Strega Nona Entertaining: Conjuring Creative Fun

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

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Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day, all! I have always had a special place in my heart for this celebration. For one thing, it shares the same birth year as me, 1970. For another, the idea originated with a Wisconsin U.S. Senator, Gaylord Nelson. (This courtesy of the Earth Day Network™, Finally, if you love nature– what better way to revere our Mother Earth than with a hike and a picnic?

As to locations, look into your city, county, or state parks and see who has the best trails. If you are lucky enough to live in a rural or woodsy area and own your abode, blaze a trail of your own. When you return for some hearty fare, stoke a fire pit in the backyard if it has cooled off.

Picnic goodie list:

Baguette of good bread, french or sourdough



Variety of cheeses like parmesan, blue, gouda

Thermoses of hot coffee and chocolate

If it is warm where you are, go with some nicely brewed herbal iced tea with sprigs of mint

Kalmata olives

Grape tomatoes


For dessert, hunks of dark chocolate. Mix it up with varieties that have sea salt, chile peppers, or just plain 80 percent of pure noir goodness

Or if you are feeling more ambitious, try this healthy cookie recipe (per the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres):


Makes about 20 cookies

3 1/2 cups oatmeal

2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup raisins

1 cup of ground almonds, hazelnuts, or *breadcrumbs

3/4 cups oil

1 1/2 cups honey

3/4 cup milk 

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 tsp nutmeg

1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tbsp baking powder

Mix wet ingredients. Mix and sift all dry ingredients (except nuts or breadcrumbs) into the wet ones. Now add the ground nuts or breadcrumbs. Shape cookies 2 to 3 inches onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes. *Recipe substitution for nut allergy folks made by author of this blog.

Hiking basics checklist:


Comfy hiking shoes or boots

Layers– depending on your region

Use picnic benches if available

Good old comforters or army blankets


swiss army knife

rain ponchos

lightweight cups (1 each)


Plan for a group size of 5 to 15, but do know the walking limitations and ambitions of your guests ahead of time. Load up, pick your trail and head out to enjoy the sights and sounds around you. Be kind and pick up any trash or recycling along the way to dispose of when you are done. When you are ready to rest, pick your spot and settle yourself in. There are some worthwhile chants and exercises at Gaia meditations:

Feel the rooted connection with our Mother Earth and show her some love. When you are finished, break out the supplies and feast. "Om mani padme om." 

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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 (, 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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