Banana Cranberry Cake

This is Jessie’s favourite cake!

Banana cranberry cake

 

125g butter
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
2 eggs
3 small bananas, or 2 large bananas, mashed
½ cup cranberries
1½ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ cup milk

Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Stir in the mashed bananas.
Fold in the sifted flour and baking powder, alternating with the milk.
Fold in the cranberries.
Pour mixture into a greased or paper lined 20 cm round cake tin.
Bake at 160º C for 1 hour or until cooked. Leave to cool, then ice.

Chocolate Icing

1 cup icing sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 tablespoons butter, softened
grated zest of 1 orange
1 teaspoon orange juice

Sift together icing sugar and cocoa. Add other ingredients and mix together until it is a smooth, spreadable consistency.

Character Profile: Jessie Hale

Jessie

 

 

 

 

 

Age:
16

Home: 
The caretaker’s cottage at the bottom of Gum Tree Hill Cemetery, in the small town of Quindlan.

Personality traits:
A night owl, she feels at home beneath a veil of darkness, surrounded by the dead, with the moon and Midnight Max for company.
Enjoys spending time alone, but is fiercely loyal to her family and friends.
Can be stubborn and strong-willed, especially when fighting for something she believes in.
Will stand up to her fears and face them head-on.
Curious and questioning.
Open-minded, she is willing to give anything a go, and to believe the impossible.

Best friends:
Violet and Brodie.

School:
Quindlan High

Favourite colour:
Purple

Favourite food:
Pizza, anything spicy, and banana cake.

Favourite activities:
Reading, listening to music, hanging out in the graveyard, talking to the dead.
graveyard

 

 

 


Favourite band:
Evanescence

Favourite TV show:
Ghost Whisperer

Favourite flower:
The blood-red rambling rose that entwines the iron gates at the entrance to the graveyard.
rose

 

 

 

Greatest fear:
The wispy gray strands of fog that linger in the graveyard long after the morning mist over Quindlan has dispersed.

The Power of Crystals

For centuries people have been aware of the healing power of crystals and the energy they emit. Each crystal has its own distinct characteristics and properties, working through the resonance and vibration of their crystalline structure to heal and bring balance.

amazoniteBut as well as their power to heal, some crystals have the ability to protect from negative energies, and also from electromagnetic radiation. I keep a piece of amazonite beside my computer to absorb electromagnetic emanations. Other crystals that can protect against electromagnetic smog include smoky quartz, black tourmaline, amethyst, fluorite, amber, lepidolite, jasper, malachite, and aventurine.

In ancient times charms, amulets, and talismans made from crystals were carried or worn for spiritual protection or protection against negative energies. Amber was commonly used for protection by the ancient Romans, while jet was used in olden times to protect from entities of darkness.

Crystals that are known for their strong protective properties include amethyst, clear quartz and smoky quartz, black tourmaline, amber, jet, black obsidian, black onyx, black tourmaline, tiger’s eye, citrine, and garnet.

In my novel, Where the Moths Dance, Jessie carries a crystal protection pouch to protect herself against the evil entity that has invaded the graveyard where she lives. The pouch includes four crystals – clear quartz, amethyst, jet, and obsidian.

crystal protection pouch

clear quartz

 

Clear quartz is good for grounding and for psychic protection. It protects against negative energy and transforms it to positive energy. It is a good cleanser and defender.

 

Amethyst

Amethyst is a highly protective stone. It guards against psychic attack and has strong healing and cleansing powers. It provides spiritual protection and purification and can clear one’s environment of negative energies.

 

Jet

 

Jet draws out and absorbs negative energies, protecting from forces of darkness and violence.

 

Obsidian

 

Obsidian provides powerful protective energies. It repels negativity and is said to enhance communication with spirits. It is a good stone for basic psychic defence.

 

protective crystals

Book Tour: Where the Moths Dance

Where the Moths Dance

I am excited to announce that Enchanted Book Promotions has organised a virtual book tour for my young adult, paranormal novel, Where the Moths Dance. The tour runs for the month of August and includes book excerpts, author interviews, book reviews, and a giveaway for a signed paperback copy of the book. I’ve posted the tour schedule below and hope that you will check out these great book blogs!

August 1st: Starter Day Party @ I Heart Reading

August 1st: Book Excerpt @   Sylv Jenkins’ Blog

August 2nd: Promo Post @ I’m an Eclectic Reader

August 3rd: Book Excerpt @ Ashley’s Paranormal Book Blog

August 5th: Promo Post @ The Reading Guru

August 7th: Author Interview @ Majanka’s Blog

August 9th: Promo Post @ Rose Shadow Ink

August 11th: Book Review @ Forever Book Lover

August 13th: Book Excerpt @ Realm Tramper

August 15th: Promo Post @ Editor Charlene’s Blog

August 16th: Book Excerpt @ Hollow Readers

August 17th: Author Interview @ Cassidy Crimson’s Blog

August 18th: Book Review @ Endazzled Reading

August 19th: Promo Post @ The Book Daily

August 21st: Book Review @ I Heart Reading

August 23rd: Book Excerpt @ Books Direct

August 24th: Book Review @ Books, Books and More Books

August 25th: Author Interview @ The Single Librarian

August 26th: Book Excerpt @ Fantasy Book Lane

August 28th: Promo Post @ Bookaholic Ramblings

August 30th: Book Review @ Paranormal Romance and Authors That Rock

September 1st: Book Review and Book Excerpt @ Dalene’s Book Reviews

Stone Angels

As the car engine grew louder, the sound of raised voices echoed across the graveyard and I realized it was too late to make it over to the gum trees. So, grabbing my iPod, I headed for the grave of Charlotte Pyke, who had passed away in 1876. Although the weathered stone angel on top of her headstone had lost one of its wings long ago, the stone statue was the tallest in the graveyard and I figured it would be plenty tall enough to keep me hidden from view. Sinking down onto the cold concrete, I turned up the collar of my coat and prayed that my black hair and dark clothes would help me blend into the night.

From Where the Moths Dance

There is something about angel headstones that draw me to them when wandering around old graveyards.

In the nineteenth century, when elaborate headstones became popular, beautiful angels were carved by skilled, local stonemasons. By the late nineteenth century, however, headstones were being mass-produced and, sadly, the services of the local stonemasons were no longer required.

With their heads bowed, these stone angels portray a strong sense of loss and sorrow,

While angels looking skyward are seen to be guiding the deceased to heaven.

The most elaborately carved angels that we see are very old, covered with moss and cobwebs, some with broken wings

It is amazing how these carved pieces of gray stone can evoke such strong feelings, especially when they mark the burial place of a young child.

 

 

 

How to Detect a Ghost

“It’s to hang in your bedroom,” Brodie said. “If there’s a presence in your room, you’ll hear it tinkle when the energy moves around. It’ll let you know if there’s an unseen spirit present.”

“Wait,” I said, beginning to feel uneasy. “You really think that it’s Elliott’s presence I’ve been feeling?”

From Where the Moths Dance

Wind chimes

Trees of Protection

When I saw Violet in the school cafeteria the next day, I couldn’t help staring at the arrangement of threaded, holly berries that adorned her head. The bright red berries looked striking against her black hair.

“You’re looking very festive,” I said, slipping into the empty seat beside her.

“Holly is the sacred tree of protection,” she replied matter-of-factly.

“Oh?” I straightened, my curiosity aroused. “Protection against what?”

She shrugged. “Protection against evil influences or negative energies.It’s been used for centuries. Holly trees planted outside the home help to ward off evil and keep away unwanted visitors.”

From Where the Moths Dance

Ancient tree lore tells us that our ancestors held strong beliefs in the magical and spiritual properties of trees. Our relationship with trees was, and still is, of particular importance to the Celts, the Druids, and Wiccans.

Certain trees have long been revered for their protective properties. They were planted to provide protection from evil, protective amulets and talismans were made from their wood, their berries and leaves were scattered around homes to ward off malevolent spirits. Early Irish history tells of five great trees that protected the land – three ash trees, a yew, and an oak.

In Wicca lore, a staff of ash was hung in doorways to ward off evil spirits, while the leaves of the ash were scattered in the four directions to protect the outside of the home.

Golden Ash

Golden Ash

The oak was especially sacred to Druids. Twigs of oak were placed around the home to provide protection, while carrying a piece of oak wood would protect the bearer from harm.

Oak tree

Oak tree

 

Oak leaves

Oak leaves

The yew is considered the most powerful tree for providing protection from evil. Yew trees were associated with places of burial, where they were believed to protect the dead. In Britain, yew trees are often found growing around old churches.The Irish revered the yew tree above all others, and it is said that a yew tree guards the doorway between this life and the next from evil spirits from the Otherworld. Incredibly, a yew tree can live for more than 2000 years.

Plum-fruited Yew

Plum-fruited Yew

The ancient Celts viewed the willow as the Tree of Enchantment and Mysteries, and the Druids used to carry wands cut from its branches for protection. A willow branch hung over a door was believed to protect the occupants from evil.

Willow trees

Willow trees

Rowan trees have long been used for protection. They were sacred to the Druids, and were considered one of the most sacred trees of the Wiccans. Rowan trees were often planted in graveyards to protect the spirits of the dead, and were planted near homes to protect the occupants. Boughs of rowan were hung over stables to keep livestock from harm. Talismans were made from the wood and carried to ward off evil. Two twigs tied together with a red thread to form a cross was commonly used as a protection amulet. The wood is still used today to make wands and amulets.

Rowan tree

Rowan tree

 

Rowan berries

Rowan berries

Hawthorns are commonly found on burial mounds all over Ireland. The leaves were scattered in the cradles of newborn babies as protection, and hawthorn placed in or around the home was believed to banish evil.

Hawthorn in winter

Hawthorn in winter

Hawthorn berries

Hawthorn berries

 

Holly is considered one of the most protective trees. It was sacred to the Druids and was often planted beside houses to guard against evil spirits. Holly berries were carried for protection.

Holly

Holly

As well as having amazing healing properties, eucalyptus trees, when planted around a graveyard, were believed to protect it from evil spirits, and the leaves were carried for protection.

Eucalyptus tree

Eucalyptus tree

When standing silently beside ancient trees, touching the bark of their solid, deep-rooted trunks, as sunlight filters through the overhead canopy of their leaves and branches, providing homes and shelter for birds, insects and wildlife, it is easy to understand why our ancestors honoured the tree spirits and believed that these wonderful beings of nature held such divine and magical associations.

Note: All photographs taken by Nick Carter, apart from Rowan tree, and Rowan berries, courtesy of Thinkstock, and Hawthorn berries, courtesy of Pixabay.