Thursday, June 26, 2008

Enchanted Styles

A big part of the Enchanted Life is how you decorate your house. Hopefully, by the end of summer I can take some photos of the cottage to show you my own enchanted styles. But in the mean time, I thought I'd discuss what styles work with the Enchanted Life and which ones don't.

In general, styles that work well in the Enchanted paradigm are those styles which take you to another time or place. They are styles that contain a richness and depth to them. They are less about clean simple lines and more about presenting a feast for the senses.

Over the course of this blog, I hope to go into each of these styles in detail.

Styles That Fit with the Enchanted Life
  • Victorian

  • Renaissance

  • Medieval

  • Gothic

  • Rustic Country

  • Shabby Chic

  • Asian

  • India Inspired

  • Middle Eastern

  • Art Nouveau

  • Garden/Natural

  • Georgian

  • French

  • Fairytale

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Book Review: Tiny Treats

A few weeks ago, to celebrate the end of school, the fairies brought my daughter the book Tiny Treats by Julia A. Monroe. The books shows how to make tiny, fairy-sized, edible food from other foods. This books is great if you are going to put on a fairy picnic or tea. The food is just the right size for our fae friends, as well as yummy (for the most part) for our human ones.

The book is listed at 8+, but my six year old daughter seemed to be able to do most of the recipes we tried with just a little help. The food is adorable and for the most part very easy to make. I will admit some of the combinations sound less than appetizing (in particular the sandals made from Nutter Butters and Fruit Roll-Ups). But of everything we tried, we liked.

My only other complaint is that some of the instructions are little vague or could be improved upon in small ways. For instance, we made the tiny watermelons on pg 19. The instructions tell you to put the lime halves your using as the outside of the watermelon into a muffin tin so they don't roll around. Well, they still roll around. I found that if I cushion them with paper towels first, it makes it easier to fill them with watermelon jello insides as well as move them to the fridge to set.

We also tried the sub sandwiches on pg 18. However, I couldn't find the breadsticks they suggest, so we used small dinner rolls instead. Also, my daughter is not a fan of pepperoni, tomato, or onions. So, we used her favorite sandwich stuffs instead, cutting down pieces of chicken and ham to fit on our tiny buns.

A friend of mine tried the Jelly Roll on pg 30 and said that is a great and easy snack that kids can make themselves. My daughter and I also tried the perfume bottles on pg 41. This is a great recipe for younger kids if you just use slightly larger candies. In my daughters case, I used Jolly Ranchers (though be careful, some stand upright better than others).

We also made the hats on the same page. These are lots of fun to decorate. My only advice is that if you want to cover the tops with Fruit Roll-Ups that you do that before you frosting the tops to the bottoms.

However, my favorite recipe in the entire book is the tiny cakes on pg 34-35. They are so very simple to make--just two sandwich cookies frosted together, then covered in frosting. And like the hats, they are lots of fun to decorate. More over, I can see lots of uses for these beyond fairy picnics. They would make great treats for school or favors for a party. And the little wedding cake that's made the same way on pgs 36-37 would be adorable at a shower or even at a wedding.

Overall, I thought this was a great book for kids and adults alike. While the instructions could be more detailed, the pictures are great. And the food is fun.

The book is available through the American Girl website or in local book retailers.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Kids Project: Fairy Mailbox.

If you have young children (or even older ones) who believe in fairies, this is a fun, ongoing project you can do with them. A fairy mailbox is a special mailbox that kids can use to write the fairies and receive messages from them.

The idea originally comes from Cultivating Sacred Space by Elizabeth Murray. In the chapter on her own garden, she mentions a knotty hole in one of her trees that the neighborhood children use as a fairy mailbox to send letters and small gifts to the fairies (as well as receive them, sometimes). So when I moved into the enchanted cottage, there was an old mailbox in the backyard that my mother had put there as a birdhouse. A light bulb clicked and I knew it would make a perfect fairy mailbox for my own daughter. She loves it and checks it everyday in case the fairies have sent her something.

For ages 2 and up, with adult participation.

What you'll need:

Old metal mailbox, or other weather-proof paintable container
Primer for metal (or whatever material your mailbox is made out of)
Paint, various colors
weather-proof varnish
various ribbons and lace
bells or wind chime
metallic ink pens (available from scrap booking supply stores)
fairy treats (see instructions)

Prime the mailbox for painting. Explain what a fairy mailbox is to your little one. Then, together, paint the mailbox however you want. You can paint flowers, fairies, animals, plants, stars, hearts---whatever motif you think the local fairies will like. And you can use whatever method you like best. In my daughters case, we used sponge shapes she got in a painting kit to put flowers and birds all over the box. However, you could use stencils or decals or just freehand designs. Afterwards, cover the box with the varnish to preserve you paint job. Tie the ribbons and lace on the handle of the mailbox to create a decorative pull to help the fairies (and your little ones) open it.

Next, find a spot outside where you can mount the mailbox so the fairies can find it. An old tree trunk works well, or you can use a post. In our case, the box was already mounted on a pole outside so we painted the post as well. Hang the bells or wind chimes nearby. The fairies will like to fly by the box a lot and that way you'll be able to hear them.

For letters from the fairies, use paper that has the edges artfully torn. You can use ordinary computer paper, just carefully tear off the edges to make the paper seem more rough. Write the letters addressed to your child (or children) with the metallic ink pens. If you can, use a fancy script print (or cursive if you child can read it). Write about the things going on in your child's life (latest trip to Grandma's, school activity, favorite toys, etc). As an extra touch, use the pen to add glitter trails (make * all over) or tiny fairy footprints. Originally, I signed these letters "the fairies" but my daughter began to ask what the fairies' names were. So now they are signed with a fairy name (such Daisy Starshine) and the rest of the fairies. The fairies also like to leave presents, usually in the form of a small piece of candy, stickers, or some other small trinket. On special occasions such as birthdays, they like to leave something bigger.

Encourage you child(ren) to correspond with the fairies. Younger children can draw pictures and older ones can write notes (great writing practice by the way). And they can leave presents for the fairies too, such as flowers, leaves, shells, or pretty stones.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Inspirations: Movies

Let's face it, even the most imaginative people are inspired by other things. For me, books, tv, and movies are the biggies (as I'm sure they are for most people). So here's a list of movies that helped inspire the whole Enchanted Life. Some are aesthetic, some simply more emotional/mood-setting. They are all about letting a little magic into your life, in some way or another. (Note: If you want to look any of these up, try IMDB)

Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Harry Potter
Practical Magic
The Dark Crystal
Dangerous Liaisons
Immortal Beloved
Sleepy Hollow
A Little Princess
The Last Unicorn
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
The Craft
Dangerous Beauty
The Phantom of the Opera
Moulin Rogue
Romeo + Juliet
Fairy Tale: A True Story
Last Samurai
Pride and Prejudice
Ever After
Shakespeare In Love
Like Water for Chocolate
Spiderwick Chronicles
Interview with a Vampire
Bram Stoker's Dracula
Kingdom of Heaven
Hamlet (Kenneth Branagh version)
Much Ado About Nothing
A Midsummer's Night Dream
The Neverending Story
Pirates of the Caribbean
Pete's Dragon
Mary Poppins
Bedknobs and Broomsticks
The Princess Bride
The Chronicles of Narnia
The Illusionist
The Prestige
The Wizard of Oz

Just about any animated Disney movie, but in particular:
Beauty and Beast
The Dark Cauldron
Sleeping Beauty
Snow White
The Sword in the Stone
Peter Pan
Nightmare Before Christmas

Also add to that the works of Hayao Myazaki:
Princess Mononoke
Howl's Moving Castle
Spirited Away
Kiki's Delivery Service
Porco Rosso
Castle in the Sky
NausicaƤ of the Valley of the Wind

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Enchanted Life Philosophy

I thought I ought to cover what exactly the Enchanted Life philosophy entails. While the Enchanted Life is a primarily a lifestyle, there is an underlying philosophy.

Put simply, the Enchanted Life is about bringing magic into your life through the way you live. Too often, we get caught in up reality--whether it be financial, family, personal, social, or whatever problems are plaguing us. Unfortunately, we often get so caught up in our problems that they dominate other aspects of our life. Now, we can't hide from problems. If anything we need to face them head on and deal with them. However, we can't let them take over every aspect of our lives either. I guess that's really the basis of the Enchanted Life, bringing magic into your life to keep the problems from taking over, making them more manageable in the long run.

I want to clarify, that the term magic is not the same as magick--the term used in Wicca. While I am a practicing Pagan, the Enchanted Life is not a religion or magickal system. Ideally, it shouldn't matter what your religion is, the Enchanted Life should be for anyone who embraces their imagination. Its a lifestyle and when we talk about magic, we are talking more about feelings than a mystical "force". When I use the word magic, I'm talking about the mood it invokes. I'm using it along with words like whimsy, fantasy, delightful, romantic, charming, fairy-tale, dreamy, and of course enchanted.

This means that there will be lots of motifs that evoke those words: fairies, unicorns, fair maidens, sorceresses and wizards, dragons, and all sorts other mythical and fairy tale creatures. Likewise, there are certain historical periods that lend themselves to the Enchanted Life: ancient Greek and Roman, Medieval and Renaissance, and Victorian.

So what kind of things can one hope to find here? Craft projects, recipes, party ideas, decorating ideas, activities, clothing ideas, gardening ideas, and sources to make it all happen. Oh, and probably more posts like this one that explore the philosophy behind it all.

For now, enjoy!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

A Cool Design Web Site

I love interior design. I watch all those home improvement shows on HGTV and TLC constantly. I've decorated my house in the enchanted style (and yes, there will be posts about it).

So, when I came across the DesignMyRoom site, I was in 7th heaven. It lets you design rooms using existing products. I may post some of my designs here when I get the chance.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

About My Yahoo Group

A while ago, I created a Yahoo! Group called Serena's Ideas. I'm an obsessive right-clicker and have folders full of pictures of things I like. I created the group as a way of sharing them with other people. There are decorating ideas, wedding and party ideas, and some graphics that are great for Pagan/Wiccan scrapbooking. I also have a small section on costume ideas too.

The group itself is pretty inactive. I think people mostly joined to get access to the pictures and the links (there is a great link list there too). Anyways, I thought it might be of interest to people who come and read this blog as well. It used to have an open membership (ie you didn't need approval to join), but the spam got to be too much. So, it requires approval from to me to join, but I don't really care who are as long as you promise not to spam it.

Monday, June 2, 2008

My Other Summer Project

Hi, my name is Danielle and I'm amateur writer, among other things. I work as a substitute teacher during most of the year, but that means I have my summers off. I always try to find something to occupy my time during the summer, a project if you will. Well, this blog is going to be my summer project.

I live in an enchanting little lakeside cottage. It's enchanted, in part by its location, but also by all the work I put in to decorating it and all the fun projects I try to come up with for my daughter and myself. I hoping to post these here as the summer goes on. I like to introduce the rest of the world to an enchanted lifestyle, full of fairies, magic, nature, and all sorts of other wonderful things!

Like I said, I'm an amateur writer and I do have another writing project going on. Its a novel called Dusk of Innocence and can be found here at Elfwood. It also has an associated blog here at LiveJournal, though if I like blogger enough I may move it here.