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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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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An Ostara Birthday

Every Spring Equinox, I have to admit I feel lucky. The sun has officially entered my astrological sign of Aries, and I feel a surge of newfound energy and confidence. Technically I wasn’t due to make an appearance until early April, closer to my dad’s birthday. But eager little me, I couldn’t wait. I got a kick out of my mom later telling me that she nibbled on jellybeans as she started to go into labor early at my grandmother’s house in Oshkosh. Because of all of these things, this time of year fills me with a renewed sense of hope and strong purpose. I start to review personal goals for the year and make notes about what can be realistically accomplished. It’s also a perfect opportunity to try something out that I’ve been meaning to, in celebration of new beginnings and my birthday on March 23rd. Here are some samplings of adventures I’ve embarked on that I would highly encourage for anyone restless with those first stirrings of spring:

Go to one of those paint/wine studios. Whether you’re artistically inclined, curious, or been meaning to get back to it, this is a great experience. Leave your inhibitions at the door and give yourself permission to indulge your creative side. Lots of these places play fun music in the background while you paint and are pretty informal. Grab a like-minded pal and share a bottle of wine as you aspire to be the next Dali or Picasso.

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