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.

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!

DIY Ironing Spray Starch

I will be the first to admit that ironing is not always on my list of priorities.  As much as I love cleaning my house (and yes, I really *do* love it!), ironing is one of those things I always put off...so much so that I think I've only ever used my ironing board and iron maybe a dozen times in the past few years and only in dire need. 

Cut to me with a pile of dresses--absolutely adorable dresses, mind you--that I wanted to wear but hadn't because (you guessed it) they need to be ironed.  My default excuse was that I didn't have any starch to iron out all the wrinkles and smooth out the pleats of my clothes.  Then one day I bit the bullet and commit to an afternoon of ironing so that I could finally wear those dresses.  I even learned how to make my own spray starch so I wouldn't be tempted to put off my chore with my go-to excuse. 

Now here I am with a closet full of well-ironed clothes and a new addiction blooming: ironing!  Yes, it's true, I've fallen in love with the soothing routine and all because of making my own starch.  It is a simple mixture of cornstarch and water, but there is something about mixing up a batch (way cheaper and eco-friendlier than anything you'll get in the store) and spraying it across my wrinkled dresses feels so right.  Now I can't stop myself. 

And you should try it too.  All you need is a clean empty spray bottle and cornstarch, and you've got yourself a household miracle.  If you want a heavier starch, use more cornstarch--less, use less.  Use cold water here to keep cornstarch from clumping. 

Ingredients:

Heaping tablespoon cornstarch

1 pint cold water

Add ingredients to an empty spray bottle and shake well until cornstarch dissolves. Store in fridge.  Shake well before each use.  Enjoy wrinkle free clothes!

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 Dressing for Yourself

To truly dress, you must dress for yourself.

Some say women dress for men.  Others, for other women.  Both are wrong.  Those who do the former waste the pleasures of a perfectly flouncy skirt or nice underwear on an approving gaze--isn't their admiration of your ensemble a mere side effect of the unadulterated enjoyment you take in wearable art?  Those who cater to the later lose the delicious expression of self in exchange for the paltry approval of current trends and conventional clothing found in shop windows.  What a bore.

No, if a woman is to truly dress, she must dress for herself. 

You must take pleasure in pairing turquoise stockings with your blazing yellow dress, despite the general consensus that too many colors are unrefined.  You must cultivate your love of polka dots and retro heels--and jewelry stacked one on top of the other.   Above all, you must ignore the fashion magazine that tells you that gray is the new black because you know full well that pink will always be the new black.  You must wear your dress that makes you feel like a daisy, though not everyone likes flowers.

You wear it for you.

Yes, you must do all these things and more.  For to waste your talents on dressing for others will leave you forever trying to love those stifling button up shirts and deny your passion for retro dresses.  That road only leads to fashion misery and a slow fading of your spirit into the gray when you were once nothing but pink...until, of course, you can't take it anymore.  Then comes an outburst of glitter and polka dots, once again your loud self.  Dressing for others never does last.

For to truly dress, you must dress, always and forever, for yourself. 

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!

Orange You Glad You Can Have Earrings Like This?

I know what you are thinking: what ARE these things?  Are they oranges?  Or are they leather? Are they earrings?  Are they magical?  The answer to all these questions is YES!

These earrings are one of a kind wonders made by my sister, Victoria, a Fulbright Scholar and artists living in Florence, Italy with her writer husband (talk about livin' the good life!).  Her earrings are inspired by her orange peel art in which she cures and sews orange peels into tapestries, installations, and other living pieces of art.  Her Fulbright work in Florence took her to the world-famous tanneries in Italy where she learned how to turn orange peels into fruit leather using the ancient methods of leather tanning there. 

Some of her original orange peel art includes this house she built from wood and oranges peels she stitched together called Accumulated Matter.  Here's the exterior of that project...

...and the interior.  It smelled heavenly in there, like sweet oranges!  And the thin, cured strips of orange peels shine like stained glass along this small building, making it feel like a sacred citrus sanctuary.

Her more recent work included a solo exhibition in Florence where she got to showcase her orange peel work with her new tanning methods which made her peels more flexible than her previous curing procedures. This image below features her orange peel scroll, called Cascade, which was a prominent piece in her Alchemical Orange Project:

So how did that larger than life art become epic teeny tiny orange peel earrings? Victoria explains it perfectly when she says, "I wanted to play with the notion of how art can be displayed, as there are many critical dialogues that challenge exhibiting art in the normal context of a gallery."

She goes on to explain, "I think of my earrings as wearable sculptures...In this way, the relationship between art and daily life is fluid and effortless."

Wearable art? Heck yes! 

Victoria also likes to play with the idea of refuse and discarded material--here the orange peel and arguably the least desirable part of the orange (we all typically go for the sweet fruit in the middle, rather than the bitter skin). 

She says, "I want to encourage people to question the way that we use materials and what we consider valuable or useless in order to encourage new perspectives about seeing the beauty and potential in something that is normally overlooked."

So if you want some one-of-a-kind wildly inventive citrusy wearable art made from a top secret tanning process known only to Victoria, you really should check out her earrings on Etsy.  Each pair is unique and handmade, so you won't ever find someone with a pair quite like yours.  I already have a pair and can't wait to get more!  Which brings me to my last question: Orange you glad there are artists out there who see the world through orange-peel-shaped lenses? I sure am, for it reminds us to enjoy the whimsy and playfulness of life and to look for enchantment in the often overlooked thing, like peels, in our day-to-day living.

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 the Woman I Will Always Be, the Clothes I Will Always Wear

To the older than sin peasant skirt, twice altered and infinitely-mended: I love you.  You are my Laura Ingalls Wilder skirt, always worn while making tortillas on cozy fall afternoons or during early mornings weeding the garden.  Lace fringed and speckled with brown and pink flowers like freckles of a farm fresh egg: you remind me that peace is always found by getting lost in a good book or a corner of my plot of land.  You are the Pioneer Woman in me that feeds my trailblazing soul, allergic to being fenced in, lover of horizon-to-horizon space, mountains and sky my ever present companions. 

To my mother's brown cashmere coat: I love you.  I suppose people would call you vintage now, with your A-line silhouette and the elegance that speaks of a night at the theater.  Worn only for special occasions, you bring me the grace and the poise of my mother, a valuable asset in this rough and tumble world.  You remind me that every outing is a special occasion, every event worthy of a stylish ensemble.  You are the Sophisticated Lady to which I aspire, the timeless icon of the self-assured womanhood.

To my polka dot dresses, all of them: I especially love you.  You bring a bounce to my step and remind me that it is always a good idea to flirt with life--because life always flirts back.  You lift heaviness from my heart and fill it with song.  You make me want to twirl and giggle and go off adventuring.  You bring out the Hedonist in me.

To all the scarves I've knitted: love, love, love.  You are stitched from the Nourisher in me. Life, you say, is a symphony for the senses--color, texture, memory, all woven into your warming embrace.  As are the scarves gifted to me--you are hugs from my loved ones, each stitch a token of the history and love between us. 

And to my leggings and tunics: come Saturday, I love you most of all because you make me feel like I am not wearing any clothes at all.  Yes, you reflect the Happy Nudist in me who gladly gives up my weekday costumes for comfort and stretch, just as I tuck away my vibrant weekday persona for the quiet creature in love with large mugs of tea and naps and homey tasks.

Yes.  That is the woman I will always be: the Hedonistic-Happy-Nudist-Sophisticated-Lady-Pioneer.

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 Women I Will Never Be, Clothes I Will Never Wear

To the awkward Barbie high heels, I've only ever worn once: goodbye.  You never fit quite right.  You were the bright spectacles on my feet that I wore to give myself wings the day I defended my dissertation. I hobbled to my defense, your heels clack-clack-clacking in an undignified manner, reminding me that my former career path--a nun given herself over to scholarship, a Hardcore Intellectual--like you, did not fit me right. So goodbye.  I will never be that woman, tired and driven and ready to sacrifice everything, including her feet firmly planted on the ground, for a few scraps of old paper and old lives that no one cares to remember.  I am an intellectual, yes, but made of heart and blood as well.

To the white dress: goodbye.  I don't like white clothes.  And I am forced to press all the air out of my lungs to hoist your zipper over my ribcage and even then not without help.  All white doesn't suit me.  I am a woman of colors, of rich desert browns and turquoises and yellows and greens.  So goodbye at my vague attempt to be a Demure Girl.  I will not be silenced.

To the shoes I've never worn: goodbye.  You were bought on impulse as if to prove I could be anyone I wanted to be now that I was done with school.  You were tall, coated in thick black and purple stripes, looking like nothing if not bulbous spiders on my feet.  There was a faint dream that you would be worn for Girls Night Out or to clubs or to wherever women my age seemed to go on weekend nights.  But the only thing you ever did for me was take up space in my closet for this one simple reason: I will never be the Girls Night Out woman; there will be no loud bars or silly drunkenness, because I am not a girl or fond of crowds or having to miss the early morning hush because I've been out too late.  I am of the earth and the sky and the quiet of simple living.

To the fancy jacket lined with sequence and the purple polka dot dress: goodbye too.  I cannot wear you without feeling sad.  You are the Dashed Hope, the outfit worn to give me grace as I transitioned out of my old life, the outfit I wore in a desperate attempt to distance myself from the gray surrounding me.  It only partially worked.  You too must go, though it hurts a little.  I am always Sad Birthday Girl when I attempt to wear you as if the gray has stuck to your shine and began to absorb into my skin.  I cannot hold onto that sadness.  So I will give you away with the hopes that it will cleanse you of the burden of my past and you can be reborn into healing garments for someone else.

To the too-tight work pants I stuff myself into: most definitely goodbye.  I am not a Straight-laced Anything.  I am a teacher, plain and simple.  And one who likes bold dresses and A-line skirts.  I have learned to breathe in my profession, to honor my nature even as I make my way in the world, so you must go.  And to those stiff jeans--yes, goodbye to you too, for much the same reasons.  I have no room in my life for conventional restrictions.  My limbs are carved from yoga; my body caught up in a fluid daily dance of self-expression.  It will not take to the constraints of stiff fabric or conventional thoughts.  I am a woman of nature and breath, air, and light.

Goodbye to you all and many others.  I unburden my closet from your presence as I unburden myself from these women I never was and never will be. I will think twice about taking on robes and roles that are not my own, of cluttering my life with things I am not meant to have or be.

It is a sweet relief to create more room for the woman that I am.

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 Polka Dots

They are the flirt of prints, just as pink is the coquette of colors.

They have bounce and boom and beauty--you can't resist them--not the smattering of little dots across your dress nor the playful pattern on your scarves and blouses.  You prefer the haphazard prints as if a painter has taken her wet brush and flung dots of paint across your clothes--no clear rhyme or reason to the pattern, just a series of dancing dots. 

The ones that make you sigh are lined up in neat little rows as if to take the bounce out of the dots, the flirt out of these bouncy discs. Surely designers would understand that polka dots are not for the understated; the demure organized lines of one circle after another are begging to be shaken up.  They must dance on your dress, move with the folds and the sway of your skirt.

Polka dots are a walking invitation--for mischief, for kisses, for fun.  You don't wear them unless you are ready to be as playful as they are.  They are your homage to the grace and strength of the Flamenco dancer, more than the polka music they were named after--emblems of pure movements spread across your body.

There is simply no such thing as too many polka dots, only not enough polka dot wearers.

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 Wearing Pink

It is not the demure shade of pink that you want, that chaste blush that doesn't quite know what to do with itself, nor the muted rose that almost resists its pinkness.  You don't even want the glitter pink of fairy princesses or the naked pink of nails that like to pretend they're not polished.  No. You want that bright pop of bubble gum color, that hot zing of watermelon flesh, that pink worthy of its own dance number.

Spring begs for that color, that tart splash reminiscent of umbrella-adorned cocktails and the luminous glow of the sun setting over the mountains.  You want the flirt of all colors--not the siren song of its cousin color red--but the bright, coquettish energy that's always ready for some fun.

You want the bold.  You want the playful.  You want that color that makes others do a double-take, the color that refuses to be watered down into a cheap pastel.  No, this color won't be sanitized.  And as you wear it, neither will you.  It is a wearable invitation to be light and sassy, daring anyone to bat an eyelash at your splash of color.  Yes, you want a color that refuses to be chaste, even as others might wish it were so if only to keep the faint blush from creeping up their necks and inflaming their cheeks--those fleshly stains barely concealed a desire for the promise of pink. 

Yes, you want a pink that doesn't apologize.

Kay Thompson singing "Think Pink!" in the 1957 movie,  Funny Face.

Kay Thompson singing "Think Pink!" in the 1957 movie, Funny Face.

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!

Sleepy Time Tea

At night I need a little herbal tea to get me ready for bed.  I grew up drinking Celestial Seasoning's Sleepy Time Tea, mostly because it had a cute bear on the cover of the box all curled up in his jammies by the fire, his cup of tea on the table next to him.  All I would have to do is look at that box and be ready for bed--but, of course, I still drank the tea too.  And, yes, there is still a part of me that wants to drink only that brand of Sleepy Time Tea just for the bear on the cover.  These days, though, I can do a pretty good imitation of that bear myself, both in how I fall asleep on the couch in my pjs, my cup of tea at my side, and in my own Sleepy Time Tea Blend that I've concocted in honor of that Celestial Seasoning's sleepy bear. 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup skullcap

1/2 cup hops

1/2 cup chamomile

Blend all ingredients in a bowl and transfer to an airtight container.  Keep away from direct sunlight and heat.  To brew, use a heaping tablespoon per cup of hot water.  Add more tea per cup of water for a stronger brew.  Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups of tea.  Enjoy!

Health benefits of ingredients:

Chamomile: anti-inflammatory; sedative; skin softening; all around body soother.

Hops: contains calcium and magnesium among other vital nutrients; sedative; soothes PMS symptoms; diuretic; antispasmodic.

Skullcap: nerve tonic; tension soother; contains calcium, potassium, and magnesium, among other vital nutrients. 

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 Hobbit Feet

There is still a part of you that would give up shoes forever if you could--abandon the heels and leather in favor of the ground firmly under your feet. 

You would relish thick soles that absorb the friction between you and the earth, the natural burlap coating that protects your feet from the elements.  They would be too big for shoes, too big for something as mundane as sifting through your emails or filing your taxes. 

Your toes would wriggle free from the ribbons and laces that bind them; instead, they would hug the ground with each step, grateful for their own space, no longer squished together under the pretense of civilized dress.

Better still, your hobbit feet would be built for roaming--through the mountains, past the plains, to distant forests.  They would certainly never be at home in the confines of steel and concrete, though always welcome in a cozy hobbit hole built for ease and relaxation. 

But there are customs to be observed, social rituals to follow, so you keep your shoes, taking comfort in the fact that if you must wear them, they are least second skins, singular works of art that tenderly cup your feet.  For now, you settle for your barefoot mornings and shoeless evenings, even as the temptation of fashioning your small feet into large rough hobbit pads calls to you midday when the path from classroom to office seems longer than it is.  Yes, you will love your shoes, but often think that hobbit feet would not be such a bad idea.

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!