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.

Celebrate Naked Gardening Day

Yeah, it’s a thing, at least according to the World Naked Gardening Day official website. Established fifteen years ago, WNGD (for short) is celebrated on the first Saturday of every May. Why, you ask? It’s a pretty wonderful concept: to move towards a healthier acceptance of our bodies that isn’t always in a sexualized context and to recognize that we are, in fact, animals, deeply connected to the natural world. It also strikes me as a wonderful and playful way to enjoy Beltane, get in touch with nature, and our natural cycles…even if you don’t want to actually garden in the nude.

It’s about shedding our fear of naked bodies, tuning into our corporeal needs, and celebrating this divine season of fertility and new beginnings. Some people dance around May poles. Others hunt for dyed eggs, gifts from a magical bunny. Others garden naked. Personally, I’m kind of a fan of all three and any other spring celebration that asks us to go outside and find joy in this new season. Spring reminds us to be playful, silly, casting off our heavy winter thoughts and turning to the more immediate pleasures of this passionate season.

Full disclosure, however: I have a lovely patio garden and am nowhere near a place where I could plant seeds in the nude without the threat of photos ending up on the internet! Still, I love the concept of shedding our cool-weather skins, letting our bodies be kissed by the sun, and getting a little dirty. So if you’re like me—not ready to give your neighbors an eyeful, but want to celebrate the essence of this day—here are five simple ways to honor the spirit of Naked Gardening Day without the threat of itchy plant matter getting into your tender bits.

  1. Garden without gloves. Sure, there are times when you need your heavy duty gloves to pull weeds and turn soil. But then there comes the seed planting, which is actually easier to do with your gloves off. I love the feel of fat fava and thorny beet seeds in my hands as I bury them in the soil. My direct connection to the earth and the seeds that will later become delicious produce remind me that each intention, soul seed, and thought I plant now will eventually bear fruit. It’s tangible proof that magic is real.

  2. Garden barefoot. Again, there are times when shoes come in handy, especially when you’re doing the heavy duty work of prepping your garden. But then there are the times where it is lovely to go barefoot in newly turned soil as you plant your tender shoots and young plants. The technical hippy metaphysical term for walking barefoot is called earthing. Literally putting your bare soles on the earth grounds, relaxes, and maybe even boosts your immunity. Let your toes wriggle in soft soil and your heels sink into the compost-enriched dirt under your feet. There’s no better way to reconnect with nature.

  3. Simply spend time in nature…in as few clothes as possible. Don’t tell me you don’t love the sun’s first warm kiss of spring on your back. Don’t tell me you’ve never been tempted to skinny dip or sunbath nude—or that you’ve never done either. If you’re in a position where naked isn’t comfortable or possible, just get as naked as you can—think short shorts, bikini-tops or even a bathing suit. Trust me. You will love the way the sun caresses your skin and how the breeze tickles your bare arms and legs. Just don’t forget the SPF—as a desert woman, I know all about wearing protection so I can enjoy the great outdoors without the sunburn souvenir!

  4. Make a conscious effort to feel comfortable in your own skin. Even if you can’t get naked or wear a filmy dress and ribbons in your hair as you dance around a May pole, take this day to simply love your body and all that it does for you. Garden. Go for a nature walk. Do yoga. Forget about your perceived flaws and take your cues from nature—after all, the butterfly doesn’t compare itself to the dragonfly or the ladybug. It merely goes about its business. Take this day to marvel at what a beautiful animal you are.

  5. Relish the sensuality of gardening. It doesn’t matter if you’re coated in sunscreen, jeans and a t-shirt, or merely a daisy crown and a smile, gardening is sexy work. We get to strip things down to basics—planting seeds, getting dirty, relying on sunlight, water and hard work to produce nourishment. Gardening is a sensory experience, from feeling the soil and seeds in your hands, to hearing the birds sing and the bees buzz around with their enthusiastic pollination duties. We get sweaty. We relax. We forget to check the clock and instead rely on the passing clouds and shifting sun to let us know a full day has passed among our plants. We remember our powerful connection to the earth and our profound capacity to live in harmony with it.

So here’s to spring. Here’s to honoring our powerful connection to nature. Here’s to enjoying our bodies. Happy gardening!

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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!

Spring Clean Your Mind, Body, Soul

Spring is almost here. I can feel it in the way my skin itches to be kissed by the thin gold strands of sunlight or in the tightening excitement in the pit of my belly when I realize it is almost 7pm...and still light out. I might just get to have a glass of wine and watch the sunset on my patio. Most of all, however, I can feel spring in the way I seem to shake off my intense wintery introversion (most of it, anyway) like I would a fleece jacket. I find myself longing for adventures, new experiences, and friendly visits to old haunts. 

Spring ushers in its own invigorating and rejuvenating energy, and with that, a desire to clean. I am a big proponent of cleaning as a form of cleansing. Stressed? Scrub down your bathtub. Overworked? Do laundry. Seriously! It's a great way to practice self-care without having to think too hard about what you're doing. Unable to focus on that next page needing to be written? Dust--sweep--vacuum--hell, reorganize that junk drawer. Then the answers come. Cleaning, in other words, has become my oracle or crystal ball of wellness. Somewhere between hanging clothes to dry and washing those floors, wisdom is found. You're not thinking so hard so you can actually listen to yourself...which is all by way of saying that come spring, I am all about spring cleaning!

It's a great opportunity to dust off the cobwebs from your window sills and thoughts. Lately, I've been marinating on that old witchy-hippy-new-age adage, "as within, so without," which basically says what's going inside your mind, body, and soul, is mirrored in your day-to-day external life. While I believe in this concept on a number of levels, it seems particularly true when it comes to spring cleaning. If my house is messy, my mind is in disarray. If I don't have time to water my plants, my soul becomes parched. If I can't dance to salsa and merengue music while clearing out the dishwasher, my body aches.

So while you plan your own spring cleaning routine for your home, consider adding a little tune-up for your mind, body, and soul. We could all use a little a cleaning and rebooting at the start of each new season, most especially come spring, the time of renewal, rebirth, and new possibilities. 

Spring Cleaning the Mind

To spring clean your mind, first check in with your thoughts. What dust and debris have settled in the corners of your mind? 

Lately, I've become more aware of the old negative patterns I've allowed my mind to fall back into like stressing about things I have no control over in the middle of the night, operating from a flight-or-fight response in mundane happenings, or negative self-talk that can slip in when I'm overworked (overwork being a bad habit in and of itself, one I am still getting better at curbing).

These things serve no purpose. In fact, they are remnants of a time when I wasn't very good at taking care of myself, a time when I was strictly surviving rather than living. Still, I find I have to make a conscious effort to remind myself that I am no longer the overworked graduate student (yes, even after five years of being on the other side of it all!), but an empowered writer and educator who has the time, resources, and intention to live well

Once you've found the old habits and dirty corners in your mind, clean them up, dust them off, and say goodbye to those worn and ugly things.

This spring, I'm making a point of letting these things go, both internally and externally. I'm making a conscious effort to stop negative thoughts before they fully manifest. I'm getting rid of old notebooks full of graduate school work I will never look at again and saying goodbye to the straight-laced clothes of a young woman desperate to keep her head above water and hold her own in her profession. I'm acknowledging unhealthy habits (constantly apologizing for no reason, for example) and decluttering my home of things that don't bring me joy. I'm allowing myself to be more. More of what, I can't yet say. All I know is that in decluttering my home of past selves and my mind of old habits, I create space for this new energy. I set my intention for a healthy way of thinking, being. I manifest positive energy.

How will you spring clean your mind?

Spring Cleaning Your Body

To spring clean your mind, listen to your body. Its aches and pains and the things that make it feel delicious.

I love being up before the sun, enjoying a few stolen hours of exercise, yoga, or mediation before the rest of the world is awake. I like time to see the morning stars before the sun eclipses their sparkle and time to kiss the moon goodnight before she descends into the mesa's embrace. 

Then winter hits. And it kinda hurts to be outside when it is so cold and dark out. And you're super tired because...life happened. We've all been there. In my case, quite recently. Sleeping in becomes routine, healthy habits slip away in favor of extra time hugging that pillow or flopping in front of the TV screen and mindlessly eating. Once you fall into this stasis it can be a habit that is So. Hard. To. Break.

But spring is the perfect time to revive your wellness practice. Clear your fridge and pantry of unhealthy tempting nibbles, reboot your healthy diet, and get back to the yoga mat, exercise regimen--all of it. 

Remind yourself that when your body feels good, so does everything else.

It sounds corny, but when I workout, do yoga and eat right, I'm happier, less stressed, and feel, for lack of a better word, juicy. My energy is clean and abundant, not thin and gray. So I'm starting slowly, getting back on track with simple goals like finding new fun and healthy recipes to cook, and upping my exercise a little each week to get back to my 5-6 days of exercise a week. I'm even working on being more active around the office, reviving my quick walks around the campus and stopping for energy-boosting tea breaks. I also make it a point not to beat up on myself if I slip up here and there (which goes back to letting go of negative self-talk for my mental spring cleaning). Life happens. What matters is that I'm taking care of myself and making progress. All these little baby steps are bringing me back to a feel-good body and a feel good-life.

How will you spring clean your body?

Spring Cleaning Your Soul

Collect, nourish, tend your soul seeds.

This is perhaps the most ephemeral aspect of the mind-body-soul wellness trifecta. After all, how do you explain the utter excitement of knowing you get to spend a quiet weekend at home after a week of intense extroversion?  How do you describe the little thrill you get when you settle in to start a new book or what a sweet soothing balm it is to see a bouquet of daffodils on your nightstand?

Nourishing your soul is as much about a solid wellness routine as it is about consciously removing toxicity from your life, be it in the form of people, old selves, or negative spaces. But once you've made the necessary changes to your lifestyle--welcoming in the abundant and letting go of the stifling--your next task is to discover what it means to greet the day with joy, with fullness in your heart, with the awareness that you are connected to your Eros Energy.

One easy way to do that? Treat simple pleasures as sacred. Seriously. The perfect cup of tea from your favorite mug isn't just an afternoon pick-me-up, it's a healing potion.  The beeswax candles you light at night aren't just a nice touch to the dinner table, but an expression of the luminous softness you hope to bring to the end of the day. So relish these moments, and be willing to discover new pleasures.

One of the things that can be most difficult when we spring clean our soul, is remembering to actively cultivate and seek out things that bring us bliss after we remove the stagnant energies that have built up over time...which brings us back to our soul seeds, those clear intentions for better living that we plant in the hopes of cultivating our private Edens. 

Maybe it's mediation. Maybe it's reading trashy novels. (For me, it's kind of both!) Or taking a long walk in nature. Or making homemade pasta on a Sunday night...or another of simple pleasure you have yet to taste. What matters is that you make a conscious effort to find and nourish what makes you happy. Stay playful and stay curious. You'll be surprised what delightful things come your way and how full your soul feels when you give it time to just be.

What are your sacred simple pleasures?

Happy spring cleaning!

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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!

April in Paris

Somehow the arrival of April always ushers in the delicious promise of new adventures along with the gentle kiss of spring rain and the season's first batch of lettuce.   What can I say?  There's something about the heady perfume of lilac blossoms and longer days that lure me from my home in search of...whatever delights life wants to send my way.  I can never fully explain this feeling, except to say that it is like a cross between spring fever and the giddy carefree youthfulness that makes you rise before the sun, ready to taste the day.  

It also has me dreaming of travel and faraway places, mostly because this is also the time of (the school) year that I am most in need of rest and play time.  This fall I wrote about how every November I feel like becoming more introverted in Comfort Me with Books...and Other Simple Pleasures; I find I still turn to books and other simple pleasure in the spring to revive my soul and get myself adventure-ready.  The only difference?  Fall is for introversion and spring is for...mischief!

Growing up, I always thought of Paris as the place to travel to, mostly because I was reading Henry Miller and Anais Nin, those literary Parisian icons--that is, when I wasn't watching every Audrey Hepburn movie I could get my hands on (many of which happened to take place in or are inspired by this city of lights).  My imagination was further inflamed by reading about French culinary delights in the pages of Gourmet magazine.  Naturally, I developed quite the fantasy world to escape into when I got tired of homework and the little things that begin to wear on a young woman when spring hits and all she wants to do is kick off her shoes and walk barefoot in the grass.  

And when I finally went to Paris two years ago, well, it was lovely.  From kir royales and escargot before dinner, to long strolls along the Seine and full days viewing art, there was much to enjoy in this city.  But (and I almost hesitate to confess this, because Paris is Paris) part of me knew that what made my visit so absolutely beautiful was the years I'd spent daydreaming about this place and imbuing it with my own rose-colored vision.  

...all this by way of saying that spring always makes me feel like that kid again, dreaming of travel and Paris, wanting to be of the world and in the world, as Hepburn's Sabrina would say. So if you, too, are looking to dust off your soul and emerge from hibernation, here's my list of books, movies, and treats to help you feel expansive, delighted, and ready for a trip to Paris--even if it's just from the comfort of your favorite reading nook.

While I haven't read it yet, I can't wait to dive into Laura Florand's Amour et Chocolat Series, starting with The Chocolate Thief.  There's chocolate.  There's Paris.  There's romance...need I say more?  I'm totally loving her La Vie en Roses series, starting with Once Upon a Rose, about perfumers in the Provence.  So while it's not quite Paris, the fields of roses and heady descriptions of the lush French countryside (not to mention rich internal lives of the main characters) make you want to linger within this book.  And wear perfume.  And...visit the French countryside (wink wink).  

If you're looking for something about the history and daily life of Parisians, not to mention a touch of mystery and a dash of romance, look no further than the Paris Key by Juliet Blackwell. She is one of my all-time favorite auto-buy authors and this is the first of many Paris-themed reads from her.  Be warned: you will be prone to sipping wine and taking long walks through your own city while under the influence of this book.

And if words on a page are too much for you at the end of the week (I'm talking to you, essay graders!), then consider watching some of the Audrey Hepburn classics like Funny Face (1957) & Sabrina (1954), both of which are about finding yourself in Paris and bringing that magic home with you.  If you want to go farther afield, Alfred Hitchcock depicts the French Riveria in all its glamor in his thriller To Catch a Thief (1955), starring Cary Grant and Grace Kelly in one of the best cat and mouse games you'll ever see.  Feeling a little extra saucy?  Try Henry & June (1990), a film about Anais Nin and Henry Miller in 1930s Paris...need I say more?  For a more contemporary look at Paris, you might want to try another of my favorite odes to this magical city and the Jazz Age, Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris (2011).  It's about romanticizing history...and learning to find romance in your daily life.  

Whatever you decide to dive into--a movie or a book--feast on this literary journey.  Make yourself a kir royal, put on that Django Reinhardt record, and spend the day cooking beef bourguignon or coq au vin.  Can't quite focus for that long in the kitchen?  Forget the more complicated recipes and whip up a simple aioli to dip garden-fresh crudites or let yourself get swept up in M. F. K. Fisher's culinary recollections of her time in France and make whatever inspires you.

However you choose to spend your proverbial April in Paris, enjoy the ability to travel from the comfort of your own home.   

Audrey Hepburn in  Funny Face , walking along the Seine.  

Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face, walking along the Seine.  

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!

5 Cocktails to Cure Spring Fever

If you're anything like me and my fellow teachers (and our students!), you're feeling a little spring fever creeping into your day to day.  It's so lovely outside--something the tall glittery-green aspen trees outside the floor-to-ceiling windows in one of my classrooms remind me.  Then there is the sunlight, that ephemeral gentle kiss of golden splendor that just begs for you to pause a moment under its touch.  Who needs to grade papers when your garden is calling to you?  (Answer: me, but if I get my papers done soon enough, I can ease the throbbing in my green thumb.)  Can't those lesson plans wait in lieu of frolicking outside?  (Answer: no, class is in twenty minutes.) 

Fortunately, there is an antidote to the spring fever that clouds your brain with carefree longings in the midst of the end-of-semester grind--several in fact.  And yes, they come in the form of cocktails, those perfectly crafted restorative liquors that were once, in truth, used for healing minor ailments from ill-humor to stomach aches.  So why not use them to cure a little spring fever?  These cocktails whipped up in my own kitchen are for anyone who needs a little fun after the work-week, not just teachers. 

The prescription is easy: Take one of the below cocktails and mix with a cloudless evening, great company, and good conversation.  Also pairs well with a well-groomed backyard or garden nook.  Repeat as necessary.  Caution: Extreme relaxation and enjoyment may occur. 

1. 3 Citrus-Ginger Gin Fizz

2. Spritz Cocktail

3. Coconut Water-Kiwi-Lime Cocktail

4. Lavender Gimlet

5. Grape & Lime Gin Tonic

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

Gardening, I Love You

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

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

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

1.  On Grounding and Gardening

2.  On Watching Your Garden Grow

3.  On Tasting the First Tomato from Your Garden

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

On Celebrating Spring

The romantic in you wants to wear flowers in her hair and walk barefoot through the newly greening grass; the lover of fine clothes is eager to don her first flouncy pastel dress of the season, and the earth woman wants nothing more than to plant the seeds heavy in her open hands.

But it's more than that.  You want to celebrate the seeds you've sown in the past year and the ones you hope to plant now.  They are promises, these pods cradled in the palm of your hand, of a prolific year, an abundance of whatever you choose to give to the soil.  You are intoxicated by this delicious itch to create new life, bringing dreams into your waking life. 

Soon you will reap your first crop of radishes--full of earth and pepper--and those little tender lettuce leaves, the product of your love and care.  But what about your other seeds?  The wish floating on the cottony dandelion wisp? Or the fertile black disks of a hollyhock, shameless in their pursuit of life?  What of the hollow bulb empty of everything save for a few fragments of a past life?

You must be careful which seeds you choose to plant for now, under the light of the blood moon or the gaze of the spring sun; whatever you plant will surely take and grow strong in this receptive soil.  The seeds weigh down your palm--the dandelion heaviest of all.  You do not need more ghosts haunting your waking life, no memories of what was walking by your side.  You crumble the all-but-dead bulb, consigning it to the compost where its remnants will feed your garden.  You take that thick hollyhock seed and shove it deep into the earth, knowing it will reach to the sky and bring her sisters with it. 

Lastly, you take that dandelion wisp, full of your own wishing, and cast it into the sky.  Let it find its own resting ground, its own soil to make its home and grow full and strong in its own time.  It will find its way back to you, as all wishes do when you are ready for it.

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

DIY Seed Bombs

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

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

Ingredients:

1 cup red clay

1/2 cup soil

1/4 cup seeds

Approximately 1/4 cup water

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

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

Last Night I Dreamed of Tulips: An Ode to the Spring Equinox

Last night I dreamed of tulips.

There were so many of them--brash pinks and lush purples, tawdry red and demure whites, to say nothing of those playful yellows with orange stripes eager to mirror the sunrise--large ones splayed across my yoga mat and the small ones in the vase on my kitchen table.  But when had I planted all these egg-shaped cups now bursting out of my bookshelves?

I wondered this--when?--as I gazed at the bounty strewn across my bedspread and brimming in buckets on my patio.  For, true to dream logic, I knew I had planted all these blossoms in the same places they now sat.  It must have been in the fall.  That's when most bulbs get planted in gardens or books.

Yes, it was then, when I knew the earth would hold them and nurture them through the inward-turning months when they could gather themselves, absorbed the soil's nutrients, ready to take root in their own time.

And then they did, grounding themselves into the mat, the bookshelves, the kitchen table, these new ways being ready to emerge after a season of gathering.  You did not know it as it was happening; you only saw them reaching for that first sunbeam that kissed the earth on the day that winter no longer was, on the day that promised more light.  They could emerge at no other time, you realize now, except for that perfect alchemical moment when the sun and moon hang equally in the sky and you have forgotten to fret over them.

You remember now, those bulbs so carefully sown all those months ago--they are nothing but paper thin husks surrounding the green shoots and thick stamen-ed ovals bursting with pollen. Once only small intentions, barely whispered hopes, these tulips reach for the sun before you.  All the same, you know one truth that stays with you even as you flirt between dreaming and waking (who's to say which is which?): once a seed, now a blossom.

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 Celebrate the Spring Equinox

Ahhh...spring!  I can feel it in the air.  The days are longer and the trees are in full bloom--pink and white petals raining down upon us with the slightest breeze to scatter across a landscape dotted with daffodils and tulips.  The sun spreads its warm fingers across my back, the promise of barefoot days outdoors.  My mornings begin in birdsong, and I already look forward to shedding my winter coat in favor of the sun on bare skin.  Okay, maybe I'm getting a little carried away here, but seriously: spring is almost here!

Spring is the season of renewal and regeneration.  After long months of hibernating we, like flower bulbs, take all the nutrients we have gathered in our roots and push out towards the light--a new blossom, a new potential waiting just within sunlight's grasp.  Now we can reap the benefits of fall and winter's inward-looking gaze and begin again.  In honor of this forward moving season, I have come up with five ways to celebrate it--try one, try them all, or invent your own.  Whatever you do, take the time to honor the hopes and intentions you have planted in your soil this season.

1. Watch the sunrise.  Seriously!  I know it might feel like a lot to ask for, but there is no better way to welcome spring than to watch the sunrise; after this time of equal night and day, the light hours will lengthen.  Put on some coffee, wrap yourself in a blanket, and enjoy the sun's light washing over you, sweeping away the last of winter.

2. Plant some seeds...and fill your house with flowers while you're at it.  Spring means gardening.  I admit I cheated a little and already planted some radish and lettuce seeds, but that's only because I can't wait to plant some herbs and ready my garden for future produce.  Gardening is good for the soul too; each seed you plant is like planting your intention for a more fulfilling life, conjuring up another way of being.  Don't have a garden or a green thumb?  Buy some flowers.  Big, bold spring flowers--and place them in vases around your house.  There are few things more delightful than waking up to a vase of happy daffodils on your nightstand.

3.  Take a nature walk...even if it is in your own backyard or neighborhood.  Last week I found myself consumed with mid-term paper grading only to come up from it a few days later to realize that the trees in my neighborhood had bloomed.  When did this happen? I asked myself.  Naturally, I then stopped to enjoy this fleeting wonder.  Take time to absorb this transient season!

4.  Put out birdseed.  Thank those finches and doves that making waking in the morning such a pleasure--and encourage them to serenade you anytime by putting out seeds in your bird feeder. 

5.  Spring clean your home.  This may not sound like the most joyous activity, but there is something to the idea of chasing out the dust and heavy thoughts that might have settled over the winter.  So clean your home.  Throw some new sheets on your bed.  Add more fresh flowers to a room.  Purge your home of anything that doesn't bring you joy.  Open windows and let nature in.  After all, spring is about letting go of things that once were and embracing the potential for what might be.

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 Welcoming Spring (Again): Or Saying Goodbye to Winter (For Real...Hopefully)

It snowed yesterday.  In May of all months.

It wasn't a big snow, with fat, blustery flakes and a thick carpet of white velvet on the ground.  It was more of a quick, dirty snow that melted as soon as it hit the ground.  Still, your basil plant was not happy, nor your tomatoes who sat in the corner of your patio shaking in the cold, wishing they could pull their little yellow flowers back in their buds for safe keeping.

Even your halfhearted attempt at going out for your morning walk was quickly squashed by the wind whipping around your home, pushing you back indoors.  What happened to spring?  Where was your gorgeous morning filled with bird song and coffee on your patio?  Where was the sunlight streaming into your apartment in the afternoon, coating everything in a magical honey glaze?

You got a day more at home in winter instead: a dark, hushed morning, followed by an afternoon tucked safely inside your house, feeling more like snuggling on the couch and drinking tea than letting as much of the outdoors in as you could.  Even your plants stayed inside.  You hauled them in one by one, reviving them with the warmth of the house and your tender words until your writing space looked more like an indoor garden than a place for prose (though who is to say which is the plant and which is the story? Both take warmth and time to grow).  You went to bed wondering if your spring would even come back.

The next morning you awoke to the sound of your loud little finches and the sun kissing your cheeks.  Spring was back, the snow was gone.  You could once again enjoy the simple pleasures of the season.  You returned your plants to their proper place on the patio.  You opened the doors to your home to let the light and air in.  You drank coffee on the patio.  Winter was gone.  And all was well.

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 Spring Rain

It only lasted a few minutes--here and gone in a flurry of wind and rain and hail--leaving light and soft earth in its wake.

Even now there is hardly any sign that it has rained at all, save for one or two stray puddles and an extra sweetness in the air.  Still, you know those few minutes calmed the earth and tamed the dusty winds that have rolled through town these past weeks, stirring up trouble and dirt.  The fat plops of moisture fell to the ground, coating the dry earth in a silky blanket, allowing the seeds in your garden to drink deeply and the thick yellow pollen to leave the sky and make its home in the ground. 

This rain, gone too soon, makes you want to run out and play in it; it is rich, violent, bursting with life in a way that compels you to dance in the puddles and twirl in the rain as you once did so long ago.  You want to feel these nourishing drops kiss your face, wet your eyelashes, and dribble down your chin.  You want them to slap your palms and mat your hair with their thickness as you gaze up at the clouds that have rolled over the mountains and covered your city.

This is your desert spring rain, a flashy foreshadowing of the monsoons with their thunder and lighting and lovely, lovely rain that grace your home in the summer, nourishing the earth, cleaning your soul, feeding your heart.

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 Swim of the Season

It is probably still a touch too cold for a proper swim--and windy--yet the sun and bright green of the trees beckon you outside.  You will just go and check the water, just dip your hand in and feel if it is warm enough, you tell yourself, even as you put on your bathing suit and gather a towel.  You've made up your mind without quite knowing when that happened.

Outside you are seduced by the turquoise of the water, reminiscent of one of those tropical beaches you've read about in magazines.  No one is around but you.  You slip off your flip flops and sundress.  You enjoy the sun's caress on your back.  For a brief moment you feel terribly naked, your skin unaccustomed to the elements after a long winter buried under sweaters and scarves and mittens.  It is hypersensitive as if you've peeled back all your layers of skin until you are left with a newer, more tender shell.

Yet the water still calls to you.  Gingerly, you place one foot then another into the water, feeling a thrill run through you.  It laps around your toes, egging you on.  You let your legs dangle over the sides of the pool, enjoying the cool water on your skin, a sharp contrast to the warm sun on your back. 

You've reached the point of no return--there is nothing to do now but slip into the water's embrace.  You go under, letting the cool water embrace you, then break to the surface again.  You gasp and wipe the water from your face, then plunge headlong into a series of breaststrokes, enjoying how this liquid silk flows over and under your body. 

The breeze races across the water, raising goosebumps on your arms. Too soon to take the plunge?  Perhaps, but oh so worth it.

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

On Pulling Out Your Warm Weather Clothes

It is one of those chores that inevitably follows after the days get longer and warmer.  Suddenly, your wool sweaters are too thick, your winter coats too cumbersome to wear.  You find yourself looking for this thin sweater or that breezy tunic--both tucked in storage.

Then the day comes when your closet is a mess of half-open boxes holding summer clothes and almost abandoned winter things hanging limply from your hangers.  It is time--time to say goodbye to the long, dark days of winter and greet the spring that is already at your doorstep.

One by one, your heavy clothes go into your storage, just as each polka-dot dress and floral skirt tumbles out of its box.  You shake them out as if waking them from a long nap, even as you tuck your winter clothes in for their seasonal sleep.  As you pull each item out of its box--a forgotten yellow sundress, bought late in the season, or a favorite pair of ladybug pajama shorts--you marvel at how these clothes are a reflection of you.

Each brightly colored scarf and vivid A-line skirt is a drop of your essence expressed to the world.  You hang these concrete tokens of that ephemeral thing that are you, already looking forward to when you can don these summer feathers and swan into the world full of light and playful bounce.  

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 Love Letter to Spring Break

Dear Spring Break,

I don't normally write these kinds of letters, but something about you makes me want to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and describe, in graphic detail, all the things that make you delectable. 

Let's start with the length you: ten whole days of freedom.  Ten whole nights of staying up late watching old movies.  240 whole consecutive hours in which I don't have to wear real clothes or even shoes for that matter.  14,400 minutes to take long naps and even longer bubble baths.  864,000 seconds to lose track of--afternoons to get lost in pulp novels, mornings to while away over a cup of coffee. 

But that's not all, Spring Break.  I've only just scratched the surface of your deliciousness.  I haven't even gotten to your luxuriousness, like a mink coat or velvet on bare skin.  Every inch of you begs to be saturated in pure, unadulterated enjoyment.  Yes, you say, to drinking wine on the porch!  Yes to locking away your teacher-self, as you do your teacher wardrobe, in your closet--no need to feel so downright responsible all the time.  Yes to indulging in your introversion! Yes to rejecting firm schedules! Yes!  Yes! You are E. M. Forster's Yes to the everlasting Why.

Spring Break, you are the biggest flirt that ever lived, egging me on with your promises of fun, your coy hints at bottomless pleasure.  Spring Break you seduce me with your no-nonsense approach to hedonism--nothing must be done that is not thoroughly, completely enjoyed. 

Life, you tell me, is a celebration.

Sincerely,

Maria

PS I like you.  Do you like me?  Please circle one: Yes    No     Maybe

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!

...& 10 Things I Will *Actually* Accomplish Over Spring Break

....Yes, there is always the lofty plans, as I said in yesterday's blog.  And then the Friday before spring break comes.  You grade your last paper, send off your last email.  Suddenly all the excitement that has been building up inside of you, waiting for this moment of freedom is released, leaving you with nothing more than a gentle tiredness.  So here is my more realistic list of what I will *actually* get done!

1. Sleep in--a lot.  Like a lot. 

2. Read for fun books.  I've got a cozy mystery I need to finish and an epic fantasy novel I want to start. 

3.  Take naps.  Long, deep naps.  The kind where you lose track of time and when you wake up, you don't know what day it is.  Those kinds of naps.

4.  Stay up late watching old movies and favorite TV shows.  Yes, I love stories.  I need them always, in any form.  It also feels kind of exciting to stay up past my bedtime when I don't have to teach.

5.  Drink wine on my patio.   Because watching the birds and enjoying the sight of my healthy herbs plants is wonderful...especially when I don't have a stack of papers to grade.

6.  Take long walks to feel the sun on my skin and hear the birds singing.

7.  Take long bubble baths.  Books and wine welcome. 

8.  Do yoga.  Hot yoga.

9.  Cook--but only easy, simple meals inspired by the season (goodbye plans for ambitious cooking experiments).  Radish-avocado salads, here I come!

10.  Rest and goof around. This is the most important one.

Let's face it, spring break is all about recharging your batteries, literally shaking off the wrinkles and responsibility of your usual routine and losing track of time.  To all my teacher friends out there, I hope your spring break is as full of lollygagging as mine!

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!

10 Things I Say I Will Accomplish Over Spring Break...

It's that time of year again--the time when spring is at your door and almost begs you to make lofty plans to soak up some of the extra energy and lightness you feel.  Spring break is always like a second round of New Year's Resolutions for me; I get inspired by the time change and the birds chirping and want to do spring cleaning and tackle all sorts of long-put-off projects and adventures.  So, here is my granted over-the-top-hopeful list of things I'd like to accomplish over spring break (assuming I don't just sleep my way through it).

1. Spring cleaning!  It's time to dust all those nooks and crannies again--what better time to do it than when I have a whole week off from teaching?

2.  Get caught up on those lesson plans!  Yes, all teachers at one time or another have the faint hope that this will be the break they get completely caught up on all grading, planning, and organizing.

3.  Wash the car.  Seriously, it needs it.

4.  Bake.  Fresh bread, healthy-for-you muffins, delicate tea scones.

5.  Make more body butter. Yes, it always feels great to whip up another batch of my favorite body butter, especially when I can lace it with the smell of spring.  Mmmmm...lavender-lemon body butter....

6.  Organize all those files that sit in my closet, slightly disheveled and feeling more or less abandoned.

7.  Try new recipes--cook up a storm.  Maybe even be wild and attempt some veggie sushi.

8.  Tackle that new crafting project.  Hell, if glitter is involved, what's *not* to enjoy?

9.  Practice my Spanish.  Who knows--it could very well come in handy for travel.

10.  Begin organizing my planter garden.  Pots need to be picked, seeds purchased, soil gathered so that I'm ready to plant when the time is right.

Ambitious?  Heck yes!  But sometimes these wild fantasies of what we hope to get done are half the fun of anticipating a mini-holiday.

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 Daffodils on My Nightstand

They sit, so cheerful, on your nightstand. 

You heard them the other night, when they were still closed buds in your vase, slowly crackling and giggling as they began to poke out their heads from the paper-thin coat that held them in place.  One crackle.  Two.  Then, as if the cautious opening of the flowers was no longer enough, they burst open, all sunshine and brightness, leaving their brown husk behind.

They are the first thing to greet you in the morning--that dose of sunlight before even the sun itself is up.  Big bold petals cradle their loud trumpet shaped center as if it were a fragile porcelain tea up and they, the saucer.  In the center of each flower sits the furry, pollen-coated stamen perfuming your room with the sweet scent of spring.

They chase winter away, promising warmer days and flower-strewn gardens.  Soon, they say, soon.  Soon you will be able to pack up your winter coat and shed your winter layers.  Soon you will be able to walk barefoot on the grass and picnic on fresh radishes and sprouts and berries.  Soon.  But until then, you have me--that bright cluster of flowers on your nightstand.

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!