Dancing with the Moon


 Dancing with the Moon: A Story of Love at the Villa della Luna, continues with the adventures of Mademoiselle J that began in The Secrets of Pistoulet


I first visited Villa della Luna through Pfaltzgraff’s collection of Dinnerware~ created from the art of Jana Kolpen and Mary Tiegreen in this magical & charming tale.

Villa della Luna-001

In Dancing with the Moon, Mademoiselle J embarks on her journey to a seaside villa in Italy.

Magical recipes contribute wisdom for her journey, such as Transformational Moon CrescentsThe Risotto of Welcomes and Beginnings, and Pasta Vivante, for those who are afraid of the passion of life.


 Under the New Moon and a time for new beginnings, I took the advice of Madame Sosostris, and set off on a path involving fables of food & love with The Novel Bakers. . .


I was all set to travel through the pages to Italy

when I fell under the spell & fragrance of

gardenias that drifted my way. . .


And got distracted

and took a different course. . .


I decided to prepare a couple of

 Gardenia Love Baths

for the birds~



Gardenias DWTM


After my visit in the Salon de Thé with Madame Sosostris,  I became curious about exotic teas. . .Lord Butterworth’s Boxing Day Tea, Whirling Dervish, Tibetan Temptest. . .

Gardenias DWTM1

I decided to brew my own blend,

some Gardenia Tea. . .


 “Prepare an infusion of aromatic tea laced with the fruits and flowers of summers past.”

Gardenia Tea -001

“Experience the swirling steam as you imagine yourself dancing back through time to a point of great clarity. Close your eyes and become a part of the faded scene. As you understand the past and its sacred essence, let the pathway to your future unfold.”


 Gardenias were considered an edible flower and safe to brew for tea, so I gathered some gardenia blooms and petals to steep.

Like any edible flower, you only want to use blooms that have not been sprayed or chemically treated.


The Tea of Yesterday~

To be served to those who are seeking clues from the past in order to understand the present.


Gently wash your freshly picked blooms to remove any debris or insects. Add boiling water in a ratio of 2 to 1 (water to petals), cover and steep 5 – 15 minutes.

Pour through a strainer and sweeten with honey or sweetener of your choice. The flavor is light, and as you might guess, slightly floral :) and similar to Jasmine tea.


Tea calls for a tea time treat~

Transformational Moon Crescents~ to be baked and served on the eve of a New Moon to those who are on a path of transformation, even if unknowingly.


 Transformational Moon Crescents aka Pecan Crescents, recipe courtesy of Madame Sososotris and Southern Living.


1 cup pecan halves, toasted

1 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

Powdered sugar for dusting

*Sesame Seeds for Transformational Moon Crescents

Moon Crescent Cookies-001


Pulse pecans in a food processor until they are coarse like sand.

Beat butter and 3/4 cup powdered sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Stir in vanilla and ground pecans. Gradually add flour, beating until a soft dough forms. Beat at low speed just until combined. Cover and chill 1 hour.

Divide dough into 5 portions; divide each portion into 12 pieces. Roll dough pieces into 2-inch logs, curving ends to form crescents. For Transformational Moon Crescents, roll dough into sesame seeds and then curve. Place on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake at 350° for 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool 5 minutes. Dust warm cookies without sesame seeds with powdered sugar. Cool completely on wire racks.


Sesame moon crescents are done when golden and have imparted their power to open locked doors.


In addition to recipes, Dancing with the Moon is a vivid tactile experience filled with interactive elements such as gatefold doors, concealed treasures, tarot cards, and passports.

More than a book, it is an open-hearted invitation to learn and to love.

“Gardenias are known to attract high spirits, induce peaceful vibrations and strengthen love potions.”


Join The Novel Bakers on Friday and travel with

 Mademoiselle J to Ireland in The Circle of Kindness.

novel bakers

Thank you for your visit!

I’m happy to be joining The Novel Bakers~ a quiet lifeRattlebridge Farm and Once Upon a Plate

Also sharing at Tutorials Tips and TidbitsFoodie FridaySeasonal Sundays

  29 comments for “Dancing with the Moon

  1. Sandi Lee
    June 26, 2013 at 6:33 am

    What a wonderful idea to treat the birds to a special bath!

  2. Franki
    June 26, 2013 at 6:54 am

    Charming, absolutely charming! franki

  3. June 26, 2013 at 7:27 am

    I truly enjoy your site and look forward to it on the days you post. I ordered the book “The Secrets of Pestoulet”. Can’t wait to receive it and emers myself in the book.

  4. June 26, 2013 at 7:47 am

    I so love “the Novel Bakers”….and if I have a bird visit my porch and it smells like gardenias, I will know where it has been…beautiful, beautiful Mary!!..

  5. Rattlebridge Farm
    June 26, 2013 at 7:59 am

    Oh, you made the crescent tea cookies! I bought the sesame seeds and my house ate them! I’m still looking. And your beautiful gardenia is blooming–I can just imagine the sweetness in the air. The tea looks magical–so delicate and dreamy. Your view of Villa Della Luna is beautiful and captivating, Mary. I have been looking forward to this for days and days, and I feel as if I’ve been to the Villa. Such a joy. So much beauty to behold. Thank you for this lovely start to the day!

  6. Paula
    June 26, 2013 at 8:18 am

    Its early here in the north and I feel I have been to the spa already, with your beauty gardenia tea, and tea cookies so very relaxing. I am so ready to enjoy life !! (6 more days of work woohoo).
    Thank you for sharing your beautiful pictures and stories, I so much enjoy them!!

  7. Peggy Thal
    June 26, 2013 at 8:36 am

    So beautiful and spiritual. Enjoyed your post . Love the gardenias , tea and crescent cookies. All so sweet and pretty, thank you.

  8. June 26, 2013 at 8:38 am

    I love this post…I need to get connected with the novel bakers!!! Where have these books been….I’m unfamiliar with them, and they look delightful! I love the gardenias in this post, too. An Eagle Scout planted several around our outdoor church at the lake, and they smell heavenly!

    LOVE this post, and I’ll be back to view it some more.


  9. June 26, 2013 at 9:00 am

    Oh Mary, your words and photos are magical! Thank you for taking me along on the trip. Now I’m ready to brew some tea and make some crescent cookies. I look forward to visiting Ireland next.

  10. June 26, 2013 at 10:20 am

    oh that first pic with the gardenias, be still my heart! and the bird bath! tingles, honest :-) i love love love your gardenias, the smell is wafting all the way from your lake to my sea… each shot is prettier then the next! its so funny when i was showering i could see my gardenias in bloom by the pool, but it was 3 flights of stairs down so i never followed through, good thing, you would have shamed me!

    i have never had gardenia tea, now i am craving it! and those beautiful blue dishes…

    and your crescent cookies… so pretty with all your treasures… we are so lucky you share so much beauty. really, standing O for you!

    loved loved loved dancing with the moon and YOU, prettiest way to start my day ever, i have a love affair with gardenias and you did them beyond perfection.

    heavy sigh of contenmentt… thank so much for joining in the fun as wholeheartedly as you do!

  11. June 26, 2013 at 11:03 am

    Mary, Oh my ~ Stellar job! Pretty from start to finish. The Sesame Crescents look divine (thank you for sharing the Southern Living version.) I was a little dubious about the one in the book. Love that you finished them two ways. How I miss being able have gardenias here, and so clever to provide a luxurious scented bath for the birds .;-) (Lucky birds!!)
    Such pretty dishes (love the butterflies!!) Such a pleasure to come visit and enjoy your creativity!

  12. Tardevil
    June 26, 2013 at 11:21 am

    I’ve never seen the sesame crescents made before, but they look delicious. I was at Oak Street Mill the other day, and saw a lot of things that reminded me of your potting shed. ;)

  13. June 26, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    Absolutely charming!
    The more reviews I read about these books from you the more I want to get down in my “to read” pile of books and just read both, Secret & Moon out of order…but I’m reading the Outlander series and am also captivating with those, so Madame J’s adventures will just have to wait…and now she’s going to Ireland?! Be still my heart!
    Love the blue and white tea pot, cup & saucer!

  14. June 26, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    Mary, I’d love to be a little birdie splashing in one of your gardenia baths. How delightful! Your bush is amazing. I managed to kill the gardenia I had in a pot. This makes me want to try again. Love the fragrance of gardenias. I must find some and try that tea. Thanks for sharing all this beauty. I’m going to pick up a copy of this book. Hooray for the Novel Bakers! ~ Sarah

  15. June 26, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    This post reminded me of the type of posts from where I first met you. Via Jain Moon & her blog where you cooked what was in the book you read. I can’t remember the name of the blog. Do you ever hear from Jain? She dropped off the face of the earth when she moved to the coast. We’re heading out that way & I’d love to find her to visit. Beautiful post. Loved your photos. HUGS!

  16. June 26, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    So beautiful and the crescents look yummy!…Christine

  17. Lisa Mcgee Smith
    June 26, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    Gorgeous pictures – I LOVE gardenias. Their smell is intoxicating. Yours look so much better than mine though :-). I like to bring a few blossoms at a time to make my house smell good. Thanks for the post!

  18. June 26, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    I have saved this all day until I could linger and enjoy it! The beautiful posts that the Novel Bakers have created are truly extraordinary and I delight in each and every one. It would be easy to spend hours devouring all your exquisite details. I look forward to treating myself to the books very soon!
    Thank you so much for sharing your stunning work~and of course you would have a gardenia scented birdbath :)

  19. June 26, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    Very pretty Mary! Your crescent cookies look great and I wish I had one or three right about now-enjoy:@)

  20. June 26, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    Hi there, Mary! My Mom just LOVES the smell of gardenias, and I have always love the look of them. I like to wear them in my hair! You have put a whole new and beautiful spin on them with this beautiful and serene tablescape! How pretty to see the bloom floating in the tea along with the orange slice and cinnamon stick!

    Those pecan crescents look REALLY delicious!!! It has been a long time since I’ve had any!

  21. June 26, 2013 at 10:57 pm

    Mary, I would like to be a little birdie bathing among the gardenias! I had no idea that you could make a tea using them. The scent of gardenias always makes me think of my grandmother. She had several shrubs growing in her yard. I have a miniature one and it’s doing poorly. Yours appears to blooming up a storm!

  22. June 27, 2013 at 5:49 am

    I wish I had some gardenia tea and crescent tea cookies for my breakfast ;o) I’m sure the birds enjoyed their special bath!

  23. Mary T.
    June 27, 2013 at 8:03 am

    Gorgeous! You have brought our little book to life in a magical way! Jana and I are thrilled! Thanks so much! Can’t wait to see “The Circle of Kindness!” Best wishes, Mary Tiegreen

  24. June 27, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    One of my favorite flowers. Have some in my front yard… Thanks for the info…

  25. June 27, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    Gardenias were profuse outside my screen porch this spring, however, I must confess to having done absolutely creative with them. There were always birds splashing in the fountain….wonder how they’d have liked the gardenia bath.

  26. July 7, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    I wish I could grow gardenias here! The scent is absolutely heavenly. The garden tea and almond cookies sound delicious!

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