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Milady's Pantry and Stillroom: Incense and Peppermint

 

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“I unlaced the front of my robe and rubbed my body quickly with handfuls of the lavender and valerian. It was a pleasant, spicy smell, distinctive and richly evocative. A smell that, to me, conjured the shade of the man who wore its perfume, and the shade of the man behind him; shades that evoked confusing images of present terror and lost love. A smell that, to Jamie, must recall the hours of pain and rage spent wrapped in its waves. I rubbed the last of it vigorously between my palms and dropped the fragrant shreds on the floor.

With a deep breath for courage, I picked up the vial of ammoniacal spirits. I stood by the bed a moment holding it, looking down at the gaunt, stubbled face. At most he might last a day; at the least, only a few more hours.

“All right, you bloody Scottish bastard,” I said softly. “Let’s see how stubborn you really are.” I lifted the injured hand, dripping, from the water and set the soaking dish aside."

Excerpt From: Diana Gabaldon. “Outlander.”  

Incense and Peppermint

Please enjoy this lovely chart! Click on it, blow it up and print it out! I don't know who to attribute it to but I'm very grateful that it showed up on my personal facebook page.  It's one of the best tools that for creating incense that  I've seen in a long time! I love incense and I make my own and burn it often for healing, conjuring or simply when I just want my home to smell simply wonderful.  There are all kinds of glorious combinations that you can use when you want to provoke different emotions, for example, an incense of cinnamon, rose petals, cloves, dried apple, basil, lavender buds, vanilla bean , cardomom and sandalwood sprinkled with a couple of drops of essential oil of rose is one of the sexiest love potions that I know...... 

Shamanic_smudging1
Abolone shell with white sage smudge stick/ origins of photograph unknown

 It's truly easy to create your own.  Take a flameproof bowl and fill it 1/2 way with sand. I use a beautiful abalone shell that I bought years ago because it does have a wonderfully feminine vibe! Then get a pack of incense charcoal disks and lay one on top of the sand. Light it and let it burn until you're sure that it's ready (It will be ashy and glowing, not flaming!) and scatter any combination of herbs and spices around and on top of it. Please be sure to only use leaves , petals , spices and woods  that you know have not been treated with pesticides and have fun....the magic's even more personal if you've gathered them yourself. Just be sure to gather conciously. Never take an endangered species . Don't take to much of any one plant and be sure to ALWAYS leave a little love token for the fey folk !

You don't want to upset them you know:)

image from home-school-coach.com

 My husband laughs because he does the laundry (love that man!) and he's always emptying my pockets which are filled with offerings of seeds, pennies and pretty stones. You can even add a couple of drops of any essential oil that you love, provided that it's organic. Please don't use perfumed oils. Perfumed oils are generally derived from petroleum products and other nasty things. They will produce a horrid black smoke when you light them and the magical correspondences are not  present in chemically produced scents. My favorite? A combination of White sage, Lavender , Bourbon Rose,  Bay and Pine.  Please write me at My Outlander Love Affair/Milady's Pantry and Stillroom  and let me know yours!

Now for fun:)

 


31 Days of Halloween: Hot Skwash!

Every now and then I see something that really tickles my fancy! In this case it was these gorgeous velvet pumpkins from Hot Skwash! I was in Neiman Marcus last month and I saw a display of them that really caught my eye. I can't help but wonder how a few of these might look in my antique wooden salad bowl or tucked around my Williamsburg hurricane. They are expensive but well a girl can dream right? Or a crafty girl could try to make them on her own! All of those colors? All of those choices? This witch is going to see if she can wave her wand and make a few of them magically appear on her harvest table!

Big red velvet pumpkin hot skwash

Hot Skwash velvet pumpkins rasberry ice group

Hot-Skwash-in-Harvest-Colors

 


31 Days of Halloween: Scenes from Castello di Amarosa Vineyards

 

 

Last weekend my husband and I spent a really memorable weekend in Napa Valley. One of the wonderful places that we discovered was a sensational vineyard in St. Helena  named Castello di Amarosa.It is an absolutely authentic and  sensational castle that sits atop of a magnificent hillside AND is a working vineyard. Because it is harvest season in Sonoma right now, the smell of crushed grapes was everywhere and the scent just added to the incredible ambiance of the setting. They have goats , sheep and chickens and truthfully if you didn't know that it was 2013 you would be instantly transported back to feudal Italy in the 13th century. The castle was superbly dressed for the harvest season  and the dungeon was filled with all sorts of Samhain finery. Every year they have a Medieval Faire and a Haunted Pagan Ball, which I intend to be at  in 2014! Feast your eyes and do click on the links...

31 Days of Halloween: Scenes from Castelo de Amarosa Vineyards

31 Days of Halloween: Scenes from Castelo de Amarosa Vineyards

31 Days of Halloween: Scenes from Castelo de Amarosa Vineyards

31 Days of Halloween: Scenes from Castelo de Amarosa Vineyards

31 Days of Halloween: Scenes from Castelo de Amarosa Vineyards


Be~Witching: One Size Does Not Fit All!

 

 Tara Lynn

 Having been a fairly voluptuous woman for my entire adult life and having fought against my own body for decades, when this picture originally appeared in V Magazine it was incredibly validating for me.

I was blown away when my husband pointed it out to me in an article that he'd been shown at work. It seems that V Magazine put out a "Size" issue awhile back to show that plus size women are utterly gorgeous and to address the problems of the horrible eating disorders that are affecting so many of us today,  both young and old.
Marilyn 
You'll immediately notice that she's completely naked and totally gorgeous and when my husband showed her to me I was astonished. Here's a very fulled figured woman with all of her voluptuous curves on display for the world to see. His response to her beauty told me more about how he'd seem me in all of our years of marriage then words ever could. I'd always been ashamed of my very curvy body and here was the guy that I loved telling me that he found it really sensual and beautiful and that he wanted me to feel as confident as she did.
It's started me on a quest that I will be sharing with all of you here. I'm usually a very confident woman, but until recently I've spent my life worrying about every bite that I've taken and the constant stress of trying to diet and not diet definitely hampers this particular foodie.
Now I spend my time enjoying my food in a way that I haven't ever before. I'm giving myself permission to eat as if I were starving, because  though I'm not even remotely thin, emotionally the effect has been the same on me as if I've been denying myself forever.  I already eat very well but I'm no longer going worry about every squeezing this size 14 body into a 10. The extraordinary by-product of that freedom is that I'm not always hungry. 
I''ve been letting my body decide once and for all what it wants to look like and I'm giving it the gift of full exposure. No more hiding my arms, no more looking for clothes to disguise my fuller curves. Cleavage exposed!  I'm aware that my struggle with body acceptance is not unique at all which is why I'm going to bring it here into the forefront.  I'm enjoying sharing my appetites and I'm warning you now, like my curvy body they are huge! I'm betting that yours probably are too!
Whether you're large or small, thin or voluptuous, we all deserve a chance to create the voice that is as expressive, big and bold as we are. This is my no holds barred attempt to create a place for us all to enjoy ourselves and get better acquainted with ourselves! If my candor provokes you- good...if it inspires you even better. We are all hungry for authenticity and what better place to start than with our bodies. Passion doesn't have a size and neither does beauty. You'll definitely see delicious recipes and you may even see a vibrator or two. What you'll probably see from time to time are articles about the safest, natural cosmetics to use and probably because I'm  pretty passionate about animal rights and sustainable foods  an article or two about our relationship to animal testing, factory farming  and the makeup products that we use.  There's room for us all in this conversation and that's the way that I like it and I hope that you'll enjoy this amazing video of Kate Dillon talking about her struggles and ultimate successes as a plus-size model. She's really inspiring! 
 
The picture of Tara Lynn was originally in V Magazine. The quote by Marilyn Monroe is of course vintage Marilyn Monroe!

The Windesphere Witches Manifesto for 2013

 

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2012 is finally no longer and I must admit that I am thrilled to have turned the pages on the book of a brand new year! 2012 was a year of deeply felt loss and powerful lessons in letting go...of my wolf dog Tekota, my sweet cat Juno, my pony Studley, my corgi Gabriel and my father, who passed away last Memorial Day at the ripe old age of 93. My beloved brother came face to face with a perilous journey of his own, as a horrific bout of pneumonia plunged him into complete renal failure. There was even more than all of this but let it suffice to say that I've been really looking forward to turning towards  the new year!

Having nowhere else to turn, I went inward on a much needed spiritual journey, twisting and spiraling back to the essence of my wild womans soul and I became aware of many needs that I'd left unsatisfied. One of the beauties of menopause is that you finally stop caring about pleasing others and finally begin to take care of yourself in very real ways. I became a woman obsessed and in a very short amount of time I became certified as a Health ,Wellness and Nutrition coach through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York City and added several new forms to my Reiki arsenal.

The severity of my brothers illness had me reconnect with LaWanna Rine, the woman who mentored me for well over a decade and taught me almost everything that I know about healing herbs and flowers, gemstones and energy. In short, after years of wandering through the desert I found the courage to dance my way back home.  

In early December I began to sense that we had turned the corner. We brought home a puppy from the APL and she came with a horrible case of parvo yet she survived! My husband sold his business to a wonderful company who made him a magnificent offer not just for the business but for him and his entire team! I began to work again at a  well known luxury retailer only to discover that I loved to work hard, but that to my surprise I still had the burning energy and desire to create a new business (or two).

The best news for all of us? Yesterday, exactly one year to the day that we discovered that my brother had no renal function , he received a new kidney...a gift from a dear friend who stepped right up and insisted upon donating her kidney to him, never wavering once.

So arrives 2013 and I'm filled with optimism! On New Years eve I spun my pendulum around and around  wondering what this years message would be. You see although I'm a bit of a maverick I'm used to doing what people expect of me and I'm really tired of that. Who knows how much more time we all have on this earth...it could be decades, it could be days. So I kept asking my pendulum, what AM I supposed to do? Open a new store just like my old one? A resounding NO. Be a Public Relations Consultant full time? NO. Then I heard my mothers voice....."Dear" she said, stop worrying about it, do what you love and just have fun!" Coming from my mother, who was the patrician one in the family that was an interesting piece of advice.  So I asked the pendulum...Am I only supposed to do what's fun for me this year? A resounding YES!

So here's a list of the promises that I've made to myself this year, my manifesto if you will. Thank you for letting me share them with you and helping me breath them into life. It's a little bit frightening, this "only do what's fun thing" because it puts the onus on me. We'll see what happens...I'm ready!


The Windesphere Witches Manifesto

I will choose only work that brings me joy.

I will choose only friendships that are fun for us both.

I will not say yes to any philanthropic job unless it is truly something that I  care about.

I will have chickens and a plot in the community garden around the corner.

I will support the farmers market much more than I did last year.

I will allow the Goddess and the Wise Woman Traditions to guide me as I create my practice as a Natural Chef , Holistic Health Consultant, Herbalist and Energy Practitioner. 

I will make perfume, aromatherapy and body products again...something I haven't done for many years. 

I will take care of this 53 year old body, feed it only fabulous food, indulge it with long walks and fresh air,  pamper it, make it up and dress it beautifully. 

Enjoy my husband even more than I do already.

I will write consistently and make my hobby of writing profitable. 

I will begin the process of discovering what kind of entertaining and bridal consulting business I want to open and let go of the ghosts of retail past. 

I will start to design giftware and dinnerware again and maybe even put all of this stuff that I'm going to be making on an Etsy site. 

I will not be quiet about Womens Rights. 

I will go trail riding as much as I can.

I will find a Celtic group to sing with.

I will stop worrying about my son and just enjoy him.(And his adorable girlfriend)

I will stop worrying period. It's a bad habit of mine. 

I will practice more Yoga.

I will give at least one talk a month about one of the many crazy topics that I'm interested in, and even create a webinars, ebooks and maybe a course or two!

I will drink more Champagne and even bathe in it from time to time..

I will remember to always believe in magic and honor the Goddess in everything I do....


Happy New Year Everyone!


 This gorgeous Wheel of the Year picture can be found here!


Seasonal Celebrations: My Favorite Scents of the Season and one FABULOUS recipe!

 

Pomander

For me, the holidays are a blend of magnificent, fragrant sensations. Because I'm a cook, herbalist and perfume obsessed writer, the smells of the season tend to blend together for me in  a gloriously fragrant stew starting from Halloween through the New Year. There are so many fragrances that I love that are synonymous with this time of year, but I've tried today to keep it to 6 of my favorites...Not an easy feat!

Caron-nuit-de-noel_The_Perfume_Magazine

Most of you who read my musings know that from November the 1st until January the 2nd,  I will only wear Caron's magnificent Nuit de Noel. I love it because to me it smells like a crackling fire with a split of champagne and a bouquet of slightly warmed roses in a vase nearby.  Nuit de Noel is full of spicy amber, musk and a bit of oak moss… some may call it a chypre, but to me it's a true oriental. Last year I was gifted with a bottle of the vintage perfume that I ritualistically applied this year during this week of Christmas…1 drop on each wrist, one drop in the cleavage . It's just beautiful…an entirely different animal than the EDP and to be cherished. 

True to my word I put my Nuit de Noel away sadly every year come the second of January, but because I do so it's a bit of magic that's never lost it's ability to enchant  me year after year.

  Annick Noel

The second of my favorite holiday scents is  the Noel candle and home spray from Annick Goutal. This is possibly my favorite home fragrance  anytime of the year, but during Christmas it is just so beautiful to me. Several years back they actually discontinued it, but the hew and cry must have been intense because thankfully it wasn't gone very long! Noel is the classic balsam and pine smell of Christmas with a touch of fresh orange , spicy mandarin and just a hint of birch.  It gives me a lift all year round but never more so than during the holiday season when it is completely and understatedly appropriate, a refreshing walk in the forest after a soft snowfall. Cliche I know...but it's an accurate description, I promise.   

To me synonymous with the holiday season is a shopping  trip to New York City and  the roasted chestnuts that can be found on every other street corner is  my idea of simple and perfect fast food. A bag of them in my lap while snuggled up against my husband in a Hansom carriage is as far as I'm concerned the best time to be had in the world.  I love them…peeling them leaves a roasted , woody aroma lingering on my fingertips  and eating them is a sweet and sinful pleasure. These same roasted chestnuts and champagne are a perfect pairing and lets take it up a notch and talk about marrons glace! To make those you'll take those same roasted chestnuts and simmer them over and over again in a bath of simple syrup until the moisture in the chestnuts has been replaced by the sugar, leaving them crystalline and  aromatic.  Crumbled over fresh vanilla coconut milk ice cream and sprinkled with a bit of crystalline candied ginger and some fresh mochi paste you won't find a much more delightful and festive  and easily digestible dessert to enjoy with that Champagne.  

 

Every year on Christmas morning I would walk into my mothers kitchen where she would be making the same breakfast that she had cooked and eaten for almost her entire life. Creamed Chicken a la King on buttered toast points, egg strata with cheese and smoky bacon,  a fresh pecan roll , stewed fruit and a pot of coffee . Since she's been gone I make it every year (my family would riot if I didn't!)  and it's a wonderful way to spend my morning thinking of her. All of the aromas of that breakfast are wonderful, simmering onions and warm yeasty sugary  dough , but the stewed fruit is especially amazing. It's a simple recipe too, water and about 5 different sorts of dried fruit go into a saucepan along with a cup or two of mulling spices, two cups of brown sugar, a cup of sherry and a sliced lemon and orange. It simmers for hours until the whole thing is a syrupy , delicious mess of fruity, spicy goodness. There's always plenty left over because a little goes along way. Around New Years I'll put it back on the stove, add an onion or two and simmer it down some more and serve it with a pork tenderloin and some crispy roasted potatoes. 

 

Silver-friendship-ball-embossed-floral-800x917

One Christmas over 20 years ago I found a pierced silver pomander at Saks Fifth Avenue. It was absolutely beautiful, but unimaginatively filled. I pictured it as an ancient medieval wonder, filled to the brim with Frankincense, myrhh, cinnamon, cloves and orange. So I filled it up with all of those things as well as some fresh rosemary, yarrow and sage from my own gardens, strung it a heavy silver chain and wore it around for days until I decided that the best place for it was a spot on my tree where it held a place of honor for many years until it mysteriously dissapeared several years ago. I am waiting impatiently to find another! 

 

Nj-atlantic-city-knife_and_fork

The last of my favorite holiday fragrances is perhaps the simplest one. It really can't be called Christmas if I don't have a batch of my mothers Christmas Chocolate Pears and fortunately every year since my mother died my dear friend who loves them as much as we do still makes them to bring to our annual Winter Solstice dinner!

This is possibly the simplest recipe in existence and it was first discovered by my father and me at a wonderful old Atlantic city restaurant  called  "The Knife and Fork". It took my mother years of writing Gourmet Magazine enlist their help in  persuading them to part with the recipe ( I remember when that issue of Gourmet came  because it was quite the celebration in my house!) and when she finally acquired it we were in heaven because it is just that good. This dessert is very easy to make, it's the ingredients that are important. You must have freshly whipped cream and you must use CANNED PEARS and a thin layer of  very good chocolate.  At The Knife and Fork they made these in individual servings in pretty little glass bowls but for a larger party you can layer the pears in a crystal bowl.  Then layer the whipped cream on top of them. Melt the chocolate, add a little bit of the canned pear syrup into it and then pour a thin layer of the chocolate over the top of the whipped cream and pears. Then chill and the chocolate will harden into a thin and delightfully bittersweet coating that cracks when you touch it with the spoon. Each mouthful is a decadent bite of pear, chocolate and whipped cream and is simply perfect. The fruity and floral nature of the pears, mixed with the silken whipped cream and the scent of perfectly bittersweet chocolate reminds me of my mothers holiday dinners, truly elegant yet comfortable affairs which always celebrated family first and Christmas second.  

I was looking for the little clipping from Gourmet that my mother saved for years, but them I'm came across this link on Food.com. So this is my New Years gift to you.....The original recipe for one of my families favorite holiday desserts! Try this one..It's easy and incredibly wonderful!

So what are the fragrances that say Happy Holidays to you?

 

 

 

An abbreviated version of the post can be found on my favorite Perfume Blog, Perfume Smellin Things!

None of these pictures are mine but are not easily attributable to any one source.