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

Salt, salt, salt! 

  Last week I did a post about natural Castile soap and it’s many uses. Although I am by no means a certified health expert or what I consider to be “granola” (I won’t be wearing Birkenstocks or using a crystal under my arms any time soon), I do appreciate using products that are good for my body and as natural as possible. I got a lot of positive feedback from the soap post so I decided to do a similar post today, but this time, about Epsom salt. 

Epsom salt is a major staple in my house. I keep a giant glass jar of it next to my bathtub and generously sprinkle it in the water every time I take a bath. I initially started doing it because I had heard that it helped soften the skin. Which it absolutely did. But I also noticed that it made my soaks so much more relaxing. Upon further examination, I discovered why. Magnesium! 

Let’s take a little detour to talk about magnesium and some of the things I’ve learned about it. Magnesium is the eighth most abundant mineral on earth, and the third most abundant in sea water. More importantly, it is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body and it is necessary in over 300 reactions within the body. Translation? It’s pretty important and you are most likely deficient in magnesium. I certainly realized I was after discovering I have almost all of the following signs of a magnesium deficiency…

  • Inability to sleep or insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Sensitivity to noise
  • Mental disturbances
  • Anxiety, depression or restlessness
  • Muscle soreness or spasms
  • Infertility or PMS
  • High levels of stress
  • Headaches
  • Heart “flutters” or palpitations
  • Fatigue or unusual tiredness
  • Coldness or tingling in extremities
  • Fuzzy brain or difficulty concentrating
  • Allergies and sensitivities
  • Lack of appetite
  • Back pain
  • Body odor
  • Bad short term memory
  • Poor coordination
  • Insulin resistance
  • Carbohydrate cravings
  • Constipation
  • Frequent cavities or poor dental health (usually caused by frequent use of antibiotics which deplete magnesium from your body)
  • Gut disorders
  • Kidney stones
  • Thyroid problems

What are some factors that cause this depletion of magnesium?

  • Consumption of caffeine
  • Consumption of sugar (It takes 28 molecules of magnesium to metabolize a single glucose molecule! source)
  • Consumption of processed food
  • Consumption of alcohol
  • Consumption of produce from depleted soil
  • Drugs like birth control pills, hypertension medicine, diuretics, insulin, and certain antibiotics (among others) deplete magnesium levels. 
  • Sweating often from exercise or other causes can also deplete magnesium.

So now you know what it is, that you’re probably deficient in it, and how you got that way. But what does magnesium actually do, and why is it so good for you?

  • Gives rigidity AND flexibility to your bones (more important than Calcium in many cases)
  • Regulates and normalizes blood pressure
  • Prevents and reverses kidney stone formation
  • Promotes restful sleep
  • Helps prevent congestive heart failure
  • Eases muscle cramps and spasms.
  • Decreases insulin resistance
  • End cluster and migraine headaches
  • Enhances circulation
  • Relieves fibromyalgia and chronic pain
  • Treats asthma and emphysema
  • Encourages proper elimination (it helps you go poo)
  • Prevents osteoporosis
  • Proper Vitamin D absorption
  • Aids weight loss
  • Lessen or remove ADD or ADHD in children
  • Emerging evidence is showing a preventative role in many cancers

Man that sure is one helpful element off the periodic table! But how do we get more of it? Well unfortunately, magnesium is often not well absorbed by the digestive tract, and is even more difficult to absorb if you are deficient or are low in vitamin D, have poor gut bacteria or suffer from a number of other conditions. On top of that, most foods are depleted of their natural magnesium levels and the water supply is lacking also. But there are some things you can do…

  • Eat lots of leafy greens especially sea vegetables like kelp and nettles. 
  • Use a topical magnesium spray as it can more quickly enter the blood and tissues of the body since you don’t have to digest it.
  • Use Epsom salt, which is rich in magnesium! 

Whew, it was quite a detour but we made it back on course to our topic at hand, Epsom salt! Epsom salt, named for a bitter saline spring at Epsom in Surrey, England, is not actually salt but a naturally occurring pure mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate. Long known as a natural remedy for a number of ailments, it has numerous health benefits as well as many beauty, household and gardening-related uses. Studies have shown that magnesium and sulfate are both readily absorbed through the skin, making Epsom salt baths an easy and ideal way to enjoy the amazing health benefits. 

The wonders of Epsom salt have been well known for hundreds of years and unlike other salts, Epsom salt has beneficial properties that can soothe the body, mind and soul. Some of the countless health benefits include relaxing the nervous system, curing skin problems, soothing back pain and aching limbs, easing muscle strain, healing cuts, treating cold and congestion, and drawing toxins from the body. One of the simplest ways to ease stress and stress-related problems is to soak in a tub full of hot water with a few cups of Ultra Epsom Salt. 

Here are some great home uses I’ve tried (and a few I haven’t but I’m sure they’re effective)  for this magnificent “salt”…

  • Relax in the tub! Add at least 1 cup of epsom salt to a warm bath and soak for 20 minutes. This can help relieve sore muscles, soften skin, absorb magnesium unti skin, and encourage a good nights sleep. Try putting it in your child’s bath at night to relax them before bed. 
  • Splinter Removal- Soak in concentrated epsom salt water to pull out a splinter.
  • Better Vegetables- Add a tablespoon of epsom salt to the soil below a tomato plant to boost growth. (this is obviously one that I have NOT tried…sorry dad)
  • Heal minor cuts & infections- ever get an infected earlobe from a cheap earring? Soak a cotton ball in warm water and Epsom salt, hold it onto ear for several minutes, and voila! 
  • Facial Wash- Add a pinch of epsom salt to your usual face cleaner (or to your oil cleansing routine) for a skin exfoliating magnesium boost.
  • Tile/Grout Cleaner- Mix equal parts of liquid dish soap and epsom salts and use to scrub tile and grout. Rinse well for a streak free shine.
  • Homemade Sea Salt Spray- Make your own sea salt spray to add texture and volume to have “beach hair” whenever you want! 
  • Volumizing Hair Mask- Combine equal parts of conditioner and epsom salt and leave on hair for 20 minutes. Rinse well and let air dry for thicker hair. (Yeah my hair is thick enough but I’m sure this really works to add volume of you need that kind of thing!) 
  • Foot Soak- For a concentrated magnesium boost, add 1 cup of epsom salt to a hot foot soak and soak for 20 minutes. This works wonders on yucky calloused heels like mine! 
  • Laxative- For occasional constipation, a teaspoon of epsom salt dissolved in water can help. 
  • Headache relief- There is evidence that soaking in a soothing epsom salt bath may help relieve headache.
  • Smooth skin- Mix 1/2 cup epsom salt with 1/4 cup olive oil and scrub skin in the shower for healthy and smooth skin.
  • Itchy Skin or Bug Bites- Dissolve a tablespoon of epsom salt in to 1/2 cup of water and cool. Spritz on itchy skin or apply a wet compress to help relieve itching.
  • Minor Sunburn Relief- Use the same ratio in the itchy skin relief above and spritz on to minor sunburns to help soothe them.

So there you have it! If you don’t have any Epsom salt at home, go get some right away, it’s super inexpensive! 

One pot wonder…

I’ve been in a funk all week. My anxiety has been extremely high and I just haven’t wanted to get out of bed or see anyone. But yesterday afternoon was so gorgeous I decided to lay on the couch on our patio, get some fresh air, and read. The air was warm with a nice breeze gently blowing, birds were chirping, the Spanish moss on the neighbors huge oak tree was swaying in the wind, and the calming sounds of Brazilian singer Joao Gilberto on his guitar (great pandora station, you should give it a try you’ll feel like you’re at a cafe in Rio or on a beach in Bali) were coming from my little Bluetooth speaker. So of course I fell asleep. I woke up to the butcher, who had just gotten home from work, gently stroking my forehead (my mom used to do this as child, he knows I love it) as he lay next to me on the couch. All of the aforementioned conditions combined with a nap must have been exactly what I needed, because I was in a much better mood. After chatting a little bit about his day, he promptly fell asleep as well. But now I was awake and hungry, and I knew he would be too when he woke up. I decided to go in and make dinner. I wanted it to be quick and was in the mood for pasta. 

We very rarely eat pasta so I wasn’t sure if I even had any but I found a box of spaghetti (yes ma, white flour, so shoot me) in the back of the cupboard. I had seen on Pinterest several “one pot” recipes where you throw a bunch of ingredients in with pasta, cook it all together, and you’ve got a meal. So I decided to give it a try. I had some grape tomatoes from the farmers market that needed to be used before they went bad as well as some spicy andouille sausage. The rest is history (see recipe below) and as I came out onto the patio with two steaming bowls of deliciousness, the butcher sat up from his nap and smiled, ready to eat. 

  

Beauty & The Bitcher’s                   
One Pot Pasta

Ingredients

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1 12 ounce package smoked andouille sausage, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups halved grape tomatoes
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves (just a really good handful, you can never have too much basil) 
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, just a good pinch of each 
  • grated Parmesan

Instructions

  • In a Dutch oven on medium high heat, combine spaghetti, sausage, onion, tomatoes, basil, garlic and 4 1/2 cups water; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
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  • Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until pasta is cooked through and liquid has reduced, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in Parmesan.
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  • This truly was a “one pot wonder”, SO easy, and really yummy to boot! Enjoy! 
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