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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.
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



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 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!



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!


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. 



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! 



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 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. 

Be~Witching: Simple Spa Tips for a Magical and Stress Free Holiday!



Don’t you wish that you could just take the time right now for a luxurious and blissfully indulgent spa weekend? There’s nothing like the hustle and hurry of the holiday season to make even the most seasoned shopper long for a bit of time out! Long years spent in the grueling trenches of holiday retail have taught this witch a few tricks and I’ve learned that if I just give myself an extra bit of TLC during the month of December that life is looking pretty good by the Winter Solstice! So here is my Yuletide gift to you in the form of some of my most relaxing tips to keep the holidays special, sparkling and bright!


First of all make sure that you’re taking the time to eat right. For every piece of candy or every Christmas cookie that you eat (and I am the first to admit that I’ll enjoy plenty this month!)  make sure that you eat at least 2 pieces of fresh fruit, or a snack of fresh vegetables with a bit of cheese.  Salads as often as possible this month can really help to move the sugar through your system, just remember to watch the dressing. If you’ve got a juicer, try to have at least one glass of fresh juice today to gently detoxify your system!


 If you can’t stomach a lot of raw food when it’s cold outside and many people can’t, steamed vegetables and a bit of chicken or fresh fish are a good bet. I’ve noticed recently that most good salad bars are filled with yummy grains, like quinoa and plenty of options like cooked butternut squash and beets, both of which are root vegetables and will serve to ground you and keep you warm during this strenuous season. Let your instincts guide you and generally you’ll choose the foods you need!


 You need even more hydration than normal when its Christmassy cold and dry outside so I love to sip lots of green tea or my own herbal tea blend  (I love red rooibos tea blended with cinnamon, pink peppercorn and sage!), sweetened with agave nectar or raw honey.   I can’t say it enough, if you’re a coffee drinker, alternate between tea or sparkling water. If you have a soda-stream machine you can make your own, but if not why not buy good seltzer water and flavor it yourself? One of my favorites this time of year is a classic combination of soda, peppermint essential oil or extract and a bit of chocolate syrup with about a teaspoon of agave nectar.  Stir, pour over ice and enjoy! You can add juice to soda water or even flavored green tea to make a healthy spritzer. No sugar laden cola beverages need apply! 


If you overindulge one evening just jump back on the bandwagon! After a night of too much eggnog (and who can resist too much eggnog every now and then!)    just make sure that the next day is filled with food that’s as “clean” as possible and by this I mean nothing processed and everything simple and fresh!  Drink lots of fresh water and add some extra vitamin B and in a few hours you’ll feel like new again!


Make sure that you get plenty of fresh air this time of year even if it’s cold outside. Just bundle up and take a quick walk or if you have an office, open the window, shut the door and do a few simple yoga stretches. If you can take a walk before you go to work in the morning  begin and end it with a few simple stretches. Then sit down and drink a cup of tea and read something delightful even if it’s only for 15 minutes. This will relax and prepare you for the busy day ahead. If you can, crack the window just a teeny bit before you go to bed. Numerous studies have shown that a temperature anywhere between 65 or 70 degrees along with a bit of fresh air creates the most restful environment!


A bath or a lovely shower at the end of a long day is my idea of nirvana, but a bath in the morning before work is true pampering. My mother used to take one everyday and she swore by them.  If you can, get up early one weekday and fill up the tub with bubbles or delicious bath oil. LIght a couple of lovely candles and make sure that the water's not too hot, nor too cold.. just a temperature that relaxes and refreshes you. If you want, add a sugar or salt scrub to keep your skin glowing, Then slip out of the tub, wrap yourself in a huge bath sheet and moisturize with a light sesame, olive or almond oil. Don’t forget a spritz of your favorite perfume and you’ll feel ready for the busiest day.


If you don’t have time for a bath, how about throwing a big handful of fresh or dried herbs like lavender, rose, peppermint or lemon verbena into a pot for a wonderful facial steam. Bring the herbs and water to a simmer, put your head over the pot and cover your head and shoulders with a soft loose towel for a few minutes. Afterwards, splash some cool water on your face and spritz with some rosewater that you can buy at any health food store. A light massage of your favorite moisturizer will have your skin glowing and ready for makeup if you wear it!


Don’t forget to winterize your hair, which at this time of year can be frizzy, and flyaway from the dry air and forced artificial heat of our environments. I love to make my own hair mayonnaise when I get a chance and it’s easy to do! I simply put two eggs in the blender, some lavender or rose essential oil and turn it on. Drizzle about a cup of olive oil in to the mixture while the blender is turning at it’s highest speed and voila’, you’ve got a wonderful hair treatment!  Wet your hair with warm water, towel dry and apply the mayonnaise for about ½ hour covering your hair with a towel. Shampoo it out, let it air dry and enjoy your silky, soft and completely manageable hair! If you don't have time to make your own, just grab a cup of olive oil mayonnaise and stirr the essential oils into it. Use in the same way for absolutely beautiful results!


If you’re lucky enough to have someone around to give you a healing massage don’t hesitate to ask for one this time of year (don’t forget to give as good as you get!)  but if not you can give yourself a very good self massage quite easily! Keep a tube of peppermint foot cream and another of your favorite hand cream in your purse or briefcase at all times. When you feel in need of a quick break, just give yourself a simple hand massage by gently pulling on each finger and rubbing the cream into your palms, massaging all of the tendons in your hands. Be sure to rub your neck and shoulders, the easiest way to do this is to interlock the fingers in both hands and then use your thumbs to massage gently all of the way around your head and neck. You’ll be surprised when in a few minutes you’re feeling refreshed and ready to tackle all of that unfinished Christmas business!





Last but definitely not least, be sure to set the scene for the holiday that you want. Fill your home with candles and fresh greens, and let yourself enjoy the sounds and spirit of the season. Have this holiday season be the way that YOU want it to be. Too often these days our holidays are dictated by marketing groups sitting isolated in their offices far away. Instead, why don’t you choose what you want your December to look like this year. If you want your home to be a peaceful haven completely removed from the holiday madness then that’s what you should create but if you want the Norman Rockwell/ Martha Stewart version go ahead and try that too! Just don’t stress yourself out with images of perfection that are airbrushed and unrealistic. Take a deep breath, jump in and enjoy yourself. FInd a family to feed or a shut -in relative to visit. Start a food drive in your community or go ice skating with your sweetheart.The best tip I've got for stres reduction during the holidays? Make sure that you've got plenty of mistletoe for kissing under!  This is a season full of magic and good wishes and my wish for you is the very happiest and most original  of holidays this year!




None of these pictures are mine! I'm not sure where to attribute them though. 

Nov 27, 2012

I found this charming little garden store on Pearl Street in Boulder, Colorado. I thought that it was absolutely magical and wanted to share it with you. You could literally see the fairies dancing everywhere!

Nov 27, 2012

Nov 27, 2012

Nov 27, 2012

Nov 27, 2012

Nov 27, 2012

May Your Samhain be Blessed with Magic and Love.....


May your Samhain be blessed with Magic and Love, 

May your cupboards be filled, your loved ones be near,

and may your bed always be filled with magic & passion,

and for those whose beloveds have passed

  through the veil in this year

 it is my wish for you that tonight brings you the joy

of seeing their spirits dancing freely in the light.

Keen COllage
Happy New Year and much love from  

The Windesphere Witch.