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

Sweet Sprouts

“Brussels sprouts?! Yuck!” 

Those were my sentiments, as I’m sure most of yours as well, towards brussel sprouts as a child. Actually, to be honest, those feelings took me pretty far into adulthood as well. But as I have learned in my culinary journey, anything can be good if seasoned and prepared well. (Not saying my mother didn’t prepare them well, I’m sure her’s were delicious. I just wasn’t willing to give them a fair chance at the time because, well, they were brussel sprouts people!) 

First of all, can we just talk about the fact that they are actually called “Brussels Sprouts” and not “Brussel Sprouts”?! Who knew about that extra “s” at the end?! Not me, my friend, not me. World rocked. 

Members of the cabbage family, production of Brussels sprouts in the United States began in the 18th century, when French settlers brought them to Louisiana. Their highest producer to date is the Netherlands, where they’re probably served alongside raw herring or something different like that. Isn’t different such a nicer word than weird? Although now I’ve gone and said weird anyway, so you still know that was my initial word…I digress. 

These little cruciferous veggies help lower cholesterol, prevent cancer, and aid proper thyroid function. So basically, as usual, your mom was right; eat your vegetables! 

So, Mom, I hope you’re happy. Here’s a Brussels sprouts recipe that even kids will love, because they’re sweet, tangy, and crunchy and almost make you forget you’re eating veggie! I said almost, I’m not a magician….

  

Beauty & The Butcher’s Sweet Sprouts

Ingredients

  • 1½ lbs brussels sprouts, halved
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • ¾ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar or 1 tbs balsamic glaze if you have it (trader joe’s makes an excellent one)
  • 2 tsp honey

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425°.
  • Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or use a silicone baking mat.
  • In a large bowl, toss brussels sprouts with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, kosher salt and black pepper to coat thoroughly.
  • Transfer the brussels sprouts to baking sheet and roast until tender and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Don’t freak out if some of the leaves get a little burnt, those crispy bits are the best part!
  • Place brussels sprouts back in bowl. Add remaining tablespoon olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey and toss to coat evenly. Taste and season with kosher salt if necessary and serve. Or at least try, I set mine to cool on the stovetop and most of them were gone by the time dinner was ready…

I paired them with my famous (in our house at least) turkey meatloaf and creamy goat cheese polenta! But that’s anothef post for another day… 

have no fear, freckles.

First of all, I know, I know, I said I wasn’t blogging this week while I’m on vacation but it’s just so beautiful and calming here that I’m feeling inspired. Plus, it’s my blog and I’ll do what I want to. So here goes…
 
This is my niece Mahal. Isn’t she beautiful? Look at all her adorable freckles. Yesterday I looked at her sun kissed nose and exclaimed, “Hey! You got two new freckles!”  

“I did? How can you tell?!”, she asked. It tickles me beyond belief, because of what she’s been through in her short life and the speed in which she has had to mature, that she still has enough innocence to think I am actually able to keep an accurate record of her freckles.

“Because I count them”, I said. “That’s just how much I love you.”

As she contemplated this I continued, “You know, the bible says that God has every single star numbered and named? Jesus said that even the hairs of our head are numbered by our Heavenly Father, so there’s nothing to fear because he knows our needs, struggles, and worries. That means there is not one single detail about us that He doesn’t care about, understand, and love. Think about how much I love you and multiply it by a million and then some, that’s how much He loves you.” 

When I was little, my dad took every possible opportunity to teach us something. Even if we weren’t in a “learning mood” he did it anyway, knowing that we’d thank him someday. So here it is, thanks dad. Thanks for forcing us to learn, talking to us like adults, and never underestimating our intelligence or capacity for gaining knowledge. And thanks for, as much as I despised you at the time, forcing us to get the giant dictionary off the shelf every time we encountered a word we didn’t know. 

I hope that every time Mahal looks at her freckles in the mirror she thinks of me and that someday, when she looks back on her forced learning experiences, she feels about me the way I feel about my dad. 

Sticks and stones…

“sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

That saying was probably chanted by children on every playground across the country when I was a kid. But honestly, I couldn’t disagree more. Wait..is that a double negative? Is it “I could disagree more”? Dad? Anybody? Ugh, anyway, moving on…

I feel that words can actually hurt more than physical wounds. I mean, unless we’re talking about stoning on a biblical level, your body would heal if a stick and/or stone was thrown at you. Words, however, can stay with you forever. To this day, certain unpleasant conversations I’ve had with people or means things people have said to me randomly play on a reel in my head, making me relive the hurt, discomfort, anger, what have you, all over again. Harmful words at a young age though, I feel, are even more dangerous. 

Let me backtrack and explain my inspiration for this post. Two events actually last week spurred me to write this post but I’m just now getting around to it. Incident number one occurred at “the happiest place on earth.” As you know, we spend a lot of time at Disney World. Much of the time you’re in pretty close quarters with people (which is quite unfortunate especially in the hot summer months-it’s called deodorant people!) and you hear a lot of conversations. Among those conversations I have heard some of the nastiest, most outrageously abusive and just downright mean things said to small children by their own parents. Now I will say, maybe these parents are extremely stressed and at their limit both emotionally and financially on what is supposed to be a “vacation”. Also, I grew up in a house without cursing and screaming, where I was treated with love and respect, so perhaps I’m somewhat naive in this area. However, those things being said, it’s still no excuse. 

As a parent you are responsible for the good health of your child, mental health included. And as a grown up, you just don’t get to fly off the handle at a child. You just don’t, it’s unacceptable, no if’s and’s, or but’s about it. Recently I have seen a little boy, chatting excitedly as he waits to meet his favorite character, smacked across the mouth and inundated with expletives that no one should have to hear, let alone a child. I’ve also seen a little girl, one whom I love very much, sweet and innocent as can be, spoken to and treated like an animal by her father in a gymnasium full of people when she’d done absolutely nothing wrong. (That was the second incident.) What lesson is this teaching that child? What a vicious cycle to perpetuate as they may treat others the way they feel it is normal to be treated. 

The bottom line is this- speak kindly to others, because words can be extremely hurtful. If you are a parent, or have any contact with children for that matter, choose your words carefully and keep your cool. You are shaping a little life, and no child deserves to be cursed or screamed at and should never be taught that it is acceptable for them to act that way. 

And to conclude my rant on a positive note, shout out to my parents for setting such a great example and thus enabling me to be a beloved aunt who (although a firm disciplinarian) can proudly say has never uttered an unkind word to the children in my life and never plan to. 

you so fly…

First of all I would like to warn you that this post is not your usual recipe, makeup tip, or me smiling with my hands on my hips. It’s more of a…scientific nature if you will. Last night I was at my aunt’s house and a fly landed on an item of food. I declared in disgust, “Don’t eat it, that fly just threw up on it!” But her son, my cousin, and a teenager who therefore duh, obviously knows everything, indignantly corrected me. “That’s not true!” he said defensively, as if his best friend were a fly. I guess he just has a soft spot for disease carrying insects (or just likes to prove me wrong…) This made me think. I had always believed that when flies land on something and rub their tiny little arms together, they’re vomiting or defecating. So I decided to research the question…

Do Flies Really Vomit and Poop When They Land on You?”

I found this super informative, albeit gross, article by Debbie Hadley an expert on insects. Hadley says…


Let’s get to the bottom of a common belief about flies – do flies really vomit and poop when they land on you?

Answer:
 
First of all, we need to be a bit more specific. We’re talking about house flies here, known by scientists the world around as Musca domestica. The house fly associates with people. Virtually anywhere on the planet where you can find people, you will also find Musca domestica.

Anyone who has ever enjoyed a backyard barbecue knows that house flies will crash your picnic table, walk all over your potato salad, and attempt to taste your burger, should you dare to leave it unattended for even a second. And occasionally, those flies will come to rest on you. So you are probably wondering what they’re up to while they sit there. It’s a totally understandable concern. 

Let’s tackle the first bit of this question first – do flies vomit on you? The answer is a resounding…sometimes. 
House flies do vomit, sort of, and they do so pretty often. Unfortunately for the house fly, it is not equipped to chew solid foods. Most insects that feed on solid food – beetles, for example – have chewing mouthparts, with which they can properly masticate their meals into tiny, digestible bits. House flies were instead blessed with sponge-like tongues. Only in flies, we call their tongues labella (the singular is labellum, but the fly has a matched pair). House flies “taste” with their feet, so they have no choice but to walk on their food (and ours, should they be sampling our picnic menu. 

When a house fly comes upon something that seems like it might be yummy (keep in mind that dog poop is the kind of thing house flies find yummy), it will reflexively stick out its labella and press it against the potential food item to investigate. Liquids can be slurped up without much effort. Inside the house fly’s head is a structure called a
 cibarial pump (or food pump), which generates a suction to draw the liquid up through channels in the mouthparts (called pseudotrachea). 

So how does the house fly make a meal out of meat, or any other solid food (like dog poop)? It uses those same mouthparts to liquefy the entrée. The
 house fly dabs the tasty morsel with digestive enzymes by bringing up a little regurgitated food and saliva. The enzymes begin breaking down the solid food, gradually turning it into a slurry the house fly can then lap up. Meat milkshake, anyone?

Now, think about the last time you had a stomach flu. Anytime you vomit repeatedly, you run the risk of dehydration, so you have to drink a lot of fluids to replace the ones you lost. Flies are no different. This liquid diet means flies require a lot of water. And when you drink a lot of water…well, let’s just say what goes in, must come out, right? So flies do a lot of defecating, too.

Therefore, in answer to your original question – do flies really vomit and poop when they land on you? Yes, they do, but not every single time they land on you. It really depends on whether or not the fly thinks you are a potential meal. If the fly gets a message from its feet saying, “Hmm, this guy tastes pretty good. Take a lick!” you’re probably going to get a little fly vomit on you. And hey, if the fly has got to go, it’s got to go, so you might just get a little fly poop on you, too.

So there you go, you really do learn something new every day. Unless you happen to be my father, in which case I’m sure was already completely aware of all the useless information contained in this post. For more information on this fascinating topic, check out this book of children’s poems I found in our book collection… 

   

Nutella me about it…

 Was that title too much of a stretch? Whatever, you got the point, this post is about Nutella! Those who know me know I loooove me some Nutella. The creamy chocolate hazelnut spread is a staple in the house, on toast with banana, fried in wonton skins for chocolate ravioli, or just on a spoon to cure a sweet tooth. But we live in Florida where it’s hot and what’s more refreshing in the heat than a nice frosty Popsicle?! I know you have some of those little plastic Popsicle molds lying around somewhere, it’s time to dust them off for the EASIEST recipe ever. Ok get a pen, here’s what you’ll need…ready? Nutella…and milk. That’s it! Just two ingredients! And of course the Popsicle molds, a blender, and a tongue for licking this deliciousness! 

Beauty & The Butcher Nutella Pops

  • 1/2 Cup Nutella  
  • 1 1/2 Cups Milk (you could use cream if you wanted it to be extra rich but it’s really not necessary) 
  • Also optional, a banana 
  1. Put ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth. If you really want a workout you could whisk by hand. 
  2. Pour mixture into molds and freeze for atleast a few hours (much to the dismay of the 8 and 11 year olds who made these with me…they kept checking them in the freezer, “just in case”.
  3. Run under warm water to release from mold and enjoy!