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

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feminine flamingo  

 
Feeling like a beautiful pink flamingo in my pink swing top on this lovely Florida afternoon.  Like my earrings? Thanks eBay!
 
My new Ava & Viv jeans are so comfy and I don’t mind a little bit of a distressed “boyfriend” look when the holes are intentional and strategically placed.  
  These St. John’s Bay wedges from JCPenney are a summer essential and are a perfect step up from flip flops for dinner out.  
 
Last but not least, and speaking of flamingos, I am LOVING my new bright pink bag from Target

Pretty in Pink, the final chapter…

This week I have featured two takes on styling a tulle skirt, or adult tutu. A classic look and a vintage look. Today’s look? A modern twist on the tutu. 
  
You know I love a good statement necklace, and I’ve been finding some great inexpensive ones on eBay lately. The one I’m wearing can be found here

Who says leopard can’t be a neutral?! I’ve had this pair of velvet leopard heels forever but you can find a similar pair here 
Pink lips are one of my favorite looks and I am currently obsessed with this Stila All Day Liquid Lipstick in the Bella shade. 
   
And of course, my lovely tutu is from the Jessica Kane collection on Cool Gal Blue and I paired it with a soft chambray shirt from Target’s plus size line, Ava & Viv. 

Pretty in Pink Continued…

Earlier this week I featured a “classic” look using my Cool Gal Blue tulle skirt with a promise of two more looks to come. Today’s look is the tutu styled with a vintage look or, as the butcher call it, your Audrey Hepburn look. I’ll take it!  

 

Thanks to the inspiration of one of my favorite fabulous Plus Size bloggers, Tanesha Awasthi from girlwithcurves.com, I found this adorable bow top from Forever 21’s plus size line. The quality and feel of the shirt is very good in comparison to some of their other pieces and you can’t beat the price!  

  

This alligator leather envelope clutch belonged to my great grandmother. It still had a compact mirror and a 1942 calendar inside when I received it. It’s probably one of my most prized accessories.
    

One of my favorite beach hats, bought years ago at Kohls, just stood out to me as I gathered my accessories for this shoot. I thought it might add a nice flair to the outfit but I was still unsure about wearing it. When my two photographers from Copper & Co. Photography saw it, they said I just had to wear it. So I did! 

 This bow belt has also been in my closet for years but when I got this top I guess I went a little bow crazy and just had to pair the two together! Side note, I love the way the gold is reflecting off the light of the room. Photography is so cool.  
Twirl honey, twirl! So there you have it, my “vintage” inspired way to style a tulle skirt. Stay tuned later this week for the third and final installation, with a modern twist to styling a tutu. 

Pretty in Pink 

Molly Ringwald’s got nothin’ on me!  
For YEARS I have gazed longingly (a la Andie Walsh in Pretty in Pink)

at tulle skirts on Pinterest, Instagram, and other sites. So this summer I finally decided to bite the bullet and get one for myself! I mean, you’re never too old for a tutu right?! Right. I’ll answer my own question. 

I found the perfect plus sized tutu from Cool Gal Blue and decided to follow the admonition of Donna Meagle to “treat yo self”… 

But now that I have it, I found myself asking, “Can I really pull this off?” and, “How am I supposed to wear it?” I thought you might be asking yourself the same questions. (I use “you” pretty loosely, as I know most of you do not, and will not ever, own a tutu…or even know what tulle is or how to pronounce it for that matter) 

So with the help of my lovely and talentedphotographer friend, Ashley of Copper & Co. Photography, I thought I’d show you a tutu styled 3 ways! I decided on three looks; classic, vintage, and modern and I’m going to share one of them today, stay tuned this week for the other two! 

Look #1 Classic 

   
   
  

   
I paired a delicate Eloqui cream colored cropped sweater with the soft blush color of the skirt. To accessorize I wore my Honora Pearl studs from my momma, then added this beautiful statement necklace from Walmart and cream patent heels from Chinese Laundry. For my lips I puckered up with NYX Butter Gloss in Eclair. I felt girly, and pink, and pretty, and I couldn’t stop twirling. You should try it! 

(Click the links in blue to get your own!) 

 

Chalkboard cookies, say what?!

That’s right, the chalkboard craze that has swept the nation is now edible! {Don’t worry no eating of actual chalk or chalkboard of any kind is involved} I hosted a bridal tea last weekend that was a floral/chalkboard theme and I knew I would make my teacup cookies so I decided what better way to incorporate chalkboard then try to make some cookies that look like chalkboards as well! You can do it too! Here’s how…
Start with Martha’s fail safe sugar cookie recipe and follow the directions. I used my teapot and teacup cookie cutters and for the chalkboard cookies just a regular round cookie cutter. For half the rounds I cut out a little divot with a paring knife so that they would fit on the cups and double as a placecard. {I was pretty proud of myself for coming up with that one}

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Once cookies are cut out and placed on the cookie sheets, listen to this next step carefully because this is very important, put the pans in the fridge!!! This will help them keep their shape and make for crisp laser cut cookie edges instead of them looking like teacup shaped blobs. Once they’ve chilled for at least 15 minutes, bake them according to recipe directions.

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While baking start making the icing using Martha’s royal icing recipe. Once the icing is made, divide it into smaller bowls depending on how many colors you’ll need. For the chalkboard cookies I added black Americolor (much better than Wilton and available at Hobby Lobby) food coloring until I got the right shade.

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Pour icing into a piping bag fitted with a small tip {or in a pinch you can use a Ziploc bag and cut a tiny snippet off the corner and that will work as well. That sentence sounded super British didn’t it?! Maybe I’m still in the tea party mood}. Outline the edges of each cookie and let dry.

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Once the outline is completely dry, take the remaining icing and add a few tablespoons of water to thin it for “flooding” consistency. Spoon a little bit of icing onto each cookie and tilt cookie around until icing is evenly spread out. If it needs a little extra help, a toothpick works.

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Let cookies dry overnight to make sure they are completely dry. Now it’s time to decorate! Using more Americolor gel {bright white for the “chalk” and whatever colors you’d like for the teacups} add a small amount on a plate and mix with a few drops of vodka {alcohol dries faster than water so it’s better for using on top of sugar icing} and it’s just like painting with water colors when you were a kid! {For extra precision try these Wilton food writer markers} Using a very thin paintbrush decorate each cookie with letters, designs, flowers, etc.

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And that’s pretty much it! I know it seems a little daunting, and I’m not going to lie, it is time consuming but I assure you. It’s well worth it especially when made for someone you love.

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Stay tuned tomorrow for more pictures and DIY ideas from the tea party!

super fruity

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I made this simple fruit tart for a bridal tea yesterday and it was a huge hit, everybody loved it and was asking for the recipe. So here it is!

Beauty & The Butcher Fruit Tart

Ingredients
Crust:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 sticks butter, room temp.
Filling:
1 package cream cheese, room temp.
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon good vanilla
Topping:
Fresh strawberries, kiwi slices, & blueberries (really you could use any fruit you like, raspberries, peaches, star fruit, etc.)
Glaze:
1 can frozen limeade concentrate
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/4 cup sugar

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust: In a food processor or blender (I used my trusty Blendtec) combine the powdered sugar, flour, and butter, and mix until the mixture forms a ball. With your fingers, press the dough into a 12-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, making sure it’s evenly spread and pushed into the indentations along the side. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until very lightly browned. Set aside.

For the filling and topping: Beat or stir the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla together until smooth. Spread over the crust once it’s cooled. Cut the strawberries into 1/4-inch slices and arrange around the edge of the crust. Fill spaces in between with blueberries. For the next circle, use kiwi slices. Repeat these steps and try to make a pretty design in the middle. Pretty easy huh?!

For the glaze: Combine the limeade, cornstarch, lime juice, and sugar in a small pan and cook over medium heat until clear and thick, about 2 minutes. Let cool. With a pastry brush, glaze the entire tart and save the remaining glaze for another dessert!

Keep the tart in the fridge and remove about 15 minutes before serving. You might want to make two because this will go so quickly, trust me. It’s also a great thing to bring to someone’s house because you can make it ahead of time, it’s cheap and simple but would be at least $30 in a bakery, and this beautifully shiny fruity masterpiece will impress everyone at the party! 20140726-122614-44774354.jpg

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