I'm always drawn to the quieter domestic pastimes come November. I want to cook and read and daydream and find healing in the realm of the imagination and kitchen conjuring. This is, after all, a season for introverts when the changing weather calls us indoors and our gaze inward. A seriously always want to hibernate come November! But I feel this urge to withdraw is twice as strong this year as I grapple with the implications of the recent election results. I find myself in need of self-care, simple pleasures, and everyday magic more than ever.
As it turns out, I'm not the only book-loving foodie introvert searching for a little soul mending. What is fast becoming one of my favorite book blogs, Smart Bitches, Trashy Novels, wrote the much-needed Books & Comfort Food Pairings to sooth and heal after shocking news. This post spoke to my soul: I needed to read. A lot. I needed to cook. And eat. And slather myself in self-care rituals that would allow me to mend. I needed to surround myself with beautiful things. Hopeful things. Delicious things. Inspired by Smart Bitches, I've put together my own book and food pairings (and let us not forget the power of a good cocktail or body butter) to find our way back to joy...and thoughtful progress as we once again go back into the world. These pairings are in no particular order, just what I instinctually reached for this past weekend.
Also, keep in mind that these aren't necessarily highbrow stories (it's rare that I read anything like that!), but real sweep-you-off-your-feet mysteries, romances, fantasies that have a way of putting our world into perspective, when I'm not reading inspirational non-fiction. Most notably, I found myself turning to fairy tales and stories inspired by them. Maybe it is because I've been teaching fairy tales in one of my courses or maybe it is because fairytales, as my students and I found, have a way of reminding us that darkness does exist in this in this world--and that we can defeat it.
Whatever the genre, these are all stories of hope. They feature strong characters living on the social margins and, ultimately, finding ways to triumph over injustice and build a better world. The nonfiction pieces remind us to look for pleasure in unexpected places and relish the power of pleasure to transform.
I keep of copy of We Could Almost Eat Outside on my writing desk; this book, in so many ways, has inspired the whole concept of my blog. It's a delicious look at the simple pleasures that are too easy to overlook in our daily hustle and bustle, but so worth the time to stop and enjoy. It's grounding. It's earthy. It's about routine. Pair with a quiet evening at home, a calabacitas tart and a giant mug of oatstraw tea to feel the full effect of this soothing read.
If you want more earthy goodness, check out the award-winning Uprooted, a fairy tale story about wild woods, dragon-wizards who kidnapped damsels (or so the village thinks), and one woman's journey into her own magic. Pair with a lazy afternoon and cozy blanket on the couch, dried apples and a pot of autumn harvest tea.
More fired up than that? Try Mercedes Lackey's The Fire Rose, a gorgeous retelling of Beauty & the Beast that takes place in 1905 San Francisco. There is elemental magic. There is a slow-budding romance that appeals to any book lover. And there is the breathing-taking plot about redemption and hope and, once again, a woman coming into her own. Pair with vanilla bourbon and cinnamon-orange chocolate cups, to match the lush setting.
For those who don't feel like cooking would be soothing, try putting together a collection of appetizers to graze on, like in my Italian apertivo, and whip up a gimlet made with orange-rosemary infused gin. Pair with jazz records, your favorite pajamas, and this total escapist steampunk read, The Watchmaker's Daughter, about a woman cast into the fringes of society and forced to fend for herself, only to find herself swept up into a world of mystery, intrigue, and magic.
Sometimes we just need to indulge in a rich bubble bath, for which I would recommend bringing along a cup of Everything's Coming up Roses Tea (or let's be real, a glass of wine!). And while you're at it, commit to a hedonistic read. There's no time like the present to remind ourselves that pleasure is oh-so-powerful, which is why I would recommend reading The Ultimate Guide to a Multi-Orgasmic Life, a delicious book about living life with more joy and, yes, more orgasms! Seems to me a full-bodied orgasm is a lofty goal to end the year well. Pair with Aphrodite's bath salts & sugar scrub. Finish with a slathering of Winter Solstice body butter and a long nap.
After a long weekend resting and rejuvenating, I was reminded how important creature comforts. They heal. They soothe. And they allow us to conjure good energy to carry into our day.
Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational collection of musings touching on life’s simple pleasures, everyday enchantments, and delectable recipes that will guarantee to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is the everyday, subscribe here.