Enchantment Learning & Living Blog

Welcome to Enchantment Learning & Living, inspirational blog about the simple pleasures, radical self-care, and everyday magic that make life delicious.

Celebrate Naked Gardening Day

Yeah, it’s a thing, at least according to the World Naked Gardening Day official website. Established fifteen years ago, WNGD (for short) is celebrated on the first Saturday of every May. Why, you ask? It’s a pretty wonderful concept: to move towards a healthier acceptance of our bodies that isn’t always in a sexualized context and to recognize that we are, in fact, animals, deeply connected to the natural world. It also strikes me as a wonderful and playful way to enjoy Beltane, get in touch with nature, and our natural cycles…even if you don’t want to actually garden in the nude.

It’s about shedding our fear of naked bodies, tuning into our corporeal needs, and celebrating this divine season of fertility and new beginnings. Some people dance around May poles. Others hunt for dyed eggs, gifts from a magical bunny. Others garden naked. Personally, I’m kind of a fan of all three and any other spring celebration that asks us to go outside and find joy in this new season. Spring reminds us to be playful, silly, casting off our heavy winter thoughts and turning to the more immediate pleasures of this passionate season.

Full disclosure, however: I have a lovely patio garden and am nowhere near a place where I could plant seeds in the nude without the threat of photos ending up on the internet! Still, I love the concept of shedding our cool-weather skins, letting our bodies be kissed by the sun, and getting a little dirty. So if you’re like me—not ready to give your neighbors an eyeful, but want to celebrate the essence of this day—here are five simple ways to honor the spirit of Naked Gardening Day without the threat of itchy plant matter getting into your tender bits.

  1. Garden without gloves. Sure, there are times when you need your heavy duty gloves to pull weeds and turn soil. But then there comes the seed planting, which is actually easier to do with your gloves off. I love the feel of fat fava and thorny beet seeds in my hands as I bury them in the soil. My direct connection to the earth and the seeds that will later become delicious produce remind me that each intention, soul seed, and thought I plant now will eventually bear fruit. It’s tangible proof that magic is real.

  2. Garden barefoot. Again, there are times when shoes come in handy, especially when you’re doing the heavy duty work of prepping your garden. But then there are the times where it is lovely to go barefoot in newly turned soil as you plant your tender shoots and young plants. The technical hippy metaphysical term for walking barefoot is called earthing. Literally putting your bare soles on the earth grounds, relaxes, and maybe even boosts your immunity. Let your toes wriggle in soft soil and your heels sink into the compost-enriched dirt under your feet. There’s no better way to reconnect with nature.

  3. Simply spend time in nature…in as few clothes as possible. Don’t tell me you don’t love the sun’s first warm kiss of spring on your back. Don’t tell me you’ve never been tempted to skinny dip or sunbath nude—or that you’ve never done either. If you’re in a position where naked isn’t comfortable or possible, just get as naked as you can—think short shorts, bikini-tops or even a bathing suit. Trust me. You will love the way the sun caresses your skin and how the breeze tickles your bare arms and legs. Just don’t forget the SPF—as a desert woman, I know all about wearing protection so I can enjoy the great outdoors without the sunburn souvenir!

  4. Make a conscious effort to feel comfortable in your own skin. Even if you can’t get naked or wear a filmy dress and ribbons in your hair as you dance around a May pole, take this day to simply love your body and all that it does for you. Garden. Go for a nature walk. Do yoga. Forget about your perceived flaws and take your cues from nature—after all, the butterfly doesn’t compare itself to the dragonfly or the ladybug. It merely goes about its business. Take this day to marvel at what a beautiful animal you are.

  5. Relish the sensuality of gardening. It doesn’t matter if you’re coated in sunscreen, jeans and a t-shirt, or merely a daisy crown and a smile, gardening is sexy work. We get to strip things down to basics—planting seeds, getting dirty, relying on sunlight, water and hard work to produce nourishment. Gardening is a sensory experience, from feeling the soil and seeds in your hands, to hearing the birds sing and the bees buzz around with their enthusiastic pollination duties. We get sweaty. We relax. We forget to check the clock and instead rely on the passing clouds and shifting sun to let us know a full day has passed among our plants. We remember our powerful connection to the earth and our profound capacity to live in harmony with it.

So here’s to spring. Here’s to honoring our powerful connection to nature. Here’s to enjoying our bodies. Happy gardening!

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Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on InstagramFacebookPinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

Composting 101 Resource Guide

Every April I begin a series of Earth Day posts, usually involving tips on greening your routine or various friendly recipes. This year, however, I discovered a funny, wondrous thing I began preparing for April 22nd: All my blogs and social media posts reflected my deepening commitment to a green lifestyle, regardless of the time of year. Woohoo!

I’ve been going more and more green, especially now with the heartbreaking news on climate change. But what used to be a series of posts once a year on how I do that has become regular reflections on how a more zero-waste lifestyle is an integral part of who I am day-in, day-out. More than that, my work, be is something as specific as my regular-ish #SustainableSaturdays posts on Instagram, or as broad as a new blog or short story, reflects how intrinsically my sense of wellbeing is tied to tending my relationship with nature, from dramatically reducing my plastic use to planting my radish seeds.

If I don’t feel like I’m actively doing my part to fight climate change, then I don’t feel like I’m living a healthy, whole, balanced life. It’s kind of like eating fast food and wanting to be healthy at the same time. Not gonna happen! Okay, so lest I start sounding to preachy, I’ll just wrap up this rant by saying that as I’ve slowed down and tended my relationship with nature, I’ve likewise tended my relationship to myself. Together, we heal, bloom, thrive…

…which is all by way of saying that one of my day-in, day-out green living routines is tending my own vermicompost right on my own little garden patio. I started doing it a few years ago when I realized how many food scraps and odds and ends I threw out. Actually, I grew up in a home with a lush wild garden and an active compost, but, apartment dweller that I am, I just assumed good old fashion composting was something that would have to wait for a real home and a real backyard.

Not so.

After realizing I could be reducing the food waste that goes to landfills relatively simply, I decided to invest in a vermicomposting tray (FYI vermicompisting is just a fancy term for composting with worms in trays or tubs). I consulted my mom. I talked to my hippy friends. I went down an internet rabbit hole. Each and every source told me that composting, especially from bins or trays, was something I could easily do, even from my humble apartment, without attracting rodents or committing to a super labor intensive practice. Cut to me a few years down the road with a flourishing compost, happy plants benefiting from the fertile soil, and more worms than I know what to do with.

My waste has declined dramatically too. I keep my food scraps in a tupperware bin in the fridge and, once a week or so, take them out to the compost to feed my worms. I now shred paper mail and happily spread it around my vermicomposting trays as welcome roughage for the little guys. It’s incredibly rewarding to see what is essentially trash or discards find a new life feeding plants. If you want to go full garden-nerd about this, the worms and fresh compost make great gifts for your fellow gardeners. Also, let’s be real: My writer-heart sees a big whopping metaphor in the whole act of taking things that no longer serve us and making them the foundation of future fertility.

So how did I do it? By consulting the following resources listed below (along with that of y green-thumbed mom). I thought about writing my own composting guide, but, honestly, these sites do it better. Without further ado, here’s my resource guide for all things composting:

  1. Sustainable Baby Step’s Beginner’s Guide to Composting has everything you could possibly need, from how to get started, to what you can and can’t compost, to what to do with all the wonderful soil once the worms have had their way with your food scraps.

  2. Food Print’s Vermicomposting 101: is a thorough set of instructions for how to set up your compost and make it friendly.

  3. Eco-cycle’s troubleshooting section is especially helpful if you are running into issues like having a smelly or wet compost. They can tell you why what’s going on and how to fix it.

  4. Green Action Center’s FAQ is another fantastic primer on all things composting, including why it sometimes looks like nothing is happening (but really it is).

This Earth Day, commit to reducing your food waste. Commit to taking things that would otherwise end up in landfills and turn them into gardener’s gold. Feed worms. Grow vegetables. Be one with nature. Happy gardening and happy composting!

P.S. Who wants worms?

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Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on InstagramFacebookPinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

Inviting Synchronicity into Your Life

What is Synchronicity?

One of the central aspects of everyday magic is synchronicity, or meaningful coincidences, that pepper our lives and offer valuable insights, signs, and messages from the universe if we are willing to listen.  Some of my most powerful revelations have come out of seemingly innocuous moments that served to punctuate an important feeling, experience, or situation.  

How did I know to trust my instincts that a relationship was well and truly over? I was thinking about the whole situation and, when I turned on my car, the radio blasted, “the thrill is gone…” Boy was it, and to ignore that would only cause more heartache.

And what gave me the courage to turn my blog posts into the manuscript that would become my award-winning Everyday Enchantments? A random folded paper tucked into an old book I’d decided to reread.  On that piece of paper was a series of scribbles from my teenage self thinking about the day when I would be An Adult and a Published Author.  I started working on my new manuscript that afternoon.  

Without those insights—those little nudges from life telling me I’m on the right track or ready to move on—I wouldn’t have been brave enough to listen to my inner wisdom.  You would be surprise what the universe is willing to reveal if you simply ask it and stay open to the answers it might give. 

3 Ways to Invite Synchronicity into Your Life

  1. Get loose. Real talk: we live in a world that values concrete, rational things—all good and well in their right place—but synchronicity is a different kind of literacy all together.   It’s about opening yourself to the possibility of a new way of being.  Often times, our innate instincts and unfiltered feelings get buried under the pressure to conform to social norms.  Instead of allowing ourselves to introvert when we need to introvert, for example, we push past our needs and do more, get louder, and move faster despite our soul’s longing for quiet. Loosening up allows us to let go of rigid expectations or assumptions about how things should be so we can be open to the magic around us.

  2. Get playful.  When was the last time you stayed up past your bedtime reading?  Or ditched the to-do list in favor of a schedule-free Saturday?  Or danced in your pjs to your favorite song?  If its been awhile, now is the time to welcome that playful energy into your life.  Be like the otter, an animal that devotes as much time to play as it does to work.  Why?  I’ll let you in on a little secret: Synchronicity is pretty darn playful.  It’s a lot like Coyote, that perennial trickster, sneaking up on you when you least expect it, catching you off guard, forcing you to rethink your world view.  The best way to be open to these insights is to let go of hard and fast rules and just…get playful.

  3. Get curious.  Synchronicity is all about opening yourself up to the world and remembering that child-like curiosity with new places and things that delight the senses.  This kind of energy loves questions, exploration, expansion.  Often our sense of wonder gets lost as we succumb to the demands of day-in, day-out. Take a moment—pause, breathe deeply, and think about what it used to feel like when the changing seasons created a sense of unblemished excitement for something now or they way a sunset was like an open invitation to marvel at the beauty of life or how a winding dirt road was the promise of an adventure. Then turn that innate curiosity on your inner landscape—forget to push and prod and contain difficult feelings or old selves and simply marvel at the fact that you contain multitudes, like so many tiny cosmic seeds waiting to be explored. Synchronicity is found in these silent, joyful explorations.

How to Listen to the Messages

Sometimes we throw out questions to the universe and get an answer maybe that instant, maybe a week or month from now. More often than not, however, the answers come when we’ve forgotten to fixate on whatever it is we want answers to.  Sometimes we even get nudges and insights to things we didn’t know we even had questions about. 

Synchronicity is like that—trickster that it is—deciding what questions you get answers to and which ones you just have to struggle with on your own.  Or if it sees you forgetting to enjoy the wonder around you, well, like Coyote, it won’t hesitate to shake up your order a bit.  However synchronicity comes into your life, it is a reminder to tune into the magic of your every day.  Often the wisdom it imparts is immediately and intuitively understood, so don’t worry it like you would a loose thread on your jacket.  Just feel what it is asking you to feel.  The answers will come.

Be warned though: The more you invite synchronicity into your life, the more it will manifest unbidden, as if it only ever need your time an attention to reveal itself to you wholeheartedly and without restraint. And with more meaningful, soul-illuminating coincidences, comes more magic. Enjoy.

Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you.  If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter for regular doses of enchantment.  Want even more inspiration?  Follow me on InstagramFacebookPinterest, and Twitter.  Here’s to a magical life! 

On Valentines

You grew up collecting uniform valentines each February.  Most of them were cartoon cardboard cut-outs and, if you were lucky, kissed with candy kisses.  You organized them in to hierarchies of sweetness: chocolates got top prize, soft sugared hearts near the bottom (they were pretty, but tasteless, like sweet chalk or, you later learned, a dinner date that doesn’t read). 

You took pity on the sentiment-studded cards without candy and put them near the middle.  They weren’t the ones you really wanted though you were vain enough to appreciate how many there were.  No, you saved the prized place for the homemade ones—diollied and sequined-kissed hearts on pink and red and purple construction paper.  Those were the ones from the people who taught you that love is a loud, garish thing.  When you have it, you need the world to know that there is glitter in your heart and honey in your veins.  There is so much of it, this feeling, that you want to hold it close like a secret and release it into the sky like a wild bird at the same time. 

You don’t even need a special day in winter to quantify this sense—this awareness—that you are love and love is you.  It was in the white blush-stained flowers so many years after those childhood cards, when adulthood lay heavy in your bones and you had begun to forget the feel of simple pleasures, those sweet things like feathers tickling your palm or the crackle of pink foil wrappers revealing candied promises.  Frivolous little things.  Unnecessary, yet muscling their way into your heart all the same.

Then there is the gift given to you just because on a forgettable weekday from someone who wants you to know that you are valued, that they notice the long hours in which you quietly go about your work.  And the one you give them, to let them know that they are seen.  These secret valentines are just as sweet as the one-inch by one-inch chocolate squares, edible care that fit perfectly in the palm of your hand or the truffles you make at home, dipped in love and infused with rose petals and sweet dreams to cure broken hearts and remind you that love is something that grows bigger the more you feed it.

Lately, you’ve come to appreciate the love that’s like a seed.  Ready to bloom, ready to set down roots, ready to have garden-toughened hands coax sleeping stories into the light.  The only thing that comes close to this are the rocks collected from a patch of earth and poured into your hands so that you don’t float away or the passed-around dog-earned pages of paperbacks because you have tales to share and discuss.  Or the paper moons that keep you company as you make beeswax candles so that they may soften and sweeten a long day for those you love.  Or better yet, the lovers in the tarot always reminding you that the heart behind your ribcage is whole and happy, a beating song to the universe.

Still, nothing is as sweet as that seed-love, which is why you always keep seeds in your pocket.  You never know when someone will invite you to bloom. 

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Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on InstagramFacebookPinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

A Year of Sacred Simple Pleasures

Last summer, I wrote about the importance of sacred simple pleasures, those ephemeral soul-filling things that make life delicious. What followed was a season spent nourishing and prioritizing the daily joys that rejuvenated and refreshed.  I returned to teaching that fall excited and enthusiastic.  The experience made me realize how important it is to cultivate a wellness practice that emphasizes simple pleasures.

It also renewed my belief that simple pleasures are integral to conjuring everyday magic.  They are, in fact, sacred. Pleasure is significantly undervalued in our society.  If it feels good, it must not be important.  If it brings you joy, it’s not to be taken seriously…how many times have you heard or seen these ideas reinforced?  The way people turn their noses up at romance novels is  good example of this.  These books have sexytimes! All the feels! People having multiple orgasms! And a Happily Ever After! So…why are these bad things?

I blame this fear of pleasure on religion and a society that is still afraid of the sacred feminine.  Instead of nurturing this Eros energy as an important part of our day-to-day lives, we treat is transgressive, a deviant pursuit stuffed into weekends, vacations, and any place else that doesn’t fall into the seriously business of our daily routine. It’s kind of like Dry January: people binge drink on December and then repent with virtuous abstinence come January. Why not just enjoy moderate drinking year round? Even worse, we often ignore the simple pleasures right in front of us, and thus, an important part of enjoying our day: the morning sunrise, the unexpected blood oranges at the market, the delicious cup of oolong. When we deny ourselves these simple pleasures, we deny an important part of our identity.

In reality, pleasure tells us a lot about ourselves. It’s easy to identify a toxic situation because they make us feel so bad.  But once we address negative issues, how do we then cultivate joy?  It takes a lot to conjure and maintain happiness.  We have to get used to what pleasure feels like and perhaps more time to unabashedly court its presence in our lives. Like any good reader of romance knows, the iconic Happily Ever After takes a lot of grit and hard work to achieve.  We have to ask ourselves hard questions: What makes me happy? What do I want in my life? What doesn’t bring me pleasures? Seemingly simple questions, sure, but how often are we honest with ourselves about what we enjoy versus what society tells us we should be doing?

I also found that prioritizing simple pleasures allows me let go of the things that complicate or otherwise being negative energy to my life. During my year of buying, using, and wasting less, I found a direct correlation between moving too fast and being less mindful, less eco-conscious, less in-tune with myself. When I paused to indulge in simple pleasures, I was able to unplug from the frantic energy of our fast paced world. Same goes for toxic people situations. Learning what brings me joy helped me better understand what throws me out of whack.

Recently, I found myself in a social situation that I committed to not because I necessarily wanted to but because I thought I should be doing it. It seemed like a good idea, but my gut feeling was telling me it wasn’t my vibe. The energy was too groupie, too demanding on my time, and too draining. In the space of a week, I went from being happy and full of life, to tired, anxious, and without inspiration for my writing. Those feelings told me a lot. And in talking with loved ones, I was finally able to trace these feeling back to stepping into a zone that wasn’t right for me. Once I had that revelation, my energy returned. I felt happy again—albeit tired from this strange emotional journey. I could write again. I looked forward to my work day. And I felt joy in the littlest things. The energetic shift was shocking and made me realized how much I took my inner joy for granted. In reality, I had been so happy because I nourished the sacred art of pleasure and eschewed anything that didn’t enhance the quality of my life. It made me feel like I could do anything and everything—until I stepped into that dead zone and realized that wasn’t the case. My energy had been abundant because I cultivated abundance—and ruthlessly cut out anything from my life that didn’t enhance my overall wellness.

Lesson learned. Pleasure is an integral part of my day-to-day. It helps me understand why certain things make me anxious and unhappy—and that it is okay to let those things go in favor of radical joy. Now, I feel like I have to say that this isn’t about never having stereotypically “negative” feelings or never allowing yourself to engage with things that make you uncomfortable. Rather, this is about meaningfully allowing yourself to feel what you need to feel and listen to what those feelings are telling you. We find out a lot about ourselves from painful situations, true. But it is equally important to listen to what our pleasurable experiences have to teach us.

So how will I go about this year long exploration of sacred simple pleasures? I don’t have a set of rules to gauge how I indulge in this, mostly because I absolutely adore unstructured time and a lack of schedules when I’m not teaching. You could say it’s my number one sacred simple pleasure. I want to be open to synchronicity and spontaneity. Cooking and dreaming. Knitting and lolly-gagging.  Adventuring and magic-making.  I’ll only measure it by how nourished by soul feels. How balanced my life is.  How much magic I feel in the everyday. I’ll examine how slowly—intentionally—I’m living. How often I’m comfortable in asserting my needs and desires. How delicious each day tastes.

What simple pleasures are sacred to you? Why? Here’s to a year of cultivating pleasure! 

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Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on InstagramFacebookPinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

5 Things I Learned from My Year of Buying, Using, Wasting Less

My Year Long Journey to Be a More Conscious Consumer

Last year, I committed to a year of buying, using, and wasting less because of environmental concerns and an intrinsic desire to live more and more in union with nature.  I’ve been increasingly concerned about climate change, especially after the shocking reports that came out in the second half of 2018.  The reality is, we all over-consume and waste resources.  We’ve been conditioned as a society to value conspicuous consumption and retail therapy.  Big companies and countries certainly play a large role in climate change, and it is wonderful that the U.S. recently elected many government officials that care more about climate change than in previous elections—ones that will aggressively protect our planet.  It is essential that we hold big businesses and governments accountable for their part in the fight against climate change.  I am beyond excited to see the news stories about cities banning one-use items (including my hometown Albuquerque!), states building plans to go 100% sustainable, and lawmakers shutting down loop-holes for big businesses trying to get out of new green initiatives (I’m looking at you Exxon).

Living a Greener Lifestyle

I also think we, as individuals, need to hold ourselves accountable for our role in climate change.  After all, big businesses continue to produce one-use items and fast fashion because it is profitable.  Why?  Because we buy their products.  In that context, it becomes clear that the individual has a tremendous amount of power in healing the environment.  Our money—what we choose to spend it on and what we refuse to purchase—can shape the market and shift the economy away from disposable consumerism towards a sustainable future.  This requires us to be hyper-conscious about what we need and how we spend money.

So how to you unplug from mindless consumerism and live more consciously? 

It was an interesting journey.  First, I had to be completely honest with myself about what I purchase, use, and waste…and how to scale back.  That meant resisting the quick high of retail therapy, thinking about ways to repurpose household items, and taking an honest look at what I actually use each day and what quietly gathers dust on a forgotten shelf. 

Many people think that trying to live more sustainably makes your life more complicated and costly.  I found that it actually simplified my life and helped me save money.  Now that I’ve finished my year of using, buying, and wasting less, I plan to continue going more and more zero waste.  Frankly, we should all be aggressively moving towards greener living given our current environmental crisis. This decision has also transformed other areas of my life in ways that surprised me.  Using, buying, and wasting less meant I was taking better care of myself, saving money, and engaging with my local community in more meaningful ways.  Talk about conjuring positive energy!

5 Things I Learned from Living Sustainably

1. Sustainable living is a form of radical self-care.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, sustainability is a spiritual practice. Tuning into the needs of the earth helps me stay grounded and connected to myself.  It’s easy to start moving too fast and become disconnected from ourselves in this go-go-go world.  When I committed to a greener lifestyle, I had to slow down and consider what I really needed.  I found myself enjoying what I had more, skipping needless errands in favor of an afternoon walk, and happily rejecting impulse purchases in favor of money in the bank. Instead of indulging in retail therapy, I had to find other, healthier ways to destress.  I did yoga.  I meditated.  I read.  I knitted.  I no longer used shopping as a bandaid for coping with stress. Instead, I allowed myself to feel what I needed to feel and change what needed to be change for a better sense of wellness and balance in my life.  Plus I realized fairly quickly that if something wasn’t good for the earth it wasn’t good for me!

2. I don’t need as much as I think I do—so my life got a lot simpler.  This year, I decided to stop (okay, severely limit)  buying packaged goods, especially those items that came is wasteful plastic packaging.  It only takes one video of a helpless sea creature killed by eating discarded plastic to make you hate our wasteful culture. As a result, I stopped shopping at Trader Joe’s (except, real talk, for the occasional trip down the wine aisle).  Practically everything in the produce section there was  covered in wasteful packaging.  Suddenly, all the stuff I used to buy there made me think of polluted oceans…no thanks!  I got used to mainly shopping at my local co-op (the bulk section is my new BFF) and a few other stores where could get affordable, package-free goods. I ran less errands, bought less stuff, and generally saved money and time by nixing out anything that came in excessive packaging. 

I’ll admit that that didn’t work so well when I had to make online purchases.  One of the few new items I bought was tights for work after the ones I’d had for years ripped beyond repair.  The Amazon image showed me the tights I wanted and they seemed minimally packaged.  Then I got my order and found that each and every pair of tights in the set was double wrapped in non-recyclable plastic.  My worst nightmare!   So I learned my lesson.  I have have to actively seek out eco-conscious producers who make an effort to include limited packaging (PACT Apparel is a good start to this).  And, to make things even easier, I stick to my basic rule: I don’t buy wastefully packaged goods. Period. See? Simple!

3. It’s not as hard as I thought it would be. There’s a lot of panic around living a green lifestyle—it’s too expensive, too difficult, too time consuming to be practical. In truth, I’ve found the opposite to be true.  I got used to bringing my own reusable bags and jars to stores, buying less and using what I have. I fell into a routine and many of the changes I made were micro-adjustments that had a huge impact., like walking when I could instead of driving. The funny thing is, the more changes I made, the more I wanted to make. I’ve spent more than a few afternoons down a Pinterest rabbit hole, learning about how to go zero-waste. The real shocker? Much of the advice I found was pretty basic—use less, buy less, and be a more thoughtful consumer.

4. Other people are incredibly helpful…and curious about easy ways to be more sustainable. I can’t tell you how many times someone has stopped me in the grocery store to ask where I got my reusable produce bags or to tell me that using my own tupperware for my deli purchases is a good idea (I don’t eat a lot of meat but I like my cheese—just not the plastic wrap it comes in). The stores I shopped at were beyond kind when I brought my own items to fill. I even inspired a few people to make their own shopping routine less wasteful by bringing their own bags. I brought my own containers everywhere, from generic grocery stores like Smiths, to local markets like Keller’s and the co-op. I even brought them to The Herb Store (my all time favorite bulk store in Albuquerque) to stock up on my usual bulk herbs and spices. Each and every time, people were inquisitive, supportive, and excited to see someone shopping more mindfully. I’ve had more than one person tell me that I’d inspired them to start doing the same. Woohoo!


5. You learn to be honest with yourself about what is truly sustainable—in all meanings of the term. Going to three different grocery stores in one week to get everything you need without packaging (none of it available in one place) is not achievable.  Yup.  That was a lesson learned the hard way.   It’s the end of the week and you’re tired.  You finish work late or simply don’t feel like a string of errands at the end of the day.  Real talk: Not gonna happen.  No longer shopping at Trader Joe’s because everything is wrapped in packaging?  Totally achievable.   Never buying anything again ever? Nope. Investing in thoughtful purchases when needed? Yup. Saying no to one-use items? So easy to commit to. In short, to keep my greener lifestyle sustainable, I had to keep it simple, otherwise it was only a matter of time before I would backslide into old less environmentally friendly habits. I might not be able to make all my own goods and give up my car (my job is a twenty-minute drive away and the bus system here is pretty sketchy), but I can invest in quality products by ethical businesses and drive less.

Building a Better Future

The climate change news is pretty scary, no doubt about it. But I also believe that we got ourselves into this mess and we can get ourselves out of it. It’s easy to get disheartened with all the apocalypse-like stories flooding the media. Then I started reading more about people finding ways to clean the oceans and protect endangered species, countries banning one-use items and protecting vast amounts of natural spaces, and individuals lobbying for sustainable colleges and cities. Together, we can do so much. It starts with giving up one-use items and only grows from there.

I like knowing that I’m part of healing our planet and committing to a more thoughtful lifestyle. How do you plan to be part of the change?

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Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on InstagramFacebookPinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

5 Ways to Green Your Holiday

The holidays are here which for me means more quiet time drinking holiday chai and making homemade presents like my peppermint hot chocolate body scrub, orange spice body butter, and pine and charcoal soap.

Why do I bother making homemade gifts? A valid question, considering most people look at it as more work. For me though spending time in the kitchen is part of my self-care routine, helping me to unplug from the frantic pace of the holiday season and the mindless consumerism that contributes to so much waste. According to the National Environmental Education Foundation, our trash production increases by 25% around the holidays, meaning we produce an additional one millions tons of garbage per week this time of year. Yikes! That data, combined with the realities of climate change now facing us, should put all that holiday excess into perspective if you haven’t already unplugged from the mindless consumerism bandwagon.

Here’s another reality: At the risk of sounding like a cheesy holiday special, the holidays aren’t about buying needless items (studies also show that we only keep around 1% of what we end up purchasing this time of year!), but about celebrating loved-ones and taking time to rest and reflect at the close of the year. It’s also the celebration of the Winter Solstice, where we honor our intrinsic connection to the natural world and our own natural cycles.

Now I’m not asking you to go full-Grinch and give up gift giving or insist that every gift you give is homemade (I know not everyone has the time of interest in that!), but with a few low maintenance tweaks, you can enjoy a more eco-friendly holiday that’s good for the planet, your wallet, and your soul—seriously! Unplugging from the culture of buy buy buy has made me slow down and take in the soul-nourishing simple pleasure of the season. I look forward to quiet nights at home knitting and enjoying the twinkling lights of my tree, reading holiday romances with a glass of wine fireside, and taking long nature walks to relish the heady winter air.

So how do we honor the festive spirit of the season without giving into wasteful consumerism? Here are five ways to green your holiday routine.

  1. Reuse that wrapping paper—and ribbons. I can’t remember when it started, but for as long as I can remember, my family always reused our wrapping paper. Well-preserved festive bags, tissue and wrapping paper, and fancy ribbons became part of a beloved holiday tradition where, as kids, we eagerly looked to see who got the snowman bag that year or the reindeer wrapping paper or the red polka-dotted tissue paper. Our growing collection of ribbons lead to outlandish present wrapping with over-the-top bows, each one more outrageous than the last. I’ve added to this tradition by purchasing beautifully patterned cloth and festive cotton ribbon that can be reused indefinitely, long after our tissue paper collection has become unusable. It’s fun, festive, and, just like unwrapping tree ornaments, we look forward to seeing our favorite present wrappings come back every season.

  2. Omit one-use items. I know, I know, I say this constantly and put it on every “Green” list I make, but that’s because it is such an important part of protecting our planet and reducing waste. Many stocking stuffers, fun little toys, and those iconic Christmas crackers are only ever briefly enjoyed than quickly discarded. All those trinkets can’t be recycled so the end up in landfills. No thanks! Instead, focus on quality items that you know your loved-ones will really enjoy. You’ll spend less and have the satisfaction of knowing your gifts will be enjoyed long after the holiday season has gone.

  3. Make your own gifts. Let me first say that, while I LOVE making homemade gifts, I only make the easy things. It’s no fun if you’re slaving away on complicated projects after all! And these gifts don’t just have to be cookies, which can feel less-than-celebratory when you’ve received your ump-teenth cookie tin and can only eat so much sugar. In fact, I love surprising people with unexpected edible treats, like my all-purposing seasoning or chile-infused olive oil. I also like to give them practical indulgences like beeswax candles or, if I’m feeling extra fancy and want to up my body-butter and soap game, a homemade bronzer for my make-up loving peeps wanting more eco-friendly cosmetics. These are all things people can use and enjoy for a long while. better still, since I’m making them, I can be sure that they are packaged in zero-waste containers (hello mason jars, my old friends!). Want more easy DIY gift ideas? Check out my recipe index for inspiration.

  4. …and buy local if homemade gifts aren’t your jam. There are so many great local stores in Albuquerque, and no doubt in your neck of the woods too. Local gifts have the added benefit of being unique—not everyone will have it—and, best of all, support the local economy. I personally love taking time to shop at holiday pop-up markets and shop and strolls this time of year. It’s nice to see the community enjoying themselves and even better to stumble upon one-of-a-kind treats. If you don’t want to give more things, consider gifting local experiences like yoga or gym classes, a crafting session, tea tasting or other fun activities people can enjoy throughout the year. One year, I got dance classes from my sister and it was so fun to try something new. These gifts could also be more personalized, as when my sister and I do a yearly deep cleaning of my parents house top to bottom, inside and out, as a special birthday treat for my mom. Sometimes the best gifts are ones that lighten your loved-ones to-do list so they can kick up their feet and relax! Real talk: we’ve also gotten to a point in my family where we don’t want more stuff or for anyone to feel pressured to purchase gifts. At the end of the day, all we care about is spending time with one another…I know, cue holiday after school special music, but it’s true!

  5. Last but not least, limit spending, aka buy less. Yes, this is another go-green list perennial because living a more sustainable lifestyle is all about buying less in general. Use what you have and, when you need to purchase something, consider opting for second-hand and antiques stores, then local, before purchasing elsewhere. This includes keeping that fake tree instead of sending it to the landfills and resting the temptation to buy Griswold-style lights for your house. Enjoy what you have and think twice about buying more just to have more. Since I’ve done this, I’ve found that I look forward to decorating my house with well-loved decor I’ve collected over the years, each one infused with lovely memories. My home feels cozy and special, not another cookie-cutter made-for-TV-movie Christmas explosion.

How do you green your holiday?

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Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on InstagramFacebookPinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

The Occult Detective...with a Cocktail Recipe!

Each November, I love to write about stories that inspire, nourish, and delight.  I think this is the perfect month for setting aside more time for reading.  Autumn is well under way.  The days are colder and shorter.  The sanctuary of our homes calls to us as we settle into this contemplative month.  We are drawn to quieter past times that give us space to reflect and heal.

Over the years, I’ve written about the important comfort good stories and other simple pleasures can offer us and the power various genres have to impart wisdom.  This year, I’m waxing poetic about the Occult Detective…with a cocktail recipe thrown in, because I’m a big ol’ nerd like that.  

Introducing the Occult Detective 

So what are occult detectives?  They are usually rough and tumble characters dealing with the darker side of life.  Ghost hunters, if you will.  Vampire slayers.  Paranormal investigators.  Monster fighters.  And those drawn to the arcane knowledge of the occult and mystical. 

This archetype is found in everything from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all other monster of the week TV shows, to urban fantasy like the Dresden Files and the Bone Street Rumba series.  But what most people don’t know (unless you are a diehard occult detective fan like me!) is that this genre has a long history dating back to the Victorian Era. The 19th century saw not only the birth of the detective genre, but also the fad of Spiritualism.  Popular culture at the time was obsessed with understanding, studying, and experiencing the otherworldly via séances, spirit photography, and extensive research into the occult…much like we are today.

The Age of Spiritualism brought us the likes of Thomas Carnaki, inventor of the electric pentacle; Flaxman Low, a self-proclaimed supernatural detective; and, Diana Marburg, a palmist who solves murders.  Then there’s Dr. John Silence, the first Victorian occult detective I ever read about, who will always have a place in my heart for introducing me to the genre.  He has a mysterious past, training in the occult, and cool animal helpers like his cat Smoke and his dog Flame. 

At their best, these stories explored our relationship to the otherworldly and our curiosity about things outside ourselves.  They show how we grapple with the mysterious, unseen forces in this world (and beyond!), the things that often reach out in touch us in our life but that we can’t always explain away or even logically process…at their worst, we get ugly things like sexism, xenophobia, and racism.  The supernatural becomes a catch-all terms for anything that isn’t white, hetero, middle-class, or male, and thus, to be feared.  Yikes!  

A Genre of Transformation

My favorite part about this genre is that is has transformed over the centuries from a genre of xenophobia to one of hope and empowering explorations of otherness. Women, people of color, LGTBQ+ communities, people with disabilities, and, yes, supernatural beings are front and center in contemporary additions to the genre.  We’ve got Maggie Hoaskie, a Navajo monster hunter in Trail of Lighting; Tony Foster, a gay wizard in Smoke and Mirrors; Kate Daniels, a magical mercenary and woman of color in a post-apocalyptic world; the canonical bi-sexual John Constantine; and many stories out of Occult Detective Quarterly that aims to make the genre more inclusive by representing both diverse characters and authors….just to name a few.  And that’s barely scratched the surface.  I mean, I haven’t even gotten into TV shows yet (I’m talking to you, Sleepy Hollow, Wynona Erp, Supernatural, Lucifer and. So. Many. Others).

Perhaps what I love most about this genre is that it’s all about how magic is a hard, gritty thing.  In one way or another, these stories are about what it takes to be true to yourself in a worlds that doesn’t like marginalized bodies, otherness, and those living on the social periphery.  Better still, these stories teach us that living within liminal spaces—not just a human but a werewolf (Kitty Norville), not just a woman but a witch (Persephone Alcmedi), or a half-dead resurrected inbetweener (Carlos Delacruz)—is empowering, transformational even.  This liminal space we occupy is the crack where the light seeps in.

In the end, this genre, and the occult detective archetype, doesn’t just grapple with the paranormal, but perhaps the even more inscrutable concept of what it means to be human…even when you’re a ghost, werewolf, or technically undead. 

The Recipe

All which means that this genre deserves a drink and so do you!  I thought about pairing various stories with treats and drinks, but really, there are so many manifestations of this archetype, from cozy mysteries like the Juliet Blackwell’s Witchcraft series to dark horror like Mike Carey’s Felix Castor books.  I even thought of making a cocktail called the Hellblazer…before I realized that would just be a bottle of Jack and a pack of cigarettes. 

So I came up with a cocktail that captured the spirit (pun intended) of the genre instead. This is a riff on the Manhattan, using Amaro liquor instead of vermouth.  Amor is an intensely herbaceous, bitter Italian liquor, there perfect nod to hellfire and brimstone, two things any occult detective worth their salt should know how to handle.  Then add a dash of burnt orange bitters for a touch of the ghostly (though regular orange bitters would do just a well), and another dash of cinnamon bitters as the sin that warms your bones and promises a slew of bad—but delicious—decisions.  Bourbon holds it all together, balancing the punch of Amaro and bitters with the fullness of vanilla and earth—the underlying hope and hard-earned sweetness inherent in the genre.

This drink is perfect after a hard day of proverbial monster hunting or an even longer night of literal vampire slaying. 

Ingredients:

.5 oz Amaro liquor 

2 oz bourbon

2 dashes burnt orange bitters

2 dashes cinnamon bitters

ice

Mix ingredients in a shaker and shake for one minute.  Pour into a martini glass.  Garnish with a cinnamon stick, orange peel slice, .and the ashes of the demons you’ve slayed—cinnamon stick and orange peel slice optional.  Pair with a dark and stormy night and any of the occult detective stories mentioned here or pictured below.  Serves one.  Enjoy!

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Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational collection of musings touching on life’s simple pleasures, everyday fantasy, and absolutely 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.

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Magic is a Hard, Gritty Thing (Part II)

I asked for a new life. In return, I had to bury my seed so deep in the earth it kissed Hell.  It was important that this black disk holding the heart of a hollyhock be warmed by morningstars and forced to carve its way out of the darkness.  This, so that I could know the value of my transformation.

Now, I am uncomfortable with tight spaces and have trouble breathing in the dark, damp underground.  That is the price I paid for freedom.

I dreamed of a book once, too.  One with my name on it and my thoughts in it.  All the Universe expected in return was blood and heartache, time and tears, and that long stretch of purgatory where no one knew what I was doing--or cared--except for the emerging words on the page.  They knew.  They understood.  Felt the relief of stories so long contained finally spilling across naked sheets.

I'm about a pint of blood short now and so have less energy for things that don't understand that my heart is buried inside an herb garden, in a constant state of becoming. I get tired if I'm away from my stories for too long, worn out when I'm asked to ignore the poetry of a Monday or the grace of a slammed door. 

That was what the magic required of me to see my hope eternally bloom.  And I paid the price willingly.  That garden?  It has rosemary and words and ink and lavender in it--but no weeds and no room for nonsense.  I worked hard to make it so.  

I picked out each and every weed and each and every shade with my own hands until my fingernails were cracked and rimmed with black dirt and my hands were bloody from the nicks and scratches of angry ghosts that didn't want to leave such a cozy home.  I have a few crooked fingers now and a predisposition toward dry hands.  But no weeds.  No shades secretly living inside the sunflower's underbelly.  Just an abundant harvest to look forward to.

Magic is a hard thing and doesn't take wishes lightly.  This I know, which is why I hold up deleted pages and crossed-out passages like offerings for another manuscript, another birthing. These tattered narratives will never see the light of day.  They are the willing sacrifices for a better story.  I bind them up and surround them with twigs for kindling.  I press flame to their feet and watch the fire gobble them up because that is what the magic needs if I am to write something that is honest and potent.

Magic is a gritty thing, asking for you to give until it hurts.  That's the only way it knows you're serious and not just looking for a topical solution to soul sickness.  That kind of healing requires long journeys down dark roads and through the caves of memory until all your pains are excorcised and your hair smells vaguely of brimstone and forgetting. 

After all that, it lets you taste the first ripe peach of summer, speckled with morning dew.  Your tongue is coated in sunshine and hard-earned deliciousness.  Juice dribbles down your chin.  Your fingers are sticky with fuzz and nectar.  And in your hand is another hard seed waiting to be kissed by morningstars.

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Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on InstagramFacebookPinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

Magic Is a Hard, Gritty Thing (Part I)

With my book coming out in just a few short months, I’ve decided to write a few blog posts exploring the heart and soul of Everyday Enchantments, my writing life, and my life life: Everyday Magic. This is the term I use to explore the mysticism inherent in our daily lives, the sacred simple pleasures that heal the soul, and the radical self-care that keeps us vital.  

Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?

And it is.  But magic is also a hard, gritty thing.  It takes its own time and works in its own way.  You ask the Universe for something and it waits and watches and looks to see if you are, in fact, doing your part to make that desire come to fruition.  It asks for blood and sweat, time and tears, focus and energy.  So that when you ask for your Heart's Desire, the Universe first considers whether it is a wise wishing or an unhealthy infatuation.  In time, if it's the right thing for you, then the wish whispered on a dandelion head will make its way back to you.  Just as soon as it pleases and no sooner.

Let's face it, if magic were easy, more people would be doing it.

The hardest part about magic is that you have to let go of any notion that you can control all the variables in your life.  Surrender.  Listen to the Universe and your heart of hearts.  They will tell you where you need to go--and it's often not where you think you should be headed.  Magic is tricky that way.  Revealing its wisdom only when you're committed not to a specific outcome but to the art of learning yourself and the cosmic world around you.

It works kind of like this:  When you ask for light, you might expect fireworks to go off in the night sky immediately.  In reality, after hard labor, constant focus, and everyday conjuring, you get a small spark which you then nourish into a healthy fire to warm your home.  Still, you get the light, but in order not to take that conjuring for granted, you have to continue to work to keep it alive. 

Magic is a lot like self-care in that way.  When we taking about taking care of ourselves it’s often about pampering—lighting scented candles, sinking into bubble baths, taking afternoon naps.  Rarely do we talk about the hard work that goes into actual self-care, like waking up before sunrise to workout because that’s the only time you know you can realistically get it in, or swearing off processed sugar because you know that as good as it might taste, it’s no good for you.  Self-care is letting go of toxic situations and people regardless of what outsiders might think of your actions so that you can feel at peace.  It asks you to prioritize yourself without guilt in a world that sees that as a selfish act.  In short, self-care requires some serious adulting! 

As does magic.  You walk the fine line between infinite belief and hard labor.  As the common saying with writing goes, inspiration will never find you unless you're working.   Neither does magic.  It doesn't give anything away for free or shower you with unearned gifts.  There's always a price and the best magic, your own conjured magic, tastes all the better because it was birthed from your own sweat. 

So you plant your soul seeds and you tend them without rigid expectations.  Then one day those seeds sprout, blossom, ripen into delicious fruit if that is what is meant to happen.  Those that don't, find their purpose in feeding the worms in your compost bin.  But the fruit you do harvest is nothing short of divinity.  It tastes of your backyard, kissed by your sunlight.  Fed by your dirt and watered by your sweat.  It is summer in your mouth, the promise of eternal sweetness.

You get the idea. 

Magic is a hard, gritty, beautiful thing. 

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Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on InstagramFacebookPinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

Homemade Beeswax Candles

I love beeswax.  I use it in everything, from my body butters and lip balms to salves and mascara.  It acts as a sealant in my beauty goodies, locking in moisture and providing a protective layer against the elements. Plus it smells divine!  Like honey and warm earth. Best of all, buying local beeswax supports the bees which we need for a thriving planet and happy garden.

Homemade Beeswax Candles

I've fallen in love with beeswax all over again, recently, after I began making these homemade candles.  I adore candles.  Their dancing light turns dinner into a celebration or nighttime reading into a cozy retreat from the world.  Their open flames seem made for whispering wishes into and their warm glow chases away the darkness like no lamplight can. In short, they are one of my sacred simple pleasures.  I enjoy the homey task of making them, especially last week, as I cleaned and prepared my home for the coming summer solstice and enjoyed a candlelit night once the sun set on the longest day of the year.

Beeswax candles are one of the purest candles out there, free from yucky chemicals and artificial ingredients of mainstream candles. They have the added benefit of purifying your home.  While most candles actually release toxins into the air while they burn, beeswax candles release negative ions as they melt which neutralizes the positive ions create by allergies and other pollutants.  Bonus: It makes your home smell like amber, soft and sweet, like the honey it comes from.

These homemade candles are ridiculously easy to make, as are all my recipes, natch.  I prefer to use old toilet paper rolls for pillar candles and egg cartons for tea lights, rather than pouring them into jars.  The jars are nice, but I hate the build-up of candle containers; plus, I just love the look of pillar candles. Feel free to use jars if you prefer them (or reuse old candle tins).

These candles make wonderful gifts.  I like to make a big batch since they are so easy to make, to have on hand for last-minute gifts or give to my family.  Once the wick on your candle has burned down, don't throw the wax out! Use it to make new candles.  Beeswax is super durable and long-lasting, so you can just keep reusing what doesn't get burned up.  This recipe also works well for any candle wax you've got lying around.  I melted down one of my favorite chakra candles and refashioned it into a new one.  It beats spending a small fortune on new candles!

I've made my beeswax candles two ways: with just the beeswax and with a little coconut oil thrown it.  The pure beeswax candles emit a softer, lighter glow, while the ones with coconut oil burn brighter and faster.  If you use a jar, you will for sure want to use coconut oil so that you can more easily remove leftover wax once the candle is done burning.

Ingredients:

Beeswax, preferably local

Coconut oil (optional, using only 1 part oil to 4 parts beeswax for best consistency)

Special Tools:

Toilet paper or paper towel rolls

Egg cartons

Large tin can

Old saucepan

Organic candle wicks

Parchment or wax paper

Baking sheet

Skewers or string (to keep wicks straight)

To make, roughly chop wax and place in the large tin can.  Fill saucepan halfway with water and place on stove.  Put can in saucepan.  Burner should be on medium heat.  Stir occasionally until wax melts. The time on this varies, depending on how much beeswax you use and how small the wax pieces are. It will take at least twenty minutes. I typically put it on when writing so it can melt while I work.  

If you are using coconut oil, melt it in a separate tin can only once your beeswax is melted, as the coconut oil melts more quickly.  Once it's melted, combine with the wax and stir. 

Remove melted wax from heat and let sit about five minutes to cool.  While your wax (and coconut oil, if you are using it) is cooling, spread parchment paper across a baking sheet and line up your paper rolls.  You can also use the bottom of an egg carton if you want smaller candles. 

To make candles, pour a dime-sized bit of wax into the bottom of the rolls sitting on parchment paper or in the egg cartons.  Then place the metal bottom of your wicks into the wax.  This will serve as a solid base. Once you've done it for all your candle molds, line one or two skewers or other straight objects across the middle of your rolls (or carton) so that your wicks are neatly sandwiched between them.  This will ensure that they stay centered.  For smaller candles, simply cut the desired wick size and place it in the cooling wax. 

Candle Making Process

Pour wax slowly into molds.  Note: If the wax isn't cool enough, it may leak out of bottom rolls, so make sure it has enough time to cool.  I forgot to the first time I made these and had wax puddles forming outside the molds--luckily I could just let it harden, scrape it off, and remelt it!  

Wax in Egg Carton

Once the beeswax is poured into the molds, let them sit until hardened, usually an hour or two.  I keep them on the baking sheet so that I can move them someplace where they won't be in the way.  Once they've hardened and cooled, simply peel away the carton or roll and you've got yourself a lovely collection of beeswax candles!

Finished Candles

Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

A Summer of Sacred Simple Pleasures

At the start of last summer, I'd just completed the major edits on my first book, Everyday Enchantments, and needed time to goof around and recharge after such a big accomplishment. Needless to say, I wasn't doing much writing! This summer, however, I find myself longing for unstructured time and, frankly, more quiet time. It was a lively action-packed teaching year, to say the least, and it has taken me time to decompress from the excitement.

I find myself indulging in long afternoons writing to the soundtrack of lazy birdsong and late nights reading juicy novels...and mornings? They've been spent losing track of time. In the garden. At the writing desk. In the kitchen. You name it. I'm an introvert at heart and find I've needed to nourish that aspect of myself more. My quiet soul needs time to talk to the ladybugs that find their way into my lap and dance under the moon.  Not that I don't love my adventures--I've had plenty of those too and look forward to more over the summer.

This time away from the work desk has made me realize how structured my life is--happily so, I'm a creature of routine after all! But I realized my life had been more than structured: every minute, every second seemed like it had been taken up with one task or another. Yuck! I love my routine, but an integral part of making your routine a ritual is in allowing space, time, light to flow throughout your day.

That's why this summer, I've decided to embrace the gentler pace the season promises and relish anything and everything that makes me slow down and tune into myself. I want to linger over a glass of wine while watching the sunset and greet the morning birds with songs of my own--and a cup of coffee, natch.

I want to spend time in the kitchen playing with recipes and spells I don't normally have time to make and conjure. I want to wear flowers in my hair and feel blades of grass between my toes.  I want to prioritize delicious living and tiny daily delights. Why? Because I'm coming to see simple pleasures as something sacred.

And we should make more time for sacred things. We need to in order for our souls to grow and flourish. So unleash yourself. Let go of heavy mundane things that make it impossible for you to sleep in on a Sunday or linger over a cup of tea. Resist the temptation to fill up your calendar with one thing after another.

Slow down. Give up schedules--at least for a day or a few hours here and there (I know we all aren't off for the summer!). Remember what it was like to be the kid running around in the backyard, blowing bubbles and twirling for no reason except that it's fun. Get lost on a long walk. Find yourself in a good book. Listen--just listen and nothing else--to an old record because you haven't done it in forever. Whisper secrets into a candle and let it whisper back.

Treasure these moments. Honor them. They are sacred. Pleasure is sacred. And simple pleasures are one of the most profound experiences of all.

Here's to a summer of sacred simple pleasures!

A Summer of Sacred Simple Pleasures

Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

Vegan Bacon Recipe

I know, I know. Vegan bacon is a total oxymoron! Strange name aside, I can promise you that it tastes delicious. I began my quest for healthier breakfast sides after I realized this past winter that I was eating more and more bacon come the weekend which was bad for my waistline and health. Then I realized what I really loved about bacon is that it made me feel fancy. Breakfast could be a decadent diner plate with scrambled eggs, buttery toast, and yes, bacon. 

So then the quest began. How do I make a healthier weekend breakfast side? I was inspired by these recipes from Minimalist Baker and Veganosity, but as always, modified them so that I didn't have to buy any special ingredients--those things that usually end up getting used once and then thrown out (yet another attempt for me to waste less is to buy only condiments and ingredients I know I'll use). An added bonus to this recipe? Eating less meat is better for the environment all around, not just for your health.

Typically I avoid most things called vegan because they end up being highly processed. I would also rather eat something that tastes like what it is, like tofu for example, rather than beef flavored tofu. I mean, how many gross additives and artificial ingredients go into making fake meat? Yuck! All that artificial stuff is hardly good for the environment either. There are, of course, a few exceptions, like this bacon and my vegan fudge, both of which use only natural ingredients and only foodstuff that I already have in my pantry: maple syrup, amino acids, garlic, and chipotle chile powder. Together these ingredients make for a sweet smokey flavor akin to bacon. If you have never used amino acids before, give them a try! I started using Braggs liquid amino acids as a healthier substitute for soy sauce and haven’t looked back since. 

This recipe works well with eggplant (pictured here) as well as mushrooms. I have even seen people use carrots and turnips, though I have yet to try those options. You can slice these longways or, as I prefer, in circular discs. The big thing you need to make sure you do is to use a mandolin or other sharp cutting tool to produce thin, even slices so your pieces cook evenly. If they are too thick, they won’t have that crispy bacon feel.  

All in all, this vegan bacon is the perfect blend of crispy, salty, and smokey--and it goes great with scrambled eggs and toast! 

ingredients: 

1 eggplant, thinly sliced  

1/4 cup Braggs liquid amino acids

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 tablespoon smoke chipotle powder

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

Combine all ingredients, except the eggplant, in a shallow pan or bowl. Then place eggplant slices in mixture and let marinate at least 30 minutes. I usually let them marinate overnight for best flavor. To cook, squeeze the moisture from eggplant piece so they are as dry as possible. This will ensure that they get crispy while cooking, not soggy. Heat oil in frying pan on medium. Once the pan is hot, place first round of eggplant on pan’s surface and cook without flipping for 1-2 minutes, watching carefully so that pieces crisp up, not burn. Flip pieces and repeat on the second side until browned. These are best eaten hot with scrambled eggs and toast. Serves 4-6. Enjoy!

Eggplant Dish

Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

Join Me for #TarotTuesdays

This time last year, I was finishing the final manuscript (minus several rounds of edits) of Everyday Enchantments. It marked the beginning fo the end of what had become a six-year project. What followed was a year of editing, blogging, and dreaming about my next writing projects. I could finally return to fiction, my first love, and explore everyday magic in a whole new way. I could also experiment with new writing forms, like the 55-word story format that I'm using for my new EcoErotica series on Instagram, which I kicked off with the piece Seeds

My next project came to me at the end of the school year in a synchronous flash involving the tarot, 55-word stories, and a conversation with the universe.  I love the tarot and have often wanted to learn more about it. My own tarot practice is fairly simple--a basic question, a shuffle of the deck, and a card chosen from the pack. I don't do the elaborate readings or the layouts. As much as I appreciated them, I'd rather leave them to the professional mystics. 

Much of the work I do, on the other hand, is dependent on synchronicity--those meaningful coincidences--and the daily routine that speaks to me through the deck. I have to keep it simple, otherwise, the cards won't speak to me.  Not even my magic will speak to me if I make life too complicated. Believe me, it's an ongoing, ever-evolving art-form for me to learn how to keep things simple!

Another integral part of tarot to me is storytelling...which leads me to the second synchronous event that me to my latest writing project: #TarotTeuesdays on Instagram. I was at my favorite herb store, thinking about how much I wanted to learn more about the most famous tarot deck, the Rider-Waite, and remembering the centuries-old tarot cards I saw at the Morgan Library a few years back when I visited New York. Then I saw it: A Radiant Rider-Waite tarot deck sitting almost out of eyesight on the top of the bookshelf I was perusing. 

It was a sign. Time to learn more about the tarot.  I bought the deck, saged it when I got home and spent the next week getting to know it by repeatedly shuffling through it and examining each card. I decided that I would develop my emerging love of the 55-word story, a fun exercise I often work on with my creative writing students, into a 78-word story for each of the cards in the tarot deck. 78 words for the 78 cards that make up the tarot.

My plan is to draw a new card every Tuesday and write a 78-word story based on its meaning and the synchronicity inherent in each draw of a card.  Although there is no official tarot deck, I'm using the Rider-Waite edition because it is considered one of the oldest and most popular decks. I use another type for my own personal use, which I automatically knew I didn't want to use for this writing project because they are so sacred to me. So I needed a new deck just for the purposes of writing and exploring.  I love that this is the radiant edition because, well, so much of what I write about is bringing light to dark places and nourishing the synchronicities that illuminate our path. This is a cheerful deck, a hopeful collection of cards perfectly in line with the type of magic I seek to conjure.

In short, I'll be writing weekly 78-word stories based on the tarot. I draw a new card every week and let it tell me its story. Look for #TarotTuesdays on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to read them as they are posted each week.

Here's to new writing projects and the meaningful coniencedences that led me to them!

Tarot Card Deck

Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

They Say Write What You Know...

They say write what you know. But it’s a hard thing to do. First, we rarely know what we know. Or rather, there’s so much we think we know but don’t. And second…how do you explain the flutter in your ribcage when you start a new story? How do you describe the taste of a memory so old you don’t remember when you first acquired it?

Sometimes you do write what you know, though no one believes you’ve fought dragons. You have. Several of them. Seems there’s one knocking on your door every few years or you stumble across them as you canvas uncharted territories. You made friends with a few of them, too. No one trusts that you hear the whispered stories of trees. It must only be the breeze you’re talking about. Never mind that trees have the best stories—the oldest stories—and dearly love to gossip. Fewer still understand that when you write of mixing hot water with rosemary slivers and chamomile heads, you aren’t just brewing a cup of tea, but concocting a healing spell to mend bruised hearts and tired bodies. 

Once in a while, someone hears your truth, like a distant moonlit howl. So that when you say a pair of cowboy boots—over 15 years old and thrice mended—are the living history of a woman learning to stand on her own, they see pieces of your soul woven into the leather soles. Others will bend and distort this and see only that you have a pair of shoes or that perhaps you like to two-step. In the end, it hardly matters. You can’t anticipate what others might see when you tear off a piece of yourself as if from a loaf of bread, and invite them to taste it.

Sunday, I read a book (which means: Sunday, I read a book).

When I talk about the stories locked in my veins—some passed on to me, some all my own—it will show up as a smattering of words on a page. They may not know the press of these stories, like so many microscopic seeds, against my arteries. And when I say I’ve taken a long walk through my neighborhood, I’ve really just returned from a long journey in which I fought my way through an ancient labyrinth in a faraway land so as to find answers to secret questions only the spirit in the middle of the maze can answer.

Yesterday I bargained for some extra luck from a wood sprite who was in dire need of a handful of acorns. (Loosely translated: I was the one in a pinch and borrowed some magic from someone who owed me a favor...and wasn't opposed to my sweetening the deal with some hard-to-find nuts. Real magic, conjured magic—your own magic—takes time to build and I was at a deficit from one too many blows to the spirit.) 

So this is my truth. More or less. I once had high tea with a giant. We dined across a large slab of granite in a wide open field, as was the custom in his land. Although when I write this, many will only see a young student clutching a cardboard coffee cup, sitting next to a future mentor on a cold bench near a duck pond between classes.

Tonight, I'll dream. Or live. Depending on how you want to read it. Who's to say we can tell the difference between one or the other? Half the time people think I'm dancing through life, when really my footsteps are meticulous, carefully kissing the earth in slow, dramatic presses of heel to toes, heel to toes. That's the only way to walk. The only way to taste things growing just under the surface.

This I write. This I know. Mostly. Kind of.

Ink Quill and Paper

Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

Sustainability as Spiritual Practice

This year, I’m focusing on building a more sustainable lifestyle by using, wasting, and buying less.  That said, I’ve actually been working on a more eco-friendly path over the past few years and have had a few revelations in the process. As someone who practices a nature-based spirituality, in particular, a cultivation of the divine feminine in all of us, I’ve found that actively become more sustainable is essential to healing the relationship between mother nature and human beings—and our relationship to ourselves.

Think about it: if it’s bad for nature, it’s bad for us.  I’ve come to think of mindless consumption and waste as akin to eating fast food, a substance of little to no nutritional value and made from low quality, dubious ingredients (I’m looking at you, pink slime!). Why would we put something like this into our bodies? It certainly doesn’t nourish us. And if it doesn’t nourish our bodies, it certainly won’t fuel or minds or spirits, all of which are interconnected.  There’s no soul to the food, just like there is no soul to thoughtless waste.

I’ve also found that when I’m most disconnected from myself—overworked, stressed, or around toxic people—I’m equally disconnected from nature and my own natural rhythms. Numbness sets in.  I forget to be mindful. I look to external things for soothing and replenishment, rather than inward.  I spend more money on things I don’t need. I consume more unnecessary products or ignore the wasteful packaging on others because I “really” need something, like takeout or a one-use beauty product, to sooth.

In reality, what I need is to disconnect from the soulless fast-paced lifestyle I’d inadvertently plugged into and reconnect with myself.  When I slow down, I’m better able to care for myself, mind, body, soul—and earth. I can tend my garden and turn my compost. I can relish shopping at my local co-op or farmers market. I can enjoy a healthy home-cooked meal. I can see how my yoga practices return my natural vibrancy better than any store-bought beauty product.  I can dream and hear my own voice. I can speak to the earth and listen to her stories. 

I feel full. Abundant. At one with myself. At one with nature. The deeper I go on this path, the more I remember that the mother nature is infinite in her wisdom. She reminds us not to deplete our valuable resources, both of the land and of the spirit, to cultivate what is healthy, omit what is destructive, and to listen to the natural cycle of our daily lives. 

In short, I’ve found that being eco-conscious is about being conscious. Period.

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Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

5 Ways to Quit Fast Fashion

As part of my year of buying, using, and wasting less, I've given up fast fashion, that seemingly harmless trend built on cheap, trendy clothing from places like H&M that change every season (I mean micro-season) and encourage mindless consumerism.  In truth, I've stopped shopping at those places some time ago because the reality of fast fashion is that the clothes don't last long. They aren't designed to. You're supposed to wear them for one season then throw them out...into landfills. I got tired of throwing away money on super trendy clothes that didn't feel right on my body and weren't truly my style. These things often got donated within the year. The items I kept around were higher quality from niche brands I'd purchased on sale that had a timeless look and made me feel both comfortable and beautiful, the mercurial balance we're forever searching for in our clothing.

So I gave up throwing away my money on clothes that didn't fit or feel right on me. Then I learned more about how truly terrible fast fashion is, and not just because so much of it ends up in landfills. Fash fashion wreaks havoc on the environment, creating terrible water waste (it takes 2,700 liters of water to make one cotton shirt, for example). It also pollutes the earth with toxic chemicals used to make bright, colorful patterns. In fact, dyes are the second largest water polluter globally. And order to keep up with the demand of seasonal, disposable pieces, companies exploit cheap labor, so that the women working in these factories don't even earn a living wage.

Perhaps the scariest part of all this is the fact that we don't often see the devastating destruction of fast fashion; many of these factories are in China, Vietnam, and other countries.  If we don't see it, it somehow seems less real and we can pretend that our shopping spree is harmless fun. Naturally, once I learned all this, I lost my taste for retail therapy and just-for-fun shopping.

I'm still learning how to be responsible in my clothing choices, but the more I learn, the more I realize I made a good choice in becoming a green fashionista. It's not only good for the environment but also my wallet.  I've also found that I self-sooth in different ways. I'm no longer looking for the perfect purse to ease stress, but a long walk or good book instead. If you too are working towards a more sustainable and ethical wardrobe, check out my five tips for quitting fast fashion below.

1. Use what you have. This is the easy one. Too often we look in the closet and say, "I have nothing to wear!" In reality, our closets are stuffed with clothes we hardly wear. Get creative. Enjoy the things you've purchased. And be honest with yourself: If you've never worn that one dress you keep thinking you will one day like, donate it. Clean your closet of anything you haven't worn in a year and then DON'T BUY MORE CLOTHES. You'll be surprised how often we buy more things and really only wear a few staples.

2. Buy less, but better. Make it hurt a little.  When I do buy something new, I save up, aiming for quality over quantity. I want shoes and clothes that will last forever, or close to it, rather than things that will fall apart by the end of the season. I try to buy local, or USA-made, and sustainable when possible. I take all the money I would have spent of fast fashion splurges and set it aside for when I need to invest in a quality item. 

3. Shop vintage and secondhand stores.  There are still times when I do need to purchase a new something or other, so lately I've been going to vintage and second-hand stores.  I find cool pieces at great prices.  This also appeals to the fashionista in me who likes vintage-inspired styles and funky one-of-a-kind items. 

4. Take good care what you have.  I wash most of my clothes on the delicates cycle and either hang dry them or put them on little to no heat in the dryer. This extends the life of your clothes exponentially.  I also mend and repair my clothes and shoes.  I find that I truly love the staples I have and want to enjoy wearing them. 

5. Wait ten days...and then see if you still want that dress. I can't tell you how much this one rule has helped me curbed my impulses to stress shop. Retail therapy is real, and it feels good when you buy something that makes you feel pretty, polished, or playful...for about five minutes. Then you realize you didn't really need another dress and that you would have rather saved that money. Now I use the ten-day rule. If I spy something online or in a store and fall in love with it, I give it ten days before deciding to buy it. The truth is that in a few days, I'm no longer thinking about that outfit I had to have. In fact, I usually end up going home and seeing how many clothes I have in my closet and am grateful that I didn't buy another thing to get lost in there. Bonus: my wallet feels pretty happy too!

Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

5 Easy Ways to Conserve Water

Water conservation is an important practice when it comes to fighting climate change. We can no longer deny that we waste a significant amount of this non-renewable resource, especially in light of the Cape Town water crisis.  So much of water waste stems from our mindless consumerism--we take what we want without any thought as to how it impacts the environment. 

We waste 1.7 trillion gallons of water every year simply because we don't treat it like the precious resource that it is. It seems ironic that we would waste so much water in light of the severe droughts much of the country is facing. Clearly, we need to rethink our relationship with our natural resources!

The good news is that with a little effort and more mindfulness, we can stop water waste and develop a more sustainable way of living. Below are five easy ways to conserve water.

1. Stop buying fast fashion. It not only takes a significant amount of water to produce cheap, disposable clothes but many of the toxic dyes used in their production go on to pollute our waters. Don't enable irresponsible environmental practices or the businesses that profit from them.

2. Reuse your water. I keep a large bowl in my sink to collect the water I used to rinse off my dishes and use it to water my plants. As an apartment dweller, it's an easy way to make sure I'm limiting water waste. If I had my own home, I'd set money aside to invest in one of the many increasingly affordable greywater systems that enable you to reuse "dirty" water from your kitchen, bathroom, and washing room, in your garden. While you wouldn't want to drink this water, it is perfect for nourishing your plants.

3. SImply use less.  Since I've become more eco-conscious, I've lost my love of a good long bubble bath. I still take them once in a while, usually on a cold wintery day, when I know I can really soak and enjoy it. But indulging regularly, particularly knowing that my native desert is suffering from a terrible drought, has lost its appeal and healing factor for me. I've found other ways to unwind at the end of the day, like tending my garden or doing yoga.  I also take shorter showers and turn the water off while I shave and soap down. Put in low-flow showerheads while you're at it and only use the washer when you have a full load of clothes. These are all easy ways to reduce our water consumption. All it takes is a little extra mindfulness and we can have a huge positive environmental impact. 

4. Fix house leaks and make sure all household appliances are water efficient. Again, a little leak is something that seems like no big deal, but in reality, you are wasting gallons of fresh water. Regularly check your faucets, pipes, and appliances to make sure they are in working order. It's a good idea to purchase only water-efficient appliances as well. As with all things eco-friendly, this helps not just the environment, but your bank account as well. 

5. Don't leave the water running! This is a super easy one, but one that is so often overlooked. Don't leave the faucet on while you brush your teeth or rinse the dishes. Wet your toothbrush, brush, and then quickly rinse.  The faucet doesn't need to be on while you care for your pearly whites. Same goes for dishwashing. I like to stack the ready-to-be-rinsed dishes on one side of the sink and quickly rinse them at one time with the faucet on low. You'd be surprised how much water this saves!

How do you conserve water?

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Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

Cabbage Steaks Recipe

One of the ways we can reduce our carbon footprint is to simply eat less meat (and when we do eat it, to make sure it is grassfed, organic, and local). I don’t eat a whole lot of meat to begin with which means I’m always on the lookout for a delicious veggie-based meal, especially when it comes to dinner.  So when I came across this recipe for cabbage steaks, I was excited to try them. Now, it should come as no surprise that grilling cabbage will not make it taste like steak. That said, I love this dish. It’s earthy, tasty, and super healthy for you and the planet. 

I tweaked the original recipes to include a splash of red chile to the mustard sauce and swapped the rosemary for tarragon to the marinade. You can make this either by roasting whole slices of cabbage or sear them individually in a hot pan. I like to pare these steaks with cannelloni beans or a simple salad. The recipe is easy enough to make and tasty enough to feel like a decadent dinner. Yum!

Ingredients:

For steaks:

whole red cabbage

olive oil 

1 tbs fresh tarragon, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

salt to taste

For sauce:

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tsp red chile powder

1 tsp pepper

2 tbs mustard

1 small shallot, minced

salt to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut cabbage into one-inch thick slices. You can cut the tip of the stem off, but do not completely core it or the steak will be unable hold together. Lay cabbage steaks flat on an oven pan, making sure to rub top side with olive oil, tarragon, garlic, and salt, then flip over and do the same to the second side. Place pan in oven and roast for twenty minutes. Alternatively, slice desired amount of cabbage, rub in olive oil, tarragon, and garlic, then let sit for 15 minutes. Heat frying pan medium hot. Add oil and cabbage steak slice. Let sear for 2 minutes, flip, and sear another two minutes. 

For the sauce, let minced shallots marinate in vinegar for 15 minutes in jar, then add all other ingredients and shake. Serve steaks immediately, with a simple salad or a side of cannelloni beans sauteed in ghee and garnished with shredded kale, or (pictured here) with some parmesan-crusted snowpeas.

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Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

Spring Clean Your Mind, Body, Soul

Spring is almost here. I can feel it in the way my skin itches to be kissed by the thin gold strands of sunlight or in the tightening excitement in the pit of my belly when I realize it is almost 7pm...and still light out. I might just get to have a glass of wine and watch the sunset on my patio. Most of all, however, I can feel spring in the way I seem to shake off my intense wintery introversion (most of it, anyway) like I would a fleece jacket. I find myself longing for adventures, new experiences, and friendly visits to old haunts. 

Spring ushers in its own invigorating and rejuvenating energy, and with that, a desire to clean. I am a big proponent of cleaning as a form of cleansing. Stressed? Scrub down your bathtub. Overworked? Do laundry. Seriously! It's a great way to practice self-care without having to think too hard about what you're doing. Unable to focus on that next page needing to be written? Dust--sweep--vacuum--hell, reorganize that junk drawer. Then the answers come. Cleaning, in other words, has become my oracle or crystal ball of wellness. Somewhere between hanging clothes to dry and washing those floors, wisdom is found. You're not thinking so hard so you can actually listen to yourself...which is all by way of saying that come spring, I am all about spring cleaning!

It's a great opportunity to dust off the cobwebs from your window sills and thoughts. Lately, I've been marinating on that old witchy-hippy-new-age adage, "as within, so without," which basically says what's going inside your mind, body, and soul, is mirrored in your day-to-day external life. While I believe in this concept on a number of levels, it seems particularly true when it comes to spring cleaning. If my house is messy, my mind is in disarray. If I don't have time to water my plants, my soul becomes parched. If I can't dance to salsa and merengue music while clearing out the dishwasher, my body aches.

So while you plan your own spring cleaning routine for your home, consider adding a little tune-up for your mind, body, and soul. We could all use a little a cleaning and rebooting at the start of each new season, most especially come spring, the time of renewal, rebirth, and new possibilities. 

Spring Cleaning the Mind

To spring clean your mind, first check in with your thoughts. What dust and debris have settled in the corners of your mind? 

Lately, I've become more aware of the old negative patterns I've allowed my mind to fall back into like stressing about things I have no control over in the middle of the night, operating from a flight-or-fight response in mundane happenings, or negative self-talk that can slip in when I'm overworked (overwork being a bad habit in and of itself, one I am still getting better at curbing).

These things serve no purpose. In fact, they are remnants of a time when I wasn't very good at taking care of myself, a time when I was strictly surviving rather than living. Still, I find I have to make a conscious effort to remind myself that I am no longer the overworked graduate student (yes, even after five years of being on the other side of it all!), but an empowered writer and educator who has the time, resources, and intention to live well

Once you've found the old habits and dirty corners in your mind, clean them up, dust them off, and say goodbye to those worn and ugly things.

This spring, I'm making a point of letting these things go, both internally and externally. I'm making a conscious effort to stop negative thoughts before they fully manifest. I'm getting rid of old notebooks full of graduate school work I will never look at again and saying goodbye to the straight-laced clothes of a young woman desperate to keep her head above water and hold her own in her profession. I'm acknowledging unhealthy habits (constantly apologizing for no reason, for example) and decluttering my home of things that don't bring me joy. I'm allowing myself to be more. More of what, I can't yet say. All I know is that in decluttering my home of past selves and my mind of old habits, I create space for this new energy. I set my intention for a healthy way of thinking, being. I manifest positive energy.

How will you spring clean your mind?

Spring Cleaning Your Body

To spring clean your mind, listen to your body. Its aches and pains and the things that make it feel delicious.

I love being up before the sun, enjoying a few stolen hours of exercise, yoga, or mediation before the rest of the world is awake. I like time to see the morning stars before the sun eclipses their sparkle and time to kiss the moon goodnight before she descends into the mesa's embrace. 

Then winter hits. And it kinda hurts to be outside when it is so cold and dark out. And you're super tired because...life happened. We've all been there. In my case, quite recently. Sleeping in becomes routine, healthy habits slip away in favor of extra time hugging that pillow or flopping in front of the TV screen and mindlessly eating. Once you fall into this stasis it can be a habit that is So. Hard. To. Break.

But spring is the perfect time to revive your wellness practice. Clear your fridge and pantry of unhealthy tempting nibbles, reboot your healthy diet, and get back to the yoga mat, exercise regimen--all of it. 

Remind yourself that when your body feels good, so does everything else.

It sounds corny, but when I workout, do yoga and eat right, I'm happier, less stressed, and feel, for lack of a better word, juicy. My energy is clean and abundant, not thin and gray. So I'm starting slowly, getting back on track with simple goals like finding new fun and healthy recipes to cook, and upping my exercise a little each week to get back to my 5-6 days of exercise a week. I'm even working on being more active around the office, reviving my quick walks around the campus and stopping for energy-boosting tea breaks. I also make it a point not to beat up on myself if I slip up here and there (which goes back to letting go of negative self-talk for my mental spring cleaning). Life happens. What matters is that I'm taking care of myself and making progress. All these little baby steps are bringing me back to a feel-good body and a feel good-life.

How will you spring clean your body?

Spring Cleaning Your Soul

Collect, nourish, tend your soul seeds.

This is perhaps the most ephemeral aspect of the mind-body-soul wellness trifecta. After all, how do you explain the utter excitement of knowing you get to spend a quiet weekend at home after a week of intense extroversion?  How do you describe the little thrill you get when you settle in to start a new book or what a sweet soothing balm it is to see a bouquet of daffodils on your nightstand?

Nourishing your soul is as much about a solid wellness routine as it is about consciously removing toxicity from your life, be it in the form of people, old selves, or negative spaces. But once you've made the necessary changes to your lifestyle--welcoming in the abundant and letting go of the stifling--your next task is to discover what it means to greet the day with joy, with fullness in your heart, with the awareness that you are connected to your Eros Energy.

One easy way to do that? Treat simple pleasures as sacred. Seriously. The perfect cup of tea from your favorite mug isn't just an afternoon pick-me-up, it's a healing potion.  The beeswax candles you light at night aren't just a nice touch to the dinner table, but an expression of the luminous softness you hope to bring to the end of the day. So relish these moments, and be willing to discover new pleasures.

One of the things that can be most difficult when we spring clean our soul, is remembering to actively cultivate and seek out things that bring us bliss after we remove the stagnant energies that have built up over time...which brings us back to our soul seeds, those clear intentions for better living that we plant in the hopes of cultivating our private Edens. 

Maybe it's mediation. Maybe it's reading trashy novels. (For me, it's kind of both!) Or taking a long walk in nature. Or making homemade pasta on a Sunday night...or another of simple pleasure you have yet to taste. What matters is that you make a conscious effort to find and nourish what makes you happy. Stay playful and stay curious. You'll be surprised what delightful things come your way and how full your soul feels when you give it time to just be.

What are your sacred simple pleasures?

Happy spring cleaning!

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Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!