A loss with no name…

In October 1988, President Ronald Reagan Proclaimed October as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and today, October 15th, as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. He said, “When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them.”

This month recognizes the loss so many parents experience across the United States and around the world. It is also meant to inform and provide resources for parents who have lost children due to miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy, stillbirths, birth defects, SIDS, and other causes.

I’m sure there’s all sorts of political mumbo jumbo associated with all of this that I don’t care to be involved in, but the bottom line is this, I like what he said and in a world that is full of so much badness, it’s nice that there is an informative resource for people who are hurting. 

A fellow blogger, Lexi Behrndt, who lost her infant son Charlie in 2014, wrote a beautiful letter to all grieving mothers, you can read it here.

It reminded me of a poem I wrote a few years ago about my miscarriages.   

 Thanks to time, the loving support of friends and family, and our wonderful hope for the future, we have made it through these difficult times. I hope that is the case for all of those parents out there hurting today, and every day. 

Delightful Dishes

I am absolutely positively in love with Walmart’s new line of dishes from The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. You can get yours here. It’s literally like Ree climbed into my head and created my dream line of dishes to perfectly complement my home. See for yourself, you’ll be drooling too. 

    
     

 Like what you see? Have you ever made a recipe from our blog? Well we have some EXCITING NEWS! Beauty & The Butcher is hosting it’s first giveaway!  

 You could win this adorable butter dish or another piece from the new collection of dishes by The Pioneer Woman, available at Walmart

Here’s how to enter: First make sure you’re following @beauty_and_the_butcher on Instagram. Then choose your favorite recipe from the blog, post a picture of the dish, tag us & three friends in the photo, and the grand prize could be yours! All entries must be submitted by October 12th! 

“Thank you, thank you very much…”

 If Elvis could express gratitude to millions of fans with the expression, can’t you write it on a measly piece of paper to show your appreciation?!In life, I try to constantly tell myself that just because I would do something a certain way, doesn’t mean someone else must do the same. I used to file thank you notes under that category, but I’m putting my foot down. Enough already, it’s just plan rude! If someone gives you a gift, has you over for dinner, or just does something really nice, whatever it may be, they deserve a thank you card. Period. There is no excuse. 

Of course this is just my personal opinion but if you ask me…I’ll tell you I’m very rarely wrong. Haha! My blog, my rules. But seriously people, if someone took the time and forethought to do one of the aforementioned things for you, then certainly you can take the time to write a few words on a card, put it in an envelope and drop it in the mailbox. Don’t forget your stamp! I suppose in this day and age even a virtual thank-you via email, e-card, or text is acceptable…it wouldn’t be my first choice but based on today’s etiquette, I’ll take what I can get. 

Please know that my intention is not to call anyone out or point fingers…so if you’re reading this and feeling a twinge of guilt, it’s your fault, not mine! 

You can’t tell me that you don’t smile in delight when you see a handwritten card in the post and upon opening it find a heartfelt expression of thanks from someone you love, there’s nothing like it. You can give someone that same feeling! Don’t agree with me? Ask Emily Post, the authority on all things etiquette for well over a hundred years. (If you don’t know who she is, that’s your first problem. Look her up here.) Even though I feel a thank you card is always necessary, weddings are a time when they are particularly appropriate. Peggy Post, Emily’s great granddaughter, has the following to say on the subject from emilypost.com

There is nothing more appreciated than a lovely handwritten thank-you note. Some tips from Peggy Post on turning this obligation into a pleasure not a chore.

When should notes be written?

Contrary to popular myth, the happy couple does not have a year’s grace period. All thank you notes should be written within three months of the receipt of the gift. Ideally, a response should be written on the day you receive a wedding gift. If that’s not possible, set a daily goal. It’s a lot easier to write three or four notes a day than to have to write a hundred notes in a month after the wedding!

What stationery should be used?

First of all, stationery is the operative word here: No fill-in-the-blank cards, no pre-printed cards, no phone calls, no emails, and no generic post on your website!

Who needs a note?

  • Anyone who gives you an engagement, shower or wedding gift, even if you have thanked them in person. Individual notes should be written to people who contributed to a group gift.
  • Anyone who gives a gift of money: cash, checks, contributions to savings accounts, and donations to charities. Mentioning the amount is optional, but it does let the person know the correct amount was received. You should mention what you plan to do with the money
  • Your attendants. A warm personal note attached to your gifts to your attendants will let them know how much you appreciate their efforts and support on your behalf.
  • Anyone who hosted a party or shower for you. Ideally these notes should be written within two days of the event. Each host or hostess should be thanked individually with a note and a thank you gift.
  • People who house or entertain your wedding guests. A note and a small gift should be sent to anyone who houses or entertains out-of-town wedding guests.
  • People who do kindnesses for you. The neighbor who accepts delivery of your gifts when you are at work; the cousin who supervises the parking at the reception – anyone who assists you before, during or after your wedding.
  • Suppliers and vendors. You don’t have to write everyone you hire for services, but anyone who exceeds your expectations will appreciate a courteous note of thanks.
  • Your parents or whoever is hosting your wedding.

Ten Dos and Don’ts of Thank-You Notes

  • Do personalize your notes and make reference to the person as well as the gift.
  • Do remember that a gift should be acknowledged with the same courtesy and generous spirit in which it was given. 
  • Do be enthusiastic, but don’t gush. Avoid saying a gift is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen unless you really mean it. 
  • Don’t send form letters or cards with printed messages and just your signature; don’t use email or post a generic thank you on your wedding web site in lieu of a personal note. 
  • Do promptly acknowledge the receipt of shipped gifts by sending a note right away or calling and following up with a written note in a day or two. 
  • Don’t mention that you plan to return a gift or that you are dissatisfied in any way. 
  • Don’t tailor your note to the perceived value of the gift; no one should receive a perfunctory note. 
  • Do refer to the way you will use a gift of money. Mentioning the amount is optional. 
  • Don’t include wedding photos or use photo cards if it will delay sending the note.
  • Don’t use being late as an excuse not to write. Even if you are still sending notes after your first anniversary, keep writing!

Even though the above tips are geared for brides, I feel they are a great guideline for anyone who is rendered an act of kindness and wishes to show their gratitude. Make it fun for yourself, get some cute cards from the store, or even get crafty and make your own! Keep them in a box with a fancy pen, your address book, and stamps, that way you’re all ready to go! Happy thanking! 

Blink of an eye…

The bible uses the expression, “in the blink of an eye” to describe a moment in time in which a drastic change instantly takes place. Time is a funny thing and truly can change in an instant. How do we know when we do something that it’s the last time we are doing it? We don’t. Some are small, seemingly insubstantial moments in time that become the last simply because time moves on. 

I think about moments I cherished in my childhood, how my mother lovingly stroked my forehead when I wasn’t feeling well, or how my father read to me and said a prayer with me every night before I went to sleep. When was the last time she touched my forehead, did I have a fever? Was I eight, or twelve, or fifteen? What was the date of the last day my father read to me, that we all the sudden deemed I was too old? Did we know it was the last time? Was it just a natural progression? What was the last book we read? My sister and I used to take baths together when we were little, laughing, drawing on the tub with our Avon bathtub crayons, and hosting cooking shows making egg rolls out of washcloths and “special sauce” (or shampoo…much to my mothers dismay as we probably used a whole bottle each bath).  This was probably why I used to love giving Geneva, my niece, a bubble bath. We would sit and sing, make bubble beards, and carefully rinse her her hair with a cup and a cloth over here eyes to avoid any teary “shampoo in the eye” moments. But at some point she got old enough to take baths by herself. I remember that eventually my sister grew older, wanting to take her own baths, and the bright cheerful bathroom became dark, echoey, and lonely. But when was our last bath? When did I last bathe Neva, what song did we sing, and did I take a picture of her bubble beard? Moments that we take for granted vanish in the blink of an eye. 

Last week we took our nieces to Disney World and as we neared the exit, we passed the aftermath of what we could tell was a horrible car accident. The road was still covered in debris and on the shoulder were two cars that were a rusty brown, burnt to almost nothing, like something out of a movie. The butcher looked up the crash later online based on our location. It had happened in the middle of the night and the car most severely burnt was a Mercedes SUV from out of state carrying a young married couple and their infant daughter. The couple died in the car and the baby girl was thrown from the vehicle and died at the hospital. The other driver, who was intoxicated, of course survived with minor injuries. As my husband recanted this awful tragedy to me, I thought about this family, probably traveling through the night to take their little girl to Disney for the first time. Did they cherish those moments in the car that would unknowingly be their last? 

I thought of ourselves on that same road, holding my husbands right hand as he drives with his left, glancing at his handsome profile as he focuses on the road, staring amusedly at the one grey hair which has recently appeared in his sideburns, the one he refuses to let me cut because, “it’s cool”. Singing songs with the girls and telling them stories about our childhood (which weren’t really that exciting but they love hearing stories) chuckling at Geneva’s sweet innocence as she’s always in her own world, and hanging on every word Mahal says, marveling at how incredibly smart she is and knowing as she gets older the words will become less and less.

If a drunk driver had hit us at that moment, can I remember the song we were singing together, or the last question they asked me, or which eye my husband winked at me with, the wink that still to this day after nine years, gives me butterflies in my stomach. Could I remember? Probably not. But I do know that I intend to start being more present, taking notice of each moment as it’s passing and cherishing each and every one, before I blink and they’re gone.

Color Yourself Calm

“Wanna color?” 

A common question among children of all ages and one to which my answer was always a resounding, “Yes!”

I’ve always had an artistic flair, but coloring was a real favorite activity of mine. Maybe it’s because it’s the due to the quiet solitude that comes with it, or the fact that it was an activity I enjoyed with my big sister. She taught how to stay inside the lines and how to outline the shape in a bolder color and then use the same shade with a lighter hand to fill in the rest. Although we often colored together, we did not, however, share a coloring book.  

Because she was four years my senior, her skills were much more advanced than mine. I guess you could say I was, in the early days at least, a bit of a scribbler. Thus, she wanted no part of my scribbling in her precious coloring books. One said book, if I remember correctly, was a shiny green jungle themed Crayola coloring book. It was full of perfectly colored complete pictures (I emphasize this because most of my books were only half colored; since I would begin a page and get bored halfway through or, not being happy with the color choices I made, give up and move on) of toucans, palm fronds, and intricately drawn wildlife. I was warned by penalty of death to never touch the jungle book. Bah! Pun intended! If I remember correctly, I think I may have actually abided by that particular command, but my sister may disagree…

To this day, any time I get the girls all set up for a coloring session, I can’t help but join them!  

 

Apparently, adult coloring is actually a thing now. “Color yourself Calm” is the slogan of one such book I found by Anastasia Catris called, Color Me Mindful.  As someone who is artistically inclined and suffers from stress, anxiety, and depression, I had to give it a try!

   
The website, psychologies, has this to say about the subject; 

Coloring in may well be something you remember fondly from your childhood – or something your own children, nieces, nephews, or grandchildren enjoy now.

But this simple activity has been making headlines lately, especially in France, where colouring books for grown-ups are selling faster than cook books.

With mindfulness the buzz word of the moment, colouring in is an easy way to calm the mind and occupy the hands. Speaking at a mental health workshop in 2009, author, speaker and communication expert Mark Robert Waldman explained that active meditation focuses attention on simple tasks that require repetitive motion. Concentrating this way replaces negative thoughts and creates a state of peace, and many people who have a difficult time with concentrative meditation can find this easier. This gentle activity where you choose the colours to create your picture and the repetitive action of colouring it in focuses the brain on the present, blocking out any intrusive thoughts.

Meanwhile, a recent study from San Francisco State University has shown that people who partake in creative activities outside of work not only deal with stress better but their performance at work improves, too. You need only look at the massive explosion of interest in crafts such as knitting and dressmaking in recent years to see how many people are choosing to occupy themselves in such creative activities.

Artist Wendy Piersall gives some helpful tips as well as supplies suggestions, I’ve shared some below but for even more, check out her website.

When I first published Coloring Animal Mandalas, I just assumed that this would be a zero-instructions-needed kind of book. It’s coloring! Who hasn’t colored before?! To my utter surprise, how to color in coloring books has been THE most asked question I have gotten as a coloring book artist. I realized that most adults haven’t colored in 20+ years (or sometimes 60-70+ years!). Also, when you’re coloring as an adult, crayons just don’t cut it anymore. We want a great experience, and want to use great, grown up materials. So since I’ve been asked about this a zillion times, here’s my overview of how to color coloring books.

How Do You Choose Which Colors to Use?

I’ve been asked this question a lot. The question I hear when I read between the lines is that people don’t feel particularly artistic and are fearful that they don’t have what it takes to color something beautiful. To which I say: IT’S COLORING. 2 year olds can handle this. There is no wrong way to do it. And almost any color combination will look good. But in the interest of actually answering this question, there’s several ways to tackle color choices:

Go with a rainbow spectrum. Who doesn’t love rainbows?

Go in blindfolded. Meaning: just pick up a color and go. Let the spirit of spontaneity take over.

Go hip. Pantone releases it’s trend forecast twice a year. Admittedly, they are pretty good at it.

Go overboard. Find an image with colors you love (I have a Pinterest board full of them here) and upload it to this free online color palette generator. I take no responsibility for the hours you will lose once you start playing with this tool.

How Do You Maximize Relaxation While Coloring?

One of the main reason adult coloring books are getting so popular lately is because they are a major stress-buster and tension reliever. You know how artists create art to stay sane and get into The Zone? That’s what coloring does for non-artists. Personally, I don’t think that there is any wrong way to color for relaxation. I’ve heard of people coloring on planes, in front of the TV, in coffee shops, and even in therapy sessions. It’s all good. For me personally, I like to color in my studio, which is an enclosed porch and has tons of natural light. I try to do it when I know I won’t be interrupted for at least 30 minutes. I also like to color with my favorite music playing in the background. 

So there you have it, adult coloring is all the rage and good for your brain! Right now I’m using colored pencils, but the tools I really have my eyes on are these Copic sketch markers, they are a pretty penny though!  

 
Until then I’ll stick with Crayola and my Carolina Beach playlist on Pandora.  Happy coloring! 

   

For a little video of me coloring, check out my Instagram, @beauty_and_the_butcher

Five of my Favorite Things 

Last week’s “Favorite Things” was a big hit so I decided to try and make it a weekly thing. So, with the risk of sounding like Andy Cohen, here’s five things I’m obsessed with this week… 

 Little Golden Book: The Color Kittens…SO excited when I found this, it was an absolute favorite of mine as a child, now it can be yours too! Can’t wait to read it to the girls. Find your copy here 

Bose Soundlink Bluetooth Speaker…this little colorful gem is a powerhouse of sound in a cute tiny package. It’s been great for summer nights on the patio! Get yours here 

Amope Pedi Perfect Electronic Pedicure Foot File and Callus Remover…this thing is amazing! It has cured my dry heels for good and doesn’t hurt or tickle! Sold here 
Mini Red Colander…these baby comes in all different colors and at only $1.99 a piece, you can get them all! Unfortunately they aren’t sold online but it’s worth the trip to your nearest World Market!

SMASHBOX Iconic Photo Finish Foundation Primer…this stuff works wonders, it gives you a smooth matte finish under your makeup without feeling greasy or heavy and it’s perfect for weddings or other occasions where you need your makeup to really last! Sold here 


sissy 

Someone recently, upon seeing my sister and I together, commented that we look nothing alike. It reminded me of this post I wrote last year about my sissy, so I thought I’d repost it for those of you who didn’t read it then.

  

Ever see a picture of yourself and at first you’re absolutely convinced that it’s someone else in your family? I was going through some photos from our trip to Pennsylvania this past winter and I came across this shot of me in my pj’s sipping coffee and eating delicious pumpkin pancakes at one of my BFF’s house. But before I remembered all that, I just stared at it thinking, “Where did this picture of my sister come from?!” It looks exactly like her. Maybe it’s because my hair is straight in the photo and she often wears hers that way, perhaps it’s the coke bottle glasses due to our inherited awful eyesight, or it could be the raised eyebrows, a signature move of her’s. But nonetheless, for a second I would’ve bet money it was my big sis. 

Not that this would be a bad thing. She’s pretty easy on the eyes; with a much better hairline than mine, high cheekbones, and a waistline that never changes. But that’s just the outside stuff. Due to a bit of a tough exterior, the insides are harder to get to but it’s pretty worthwhile when you do. She is sweet and kind yet inherently cynical, she always makes you laugh, and she takes a little gasp of air every time she begins to speak or especially sing. That last one wasn’t really a personality trait but it’s cute. When we were little she taught me how to tie my shoes and I, in turn, always went up to the counter at Wendy’s to ask for extra bbq sauce for her chicken nuggets because she was too shy. She never wanted me to hug her when she cried and she could hang with the boys like the best of them. She has a nervous little laugh and an affinity for gardening. 

We don’t get to see each other often and we’re not very good about staying in touch (which I wish were different), but we’re always able to pick up where we left off. I’ll never forget when she got too old to take baths with her baby sister or when we slept in her bedroom for the very last time the night before her wedding. She’s generous with her love and has opened her home to many a wayward child. I think she’s still mad at me for moving to Florida even though it’s been almost 10 years, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since I’m pretty sure she’s still holding a grudge about me drawing a bikini (and also chicken pox?) in blue ink on her favorite baby doll, Baby Lou, when I was six! She has dimples in her cheeks when she smiles and a walk that makes you want to shout things behind her like, “You got a porch for that swing?” or, “You want fries with that shake?” She is a talented seamstress and makes one mean latte. Despite being very different in many ways, we share a love of shopping at Target, sarcasm, Gilmore Girls, and dark haired Italian men with a “J” name. She despises onions and used to, when eating dinner together as a family years ago, put her fork down in disappointment upon finding a piece of onion, look at my mother and say, “Do you hate me?” I still chuckle thinking about it. We don’t say it often enough so I’ll let Jo March from Little Women say it for me, “I could never love anyone as I love my sister.”