Clarissa Johal: June 2016

Thursday, June 30, 2016

#FolkloreThursday - Balor, King of the Formorians #Irish

The Formorians by John Duncan (1912)
In Celtic mythology, Balor was king of the Fomorians, a race of supernatural beings or giants said to inhabit ancient Ireland. Formorians were often portrayed as hostile and monstrous beings who come from the sea or underground.

In some tales, Balor was born with a single eye in the middle of his forehead, with another at the back of his head to detect enemies. Other tales say that when Balor was a boy, he looked into a potion being brewed by his father’s Druids, and the fumes caused him to grow a huge, poisonous eye. The eye had to be opened by attendants, and it killed anything on which it gazed, thus the phrase "evil eye."

Balor had a vision that his own grandson would kill him. In order to stave off death, he locked his own daughter in a tower of crystal to keep her from producing a grandson. But his fate was not to be derailed. A Druid priestess helped a suitor sneak in and Balor's daughter became pregnant. Her son, Lugh Lamhfada, grew up to fight in the Battle of Magh Tuiredg. He killed Balor with a spear, and then used Balor's own evil eye to kill the rest of the Formorian army. According to myths, the eye was cast aside and burned a crater into the ground. The crater later filled with water and became known as Loch na Súil, or "Lake of the Eye", in County Sligo.
He decided to stave off his death by locking his own daughter, Ethlinn, in a tower composed of shining crystal. - See more at: http://www.irishcelticjewels.com/celtic-wedding/2012/11/irish-mythology-balor-of-the-evil-eye/#sthash.2IJ8EXwl.dpuf

Born with an eye in the middle of his forehead and another on the back of his head, he had the power to detect any foes before they could attack him.

However, Balor had a vision that he was to be murdered by his own grandson, and he became very paranoid.
- See more at: http://www.irishcelticjewels.com/celtic-wedding/2012/11/irish-mythology-balor-of-the-evil-eye/#sthash.2IJ8EXwl.dpuf
Born with an eye in the middle of his forehead and another on the back of his head, he had the power to detect any foes before they could attack him.

However, Balor had a vision that he was to be murdered by his own grandson, and he became very paranoid.
- See more at: http://www.irishcelticjewels.com/celtic-wedding/2012/11/irish-mythology-balor-of-the-evil-eye/#sthash.2IJ8EXwl.dpuf
Born with an eye in the middle of his forehead and another on the back of his head, he had the power to detect any foes before they could attack him.

However, Balor had a vision that he was to be murdered by his own grandson, and he became very paranoid.
- See more at: http://www.irishcelticjewels.com/celtic-wedding/2012/11/irish-mythology-balor-of-the-evil-eye/#sthash.2IJ8EXwl.dpufHe locked his daughter Ethlinn in a crystal tower, to prevent her from getting pregnant. With the help of the druidess Birog, Cian of the Tuatha Dé Danann, managed to enter the tower and slept with Ethlinn. She gave birth to a son, but when Balor learned of his existence he threw him in the ocean. Birog saved the boy and gave him to the sea god Manannan mac Lir, where he was raised. The boy, named Lugh Lamhfada (Lugh of the Long Arm), became a member of the Tuatha Dé Danann and led them in the second battle at Mag Tuireadh. rip out Balor's eye with a sling and Balor fell dead to the ground.  deadly eye burned a hole into the earth. Long after, the hole filled with water and became a lake in County Sligo known as Loch na Súil, or "Lake of the Eye."

Monday, June 27, 2016

#MeatlessMonday - Ginger Shortbread

Busy week, so I'll post a shortbread recipe today utilizing one of my favorite spices - ginger.. Enjoy! 

Photo courtesy of Caitriana Nicholson via Flickr

Ingredients

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger
1/8 teaspoon salt

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350°
2. Beat butter at medium speed until fluffy; gradually add sugar, beating well.
3. Stir together flour, ground and minced ginger, and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating at low speed until blended after each addition.
4. Press dough into a 1/2 inch thick round on a foil or parchment-lined baking sheet.
5. Bake at 350° for 18-22 minutes or until light golden brown and set. Cut into wedges.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

#FolkloreThursday - The Sandman #European

De Zandman. Frontispice uit de Nederlandse vertaling
'Sprookjes: tweede verzameling', 1847

The Sandman. Most think of him as a mythical character from European folklore who sprinkles magical sand onto the eyes of children and brings good dreams. His appearance is usually that of an old man wearing a gold robe and carrying a bagful of sand. Innocuous enough, right?

But there are other creatures bearing the name Sandman--and these creatures are very different. The first has long fingers, sharp teeth and skin that is decayed and discolored, like a that of a dead person. It hides in the dark and whispers, "tik-toc, tik-toc" to its unlucky victim, putting them into a deep sleep. Once asleep, this Sandman will come out of hiding and devour the sleeping victim with its sharp teeth. It only needs to feast once per night, but will sometimes choose to kill for fun.
The other Sandman was used to scare children in the early 19th century. He would sneak into the rooms of children who wouldn't go to sleep and throw sand into their eyes, causing them to itch. When the child rubbed, their eyes would fall out on the floor in a bloody mess. The Sandman would then collect these eyes to feed to his pet bird that lived on the crest of the moon.
Sleep well, little children.

By the late 19th century, the nightmarish Sandmen had transformed from monsters, into a benign character that brought children pleasant and happy dreams. This led to the belief that there were two Sandmen, perhaps brothers. One brought good dreams, while the other had more evil intentions. In some stories, the powers of these Dream Creatures became even greater. Each person or family had their own Sandman. They could give you a dream you want, power over your own dreams, or glimpses into your future. Over the years, the folklore continues to change due to references in popular culture. It will be interesting to see what happens to the Sandman fifty years from now.

So...which Sandman will be visiting your bedroom tonight?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Tangled Tuesday - Guest Author @AshKrafton #Victorian #darkfantasy

Please welcome my guest author, Ash Krafton. 

Her book is on sale this week, so you might want to check it out!


                                               ********************** 

 A Victorian Birthday and Mementos Mori
by Ash Krafton 

The Victorian Era is steeped in traditions. Anything that flew in the face of tradition was shunned, cursed, and outcast. Tradition provided vital foundation, the legs upon which society stood. 

Traditions embellished every moment in life. One such tradition was the celebration of birthdays. Considering this month marks the book birthday for THE HEARTBEAT THIEF, you might expect a post on birthdays. Right? Anecdotes about parties and pastries and pretty ribbons and…

…no. Just—no.

On one hand, THE HEARTBEAT THIEF *is* pretty on the outside, like a birthday party. Beautiful and beribboned and sweet as strawberries and cream. But what is a birthday if not all about victory over death? And, deep within, that is what Senza Fyne’s tale is all about.

She is, after all, the Forever Girl. Death’s Estranged. Endless. She stopped celebrating birthdays when she learned how to steal immortality. Eventually, there was only one day she marked each year: her Unbirthing Day.

So just think about all the lovely traditions she missed out on when it came to her death. The Victorians were morbidly fascinated with death and went to great lengths to mark the occasion.


                            


Senza could not die. She denied her loved ones so many opportunities…

No one would stop the clocks or draw all the curtains, to dwell in sad, shadowy silence.

No one would post elegantly written funeral notes of invitation.

No one would stand watch over her body, every moment from death to interment (which could take three to four days to allow family to arrive).

No one would arrange flowers around her body to mask the signs of decay.

No final death portraits, with falsely life-like poses, cosmetically-created rosy cheeks, or painted pupils in propped-open eyes.


No hair trinkets. No one would trim her winter-fire red locks and weave the tresses into rings or bracelets or brooches to wear as mourning jewelry.

No one would wear mourning for her, deep black crinoline with heavy veils and dark jet jewels. Instead, those would be her own disguise, hiding the eternal freshness of her beautiful cheeks from her aging loved ones and she sneaked like a thief through the pages of time.

No drapes upon the mirrors to prevent them from enticing her soul to enter, only to become trapped for all of wretched eternity.

No black crape hung around the doorknobs to announce the tragedy of her passing, reminding callers to avoid ringing.

No elaborate funeral procession, aristocratic and stately, with plumes and pallbearers, a hearse trimmed in white to lament the passing of one so young.

No strings tied to her finger, connecting her to coffin bells above her grave. No dead-ringers, graveyard shifts, or being saved by the bell.


                              


See what I meant when I said the Victorians were just a little on the morbid side? Bereavement, you see, was generally the order of the day, even when there was no one to bury, because life was fragile and brief and all too often lost in the blink of an eye.

Senza Fyne would not die. Mr. Knell had worked his dark spell on her and removed her from the march of time, placing her far beyond the decayed grasp of Death. Although the Ferryman would not come for her, she was forced to watch each and everyone around her succumb to the ravages of life’s bittersweet ending.

Shadows cluttered her heart, each and every day that she went forth, beautiful and young and free of what frightened her most. She could not die.

But in that, she very nearly forgot how to live.

You can read Senza Fyne’s dark tale and take that long walk with her. See what she sees, experience what she felt as she stood still, a statue in a fast-growing, fast-wilting, ever-changing garden.


                                       
This week until June 26th, THE HEARTBEAT THIEF ebook will be $0.99!

Find it at any of these retailers:






About the author: Ash Krafton

Ash Krafton writes New Adult speculative fiction under the pen name AJ Krafton. In addition to THE HEARTBEAT THIEF, Ash is also the author of a growing list of poetry, short stories, and urban fantasy novels.

Currently, she’s working on a new series, THE DEMON WHISPERER. First book, CHARM CITY, can be found on Wattpad.com where you can read it free. Find it here: CHARM CITY on Wattpad.com

Find more to love at www.ashkrafton.com


                           

Follow Ash at:

Monday, June 20, 2016

#MeatlessMonday - #Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie #recipe

This is a very hearty dish I made for Father's Day. You can add whatever vegetables happen to be in your pantry, this recipe is very versatile. I cheated with the Bisto gravy mix and frozen piecrust because it was hot (that's my story and I'm sticking to it ) but you're welcome to make those from scratch. Enjoy!

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

1 baked deep-dish pie shell  (you may omit the pie shell and use a baking dish, if you wish)
Bisto gravy mix (1-1/2 cups gravy)

Photo courtesy of Kent via Flickr
6 large potatoes
1/4 cup sour cream
2T butter
2T milk

3 carrots, sliced
1/2 large rutabaga, peeled and diced
1 cup vegetable stock
1 onion, diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 cup chopped spinach
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1/2 bag Morningstar vegetarian crumbles
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese


1) Bake pie shell according to directions. Make 1-1/2 cups Bisto gravy according to instructions. Set both aside.

2) Peel and sliced potatoes. Place in pot of boiling water and cook until tender. Drain. Add sour cream, milk and butter. Mash with potato masher. Set aside.

3) Simmer diced rutabaga in vegetable stock until tender. Drain.

4) Sauté onion and garlic in separate fry pan. Add vegetarian crumbles and mushrooms. Sauté until mushrooms are tender. Add drained rutabaga, carrots, gravy, spinach, salt and pepper. Heat through.

5) Fill baked pie shell with vegetable/gravy mixture.

6) Top with mashed potatoes and shredded cheddar cheese. Make sure mashed potatoes are "sealed" at the edges.

7) Bake at 375F for 30 minutes.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

#FolkloreThursday - Lidérc #Hungarian

Liderc, Hungaria  www.zonaunik.com
A lidérc is a unique supernatural being of Hungarian folklore. It eagerly carries out the bidding of it's human master. Unless it's kept busy, it will become increasingly problematic. It has three known varieties, all similar in nature.

The first variety is hatched from a first egg of a black hen. The egg is incubated from the warmth of a human's armpit. The lidérc then attaches itself to the person who hatched it, shape-shifting into a man or woman. The creature is a combination of a familiar, vampire and demon. If the owner is a woman, the being shifts into a man. It preys upon it's human while they're asleep, sometimes sucking their blood, and will make them weak and sick. In order to get rid of the lidérc, it must be persuaded to perform an impossible task, such as haul sand with rope, or water with a sieve. It can also be warded off with garlic, or by locking it into a tree hollow.

The second kind of lidérc is a tiny being or devil. It may also be obtained from a black hen's egg, but more often it is found in rags, boxes, or pockets of old clothes. A person who finds this lidérc will suddenly become rich and capable of extraordinary feats, but it is in the exchange of their soul.

The third variety of the lidérc is sexual in nature. Similar to an incubus or succubus, it flies at night, and may appear as a will o' the wisp or bird of fire. On earth, it assumes a human shape, usually the shape of a dead relative or lover, but with the footprints of a horse. This lidérc may enter the house through chimneys or keyholes. It will bring with it sickness and doom. Burning incense and birch will ward it off.

Monday, June 13, 2016

#MeatlessMonday - Blueberry & Bulgur Salad #recipe #vegetarian

Photo courtesy of Rachel via Flickr
We're having a very good blueberry season here in North Carolina. I have no problem eating them straight from the basket, but thought I'd look up some recipes using blueberries.  This one looked good, so I gave it a try. I altered the recipe to suit my tastes. If you don't like bulgur, quinoa would work too. Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 cup bulgur wheat
4 cups coarsely chopped spinach or kale
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Preparation
Photo courtesy of Bitki Etkisi via Flickr
Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a saucepan. Add bulgur and let stand for 20 minutes. Drain off any excess water and cool.
Stir in chopped spinach or kale, red wine vinegar, blueberries, pecans and feta cheese.

Monday, June 6, 2016

#MeatlessMonday - Eggplant, Tomato & Smoked Mozzarella Tart #vegetarian #recipe

A summer tart which require some work, but it's worth it. If you don't want to mess with making your own tart crust, use prepared pie crust dough. Enjoy!

Eggplant, Tomato, and Smoked Mozzarella Tart

Photo courtesy of Annie via Flickr
Ingredients

Crust:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil

Filling:

1 (1-pound) eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1/2 teaspoon salt
Olive oil for brushing eggplant 

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon basil (fresh, if you can)
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano  (fresh, if you can)
16 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded smoked mozzarella cheese, divided
2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Preparation


Preheat oven to 400°.

To prepare crust:
Combine flour, baking powder, pepper and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in center of mixture. Add water and 1 tablespoon oil, stirring to form a soft dough. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly. Press dough into a 4-inch circle on plastic wrap; cover and chill 15 minutes.
Roll dough into an 11-inch circle. Press lightly into a 10-inch round tart pan coated with cooking spray. Pierce bottom and sides of dough with a fork. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

To prepare filling: 
Sprinkle eggplant with 1/2 teaspoon salt; let stand 15 minutes. Pat dry with paper towels. Brush eggplant with olive oil. Arrange eggplant in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes. Set aside.

Heat a large skillet. Add garlic and olive oil. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, basil, oregano and tomatoes.

Layer smoked mozzarella, eggplant and tomato mixture in crust and top with Parmesan cheese. 

Bake at 400° for 10 minutes or until cheese melts. Cut into 8 wedges.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

#FolkloreThursday - Roadtrip to Visit Mothman

My daughter wants to take a road trip to Point Pleasant, West Virginia this summer. Why, you ask? She wants to visit the Mothman Museum. And yes, there is such a thing. I checked into it, and not only is there a museum dedicated to Mothman, there's an entire festival. I'm always game for a road trip but knew little about Mothman. I decided to do some research into the folklore and found some fascinating stuff.

Sighting History

Photo courtesy of Metronomad via Flickr
The first known sighting of Mothman occurred on November 12, 1966. Five men were digging a grave at a cemetery near Clendenin, West Virginia. They claimed to see a man-like figure fly over their heads.

On November 15, 1966, two couples told police they saw a large white creature whose eyes "glowed red" in their the car headlights. They described the creature as a "large flying man with ten-foot wings." Supposedly, it followed their car while they were driving around the site of a former World War II munitions plant.
The creature was seen by five more people that week. One stated that he saw it standing in a field when it suddenly spread its wings and flew away.

On January 11, 1967, the Mothman was seen hovering around the Point Pleasant Bridge, also called the Silver Bridge. On and off throughout that year, more reports were filed about sightings of the creature around the bridge. The bridge collapsed on December 15, 1967 leading to the deaths of 46 people. Many think the Mothman sightings and the bridge collapse were connected.

Native American Curse?

Prior to the American Revolution, a young Hokoleskwa, who later became a prominent leader of the Shawnee nation, opposed European settlement west of the Ohio River. After the Battle of Point Pleasant in 1774, Hokoleskwa became an advocate for peace. His murder in 1777 by American militiamen during a diplomatic visit outraged both American Indians and Virginians.
In 1840 his grave was discovered and his remains were moved to the Mason County Courthouse grounds. In 1954 the courthouse was torn down and he was reburied in Point Pleasant. Legends arose of a Point Pleasant curse, which included the Mothman sightings.

Public Domain at Wikipedia
Scientific Explanation

Wildlife biologist Dr. Robert L. Smith at West Virginia University states that descriptions and sightings of Mothman all fit the sandhill crane, a large American crane almost as high as a man with a seven-foot wingspan. The bird has circles of reddish coloring around the eyes. This particular crane isn't native to the region, but may have wandered out of its migration route at the time. 

In spite of this theory, Mothman sighting continue around the world to this day.






Photo courtesy of Jason W. via Flickr
So, what do you think? Was Mothman a sandhill crane, cryptid, or curse? My thoughts are that Mothman was a sandhill crane (which will disappoint my daughter immensely). But, like I said, I'm always game for a road trip.

Anyone up for Bigfoot?