Strega Nona Entertaining: Conjuring Creative Fun

From recipes to rituals, I will kindly divine the perfect celebration for you!

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Colleen DuVall

Colleen DuVall

Colleen DuVall has written articles, plays, short films, and a novel. Most recently, her work was featured in Crone Magazine and the Marquette Journal online. She resides with a black cat named Bootsie, who always wants to keep her company at her computer.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Walk the Winter Solstice

Here’s a cool yule idea for you: get outside! Winter Solstice hikes are all the rage, and there are many to choose from; sponsored by area state parks, conservatories, and small businesses. Have your troop meet you at your destination site for the scheduled walk. Revel in the crisp winter air, and observe the magical changes Mother Nature has woven around you. I cannot stress this enough – layers, layers, layers. You can never have too many, and you can always wrap something around your waist, shoulders, or neck if you need to make a temperature adjustment. Don’t worry about hat hair. This really isn’t a time of year for the overly fashion-conscious. By partaking in this healthy ritual, you are embracing the colder season, not fighting it. Chances are good that you will also work up a deserved thirst and appetite.

If your band of merry travelers wish to continue celebrating with an after-party, invite them over to your place for hot cocoa, cider, and mulled wine. Keep it easy and informal. Have a cookie exchange, where people can bring over some of their excess baked treats to share. (There are always an excess of goodies in folks’ homes this time of year!) Be sure to supply plenty of candles on hand, so that everyone has one to light. 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Boo Bash

Ah, Halloween. The enchanted time when all the witches, ghosties, and creatures of the night are encouraged to come out and play. It has always been a magical time of year for me personally, ever since I was a tot. I can readily tell you what I dressed up for on this beloved holiday, since I was four. (4 years: Mickey Mouse.) Halloween has enjoyed quite the resurrection, and it is the perfect occasion to throw a theme party. Since I am the original theme party gal, I can happily throw some suggestions your way to make yours unique, and anything but run of the mill. 

 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Colleen DuVall
    Colleen DuVall says #
    Sure thing! Hope they have a Happy Halloween Birthday.
  • "Kitty" Billie Simpson
    "Kitty" Billie Simpson says #
    I have a seven yr old having a birthday friday..thanks for the dry ice idea

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Got Wine?

It is the season of the grape, and a wine gathering is in order. Not that you should need an excuse to enjoy this heavenly beverage with your pals. It's just that everything simply seems more potent and poignant during harvest time.

Here are some new spins on the traditional wine tasting shindig: Use blindfolds during a taste test and see how good peoples' palates truly are. Allow the winner of the most guesses to take home an extra bottle.

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Time for a Corn Harvest Festival

Lughnasadh is all about the corn, and I am not referring to the effectively creepy Stephen King short story. You simply cannot celebrate without featuring this sweet juicy veggie in some way, shape, or form. Instead of reserving it as an afterthought or side dish, place it front and center and celebrate it! There are many local and small-town corn festivals that you can attend. That way everything is ready-made and ready-to-go. One of the oldest in Wisconsin makes its home in Sun Prairie. According to their Chamber of Commerce website, its humble origins date all the way back to 1953. I do have fond memories of munching the delectable cobs as a youngster there. You could douse them to your heart's content from salt shakers hanging from the tops of tents. The Sun Prairie Sweet Corn Festival has now extended to four days and serves some 100,000 corn enthusiasts. There is a craft fair, parade, tractor pull, music, contests, and all the corn your can eat. Make a road trip of it with your favorite corny companions, and spend the day in farm country. Even if you don't plan to attend them all, it's fun to peruse the different websites. You can view pictures of people dressed as scarecrows and enjoying the harvest activities offered in each locale. 

The Corn/Grain Moon will be making an appearance on Sunday the 10th, and this is indeed an ancient food honored by Aztec and American Indians. To get you in the mood, I have a healthy recipe to sample, since it is a Lammas classic combo of bread and corn:

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Your Very Own Pagan Pride Parade

The more traditional American holidays can leave some of we Wiccans and Pagans feeling a little left out and blue. Here are some ideas for taking pride in ourselves and where we live– as the old Francis Scott Key ditty goes: "the land of the free, and the home of the brave." Get your magical-minded buddies together for an outdoor picnic. For this, I would suggest your friendly, less populated county or state parks. If you are concerned about the forest ranger making the rounds, hold the festivities in your own (or co-host with one of your guests') big back yards instead.

Cook special dishes of significance to you. Cakes and Ale or Cakes and Wine are always an easy crowd-pleaser. Per Patti Wigington, at the about.com website: "The Wiccan ritual known as Cakes and Ale is often celebrated as a way of thanking the gods for their blessings. Cakes are usually just cookies prepared in the shape of crescent moons, and the ale can be alcoholic or it can be apple cider, juice, or even water." Here is her recipe:

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Summer Solstice Record Spin

Quick– how many 45s can you rattle off that contain references to the sun? If you are a music lover, chances are good that you are hopping on the vinyl train and building up your collection. If not, get in touch with your best record geek pal who also owns a player. The plan: a Super Summer Solstice Backyard Record Spin. You will need a functional player (it is always good to have an additional one back-up) and some vintage discs. Invite your guests to tote their 45s and 33s, even 78s if they have them hiding in a closet. 33s especially come in handy so that you don't have to keep hopping up to flip the record. Also, don't just have one designated DJ. Encourage everyone to get in the mix and take turns spinning the tunes. That way, a natural flow will emerge and you will enjoy an eclectic variety of music. If one person is being a little piggy though, be sure to gently nudge them off the turntable so that everyone does in fact have a chance to play.

Break out the folding chairs and a long table for snacks and beverages, buffet-style. The signature cocktail should of course be a "Sunny Sangria:"

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Drumbeats on Memorial Day

Many of us have the opportunity to honor lost loved ones on this holiday. I myself lost my beloved grandmother on Memorial Day weekend in 2010. It was always striking to me that she chose then to go, considering that she was a proud DAR sister who would always enjoy the parade. One year she helped scatter flowers from the bridge to float down the Fox River,  in remembrance of veterans lost. I recall attending some of the parades when I was very small and we would go to visit. We would line up in folding lawn chairs along the sidewalk in from of her house, as that was where the parade would march past. I remember getting very riled up when I would hear the first booming of the bass drums and the rat-a-tat-tat of the crisp snares as they approached. I would be hopping from foot to anxious foot, waiting for them to get right up in front of us so that I could be enveloped in the wall of sound and lost in the rhythm of percussive thunder.

If you are one of the fortunate ones who do not have to work on this particular weekend and can get away with friends or family, a tribal drum circle can be a fun and empowering way to bond and raise some major energy. I have employed this at some Memorial Day family gatherings in the past and it proved quite effective. First, make sure that you let everyone attending know in advance to bring noisemakers, hand drums, shakers, maracas, what have you. Bring extras of your own if you sense that guests are in short supply. You can fashion a homemade shaker out of an empty plastic bottle filled with popcorn seeds in a pinch. Ideally, this is an activity best performed after a good feast and everyone's tummies are well-sated. Make sure that everyone has beverages to stay hydrated. Sometimes drum circles can take awhile before they are ready to settle down! If you are able to drum near a lake or other body of water, it can prove very inspiring. My favorite time to start is right at dusk, when the sun is turning the sky to magic time and the moon is on her rise. One year because of various planetary phenomena, the moon was a brilliant shade of pink that I don't believe that I have seen since. 

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