The Spring Messenger arrives…

I know, I know… I’m late with the strip again. Sadly this is the bane of my life; I set myself deadlines and I never manage to hit them precisely on time. I was the same at Uni by the way…

Any way. Instead, I thought that I would do something topical and introduce you to the Easter Bunny… okay, he’s not the real Easter Bunny… we all know who that is:

Hugh Jackman a.k.a The Easter Bunny

The Easter Bunny I am talking about, isn’t really a Rabbit. He’s a Hare. Specifically a Moon Hare from The Land Far Away. He is also my Art Muse and is always finding new techniques for me to try.
Stardust (my Craft Muse) is alternately relieved that she doesn’t have to over work herself any more and jealous of all the time I have been spending with him recently.

Named after one of my Favourite Artists, he arrived not long after I started doing a proper art project in Art Class:

A New Muse…

Puff: Who is that?
Stardust: *sleepily* What are you talking about? There’s no one there…
Puff: You can’t see it? That strange shape over by Author, waving her artistic kit at her?
Stardust: *Frowning* Oh yes… I can’t quite make it out…
Patches: What are you two muttering about?
*The other two point*
Patches: Oh, that’s the new muse… they haven’t chosen a shape yet.
Stardust: I thought I was the Art Muse…
Patches: You’re more interested in the Craft side and Author has been doing a lot of drawing recently.
Puff: So there’s space for a new muse? Hmm… I wonder what it will be?

Story #43 – “Author & Muse Stories” by Kira Morgana

Stories #43 and #44 won’t be told in visual form for quite a while yet, I need to catch up with myself and all sorts of things get in the way of me working…
*glares in the direction of SB & PW*
…however, he has appeared in a couple of full page stories – most notably, Matchmaking in the Singletons section with Angerbun.

So as he’d become a bit of a fixture, I started writing his origin story. I usually write the Land Far Away stories in rhyme, but I had serious trouble with this one – none of the words wanted to rhyme and it appeared that he had more story to tell than rhymes would allow.
I changed tack and swapped to prose rather than poetry (although there is some poetry in it – Land Far Away wouldn’t be Land Far Away without the awful rhymes) and the words started flowing well.

Then Stardust got involved. I’m not going to explain that one here; I already did it in a video:

Apologies for the Videography – it’s something else that I’m still new to…

So having completed the Ever Spring Tree with Stardust, I found that Salvador’s story was flowing better than ever and thought I ought to introduce him with a Character Page:

Salvador Bunli, The Spring Messenger

Hopefully his whole story should be finished soon and I am hoping that Maria K. will be able to illustrate it and we’ll get it published in time for the next Spring Holiday… but as I said before, deadlines are not my strong point so don’t get your hopes up too soon – a lot has to happen before we get to publication stage!

Merry Satyulemas!

And what is Satyulemas?

Well it’s actually a festival of my own devising. I use it in my alternate Earth books and stories… however, my family loved the idea of it, so we adopted it for our own purposes. It covers Saturnalia, Yule and Christmas and ends the day after my youngest daughter’s birthday which happens to be the same day as the 12th day of Christmas.

Here’s the facts:

Saturnalia

…was an ancient Roman festival in honour of deity Saturn, held on 17 December of the Julian calendar and later expanded with festivities through to 23 December. The holiday was celebrated with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn, in the Roman Forum, and a public banquet, followed by private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival atmosphere that overturned Roman social norms: gambling was permitted, and masters provided table service for their slaves. The poet Catullus called it “the best of days”.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturnalia

saturnalia

Of course we haven’t got a temple of Saturn in the UK, so what our family does instead is have a special dinner and donate money to a charity we have all picked. This year it was WWF 

Yule

 …or Yuletide (“Yule time”) is a festival observed by the historical Germanic peoples. Scholars have connected the celebration to the Wild Hunt, the god Odin, and the pagan Anglo-Saxon Mōdraniht. It later underwent Christianised reformulation resulting in the term Christmastide.

Terms with an etymological equivalent to Yule are used in the Nordic countries for Christmas with its religious rites, but also for the holidays of this season. Today Yule is also used to a lesser extent in the English-speaking world as a synonym for Christmas. Present day Christmas customs such as the Yule log, Yule goat, Yule boar, Yule singing, and others stem from pagan Yule. Today the event is celebrated in Heathenry and some other forms of Modern Paganism.

yule100

My version of Yule is to decorate the Christmas Tree (itself a pagan symbol) and have the lights on from sunset to sunrise. Then my family and I have a special meal (bet you didn’t see that one coming *wink*) and for dessert we have a Chocolate Yule log.
If we had a real fireplace or a woodburning stove, we’d burn a proper Yule Log as well… but my kids love the chocolate version!

300px-nativity_tree2011

The “Mas” part of Satyulemas, Christmas is probably one midwinter festival that I don’t need to explain. However, none of my family are Christians anymore for various reasons, so we celebrate the secular version of Christmas. I know that many people will not like this idea, but our children are bombarded with “Christmas” from all angles. At school they get the religious festival, from the TV and shops they get the Material side… it’s very confusing.

So we have always emphasised the secular family side of christmas – the fact that we are all together and we want the day to be as fun for everyone as possible; something which is very difficult to pull off when you have a family full of Aspergers people!

We’ll have breakfast, open presents and then the older two can go and enjoy theirs while we help the little one with hers. Then we’ll have lunch and hopefully fit in a walk or a movie together in the afternoon.

The final celebration of Satyulemas will be PW’s birthday… and everyone knows how birthdays work!

So that’s how we celebrate this season.

I hope that however you celebrate the season, it’s full of family, fun, food and festivities!!

 

My Cadbury’s Creme Egg Disappointment

In the scheme of things, with everything that has happened in the world over the last week, you wouldn’t expect a company changing the recipe of a sweet treat in the western world to create that much of a splash in the news. In fact, you’d expect it to go unnoticed, which is probably what Cadbury’s were hoping would happen.

Yes, I’m talking about the Cadbury’s Creme Egg scandal. To bring you up to speed with exactly what one of those is, here’s the summary of it’s history from Wikipedia:

A Cadbury Creme Egg is a chocolate product produced in the shape of an egg. The product consists of a thick milk chocolate shell, housing a white and yellow fondant filling which mimics the albumen and yolk of a real egg. Creme Eggs are the best-selling confectionery item between New Year’s Day and Easter in the UK, with annual sales in excess of 200 million and a brand value of approximately £55 million.

Creme Eggs are produced by Cadbury UK in the United Kingdom and byCadbury Adams in Canada. They are sold by Mondelēz International in all markets except the USA, where the Hershey Company has the local marketing rights. At the Bournville factory in Birmingham, in the UK, they are manufactured at a rate of 1.5 million per day. The Creme Egg was also previously manufactured in New Zealand but, since 2009, they are imported from the UK.

While filled eggs were first manufactured by the Cadbury Brothers in 1923, the Creme Egg in its current form was not introduced until 1963.[2] Initially sold as Fry’s Creme Eggs (incorporating the Fry’s brand), they were renamed “Cadbury’s Creme Eggs” in 1971.

This is what it looks like:

Okay, now we’re all caught up we can get on with the reason I am writing about this particular sweet.

Creme Eggs have been a staple of my childhood. Traditionally they appear in the shops on the 1st January and then disappear after Easter. It has always been this way (they did try and market a bar based on the confectionary but it didn’t really catch on) and long may it remain so. When they appear in the shops it’s a sign that spring is on its way, like the mornings growing lighter.

When I was a child they felt huge. I couldn’t fit a whole one into my mouth at once and they took at least 3 or 4 bites to eat. Obviously as I have got older (and grew up) they got smaller, but even when I was old enough to get one into my mouth in one go (I’ve only done that a couple of times) they still took 2 or 3 bites.

If you’re british and you like Creme Eggs (yes, there are people who don’t) the first egg of the year is a step back into your childhood. The chocolate is smooth and creamy, the fondant filling is gloriously thick and sickenly sweet… the whole experience is
There is more than one way to eat them; my favourite happens to be biting it open and sucking out as much fondant as I can before eating the rest in a couple of bites.

They were always available in singles, 3, 6 and 12 packs. One of my fondest memories is going to a family party and having three 6 packs given to me. I think I ate the first pack in less than an hour and found out just how sickening they can be…

Now this year, due to rising prices of chocolate (believe it or not there is a cocoa shortage) Cadbury have shrunk the 6 pack to a 5 pack. Understandable, especially as they have shrunk the rrp (it’s up to retailers what they sell them at) as well.

That didn’t bother me. I have a family with five people in it… that means I don’t have an odd egg rolling around in the cupboard, tempting me to eat it…

HOWEVER…

This happened on Monday –

Shellshock! Cadbury comes clean on Creme Egg chocolate change 

-The headline comes from The Guardian online.

They have changed the chocolate recipe that they use for the shell of the egg. Instead of the smooth, creamy Dairy Milk chocolate of my childhood, they are using what they call ” standard cocoa mix chocolate”.  This is the same chocolate that they use in any bar that DOESN’T carry the Dairy Milk Branding – Flakes, Twirls, Wispa… and so forth. It has the addition of vegetable fat (Palm and Shea) – to make the chocolate go further I should  imagine…

I accept that it’s a cheaper alternative to the Dairy Milk recipe and that with the addition of the sickenly sweet fondant, most kids are going to wolf them down and not bat an eyelid. Once you’ve eaten a couple, you won’t taste anything other than sugar and the chocolate won’t matter.

However…

For those of us who like their Cadbury’s chocolate and care about how it tastes, this vegetable fat laden version is okay, but not something to write home about. It will always lose out to Dairy Milk in the choice stakes.
My kids won’t notice the difference, but I did; as did my fiance. It was less creamy and the contrast with the fondant was much more apparent. We were disappointed that it didn’t taste as good as it used to… and this time it wasn’t because we’d grown up.

So to those of us who grew up on the Dairy Milk version, the change is a big deal.

I will always have one Creme Egg each year – to start the spring countdown – but it will be an egg of nostalgia only. It will never ever be the same.