail or have to be totally restructured at a later date to succeed.

Relationships with people tend to be in a state of miscommunication. Remember that responding to slights — or perceived slights — from a place of hurt and defensiveness only worsens skewed communications. Take a deep breath, and don’t let misbehaving Mercury get to you.

Mercury retrograde allows us to stop, look, listen, and redirect our energies more productively. Mercury also helps us find closure to certain situations.
WHAT TO EXPECT

  • Angrier people
  • Crazy drivers
  • More accidents
  • Miscommunication
  • Quarrels
  • Computer problems and breakdowns
  • Delays
  • More mistakes
  • Slow mail
  • Games of phone tag
  • Wrong directions
  • Missed appointments
  • Dead cell phone batteries

What’s Mercury Retrograde Good For?
If you know when Mercury retrograde hits—which is about every three months—you can work with, rather than against, its energy. Remember there’s a “re” in retrograde.

These weeks are good for re-doing just about anything. There are situations where you can move forward, gingerly, during Mercury retrograde.

If you seem to find yourself “back to the future”, don’t just try to wriggle out of it — look at what the universe is trying to show you. What can you learn from this situation? This is a fantastic time to re-examine, just “go with the flow” and move on.

DO:

  • Re-apply for a job
  • Re-do hair color
  • Re-write your resume
  • Review your bank account
  • Renew a loan
  • Repair your car
  • Re-contact past clients
  • Research

The type of influence depends on which of the 12 zodiac signs the planet is in when Mercury goes retrograde.

It has been said by some astrologers that people who were born under Mercury retrograde are immune from much of the mayhem of this phase, but I do not agree that this is true. You can find out if you were born under these phases by checking your natal horoscope wheel. The planet Mercury’s symbol will have a small “R” under it on the horoscope wheel.

Never worry about having a baby during one of these retrograde periods – it is always a good time to have a child!

What’s your Zodiac Sign? Click here to find out “Mercury Retrograde and Zodiac Signs.”

Presents You Can’t Gift Wrap

Untying a bow and ripping open the wrapping paper to reveal the surprise inside is undeniably exciting… for about a minute. But it’s the type of gifts that simply cannot be wrapped that end up sticking with you longer. Giving your super stressed friend an appointment for a massage or upgrading a flight for the globetrotter nearest and dearest to you is not only better way to give, but it will mean so much more than any bauble or trinket ever could. From subscriptions to goat donations (!), these gifts ideas will make you the most thoughtful giver of the bunch.

Goat and 2 Chickens from World Vision ($100): We guarantee this charitable gift will not only totally surprise the recipient, but will make you both feel all warm and fuzzy inside by providing a supply of eggs, milk and meat to feed families in need.

Drawing from Chic Sketch ($10): Your fashion girl bff will flip when she receives her own personalized fashion illustration. Grab a photo from her blog, submit it to Chic Sketch and it’ll be turned into a drawing by one of their fashion illustrators.

Custom Star Kit from the International Star Registry ($54): Guys, who remembers the movie A Walk to Remember? If you do, then this gift will be extra special (and tear-inducing). Who doesn’t want to have a star named after them?!

 

DIY Kitchen Tips for the Holidays

For all your aspiring #topchefs out there, we’ve got you covered with a little expert advice from renowned housewares designer and entertaining guru Carter McGuyer.

Carter is the brains behind more than 350 kitchen tools and gadgets, and has collaborated with fan-favorite brands like Crate and Barrel and Crisp. He definitely knows what’s up when it comes to kitchen efficiency. For all of us that get a little cray in the kitchen this time of year, Carter is serving up his top tips for keeping things under control. They’ll come in super handy when you’re prepping for your holiday feasts.

1 Good Tools 

A few high-quality essentials make meal prep faster and more efficient. Carter suggests investing in a basic cook’s knife and a paring knife to handle all of your needs. You’ll never reach for anything else. Carter says, “Good paring knives, like the Bird’s Beak Paring Knife ($12) I designed for Crisp Cooking Tools, can be used for peeling, coring, slicing or carving creative designs, making attention to detail a breeze. A basic cook’s knife is great because — assuming you keep it sharp — it is extremely versatile and can be used for almost 90% of cutting tasks.” And, while we’re on the topic, Carter also insists on keeping those blades sharp. It’s a step that people often overlook, but keeping your knives in tip-top shape is the first secret to chopping like a pro.

2 Learn how to use the tools and master basic cuts 

Good knife skills make any kitchen task easier and waaaay faster. A quick search on YouTube will land you tons of tutorials. Not sure what you’re searching for? Carter talks about his most-used methods and why you need them: “Some of my favorites include mincing, which can be used to cut garlic, shallots or other pungent alliums into small pieces; slicing, which is useful for everything from vegetables to cheeses; and julienning, which is a specialty method that can spruce up any salad or cocktail garnish.” His Wavy Knife ($13) design is also great to add a little ruffled texture to your veggies.

3 Prep ahead of time 

Carter’s time-saving secret? Because fruits and veggies can be stored overnight, he cuts up everything he needs several hours or up to one day ahead of time. One of his go-to meals is a warm, rich fondue served with a generous platter of (pre-cut!) fruits and veggies. How genius us that? Carter also keeps things easy with elegant twists on common slow cooker meals like chili and soup. His suggestion for a relaxed dinner is a total home run: “Set it up the night before your party, and then welcome guests into your delicious-smelling home the next evening. Slice onions or scallions ahead of time, and along with cheese and some sour cream, you have a full-fledged toppings bar for guests to add to their chili or soup.”

4 Use fresh herbs 

Carter loves serving simple dishes and amping up the flavor with fresh herbs and spices. “Not only can you use an Herb Mincer ($16) to finely chop your herbs, but you can also use it to strip the leaves from the stem, which saves you a lot of time and frustration!”