Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "The Habit of a Midwinter Festivity"

This poem was written outside the regular prompt calls, inspired by the "festival / fair" square in my 4-3-17 card for the [community profile] origfic_bingo fest. It has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the Officer Pink thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

"The Habit of a Midwinter Festivity"

In December, a light snowfall
dusted the ground with white as
the Midwinter Faire came to Bluehill.

Ansel and Janie went there for
holiday shopping, and they hired
Turq to carry their packages.

Rows of portable booths had been
set up along Bluehill's streets, some
decorated like gingerbread houses and
others red with green trim, their eaves
hung with evergreens and holiday lights.

A vast Christmas tree towered above
the brick street. In a nearby park stood
the Yule Goat, which would later become
a bonfire. A department store's garden
hosted a huge cornucopia for Kwanzaa.

On a corner there sat a giant dreidel
that visitors could spin in hopes of winning
Hanukkah gelt the size of cookies.

"Is it like this every year?" Turq asked
as he tried to see everything at once.

"The habit of a midwinter festivity
comes down from the dawn of history,"
Janie said. "It has been a general custom
to decorate spaces with greenery and
flowers for seasonal festivals."

"This is amazing," Turq said.

"Oh, it gets better," Ansel said
as he pointed to the scene ahead.

A parade of performers wound its way
through the streets, led by Father Frost
in resplendent robes of white and gold.
He wore a crown braided from straw
and carried a tall silver scepter.

Beside him strode Lady Greensleeves,
her matching overdress of white trimmed
with gold braid and under it a gown with
flowing sleeves the color of evergreens.
Ivy twined around her long belt, and she
wore a crown of holly and mistletoe.

Ansel led Janie and Turq down the street,
where Janie spied three old women
tending a fragrant cauldron.

Reading the sign, she asked,
"Who else wants wassail?"

Everyone did, so she bought
three steaming cups and
passed them around.

They strolled along the shops
looking for potential gifts.

For Turq, Ansel found a sweater
striped in shades of blue and green
with white pine trees scattered around.

The shopkeeper obligingly wrapped it
so that no hint of the contents could be seen,
allowing Ansel to hand the package to Turq
without any risk of early discovery.

They came to a jewelry shop
whose walls were festooned with
strands of beads in every color.

Ansel admired a necklace of
graduated labradorite drops that
looked like tiny, glimmering icicles
accented with pink moonstones.

When Janie approached, he folded it
into his hand and said firmly, "Shoo."

She laughed and teased him and
tried to steal a peek, but Ansel managed
to keep his prize a secret even so.

Janie was evidently having some luck
of her own, though, as she added bags
to Turq's well-balanced collection.

Through the crowd came a choir group
singing, "A soul! a soul! a soul-cake!
Please good Missis, a soul-cake!"
and shaking a tin box for charity.

Ansel and Janie put something in,
and to Ansel's surprise, so did Turq.

"Are you sure you can spare it?"
Ansel asked him quietly.

"I have money, so yes," Turq said.
"I know what it's like to have nothing."
His mouth twisted downward.
"Holidays are the hardest."

Ansel patted him on the shoulder.
"That's very kind of you," he said.

The wind picked up, and their breath
plumed white in the cold winter air.
Snowflakes drifted down from the sky.

"Let's duck in here," Janie said, pointing out
a large corner booth of herbal products.

One section held simples, dozens of
different herbs neatly bagged and labeled.
Another offered teas and other blends.

There were soothing soaps made from
chamomile, lemon balm, mint, and pine.
Bath bags offered rosepetals and lavender,
hops and hyssop, while the powders were
based on milk, oatmeal, or Epsom salts
scented with various herbs and flowers.

First aid supplies filled one whole table.
It had salves for burns and blisters,
headaches and sore muscles, bottles
of antiseptic spray and bug repellent.

From the rafters hung pomanders made
from whole oranges decorated with cloves,
some dried for display and others fresh.
Hollowed orange halves burned as candles,
while others had been stuffed with spices
to resemble bears, reindeer, or snowflakes
for making mulled wine or apple cider.

"Celia would love these," Ansel said,
tapping a pomander with his fingertip.
She and his friend Justin had a baby
on the way, and it made her queasy.
Uplifting scents sometimes helped.

Janie lifted a bar of chamomile soap.
"My family loves the soothing stuff."

Turq was sniffing the mulling critters,
eyes half-closed with pleasure.
"These are nice too," he said.

"What do you think, is this
a good stop for our bulk buying?"
Ansel asked Janie. They often
picked one place to shop for a lot
of their gifts that didn't need to be
particularly personal or expensive.

"That sounds great," said Janie,
moving toward the counter.

The herbalist turned out to be
Lady Greensleeves herself,
bustling around with her hands
full of fragrant herbs and ribbons.

"Excuse me, do you have a basket
or something we could use?" Janie said.
"We're planning to buy a lot of stuff."

"Wonderful," said the herbalist.
"I'm Marjoram. If you're willing
to make a list, I can send someone
to fill it from my backstock and pack
it up for you -- there's a discount."

"Oh, that's much more efficient than
picking it all out by hand," said Janie.

Marjoram passed her a page and said,
"Just mark down the number of each item
on here, it's the form I use for mail orders."

"I want to put our stuff in the car, and
I'm going to need more packing gear,"
Turq declared, and trotted away.

Ansel and Janie happily occupied
themselves selecting gifts. Ansel
checked off the names on their list,
while Janie filled out the order form.

They even picked out some tea
for their own use -- a spicy blend
called Cozy Kettle and a minty one
named Winter Wonderland.

When they finished, Janie handed
the form to Marjoram and paid the bill.

The herbalist ducked behind the booth
to pass the page to an assistant whom
they never saw, but who returned in
a surprisingly short time with their goods,
only to disappear again on another errand.

Not long after that, Turq returned carrying
canvas bags decorated with reindeer,
snowflakes, pine trees, gingerbread men,
and colorful Christmas ornaments.

"These should do," he said. He let
Ansel and Janie help load the bags,
but insisted on weaving them together
all by himself. "Okay, I'm good to go."

Marjoram giggled. "You look like
Santa Claus," she said.

"Nah, I'm just a helpful elf
loading the sleigh," Turq said.

As they left the booth with their goods,
they passed a redheaded bard who was
singing a winter version of "Greensleeves"
while accompanying himself on a lute.

He wore a tunic of gray-green wool
reinforced with murrey at the yoke, cuffs,
and hem. Thread of gold picked out
the shapes of knotwork dragons.

Something about the sound
of his music reminded Ansel of
Doobie O'Donohue, inspiring him
to drop a donation into the festive hat
in which the bard was collecting tips.

Turq sniffed at the bags, then sneezed.

"Are you okay?" Ansel asked him.
"You're not catching cold or anything,
are you?" He wasn't even sure if Turq
could catch cold, but he worried anyway.

"It's not that," Turq said. "I thought that
I smelled something familiar, but I can't
make it out through all the spicy stuff."

"That sounds frustrating," said Ansel.
"Why don't we walk around in the fresh air,
and maybe you'll catch the scent again."

Turq didn't, but he did find a great booth
selling beef and millet stew in bread bowls
and winter fruit salad served hot in little cups
topped with rich blobs of mascarpone.

Ansel stepped up and bought food
for everyone, then handed it out.

He was so hungry from all the walking
that he wolfed down the stew as fast as
he could, but ate the gravy-soaked bread
more slowly so he could savor it. The fruit
had been dried and cooked in Earl Grey tea,
tender and delicious under its sweet topping.

"So what did you think of our Midwinter Faire?"
Janie asked Turq as they walked along.

"It's nice," Turq said. "Lots of things to see,
all the people, and so many smells ...
it's a little overwhelming, though."

"We've done plenty of shopping,"
Ansel said. "Want to head home?"

"I don't want to ruin your outing," Turq said,
but he looked toward where their car was.
"You're paying me to carry your stuff."

"We've been at this half a day already.
I don't know about you, but my feet
are killing me," Janie announced.

"Home it is," Ansel declared,
routing them in that direction.

Turq lasted long enough to put
their packages neatly into the car.
Then he shifted into his caney form,
curled up on the seat, and fell asleep.

"I could make a habit of this midwinter festivity,"
Ansel said as he stretched a cargo net over
the pile of packages in the back of the car.

"It's been a good day," Janie said. She
reached out to stroke the caney, who
barely flicked an ear at her touch.

Ansel shucked off his coat and
then his cranberry cardigan, which he
draped gently over Turq's sleeping form.
"Yes," Ansel said, "it really has."

* * *


Officer Pink (Ansel Nicholson) -- He has ruddy skin and hazel eyes. His hair starts out light brown but he has it changed to pink by Paintrix, after which it also tends to stand straight up. He discovers that the pink color just feels right for him, and decides to keep it. Ansel is tall and athletic, with a rectangular face, wide shoulders, and trim hips. He is heterosexual and has a girlfriend. He sleeps so deeply that he's easy to sneak up on after he's asleep.
Ansel works on the Bluehill police force as a corporal. He often volunteers for youth outreach and other public speaking. His pink hair helps other soups identify him, breaks the ice at presentations, and encourages people to ask him for help. On the downside, it also makes forks and other bigots hate him.
Origin: Upset by the increase in bullying, Ansel starts doing presentations at schools in Bluehill. The kids give him the idea of coloring his hair pink so he can see firsthand how people treat someone who is visibly different.
Uniform: On duty, Ansel wears the Bluehill police uniform. Off duty, he likes casual, sporty clothes.
Qualities: Master (+6) Compassion, Expert (+4) Citizen, Expert (+4) Cop, Expert (+4) People Skills, Good (+2) Athletic, Good (+2) Catcher in the Rye, Good (+2) Cheerful, Good (+2) Jigsaw Puzzles, Good (+2) Kindness, Good (+2) Listener, Good (+2) Problem-Solving Skills
Poor (-2) Deep Sleeper
Powers: Average (0) Moral Compass, Average (0) Wild Pink Hair
Motivation: To make the world a kinder place.

Janie Newcastle -- She has pinkish-fair skin, brown eyes, and wavy blonde hair to her chin. She is average height, with a heart-shaped face and softly curving body. She enjoys biking, jogging, tennis, and other athletic activities.
Janie is the girlfriend of Ansel Nicholson (Officer Pink). The youngest of three girls, she grew up as a bubbly, gregarious child in a quiet, reserved family and just never really fit in at home. Her parents always worried that she'd hurt herself romping in the woods with friends or trying to fix things around the house. Her sisters thought she'd never find a job or a boyfriend spending half her time looking like a tomboy and the other half like a cheerleader. Janie doesn't dislike her relatives, just doesn't have much in common with them, so they don't speak often. Instead she has focused on finding family of choice.
During the week, Janie hires out doing repairs and minor renovations in house and yard. She has an apartment in the heart of Bluehill. She and Ansel are trying to decide where they'd rather live, both of them torn between the downtown convenience of her place and his quiet, spacious yard.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Handywoman, Good (+2) Activity Scout Leader, Good (+2) Athletic, Good (+2) Naturalistic Intelligence, Good (+2) Warm-hearted Woman
Poor (-2) Family Background

Turq (Drustan Moreau)
-- He has pale skin and hazel eyes with hints of blue, green, and gray. His hair was originally brown, but is turning turquoise from the top down. His eyebrows, beard, and mustache are still brown. His ears are pierced. He is slim and muscular with a heart-shaped face. He is left-handed. Drustan is Scorpio with Pisces as a moon sign. His heritage includes Welsh, French, and German. Following incidents of child abuse and neglect, he grew up in the foster care system, so he had no real family support for years. The results of that have not been very good.
When Drustan reached the Liáng family, he finally found a comfortable home. This lasted until Mingxia's baby was born with severe medical problems, and Family Services dispersed the foster children to other locations. Drustan suffered through several bad placements, sometimes running away from them. Then his last foster parents sold him while pretending that he had run away again.
As a result, Drustan fell prey to a mad scientist whose disturbing experiments gave him superpowers. The body horror from his ordeal has left him full of dread and melancholy, making it difficult for him to connect with people. He also gets anxious about being tied up, locked in, or confined in any other way. That has given him a nasty set of striationary marks, more than once.
Turq has worked as a supervillain; he is a capable thief and a useful distraction, but iffy in a real fight. Most often he uses the shapeshifting, although his neural blast allows him to disorient people or shock them unconscious depending how much force he puts into it. He does his best to conceal the drawbacks of his superpowers, because he doesn't want anyone to take advantage of him. He is fatalistic about injuries and sometimes resistant to help. His cape name is a double tap. It's short for turquoise, in reference to his hair. It also touches on the Turk chess machine, which in Terramagne was not a hoax but an early gizmo.
Currently Turq lives in Bluehill, Missouri where he often interacts with Officer Pink (Ansel Nicholson). It has taken a lot of work, but Turq is starting to move back toward everyday society. He has also reconnected with the Liáng family, although that's an emotional roller-coaster of its own. His new support networking is helping him overcome the trauma he has survived.
Origin: Mad science torture. The supervillain Carl Bernhardt locked Drustan in a strange metal chamber and bombarded him with mysterious energies that caused his body to warp. He escaped when he finally manifested teleportation. Turq has since worked as a henchman for hire.
Uniform: Street clothes. He prefers clothes with stripes, spots, or other patterns because they hide bloodstains better. Usually he wears dark or neutral colors, but he also likes the blue-to-green range.
Qualities: Good (+2) Adaptable, Good (+2) Chess Player, Good (+2) Comforting When Fuzzy, Good (+2) Fast, Good (+2) Finding and Fixing Things, Good (+2) Supervillain Henchman
Poor (-2) Body Horror
Powers: Average (0) Teleporting, Average (0) Neural Blast, Average (0) Regeneration, Average (0) Shapeshifting
His alternate forms include caney, deer, and ferret. In caney form he has a violet gland with a pronounced floral scent, which is less intense but still present in his other shapes.
Vulnerability: Turq has difficulty controlling his superpowers. Shapeshifting screws up his body in ways that leave him coughing and vomiting blood afterwards. However, he can heal the damage -- anything that doesn't kill him instantly probably can't kill him at all. Teleporting can leave him disoriented and twitching from misconnected nerves, or scrambled inside, or all of the above. He actually travels by disintegrating and then reintegrating somewhere else, rather than by blinking from one place to another the way most teleporters do.
Motivation: Get through the day without screaming too much.

Amergin (Alroy Sheach)
-- He has pinkish-fair skin, green eyes, and short curly chestnut hair. He uses his faire name pretty much all the time now. His family pronounces their surname as "shuck" although other branches say "sheech" or "sheeck." He speaks Beurla Reagaird, Cornish, English, French, Irish Gaelic, Italian, Manx, Spanish, and Welsh. His heritage is Irish, Scottish, French, and American. His parents work the Renaissance Faire circuit; his mother is a blacksmith and his father is a silversmith. His sister works the circuit as a costumer. He is the husband of Marjoram. Amergin is homefree and a dedicated rennie with the Caravan Driver skill. He is a bard who plays bodhran, clairseach, guitar (both six and twelve strings), lute, mandolin, recorder, pennywhistle, and shawm. He can play the three strains (Geantraí for merriment, Goltraí for sadness, and Suantraí for sleep) of bardic legend, although currently at ordinary rather than super level. This helps his friend Nebuly to manage his moods.
Qualities: Good (+2) Bard, Good (+2) Dexterity, Good (+2) Homefree, Good (+2) Kindness, Good (+2) Languages
Poor (-2) Mainstream Culture

This is Amergin's winter tunic. Murrey is an archaic name for mulberry, a purplish-red color.

Marjoram (Mary Jane Grader) -- She has fair skin with freckles, hazel eyes, and long hair of reddish-gold. She has a sturdy body with small breasts and hips and little waist definition. She uses her faire name most of the time. Her heritage is Irish, British, and American. Her father is a professor of literature and her mother is a bohemian shopkeeper. Marjoram is the wife of Amergin. She works the Renaissance Faire circuit as an herbalist, although she still has a room in her parents' house. She invented the Gypsy Moon Tea for her friend Nebuly to help him sleep. A dedicated rennie, she has the Caravan Driver skill. She loves people and has an impish sense of humor.
Qualities: Good (+2) Constitution, Good (+2) Extrovert, Good (+2) Herbalist, Good (+2) Kindness, Good (+2) Naturalistic Intelligence
Poor (-2) Academics

Marjoram's Midwinter overdress looks similar to this, but without the bell sleeves, and the underdress is green instead of white.

Aldrich Baumgartner -- He has fair skin, hazel-brown eyes, and golden-brown hair gone almost entirely white. Always dry and thin, his skin is beginning to wrinkle and it gets a lot worse in dry weather. Aldrich has six children: his oldest son Conroy (fathering two grandchildren) and a daughter (mothering three grandchildren) from two different flings in his youth, a first daughter (mothering two grandchildren) and second daughter (mothering three grandchildren) belonging to friends who wished to have children but not husbands, then a son (fathering three grandchildren) and a daughter (mothering one grandchild) with his wife Nann.
Aldrich travels the Renaissance Faire circuit leading a caravan which mostly consists of performers with a few merchants and roustabouts. His most common persona is the bard Berin Tallbonnet. He plays cornamuse, dulcian, harp, guitar (both six and twelve strings), lute, recorder, pipe and tabor. Another favorite character is the wizard Gwydion Crystalwood. He's good at prestidigitation, but his real skill lies in applying a few basic tricks in very creative and awe-inspiring ways. He also plays Father Frost for the Midwinter Faire in Bluehill, Missouri. In this persona he delivers gifts from the Faire personnel to children in need.
Qualities: Master (+6) Caravan Master, Master (+6) Emotional Intelligence, Master (+6) Faire Actor, Expert (+4) Grandfather, Expert (+4) Musician, Expert (+4) Trustworthy, Good (+2) Collector of Fanciful Hats, Good (+2) Prestidigitation, Good (+2) Road Cook, Good (+2) Trivia
Poor (-2) Dry Skin

* * *

"The habit of a midwinter festivity had come by the dawn of history (and probably very long before) to seem a natural one to the British, and not one to be eradicated by changes of political or religious fashion. ... It was general custom in pagan Europe to decorate spaces with greenery and flowers for festivals, attested wherever records have survived."
-- Ronald Hutton

Set in Bluehill, Missouri, Midwinter Faire is a combination of Renaissance Faire and street fair which runs through December and early January. In addition to the rennies who come for the festival, local merchants also put out their seasonal wares. Portable booths are available for people who don't have their own, in gingerbread or red and green styles.  Merchants selling Christian-themed wares cluster around the big Christmas tree visible behind the red booths. Wares without a holiday theme can go pretty much anywhere.

The Yule Goat is an ancient tradition, with the pesky twist that people like to set these things on fire. Bluehill sensibly solve this problem by making a bonfire of their Yule Goat as part of the Yule festivities. Attempting to torch the thing early is therefore viewed akin to snitching one's Christmas presents early, frowned upon enough that it rarely happens and has never succeeded.  Pagan merchants cluster around the Yule Goat.

Kwanzaa has seven symbols, among them the mazao or cornucopia.  Merchants catering to Kwanzaa or other African-inspired tastes (including the Moorish re-enactors) gather around the cornucopia.

A dreidel is a four-sided top played during Hanukkah for gelt (typically chocolate coins covered in gold foil). This giant one waits on a street corner for people to spin it.  Jewish merchants set up near the dreidel.

As you can see, Terramagne-America rarely has the problems with arguments over holiday decorations that plague local-America.  Of course, they also tend not to put the decorations on government buildings like courthouses, which would violate the separation of church and state, but rather on streets or in front of churches or private buildings.  Insufficient diversity is a key reason why people complain.  Bluehill clearly isn't having that problem, and indeed, has cleverly used the big decorations as navigational points.  

Renaissance Faires often feature a parade, like these examples showing the queen and some merchant banners.  It's fun, it gives the patrons a good show, and it lets merchants or performers advertise their wares.

Father Frost is one of many holiday gift-bringers.  He's a little less sectarian than Santa Claus.

The female lead is Lady Greensleeves, inspired by the Pagan Yule version of the folk song "Greensleeves."  You can listen to the Pagan version on YouTube.  Holly, ivy, and mistletoe are traditional Christmas or Midwinter plants.

The Weird Sisters appear in the play Macbeth.  It's a fairly popular act in park performances of Shakespeare or in Renaissance Faires.  It this case, it has been adapted to seasonal context for selling wassail.

See the pine tree sweater that Ansel buys for Turq.

This is the labradorite necklace accented with pink moonstones that Ansel picks out for Janie.  Labradorite is a fascinating gemstone because it looks like dirty ice until the light hits just right and the colors flare.  Its mystical properties include self-discovery, temperance, and sensitivity.  Moonstone has a pearly sheen that comes in many colors including pink. Mystically, it's a feminine stone which supports emotions, creativity, and nurturing.

Soul cakes appear both at Halloween and at Christmas.  A soul party may go around begging for themselves, but in T-America they often do it for charity instead. Enjoy a recipe for soul cakes.

Statistically speaking, poor people are more generous and compassionate than rich people -- about 44% more, in fact. Compassion is a virtue that you can develop both for yourself and for other people.  Generosity is another virtue for you to cultivate.

Holidays are hard on the poor.  Here are a few tips for getting by.

Simples are single herbs. This is an easy way to learn herbalism for children or other novices. Herbal blends combine different plants for culinary or medicinal uses. Consider base, middle, and top notes as well as active and supporting ingredients.

Cozy Kettle
This tea has a complex, spicy flavor based on herbs with warming properties. It can be brewed alone, or used as a mulling blend.
4 parts ginger root pieces
2 parts allspice berries
2 parts orange peel chips
2 parts cinnamon bark chips
1 part whole cloves
1 part astragalus root strips
1 part green cardamom pods
1 part whole Chinese star anise
1 part dandelion root pieces

Ginger root has both uplifting and soothing qualities.

Allspice berries make a good digestive tonic.

Orange peel is rich in vitamin C.

Cinnamon bark can fight disease and promote healthy blood sugar.

Cloves are good for soothing pain and digestive upsets.

Astragalus root is a superfood and adaptogen that also boosts immunity.

Green cardamom pods can counter digestive upsets caused by onions or garlic.

Chinese star anise helps stimulate the appetite and relieve cold feelings.

Dandelion root makes a good coffee substitute, perking people up without caffeine.

Winter Wonderland 
This tea has a bright, minty flavor with cooling qualities.
6 parts peppermint
3 parts St. John's mint
3 parts hyssop flowers
1 part eleuthero root
1 part rosemary
1 part wintergreen
1 part camphor root

Peppermint is among the most famous cooling herbs.

St. John’s mint (Micromeria brownei) is an obscure but useful minty herb.

Hyssop is widely available as leaves, although herbal remedies often call for the flowers.

Eleuthero root helps stress and fatigue.

Rosemary has a piney flavor; it improves mood and boosts memory.

Wintergreen has cooling and pain relieving properties.

Camphor is related to cinnamon, but cool instead of warm.

Herbal soap comes in many styles. Marjoram's recipes include chamomile, lemon balm, garden mint, and pine tar. Herbal bath teas and powders make bathing more enjoyable.

Marjoram's herbal medicine chest is stocked with many useful supplies. You can make salves, burn ointment, blister salve, headache salve, muscle rubs, antiseptic spray, bug spray, and more.

Burn Gel
This gel has strong cooling and soothing properties, ideal for mild to moderate burns and hot rashes. It has a minty-medicinal smell.
2 cups aloe vera gel
2 cups gotu kola root powder
20 drops peppermint essential oil
10 drops lavender essential oil
5 drops eucalyptus essential oil
5 drops tea tree essential oil

Aloe vera gel is good for burns and dozens of other complaints.

Gotu kola has regenerative qualities.

Lavender is cooling for burns.

Eucalyptus is cooling and antiseptic.

Tea tree oil is a potent antiseptic.

Buddha Balm
This rich green salve has grassy, spicy, and medicinal notes. It's an all-purpose healing balm based primarily on traditional Chinese medicine, particularly good for blisters.
1 cup olive oil infused with calendula
1 cup olive oil infused with chuanxiong, dong quai (Chinese angelica root), Panax ginseng (Chinese ginseng)
1 cup olive oil infused with white willow bark
1/4 cup tamanu oil
3 cups beeswax
3 cups shea butter
1/2 ounce vitamin E oil
1 tablespoon matcha green tea powder
10 drops frankincense essential oil
10 drops peppermint essential oil
10 drops sandalwood essential oil

Tamanu oil is good for skin complaints.

Calendula heals the skin. It comes in yellow to orange shades; Marjoram uses yellow for this recipe because that brightens the green.

Chuanxiong is a Chinese herb often appearing in blends for sore muscles.

Dong quai is a broad-spectrum herb appearing in many Chinese blends. Panax ginseng has stimulating and regenerative qualities.

White willow bark is a natural painkiller.

Matcha green tea powder has many benefits, and gives the salve its vivid green color.

Frankincense is spicy-sweet and has antiseptic functions.

Sandalwood is another spicy oil that lifts and soothes the mood.

Lavender Lift Headache Salve
This pale green, creamy salve has floral, minty, and medicinal notes. When rubbed on the temples or back of the neck, it helps relieve headaches using herbs and essential oils, including migraines.
2/3 cup olive oil infused with feverfew
2/3 cup sweet almond oil infused with yarrow
2 tablespoons tamanu oil
1/2 ounce beeswax
1/2 ounce carnauba wax
1/2 teaspoon lavender essential oil
1/4 teaspoon peppermint essential oil
1/4 teaspoon birch essential oil

Tamanu oil helps heal the skin.

Feverfew is a leading headache remedy.

Yarrow is a broad-spectrum herb with soothing qualities.

Birch is a natural painkiller.

Warming Rub
This salve has strong warming, moisturizing properties with a reddish-brown color and a spicy-sweet scent. It's good for sore muscles.
1/2 cup cinnamon powder
1/2 cup ginger powder
1/2 cup dry white willow bark
1/4 cup dried arnica flowers
4 tablespoons ground cloves
3 tablespoons cayenne powder
1 tablespoon Panax ginseng powder
1/2 cup of sunflower oil
2 cups of olive oil
2 oz vitamin E oil
1/2 cup beeswax pastilles
1/2 cup carnauba wax granules

Ginger is a warming herb.

Arnica is a strong astringent.

Cayenne is a potent warming herb that also kills germs.

Winter's Kiss Salve
This pale, shimmery salve has strong cooling and drying properties with a minty-medicinal smell. It's good for sore muscles.
2 cups coconut oil
1/4 cup beeswax pastilles
1/4 cup carnauba wax granules
1/2 ounce dried arnica montana flowers
1 tablespoon American ginseng powder
1 tablespoon natural mica powder
8 drops grapefruit essential oil
8 drops peppermint essential oil
3 drops wintergreen essential oil
3 drops eucalyptus essential oil

Natural mica powder is lovely, shiny stuff.

American ginseng has general healing qualities.

Grapefruit is antibacterial.

Adaptogenic essential oils include peppermint, lavender, and lemon. Marjoram tends to put adaptogens into most recipes.

Herbal Owie Spray
So named not just for what you put it on, but because this herbal antiseptic stings like heck, although it's not as nasty as rubbing alcohol since the echinacea root is soothing. This is a favorite with people whose body issues make numbing spray a bad idea, or who find that herbal antiseptics work better on their body than synthetic ones do. It has an herbal-medicinal smell.
8 ounces distilled water
7 ounces witch hazel
1 teaspoon glycerine
30 thyme essential oil
20 drops rosemary essential oil
10 drops oregano essential oil 10 drops sage essential oil

Thyme is a tremendous antiseptic.

Rosemary helps to clean wounds.

Oregano is antifungal.

Sage has antiseptic qualities.

Bye-Bye Bug Spray
This spray discourages mosquitoes, flies, spiders, ticks, and other pests. It has a bright, refreshing citrus scent. There are many recipes for bug repellent.
3 ounces distilled water
3 ounces witch hazel
40 drops citronella essential oil
20 drops lemongrass essential oil
10 drops lemon eucalyptus
10 drops peppermint essential oil
5 drops neem oil
5 drops tea tree oil

Witch hazel is a strong astringent.

repels most insects and other pests.

also repels bugs, especially flies.

Lemon eucalyptus
is repellent and medicinal.

is antiseptic and repellent.

Mulling critters include reindeer, beetles, and bears wedged into orange rinds packed with mulling spices. Marjoram uses a red peppercorn instead of cinnamon candy for the reindeer noses. Centipedes can be made without the nutmeg by omitting the head and adding as many clove legs as will fit. Mulling snowflakes can be made by using whole cloves and/or slivers of cinnamon bark to create a six-pointed or hexagram design. No two alike!

Mulling pomanders can be used with cider or wine. These can be made fresh with oranges and cloves. Here is a comparison of fresh and dried pomanders, and instructions for making them. You can also dry whole oranges as Christmas decorations. This version slits the oranges to help them dry better.

Another fun craft is making candles out of oranges.

Among Turq's tote bags are the winter reindeer, snowflake, winter trees, gingerbread man, and Christmas ornaments.

Busking is performing for tips in public, usually but not always music. This video explains one busker's kit. Liverpool's Busking Guide describes an ideal relationship between buskers, audience, bystanders, and authorities. This is typical of cities in T-America that have enough buskers to need guidelines.

Enjoy recipes for beef and millet stew in whole wheat bread bowls plus winter fruit salad with mascarpone.

See Ansel's cranberry cardigan and read how to make it.
Tags: crafts, cyberfunded creativity, family skills, fantasy, fishbowl, holiday, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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