Categories
wheel of the year

Celebrate Samhain!

It’s only a few days until one of my favorite sabbats: Samhain, aka Halloween! I have been very connected to this special day since I was a child, and I now love sharing Halloween with my own little wildlings. It’s that time we invite the spooks and specters in. We celebrate the connection we all feel to the shadows in a way that is steeped in tradition, which makes it feel cozy and safe. It’s our metaphorical way of preparing for the approaching sleep and death in nature that winter brings.

All that said, I have a few simple and cozy ways I’m planning to celebrate the approach of Samhain this week, which I’m sharing here today!

Family Halloween

My family and I plan to celebrate Halloween together in kid-friendly fashion this weekend. We will watch some not-so-spooky Halloween movies, paint and carve pumpkins, and (safely and with precautions) trick-or-treat. I also plan to brew up some spiced apple cider on the stovetop for us to share, infused with those autumn spices we love and enjoy!

Barmbrack

I learned about the Irish tradition of baking barmbrack for Samhain this year, and I am planning to bake some for my family! I want to see if it’s a tradition we’d like to incorporate in the years to come, as I have a strong connection to my Irish heritage.

Barmbrack is a sort of cross between bread and a cake, baked with dried fruits and grounding autumn spices and eaten with butter. It’s a harvest season favorite and is traditionally baked with a little surprise hidden inside—a coin or a ring wrapped in parchment paper as a good luck charm for the person who finds it in their slice! You can find various recipes online, but HERE is the one I’m planning to try.

Cleaning & Clearing

The approach of Samhain has me feeling the need for a bit of a cleaning and clearing, for both practical and psychological reasons. As winter and the holiday season approach, it’s a good time for me to tidy up and de-clutter. I also notice that I’m needing to sort of reset my perspective, or clear out some stale and stagnant energy, as autumn deepens toward winter.

The physical act of tidying up the house is straightforward enough. It’s not my favorite job, but I’ve come to enjoy it well enough when accompanied by audiobooks or podcasts. But each day this week while I work on the cleaning, I plan to choose a candle, incense, or simmer pot with intention and use it to sort of sweep away the proverbial cobwebs, paired with open windows when it’s not raining.

Samhain Teas

I am excited to brew a few tea blends this week with Samhain in mind. Traditions across many cultures relate this time to remembrance of ancestors passed and introspection or even divination. I plan to spend some quiet time with some steaming pots of tea brewed to those ends. My grandma passed away a year ago on October 27th, so she will be very much on my mind this week (and during this week for the years to come), which ties right in.

Here is a tea recipe from Apothecary At Home’s October Rituals & Romance box, which pairs nicely with moments of quiet introspection:

Third Eye Tea-

1 tsp chamomile

2 tsp black tea

1 tsp mugwort

What are your plans for Halloween or Samhain this year? I’d love to hear what you have planned!

Categories
Hygge wheel of the year

Celebrate Mabon!

This is one of my favorite parts of the year! I’ve always loved it and felt like it was MY time: my birthday on the 21st, the autumnal equinox / Mabon (falling on the 22nd this year), and “Hobbit Day” aka Bilbo and Frodo Baggins’ shared birthday on the 22nd—which to me counts as a holiday itself! But this post is about Mabon, the sabbat marking the beginning of fall and the autumnal equinox on the wheel of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere).

Mabon begins the wind down of the harvest season as autumn starts in earnest and winter approaches. It is an age-old tradition to celebrate this time, which is associated with giving thanks to the Earth for her life-sustaining abundance, the balance of light and dark, and preparing for the colder and darker winter months ahead.

This is such a busy time of year! It can be difficult to pause and reflect with a slower perspective on this seasonal turning. But I have a couple of simple, cozy plans for enjoying and marking this week with my family.

Simmer Pot

My kids actually have a “virtual learning” school day on Wednesday, and it’s supposed to rain all day, too! So it seems the perfect time for a simmer pot. This simple-yet-magical act will set a cozy autumn mood for the equinox.

It’s pretty simple: choose aromatic autumn ingredients (I’m using apple slices, a bit of lemon peel, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, anise, and allspice), add to a pan on the stovetop and cover the ingredients with water, simmer as long as you like, and add more water as needed so it doesn’t dry out and burn. This will fill the house with a delicious scent and all the cozy autumn vibes to put everyone in the spirit of the occasion.

The dry ingredients for my simmer pot!

Pumpkin and Apple Treats

This is such an obvious one, but of course baking favorite apple and/or pumpkin treats is a simple and almost necessary part of a cozy Mabon. (If you are able and if you like apple or pumpkin!) And of course you can totally buy them and skip the diy portion, if you need to or prefer to. The point is, apple and pumpkin are quintessential to the autumn season!

I will likely bake pumpkin muffins for my birthday treat and the autumnal occasion. I have been using the same tried-and-true recipe for something like 13 years now! It’s simple and delicious. (Check it out here!)

I have yet to decide if I’ll bake any apple treats, too, but I’ll at least be making hot spiced cider and apple spiced tea quite a lot this week and through the season ahead! My birthday gift from my parents was a collection of new autumn mugs, which I plan to put to good use!

Chai

Speaking of those mugs, my hobbit-herbalist heart is ready to start brewing up some grounding, earthy, spicy, immunity-boosting chai. I am in the middle of writing a blog post all about this, so I won’t share too much about it now. But, whether you like to make chai from scratch or order a piping hot cup from a coffee shop, this is a great time to think about warming up with chai!

Okayyy…actually, I can’t help sharing one chai tidbit. I was turned onto adding astragalus to chai for an immune boost by Rosalie de la Fôret in her book Alchemy of Herbs and now I rarely make chai without it. Many of the botanicals in chai help boost immunity already, but astragalus adds a sweet and simple way to kick that boost up! I highly recommend trying it (and checking out Rosalie’s book).

Apple Orchard

We are lucky to have a nice apple orchard not too far from us. Due to Covid, we have yet to take our boys there, and our older daughter hasn’t been in a few years. So, we are very excited to hopefully take them over the weekend to enjoy the woods, the animals (it’s a pretty amazing little orchard), and the apples! I can’t wait to restart this autumn tradition.

So, those are a few of the simple ways my family will be celebrating Mabon! Do you mark the autumn equinox? How do you like to celebrate this season?

Categories
wheel of the year

Celebrate Lughnasadh!

In the northern hemisphere, the wheel of the year has turned to Lughnasadh! This August 1st sabbat marks the midpoint between Litha (summer solstice) and Mabon (autumn equinox). Even though Lughnasadh sits squarely within summer, it is the first harvest festival of the year and the kickoff to the harvest season. Lughnasadh is associated with abundance, as well as the sun, the colors yellow and gold, wheat, sunflowers, corn, berries, peppers, tomatoes, squash, beer, and bread.

Since my little wildlings’ schools start right around Lughnasadh, it’s a busy-but-happy time for us. Just like with Litha, I have some low-energy plans to help mark this sabbat in cozy, grounding ways.

Harvest Treat: Herbed Beer Bread

Bread-baking and enjoying is an essential part of Lughnasadh / Lammas (the other name for the day, which means “bread mass”). My favorite type of bread to bake, which is also thematically on-point for this sabbat, is beer bread. It is SUPER quick and easy, yet delicious, hearty, and rustic. It takes very few ingredients and the beer does most of the work for you—no yeast, proofing, or kneading required!

I’ve put together a Lughnasadh bread recipe Pinterest board that you can peruse and come up with a recipe that speaks to you! My plan is to start with a beer bread base using lemon beer, with some seasonally-specific additions, like possibly orange, pumpkin seeds, cardamom, cinnamon, and / or calendula. (Depending on how ambitious I feel this weekend!) These flavors are bright and sweet, with the citrus and spices sort of bridging the gap between summer and autumn.

Check this link for the Pinterest board!

Harvest Sip: Lughnasadh Sun Tea

If you have fresh herbs growing in your garden or window sill, now is the perfect time to harvest some and make a sun tea. But if you don’t have fresh herbs on hand, or you’re just wanting to try a new recipe, here is the potion I’m brewing for Lughnasadh:

3 parts green rooibos (or green tea)

2 parts tulsi

2 parts lemon balm (fresh or dried)

1.5 parts cinnamon chips

1 part dried orange peel OR some fresh orange slices

Dried or fresh pears, peaches, and/or lemon

Harvest Fun: Sunflower Picking and Harvest Decorating

Mr. Herbology Faerie likes to tease me by fake-complaining when I decorate the house for fall before September 1st. Which I usually ignore! This year will be no exception, though I do plan to hold off on pumpkins and leaves until September. Instead, I’ll focus on sunflowers, wheat, gourds, and yellow in honor of Lughnasadh. Decorating for the sabbats can be a cozy and therapeutic way to ground yourself in the season!

A fun family activity I’m hoping we squeeze in on Lughnasadh weekend is sunflower picking at a local flower farm. We went last year a little too late in the season to get any sunflowers; this year the plan is to head there in time for a sunflower bouquet for Lughnasadh.

Those are some of my low-key plans for celebrating Lughnasadh and the start of the harvest season! How are you planning to celebrate?

Categories
Recipes

Lavender-Cardamom Blueberry Muffins

Happy Beltane! As mentioned in my previous post, this day marks the halfway point between the spring equinox and summer solstice. It traditionally involves a sweet, floral baked good, so I decided to create a new recipe!

I based this recipe on one from another website, but changed it up with herbs and spices; my version became Lavender-Cardamom Blueberry Muffins. Since lavender honey cakes are pretty traditional for Beltane, this is sort of a twist on that idea. My kids helped me bake these, and they really loved eating them, too!

Lavender-Cardamom Blueberry Muffins

PREP 10 min | COOK 20 min | TOTAL 30 min

Ingredients:

•1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

•3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for muffin tops

•1/4 teaspoon salt

•2 teaspoons baking powder

•1/2 to 1 tablespoon dried lavender, to taste

•1/4 teaspoon finely ground cardamom powder

•1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil

•1 large egg

•1/3 – 1/2 cup milk, dairy or oat

•1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

•6 to 8 ounces fresh or frozen blueberries (about 1 cup)

Directions:

Prep—

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Line muffin tin with 8-10 paper liners, depending on your preferred muffin size.

Batter—

• Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, lavender, and cardamom in a large bowl.

• Add oil to a glass measuring cup that holds at least 1 cup. Add the egg, then fill the jug to the 1-cup line with milk (1/3 to 1/2 cup milk). Add vanilla and whisk to combine.

• Add milk mixture to the bowl with dry ingredients and use a wooden spoon to combine. Do not over-mix. (The muffin batter will be fairly thick. Fold in the blueberries.

Bake—

• Fill the muffin cups with batter. (If making big-topped muffins, the batter will come to the tops of the paper liners). Sprinkle a little sugar on top of each muffin.

• Bake muffins 15 to 20 minutes or until tops are no longer wet and a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out with crumbs, not wet batter. Transfer to a cooling rack.