Turning of the Wheel ~ Winter Solstice

Today, December 21st,  we celebrate the Winter Solstice ~ a turning of the wheel that gives us the opportunity to connect with the subtle changes and cycles of the season and help us attune with the inner changes and cycles in ourselves. This is a beautiful day in this hectic time to remember the miracles that surround us daily.

Solstice comes from the Latin words, sol, meaning sun, and sistere, meaning to stand still. It was named Solstice as it appeared as if the sun and moon stopped moving across the sky ~ as if time stood still for just that mere second ~ and maybe it does!

Although it is the longest night of the year, it is also the start of the solar year ~ the rebirth of the Sun. It can be a beautiful time to remember that our lives are part of a larger energy, always changing, always renewing.

I hope you all placed your intentions under the Dark New Moon in Sagittarius ~ the last new moon of the year. Now as we move into the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, I hope that you will bring those intentions forward again ~ or if you did not place your intention, this is a second beautiful chance to plant and seed.

Taking time for rituals with personal meaning serve as touchstones to help you to open to receiving and internalizing the magic that surrounds you. Here are a few simple rituals for you. Remember to create your space. Light a candle, incense or sage or gather some Evergreen to fill your house with the smell of the woods ~ evergreen symbolizes the continuity of life, protection and prosperity.

  • Host a Tea Ceremony: do this alone or with friends and family. Below is a lovely tea with herbs that are magical for this seasonal time:
    • Any type of apple (or use apple cider)
    • Star anise
    • One clove
    • One cinnamon stick

Wash and cut the apple and boil it in ~ 5 cups of water for 5-6 minutes. Add the clove, anise and cinnamon stick and let everything sit for 5-10 minutes. Strain and if you like add raw honey or another sweetener.

Sit in the dark and drink your tea ~ find a place where you can experience quiet and tune into the silence while sipping your tea. No need to think about what to do ~ just enjoy the taste, smell and feel of the tea in silence. Silence and darkness are soothing to the soul. Drink the second cup. Open to your magical self and all that you carry inside ~ its there for you.

  • Get a pomegranate and take out 12 seeds ~ throw each seed, one at a time, into a fire (fireplace, fire pit or even just a bowl of burning incense. Make a wish for the New Year as you throw each one into the fire. And don’t be afraid to dream big <3.
  • Light a circle of candles and make loving wishes for friends, family, co-workers or even those in need as you light each of them.
  • Watch the sun rise or set ~ ring bells or throw out seeds to offer to the winter birds. Give thanks for both the darkness and the light.
  • Celebrate with silence. Reflect on the stillness of this shortest day. Cultivate stillness in yourself by honoring the solstice with an hour of intentional silence.

And please, if you cannot do any of these rituals on the winter solstice itself ~ please make a time between now and the new year to share a quiet moment with you. Let it be your present to yourself.

I believe in miracles.

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White Chocolate and Pistachio-Dipped Rooibos Chai Shortbread

There’s no flavor more fall than the spice of chai tea.

With cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger, baking with chai is the perfect way to give any of your favorite baked goods an instant fall makeover. Just take our white chocolate and pistachio-dipped chai shortbread cookies.

While they sound—and taste—almost too good to be true, the quick boost of flavor from cooking with tea has these tasty fall-spiced goodies ready for your holiday party all under one hour from start to finish. Shhhh, we won’t tell if you don’t.

With flecks of loose tea directly blended into the butter and sugar, a beautiful white chocolate shell and a nutty crunch from a sprinkling of pistachios, these simple cookies will have your friends thinking you put in way more time in the kitchen than you did.

So, grab yourself some Flora Rooibos Chai (US/CA) and give your holiday cookies the makeover they deserve.

If you ran out of chips or just don’t want to mess with melted chocolate, no worries! These bad boys are just as good chocolate-free.

Who knew tea could be good for so much more than drinking?

Happy baking!

White Chocolate and Pistachio-Dipped Rooibos Chai Shortbread

1 hour

Yield: 12 cookies

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 bags Flora Chai Rooibos Tea (US/CA)
  • ½ cup granulated white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus some extra for rolling out the dough
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups white chocolate chips
  • ½ cup unsalted pistachios, chopped

Instructions

  1. Beat ½ cup butter and both sugars with the paddle attachment of a stand mixer (or with a handheld mixer in a large bowl) until well combined. Set aside remaining butter.
  2. Add flour, tea, and salt, and beat on low until just combined. The mixture will resemble small pebbles. If the dough crumbles when you try to form it into a ball with your hands, add a few drops of cold water. Wrap the dough in foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Unwrap dough and place on a generously floured surface. Pat dough into a ½-inch-thick disc, then sprinkle with flour, and gently roll the dough with a rolling pin to smooth the top. Cut into rounds with a 2-inch cookie cutter or glass and transfer to an ungreased baking sheet, leaving 1 inch between cookies. Bake until cookies are firm and beginning to turn golden (about 10 minutes). Let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer the cookies to wire racks or paper towels to finish cooling.
  4. Melt chocolate chips in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate is smooth. Alternatively, put chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until chocolate is smooth.
  5. Carefully dip each cookie halfway into melted chocolate then into finely chopped pistachios, transfer it to wax paper to cool. Serve immediately, or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a few days.

Full Moon in Gemini

This morning at  7:47 am PST (10:47 am EST) we enter the Full Moon in Gemini. Gemini is an air element and when the Moon is in Gemini we can find our thoughts and nerves speeding up. It is also a time to feel liberated and free ~ teaching us to work with possibilities. This is a time to focus on balancing the Element of Air ~ the unseen energies of life.

Air is the element that connects all other elements. It has the power to shift and change the landscape ~ shaping itself into the space available or shaping space to its own nature. You experience the power of air through its movement ~ maybe through a soft breeze passing over your skin or the scent of flowers it may carry. Air gives us life ~ it is the power of breath. Each breath is a cycle within itself. Your inhale represents the energy of receiving and your exhale the energy of giving. It is the wind beneath your wings, the power of your heart to direct you to right action. This power is the perfect balance between receiving and giving.

Thought:  What is taking shape in your life?

Here are a few ways to work with the element of air:

  1. Step out into the cool/cold air to bring you back to your breath ~ walk in the morning or evening and connect to your breath. Then as you breathe deeply connect to your heartbeat. This will help you to connect mind and heart, a beautiful connection to work with over the holiday season.
  2. Do a morning meditation or mantra. A sweet and simple mantra to use is, ‘Breathe and breathe again’.
  3. Use this hand mudra for calming and clearing the mind:

    Kalesvara Mudra


    Place the finger pads of your middle finger together; touch the first two joints of the index fingers and touch your thumbs. Bend your other fingers inward. Point your thumbs toward your chest and spread your elbows to the outside. Inhale and exhale slowly 10 times. Then observe your breath and lengthen the pause after inhalation and after exhalation a little bit more. This Mudra calms your mind from its flood of thoughts and agitated feelings. The calmer you become the longer the periods between your thoughts. You become clearer supporting your ability to find solutions.
    Affirmation: I connect to my breath and feel its calming energy. 

  1. Calm your overactive mind with herbal Bach Remedy No. 35 (White Chestnut), or drink a Valerian or Chamomile tea to calm and connect.

Today, bring in the color yellow in your surroundings or on your altar. If you like, work with the gemstones citrine or yellow jade. And to help focus your mind use the essential oils of rosemary, juniper berry or clary sage.