Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Healthy Winter Meals - Busy Day Chicken

To warm your spirit on a cold winter's day!

l.  Spray the bottom of the baking dish with a non stick spray...whatever size dish you have on hand.

2. Layer as many sliced potatoes as will fit in the bottom of the pan.

3.  Layer chicken pieces on top.  Whatever you happen to have.  I had thighs.

4.  Sprinkle with liberally salt, pepper, paprika.  I threw some thyme on top because I happened to have it growing in the kitchen.  You could use rosemary or leave it plain.

5. Cover with foil. (put NO liquid in it)

6.  Bake 350 for around l.5 hours.


*I wouldn't not recommend chicken breasts for this dish.
They are not juicy enough.  If you do use them, add some water
to the bottom of the potatoes before baking and reduce the cooking time by at
least a half hour...or more.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Your Facebook Feed - You Are What You Read

Yellow Crabapple Autumn Print
It's been awhile since I posted in this blog, but like most artists who are fortunate enough to be able to express themselves through multiple platforms, I write when I'm inspired to write.
When the words fill my head, I write.
I paint, draw and take photographs when I'm visually inspired.
The last few months, the visual has definitely taken a front seat in my life.

This morning I read something on my Facebook page that has come up several times.
That I've actually posted about it on our Mind Body Spirit Marketplace page in the past.
A friend had requested that her friends post photos of baby animals to counteract all the hateful comments and negativity that she was seeing in her Facebook feed.
I had to ask myself...why?
 My Facebook feed doesn't look like that, and neither does the MBS page.
So I commented:

"I honestly don't see much hatred in my feed. In fact mine is usually full of artwork, nature and people posting positive, inspiring quotes. My 'FB friends' don't tend to post negative things or hateful, political spew. The one thing about FB that a lot of people overlook, is that what you see is totally within your own control. So people need to ask themselves....who 'do' you friend with that would post such negative things to begin with?? If I don't like what I see...I just block or unfriend...
I mean, why not?"

We become what we choose to feed ourselves.  
Not just food, but what we choose to ingest visually and auditorily too.  
What we read, what we watch, who we talk to...what we listed to and choose to focus on.  
Who DO we talk to?  
Who DO we choose to spend our time socializing with?  
Both online and off.
Does it make us more intelligent and informed?
Do we feel better or angry after we read it?
Does it bring us up, or dumb us down?

We make our own choices everyday that either uplift our soul or compel us to dive down and 
swim with the bottom feeders.
What do you think about in your spare time? 
And -
How do you think about it?
In positive or negative terms?

  Are you thinking about how much you dislike someone or how angry they make you?
Or do or you move your thought process on to more 
positive  thoughts?

It's all within your own control, you know.

  Good example:  
This morning I was talking with a friend in his yard.  
Yes, it would have been almost too easy to focus my attention on all the work he 
needed to catch up on around his house... but when I looked in his yard, his wonderful 
 little trees, the trees that he loves so much and has patiently cultivated and 
nursed over the years, 
stood out like little golden jewels. 
Their fall colors vibrated wildly in the sunlight.
They were simply stunning.  
(I'm obviously still thinking about them)

Next time you wake up in the morning and and find yourself mindlessly scrolling through 
your Facebook feed, ask yourself -
"Why do I choose to allow myself to ingest the things I do?
And - how does that not only effect my own well being, but the well being of others?
(especially when I choose to re-post)"

Don't become a Facebook drone.  
Disconnect from the things that do not bring you to a good place and move on.

Enjoy your day!

diane fergurson

Yellow Crabapple Tree Autumn Print courtesy of Jude McConkey Photography

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Your Animal Spirit Guides

Raven Mug by PattyMara on Etsy
I had a birthday recently and one of the gifts I received from my son was a book on spirit animals. I had been planning to write a blog post about spirit animal guides for a long time, but I never quite figured out how to approach the material.  To just list the animals and their characteristics seemed a bit boring to me.  The book served as a gentle reminder that I really should revisit the subject, regardless of how I choose to present the information. 

A few years ago I began an interview with a wonderful Native American artist about spirit animal guides from her cultural perspective.  Unfortunately our schedules never seemed to connect and we didn't finished the interview.  Looking back I'll admit I found myself a bit hesitant with the interview though, mostly out of deference for her background, but also because I didn't want to ask too many probing questions and over step my bounds.  She found herself treading lightly too, wanting to be respectful and true to the knowledge that had been passed down to her from her grandmother.  She also did not want to pass on information that she may not have remembered correctly.

As she stated : 
"Animal guides have always been a part of my life.  These are the beliefs I was raised with - my great grandmother would tell me stories about the Spirit Guides.  She taught me that all things have Spirit - animals, rocks, trees, etc. and that all these things have a lesson to teach to those that take the time to listen, that all these things should be honored and respected, that no life is more important than any other life & most importantly that we are all connected.  I didn't realize it at the time but she was sharing a culture that was fast disappearing.  Now I very much regret not having listened more closely & there are many questions I wish I had asked.  She crossed over when I was 11 years old.

...I believe that your animal guide/guides will come to you when needed, some may remain for a lifetime others for only a brief period. Guides can change during your life & most people have more than one at a time.   I believe your guides show themselves when a person needs to hear the message the guide is there to convey or learn the lesson that needs to be taught.  Guides often manifest in dreams and they can be accessed through meditation.  Sometimes they announce their presence in a far from subtle manner - a particular animal may suddenly seem to be everywhere you look.  Regardless of the manner chosen to reveal themselves a guide will show itself several times - usually within a relatively short time span trying to gain the individual's attention."

From my own experiences, every time I have ever found myself contacted by an animal guide there has been no doubt about their presence or the message they were sending me.
In dreams, meditation, or literally standing right in front of me, they have made their existence and their connection to me crystal clear.  They have also invariably sent me scurrying to my stacks of books, as well as the computer, to do more hours of research then I would like to think about.
Every culture and every spiritual tradition has their share of stories, folklore, and spiritual beliefs connected with animal guides.  And, the more you read, the more you will find that their differences eventually become similarities.

I thought I'd share a few of my more memorable experiences with you -

 - Walking down a busy street in a very urban town and a deer runs out in front me.  It dodges traffic, crosses the street and runs up into the back yard of a neighboring house.  Yes, I have seen deer in this neighborhood before, but not during rush hour, and certainly never running so close to me that I could have put my hand out to touched it.  I was completely startled. 
Oh, but did I mention that my 3 dogs, who were also along on the walk, didn't even seem to even see it? 

-  Having dinner and conversation on our deck with a group of friends.  One of them is telling me that every time he thinks about doing something that his gut tells him he probably shouldn't be doing, a huge black bird flys over to him and lands at his feet.  We all have a big laugh at that, and as I'm replying that maybe it has something to do with the birds where he lives, and that that I have never seen a big black bird do that where I live, a huge black raven lands on the deck, right at his feet.
Everyone was so stunned, we just stood there.  Our mouths wide open in shock, we picked up our dinner plates and silently hurried into the house.
After that, we all read up on ravens.

- And speaking of birds, I could write a book about all my bird experiences alone, there are the always the majestic, soaring, swooping eagles; along their friends the brave jaguars, that totally invade my meditation on a regular basis and make themselves the focal point.
Over and over... and over, and over and over.
I know you let the meditation take you where it will...
but honestly...
I got the message ~  

- Then there is Dreamtime. The beautiful dream I had where I walked to my window one night, opened the curtain, and saw the yard full of beautiful Sayomeds happily sitting guard around the house, under the twinkling night sky.
That one still makes me smile.

- How about imagining this one -
 You are in the middle of your front walk taking to a stranger.   All of a sudden the stranger's eyes bug out and she gets a really odd expression on her face.   As you turn around to see what she is looking at, you're shocked to discover hundreds and hundreds of beautiful butterflies in your yard right behind you.
No, it wasn't a dream. 
I still haven't quite figured that one out yet, although the energy from those butterflies was really quite amazing.
Yes, in case you are wondering, I have seen the stranger again.
She just looks at me kind of weird.
go figure

and finally, I'll wrap it up with this one -

- I stepped out of my car into a parking lot, turned around and saw a deer standing right next to me. (close enough to touch... again).
What's so interesting about that?  Well, that is interesting in itself...I know, but that's not the point right now.
I was about to go inside a building into a meeting where I had volunteered to be a 'student' for teachers who were training to become meditation facilitators.
My friend told me in advance -  "Just be honest, but be kind and careful with your feedback...they are just learning".
Unfortunately I know that at times I can really be almost too honest and direct with people, so I think I was getting a very clear message from my guide the deer, reminding me to be 'extra gentle and kind'...like a deer... with the budding, new teachers.

For any one who would like to learn more about animal guides, their spiritual nature and folklore, I suggest starting with the classic book "Animal Speak" by the late Ted Andrews.

Although reading back through this blog post I chose to share some of my
experiences through humor, (mostly because sometimes looking back leaves me no choice but to laugh), I really do appreciate all the wonderful encounters that I have had within the natural world around me, and am also very thankful for the guidance that I have been open enough, and wise enough, to receive from the animals I have connected with.

I hope you will start noticing what's going on in the world around you a
little more too.
'Be present'... as they say.
If you do, the natural world and animal kingdom might really surprise you ~

~ diane fergurson

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Crystal Jewelry? Not Such a New Thing.

There's always something new and interesting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
This morning as we hurried through the galleries to a talk on 'Magic Rituals in Ancient Egyptian Art', which was excellent by the way, I glanced over into a small alcove and the most beautiful crystal necklace with a carved crystal cross caught my eye.  The crystal cross portion of the piece really intrigued me, and as I walked over to look it over and snap a few photos I couldn't help but think - 'Yes, people really have been making and wearing crystal necklaces for hundreds and hundreds of years.'  I couldn't help but wonder if they were aware of all the energetic properties they possess  (probably more aware then we are) or, was it just the clerics or shaman who held that knowledge?  I suppose it really depended on the civilization or culture.  Was the crystal jewelry part of their symbolic folklore, or was it only used specifically for ritualistic purposes? Whatever the history of this particular necklace, it was definitely very beautiful, and something quite unique and special.
I really glad it called me over to say hello ~   

This stunning crystal necklace and pendant cross is from the Byzantine period, from Medinet Habu
(near Thebes), Egypt.  Carved 500-700

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Positive Affirmation - Live Your Dreams

Take Time To...
Lean against a tree
and dream your world of dreams
Work hard at what you like to do
and try to overcome all obstacles
Laugh at your mistakes
and praise yourself for learning from them
Pick some flowers
and appreciate the beauty of nature
Be honest with people
and enjoy the good in them
Don't be afraid to show your emotions
Laughing and crying make you feel better
Love your friends and family with your
   entire being
They are the most important part of your life
Feel the calmness on a quiet sunny day
and plan what you want to accomplish in life
Find a rainbow
and live your
world of dreams 

~ Susan Polis Schutz

Artwork - "It's All In Your Dreams #17 by Diane Fergurson
prints available on Etsy

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Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Bohemian Gothic Tarot

The Bohemian Gothic Tarot

Originally published in 2007, Baba Studio has re-released their classic tarot deck, The Boehmian Gothic Tarot. The original version was named “Deck of the Year” in 2007 by renowned website Aeclectic Tarot Forum.

The stunning artwork in these cards was based on 19th Century German romantic photographic postcards, as well as studio portraits. Having been based on photographs, this deck has just a little more life instilled in it than your average deck. That should inspire you to deeper and richer interpretations.

Many gothic, or otherwise “dark” decks, will dwell on blood and death for their imagery. Short of that, others will overcompensate for the lack of blood and deck by relying on the overuse of shadows to convey the darkness. The beauty of the images in this particular deck is that they show an entire range of emotions. Looking through the cards, you can see fear, intimidation, longing, hesitance, subjugation, longing, apprehension, and surprisingly, even joy, love, devotion.

The Minor Arcana - Numbered Cards

Traditionalists will find this an easy deck to incorporate into your collection. It utilizes the standard Cups, Swords, Wands, Pentacles approach. Unlike some decks, such as the classic Rider Waite, you will not see 6, 7, 8 of the symbols on cards. There aren’t five visible wands on the Five of Wands, or nine pentacles on the Nine of Pentacles. This will offer you an opportunity to delve deeper into the imagery on each card, and make it work for your own interpretation. This will give more experienced readers a great tableau with which to work.

Here we will look at one numbered card from each of the four suits.

For example, the Five of Pentacles is all about falling on hard times. If you want to dig deeper, it could also mean that your pride or arrogance are getting in the way of you seeking help. Both of these concepts are readily present in the artwork. There is a woman standing with her two children. The older one looks frightened/concerned. It is obvious she is afraid of being out on the streets. While the mother does have a look of determination on her face, the fact that there is a lit doorway right there, but she ignores it. Is she a fool for ignoring the help just beyond that door, or is she too determined to handle this problem on her own. That is left for you to interpret based on other cards in the reading.

The Three of Wands is about having your dreams and aspirations take flight. In a darker reading, it can also be about escaping a an oppressive situation. She is looking out at the horizon. The card leaves it to you to determine if she is looking at land or out at sea. Is it sunrise or sunset? You can look at it as sunrise, and she is giving rise to a new idea, or a new hope. Or, it could be sunset and she is desperate to find her way out of her current situation. I love how the imagery on these cards gives you varied interpretations to work in with the messages on the rest of the cards in your reading. Advanced readers will love delving into the imagery. 

The Nine of Cups can be about being happy with the possessions that you have, even if you aren’t as successful as you would like. If you want to go darker, it can also be about putting yourself first or disregarding others in the acquisition of what you desired. This explains why this person seems to be enjoying himself, but is sitting alone. He appears well dressed, which would show a level of success, but the look on his face is not of pleasure. What price has he paid for what little he has? That is up for you to determine.

The Four of Swords is about period of rest and reflection. In a darker reading, it could also be about trying to rest, but still being anxious about the unfinished issue. Are you taking a moment to rest of your own accord, or is illness preventing you from fully relaxing, or fully finishing the issue. Having the sword next to her could denote her strength, but the raven resting atop her could be an omen. She is in a red dress, but there is also a red cloth under her, falling to the side. It is a nice image to convey how drained she is feeling, as if the blood is literally draining out of her. Again, this is what I love about these images. They leave it open to multiple interpretations.

The Minor Arcana - Court Cards

This deck uses the “King, Queen, Knight, Page” court cards. The Pages in this deck are all females. This gives you two male and two female cards in each suit.

The Page of Wands can be about enthusiasm, especially for a new project, or just about news itself. In a darker reading, it could also be about secrets or hidden passages. Although she is dressed all in white, she is carrying a small red book. Is it a diary? Does it contain insights into her secrets? Does the red book contradict her all white, virginal appearance? What secrets might it hold? Or is it simply her passion about embarking on a new journey which she will record in that book?
The Knight of Cups can be about creativity, but can be taken too far, and end up in impracticality. A darker reading would have it be about having that creativity wasted on fighting and conflict. The Knight is atop a horse on what appears to be either a balcony or elevated walkway. If it is indeed a balcony, that would certainly lend itself to impractical creativity, as how practical would it be to be on a horse on a balcony? The horse is also shown dressed for battle which would also lend itself to the concept of creativity wasted in conflict.

The Major Arcana

I am going to focus this section on only one of the cards in the Major Arcana. That card will be The Lovers.

There are some subtle changes made in some of the cards between the original deck and the re-released deck. However, for this re-released deck there is one card that was changed significantly. That card is The Lovers. As a bonus, both the original version and the new version of The Lovers are provided in this set.

The Lovers, as you would imagine, is about love/passion. It can be for a person, a thing, an idea. The two cards portray this concept in vastly different ways. On the one card, the female is dressed in red. She appears to be a willing participant, giving herself over to her lover. The fact that the moon is hidden behind the clouds might suggest that, while she is a willing participant, there is still some mystery, some taboo to this relationship. In the other card, the female is dressed in white, and looks nervous, unsure, hesitant. The male is the one in red now. Also, the moon is no longer hidden, but is out there for all to see. Is she nervous about giving herself over? Nervous about being discovered? Between the placement of the moon, the emotion on the female, and who is dressed in red, it leaves you many different possibilities for interpretation. How unique would it be to leave both cards in the deck, and not choose one or the other. Having them both turn up in a reading, with their major differences, could provide a most interesting reading.


Beginners will have no problems using this deck, as it utilizes a standard structure. Advanced readers will love to delve into the deeper imagery of each card and give much more detailed, nuanced readings. There is something for every level of tarot consultant to enjoy here. And, for those of you who are still novices, a deck like this will only grow with you, as you learn more about the cards, and can begin to see new ideas hidden within the imagery.

More from Baba Studios

Coming very soon from Baba Studios is a most unique and interesting deck. They are producing The Alice Tarot. This set will be based on Alice in Wonderland. The bright, vibrant, fun images will be a sharp contrast to the dark, gothic nature of this deck. There will be several versions of The Alice Tarot, including limited editions. You can find more information at the Facebook page for this deck: https://www.facebook.com/AliceTarot
We hope to bring you a review of The Alice Tarot when it is released. For now, we will leave you with this teaser:


~ Giani

Additional Tarot reviews by Giani can be found in the Review section of our blog.

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Sunday, June 1, 2014

A June Sunday at the Cloisters

June 1, 2014
One of my favorite places is the Cloisters.  
I've said it before, and I'll probably say it many, many more times.
It's one of the most beautiful and spiritually uplifting places I've ever visited.

The gardens are always changing.   
Stunning... whether lush and full in the fall, or stark and bare in the winter.  
Traditional herbs, medieval herbs or magical herbs...they're all there, along with 
topiaries, miniature roses and small fruit trees. 

We went in for a while this morning, probably one of several visits before the year's end.
Some of the photos are from today's visit, others are from years past.

August 2013

August 2013



One of the reasons I find the Cloisters to be a unique environment
 is that the pieces in the collection seem to be in harmony with each other,
 both visually and vibrationally.
That isn't always the case when displaying religious and spiritual artwork and
artifacts together.

  Angels and Gargoyles look down upon dragons and unicorns.  
Age old tapestries - some, internationally famous - adorn the walls.
There are beautifully carved altar pieces and triptychs. 
You'll see a silver chalice here and there, along with scepters and crosses belonging 
to royalty and clergy of centuries past.  
Illuminated manuscripts and books are also on display.

The famous 'Hunt of the Unicorn' tapestry.

Silver Chalice 15th Century Spanish

The colors in the stained glass windows are simply stunning.  
You could easily become mesmerized by all the patterns, symbols and saints that they depict.

The Cloisters are part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, but it's 
located in a separate space in Fort Tryon Park in Upper Manhattan.  
It houses an extensive collection (over 2,000 pieces) of art, 
architecture and artifacts from Medieval Europe.  

The Cloisters opened to the public in 1938 and overlooks the beautiful Hudson River.  
The building itself is not a copy itself of any specific medieval structure, but a deliberate 
combination of ecclesiastical and secular spaces arranged in chronological order from four 
medieval cloisters, as well as from other sites in Europe.

Many people come to visit NYC and may include a quick visit to the Met part of their travel agenda, but not necessarily plan to visit the Cloisters.
If you have the time to go, it's just a quick subway, bus or car ride from the Met.

  You could also easily spend an entire day in Fort Tryon Park itself, where it is located.  
Especially on a beautiful day like today.

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Artist,Writer, Jewelry Design