Friday, July 21, 2017

Anatomy of a Castle:
Blog Series & Giveaway

Chepstow Castle, Wales, UK
On my companion blog for Emerald Post I am embarking on a blog series exploring the "Anatomy of a Castle" to compliment the July Issue of Emerald Post. Please hop over to to journey with me back in time to the Medieval Castles of the Celtic Isles. And to make the journey even sweeter I'm hosting a giveaway! Leaving a comment on any or all "Anatomy of a Castle" Posts enters you into a drawing to win a 5x7 Castle Photo of Your Choice (from the Anatomy of a Castle Blog Series) plus a few other goodies. You'll be entered once for each blog post that you comment upon (but leave as many comments as you wish) and a winner will be chosen randomly after the blog series closes (likely in a few weeks). So come journey with me and comment away. Thanks!

Descending the spiral staircase

British Isles #22: Loch Ness & Urquhart Castle

Urquhart Castle sits on the edge of the notorious Loch Ness home of the Loch Ness Monster, or Nessie for short.  There isn't much left of the castle but it is picturesque and serene. As far as other castle and ruins go, this one pales in comparison. But we were in the area, and it was on our Heritage Pass so we stopped. It was off season so it wasn't busy and the lake was fog covered and beautiful. Had it been summer we would have definitely avoided this place. As a rule, we generally opt to skip the most touristy attractions such as Blarney Castle in Ireland which we've still not seen. Where you visit is obviously a personal preference. Stonehenge also is very well known and visited by tourists but I've been twice (in the off season, mind you) and enjoyed it quite a bit, I thought it was worth the price/crowds. I usually weigh costs and convenience of getting somewhere when deciding where or where not to go.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Toadstool Tuesday

Since the summer heat and some gracious July rain have graced my woods with a plethora of fungi - I'm breaking into the other days of the week to share these awesome mushrooms, hence Toadstool Tuesday.  I just loved this one. Found it one evening when the light was almost gone and the next morning it had opened into the loveliest parasol (as big as my hand!). I think it is a blusher mushroom, amanita rubescens, and this species is popping up all over my forest currently. The quick nature of mushrooms to pop up, to shapeshift, to disappear give them such an air of magic, it is no wonder they are players in so many stories, myths, & legends.

About 8:30 pm

Around 9 am the next morning

A look under the cap

Can you spy the blushing beauty? What about an Indigo Milky?

Monday, July 17, 2017

Mushroom Monday

A medley of mushrooms found throughout Missouri woods with a little summer rain.


Edible Chanterelle

Friday, July 14, 2017

Summer of Stones

This June, I featured ancient stone monuments over at Emerald Post. These ancient stones are scattered all across the Celtic Isles, some are known worldwide, like Stonehenge, some just stand humbly among sheep in a farmer's field. Any drive across the landscape and you will see ancient stones of one sort or another. My watercolor painting below journeys through the landscape stopping at different types of monuments from different eras: Dolmen, Stone Circles, Standing Stones, Clochan/Beehive Huts, Cashels & High Crosses. And the other contents of June's Emerald Post explore these monuments even further. Below is a gathering of June's contents (still available over HERE) and an offering of stones from across these isles.

History in Stone Watercolor Print - Available HERE

Castlerigg Stone Circle, Lake District, England

Beehive Stone Huts on Island of Skellig Michael, Kerry, Ireland

Trethevy Quoit, Cornwall, England

Exterior of Passage Tombs at Knowth, Boyne Valley, Ireland

Neolithic Art Carvings at Newgrange, Boyne Valley, Ireland

Monday, July 3, 2017

Mushroom Monday

Sunlit Shrooms - My favorite edibles: Indigo Milkys and Chanterelles

Monday, June 19, 2017

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Summer Sights

Self Heal - edible & medicinal, can be used for a tea

Queen Anne's Lace (Wild Carrot)


Monday, June 5, 2017

Friday, May 26, 2017

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Myth & Magic of the May Tree

Today I want to share some of the fascinating folklore surrounding the Hawthorn Tree which inspired this botanical card in the May Issue of Emerald Post (You can still get May's issue HERE)....

Folklore holds that Hawthorn trees possess magical properties and guard entrances to the Faery Realm. These often lone, gnarled and weathered trees stand sentinel at portals to the Otherworld. Across the verdant isles of Ireland and Great Britain you may notice the frequent presence of a single tree atop a barren hill, amid moorland or bog land, standing eerily alone. These are most often the well respected and revered Hawthorn Trees.

Hawthorn at Hound Tor, Dartmoor, Devon, England

Throughout Celtic lands, Hawthorns are found very near ancient standing stones and stone circles, sacred springs, and holy wells where visitors and pilgrims adorn the revered tree with ribbons, rags, cloth, or other offerings as they say a prayer, utter a wish, or offer gratitude. Referred to as Wishing Trees, Rag Trees, Faery Trees, or Clottie Trees, their branches hang low under the weight of wishes and prayers.

A Faerie Tree near Killary Harbour in Ireland
Though considered bad luck much of the time, Hawthorns can also bestow good luck and protection. Flowering in May, the Hawthorn has long been associated with May Day and the ancient Celtic festival of Beltane. The month of May is the only time one should take a sprig from a Hawthorn. A flowering branch was traditionally gathered on the eve of May 1st and placed on or above the threshold of the house to banish evil spirits and protect the household from misfortune, or caried by a maiden to attract a husband. Bathing in the May morning dew of hawthorn blossoms is said to bring health, beauty, good fortune, and even wealth.  A Hawthorn planted or growing near the home is said to protect it from lightning, storms, and, of course, witches.  

I’ve seen many a Hawthorn on my travels across Ireland and Great Britain. Almost always, there is one at the entrance to a stone circle and often draped with the offerings of visitors who’ve come before me. The places where the Hawthorns dwell, they do seem to hold a certain energy, a beauty, a clarity, and usually some peculiar weather like a harsh wind, a thick fog, or an eerie stillness. Perhaps it is only the landscape, specifically chosen by ancient peoples for such attributes or maybe, just maybe, it is the faeries.
Faery Hawthorn at Ballynoe Stone Circle - Ireland

Faery Hawthorn at Beaghmore Stone Circle, Ireland

Explore the world of Hawthorns and Folklore more :

Learn more about Faery Wish Trees HERE.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Mushroom Monday

Some unknown gems from the wet spring rains: