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.

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!

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!

La Vie en Rose Cocktail

Ahhhh summer...the season when we are most likely to experience the world through rose-colored glasses and savor the sweeter things in life.  Lately, I've been working on cultivating a little more sweetness and a little more softness to my every day--which is, frankly, a lot harder than it sounds.  As much as I love simple pleasures and self-care, I am inherently a creature of discipline, focus, and routine which is great...up to a point.  

It makes me highly productive and able to relish the day-in-day-out of my teaching and writing life.  There's so much to be excited about, especially in my writing world (but I'm not telling about what yet, winky face).  And yet when summer comes, I am always reminded of the importance of cultivating my life beyond the page and the classroom, much as I love both.  Too much routine and you risk its dark side: stagnation.  

Summer keeps me playful, adventurous, and bold.  Summer is for saying yes to new experiences and keeping your heart open to adventures.  It is a season for relearning the value of being deliciously unproductive--or rather, recognizing that staying out all night dancing is just as important for your soul as your weekly workout routine is for your health.  Of course, summer is also for those sweep-you-off-your-feet novels that encourage you to find the romance in every situation.  

Laura Florand's Once Upon a Rose (which, you'll remember, I recommended back in April) is the perfect example of this kind of breezy, warm read that asks us--no, demands that we acknowledge the healing power of pleasure.  It's not a perk in this book but a necessity for the well-being and creative life of the heroine, a burned out indie musician, and the overly responsible hero, heir to a family business in Provance (cultivating--you guessed it!--roses for high-end perfume companies).  Their romance unfolds in a series of delicious scenes that saturate the senses and leave the lingering scent of roses in its wake.  In short, it's a story about the sweetness of finding your happily ever after--and the work it takes, especially for the more work-focused among us--to allow yourself to enjoy it.

Long after I finished the book, in fact, I thought of roses.  Big bold bouquets of them.  The gentle kiss of rose water splashed on the inside of my wrists.  The bushes lining neighborhood homes begging to me to stop and take in their splendor.  And the desire to indulge in all things rosy...including cocktails.  

Thus my La Vie en Rose Cocktail was born.  It was inspired by three things: Florand's book, a bottle of rose liquor I stumbled upon, and Smart Bitches Trashy Books' Covers & Cocktails, in which readers concoct adult beverages based on various books they've read.  The results are always yummy and not unlike imbibing the liquid essence of the stories they are based on (how's that for everyday magic and kitchen conjuring?).  The drink is tart like a gimlet, soft like rose perfume, and sweet like a long summer night.  Gin adds a nice herbacous boquet, but if you prefure vodka, by all means, follow your heart.  And--who knows?--drinking this heady elixir just might make you bold enough to seek out your rose-colored happily ever after. 

Ingredients:

2 oz gin (or vodka)

3/4 oz fresh lime juice

1 oz rose liquor

ice

Combine all ingredients in a shaker and shake vigorously for thirty seconds.  Pour into martini glass.  Serves one, so find someone who makes you see the world through rose-colored glasses, double the recipe, and make a night of it.

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!

Homemade Bug Repellent ~ Just Say No to DEET

A couple weeks ago, I was enjoying a glorious summer evening in the backyard with my family. We indulged in a luxurious meal on the patio and then played with my little niece long after the sun went down.  It was the perfect embodiment of the season...

...then I got home and found that I was covered in mosquito bites!  It seems like there are more of these pesky insects this summer than in previous ones.  Yuck!  It was time arm myself with my Homemade Bug Repellent.  This all-natural, non-toxic spray is perfect for stashing in your picnic tote or spritzing on before some late-night stargazing...or any other time you want to frolic in the wilderness.  Why do I prefer to make my own bug repellent?  The answer is two-fold: I have all the ingredients readily on hand (many of them are also used for my homemade body butters and other goodies) and I've long since given up on the toxic DEET (see what Wellness Mama has to say about how this chemical spray negatively impacts the environment and your body).

I whipped up a pretty basic recipe after looking at others from Scratch Mommy, Thank Your Body, and Wellness Mama.  I used vegetable glycerin to as a binding agent rather than oil and mixed it with what essential oils I had on hand.  The glycerin binds the water and oils together and ensures that the spray sticks to your clothes and skin.  The key factor here in keeping away bugs is the strong scents of the essential oils so you will want to reapply every hour or so to keep the scents strong.  I used citronella--a common ingredient in natural bug sprays--and lemongrass. (Both of these plants can also be grown in your garden as a natural herbal repellent FYI.)  I love the citrusy scent!  You can also add in other essential oils like eucalyptus or lavender.  The measurements here are for a 4oz spray bottle.

Ingredients:

Water

1 tablespoon vegetable glycerin 

30 drops citronella essential oil

30 drops lemongrass essential oil

Mix glycerine and essential oils in a 4oz spray bottle, then fill bottle to the top with water.  Shake well.  Apply regularly (at least once an hour) when you plan on being outdoors.  What more homemade bug repellent ideas?  Check out the Prairie Homestead's list of natural bug spray recipes.  

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!

Easy Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

In an effort to make my home eco-friendlier, I've begun making my own cleaning supplies. Not only is it cost-effective, but I feel like I'm taking care of myself and my planet by being more conscious about what I use to care for my home--including the dishes I wash.  

As a fan of home cooking--the ritual of preparing a nourishing meal and the health benefits of doing so--I can rack up a lot of dirty dishes just by spending an hour in the kitchen.  I've found that many green dishwasher detergents include unnecessary and, in some cases, harmful ingredients.  Thus was born my quest to find a more sustainable solution to the sinkful of dishes waiting for a good cleaning.  

This recipe for my eco-friendly dishwasher detergent is a love child born from mixes by Wellness Mama, Thank Your Body, and Overthrow Martha.  After months of testing, I found the perfect recipe that gets dishes clean and, with a little help from vinegar, sparkling.  An added bonus to this recipe is that, since you aren't buying packaged detergent, you are also cutting down on packaging waste.  I buy the ingredients in bulk and mix as needed, storing it in a mason jar.  

As with all my recipes, this one shouldn't take you more than a handful of minutes to whip up. Homemade anything is wonderful...as long as it isn't too labor intensive!

ingredients:

1 cup washing soda

1 cup citric acid

1 cup baking soda

1/2 cup sea salt

Combine all ingredients in a large mason jar (or another container) and shake vigorously.  Makes three cups (roughly 24 loads). Pour approximately 2 tablespoons per load.  Add vinegar in your dish washer's rinse compartment to avoid clouding on dishes.  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 below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

Two-Ingredient Laundry Detergent

I've fallen in love with homemade laundry detergent.  Why?  Because it's earth-friendly, cost-effective, easy to make and even easier to use.  With a few minutes and two simple ingredients, you've got yourself a great detergent that is gentle on your clothes, your wallet, and the planet. Still not convinced that homemade is better?  See what Wellness Mama has to say.

I avoided making any liquid laundry soaps because they are too labor intensive and more difficult to store.  I also chose a Borax-free recipe, because this ingredient is so controversial, as Crunchy Betty can tell you.  That, and I try to only use ingredients that I readily have on hand.  I'd rather use baking soda and castile soap than have to buy additional ingredients.  It reduces clutter and keeps things simple for me.

I adapted my recipe from ones by Thank Your Body and Mommypotamus, finding that the fewer the ingredients and the quicker the recipe, the easier it is for me to be eco-friendly.  This recipe makes enough detergent for about 50 loads at roughly 5 cents a load.  Of course, you can always double or triple the recipe to save yourself time and energy.  All in all, after using this on my clothes for six months now, I can never go back to traditional detergent.  

Ingredients:

1 bar Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap (5 ounces)

2 cups washing soda

Using a fine grater, grate the full bar of soap.  Mix with 2 cups washing soda in a bowl until combined.  To use, pour 1 tablespoon in washing machine before adding clothes.  Makes about 3 cups (48 loads of laundry).  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 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 Mid-Week Gardening

You are able to sneak away for a little bit--just a handful of minutes really--to tend your garden.  You tune out everything except the hum of bees and the crackle of things growing.  You smell nothing but damp earth and rosemary; feel thick roots twine themselves around your fingers and tender radish leaves kiss your wrists.

You know there are stacks of papers waiting for you on your writing desk along with a fresh pot of tea.  But for now, you take a moment to be still, to tune into the thoughts and feelings that have been pushed to the bottom of your spine as you go about your work day.  You release each lesser one as you would the weeds you pluck from your garden so that your tomatoes, as with your joy, may be plentiful.  And you keep the good ones, planting them alongside your strawberries so they may grow as ripe and lush as those ruby berries.

With your bare feet on the earth, you feel the soul in your soles connecting you to that vast web of roots and minerals, leaves and petals and--soon--fruit.  When your hands are blackened by dirt and your shirt splattered with water, you no longer feel the tendril of tiredness in your bones; and though you know you must clean yourself up before returning to your work, you allow your hair to be messy and loose around you, a half-curled nest like the spring onions you tended only moments ago, a reminder that you are earth and roots as much as words and tea.

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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!

3 Ways to Use Baking Soda and Vinegar to Clean Your Home

In my last post, I gave you a recipe for an all-purpose cleaner to show just how simple and affordable it can be to green your home care routine.  Today I'm going to add to this by showing you how you can use baking soda--that miracle pantry staple--and vinegar to take care of some of your bigger your cleaning needs.  Like my all-purpose cleaner that only used vinegar and essential oils, these easy recipes only cost you a fraction of what an organic cleaning product would and yet are as gentle on your home as they are on the earth.  In fact, using baking soda and vinegar to clean your home is even less expensive than buying those chemical laden commercial products!

1. For Your Toilet:  Pour 1 cup vinegar and 1/2 cup baking soda into the bowl.  Scrub thoroughly and let sit for 20 minutes. 

2. For the Bathtub, Kitchen Sink, or Other Tough to Clean Surface: 1/4 cup baking soda and about 1/8 cup water (enough to make a thin paste).  Combine ingredients until they form a thin paste and spread across desired surface.  Scrub until surface is clean and rinse off baking soda with warm water.  The baking soda will not only remove soap scum and other substances but also deodorize and disinfect.

3.  For a Clogged Drain: Pour 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain and 1 cup vinegar.  Cover drain so that the foaming action of the two ingredients stays in the pipes.  Let sit for half an hour then pour hot water down the drain.  This will clean out regular build up.

These are just a few ways to use such simple products on those hard-to-tackle places in our home that often need more elbow grease to get sparkly clean.  You can also use vinegar to deodorize your refrigerator (simply put an open cup of vinegar in your fridge for two days to absorb odors); placing an open box of baking soda near your trashcan will likewise get rid of any funky smells.  Between my all-purpose cleaner and these recipes, you can safely and cost-effectively clean your home!

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!

All-Purpose Cleaning Spray

With Earth Day around the corner, I find myself thinking of all the super easy ways we can be eco-friendlier in our day to day routine, especially when it comes to cleaning our homes.  We often think that if we want to green our cleaning routines that we need to shell out a fortune on organic cleansers and other goods.  In reality, we can be good to our environment and our wallet by going back to basics.

This all-purpose cleaner does just that, using the anti-bacterial properties of vinegar to clean your home--a recipe I learned from my mom.  It can be used on everything from windows and bathroom sinks to the kitchen counter and floors.  I like to throw in essential oils into this mix, usually peppermint or lavender to soften the smell of vinegar.  What you're left with is a nice smelling all natural antibacterial cleaner that costs you under $1 a bottle. 

Ingredients:

1 cup vinegar

1 cup water

30 drops essential oil (optional)

Mix all ingredients in a spray bottle and shake until combined.  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 below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

Gardening, I Love You

This post is a day late, in part because I got carried away in my patio garden yesterday--watering thirsty plants, trimming dead leaves, watching those little radish sprouts grow, and clipping fresh herbs for my dinner.  I couldn't help it.  I was seduced outdoors by the intoxicating fresh air, redolent with the perfume of blooming lilacs and greening grass; by the way the sunlight seemed to pull my beets upward until their leaves doubled in size under its loving gaze; and in the way my breathing just seemed to slow down when I took a moment to brush my hands against the dirt near my strawberries and onions. 

Such is the glory of gardening.  It grounds you.  It connects you to this world, this earth.  It sweeps away the cobwebs of the day and reminds you that there is blood pumping in your veins.  It is all the possibilities you plant in your life made tangible, even as the more ephemeral seeds--hopes and dreams--take a little more time to manifest.  

In honor of these glorious feelings, and the necessity abandoning the writing desk for time in the garden, I leave you with three posts on the delicious, delicious pleasures and revelations found among plants:

1.  On Grounding and Gardening

2.  On Watching Your Garden Grow

3.  On Tasting the First Tomato from Your Garden

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 Seed Bombs

Nothing says spring like planting seeds or enjoying the beauty of bright flowers splashed across your backyard.  There is no better way to enjoy both delights than with these super easy seed bombs. What's a seed bomb, you might ask?  It's just what it sounds like: a ball of dirt and seeds that you can throw anywhere in your garden.  They make lovely gifts for spring celebrations like Easter--better than sugary confections.  They are a gentle way of bringing beauty to the lives (and yards!) of those you love. 

I used a mixture of organic flower seeds that would attract butterflies in my seed bombs because my little niece is in love with butterflies right now--and bright flowers.  Now she can have both in her backyard!  You can feel free to use any kinds of flower seeds you would like, however.  You can find the red clay at your local herb store or here (it's the same stuff you would use for a face mask).  Go easy on the water--just mix in a little at a time until the dirt and seeds are just wet enough to form balls otherwise you end up with soupy seed-sprouting mud.

Ingredients:

1 cup red clay

1/2 cup soil

1/4 cup seeds

Approximately 1/4 cup water

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl and slowly, one tablespoon at a time, add the water until the mixture is just wet enough to form balls.  Then roll blend into one inch balls and let rest on a drying rack overnight.  Make sure there is plenty of air circulation--you want the dirt to dry or else the seeds will begin to sprout!  Makes about 9 seed bombs. 

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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!

On My Bookshelf

You find yourself gazing at this six-tiered monster, three cases wide, stuffed full of stories with no plan, no pattern.  You used to be so careful with your books and their placement.  Once they were arranged alphabetically; another time by theme (here the epic fantasy series all the books stacked together in one fat row; there the collection of poems next to your Victorian women authors); and yet another by height.  You went so far as to separate your hardbacks from your paperbacks once, but that formality didn't last long.

Now they sit squished together, Victorian authors with the sword and sorcery, the poems mixed in with your cozy mysteries amidst knick-knacks and treasures, just as your sister haphazardly placed them when she unpacked them from their moving boxes.  You cannot look upon your shelves now without seeing them as another sister-memory sewn into each book spine.  These precious books, collected over the years, are stuffed into each shelf like paper sardines--you almost do not have enough room so your books must shed their modesty and take up house with a kaleidoscope of other words.  Yet you cannot make yourself bring order to this joyful chaos.

You wonder what they have to talk about, the Collete novels that kiss your collection of fairy tales and hold up your cheesy romances written in Spanish.  You wonder, too, if those stories begin to bleed into one another with their covers pressed so tightly against themselves.  Your bookshelf seems to sign and settle, breathing in the weight of so many stories upon its back, within its skeleton.

It is a map, in many ways, of the stories you will write, a tangled ball of words that you un-knot from your writing desk to spin into new beginnings.

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!

Everything's Coming Up Roses Tea Blend

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This tea is like a cup-sized celebration of the bounty in your life, the eternal spring in your heart, and the perpetual enjoyment of love and life.  It is also a perfect February tea as it's laced with winter's warming spices yet heavily perfumed with roses--the promise of a new season.

I used two types of rose petals here; the soft pink ones give a light floral aroma while the red petals offer up an earthy flavor that pairs well with the black Assam tea.  Calendula lends a pop of color.  This tea is a thoughtful Valentine treat for the tea lover in your life that you love to love--try saying that three times fast--or for anyone who needs to be reminded that everything is, truly, coming up roses!

Ingredients:

1 cup Assam black tea

1/2 cup red rose petals

1/2 cup pink rose petals

1/2 cup cinnamon bark chips

1/4 cup calendula

1/8 cup cloves

Combine ingredients in bowl and transfer to a mason jar or other airtight container.  Store in a cool, dry place.  Makes almost 3 cups.  Enjoy!

Health benefits of ingredients:

Calendula: anti-inflammatory, aids digestion, reduces swollen lymph glands, soothes irritated skin.

Cinnamon: antiseptic, aids digestion, calms nervous system, anti-inflammatory.

Rose petals: soothes skin; mild sedative and natural stress reliever; rich in vitamin C.

Clove: antiseptic, antioxidant, aids digestion.

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!

Aphrodite's Sugar Scrub

Valentine's Day is a celebration of the love in your life--and not just romantic kind.  It's about sharing your gratitude for the people who make your day a little brighter and a little sweeter.  What better way to honor this love than by giving them this sugar body scrub to shake off the winter blahs?

Full of cinnamon and roses--long considered natural love potions--this scrub inspires us to invoke the divine Aphrodite and to relish the simple hedonism of a long bubble bath (maybe with a buddy!), pampered skin, and a rosy outlook on life.  Pair it with my Aphrodite's Bath Salts, and you've got a match made in heaven!

Ingredients:

1 cup organic sugar

1 cup olive oil or coconut oil

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/4 cup rose petals

30 drops cinnamon essential oil

30 drops rose oil or rose water

10 drops clove oil

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and store in a mason jar or other airtight container.  Makes about 1 cup.  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 below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

Aphrodite's Bath Salts

With Valentine's Day around the corner, you might be thinking about what to get for those special someones in your life beyond a glitter coated heart-shaped card, a box of chocolates, or a bouquet of roses--all wonderful, natch, but sometimes it doesn't hurt to shake things up.   And let's be honest, they've probably already used the treats you made them for the holidays! I like to think of Valentine's Day as a time when we can try a little tenderness, as the song goes.  That includes pampering the people that fill your corner of the world with love, light, and happiness. 

And who knows? If you want to treat an extra special someone to some TLC, the aphrodisiacs mixed into these bath salts might just make things a little more interesting.  The clove and cinnamon oil are antibacterial and add a warming energy to your bath, while the rose petals bring a touch of romantic glamor as well as skin-softening and toning qualities.  Adding rose oil and powdered cinnamon just takes this delectable soak over the top!

Ingredients:

1 cup Epsom salts

1/4 cup olive oil or coconut oil

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/4 cup rose petals

30 drops cinnamon essential oil

30 drops rose oil or rose water

10 drops clove oil

Combine ingredients in a bowl until thoroughly mixed.  Store in an airtight container indefinitely.  Makes about 1 cup.  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 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 Cocktail Lover's Gift Basket

I love cocktails.  Like a lot.  And I know confessing that makes me sound like a lush. In reality, it's not about trying to drink as many as possible, but to enjoy the ritual of crafting a unique cocktail and savoring its liquid beauty.

This basket is dedicated to those amateur bartenders like me who relish quality cocktails and tinkering with new recipes. You can even include a few recipes to whet their appetite or a funky shaker to concoct the perfect drink!

1.  Small Batch Limoncello

2.  Ginger Simply Syrup

3.  Cranberry & Lime Vodka

4.  Orange & Rosemary Gin

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!

Kitchen Lovin' Gift Basket

This basket of treats is perfect for the hobbit in your life who likes nothing better than to tinker in the kitchen.  It's packed with fun things like fancy salt, special olive oil, and a few other goodies to spice up their kitchen conjurings.

I like to add a little extra oomph to these gift baskets by throwing in a fun dish towel or a few recipes that use the ingredients I've included.  I will even add hard-to-find indulgences like caper berries (I'm addicted to them!) which you can track down online or at your local specialty foods store.  The big thing is to create a gift that inspires tinkering!

Best of all, your favorite cook will probably invite you over to try some of the dishes he or she whips up from this gift basket.  It's a win-win situation. Keep in mind some of the things I list here need refrigeration, so don't package this until right before you want your receiver to open it.

1. Chile Olive Oil

2. 3 Citrus Himalayan Salt

3.  Ghee

4.  Homemade Pickles

5.  Basil-Nutritional Yeast Pesto

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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!

Orange & Rosemary Infused Gin

It's no secret that I love a good cocktail--and crafting my own.  There's no better way to add your own special touch to a drink than to infuse your own liquor.  It is seriously so easy that I can't believe I haven't been doing this sooner! 

It is super fun to play around with tastes--spices, fruits, even chile peppers!--to get the right kiss of flavor for your next bar concoction.  Naturally, DIY-infused liquor also makes a great gift for the cocktail buff(s) in your life.  Start with a good quality alcohol and always use organic ingredients.

I love this infusion of orange peels and rosemary here because these ingredients play off the herbaceousness of the gin.  They are likewise a distinctly festive flavor perfect for the gin and tonic or martini lover.  These infused alcohols can also be enjoyed neat or with a splash of club soda so that you can enjoy the full depth of their flavor.  I typically make enough to fill a 160z mason jar (enough to enjoy, but small enough that I can try new infusions) but if you want more, simply double the recipe!

Ingredients:

Peel of one organic orange

2 springs organic rosemary

15 oz quality gin such as Hendrick's or, for a less herby taste, Amsterdam

Scrape off any of the white pith on the orange peel--this minimizes bitterness.  Then combine ingredients in a 16 oz mason jar.  Let sit for at least three days and up to two weeks, making sure that you shake it periodically.  The longer you let it sit, the stronger the infusion will be. Strain mixture through cheesecloth or strainer to remove peels and rosemary.  Store in your mason jar in a cool, dry place or the fridge if you want to keep it chilled.  Makes about 15 oz.  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 below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

Chile Olive Oil

Chile.  It's a way of life here in New Mexico.  We put it in pretty much anything--so why not use it as a base for a spicy olive oil?  I love the idea of infusing your own olive oils for the same reason I love to infuse my own alcohol: you can make it just the way you like it!

This recipe is a riff off of "chili" olive oil (yes, there is a difference between chil-i and chil-e, but don't get me started!).  I simply add dried red chile pods and a few teaspoons of dried red pepper flakes to the olive oil, and I get a nice finishing oil filled with multiple layers of spice.  The heat comes from the chili seeds while a smokey sweetness is added from the chile pods.  I like to use red chile from Sichler's Farm, but feel free to use and dried chile you can find at your local store.

This is an ideal gift for the spice lover in your life.  It goes great drizzled over pizza or salad, or even as a quick appetizer with crusty bread and a sharp cheddar cheese.  Use your imagination!

Ingredients:

2 cups extra virgin olive oil

3 red chile pods

4 heaping teaspoons dried red pepper flakes

Heat ingredients on stove on medium-low heat until little bubbles start to form around the chile pods (this lets you know it's getting hot), about 5-7 minutes.  Reduce heat to low and let simmer for another 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool completely.  Using a cheese cloth draped over a strainer, strain oil, and its contents into a clean, dry container.  Store in fridge for up to a year.  Makes about 2 cups.  Enjoy!

Add first three ingredients in a food processor until roughly chopped and blended.   Then add oil and mix until combined.  Finally, add in nutritional yeast (and salt if using) and combine.  Transfer to bowl or mason jar.  Store in fridge for 2-3 days or up to three months in freezer using ice cube trays.  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 below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

 

 

Cranberry & Lime Infused Vodka

Cranberries are right up there with pumpkin pie or chestnuts (or piñon, if you're a New Mexican!) when it comes to signaling Yuletide fun.  And if you love a good Cosmo or any vodka-based cocktail, then this cranberry and lime infused alcohol is the perfect treat.

I use Organic Prairie Vodka as my base but feel free to use your favorite vodka brand so long as it is good quality.  I also poke holes into the cranberries because their wax-like exterior can make it harder to infuse in your alcohol.  A pinch of sugar draws out their flavors even more.  As always, make sure your produce is organic so you maximize the flavor without the chemicals.  Don't be surprised if it slowly starts turning a rich red in color--that just ups the festive quotient!  And don't throw away the cranberries after their soak--freeze them to drop into champagne cocktails or use them for a tasty and boozy cranberry sauce.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups organic cranberries

peels of 3 organic limes

pinch of sugar

15 oz vodka

Make sure the white pith is removed from lime peels to avoid bitterness. Poke holes in the cranberries (this will help vodka absorb their flavor). Combine all Ingredients in a mason jar or other airtight container. Let sit for at least three days and up to two weeks, making sure to shake it periodically.  The longer you let it sit, the stronger the flavor will be. Pour mixture through a strainer to remove berries and peels and return to mason jar. Store in fridge or liquor cabinet.  Makes about 16 oz. 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 below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!