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.

Join Me for Plastic Free July!

download.jpeg

When I first found out about Plastic Free July, I immediately wished I knew about this when I was doing my year of buying, using, and wasting less. It would have been a great challenge to immerse myself in last year. Then I thought…it’s a great challenge to try right now! Just because I’m no longer focusing on buying, using, and wasting less, I’m still doing all those things actively. This would just be the next step to doing my part to fight climate change.

This is even more important now that we are learning that we only really have five years before devastating, irreversible climate change. New studies are also showing that plastic is not just bad for the environment, but a serious climate hazard. Even now, the Arctic melt is in hyperdrive—scary stuff! When you consider the terrifying reality we face, along with the knowledge that we’ve literally produced 8.3 billion tons of plastic since 1950, it becomes clear that we have to be part of the global change to preserve or planet.

Why have we produced so much plastic in such a short time? Because it was exciting and innovative and marketed as something that would make our lives easier. But we now know that over 90% of what we put in the recycling bin doesn’t actually get recycled. This one-use ideology made people believe that they didn’t need well-made long-lasting products when they could just purchase cheap, disposable products. Even now, buying something like packaged lettuce is possible because people believe that it makes their life easier. It’s supposedly cleaner, ready to go from bag to bowl, and prettier than the unpackaged lettuce head…but we know that we still have to rinse even pre-washed lettuce and that not packaged vegetables, especially the local goods, have way more nutritional value than their packaged counterparts, not to mention the fact that they are often cheaper.

In short, minimizing plastic use is about unlearning toxic consumerist ideology that tells us we need more, cheaper, and quicker. Instead, opt for less, better, and slower. I’m not saying you need to go full-on homesteading, where you raise your own chickens and grow your own food (although, I thoroughly love gardening!). What I am saying is that we need to forgo the assumption that packing makes our live easier. It doesn’t.

And, it goes without saying that we need to fight to hold big businesses accountable for their complicity in the climate crisis and push hard for legislation that will help protect our environment and begin to heal the planet. I am so heartened by the various news stories of individuals, communities, and cities pushing green initiatives forward, including my very own Albuquerque, which just banned plastic bags and foam containers. But we also needs to hold ourselves accountable and do our part to protect our planet. Literally the easiest way? Stop using so much plastic!

So join me for Plastic Free July—you can set your own goals to limit or eradicate plastic use—and together we can be part of the change we need to heal mother nature. What we spend money on—and what we don’t—can have a powerful impact on what gets made, how it gets made, and who makes it. If the idea of giving up plastic feels intimidating, I leave you with three easy tips for limiting your plastic consumption:

  1. Give up one use items. I know I talk about this a lot but it is seriously the easiest and cheapest way to give up plastic. Ditch the straw restaurants give you for drinks—you don’t use them at home, do you? (If you do, it’s a good idea to invest in some inexpensive reusable ones.) Say no to plastic takeout silverware and resist the temptation to buy the single-serve item or one-use trinket. You don’t really need any of these things. So the next time you are tempted to try that little sampler or indulge in that little product, ask yourself if you really need or want it—and think about what happens when you trash it a few hours later. Pausing like this will help you be a more mindful consumer.

  2. Stop buying things in packages. Or use less packaging when you can. When I do have to buy something in packaging—like dairy—I opt for glass over the plastic-coated cardboard. Some stores are even developing return/refund programs on these containers. Or I go for cardboard over more wasteful packaging. I can’t tell you how upset I get at Trader Joe’s when I see tomatoes and other fruits and veggies coated in plastic (and have since stopped shopping there for this reason). I was happy to learn that they are cutting down on their plastic, but I think they need to get rid of it altogether. Buying fruit and veggies in bulk is the easiest way to avoid packaging, as is shopping the bulk aisle. The great side effect of this is that you end up buying healthier food and save money in the long run.

  3. Use what you have. Going plastic free doesn’t mean throwing out all your plastic containers…that would be counter productive, especially since we now know that very little of what we put into the recyclables actually gets recycled. So keep the plastic you do have and take good care of it so it lasts. They make great storage containers. Reusing is way more effective than recycling in terms of protecting the environment. And get creative! Start making your own shampoo and store it in old shampoo bottles, for example, or save those lip balm tubes and refill them with the homemade stuff (recipe coming soon).

At the end of the day, we need more people trying to reduce waste imperfectly, than a few people doing it perfectly, as the environmental mantra goes. Want more tips for easy sustainable living? Follow me on Instagram to see my #SustainableSaturday posts. At the end of the day, it's the little changes that add up to big change. How will you green your routine?

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!

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?

IMG_2224.jpg

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

Homemade Beeswax Candles

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

Homemade Beeswax Candles

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

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

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

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

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

Ingredients:

Beeswax, preferably local

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

Special Tools:

Toilet paper or paper towel rolls

Egg cartons

Large tin can

Old saucepan

Organic candle wicks

Parchment or wax paper

Baking sheet

Skewers or string (to keep wicks straight)

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

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

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

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

Candle Making Process

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

Wax in Egg Carton

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

Finished Candles

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

Vegan Bacon Recipe

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

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

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

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

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

ingredients: 

1 eggplant, thinly sliced  

1/4 cup Braggs liquid amino acids

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 tablespoon smoke chipotle powder

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

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

Eggplant Dish

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

Sustainability as Spiritual Practice

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

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

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

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

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

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

7-chakras_large.jpg

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

5 Ways to Quit Fast Fashion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 Easy Ways to Conserve Water

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you conserve water?

6837601057_ecf75d8623_b.jpg

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 Year of Using, Wasting, & Buying Less

Regular readers of my blog know that I actively work on making my life more eco-conscious.  Sustainability is an integral part of my self-care routine because let’s face it, if it’s bad for the earth, it’s bad for me and vice versa. I also find that I need the deep connection to nature in order to feel whole as a person in the same way I need my daily writing or yoga practice. 

This year, I feel an even greater urgency to fight climate change, especially in the face of threats to our national monuments, renewed fracking and offshore drilling, and other concerning news. If we continue taxing the earth’s resources, the cacao plant will be extinct in 40 years; the ocean will have more plastic in it than marine life by 2050; and, because of rising temperature, plant and animal species, and the delicate ecosystems in which they thrive, will be extinct. Worse still, the United States is the second largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Why? Because we waste a significant amount of resources including energy and water in order to keep up with our mindless consumerism. 

However, there is a silver lining in all of this: We have the power to reverse climate change. That is why this year, my goal is to use, waste, and buy less in an effort to promote an actively sustainable lifestyle. And while many people think being sustainable is hard, it really isn’t. All it requires is a mentality shift away from what we consider to be the norm. Plastic bags at the grocery store can easily be reused for future trips or swapped out entirely with reusable produce and grocery bags. Plastic water bottles (one of the most wasteful products out there) can be replaced with a reusable bottle. Even curbing impulse purchases (hello retail therapy!) can become a way for us to save money and consider what we really need in life (hint: it’s not that one use item covered in plastic wrap).

In order to become more sustainable, I’ve had to be incredibly honest with myself about what I need, what I want (which might not always be healthy for me or the environment), and what I can do to more aggressively combat climate change. So far the results have been illuminating. My life is less cluttered, I enjoy what I have more, and I’m more thoughtful about where my money is going.

So how will I measure my success? Here’s my plan:

1. Use Less:  Everyday I make about four cups of coffee, but only ever drink two. Sure, I water my plants with the leftovers but soon realized it simply makes sense to just make less coffee. That basic principle behind using less extends to electricity, water, and other resources. A few years ago, I began using power strips for all my electronics and turning them off every time I wasn’t using said electronic. This prevents “vampire energy” or the sapping of energy that continues even when a device is off. It saves energy—and money—as does keep the heater a few degrees lower. These simple changes, among other things, help reduce the overall consumption of valuable resources and take very little time and attention to change. In short, I plan to be more thoughtful about what I can actually consume, from food to electricity and beyond, to limit waste. Which leads me to my second goal...

2. Waste Less: Regular readers of my blog know that I hate one-use items. They are costly to make and often end up in the trash which ends up in the landfill or worse. I also hate plastic. It is one of the primary products that harm the planet, especially the oceans where much of it ends up. My aim here is not just to recycle and compost, but to buy products with little to no packaging to begin with. I’ll also mend, repair and otherwise make-do with what I have rather than throwing things out and buying quickie replacements. This also means using the plastics I do have rather than throwing them out. The better care I take of the things I have, the longer they last and the less I throw out. The less trash and recycling I have, the better.  

3. Buy Less: One of the best ways to fight climate change is to not buy products in the first place. Mindless consumerism asks us to buy! buy! buy! often when we don’t really need a specific product. So for this goal, I’m going to reduce impulse purchases by waiting a few days before actually buying something I see and like. I’ve already started on this one and found that I almost never end up buying once coveted items after waiting a few days. When I do have to buy things, I want to strive to keep it local and, if that isn’t possible, as sustainable as possible. (There are, naturally, a few things I'm going to exclude from this buy-less agenda, namely ebooks, which, in themselves are more eco-friendly than their hardcopy counterparts. I can't live without stories!) As I’ve been practicing this buy-less mentality, I find it has transformed my life. I make an effort to go to the farmers market and my local co-op, buy any necessary clothes or furniture at second-hand and vintage stores, and, when I do want to treat myself, I invest in experiences rather than items. This has lead to a richer experience where I’ve gotten to know my community more and truly enjoy and use what I do purchase. 

So those are my goals for the year, along with continuing to educate myself and others on ways to fight climate change.  How do you fight climate change? 

seedling.jpg

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!

Midnight Meteor Shower Picnics

This has been the summer of picnics.  At the park.  In the backyard.  Midday under a shade tree to beat the heat or post-monsoon afternoon searching for rainbows and sipping iced tea.  Any summer occasion is a special occasion and so worthy of its own picnic.  Naturally, when I found out that tonight marks the start of the annual Perseids meteor shower, four little words entered my mind: Midnight.  Meteor.  Shower.  Picnic.

Seriously, what could be better?

Earlier this season, I wrote about how to plan the perfect picnic.  But it has now occurred to me that midnight picnics are their own kind of event mostly because the focus is less on good food and more on the night sky, especially for such a special shower we should expect to see tonight.  

What makes it so special this time around?  Well, we are likely to see twice as many shooting stars this year (almost 200 an hour compared to the average 100) as in previous ones.  This is because of an "outburst," which is when the earth's previous orbit debris mixes with our current debris (yeah, I'm not sure quite how it works either...but you can read more about the specifics here).  The bottom line is that we will be gifted with a spectacular meteor shower that can't be missed!  So make sure to plan ahead, pack plenty of creature comforts, and prepare for a lovely night of stargazing. The show starts at 10pm Thursday and goes into early Friday morning.

1.  Bring blankets.  While all picnics require a thick blanket to sit on, a midnight picnic requires other wraps of soft throws to snuggle under as the desert night turns cooler.  Maybe even a few pillows to lie back on as you stargaze.  Think of it as making an impromptu outdoor bed.

2. Plan to stay awhile.  Looking for shoot stars is like fishing--you have to be prepared to sit and wait in order to catch something good (either a fish or a star, wink wink).  If you rush the experience, you miss out on witnessing the beauty of shooting stars. Treat it like a meditation--truly, there is nothing more lovely on a summer night than stargazing, even without a meteor shower.  So pass the time by trying to map constellations like Perseids, where the shower originates, or make up your own.  What matters is that you take the time to converse with the stars.

3.  Pack a thermos (and a flask if you're feeling risqué!).  A mug of hot tea will keep you both revived and awake while you stargaze.  Fill it with an energizing (but caffeine free) herbal tea and bust it out when a case of the sleepies hits. You'll keep yourself awake for the big event without hindering your ability to get some Zzzzs once you're ready for bed.

4.  Pack easy snacks.  As with any picnic, you should keep your food delicious and simple; that goes double for a midnight meteor shower show.  Think blueberries, nuts and edible treats that won't distract you from your stargazing.  The point is to nosh as needed without tearing your gaze away from the sky.  

5.  It's all about location, location, location--this is especially important for shooting star viewing. Now we can't always get to the perfect location, but if you can, find a spot away from harsh city lights that drown out the glittering stars.  Or, if you're like me, and going to stargaze in your backyard, turn off all the lights and notice how many more stars you can see.  

Summer is by far one of the best times to forget about the clock and spend some time communing with the universe, getting lost (found?) in the constellations adorning the night sky, and keeping an eye out for those elusive shooting stars.  Happy stargazing! 

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!

Summer Solstice & the Strawberry Moon

I went moon bathing last night.  

I wanted to coat my skin in the rosy glow of June's strawberry moon on this of all days: the summer solstice.  You can love the light of the year's longest day.  You can enjoy the way the sun's rays stretch from dawn until the last whispers of dusk, straining to reach the farthest corners of waking experience.  You can admire the way the unabashed luster of the fading daylight makes the mountains blush deeply as if anticipating things best tasted at night.  But you must not forget the moon.  Or the stars. 

And that is why I moon bathed last night.  I wanted to honor how the full moon brought more light to this day of light, illuminating the thoughts and forgotten corners that would otherwise remain in shadow.  Better to know what lingers under the stardust and hides under the moon-kissed rocks.  It is bliss to find that half-forgotten memory buried amongst my herbs; catharsis to finally rid myself of the pests that take advantage of the cover darkness offers.  This is my chance to ask the moon for answers (it will not be this receptive again for another 70 years and then-- where will I be?).

So I asked my questions--and she gave me answers.  She filled my mouth with the full sweet taste of ripe strawberries until their seeds burst on my tongue.  She washed my hair in a waterfall of her silvery light and rubbed my skin in the promising perfume of rose petals.  She confided that now, midway through the year, is the ideal time to find my story within a map gifted to me by the constellations.  She asked the cicadas to sing so that I may dance.  And she told me--as the moon always does--to remember to dream. Deeply. Tenderly.  With wild abandon.  She bid me stain my fingers and thoughts and beating heart with her lunar liquid, tonight the color of berries pressed between lovers' lips.

Dream.  Always.  For the best things begin in moonlight.

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 Tips for the Perfect Picnic

Picnics are one of the most delicious simple pleasures of summer.  There's nothing quite like a leisurely afternoon nibbling on tasty treats and sipping lemonade in the park or lazily reading (okay snoozing) under a shady tree after an impromptu outdoor lunch.  I especially like how adaptable picnics are; they can be everything from a lavish outdoor afternoon tea or as basic as a sandwich and peach enjoyed in your backyard. It's also the perfect way to turn a quick lunch into an event that makes us slow down and appreciate the world around us.

Imagine my joy when I found out that there is actually a day on the calendar dedicated to this wonderful pastime.  June 18th is the official International Picnic Day.  As if I needed an excuse to bust out my basket!  To get ready for this big day, I give you five tips for the perfect picnic.

1.  Plan ahead.  I've gotten in the habit of keeping a picnic basket on standby along with a little grab 'n go bag filled with the basics: a blanket, a straw hat, homemade sunscreen, DIY bug repellent, and a book or two (for that afternoon snooze, wink wink).  My basket likewise includes a stash of reusable enamel plates, silverware, stemless cups, cloth napkins, and kitchen towels (for inevitable spills).  This makes impromptu picnics easy and carefree. I simply load up some food then I'm out the door. Last but not least, don't forget to keep an eye on the weather and know your location--both determine what additional accoutrements you might need.

2.  Keep it simple.  A good picnic is all about enjoying the great outdoors with little fuss.  One of the best picnics I have ever had was when I was in Sitges, a lovely beach town near Barcelona.  We put together a hasty picnic from goodies at a nearby market: olives, jamon, dried fruit, caper berries, nuts, cheeses, and crusty bread were heartily enjoyed on the beach.  We had no plates or silverware, just the bags our goodies came in.  Bliss!

Ahhhh that perfect no-fuss picnic at the beach in Sitges...

Ahhhh that perfect no-fuss picnic at the beach in Sitges...

I used to be enamoured with the idea of making fancy feasts for my picnics--complex meals and fussy seating inspired by what I saw in magazines--but they always proved more trouble than they were worth.  Food got soggy or was difficult to eat, preparation was always more labor intensive than I thought it would be, and I found myself spending way more time (and money) on a good picnic than I did actually enjoying it. The reverse was also true: the more low-maintenance the picnic plans were, the more fun I had.  Now this doesn't mean that you can't have your lavish afternoon tea party, just keep the menu uncomplicated with easy to assemble tea sandwiches and other make-ahead treats. So bottom line: simple be thy mantra. 

3.  Go green.  Ditch the plastic cups and other disposable items. Use cloth napkins, real silverware, reusable storage and durable plates.  Picnicking is all about enjoying nature so it only makes sense that you would make sure not to use disposable goods that damage the environment.  If you don't want the hassle of bringing along plates, you can always up the fun factor by using foods that fit easily in mason jars for a low maintenance picnic.  Greening your picnic basket has aesthetic benefits as well--your spread will look so much lovelier using real tableware or mason jars!  You can even keep a stack of durable enamel dishes at the ready in your picnic basket for easy prep like I do.  Want more ways to green your picnic routine?  Check out Pure Home & Body has to say.  

An assortment of easy-to-prepare goodies and reusable dishes ready for the basket.

An assortment of easy-to-prepare goodies and reusable dishes ready for the basket.

4.  Keep it real...the food that is.  In keeping with my theme of simplicity, stick to whole foods and easy nibbles.  Grapes, olives, cheese and a good loaf of bread are hard to beat (remember that Sitges picnic I told you about?).  You can also pack a mason jar salad--my Greek or Tuna-less Nicoise mason jar salads would be delish--or an assortment of in-season veggies with an Aioli or Pesto dip.  When you use fresh quality food, preparation is at a minimum.  Ripe cherry tomatoes are delicious on their own or tossed into this quick Tomato & Mozzarella Salad while fruit gets an extra kick from cured meat in my Proscuitto Wrapped Apricots.  Use what you have in your fridge, including Quick Pickled Veggies or Apricot Basil Jam paired with Ricotta, for a no-fuss meal.  

Dessert should be equally easy: dark chocolate and fruit, or single serve bites like my Vegan Peanut Butter Fudge.  If you are sticking close to home, you can stash Mango Chile Lime or Pina Colada pops in the freezer until you are ready for them in your backyard.  Top off your meal with a bottle of bubbly, Orange Lavender iced tea, or lemonade and you're good to go.  If you want to go the extra mile, you could even whip up a batch of Coconut Water Kiwi Lime Cocktails (vodka optional) or a pitcher of Watermelon Coolers.  

5. Make it festive! Now that you have your easy menu and picnic goodies at the ready for a spur-of-the-moment lunch, you can indulge in the picnic's whimsical side. Wear a blowsy hat and frilly dress to this oh-so-important date, scatter edible flowers across your plates, bring bubbles for the kiddos (and kids at heart), and get ready to twirl in the sunlight.  Or take a cue from one of your favorite literary picnics and plan your meal around it.  This a strawberry-picking inspired feast from Emma (but without the drama!), a honey-laced affair that would make Winnie the Pooh proud, or invite Alice and the Mad Hatter for a tea party on the lawn.

Whatever the occasion, whatever the plan, summer is for picnics.  

A delicious spread for two strewn with edible nasturtium and pansies for a touch of whimsy.  

A delicious spread for two strewn with edible nasturtium and pansies for a touch of whimsy.  

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 More Ways to Green Your Routine

Every year I get a little better at greening my routine.  As I read more about the impact we have on our environment and the little but important changes we can make to our lifestyles to leave a greener footprint, I become inspired to live in better harmony with nature.  Surprisingly, as I've gotten greener over the years, I've found that it hasn't just improved the planet, but my overall sense of well-being.  I use less.  I buy less.  I enjoy what I have more.  My home is clutter-free, as is my mind. 

More and more, I cannot escape the intrinsic link between the planet's health and my own. Where once I was stressed or anxious, I found healing in de-cluttering my life and simplifying my needs. I unplugged from what mainstream society says will make me happy (buy more, do more, move faster, burn hotter) and found, in creating space to connect with myself and nature, that my happiness comes from slowing down, doing less, and enjoying life's simple pleasures.  

The changes I've made have been radical in their own small way, from giving up conventional makeup, which was causing severe skin irritation, to using only the organic kind, and now, beginning the adventure of making all my own products.  I've switched from conventional groceries and the traditional food pyramid of health to organic, local produce and a whole foods diet.  I've even terminated one-use items like paper towels and plastic wrap in favor of reusable mason jars for storage and old towels for rags to reduce waste.  

Each step to a sustainable lifestyle was challenging at first, but then became a delicious expression of a balanced life.  Now I could never, ever imagine eating fast food or buying drugstore mascara.  What's more, the transition to a better-quality lifestyle was easier than I thought it would be once I got past the mental block of thinking that going green was difficult, expensive, or labor intensive.  The eco-friendlier I get, the more addictive it is.  I am healthier, happier, and more in balance with myself and the world around me.  Want to feel these good vibes too?  Check out these easy ways to green your routine.

1.  Say goodbye to junk mail.  Not only is it a nuisance, but it wastes so many trees, not to mention huge amounts of water and energy to produce what essentially goes directly into our trash cans, or if we are more conscious, our recycling bins or compost.  Luckily, opting out of junk mail is easier than you think.  Simply sign up for a free account at DMAChoice.org to stop receiving catalogs, credit card offers, and other miscellanea.  Not only will this one small change make a huge difference in the environment, but it will also make sorting your mail easier.  Want to know more about the environmental impact of junk mail?  Check out what Sustainable Baby Steps has to say.

2. Reduce plastic use.   Part of moving towards a zero-waste lifestyle is saying goodbye to one-use items like plastic bags, wrap, and other conveniences like bottled water.  The energy, water, and materials it takes to produce these items are nothing compared to the resources it takes to actually recycle them...when they can be recycled.  Too often these disposable items can't be reused or recycled because they are made of the cheapest (and most chemical-laden) forms of plastics that have no life beyond covering your leftovers.   Even worse, these items end up in the ocean, destroying marine habitats and harming sea life.  Check out the Earth Resource Foundation to learn more about how harmful plastics are to the environment.

The good news is that reduced plastic use is WAY easier--and addictive!--than I thought it would be. First and foremost, I eliminated bottled water, including my favorite, sparkling water (I got a fizzy water maker instead and love it!  It lets me get my bubble fix, is more cost-effective than buying bottled water, and easier to store).  I also don't buy plastic bags or saran wrap anymore.  I admit, it was hard to give up the convenient plastic bags at first, since I used them for so many things.  Now, though, I could never go back to using them.  I use what I have (I won't buy more wasteful products) and then get creative about how I store my food....hello mason jars!  Turns out, they are just as convenient as plastic (and bonus, more aesthetically pleasing!).  I still haven't gotten rid of my Tupperware, but I'm not buying more of it either.  I'll use what I've got, then invest in glass and silicon storage containers when the time comes.  The funny thing is that thought doesn't seem so intimidating as it once did before I gave up plastic bags and bottled water.

3. ...and paper towels.  I just use old cotton dishtowels that no longer look pretty in place of paper towels as rags.  I love never having to remember to buy paper towels.  I keep a set of old towels as bathroom and house cleaning rags and another set of towels strictly for kitchen use.  If part of living a green life is reducing what we consume, then giving new life to old items is a smart way to limit the production of unnecessary disposable goods.   Did you know you could also compost towels made from natural fibers like cotton, silk, and hemp?

4. Recycle your clothes.  Every few years, I clean out my closet and donate anything I haven't worn in the past year.  That's recycling in its most basic form: passing along usable items to someone who needs them.  But what about those wardrobe staples you've worn to death?  For a long time, I never knew what to do with these items and often threw them away, for lack of better options.  Now I give those items to Goodwill or your local Thrift Town because I learned from Earth 911 and some strategic web searches that these places collect unusable textiles and sell them out to other companies to recycle or reuse them.  To make it easy on them, I keep my wearable clothes and well-used ones in separate containers.  

5.  Conserve water. This is another simple yet important part of green living.  Most of the water we use day to day is actually wasted--the time people leave the faucet running on high while washing dishes, for example, or taking a super-long shower.  Take shorter showers (and if/when you are shaving your legs, turn the water off!). Same goes for tooth brushing and dish washing: clean first, then, rinse, keeping the faucet on low.  Sustainable Baby Steps has even more ways to reduce water use that are easy enough to incorporate into your everyday routine.  

Bottom line: with a little extra care and a few tweaks to our lifestyle, we can make substantial positive changes to our environment and improve our overall quality of life.  

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!

The Wind in My Hair

Sometimes it is like thick, cool fingers grabbing a fistful of tendrils, but today it is soft, gentle. The hands of a child braiding your thick coils together.

It won't let you be still--it wants you to twirl and dance the way it does, whipping around trees and snaking its way through the dry brush. This force of nature shapes everything, even the hard granite.  The wind only wants to kiss away bits of silt that grind against the rock's back.  That is how it feels today: a slow, consistent presence molding you into a better self.  

Other days it is pushy.  A big flirt stuffing its long fingers between the buttons of your blouse and tugging at your skirt. It throws fits too, casting sand and pebbles your way when it knows it's not always welcome.

Still, in whatever form it takes, it will always carry away your burdens--the heavy heart, the endless to-do list, the crick in your back that makes your dreams feel smaller and smaller.  The wind wants you to get tangled up and flustered and maybe even a little gritty-eyed so that you forget to hold on so tightly to the flotsam of your day, the small hard facts that you think make up your essence.

You are not the pebble in your shoe, it says. Or the number of tasks completed. You are the number of dreams you plant and the moments you lose track of as you feel the caress of the sun-warmed breeze tickling your knees.

So let it whip away the debris.  Let it remind you that you are the hopes you tend.

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!

Lavender Blue Corn Soap

For my latest entry in my kitchen gifts series, I decided to whip up a batch of lavender blue corn soap.  This is the perfect gift for anyone who is not necessarily a big fan of the more seasonal soaps like my orange spice, peppermint hot chocolate, or pine and charcoal soaps (as if such a person actually existed...seriously, who doesn't love the warming scents of winter?).  It's also an ideal gift for people to enjoy long after the holiday is gone; once all the other festive treats have been used, they can turn to this soap and the promise of spring.

Okay, I admit it: I got the idea for this soap after my favorite doughnut, a sinful blend of lavender and blue corn made by a local bakery.  Blue corn has always struck me as a very New Mexican ingredient, so this soap always makes me feel like I'm gifting a little bit of the Southwest magic I live in.  You can, of course, always substitute regular cornmeal if you can't find the blue kind.  You don't have to get fancy with molds, either.  You can simply use a muffin tin unless you want to get playful with your molds like I did with the soaps pictured.

For this recipe, I use a natural shea butter melt and pour soap base which I got here (remember how I like to keep my crafting simple?  Well, a melt and pour solution gives you the fun factor of making your own soap without the more labor intensive and tricky ingredients like lye to work with).  Make sure to buy the suspension formula for your soap base so that the blue corn is evenly spread out in your soap rather than sinking to the bottom.  The lavender oil is an excellent antibacterial agent and nerve tonic, while the blue corn acts as a gentle exfoliate perfect for everyday use.

Ingredients:

16 ounces (1 lb) shea butter soap base

1/2 cup blue corn

100 drops lavender essential oil

Chop shea butter soap base into half-inch chunks and place in a microwave-safe bowl.  Heat for one minute and stir.  Then continue to melt base in the microwave in 20-second increments, stirring between each heating until liquefied, about 5 minutes.  Once the soap is melted stir in essential oils and blue corn.  Pour into muffin tins (or other molds) and allow to set, about an hour.  (You can speed this up by placing them in the fridge for about 20 minutes.)  Remove soap from molds by gently inserting a butter knife around the edges of the muffin tin until the soap pops out.  Wrap individually in parchment paper or tuck multiples in an airtight container.  Store in a cool, dry place indefinitely.  Makes about 6 small soaps or 4 medium sized ones.  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!

Dancing in the Rain

Last night I danced in the rain. 

I sang with the wind.  I spread my hands high over my head and tried to touch the dark clouds weighing down the evening sky; and I called upon that storm to sweep away the cobwebs and dust from my mind, to let the fat rain drops fall upon my face, a soothing balm across the tender center between both eyes.

I let the distant rumble of thunder echo in my bones and the promise of lightning tickle my long wet hair.  I, I did this, making myself one with the rhythm of nature, allowing myself to understand the bigness of it, the fullness of this universe that goes beyond myself and within myself.  My bare feet rooted themselves in puddles as I twirled among the rain drops and clouds thick with cleansing desert magic. 

I was a spirit dancing among other spirits--trees, grass, mountains, and their guardians.  I was a raindrop covering the earth with my love.  I was the quiet in the storm, the stillness in the dance, the held breath between one clap of thunder and another.  I was the whisper of the earth's smile.

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!

Confessions of a Flower Eater

You would grow a garden in your belly if you could so that your insides are blossoms, fat with pollen and thick seeds, strong roots, and liquid sunshine.  It seems terrible to confess that you know you could be like those flowers if you ate enough of them.  But it is true--they would infuse their spirit into your skin and, in return, you would give them a home.  Just a tablespoon a day is all it would take, you think, as you gaze out at your flower garden, that alchemical blend of growing things and medicinal petals. 

So you collect your marigolds and nasturtiums, your puffs of dandelion and your fat tulip bulbs, your sharp lavender and blowsy rose petals, and you begin the task of making your meal. You could grind them up with your mortar and pestle until each bloom dissolves into a thick paste, a murky drink not unlike your compost to rest in your stomach.  But where is the fun in that?  How can you delight in the feel of seeds down your throat or a soft petal kissing your tongue?

So you mix up your flowers--seeds, petals, stems, roots--into an otherworldly salad.  The tulip bulb is your base, thick and earthy, to welcome your eternal spring and chase away the darkness.  Then you stir in yellow marigold and passionate hope, and add peppery nasturtiums, streaked with orange and red, to make you feel brave; next is dandelion (puffs, roots, leaves picked from a crack in your garden path) to echo your tulip base of infinite possibility.  And a few rose petals to dust the top, a delicate perfume to soften the aspirations of the other flowers--it is enough to enjoy the beauty of this moment.  Your salad isn't complete until you sprinkle blue lavender buds across your feast, adding the final touch of tranquil healing.

You devour this salad, one bite at a time, crunching down on meatiness of the tulips, the melt-in-your-mouth silkiness of the rose, until there is nothing left on your plate but a marigold blossom, somehow still intact.  You pick this flower up with your fingers and bring it to your mouth.  You feel the feathery petals across your tongue, the way it falls apart under the pressure of your teeth, the weight of sunshine in your belly when you swallow it.  This is your garden, each piece of your summer harvest preserved inside you so that you are now part flower, part hope.

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.

herbs2.jpg

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!