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


Top it off…

Julia Child said it best, “A party without cake is just a meeting.”

Cake makes everything better. So for my in-law’s 32nd anniversary I ordered a delicious chocolate ganache cake from our local Publix. Normally I’d make the cake but my MIL had been eyeing this one for a while so I knew she’d love it. I wanted to dress the cake up a little and make it extra special with some kind of cake topper. Other than cake, what makes everything better? GLITTER! So I pulled out my trusty glue gun and picked a lovely gold glitter from my abundant collection. Here’s what I did…

On a piece of parchment paper I wrote in glue a 3, a 2, and a heart. But obviously you could do whatever you want, even a word or phrase. Immediately after {hurry you don’t want it to dry!} insert a wooden skewer onto the bottom of the glue. Sprinkle generously with glitter. {You could also use paper confetti, or even rainbow sprinkles!} Let it dry and turn over, trace with glue, and sprinkle again. Once completely dry, trim skewers to the length of your cake and there you have it, some super easy, basically free, bling bling for your cake!



Oh, what a can of spray paint can do!

I’ve had these little wooden bookends for years just lying around, I got them on clearance at TJ Maxx and knew one day I’d paint them and find a home for them. They were a light purplish grey and all scuffed up in desperate need of a makeover. So when I decided to hang a little shelf over our tv, I knew it’d be the perfect spot for them. After picking out the color I wanted from my spray paint collection (and dusting off the bookends…) I selected a bright cheery orange and got to work. If you’ve never spray painted anything before and feel a little intimidated I assure you, there’s nothing to it. A little project like this is the perfect way to get your feet wet and if it doesn’t turn out right, paint over it! Or if it’s really terrible, give it away haha! So just a few sweeps of orange and a little drying time and I was done! I will warn you though, after a successful upcycle like this, you’re on a “spray paint high”…wait that doesn’t sound right, I don’t mean a literal high from the fumes I mean like an adrenaline high and you’ll be frantically looking around your house thinking, “what else can I paint????!!!!!”


Not an ugly mug…

For my first project in my “MAYbe Tomorrow” Pinterest challenge this month, I decided to do a super easy but cute project I’ve seen a ton on Pinterest…sharpie mugs! They are a great simple craft and can most likely be made with stuff you have lying around the house. They also make great mugs! Inspired by the Butcher’s mother and the funny saying she has for the way she prefers her coffee, I made this set for my in-laws. I am going to use another color, maybe turquoise or lime green, to make a set for my parents as well. (everybody calm down.) You can use mugs you already own, get some plain vintage ones from a thrift store, or use ones like I did from IKEA. Here’s how it’s done…

1. Grab a sharpie…preferably a newer one so the tip is sharper for more accurate drawing.
2. Write or draw whatever your heart desires on the mug; a quote, someone’s name, or even a blue duck (Billy Madison quote)
3. Put in the oven at 375 for 30 minutes.
4. Let cool.
5. This is a 99 cent mug with sharpie on it people, not the Rosetta Stone, so don’t put it in the dishwasher and use caution when washin’. (who doesn’t love a good rhyme?)

“X” is for…wait for it…(dad will be proud)…XENIAL!

Of course you know what that word means so I shouldn’t have to explain…right? Ha, it’s ok I didn’t either, but I have to say I was pretty excited that when looking for words starting with “x”, I found one that suits me pretty well.
Xenial adj. (ZEE-nee-uhl) : hospitable, especially to visitors.
There are definitely many things I wish I was more (or less) of. But I really do pride myself in being hospitable, or, xenial. So today’s example of my “xeniality” (yup that’s a word too!) is a small anniversary dinner we had for our best friends. I don’t believe that you have to wait for a “landmark” anniversary year like 10 or 15 to have a little party, any and every year that someone stays married (especially in this day and age) is something to celebrate! So our dear friends Stuart and Angela were celebrating their 12th anniversary and I decided to help them! I love a good dinner party and seriously have so much fun setting the table, decorating, making invitations, and planning the menu.
My first step was the invitations. Obviously I have an inside track to a good greeting card and invitation source (wink wink shameless plug to my etsy site but I decided to mix it up and try this cool new app I got called “Makr” where you create a lovely invitation (along with coordinating place cards, menus, etc. if you’re interested) and can order a hard copy or for a super low price, buy the PDF and print it yourself. Here was my result…

Nice huh? Since yellow and grey is one of Angela’s favorite color combos I decided to make that the color scheme for the party. As far as dishes and table linens, I already had everything I needed from my growing dish collection. A few folding tables, candles, a cake from my favorite local cake lady, a delicious Italian meal (with much assistance from the butcher), and 10 of their favorite people, voila, we had a party! Check it out!


yummy caprese skewers with balsamic glaze for an appetizer



the curtains doubled as a backdrop for my little dessert table complete with white chocolate truffle pops, chocolate covered oreos, assorted candies in yellow and silver, lemon meringue cookies, mini panna cottas, and of course their delicious cannoli filled cake!



The lovely couple posing before they cut their cake.They don’t look old enough to be celebrating their 12th anniversary right?!



This was a little bit of last minute decorating to fill the empty table space, a cardboard letter covered in silver scrapbook paper, a small vase of fresh flowers, and a matching frame with some cute pictures of the couple all on top of a yellow chevron scrap of fabric I had that worked as a makeshift table runner.



I set the table with my vintage yellow tablecloth and contrasted it with a velour metallic runner from tj maxx. Little mercury glass votive holders scattered around the table added to the ambiance and each table setting had a silver charger, white plate, napkin “bow”, personalized candy favor, and a striped straw/placecard.



I found a cake I liked on pinterest, gave the picture to my local cake lady and she created this, so much easier than making my own, even though I could, but with everything else going on it was a big help.



the table!



Each guest received a little favor of either lemonheads or Hershey’s kisses with a little photo sticker of Stu and Ang.

Stay tuned for my next act of xeniality coming in May!

mug rug

Monday mornings are my most and least favorite. My love of entertaining paired with my chronic fatigue syndrome is a dangerous combination and though I always push myself and make it through our busy (but enjoyable) weekends, by Monday I’m pooped. Not to mention I usually have a lot of cleaning up to do from the weekend, putting away of dishes, moving tables back into place, and the dreaded but necessary washing, folding, and ironing dinner napkins. I know you may think I’m crazy for the dinner napkin thing but let me explain. To me, a dinner isn’t complete without cloth napkins. There’s just something formal and elegant about cloth napkins that is completely unachievable with paper. (Ooh speaking of paper napkins though, stay tuned for tomorrow’s post for a cool and helpful tip regarding them…maybe I should call it TIp Tuesday? No…I don’t like the sound of that. But I love me some good alliteration so maybe I’ll figure something out, I’m open to suggestions!) ok now I’m really getting off track…napkins ok…anyway I have an array of cloth napkins in different colors and textures among some of my favorites are a white set with red hand embroidered shapes my sister made for me. After each dinner they obviously need to be washed and I have found that the best way to make sure I can throw a dinner party with cloth napkins at a moments notice (trust me, it happens) is by immediately (and painstakingly I might add) folding and ironing each one before putting them away. Despite the effort, there’s a sort of satisfaction in it, especially when I throw said impromptu dinner party and can effortlessly pull out my ready pressed napkins for the meal. What I was I talking about before my napkin rant? Oh right, Mondays. So after the cleaning up, the part I like about Mondays comes, relaxation! It’s my day to catch up on sleep, take the dog for a nice walk, map out my meal plan and grocery list for the week, read, study for the next day’s meeting, and make a nice dinner for my hubby. But the best way to start all of this, the reason for the above picture, and the greatest thing about Mondays? A nice cup of coffee (particularly a homemade latte from my beloved nespresso served on the adorable “mug rug” ALSO made by my sister, guess she’s pretty talented huh?) and something yummy for breakfast. I know most peoples Mondays aren’t like mine and for that I am grateful…but no matter what yours is, I hope you enjoy it my friend.

DIY hair accessory on the cheap!

Even though little girls can’t get much cuter, an adorable hair accessory is always a nice touch. But why spend like five bucks on ONE when you could spend a DOLLAR for four?! Target (or other stores too I’m sure) have these little bags of four felt flower gift toppers. Add some hot glue and a bobby pin (or metal barrette for thicker hair types, or hey go to heck with yourself, even a headband!) and you’ve got a darling and CHEAP hair accessory! The best part? When they inevitably use it you won’t be adding up the dollars lost in your head, you’ll be grabbing the glue gun to make some more! It’s also a great project for the girls to help with!