If I could reach through the folds of time and explain a few things to new-Priestess me, here is what I would say about who I might want to re-consider letting into the Coven:
The woman with the brassy-sassy personality who called you at work crying because it looks like she'll be getting fired wants to know because if it's because the Gods rejected her offerings...and gets rancid-offended when you suggest it's probably less about the offering and more because she slapped a co-worker that morning...she's going to be a bit tough to work with.
This weekend my coven will be celebrating our first "outdoor" sabbat. I know that a lot of groups exclusively meet outside but that's never really been an option for us. While my wife and I are lucky enough to live in a house, there's another person living in our backyard. He's not a living in a tent or anything like that, but he does occupy a studio-like living space attached to the garage. I doubt he wants to listen to us chant in the backyard while he's trying to sleep.
While I do share a backyard the garden spots are all mine and with the corn already over six feet it feels pretty magical. It may not be with the coven, but every time I water my garden (with grey water from the shower) I feel like I'm at least performing a private ritual. I talk to my sunflowers, implore my pumpkins to grow, and stop to bow at Aphrodite-Chicago of the Lemon Tree. My garden is ia magical place, but it's a magical place for mostly "just me" (and sometimes my wife when she checks on things).
When my wife and I started the Oak Court (for those of you new to the column, that's the name of our coven, and the street we live on) we weren't setting out to start a coven. Heck, our little gathering didn't even have a name in those early days and certainly wasn't called "The Oak Court." We simply invited a few friends over who weren't involved in any other small-circles or covens and grew from there.
I first came across the term covenstead in Uncle Bucky's Raymond Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft. In the Big Blue Book Buckland describes the covenstead as "the name given to the home of the coven (the place where it always, or most often, meets). Within the Covenstead,* of course, is found the Temple." I've been a part of several covens over the years, but most of those situations seemed to lack a true covenstead. Rituals were undertaken in several different locations: a few houses, maybe a park, etc. Those places were all nice, and my house numbered among them, but they didn't feel like a covenstead.
We had been busy--for years, actually. Between leading public rituals and attending festivals, there was a mess of parties thrown by other Coveners. Several members were performers of different kinds and had shows. A couple of people started teaching locally. Then there was our standard working group time. Like "good" Coveners, we traveled to the festivals together, attended the parties, formed cheering sections at the shows and dutifully attended the classes our members led. We somehow still found the time to offer rituals and work as a group, but not a lot. I felt badly offering Coven homework when we were already such a busy group.