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 has been featured in her new blog, Off The Beaten Path for the Shepherd Express online (http://shepherdexpress.com/blogs-1-1-1-61.html), and the Wisconsin Life radio show for WPR. She recently adopted a little grey and white cat named Tessa, after beloved 22-year-old Bootise passed on.

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Aries Spring Equinox: The Ram

Normally, my Spring Equinox post would have a light and airy tone. I'd suggest fun and fanciful ways to welcome spring with friends or solo, and usually some recipes to try. These are certainly challenging times, and Aries the ram, the sun sign under which I was born, usually always rises to a good challenge. Here is mine currently: staying positive in these frightening and uncertain times. A reader that I follow on WaterBaby Tarot recently stated that we should hold on to faith and not give in to fear. She reasoned that when fear wins, we stress out and our immune systems are compromised. This could also lead to more people getting sick. It's a vicious cycle: fear/illness/more fear/more illness. Breaking out of this can be easier said than done. Although I do think it's important to stay informed, periodic breaks from the news and being online are imperative right now. Because once you have the pertinent information of the day, dwelling on things and speculating on where they could possibly go from here are not going to help matters a whole lot.

Fittingly, the Spring Equinox and Ostara is all about balance. As a planet, we need to balance out. We've been leaping forward at warp speed for too long now with industrialization, overpopulation, pollution, and technology that we can't even humanly keep up with anymore. I personally don't feel it's any accident that with the increase of climate change consequences: drought, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and fires– we're seeing an uptick in disease and outbreaks that we can't control. Mother Nature might just be mightily pissed off at us people, and honestly, can you blame her?

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In Search of Hot Chocolate

When I think about Imbolc, I often think about hot chocolate. Since dairy is highlighted on the Imbolc menu in some form or another, this could be the perfect time to search out the best hot chocolate in the area. While you’re sipping—and possibly dipping—a cookie in your rich chocolaty cocoa, meditate on where you’ve come since the holidays and where you’d like to continue in the months to come.

I’ve written about Imbolc before for Pagan Square, including a meditative cross-country ski you could take during this time of the year.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I celebrated Groundhog Day today with a home-baked chocolate chip muffin; from a mix not from scratch, and a glass of coconut milk

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Winter Solstice All Around the World

Looking to ramp up your Winter Solstice shindig this year? I personally always like to adapt a theme to center it around. That keeps it fresh and interesting for your return guests and a welcome surprise for new faces. This year the First Day of Winter falls on a Saturday, which makes it a perfect time to hold your Solstice celebration on the actual day. If you go with an “around the world” theme, you can invite each of your guests to bring a dish or beverage to share, unique to their cultural heritage or family. This way you’ll also gain an eclectic smorgasbord of a menu! Since I’m enjoying my new position as associate digital editor at Taste of Home Magazine so much, I had to try out some of their culturally diverse recipes from the December issue.

Every successful soiree should have a signature punch. Here’s a fun one from Chile:

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Dreaming of the Dead

 

There is a belief that we can communicate with loved ones when they have left this earthly plane. They may come to us in the form of a bird, the sudden smell of roses in a room they enjoyed or visit us in a dream. This is the ideal moment, when the veil is the thinnest, to make contact, to enjoy their company, to listen to the messages that they may wish to impart.

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Finding Your Fall Balance

Even if you already have some plans booked for the Fall Equinox, it’s never too late to schedule some pleasant activities just for you. This is in fact, the optimum time to focus on balancing areas of your life. First up, examine where you could de-clutter. I’m not just talking about a general all-over abode sweep and tidy – although I would advise that, as it always less stressful to have a clean home base. I’m talking about mental clutter, paper pile-up, and time wasters. Remember that nature tune, “Earth my body/water my blood/air my breath/and fire my spirit?” Well I’ve concocted a nifty regimen to address each of those elements and how they connect to you. Ready, set, go!

THE HOMESTEAD

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How Does Your Litha Garden Grow?

The first day of summer is tomorrow, and I for one, am imagining lush green plants and foliage. What better way to honor Midsummer than with a Litha garden? Even if you live in an urban setting, you can get adventurous with the right size pots for roots, some potting soil, and cages for the vines to grow correctly.

When thinking of sun colors, I would definitely plant some tomatoes. If you’re in the Midwest, you should still be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor come August, and now there are so many varieties to choose from. Pretty multi-colored heirlooms, lush romas, or the ever versatile and easy-to-grow cherries are all good options. Likewise, some nice orange or red bell peppers would do well planted now. The tomatoes are the ones that need extra room for roots and wire cages to help the vines grow properly up top. For an inexpensive potting option, purchase some large plastic bins from a hardware store like Menards and drill holes in a circle along the bottom. Fill with nutrient rich plant soil and be sure to secure the roots of your tomato plants deep within it. Watering is of the utmost importance, and if you don’t live in a naturally rainy climate, you really need to keep up with this every day. A good amount is needed to truly keep the soil moist for a healthy, thriving plant.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    After Thanksgiving last year I took the pumpkins off the front porch and set them against the back fence. I have some pumpkin vin

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Bring Back the May Baskets!

Even if it’s not all spring sunshine where you are today, there’s no reason not to get in the lighthearted spirit of May Day and Beltane. I’ll never forget the first time I was gifted with a brightly colored, homemade May Day basket by a new neighbor in our development out in the country. All it had contained was a fun mixture of popcorn and jellybeans, but the fact that it had been crafted by hand, and dutifully delivered to each home in the neighborhood by a determined little girl warmed my heart. It got me thinking about the tradition, and how this simple act of kindness probably wasn’t practiced much anymore. I miss those more trusting times when we used to be able to trick-or-treat after dark in a rural setting and not worry, as well. If you are fortunate enough to be blessed with a nice neighbor, a cute cat, or anyone deserving of one of these old-fashioned treasures, then bring back the May baskets, I say.

MAY DAY BASKET FOR A NICE NEIGHBOR

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