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.

Old School Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

Fall is finally settling over Albuquerque.  It’s still fairly hot during the day—a whopping 80 degrees—but the mornings are chilly and the sun is setting earlier and earlier, ushering in long cozy evenings making stew, taking in nourishing stories by book or TV, and enjoying a fat mug of apple spice tea.  And while it’s still not completely time to pull out those sweater and fuzzy socks, I find myself craving a batch of these hearty pumpkin cookies.  

I have fond memories of making these cookies every fall growing up.  Inevitably when the leaves started turning, we’d come home from school and eagerly pull out the older than sin Libby’s pumpkin cookies recipe.  Yeah, the 80s add it came form was kind of creepy looking, but it made heallthy-ish, delicious cookies!

I find myself going back to this recipe each season as routine—or ritual—that helps me take in the joy of the changing seasons and welcome in fall.  I got to talking to my mom about this as I began my search for that original recipe she shared so long ago. I went down a Pinterest rabbit hole to no avail, but my mom, the original witchy woman role model, found the original Libby’s recipe online.  We were back in business!  

Alas, neither of us eat that much sugar anymore and the original Libby’s recipe calls for A LOT.  So I adapted my recipe from that old school Libby’s recipe, but cut out a lot of the sugar and butter, with the help of this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction (thanks again, mom!).   Like my She Works Hard for the Money Power Muffins or my Energizer Bunny Bars, these cookies are great snacks to hold you over when the day is fuller than usual.  They are also perfectly delicious for a perfectly un-busy day, paired with a good book and a cup of my earthy Autumn Harvest Tea.   Better still, I look forward to sharing this recipe with my little niece and passing on the tradition of making pumpkin cookies every fall.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup pumpkin puree

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1 1/2 cups oats

1/2 cup pepitas

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp powdered ginger

1/4 tsp cardamom

pinch of salt

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven 350.

  2. Mix all wet ingredients until blended.

  3. Add in spices and baking soda, powder, and pinch of salt.

  4. Then add in sugar and, once combined, flour.

  5. From there, add in oats and pepitas. The dough should be thick and a little sticky.

  6. Drop a large spoonful of dough onto an unlined baking sheet and press into circular cookies.

  7. Bake for 12ish minutes.

  8. Enjoy! Makes roughly a dozen cookies. I like to store them in the freezer and pull one out for a quick treat.

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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 for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

Homemade Lip Balm

After all these years—and the countless body butters, scrubs, and makeup items I’ve posted about—I realized I have never once given a recipe for lip balm. Loco! Especially since this is one that I make pretty regularly and one of the first things I learned how to make all those years ago when I was a young girl watching my mom concoct all sorts of cool potions and lotions in our family kitchen.

I love this recipe for so many reasons. It’s inexpensive and easy and keeps your lips kissably soft. I reused my old chapstick tubes or pretty lip balm tins to make them. It’s a great way to avoid mindless consumerism especially if you are participating in Plastic Free July and trying not to buy things with unnecessary packaging. It’s also less expensive to reuse what you have.

And speaking of less expense, instead of paying $1-3 dollars for a small tube of chapstick everyday time I go to the store, I now spend roughly $2 on making over half a dozen lip balms! Plus, I know the ingredients in it and can tailor it to my preferences, which includes plenty of beeswax to seal in moisture.

It takes all of twenty minutes to make—and most of that is spent waiting for the wax and oil to melt and then, once poured into the containers, for them to cool. I make a big batch every few months. My measurements are rough guesstimates. I’ve been making lip balm for so long I’ve gotten pretty good at eyeballing what I need for how many containers. The measurements here will give you a big stash of lip balms to carry around, something I like because I use a lot—and keep some in all the rooms of the house. But you can always cut the recipe in half if you don’t want that much. I add shea butter to my recipe because I find it really helps to soften and hydrate lips. I avoid using essential oils or other scents, because it is on my lips. I also enjoy the soft honey scent it gets from the beeswax.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup shea butter

1/4 cup coconut oil or olive oil

1 tablespoon grated beeswax

Special tools:

saucepan

clean BPA free tin can or other heatproof bowl

cleaned old chapstick tubes or lip balm tins

Directions:

  1. Place the saucepan on low heat and fill halfway with water. Then place the clean tin can in the center of the saucepan. Put the beeswax in the tin can and let melt slowly.

  2. When beeswax is melted, add oil and shea butter. Let sit until combined, about 5-10 minutes.

  3. While oil melts, set up chapstick tubes, making sure that the tube is wound all the way down. If you’re using only tins, make sure they are open.

  4. Remove oil and beeswax mixture from heat and pour into lip balm tubes or tins.

  5. Let tubes or tins sit until the mixture is set, about one hour.

  6. Enjoy! Makes roughly six tubes or tins.

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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!

Strawberry Moon Juice

The strawberry moon is one of my favorite full moons of the year. It is the solstice moon, quite often, and one that asks us to shed our daily toils and enjoy the long, languid days of summer. I’m especially drawn to it during my year of sacred simple pleasures as it reminds me to welcome sweetness into my life.

So how do you go about doing something like that, you might wonder? Simple. Create space for things that make you feel divine and luscious like a strawberry ripening in the morning sun. Trust our instincts and let go of anything that clouds your skyscape. Allow your energy to open up to possibility. Then, like any kitchen witch worth her salt, you manifest it in what you conjure out pantry items chopped, shredded, boiled, or stewed into yumminess. Or in this case, stirred.

Seriously! What we whip up in the kitchen is like an edible spell—even if we aren’t using a recipe or thinking of our well-stocked fridge as a medicinal cabinet and our spice cabinet filled with the powders and potions that stir the magic within us.

I was ruminating on this, and the unintentional energy we conjure in our lives as we choose to hold one thought in our minds over another. What we think, we become as the old saying goes. If that’s the case, I can think of nothing better than thoughts about the warm, lush energy of the Strawberry Moon—except for maybe this drink.

Like all potions, the love and energy you pour into making it is everything. I thought of the tangy surprise of an unexpected adventure as I juiced the lime and a sweet summer romance as I mashed up the berries. Then, as I topped my concoction off with a frothy head of ginger ale, I marinated on the power of spice and heat to liven things up. This is summer in a glass: sweet, spicy, bright, and full or promise.

I personally love Q ginger ale (minimal sugar) or Zevia’s ginger beer mixer (no sugar). I don’t like drinks that are too sweet or ones that give me a sugar rush, so these two options are perfect for a fizzy, spicy drink like my riff on the Moscow Mule. This drink was so good the firs time I made it that it wasn’t until hours later that I realized I forgot to add the vodka! But who needs it when you’re drunk on the heady possibilities of summer? Okay, sometimes I do, and you might want to try this drink both with and without it. Either way, it’s a delicious tribute to the Strawberry Moon and the loving sweetness it brings to summer.

Ingredients:

1 small can ginger ale

1 small lime, juiced

1 medium strawberry, chopped

1 shot vodka (optional)

ice

Muddle strawberries and lime in large glass until fruit is mashed and the liquid is a rosy color. Pour in shot of vodka, if you are wanting a cocktail. Add ice and top with ginger ale. Serves one, so invoke the lusty energy of the strawberry moon and make two. You never know who will arrive on your doorstep. Enjoy!

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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!

Healthy & Happy Face Toner

One of the joys of a year of sacred simple pleasures has been retooling my beauty routine. I got a fancy new hair cut that makes me feel fabulous. I’ve been doing bi-weekly honey facials (homemade of course!). And I’ve been giving myself regular DIY mani-pedis, without the nail polish since I’ve discovered that I don’t like it as much as I think I do. An earth woman like me spends a lot of time getting her hands dirty and walking around barefoot—not great for polished nails! Still, I like the time and energy I’ve been giving to pampering myself.

In what seems like a self-care cliche at this point, I light a candle, turn on an audiobook, and proceed to indulge in some of the more luxurious forms of taking care of myself. I’m no stranger to the harder forms of self-care—eating right, exercising, limiting stress—but I’ve begun to learn that the softer forms are important too.

I get to feel pretty. And, I’ve found, I like to feel pretty! Like reading romance novels, doing these little seemingly vain self-care things makes me feel like I’m more than a to-do list or a job. I get to be a woman with her own desires and hopes and dreams…corny, I know! But it’s nice to feel like I’m taking care of a part of myself that has nothing to do with my day job (much as I love it). It’s my time for me and me alone, with no outcome except that it makes me feel good.

One of my favorite part of this new beauty regimen has been this Healthy & Happy Face Toner that uses Vitamin C to brighten and tighten skin. I started concocting this new toner after reading an article about how important it is for us bronze-skinned women to include Vitamin C in our skin routine as it helps with sunspots and evening skin tone. It also reduces signs of aging and can stimulate collagen production. I wish I could remember where I read this, so I could provide a ink, but, as one of the delights of this new beauty routine includes reading more beauty magazines (the more natural the better!), I can’t recall where or when I got this information. Ops!

Still, since I’ve incorporated Vitamin C into my toner, my skin has been brighter and softer. Once again, I got inspiration from Wellness Mama, but instead of using witch hazel, I opted for apple cider vinegar, since I find using it in its watered down form has always worked well as a gentle face toner. The vinegar helps balance the ph of your skin and is anti-bacterial. Notice I said watered down, however. Both apple cider vinegar and Vitamin C are acids, which means a little goes a long way. You never want to put undiluted forms of these on your skin as it will be WAY too harsh. So be gentle with yourself and use only watered down versions of each.

I learned from Wellness Mama that Vitamin C (see link below for where to get it) degrades over time so small batches and refrigeration tend to be better. I make a bigger batch myself, since I typically share it with the women in my family. I also sometimes add clove oil for it’s anti-bacterial priorities and to soften the smell of the vinegar. That said, the essential oils are entirely optional—just be sure not to use more than 10 drops, because again, they can agitate the face if they are not properly diluted.

The best part about this toner? It takes less than ten active minutes to make!

Ingredients:

1 tsp Vitamin C powder

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

10 drops clove oil (optional)

Heat water in microwave until almost boiling, about two minutes. Stir Vitamin C power into hot water until dissolved. Allow to cool, approximately 20 minutes. Then add the apple cider vinegar and stir. Store in small mason jar or petite spray bottle.

To use, wash face thoroughly then dip (ideally reusable!) cotton swab in liquid or spray toner onto swab into moist but not overly wet. Wipe face with cotton, spending a little extra time on oily or problem spots. Let dry then apply moisturizer of choice.

Makes 3/4 cup. Use within the month or keep in fridge to extend the shelf life. Enjoy!

….just add water!

….just add water!

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!

Beet Carpaccio

I love beets. They are second only to the humble radish, whose peppery bite will always be my first love…in terms of root vegetables, that is. But what the radish has in spring spice, the beet makes up for in earthy, meaty sweetness. And like the radish, the humble beet is best when you don’t do too much to it.

This recipe for beet carpaccio came about because I had purchased the most beautiful beets and meyer lemons from my local store. I swear, the lemons looked so big and juicy I thought they were small oranges! The eye-popping color of both produce items had me thinking of a tasty jewel-toned dish that would work as a Saturday night salad or starter.

…and you all know I’m always working on making my lifestyle more and more green, including in my cooking. Eating little or no meat is one of the best ways to cheaply and effortlessly help the planet. While I’m not a complete vegetarian, dishes like this, a play on the classic beef carpaccio, make me love being a veggie eater.

Meyer lemons are only in season so long, so if you can’t get them, regular lemons will do, as will oranges, if you want to play around with other citruses to get different flavors for your carpaccio. Just make sure you use organic produce (as always), especially because you will be using the zest. Non-organic citrus means you’ll be sprinkling pesticides in your salad as well as zest, yuck! I used pistachios in place of capers found in the traditional carpaccio, both to mimic the color of the brined berries and to add a touch of nuttiness. The homemade salt combo is what really ties the flavors together, however. The mustard, orange, and onion act as a savory sweet balance to the tart citrus.

Did I mention I love the colors of this salad? The dark red of the beets, the pop of green from the pistachios, and the sprinkle of yellow from the lemon zest…it’s a work of edible art, perfect for a fancy Saturday night dinner (in your jammies, natch).

Ingredients:

For salt:

1 tablespoon himalayan rock salt

1 tablespoon mustard seeds

1 tablespoon dried onion

1 tablespoon dried orange peel

For Salad:

1 medium beet

1/4 cup chopped pistachios

1 tablespoon lemon zest

Juice of 1 lemon

olive oil

1. Heat water in two quart sauce pan until boiling.

2. While water boils, wash and peel beet. Place in hot water and boil until soft, about 20 minutes. Remove from water and let cool, at least an hour. Then place beet in the fridge and let chill for a few hours. I like to cook my beet in the morning and then pop it in the fridge until dinnertime.

3. While you let the beet chill, combine ingredients for salt and place in salt mill or use a mortar and pestle to grind. Note: You will have more of this salt than is necessary for the recipe. Trust me, this is a good thing. It stores indefinitely and is great on all sorts of dishes, from a tangy citrus chicken to summery roasted veggies.

4. When beet is fully chilled, use a mandoline or sharp knife to cut paper thin slices of the beets. The mandoline is a little easier for this. If yo use the knife, the slices won’t be uniform (unless, of course, your knife skills are better than my so-so ones!).

5. Arrange slices in circle formation on two plates and drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice.

6. Then sprinkle a smattering of your fancy salt, to taste (I like it easy on the salt, myself).

7. Finally, add the lemon zest and pistachio pieces to each plate.

Eat immediately. Serves two. Enjoy!

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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!

Butternut Squash Steaks

I don’t know what it is about January and February, but I always find myself tinkering more in the kitchen this time of year, trying new healthy recipes.  Maybe it’s the cold winter nights, maybe it’s the promise of spring and new things on the horizon, or maybe it’s just because I love the idea of trying something that shakes up my routine.  In any case, I find that there’s nothing better come Saturday night than an old jazz record, a beautiful cocktail, and a crisp apron as I go about trying something new.  

One such evening produced this lovely recipe for butternut squash steaks.  Like my cabbage steaks, this dish is warm, hearty, and healthy—for you and the planet (one of the easiest ways to be eco-friendly is to eat less meat).  It’s also incredibly versatile and relatively low-maintenance, once you get past the peeling and slicing part. For this recipe, I went old school and seasoned it with garlic and rosemary, but I have plans to try other more adventurous combos, like tarragon and shallots. 

You will mostly be using the longer top part of the squash for this to get the “steaks,” but I recommend dicing up the remainder of the veggie and cooking them for a future quick lunch with tossed with lettuce and garbanzo beans or boiling to use as a puree for soup.  You can do a quick roast of the seeds in a frying pan—no cleaning needed, just let the pulpy matter get nice and crispy.  Yum!  Go ahead and toss the remaining scraps in your compost—your worms will thank you and so will your garden.  I’m all about reducing kitchen waste!

This squash is great on its own on a bed of lettuce (pictured here) or paired with a more elaborate meal for date night, with a side of green beans and mashed potatoes if you want to mimic the full steak dinner.  

Ingredients:

1 medium butternut squash, washed

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped

salt to taste

olive oil

  1. To prepare, cut off the top and bottom parts of the squash, no more than a quarter of an inch.  Using a vegetable peeler, peel off the hard outer skin.   Then cut bottom rounded part off and set aside (see above for ways to use those remaining pieces).

  2. Lay butternut squash on its side and carefully slice it into 1/3 to 1/2 in slices, depending on how thick you want your steaks to be. 

  3. Rub steaks in olive oil, garlic, rosemary, and salt tot taste and let sit for twenty minutes.

  4. While steaks marinate, heat olive oil in saucepan on medium.

  5. Place 2-3 steaks in sauce pan (the number depends on how big your squash and pan are).  Let cook on one side for 5-7 minutes, until browned and softened.  Flip steaks and do the same for the second side.  Repeat until all steaks are cooked.  

  6. Serve on a bed of lettuce and drizzle with olive oil.  Makes 4-6, depending on how thick your steaks are.  Enjoy!

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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!

Homemade Doggie Treats

When I say I like to make gifts for everyone in my family, I mean everyone, including the pups. (Okay, okay, lest that last statement sound too Martha Stewart-y, I should say that I’ve got a small family and we’re all pretty chill about the gift thing—but it’s still fun to treat them to some creature comforts!). I’m auntie to several cute doggies and friends with many a lovely dog owner and I love to spoil our four-legged friends with some easy and healthy treats this time of year. Bonus: making my own treats means not purchasing things with wasteful packaging, yay!

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I modeled my recipe from one by Bitz & Giggles because I loved how adaptable versatile it was (also easy, because…you know me). The pumpkin puree can easily be swapped out for apple sauce, as my experiments have proved, and I’ve incorporated many a batch of apple-studded and chia-seed smattered oatmeal that I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish into these treats. I’ve even added yogurt in a pinch. I omitted the nutmeg and cinnamon, because, as their recipe states, those spices can be harmful to dogs in large amounts, so I didn’t want to mess with it. I also added a mix of white and wheat flour—enough to soak up the extra moisture from the cook oatmeal I mixed in.

You are not required to buy a doggie bone cookie cutter to make them. I did just because I think it’s cute and because I once tried to use festive holiday cookie cutters…but everyone kept mistake the doggie teats for human cookies. Ooops! You can slice the dough into squares if you want or use less human-being-y cookie cutters (or just be prepared for people to gobble a few of these healthy treats too).

You'll notice my recipe is a little iffy on the ingredients because I’m all for using what you have on hand. I make a bigger batch so I have plenty to give out, but you could always cut it in half. See what I mean about versatile? I would still cook them for a solid 40 minutes so they harden like a traditional doggie biscuit. I only did 30 minutes for the first round and they came out cookie-soft. Play with it and see what works best for you. All in all, these are fun to make and share with you furry friends. Plus it is super easy to whip up before the holiday celebrations and pop into the freezer for later gift-giving.

Ingredients:

1 cup canned pumpkin (or apple sauce)

1 cup water (or yogurt)

1/4 cup olive oil or coconut oil

1 cup oatmeal

4 cups white or wheat flour

Preheat oven 375. Pour wet ingredients in bowl and stir until combined. Then slowly add flour and oats until dough forms. If you’re trying to use up already cooked oatmeal like I did, then just mix it in with the wet ingredients, and add the flour after. Roll out to 1/4 inch thickness on floured surface and use your cookie cutter or knife to create shapes. Place on baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes. Serves an entire pack of wolves. Enjoy!

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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!

The Occult Detective...with a Cocktail Recipe!

Each November, I love to write about stories that inspire, nourish, and delight.  I think this is the perfect month for setting aside more time for reading.  Autumn is well under way.  The days are colder and shorter.  The sanctuary of our homes calls to us as we settle into this contemplative month.  We are drawn to quieter past times that give us space to reflect and heal.

Over the years, I’ve written about the important comfort good stories and other simple pleasures can offer us and the power various genres have to impart wisdom.  This year, I’m waxing poetic about the Occult Detective…with a cocktail recipe thrown in, because I’m a big ol’ nerd like that.  

Introducing the Occult Detective 

So what are occult detectives?  They are usually rough and tumble characters dealing with the darker side of life.  Ghost hunters, if you will.  Vampire slayers.  Paranormal investigators.  Monster fighters.  And those drawn to the arcane knowledge of the occult and mystical. 

This archetype is found in everything from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all other monster of the week TV shows, to urban fantasy like the Dresden Files and the Bone Street Rumba series.  But what most people don’t know (unless you are a diehard occult detective fan like me!) is that this genre has a long history dating back to the Victorian Era. The 19th century saw not only the birth of the detective genre, but also the fad of Spiritualism.  Popular culture at the time was obsessed with understanding, studying, and experiencing the otherworldly via séances, spirit photography, and extensive research into the occult…much like we are today.

The Age of Spiritualism brought us the likes of Thomas Carnaki, inventor of the electric pentacle; Flaxman Low, a self-proclaimed supernatural detective; and, Diana Marburg, a palmist who solves murders.  Then there’s Dr. John Silence, the first Victorian occult detective I ever read about, who will always have a place in my heart for introducing me to the genre.  He has a mysterious past, training in the occult, and cool animal helpers like his cat Smoke and his dog Flame. 

At their best, these stories explored our relationship to the otherworldly and our curiosity about things outside ourselves.  They show how we grapple with the mysterious, unseen forces in this world (and beyond!), the things that often reach out in touch us in our life but that we can’t always explain away or even logically process…at their worst, we get ugly things like sexism, xenophobia, and racism.  The supernatural becomes a catch-all terms for anything that isn’t white, hetero, middle-class, or male, and thus, to be feared.  Yikes!  

A Genre of Transformation

My favorite part about this genre is that is has transformed over the centuries from a genre of xenophobia to one of hope and empowering explorations of otherness. Women, people of color, LGTBQ+ communities, people with disabilities, and, yes, supernatural beings are front and center in contemporary additions to the genre.  We’ve got Maggie Hoaskie, a Navajo monster hunter in Trail of Lighting; Tony Foster, a gay wizard in Smoke and Mirrors; Kate Daniels, a magical mercenary and woman of color in a post-apocalyptic world; the canonical bi-sexual John Constantine; and many stories out of Occult Detective Quarterly that aims to make the genre more inclusive by representing both diverse characters and authors….just to name a few.  And that’s barely scratched the surface.  I mean, I haven’t even gotten into TV shows yet (I’m talking to you, Sleepy Hollow, Wynona Erp, Supernatural, Lucifer and. So. Many. Others).

Perhaps what I love most about this genre is that it’s all about how magic is a hard, gritty thing.  In one way or another, these stories are about what it takes to be true to yourself in a worlds that doesn’t like marginalized bodies, otherness, and those living on the social periphery.  Better still, these stories teach us that living within liminal spaces—not just a human but a werewolf (Kitty Norville), not just a woman but a witch (Persephone Alcmedi), or a half-dead resurrected inbetweener (Carlos Delacruz)—is empowering, transformational even.  This liminal space we occupy is the crack where the light seeps in.

In the end, this genre, and the occult detective archetype, doesn’t just grapple with the paranormal, but perhaps the even more inscrutable concept of what it means to be human…even when you’re a ghost, werewolf, or technically undead. 

The Recipe

All which means that this genre deserves a drink and so do you!  I thought about pairing various stories with treats and drinks, but really, there are so many manifestations of this archetype, from cozy mysteries like the Juliet Blackwell’s Witchcraft series to dark horror like Mike Carey’s Felix Castor books.  I even thought of making a cocktail called the Hellblazer…before I realized that would just be a bottle of Jack and a pack of cigarettes. 

So I came up with a cocktail that captured the spirit (pun intended) of the genre instead. This is a riff on the Manhattan, using Amaro liquor instead of vermouth.  Amor is an intensely herbaceous, bitter Italian liquor, there perfect nod to hellfire and brimstone, two things any occult detective worth their salt should know how to handle.  Then add a dash of burnt orange bitters for a touch of the ghostly (though regular orange bitters would do just a well), and another dash of cinnamon bitters as the sin that warms your bones and promises a slew of bad—but delicious—decisions.  Bourbon holds it all together, balancing the punch of Amaro and bitters with the fullness of vanilla and earth—the underlying hope and hard-earned sweetness inherent in the genre.

This drink is perfect after a hard day of proverbial monster hunting or an even longer night of literal vampire slaying. 

Ingredients:

.5 oz Amaro liquor 

2 oz bourbon

2 dashes burnt orange bitters

2 dashes cinnamon bitters

ice

Mix ingredients in a shaker and shake for one minute.  Pour into a martini glass.  Garnish with a cinnamon stick, orange peel slice, .and the ashes of the demons you’ve slayed—cinnamon stick and orange peel slice optional.  Pair with a dark and stormy night and any of the occult detective stories mentioned here or pictured below.  Serves one.  Enjoy!

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Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational collection of musings touching on life’s simple pleasures, everyday fantasy, and absolutely delectable recipes that will guarantee to stir the kitchen witch in you.  If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is the everyday, subscribe here.

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Witch's Brew Cocktail

It’s been awhile since I’ve concocted a cocktail recipe, and even longer since I’ve come up with one for Halloween.  I love a good cocktail because they’ve always struck me as one of the most basic kind of potions.  Think about it: a good cocktail can give us liquid courage, exorcise a hard work week, or even act as a temporary love spell.  And as will all potions and spells, the medicine is in the dosage.  Too much and it’s poison, too little and you’re Friday night is perhaps a little less adventurous (wink wink).  

It bears repeating that I like to avoid syrupy or excessively sugary ingredients and stick to clean tastes modeled after the classics when it comes to cocktail making.  I do this because most novelty cocktail—a la Halloween drinks—are sugar bombs.  Not my idea of a good time or a tasty drink. Although I call these Halloween-inspired concoctions, I have been known to drink the throughout the year, especially the green fairy, a tasty absinthe-kissed cocktail perfect for ending the workweek and stirring up some writing inspiration for the weekend.

Lately, come Saturday night, I’ve been experimenting with this new drink: Witch’s Brew.  It was inspired by my garden and all the herbs I cultivate there: rosemary, lavender, sage…all delicious, all medicinal, all typically associated with healers and witches because of their various magical and healing properties. I started wondering how I could fold those flavors into a tasty magical brew.

I used gin as the base because of herbaciousness and went for a bold choice of mixer: chartreuse.  It’s what gives this drink the verdant green color we typically associate with potions.  It’s also an ancient healing tincture made from over 130 herbs. It tastes fresh, like mint and fennel, with the other herbs as a strong supporting cast.  Yum! I paired this refreshing taste with lime because I love a good gimlet and its variants.

The real kicker to this is what I do with the gin. I infuse it with green apples—who doesn’t think of witches without thinking of forbidden fruit?—along with rosemary and a few juniper berries to make the herbaciousness of the gin really pop. Also because I love rosemary, the natural protector of the herb world. Juniper berries are also fast becoming a kitchen witch staple in my home. Did you know juniper both protects good energy and repels the negative? If that’s not magical, I don’t know what is! Add a dash of bay leaf bitters, for the leaf’s powers of divination.

As with all spells (and drinks), feel free to play with the recipe. Chartreuse might be a bit pricy for some (though a little goes a long way so it will last a while!), try swapping it would with rosemary or ginger simple syrup or apple schnapps (or both!)—it will change the flavor, but will no doubt be equally festive, if with more sugar. The infused gin makes about two-cups of yum—plenty to experiment with or to whip up a magical batch of this brew.

All good spells require a little time, a little love, and quality ingredients. While this cocktail is a touch more labor intensive than my others in that you first need a week to infuse the gin, it’s worth it. Plus, while you wait, you can prepare the right kind of energy you want to infuse into this brew. Do you need a little more magic in your life? A little more mischief? A dash of hope or a heading dose of healing? Whatever you need, let it brew until you’re ready to infuse it into a batch of this tasty elixir.

Ingredients:

For infused gin:

2 cups gin

1 Granny smith apple

2-4 juniper berries (depending on how strong you want the juniper flavor to be)

1 large spring of rosemary

For cocktail:

2 oz apple and herb infused gin

2 dashes bay leaf bitters

.75 oz chartrues

.5 to .75 oz freshly squeezed lime juice (depending on how dart you like it)

In infuse gin, slice green apple and place in clean mason jar. Squeeze juniper berries so they crack a little—this will help the alcohol absorb their flavor more—and place in jar. Pour gin over ingredients and let sit for a week, shaking when you remember to. A day or two before you want to enjoy your cocktail, throw in a sprig of rosemary that has been slightly bruised, again, to help the alcohol better absorb its flavor. I wait a little on the rosemary because the fresh stuff takes less time to be extracted in alcohol and letting it sit too long in the gin muddies the flavor. To use, pour gin through strainer into clean mason jar.

For cocktail, mix gin, chartreuse, lime juice and dash of bitters in a shaker. Add ice and shake until container is frosty. Serves one—so double or triple the batch and invite your coven over. Pair with a chilly autumn night, a full moon, and a handful of spells. Cauldron optional.

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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!

Homemade Mineral Foundation

I don’t wear a lot of makeup and lately, I’ve been going more and more natural.  When I do wear makeup, I want it to be as organic as possible.  The only issue with that, of course, is that organic makeup can be super expensive and still full of yucky ingredients. It’s better than the drug-store makeup but when I learned that many brands sneak in various preservatives and no-no additives to products that are supposed to be cleaner than your average makeup. 

That got me thinking: why am a paying a small fortune for “organic” makeup if it isn’t as pure as I thought?  I’ve also become more aware of the waste involved in buying tiny one-ounce products and then having to throw away the used compact or jar once I’ve used up the foundation.  I am trying to buy, use, and waste less this year, after all.  

Sure, I could go makeup free, but sometimes I need a little coverage.  It’s akin to putting on armor for a workday or adding a touch of glamour when I want to go out and feel pretty.  Then it hit me: I’ve gone full-on hippy homemaker in the past and made my own mascara and bronzer, so why not make my own foundation?  It would be cheaper, less wasteful, and I would always be sure I got the right tint.

Let me tell you right now that this journey has been a process.  I started with recipes I found online that said you could make your own foundation using only arrowroot powder and kitchen spices.  Sold!  How much more natural could a woman get?  Alas, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.  I tried various recipes, various amounts of cinnamon, nutmeg and arrowroot powder, and it still always came out looking like I had dusted spices on my face.  At least I smelled like freshly baked goods!

That’s when I turned to mineral makeup.  Technically, you can’t call anything like minerals that are pulled from the earth organic, because we can’t control the elements. It’s kind of like the same way you can’t call fish organic, only line-caught, because, as they swim around in the ocean, they can come into contact with all sorts of matter.  Still, it’s as natural as you can get—like the bronzer I made. 

Some people worry about using titanium dioxide in this mix, but I figure if it’s in the store-bought mineral products I buy and wear, I should be fine.  It’s the unpronounceable things on the list of ingredients that worry me. From what I found on my research, the only danger in titanium dioxide is in using the nanoparticles version where the particles are so small you can absorb more than is good for you, similar to how you should always use non-nano zinc oxide for your homemade sunscreen.  

Okay, enough of the technical talk!  Let’s get to the recipe.  I love it!  It took me all of ten minutes to make and looks and feels wonderful.  There’s an initial investment in buying bulk supplies (I spent roughly $60 on ingredients).  But once you have them, you’ll never have to get more for a VERY long time (and FYI, the ingredients never go bad).  I adapted my recipe from Natural Organic Products & Recipes and The Humble Homemaker.

I cut my portions in half because I like working in small batches until I know how something will work out.  Even with my half-batch, I used a few dollars worth of the ingredients and ended up with several ounces of makeup—at least ten times the amount of the small jars and compacts that you shell out $25-$40 for.  What?!  I know.  Totally worth the investment.  At this rate, my half batch will cover me for a few years and then I have plenty of raw ingredients for when I need more.  Dare I say that my $60 investment will last a lifetime?  Maybe not that long, but it sure beats shelling out half that every six months for an ounce of makeup in a container I ultimately have to throw away.  

The last thing I’ll say about this is that, of course, not all skin tones are the same.  My recipe is for olive skin tones, but this fabulous website has the list of ingredients and measurements you’ll need for other skin tones.  Play with it to see what works for you.  I ended up leaving out the clay in their instructions as well as a few other ingredients from The Humble Homemaker because they didn’t feel necessary to me.  Do make sure to purchase a coffee grinder that you use ONLY for makeup and similar DIY products and be careful not to breathe in the ingredients while you mix them (I like to tie a damp cloth around my nose and mouth to be safe).  

Ingredients:

5 tsp titanium dioxide

1/2 tbsp serecite mica

2 tsp zinc oxide

1/2 tsp magnesium stearate

3/4 tsp brown iron oxide

1/8 tsp deep red oxide

5 tsp yellow iron oxide

Mix ingredients in bowl reserved only for makeup and similar DIY projects.  Stir until combined.  Then, in small batches, blend in coffee grinder (again, making sure that this is one you use only for these types of projects).  As you finish each batch, pour into reusable container like a mason jar.  Shake jar to combine each batch you’ve run through the coffee grinder.  Store in a cool, dry place. 

To use, place a small amount in an old cosmetic container and, using your blusher, dust your face with desired amount.  If you don’t have a small container that you can reuse, simply keep in the foundation in the larger jar and be sure to shake the blusher before applying to remove any excess powder.  

Note: If foundation looks too dark, add more titanium dioxide in small amounts.  

Makes roughly 8 oz

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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!

Homemade Shampoo & Facial Cleanser

It’s official, I’ve gone off the hippy-DIY deep-end.  Actually, it happened a long time ago when I started making my own shampoo and facial cleanser!   I know, every time you think I couldn’t possibly be any more tree-huggery, I confess that I’ve been doing something like making my own shower products for years.

I started for a multitude of reasons, the biggest being that I have thick crazy hair that doesn’t respond well to most conventional shampoo products and sensitive skin that gets easily irritated with the various chemicals used in most facial cleansers and soaps.  Even when the organic specialty products promised extra-hydration for dry locks or gentle formulas for sensitive skin, none of it worked.  I ended up spending a small fortune on organic products that did nothing for me but give me brittle hair and dry skin.

I’ve learned over the years that simpler truly is better.  Tired of expensive, useless products, I finally tried this very simple recipe from who knows where (it’s been long enough that I can’t actually remember how I got started on this, probably from a magazine or book):  Diluted castile soap with your choice of essential oils. 

What?! That’s it? Yup.

I tried it over five years ago and have never gone back.  Gone are the pile of shampoo bottles and jars of face soaps clogging my shower caddie and putting a dent in my wallet.  Instead, I have two repurposed honey-bear bottles—the large one for shampoo and the smaller for my facial cleanser. 

Since I’ve switched to using castile soap as the foundation for both my shampoo and face soap, my skin is happier and my hair more hydrated.  The trick is to make sure that you are, in fact, properly diluting castile soap.  One of the things that can make Dr. Bronner’s soap seem expensive is that it is highly concentrated, which means it should never be used without diluting it.  Once you do that, you understand that while it can seem pricey, a little goes a very long way! 

Another perk to this recipe is that is reduced the amount of packaging you buy then throw out—so say goodbye to the wasteful packaging of all those shampoo bottles!  Repurposing old bottles and purchasing castile soap in bulk from your local co-op, using your own container to fill up, lets you go that extra mile in waste reduction.  When all is said and done, you end up spending mere pennies on shampoo and face wash.  

The only real difference between the shampoo and face wash is the amount of essential oils you put in.  Because the skin on your face can be very sensitive, only use 5-10 drops in your mixture.  That’s enough to get the healing benefits of the oils without an irritation.  For your shampoo, you can use more.  When in doubt, use less essential oils than you think you need.  Like the soap, a little essential oil goes a long way!

Last but not least, I have a few optional ingredients you can throw in for an added boost of nourshiment and cleansing, but they aren't necessary.  Experiment and see what works for you.  That's half the fun of DIY-ing your beauty routine, after all! 

Basic Ingredients:

Castile soap

Water

Optional Ingredients: 

Essential oils of choice

Honey

Activated Charcoal (for facial cleanser only)

Olive Oil (for shampoo only)

For Shampoo: 

Combine 1/4 cup castile soap with 1 cup water.  Add 15-20 drops essential oil of choice.  I like to use rosemary because it makes your hair shinier, peppermint, or cinnamon to boost growth (it also smells really nice!).  If that said, if you have sensitivities to scents, you can always omit the oils.

Other things you can add to your shampoo are honey (approximately 1/4 cup) or olive oil (1/4 cup) to hydrate your locks and help them retain moisture.  (If your hair is very dry, consider using my Goddess Hair Mask once a week.)

Combine ingredients in your repurposed container and shake until combined.  To use, pour desired amount on wet hair, lather, rinse, and repeat.

Makes approximately 1-1 1/2 cups.

For Facial Cleanser:

Combine 1/4 castile soap with 1 cup water.  Add 5-10 drops essential oil of choice.  I love clove oil because it is anti-bacterial.  You can add a teaspoon of honey to lock in moisture and provide additional anti-bacterial help.  Or you can mix in a teaspoon of activated charcoal to clean pores and purify skin. 

Combine ingredients in your repurposed container and shake until combined.  To use, pour a dime sized amount into your hand and gently massage into wet face.  Rinse.  

Makes approximately 1 cup.

Enjoy!

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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!

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!

Cabbage Steaks Recipe

One of the ways we can reduce our carbon footprint is to simply eat less meat (and when we do eat it, to make sure it is grassfed, organic, and local). I don’t eat a whole lot of meat to begin with which means I’m always on the lookout for a delicious veggie-based meal, especially when it comes to dinner.  So when I came across this recipe for cabbage steaks, I was excited to try them. Now, it should come as no surprise that grilling cabbage will not make it taste like steak. That said, I love this dish. It’s earthy, tasty, and super healthy for you and the planet. 

I tweaked the original recipes to include a splash of red chile to the mustard sauce and swapped the rosemary for tarragon to the marinade. You can make this either by roasting whole slices of cabbage or sear them individually in a hot pan. I like to pare these steaks with cannelloni beans or a simple salad. The recipe is easy enough to make and tasty enough to feel like a decadent dinner. Yum!

Ingredients:

For steaks:

whole red cabbage

olive oil 

1 tbs fresh tarragon, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

salt to taste

For sauce:

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tsp red chile powder

1 tsp pepper

2 tbs mustard

1 small shallot, minced

salt to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut cabbage into one-inch thick slices. You can cut the tip of the stem off, but do not completely core it or the steak will be unable hold together. Lay cabbage steaks flat on an oven pan, making sure to rub top side with olive oil, tarragon, garlic, and salt, then flip over and do the same to the second side. Place pan in oven and roast for twenty minutes. Alternatively, slice desired amount of cabbage, rub in olive oil, tarragon, and garlic, then let sit for 15 minutes. Heat frying pan medium hot. Add oil and cabbage steak slice. Let sear for 2 minutes, flip, and sear another two minutes. 

For the sauce, let minced shallots marinate in vinegar for 15 minutes in jar, then add all other ingredients and shake. Serve steaks immediately, with a simple salad or a side of cannelloni beans sauteed in ghee and garnished with shredded kale, or (pictured here) with some parmesan-crusted snowpeas.

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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!

Mushroom Pate Recipe

I’m a sucker for a good appetizer. Come Saturday, all I want is a beautiful cocktail and a luxurious nibble for happy hour. What can I say, it makes me feel fancy!

One of my favorite go-to recipes, especially in the winter, is this mushroom pate. It’s rich, decadent and…healthy. Real talk: sometimes this *is* my dinner come Saturday night. Paired with some delicately bitter endive and a few slices of crostini, it’s a light meal that still makes you feel ritzy, even if you are eating this dish in your jammies (winky face). 

I especially love this pate because it is so versatile. To make it vegan, omit the milk. The dairy makes it taste a little creamier, but the dish is equally delicious without it. You can also swap out the milk for a tablespoon of goat cheese or even nutritional yeast. See what I mean? Versatile! Likewise, you can use any kind of mushrooms, from simple button or crimini to more exotic portobello, oyster, or chanterelle mushrooms. The type of mushrooms you choose of course affects the flavor. I’ve made this dish with all mushroom types and found them all just plain tasty.

Another perk of this recipe is that you can make as much or as little as you want. Below, I’ve given you the measurements for about one pound of mushrooms, but you can make more or less, depending on your needs.

Ingredients:

1 lb mushrooms, diced 

2 tbs fresh sage, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp pepper

1 tsp milk or cream (optional)

salt, to taste

olive oil

Heat oil on medium. Add garlic and sage, then cook on low for a minute or so. Add more oil and diced mushrooms, turning heat up to medium-low. Let mushroom sit, only turning every few minutes, for 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat. Let cool.

Once mushrooms have cooled, place them in blender and mix them together until mixture resembles a thick paste, but still has bits of bigger mushroom pieces in it. To make this a more authentic pate, you can chill it for an hour and then serve. It is, however, equally delicious warm. Plate with crostini, radicchio, endive, or other crudite. Top with chives or more sage. Serves 4.

Enjoy!

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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!

Goddess Hair Mask

I have wild hair.  Like seriously wild, unruly hair that doesn't know what to do with itself.  But I kinda like it that way.  But what I don't like is frizz.  Or brittle, chalky strands.  Alas, these conditions are all too easy to have when your hair is as thick as mine.

I've tried everything under the sun--from regular drug store products to fancy organic stuff--to hydrate my locks and make them silky.  Nothing has worked...until I learned how to make my own concoctions like my hydrating hair mask that uses honey to moisturize my luscious locks. 

In the past year, I've taken this original mask up a notch by including apple cider vinegar and coconut oil.  The results?  Goddess Hair.  Seriously.  During my year of radical Self-Care, I've recommitted to using this hair mask weekly because, after all, feeling lovely and like you're caring for your person in even the smallest ways is an integral part of wellness.  My hair is silky and wavy whenever I use this mask, the right kind of wild and loose.  Gone are the brittle strands and the puffy frizz ball that tries to pass as my regular mane.    

The honey helps your hair retain moisture while the coconut oil rehydrates it.  The apple cider vinegar does double duty cleansing your hair of buildup and balancing its pH.  I use equal parts of each ingredient, but you will want to play with the right ratio for you.  For instance, you might need way less coconut oil than I do if your hair isn't as prone to dryness.  I also like to add in various essential oils like rosemary or lavender to boost shine and nix any potential vinegary smell.  Quantity matters too--sometimes I use closer to 1/4 cup for each ingredient rather than 1/8 cup.  And of course, all ingredients are organic.  

Use it once a week, and I can guarantee you'll get Goddess Hair. Because who doesn't want to feel like a glamorous earth mama (or fella)?

Ingredients:

1/8 cup organic honey

1/8 cup melted coconut oil

1/8 cup apple cider vinegar  

20 drops essential oils of choice

Melt coconut oil and combine with room temperature vinegar and honey in a squirt bottle.  Add essential oils if desired.  Shake vigorously until combined.  To use, wet hair and then, using the bottle, squirt mixture until hair.  Massage it into scalp and comb into strands.  Put hair up in a bun and let sit for 20 minutes (now is a good time to give your body a good scrub down, indulge in a bubble bath, or read a book).  When done, rinse hair thoroughly and then shampoo as you normally would.  Do not use conditioner.  Let hair dry.  Use once a week for best results.  

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 Bronzer

Over the years, I've gotten into making my own makeup (that's when you know you've gone full-on eco-conscious blogging hippy BTW).  The more I learned about the junk that goes into cosmetics--even the supposedly organic kind--the more I've tried to figure out ways to make my own for better quality control.  I started with my Thank Goodness It Ain't Maybelline Mascara and it's clear off-shoot that's ideal for hot summer days.  They made me a DIY makeup convert.  The recipes are quick and economical, costing me mere cents rather than the twenty or so dollars I would shell out for a good quality organic mascara!  Plus I know that my ingredients are all natural and safe to use.

I took it to the next level with this homemade bronzer.  It's great for sensitive skin like mine and for people who don't like a ton of heavy makeup on their face.  An added bonus for me is that I get to choose just the right color and saturation.  Seriously, who hasn't bought makeup that turned out to be the wrong shade for your complexion or much too heavy for your taste?  With my own blend, I take out the guess work. While it might cost a little up front to purchase your bulk ingredients, they go a long way and never spoil.  You end up spending only about a dollar for an ounce or two of bronzer.  Amazing!

I adapted my recipe from Wellness Mama, my go-to guru for everything DIY natural.  I even used Wellness Mama approved Gold Mica Powder and Bronze Mica Powder for my blend.  Technically these mineral powders can't be called organic because they come from the earth and might have other trace minerals or substances in them; it's similar to how you can never call fish organic, only wild caught.  That said, if using these natural mineral powders still bother you, I've seen some recipes successfully use cocoa powder and other spices for their bronzers.  I went ahead and used the mica powders because I wanted a little sparkle in mine (natch).

Feel free to play with the quantity and ratios of the powders here to get your desired look.  I just listed the blend that worked for me.  I like to store my bronzer in old lip balm tins and tubes for an added touch of beauty.  You can use this on your lips, cheeks, and even eyes.  This summer, it has become my go-to beauty product. 

So why do I include this in my year of Radical Self-Care?  Because sometimes we need to feel pretty.  Sparkly even.  I think this bronzer does the trick.

Special Tools:

Clean tin can

Old saucepan

Spatula

Ingredients:

2 TBS shea butter

1 TBS coconut oil

1/2 TBS beeswax

1/2 - 1 tsp of bronze mica powder

1/2 - 1 tsp of gold mica powder

Instructions:

1. Place the saucepan on low heat and fill halfway with water.  Then place the clean tin can in the center of the saucepan.  Put the beeswax in the tin can and let melt slowly. When beeswax is melted, remove from heat.

2.  When beeswax is melted, add the shea butter and coconut oil.  Don't be surprised if beeswax partially hardens.  It will melt again as the oil liquefies.  Let oils melt and blend with beeswax (it takes around five minutes).  Stir to mix fully.

3.  Remove from heat.  Stir in desired amounts of powder to oil and wax mixture.  (FYI: I like to keep a separate tin can that I use strictly for blushes and bronzers because the pigment will stick to the can.)  Stir until combined.

4.  Pour liquid into a container of choice, either a reused lip balm jar or chapstick tube.  Let sit until cooled and solidified (about an hour).  

Makes one large pot of bronzer or two to three smaller tubes.  To use, simply apply to lips and cheeks as desired.  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!

All-Purpose Seasoning

A few years ago, I started making my own all-purpose seasoning.  Why?  Because I got tired of buying small jars of the stuff for a few dollars a pop and because I learned that many of those spice blends contain additives, fillers, preservatives, and other yucky things I'd prefer to have in my body.  I'd also learned about the staleness and poor quality of the ingredients in many of theses blends by the time they reach store shelves.  Since part of committing to radical self-care is about becoming more aware of what consume, I decided to make my own healthier version of an all-purpose seasoning.  Now, I can never go back to the old stuff.

For starters, it is way less expensive!  Buying in bulk means you spend less on fresher goods, reduce waste by not paying for yet another spice jar, and you can tailor your blend to your own needs.  I buy my spices in bulk at my local herb store but you can also purchase bulk spices at your local natural grocery store or online at Rose Mountain Herbs.  

I use my blend for everything from popcorn to roasted veggies and beyond.  I've also gotten more than a few friends and family members addicted to it.  I use all organic ingredients and quality sea or Himalayan salt.  You can decide how much salt you want to include.  The recipe below suggests one cup of salt, but if you are on a reduced sodium diet, you can lower it to half a cup or omit it completely.  The cumin and paprika make the seasoning for me, adding unexpected notes of warmth and spice.  That said, if you prefer some spices over others, feel free to play with your own ratios or omit the flavors you don't enjoy.  What I offer here is simply my go-to seasoning recipe that enhances everything I cook. 

What's on the menu tonight?  I'm thinking Italian Grilled Veggies with a heavy sprinkling of this seasoning.  I might make a night of it and throw in a batch of watermelon coolers.  Take that heat wave.  

Ingredients:

1 cup sea salt 

1/2 cup pepper

1/4 cup cumin powder

1/4 cup onion powder

1/2 cup garlic powder

1/8 cup chile powder

1/8 cup paprika

Combine ingredients in bowl and stir well until combined.  Store in airtight container.  Makes a little less than three cups.  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!

La Vie en Rose Cocktail

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ingredients:

2 oz gin (or vodka)

3/4 oz fresh lime juice

1 oz rose liquor

ice

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

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

Sautéed Burdock Root

Part of my year of radical self-care is returning to the joys of cooking.  I've been making it a priority to cook on the weeknights (granted, my meals must be simple!) and to reignite my passion for trying new recipes and ingredients.  I sift through recipe books.  I check my Pinterest boards for new culinary delights.  Most importantly, I've gone back to hunting for different local, in-season ingredients to play around with, making each trip to the co-op a culinary adventure.  I find I look forward to whatever I might cook up during the week or weekend simply because I've gone beyond the pure need to fuel myself and returned to the hedonism of feeding the five senses--and my soul.

Time in the kitchen at the end of the day helps me to nourish myself.  Light a few beeswax candles.  Put on some jazz records.  Pour a glass of wine.  And cook.  It's a terribly civilized way to end the day.  After giving out energy for the past eight hours, I get to tuck in, recharge, and pull back from the more extroverted demands of my work.

Better still: I get to indulge in the delights of kitchen conjuring--taking raw ingredients, herbs, and spices, and turning them into healing, nourishing meals.  Which brings me to my latest love: burdock root.  I found this knotty unsung healer in an unassuming pile at my local store this winter and haven't been able to stop eating it since.  I'd used it for a long time in teas because of its terrific healing properties.  Like dandelion leaves and roots, burdock is known for its detoxifying properties.  It is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and cleanses the lymphatic system like nothing else.  Bonus: I found that's it's all kinds of tasty!  

I gathered a large handful for my kitchen experiment, searched high and low for recipes, and finally settled on a nice, simple sautée.  Burdock tastes like a cross between artichokes and turnips--similar to sunchokes.  I toss them in lemon juice to prevent them from oxidizing and turning a dusty brown color.  They're still edible oxidized...just not as yummy looking.  I prefer to use ghee for this recipe, as it lends a rich, nutty flavor to the root, but feel free to use what you have.  You'll notice I haven't given specific amounts here--you make as much or as little as you want.  Sautéed burdock is great as a side dish or as a light main attraction over a bed of lettuce (pictured above). 

Ingredients:

burdock root

lemon juice

ghee, coconut, or olive oil

sea salt (optional)

Wash burdock root thoroughly and let dry.  Using a peeler, shave off darker outer layer--save scraps for compost.  Slice root into thin medallions (diagonally works best to get larger pieces). Toss pieces in lemon juice.  This prevents browning and also gives the root a bright flavor. Heat ghee or oil on skilled.  Keep heat to medium.  Pour burdock root (with lemon juice) into pan and let simmer until cooked, about 15-20 minutes.  Serve immediately.  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!