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.

Best Hits: Kitchen Conjuring

As I wind down my year of daily blogging, I find myself reflecting on these moments of everyday magic and simple pleasures, of delicious experiences, feelings, or life lessons distilled through words into living memories.  Today, as I find myself once again tinkering in the kitchen, I realize how much I turn to the stove, the fridge, the pantry for inspiration. In honor of this, I am sharing some of the most memorable posts on the magic we conjure in the kitchen:

1. On Eggs & Ham

2.  Under the Influence of M. F. K. Fisher

3.  On Making Limoncello

4.  On Kitchen Sinking-It

5. On Grocery Shopping

6.  On Pasta Making

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 Holiday Movies You Should Be Watching (But Probably Aren't)

Confession: I'm not much of a sentimentalist when it comes to the holidays.  Sure, I love cheesy Christmas mugs and socks with glittery reindeer on them just as much as I enjoy trimming the tree and gazing at twinkle lights, but I don't tear up at the end of It's a Wonderful Life or other such films.  My enjoyment of the holiday tends to be a little more hedonistic than pious (pagan hippy that I am!), as do my tastes in holiday films. 

Every holiday season, I look forward to watching these festive films that are less about Christmas and more about plots that just happen to take place this time of year.  They are delicious stories and perfect for a cozy night in! 

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1.  Christmas in Connecticut.  There is no resisting Barbara Stanwyck, especially in this romantic-comedy about a woman who poses as a Martha-Stewart-like homemaker to write a column on all things domestic and culinary.  Plot twist: her publisher decides she should host a war hero at her fictional family farm.  Armed with a fake husband, a borrowed baby, and her trusty cook and friend, Stanwyck attempts to save the day, even as she begins to fall in love with the war hero.  Shenanigans ensue! 

2.  The Shop Around the Corner.  This movie has the classic charm and wit of all Ernst Lubitsch films.  James Stewart and Margaret Sullivan play fellow shop employees who are constantly at odds.  Unbeknownst to each other, they are actually pen pals--and in love with one another via their letters.  It's a treat to see how their true identities are unveiled just in time for Christmas Eve festitivites.  It's perfect for an afternoon of gift wrapping.

3.  Desk Set.  This is one of those Katherine Hepburn-Spencer Tracy rom-coms about the office gossip mill, as Hepburn fears Tracy's latest invention will make her job obsolete.  Add a complicated love triangle and you have the perfect recipe for a movie to craft by.  One of the all-time best parts of this movie is the office Christmas party in which Hepburn gets more than a little tipsy (what can I say, the woman does fun-drunk so well!). 

4.  Holiday.  This is another Hepburn movie, only this time with Cary Grant as her leading man.  It features Grant as a hard working young man torn between his new rich fiancée’s conservative plans for his future and his own free-thinking dreams.  Enter Hepburn, his fiancée’s sister and the black sheep of the family, equally resistant to the pomp of her surroundings and looking only for life, love, and adventure.  Although a rom-com, this movie has surprisingly poignant moments that emphasize the strength it takes to be true to yourself--and it has another stellar scene of a happily drunk Hepburn!

 

 

5. The Thin Man. This movie, based off the book by Dashiell Hammett, kicks off one of the greatest film series of all time in my opinion, featuring the martini-swilling Nick and Nora Charles.  It stars William Powell as the retired detective, Nick Charles, married to a rich Myrna Loy, Nora.  While Nick keeps insisting that he's given up the practice, he finds himself solving yet another mystery between drinking martinis, throwing Christmas parties for the unsavory element he knew as a detective, and smooching with his wife.  Warning: Side effects of watching this film include martini cravings. 

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!

On Rainy Days, Miles Davis, & Whiskey

Today was a day of low steady drizzle--the kind you used to dread when you lived in Seattle, but that is now somehow more romantic, more cozy for its rarity in your desert home.  It brings back perhaps one of your few good memories of when you lived in a land coated in fog and frost: listening to jazz, drinking whiskey, watching the rain roll down your window pane.

Yes, those were those moments of bliss, when after a week of work and trudging through that rain you knew you could come home, put on some Miles Davis, and, after warming up in a hot bath, pour yourself a little whiskey and get lost in the sounds of Ascenseur Pour L'Echafaud, the jazz record of all jazz records.  The movie it plays soundtrack to is incidental, forgettable even.  But that is not the case for that woozy, intoxicating drone that Davis teases out, hitting your system harder and faster than any glass of whiskey--and all the more dangerous for its richness, no fire, just cottony bliss that soothes away the thorns of the day and melts the frost building up around your heart--a side effect of living among the frozen.

You enjoy a similar moment today, but somehow much more wonderful than when you did in those long winter days in that damp land because you do not need to hold that record quite so tight, nor seek the refuge of your home quite so hard to chase away the frost.  You are one with your land now, as warm and as feeling as you are, as full of richness and depth as that soundtrack. 

This rainy day calls to you, begging you to play that jazz record, which you now realize you haven't played in so, so long.  Even though the rain has faded into a mere suggestion of moisture and cloud cover outside, you are still drawn to Miles Davis, a glass of whiskey, and gazing outside at the world softened by jazz and rain.  This time from the comfort of your patio.

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!

On Afternoon Midweek Movie Watching

It is the best time to watch a movie. While technically having less romance than a night at the theater and missing the coziness of a flick night at home, a weekday afternoon spent in a theater has its own kind of glamor and thrill.

First, you know you should be ironing out the details of your lesson plans or finally finishing off those tasks on your to-do list.  But instead, you are one of the few people at the movies, enjoying the cool air and the faint whiff of popcorn.  Second, you relish the fact that is really only you and a handful of other people in the large expanse of the theater, making it feel as if the whole movie is spun in its reel just for you.  It was your sister who first taught you the glory of afternoon movie watching, of entering the dark cave to be told a story, to lose track of time and emerge into the late afternoon sunlight reborn, refreshed. 

Your first afternoon mid-week movie happened years ago, on another late summer day just like this one.  It was Mama Mia and there was only you and a little old lady who clapped furiously when the film was over.  Then, too, you could have been gearing up for school but chose instead to indulge in the sanctity of story-telling, the comfort of being sucked into another world, another time even if (or especially because?) it was to an ABBA soundtrack.

Now you find it has been too long since you had the theater almost to yourself, too long since you forgot about regular schedules and simply enjoyed a luxurious afternoon at the movies.  So you take in another film, Magic in the Moonlight, with your mother after an unexpectedly large glass of wine for lunch that served to leave you both pleasantly relaxed.  Over the previews, you both giggle over the surprisingly accurate comments of the two elderly women in front of you: "That movie looks too heavy," "I'd see that," "Oh dear, who would want to watch that on Christmas day?" 

For a little while, you are blissfully lost in a world of jazz and flapper girl style and the French countryside and a story that only serves to punctuate your belief that magic is in every corner of life--including an almost-empty movie theater in the middle of a hot summer weekday afternoon.

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!

Best Hits: Top 5 Most Popular Blog Posts to Date

I got to thinking the other day--now that I am a little more than halfway through my year of daily blogging--about what my most popular blog posts are as of now.  So I did some investigating, perused my blog activity, hits, comments, likes, favorites, and retweets...you name it!  Once I compiled my data, I found there were a handful of standouts that people just couldn't seem to get enough of.  This biggest surprise to me was that these "best hits" were from a pretty wide range of topics and tones, from the playful On Maximalist Fashion to the more somber On Healing as Art.  Wow! 

So here, in a nutshell, are my most popular blog posts (chosen by your engagement), not including recipes--those come later.  Enjoy rereading the ones you helped make the most popular or reading for the first time the ones that slipped past you the first time around!

1. On Healing as Art

2. On Returning Home After Work

3. On Tasting the First Tomatoes from Your Garden

4. On Maximalist Fashion

5. On the Necessity of Good Coffee

What were your favorites that didn't make it on the list?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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!

On Watching Old Movies All Day

You are feeling positively lazy. 

It is a Sunday built for lollygagging.  You luxuriate in this feeling and this absence of things to do.  Your normal Sunday routine when teaching is one of cooking up your weekly breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  But you don't have to worry about that now or give to the fear of not having time or energy for three healthy meals a day.  Now, you have all the time in the world.

It is a divine pleasure to snuggle up on your couch and watch old movies.  You start with your Marilyn Monroe stash--The Seven Year Itch, Some Like It Hot--paying as much attention to the outfits as the plots, although you've seen both a million times.  Then you move to your Audrey Hepburn movies, getting swept up in her adventures in Sabrina, Funny Face, and Roman Holiday.  In each movie, you marvel at her transformation from young naif to polished sophisticate, drooling even more at her glamorous evening gowns and posh day wear (yes, even as you enjoy your own pajama pants and tank top).

Eventually, you might even talk yourself into a beer and a book on your patio.  But for now, you snuggle deeper under you knitted blanket on the couch, awash in Technicolor and black and white dreams, feeling as if everything is positively right with the world.

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!

On Maximalist Fashion

You must go boldly into this world--remember that.

You have long since outgrown your need to dress in muted colors, in perfectly matched ensembles of various hues of nude or gray or that one non-color so popular among the faint of heart.  No.  You no longer feel the need to fade into your surroundings--that was another lifetime, one you gladly shed in favor of your peacock feathers, bright a sin, strong as steel.

For you, the real you, your wardrobe is a work of art. Each day you prepare your outfit as a painter would her canvas, tenderly, one brushstroke at a time. Or as a gardener determining which flowers to plant in an open plot of dirt, only to decide it must be a small grove of wildflowers in all colors, all types, the seeds tossed about with abandon.  Your outfit is a living, breathing piece of art made up of layers of bright colors and loud jewelry and unapologetic joie de vivre. 

You must go boldly into this world without fail.  Your mustard heels and turquoise jewelry and purple dress and bright green scarf remind you of this--it is not enough to fade into the background, not enough to simply show up to life.  You must embrace it, bite into it with zest as you would a ripe peach. 

Your wardrobe is a walking advertisement for who you are, an embodiment of who you are not afraid to be.  You must wear it as your armor, your hard shell that refuses to be anything less than what you are.  Let the world know: 

You must go boldly into this world each and every day.

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!

On Saturday Night at the Movies

You know for most people it is a simple jeans and t-shirt affair, just another night watching another big screen movie. 

But for you, Saturday night at the movies will always conjure up visions of Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby or Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda in The Lady Eve--the whole screen filled top to bottom with black-and-white glamorous hijinks.  It is the layered history of a new form of storytelling; the theater, a continuous work of art made up of the imprints of each story whose reels have played upon that big, blank screen.

There is even a part of you that wants to don a mink coat and long evening gown for the event, your hair worn in the stylish waves popular among those the silver-screen vixens.  You know, of course, that you would be as terribly out of place as you were stylish, but it wouldn't matter--you would be paying tribute to those old gods of the new narrative. 

You ponder this as you prepare for your evening out, wearing a mix of old movie glamor staples and new movie-night-uniform jeans, happily anticipating the night's feature.  You realize as you apply your last swipe of mascara, that each time we prepare ourselves for a movie--in jeans or jewels--it is part of the celebratory ritual of entering our modern day kiva to listen, to watch, to fill ourselves up with narratives--to heal.

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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!