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.

Composting 101 Resource Guide

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

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

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

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

Not so.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

P.S. Who wants worms?

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

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

My Year Long Journey to Be a More Conscious Consumer

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

Living a Greener Lifestyle

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

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

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

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

5 Things I Learned from Living Sustainably

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

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

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

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

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


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

Building a Better Future

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

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

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

5 Ways to Green Your Holiday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you green your holiday?

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

Comfort Me with Books...& Other Simple Pleasures

I'm always drawn to the quieter domestic pastimes come November.  I want to cook and read and daydream and find healing in the realm of the imagination and kitchen conjuring.  This is, after all, a season for introverts when the changing weather calls us indoors and our gaze inward.  A seriously always want to hibernate come November! But I feel this urge to withdraw is twice as strong this year as I grapple with the implications of the recent election results.  I find myself in need of self-care, simple pleasures, and everyday magic more than ever.  

As it turns out, I'm not the only book-loving foodie introvert searching for a little soul mending. What is fast becoming one of my favorite book blogs, Smart Bitches, Trashy Novels, wrote the much-needed Books & Comfort Food Pairings to sooth and heal after shocking news.  This post spoke to my soul: I needed to read.  A lot.  I needed to cook.  And eat.  And slather myself in self-care rituals that would allow me to mend.  I needed to surround myself with beautiful things. Hopeful things.  Delicious things.  Inspired by Smart Bitches, I've put together my own book and food pairings (and let us not forget the power of a good cocktail or body butter) to find our way back to joy...and thoughtful progress as we once again go back into the world.  These pairings are in no particular order, just what I instinctually reached for this past weekend.  

Also, keep in mind that these aren't necessarily highbrow stories (it's rare that I read anything like that!), but real sweep-you-off-your-feet mysteries, romances, fantasies that have a way of putting our world into perspective, when I'm not reading inspirational non-fiction.  Most notably, I found myself turning to fairy tales and stories inspired by them.  Maybe it is because I've been teaching fairy tales in one of my courses or maybe it is because fairytales, as my students and I found, have a way of reminding us that darkness does exist in this in this world--and that we can defeat it.

Whatever the genre, these are all stories of hope.  They feature strong characters living on the social margins and, ultimately, finding ways to triumph over injustice and build a better world. The nonfiction pieces remind us to look for pleasure in unexpected places and relish the power of pleasure to transform.  

I keep of copy of We Could Almost Eat Outside on my writing desk; this book, in so many ways, has inspired the whole concept of my blog.  It's a delicious look at the simple pleasures that are too easy to overlook in our daily hustle and bustle, but so worth the time to stop and enjoy.  It's grounding.  It's earthy.  It's about routine.  Pair with a quiet evening at home, a calabacitas tart and a giant mug of oatstraw tea to feel the full effect of this soothing read.

If you want more earthy goodness, check out the award-winning Uprooted, a fairy tale story about wild woods, dragon-wizards who kidnapped damsels (or so the village thinks), and one woman's journey into her own magic.  Pair with a lazy afternoon and cozy blanket on the couch, dried apples and a pot of autumn harvest tea.  

More fired up than that?  Try Mercedes Lackey's The Fire Rose, a gorgeous retelling of Beauty & the Beast that takes place in 1905 San Francisco.  There is elemental magic.  There is a slow-budding romance that appeals to any book lover.  And there is the breathing-taking plot about redemption and hope and, once again, a woman coming into her own.  Pair with vanilla bourbon and cinnamon-orange chocolate cups, to match the lush setting. 

For those who don't feel like cooking would be soothing, try putting together a collection of appetizers to graze on, like in my Italian apertivo, and whip up a gimlet made with orange-rosemary infused gin.  Pair with jazz records, your favorite pajamas, and this total escapist steampunk read, The Watchmaker's Daughter, about a woman cast into the fringes of society and forced to fend for herself, only to find herself swept up into a world of mystery, intrigue, and magic.  

Sometimes we just need to indulge in a rich bubble bath, for which I would recommend bringing along a cup of Everything's Coming up Roses Tea (or let's be real, a glass of wine!).  And while you're at it, commit to a hedonistic read.  There's no time like the present to remind ourselves that pleasure is oh-so-powerful, which is why I would recommend reading The Ultimate Guide to a Multi-Orgasmic Life, a delicious book about living life with more joy and, yes, more orgasms! Seems to me a full-bodied orgasm is a lofty goal to end the year well.  Pair with Aphrodite's bath salts & sugar scrub.  Finish with a slathering of Winter Solstice body butter and a long nap.

After a long weekend resting and rejuvenating, I was reminded how important creature comforts. They heal.  They soothe.  And they allow us to conjure good energy to carry into our day.

Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational 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 Gratitude

Here is something no heavier than a feather, no larger than the minuscule crack in an acorn's shell through which where new life can seep. 

It offers only a memory of loving hands stitching two frayed ends back together where once there was just a hole in your coat pocket.  It produces nothing but a soft sigh after a long day as you settle in your favorite reading chair to savor the company of your books. And where others debate over the fullness of a glass, you see only that you have a cup the color of the sky on a clear day capable of holding anything.

That is the gift of gratitude.  You see everywhere signs of abundance rather than absence, wings rather than cages.  And finally, enjoyment in the way your feet always take you back to your own doorstep and the pleasure--deep and full like your first breath of the day--in knowing you are 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!

On Descending into the Underworld

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As the days grow shorter and the nights longer, as the autumnal sun sets, bathing the earth in a honeyed glow, you begin to make your descent into the Underworld.

Not hell.  Not Milton's proverbial nine layers, nor religion's antidote to heaven (it might be the final resting place of vice, but what a relief not to be perfect!).  Nor is it Florence's Last Judgement safely nestled in the bosom of its canonical dome and foretelling the dangers of sin.  Not hell nor any of these.

The Underworld.  That quiet place which is not a place, both a cave below the earth and deep inside yourself.  The still place.  The silent place that you retreat into when the world gets too loud and you have been too long on its surface.  Like Persephone, you make your yearly transition from the spring above to the winter below, feeding upon rich pomegranate seeds and turning away from external revelries to your inward gaze.  You are bound to this cycle just as Persephone is to hers; you cannot change it any more than she can.  The earth pulls you into its embrace, thick roots easing your passage into your deeper sense of being, sweeping away the debris of surface living. 

It is there, there in the quiet and the shadows that you may meditate, contemplate the you that is you after casting off your worldly shell.  You will navigate the dark--the shadows of the yet-to-be-revealed, the wisdom courted with your solitude. That secret you waiting to be heard.  Like Persephone with those pomegranate seeds, you gobble up this underground knowledge one tiny morsel at a time, feeding the flame nestled within your ribcage.  Feeding the you that goes beyond day in and day out, and exists in dreams, in caves, in the Underworld. Always waiting.  Always ready to welcome you back to your roots and the rich earth from which you came.

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 the Bees Collect Pollen

Today you find yourself thinking of the last time you had visited your mother's garden before the semester swept you up in its embrace.  It was still early in the morning, with the air carrying the faint promise of autumn; there was a cool breeze made all the gentler from the previous night's rain.  Fat dewdrops hung from the tips of grass blades like small crystals glittering in the morning light, wetting your feet and ankles. 

Your soul was quiet despite the riot of activity around you.  Everywhere her garden was bursting with life: the morning glories had turned their heads to the sun and the birds sang their daily aria as they gathered breakfast.  The giant sunflowers were like sentries along the garden wall and walking paths and the branches of the apple tree were heavy with fruit.  Even the voluptuous squash blossoms stretched open, languid and happy as the bees crawled along their insides.

The bees.  You watched them, first in the squash blossoms and then making their way across flat sunflower heads, stuffing their sides full of pollen.  For them, there was no time to waste, no time for coffee or conversation.  No, they must bathe in the golden dust, gather up each grain for their hive, and fly off in search of more pollen in another flower.  There too, as they gathered, they left the seeds of future blossoms behind. 

For a long time, you simply watched and marveled at the bees' industry, their undivided focus on gathering, nourishing, pollinating.  Now as you think back to that morning while brewing your first cup of tea at the office, you hold that memory close, a delicious reminder of the beauty in industry.

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 Burning Old Man Gloom

Zozobra. 

Old Man Gloom.  The giant effigy of darkness and despair that gets eaten up by flames once a year--when the sun begins to turn its light from this earth, and we descend into the depths of the inward-turning months--since 1926 they say. 

But I know better.  Though I've never been to the iconic burning in my homeland nor stuffed the gloom boxes scattered around Santa Fe with my burnable past, I know better.  Yes, I know better.  Each and every day I burn Old Man Gloom with my own fire, my own light that fuels me and cleanses my spirit from the shades and whispers of doubt that seek to make their home in me.

It is not enough to sit and wait and watch someone burn Old Man Gloom for you, for he can return at any time---and can, with your flame, be sent back to the ashes of his existence.  This burning is a tribute to the fire we must keep within ourselves year round the better to chase away the daily dreads that seek to turn us from our path.  To turn from the shadows that seduce us with their gloom like a cloudy blanket--comforting in how it keeps us in our familiar past. (Though move on we must, for some, it is easier to embrace the gloom than venture into the unknown.)

But not for me.

So goodbye, Old Man Gloom, today and every day.  With my light, I banish you.  With my light, I banish stagnate energies.  With my light, I banish old-selves that no longer serve me.  With my light, I banish the woe others cast my way.  I let the flames of my soul burn them alive until they are nothing but ash and charred bits of history good for nothing but fuel for my cosmic compost.

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 First Day of School

Although you have long outgrown the back-to-school supplies of Elmer's glue and as-yet-unopened boxes of Crayola crayons in favor of a new grade book and freshly sharpened pencils all in a row--the better to draft your lesson plans with--there is still a part of you that will always feel a little thrill up and down your spine at the thought of the first day of school.  The perfectly planned outfit.  The thoughtfully prepared lunch.  The well-organized teacher's bag standing by the door, ready to be whisked away to your office.  The goals to learn and teach and embrace this new school year with a vigor you certainly didn't feel by the end of last spring semester but that you are aware of now down to your very toes.

You wake before your alarm that first day.  The birds aren't even quite up yet.  You take advantage of that extra time to work on your self-care routine that you promise yourself you won't give up when the semester gets further underway and the papers begin to pile up.  You relish your early morning yoga and the quiet excitement as the sun slowly rises.  Then there is your coffee, your perfect cup of liquid energy--as if you needed it--enjoyed briefly on the patio before you turn to the task of readying yourself for school.

You don a dress with a smattering of polka dots, that celebratory print which always makes you feel special.  You lace up your oxfords and slowly, one finger at a time, slide on your rings of amber and onyx, thinking about how you will greet your new classes and see old friends.  You apply your makeup and, with that last swipe of mascara, feel ready to greet the new school year.

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 Attitude

Attitude (n):  1. A settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically one that is reflected in a person’s behavior. 2.  A position of the body proper to or implying an action or mental state. 3. Individuality and self-confidence as manifested by behavior or appearance; style. -- oxforddictionaries.com

Your body is your mind, a reflection of all you hold dear, all you would reject. It carries your thoughts in your veins and maps your feelings in your body's tissues and sinewy muscles.  The grace of your actions, a mirror to what you allow into your mind, but deeper still, your soul and the very fabric that it is woven from.

You must be careful with this connection, the braided threads of mind, body, soul.  It is a gift, this power of reflection and magnification, your body absorbing what your deepest you conjures through thoughts, feelings, nourishing your whole self.  But this mirroring goes both ways.  It lets in light and hope, nurtured through your thoughts of growth and wholeness, of forward movement and healing. 

And yet, it too can feed off of the weeds in your mind, the doubts and old selves that grow through the cracks in your self-confidence.  It can leak out in bad posture or long-healed injuries flaring up, or nasty thoughts that encourage those weeds to grow deeper, thicker--until your mind would be a dark bramble seeping through your mirror, your body in the form of heaviness, a disconnection that wraps itself around you like a fog.

The only way to dispel the fog swirling in the mirror, to make those brambles fade back into the cracks they grew out of and seal off those openings is to let in light; feed your individual attitude mapped in your veins and bones.  Awaken the core you sleeping inside your ribcage, and reminding it that it is a force of sun and earth, blood and bones, strong roots and open wings. 

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 Reasons I Love My Home

First, it's the way you don't have to wear real clothes--or any clothes at all if you don't want to.  You can let your hair down and not bother to comb it.  You can walk around with bare feet, relishing the feel of the ground beneath your soles. 

Second, it is where you surround yourself with the things you love--and keep out the things you don't.  All your books are loving piled on your bookshelves, a riot of multicolored spines, some rigid and sitting up straight like good little hardbacks, other cracked at the seams, their thin paper covers wearing the memory of the countless times you've read them.  Your knitting--that turquoise blue blanket you started forever ago and will continue working on until forever--is always right where you left it, on the couch, ready for another knitting session.  Your writing desk is an open invitation to sit and dream or gaze out at your patio garden.  Even your kitchen is exactly how you want it to be: ready at a moment's notice for cooking, baking, conjuring up tea blends.  It is as if it knows the pleasure of being always fully stocked for anything from a simple lunch to an impromptu visit from your sister just as you do.

Third, you don't have to answer the door if you don't want to. You can lose track of time, let the hours unravel before you in the safety of your sanctuary without bother or worry.  You feel no obligation to join the rest of the world when they come knocking, only a sweet satisfaction that you can linger in your space just a little longer.

Fourth...the list can go on and on.  You will content yourself, then, with saying just this: the reasons you love your home are varied and unending, just as the stash of flouncy dresses and colorful skirts in your closet seemingly are.  You love your home because it molds itself around you, always a reflection of your energy, your constant nurturing of simple pleasures, quiet moments of bliss, a life rich in nourishing enjoyment.

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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 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 Toast

It is a humble offering to the morning, but so delicious.

You had a lazy start to the day, luxuriating in the fact that it is mid-week, but you, you with your summer teacher schedule, can sleep in and treat this Wednesday as a Saturday or Sunday.  Even the thought of whipping up an egg or making some oatmeal is too much.  It would disturb the slow tranquility coursing through your veins.

But you must eat.  And toast, toast is the answer.

It is only worth eating if it's made from quality bread--in this case, a whole wheat loaf from your favorite bakery.  You slice off a thick piece and pop it in the toaster, making sure it gets that nice brown crust, not quite burnt but thick enough to leave a soft center underneath that crispy shell.  Then comes the butter, liberally slathered on--you mustn't be stingy.  You know some then prefer jam, but for you, the magic is in that simple marriage between toast and butter. 

You take your treat, along with a fresh cup of coffee and a small dish of blackberries, to your patio, where you linger over the morning paper, the little finches greeting you with their trill song.  You take a bite of toast, letting the earthy flavor of the wheat and butter roll over your tongue.  You offer a bit of crust to the birds--but not too much, as you want to savor this treat yourself.  Bite by bite you devour your simple breakfast until there is nothing left but a few crumbs on your fingers and a little butter on your chin.

You gaze wistfully at your plate: empty save for a scattering of crumbs.  Before you can talk yourself into another piece of toast, you press your coffee mug to your lips and sip the decadent brew.  Your coffee, your berries, the cool morning air remain your consolation, now the toast is gone.

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 Being Out in the City Early

The air is still crisp.  The morning quiet.

The dawn was greeted by yoga and plant-tending before you head out to an early morning meeting.  You cruise down the hushed streets--one part a half-awake bustle to get to work, another sleepy-almost-the-weekend energy.  Country music plays softly on the radio, punctuated by spurts of local news.  You cruise past the railroad tracks downtown into the oldest part of the city.  Your way is paved by adobes and the bright colors of a city not afraid of its own loudness. 

You find yourself early for a breakfast meeting--happily next to your favorite bakery.  You cross the street, already anticipating the homey comfort of this little shop almost as old as the city itself--there are others yes, but only one real panaderia.  The smell of freshly baked bread greets you as you walk through the door.  You are seduced by the rows of fresh loaves and empanadas stacked one on top of the other.

What a morning!  What a treat to have some spare moments to get fresh bread for your morning toast.  What a treat to have some time for a cappuccino.  What a treat to be out in the city before anyone but you and the bakery is entirely awake.  You order a multigrain loaf and your drink, then decide to splurge on a cherry empanada for later.

Outside, you settle into a patio chair and savor your fancy coffee, feeling almost as if you are back in Venice, savoring a morning cappuccino before the day sweeps you up in a flurry of art viewing and sightseeing.  You enjoy the caress of the cool morning air on your skin, the soft chatter of birds and one or two other customers.  As you finish your drink, you watch the city shake off the last of its sleepiness just as you shake off yours.

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 Lingering Over a Cup of Coffee at a Cafe

It is your favorite cafe and the perfect morning to linger over a cup of rich coffee.

It is still cool out, but the day already hints at the warm afternoon to come. The mountains frame the city in the distance, and the blue sky is streaked with ribbons of cotton.  It is a lazy day, meant for lingering over your morning brew and maybe later puttering in the garden.  But for now, you are content to nurse that cup and just be.

The coffee is rich and thick--bold cowboy coffee that wakes your sleepy cells up and yet soothes at the same time.  You half-heartedly flip through the local newspaper, finding yourself, as always, paying more attention to your weekly horoscope than any of the more in-depth articles.  

Eventually, you abandoned your tentative hold on the paper in favor of people watching--the couple holding hands to the right of you, the old friends catching up over breakfast, the late-for-work take-out worker bees.  All are part of the gentle hum of the morning, the sweet cacophony of daily living.

You take one last sip of your coffee, now only an almost-cooled puddle at the bottom of your cup.  Your thoughts turn toward gardening, maybe even reading a novel on your patio, your plants and the sunshine your quiet companions.  Yes, time to rejoin the rest of the world in their steady industry.  As you slowly make your way to the exit, you can still taste the rich caramel of the coffee on your lips.  You marvel at such a taste and the gentle promise of a slow day ahead of you.

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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 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!

On Returning to Work After a Break

It seems so far away: that last day where you stacked up all your papers, wrote your last email, and washed your tea mug. You had pulled out of the office parking lot, listening to country music, leaving your lesson plans and paper grading behind, if only for a week.

Between then and now there has been long afternoons reading novels, late mornings sleeping in, and stretches of hours cooking and yoga-ing and home improving.  There were no high heels or stockings or tailored clothes.  Only loose shirts and leggings.  No hair wound into a perfect bun held together by too many pins--only long tendrils of hair splayed against your back, falling as they will.

As the hours unfold into days, you begin to let go of the little snags and hooks that clung to you during the last few months.  You see them for what they are: little tiny ephemeral bits of your job and that come as go as often as the semesters.  Slowly you begin to realize that these pieces do not make up you, do not make up your job.  They are merely the dust and crumbs of your day.

Now you see, in the time between watching old movies and goofing around, that you have washed off that debris and, in fact, are looking forward to dawning your teacher clothes and your long necklaces and the many rings your naked fingers long for.  It is time to return to your calling, time to once again enter the world as a force for good.

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!

Rose-Tulsi Breakfast Quinoa

So I am addicted to my weekday morning quinoa for breakfast.  I cook it just like oatmeal but find the hearty little grain holds me better than your average oatmeal.  It's simple.  It's healthy.  It's homey.  It's full of good-for-you fats and proteins while being gluten free.  How can breakfast get any better?  Still, even this perfect weekday breakfast can use a little twist now and then to shake things up.  I got totally inspired byNatural Vitality Living's Overnight Earl Grey Porridge--what a wicked combination of the soothing morning oatmeal with the sophistication of Earl Grey tea.  Even better, I thought, would be tea like Rose-Tulsi, a blend of rose petals and holy basil, to infuse my breakfast quinoa with the taste of spring.  Top that off with some Greek yogurt and fresh berries and you have the perfect recipe for a good morning!

Ingredients

2 cups water

1 cup quinoa

2-3 tablespoons honey (to taste) 

2 heaping tablespoons or two bags Rose-Tulsi tea (I used Organic India Sweet Rose Tulsi Tea found in most health food stores)

Toppings of choice (I like plain Greek Yogurt and fresh berries)

I typically cook this on Sunday and store it the fridge for the workweek.   It stores well and makes for a hearty breakfast on the go. The night before, bring the water to a boil and steep the tea for at least five minutes.  Remove the tea bags (or strain the loose leaf tea) after steeping and allow to cool.  Mix the quinoa and cooled tea together in a resealable container and let soak overnight in the fridge.  In the morning, cook quinoa on medium heat for approximately 15 minutes or until grains are soft.  Stir in honey to desired sweetness. Serve with fresh fruit and yogurt for a delicious, satisfying breakfast!

Makes 4 servings

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On Double Yolks

The skillet is hot--as hot as the bluegrass playing in the background, as hot as the coffee in your cup.  Today is a day for a bold breakfast.  You shake off your usual weekday oatmeal in favor of eggs over easy, chorizo, and toast, a perfect gourmet diner breakfast made all the better for coming from your kitchen.

You crack one egg and pour it into the pan, then another.  And there it is, in the second egg: a fat golden double yolk.  The orbs sit piled atop one another as if caught kissing before they could disentangle themselves.  You marvel at how so much yolk could fit into such a tiny little eggshell such as the empty one you now hold in your hand.

You watch your eggs cook, and a sly voice inside your head--the one who loves a good story, a good superstition--coyly whispers that double yolks are good luck, harbingers of double the grace, the plenty, the fortune.  These are the stories of old wives and crones and witches that you are half-tempted to believe if only because these fat yolks nestled together in front of you seem nothing short of magic themselves.

You flip your eggs and decide to let your fanciful imagination run away with you.  Double yolks are good luck.  Yes, you commit to the idea.  Already, as you plate your breakfast, your mind turns to the possible adventures these double yolks foretell.

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 an Afternoon Walk

You hadn't planned to take a walk.

There were things to do, tasks to accomplish.  But the afternoon called to you, beckoning you from your perch at your desk, luring you outside to bask under the tender caress of the soft spring sun like a kitten stretched out under a plot of light by the window. 

It is fresh air you needed.  You know that now that you are walking--the cool breeze with the faint hint of spring in it, the smell of dirt and dry grass and sunlight.  You take in one long breath, then another, and another, letting your chest expand with this intoxicating air. 

Gradually, you become aware of other things--the birds singing: finches, doves, sparrows pleasantly clamoring for attention all at once.  The sharp cries of a hawk, too, are a welcome presence as you stroll around the park.  You watch people walking their dogs or playing sports or circling the park just as you do.  Admire how the sun seems to melt away their cares; even the normally frazzled soccer moms look fresh, vibrant with the promise of spring in the air.

With each lap, you admire the homes--especially the tenderly cared for adobes--and the grounded, calm energy they represent.  Soon it is time to wind your way back to your home, the cares of your work left scattered on your desk, all but forgotten by you.

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!