Enchantment Learning & Living Blog

Welcome to Enchantment Learning & Living, inspirational blog about the simple pleasures, radical self-care, and everyday magic that make life delicious.

5 Ways to Celebrate Imbolc

I love winter. The season creates space for quiet and contemplation. And while many see January and February as the cold season's doldrums after the vibrant festivities of December, I find the calm, clean energy of the first two months of the new year to be refreshing. I liken these months as the moments right before something exciting is about to happen. The pause of your pen before committing words to paper. The intake of breath before a kiss. The soft awareness before drifting off to sleep. That liminal space has always been a fruitful territory for me because it is so full of possibility.

There is no day better suited to this pregnant fluid space than Imbolc. Traditionally, this holiday, celebrated every February 2nd, represents the halfway point between winter and spring. It is meant to celebrate the coming abundance of the new season, often represented by Brigid, goddess of the dawn and fertility. Pausing to acknowledge Imbolc allows you to gather the soul seeds--intentions, hopes, dreams--you hope to plant in the spring and compost things from the previous year that no longer serve you. Below, I've listed five ways to celebrate this dawn-like holiday and honor the power of liminal spaces.

1. Spring clean--inside and out. So I know I write a lot about cleaning the home on the equinoxes and solstices, but you should never underestimate the power of a good scrub-down. It sweeps away stagnant and negative energies that might have built up over the season and allows you to take a good hard look at what you allow into your sanctuary. Lately, I've been getting rid of the clutter in my home and making sure everything I have is used or has a purpose (including enjoyment). If it doesn't, it gets donated. Through this, I've also decluttered my mind, saying goodbye to old, unfruitful conceptions of myself in the same way I got rid of wasteful one-use plastics from my kitchen. Take this time to consider what brings you joy and what doesn't. Then cleanse accordingly.

2. Collect seeds. This could be a literal gathering of daffodil bulbs and hollyhock disks for your garden, along with the harvested seeds of last year's lettuces, radishes, and tomatoes. It could also be your soul seeds. What do you want to manifest? What do you want to make fertile and plant come spring? you'll notice here that I said "collect" and not "plant" them. There is much magic, much medicine in allowing things to incubate before you take action. Imbolc is the embodiment of that pregnant pause before birthing your new dreams. So take a pause. Hold your seeds close. Let them speak to you. They will tell you when they are ready to be planted. 

3. Take a radical self-care day. Okay, so realistically we can't necessarily take off work for Imbolc, but it's a good idea to schedule in some TLC on the 2nd. Just as seed-gathering is important to mark the coming spring, so too is relaxation and hibernation essential to honor the passing winter. Pause. Recharge. Nourish your soul and reconnect to yourself. 

4. Feed your garden. When we think of gardening, we think of planting seeds in the spring, tending it in the summer, and enjoying the fruits of our labor in the fall. It is equally important, however, to tend our garden during its dormant season: cleaning up the debris that settled over it during the winter, pruning and tending the hearty cold weather plants, and turning your compost. Get dirt in your fingernails and dried leaves in your hair. Breath in the scent of rosemary and freshly turned earth. Your garden--and soul--will thank you.

5. Cook a seasonal feast. It would be remiss of me to not to mention feasting for any nature-based celebration. They are all, in one way or another, about honoring the abundance in our lives! For Imbolc, in particular, it's a good idea to make a feast using dark greens and other produce that is in season now. I'm a fan of making dishes that use burdock root or dandelion leaves for their powerful detoxifying properties. This is a season of energetic cleansing, after all.

How do you celebrate Imbolc?

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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!

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!

Reflections on a Snow Day

The universe gives you a snow day.  Although you don't have to teach (it's your work-from-home-day, after all), the thought of classes being canceled gives you permission to throw your carefully scripted plans out the window.  No need to be at a desk today. Your kitchen is calling you.  

You make soup, so much soup and pots of pinto and garbanzo beans until your home smells like comfort and your freezer is stockpiled with spoonfuls of love for those days when you won't have energy to conure it yourself.  You even pickle green beans to the backdrop of Spanish guitar music and once naked tree branches dusted with tiny white pearls outside your window.  It is as if the crystal blanket across the city has given you permission to care for yourself.  

That night, you sleep under the soft kisses of snowflakes and awaken once again to a city cleansed of its busyness by ten inches of snow.  

You venture out into that wilderness armed only with a strong cup of coffee and hiking boots, past iced-over streets and neighbors shoveling their sidewalks in their bathrobes and snowshoes, towards your neighborhood park looking like nothing if not an open prairie.  The scent of winter and cedar burning fireplaces fills the air, as does the stillness interrupted only by the chatter of birds oblivious to the snow piled atop their homes. 

In a few hours, this quiet expanse will be taken up by kids rolling together snowmen and falling back to etch snow angels into the earth.  But for now, it is just you and a lone cross-country skier in this vast morning.

You cannot help yourself: you cut across the safer street paths where your feet can land between car grooves and into the unblemished snowfall of the park, though you know it will take you calf-deep into the snow and your shoes and socks will soak through. No matter. You are on your way to a blazing fire and hearty breakfast with your family--and what is a snow day for if not plunging into nature headlong?

Later, after the snow is nothing more than a memory and puddles under the sun, you still soak up the gift of your snow day as you soak in a bath piled high with bubbles as fluffy as the snow you trekked through this morning.  For a day--two, really--the snow stopped time, allowing you to tune in to what really matters: early morning walks and luxurious family breakfasts, lazy schedule-less days and long naps.

The universe gave you a soul day. 

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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!

Merry Christmas Eve!

Today finds me cooking a traditional New Mexican Christmas Eve dinner of tamales, posole, and biscochitos with my mom, sister, and baby niece while watching old movies--then on to feasting and celebrating with family tonight.  I hope your evening is just as wondrous!

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!

Biscochitos

Christmas in New Mexico is nothing without biscochitos, shortbread-like cookies laced with anise seeds and spices.  I've been making these treats for my family for as long as I can remember; my trusty guide was always a slim bound cookbook called Cocinas de New Mexico, published by our local electrical company (the recipes are written by the employees and the proceeds go to paying the utility bills for struggling families).

Naturally this means I've developed my own spin on this cookie over the years, swapping out the traditional brandy for local Silver Coyote Whiskey (a magical twist discovered when I was making cookies last year and found myself out of brandy but with plenty of my favorite tipple from Santa Fe Spirits--they also have a wickedly good gin). 

I like to use whole wheat flour and quality organic ingredients--they make all the difference for flavor and health--and I mix more anise than the traditional recipe calls for.  But you know me, I'm a spice whore and like it that way, so much so that I put in cinnamon and ginger in my batter--also my own twist. 

Ingredients:

For cookies:

1 cup shortening

3/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons anise seeds

1 egg

1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 & 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup Silver Coyote Whiskey or brandy of your choice

1/4 cup water (if needed)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

For cinnamon-sugar dusting:

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 tablespoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream shortening, sugar, anise, cinnamon, and ginger in mixing bowl.  Add egg until combined.  Mix together remaining dry ingredients in a separate bowl.  Alternate adding dry ingredients and whiskey to your mix until everything is combined.  You might need to add a little water for the dough to complete take shape after that.  If that is the case, add a few tablespoons of water at a time until you get desired consistency, a semi-firm dough that you can easy roll on a floured surface.

On a floured surface, roll out dough to about 1/4-inch thickness.  Using cookie cutters, cut dough into festive shapes and placed on unlined cookie sheet.  Bake in oven for about 10 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned.  While they cook, combine remaining cinnamon and sugar and set aside in a shallow bowl.  Let cool for about two minutes before dipping into cinnamon-sugar mix.  Makes about 2 1/2 dozen.  Keep for up to one week.  Enjoy!

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

On Winter Solstice

It is the darkness that brings light.  Even on the darkest night of the year, the longest, we have the stars to cast their brightness on this earth, reminding us that we cannot fully understand the light without shadows. 

And these shadows, on this day, are not harbingers of gloom but messengers of the underworld, that deep cave where rest and contemplation and dreams call to us.  As we reach into those depths, we cast off the debris of the year and recharge our souls in the spring of imagination and intuition, that private place unique to each individual, forever found among the stars and in the shadows.

And when the dawn breaks the day after solstice, we find ourselves once again turning towards the sun, each day progressively longer, each strand of light reaching us all the way down in the underworld, where we rest and recharge and dream.

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

On An Unexpected Friday Morning at Home

It is not quite the snow day you had hoped for the day before.  Although the trees are still coated in white crystals and there are patches of ice on the grass, most of the snow has melted, leaving behind only bracingly cold air and a pleasurable hush.

Still, it feels as if it is a snow day.  Your meetings have been canceled one by one, toppling like a string of dominoes after the first push.  Afternoon plans have melted with the snow too for one reason or another.  It is as if the world has granted you an honorary snow day: no important things to do or places to rush off to. 

You linger over your morning coffee, aware of the fact that you would be applying your last swipe of mascara and hurriedly stepping into your shoes now if you still had those meetings.  Instead, you putter around the house makeup-less in a cozy cardigan. 

You are hesitant to fill up this time stretched out before you; you want to continue to feel the abundance of this moment as you fill the kettle with hot water for tea and then step out onto your patio to breathe in the winter air. 

There will be plenty of other Fridays to venture from your home and flit from one activity to the next.  But today is not that day.  So instead you linger on your porch to savor this unexpected gift and the sweet slowness of the morning.

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 Almost Snow Days

The night before you had watched the snow pile up outside your window. 

You went to bed thinking perhaps there will be no school tomorrow.  No.  That's not true.  You hoped fervently there wouldn't be.  Not that you don't love your work, but as soon as the snow started falling the playful child in you woke up and began dreaming of making snowmen and drinking hot chocolate and curling up next to a fire after you've exhausted yourself playing out it the snow all day.

Your childish hope was almost answered: a two-hour delay.  You discover this early the next day when your alarm goes off and you roll out of bed, ready to begin your morning rituals of yoga, breakfast, coffee.  Then you remember the snow and rush to your computer to check the news as if it were a gift you couldn't wait to open.  There it is.  A two-hour delay. 

You peak outside to see the snow glowing in the darkness.  You eye the clock.  For a moment, you don't know what to do.  Email your students?  That would be the responsible adult thing to do.  Stay up and go about your routine?  That would be the organized thing to do--think of all the work you could get done at home.  But you leave both ideas behind in favor of the simple joy of crawling back into bed, snuggling under your pile of downy comforters and knitted blankets.

It is, after all, an almost snow day.

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

On the View Outside My Office Today

So it snowed last night in Albuquerque and I woke up to a desert city powdered with snowflakes. Then this glorious winter-scape greeted me when I got to work. Seriously have no words for this kind of beauty, so I will let the picture speak for itself.

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!

Winter Wellness Tea Blend

This is another tea blend I made my family for the holiday.  It's packed with everything your body needs to fight, or ideally prevent, a cold.  During the winter months, I drink this tea several times a week--usually before bed, since it doesn't contain caffeine--to boost my body's immune system.  The tufts of marshmallow root in the blend look like mounds of snow, adding a fun winter touch to the tea and making it a festive gift for those you know who need a little extra winter TLC.

Winter Wellness Tea Blend:

1 cup tulsi (holy basil)

1 cup marshmallow root

1/2 cup ginger

1/4 cup cinnamon

1/2 cup elderberries

1/2 cup calendula

1/2 cup rosehips

1/2 cup rose petals

Blend all ingredients in a bowl and transfer to an airtight container.    Keep away from direct sunlight and heat.  To brew, use a heaping tablespoon per cup of hot water.  Enjoy!

Health benefits of ingredients:

Tulsi: helps body adapt to stress by balancing out cortisol levels, antibacterial, and anti-fungal.

Marshmallow root: anti-inflammatory (especially for throat); contains protein, vitamins A, B1-3, and C, magnesium, potassium, and other vital nutrients.

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

Ginger: soothes stomach pain; anti-inflammatory; aids digestion.

Elderberries: clears respiratory tract, reduces phlegm and congestion; eases throat pain; reduces fever; contains vitamins A and C.

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

Rosehips: anti-aging; contains vitamins A, D, B, C, E, and K, iron, calcium, zinc, and other vital nutrients; promotes healing and boosts energy; antibacterial.

Rose petals: contains vitamins A, B, C, D, and E; mild sedative; anti-inflammatory; antibacterial; cleanses system of toxins. 

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!

Winter Solstice Tea Blend

I developed this blend as a gift for family this holiday (so, naturally, I wasn't able to post it until *after* they got their gifts, lest I spoil the surprise).  This blend is a true tea blend, and not a tisane, or herbal tea, like the previous blends I've posted.  Its base is green jasmine tea.

Typically, when we think of winter, our palates conjure up the rich tastes of the heavy, warming spices like cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg.  But I find there is a crisper, lighter taste to the season too--one of early winter mornings and the sharp scent of citrus.  This tea is meant to taste like that first day of winter: fresh, vibrant, a promise of life underneath the carpet of snow. 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup jasmine green tea

1/2 cup dried raspberry leaves

1/2 cup dried rose petals

1/2 cup dried orange peels

1/2 dried ginger pieces

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and place in an airtight storage container away from light.  A mason jar works well--add a ribbon to it and you've got a lovely gift!

To brew, place a heaping teaspoon in a strainer and let sit in 8 oz. hot water for no more than three minutes (the tea will get bitter if left longer).  If you want a stronger brew, add more tea leaves. 

Health properties of ingredients:

Jasmine green tea: loaded with antioxidants and catechins that protect the body from free radicals and other toxins; lowers blood pressure.

Raspberry leaves: tastes like a lighter, more floral black tea, without the caffeine; contains vitamins A, B, C, and E, not to mention iron, potassium, and calcium, among other vital nutrients; relieves tension and tones pelvic muscles.

Rose petals: contains vitamins A, B, C, D, and E; mild sedative; anti-inflammatory; antibacterial; cleanses system of toxins. 

Orange peel: can lower cholesterol; anti-microbial; anti-inflammatory; anti-fungal; promotes healthy liver function; mood booster.

Ginger: soothes stomach pain; anti-inflammatory; aids digestion.

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

On Winter in NM

 ...because sometimes only pictures can capture the majesty of winter in the land of enchantment...

On Windsor Trail near Santa Fe ski slope. ..

On Windsor Trail near Santa Fe ski slope. ..

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On top of the Sandia Mountains in Albuquerque...

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

On Snowshoeing

There is no sound lovelier than the kiss of snowshoes on fresh snow as you glide through the sun-filled forest, marveling at the delicate tree branches coated in ice crystals.

Each step takes you further and further away from your cares until you are left with nothing but the methodical rhythm of your snowshoes flowing along the path and the sound of winter birds flirting in the trees above.

Snowshoeing is not the frantic, fast-paced drama of downhill skiing, as snowboarders whiz past you on the slopes and a helmet is advisable; nor is the plodding of cross-country skiing, with too-long feet and laborious trekking across an open field. 

It is a moving meditation of heart, breath, feet--each step at once grounding you to the earth and lifting your spirits above the tree line.  For several hours you are only nature's grateful visitor, sun and snow your welcome companions.  You pause to admire the canyon below, feeling the world open up to you.

It is no longer small cubicles and meticulously scheduled days, but an expansive never ending abundance calling to you, beckoning you to remember a fuller, bigger life.

So you turn from the view and continue your journey deeper into nature, grateful for this reminder to always live expansively. 

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 Hibernation

This time of year always brings out my inner bear ready for hibernation.

Although this can be the time of year for bright lights, big parties, and excessive shopping, I find that all the noise makes me pull inward rather than tempting me out of my hobbit hole. 

Instead, I turn to the quiet beauty of an unexpected snow storm that turns the city into a giant snow globe, with fat snowflakes kissing the landscape and reminding its inhabitants that winter is a time for hibernation--quiet reflection, joyous introversion. 

I relish the hush in the streets, the tree branches coated in velvet snow, the sky a crisp, clear turquoise.  I look forward to the pot of rosemary and rose hip tea that I drink as I dress my holiday tree, the sharp scent of pine filling my home and making me long for a day of snowshoeing

Others try to tempt me from my home with office parties or noisy shopping trips to malls, but my inner bear keeps telling me hibernate, hibernate

I fully give into my guilty pleasure of introversion, finally, when I see the temperature won't be above 16 degrees for most of the day and that another snow storm promises to grace the city soon.  It is too cold to go out for cocktails; the streets might be too icy when the sun sets.  I don't need more things, especially not from a mall, just the comforting warmth of fuzzy socks and a mug of tea in hand.

I retreat to my home, my hobbit hole, my bear cave, happily toasty warm under my knitted blanket, enjoying the gentle hush of a winter day spent in cozy contemplation.

In the spring I will awaken from my dream state in search of daffodil bulbs and adventures, but for now, I do what the bear does: I hibernate, I draw inward, I wrap winter around me like a cloak and linger in the natural beauty of this meditative season.

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!