A Creative Practice in Mindfulness

Wellness

I’m willing to bet you’ve heard the word “mindful” before. It’s a bit of a buzz word. A hot topic. But what exactly does it mean to be mindful? This is what Dictionary.com has to say:

a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique..png

In layman’s terms, mindfulness means focusing on being mentally and physically present, and using that time to check in with yourself. Practicing mindfulness has a lot of great benefits including:

  • An increase in gratitude
  • Decreased stress
  • A more positive outlook

It can also do wonders for your physical health. For instance, slowing down and practicing mindful eating has been known to aid weight loss. And meditating before bed is shown to help you have a more restful sleep.

Bottom line? In a society that praises multitasking, it’s important to remember that our self worth is not based on how busy we are. There  is a lot to be said of slowing down and taking life one thing at a time. This actually helps us enjoy our experiences more and aids us in getting to really know ourselves.

So how do you become more mindful?

There are many different ways you can practice mindfulness including yoga, journaling, meditation or even just using your daily commute to check in with yourself and ask yourself how you’re doing.

Today, I’m sharing an interactive book that is particularly helpful for creatives looking to become more mindful. I know it definitely helped me! Published by Flow Magazine, “A Book That Takes It’s Time: An Unhurried Adventure in Creative Mindfulness” is basically a Godsend for those looking for a creative way to become more in-tune with themselves.

The Amazon description will tell you that this book is essentially a “mindfulness retreat between two covers” – and I couldn’t agree more! I love how this book mixes reading with interactive activities. It’s basically an activity book for adults. (What else could you ever want in life?)

Some of the activities include:

  • Collaging
  • Journaling
  • Stickers
  • Drawing

And all of the activities share a common theme: Slow down and enjoy life. 

This book is perfect for creatives looking for inspiration, lovers of books and anyone looking to become more mindful. This book would also make for a terrific gift.

To shop this title on Amazon, click here.

Sleep Better with This Natural Remedy

Wellness

Spend any amount of time with me and you will quickly realize one thing: I can’t sit still. Twenty five years into my life and I’m still learning the concept of “relax.” Whether it’s cooking, cleaning, working, making art, playing with the dog, learning a new piece on the piano, reading, writing, etc., etc., etc., I always have to be doing something. Always. Hence the name of this blog! I just can’t help myself.

Usually, this is a good thing. I’m never bored and I’ve truly mastered how to prioritize my to-do list to make sure I have time for everything I want (and need) to do.

Like everything else though, being busy also has its downside. Because I’m always on the go, I have a really reeeeally difficult time unwinding to go to bed at night. Aside from having my energy levels up all day, I also struggle to shut my mind down – so many things to do tomorrow!

Point of the story: I’m not good at relaxing. BUT it’s something I’ve been working on. In fact, one of my resolutions for 2019 is to get more sleep (5.5 hours a night just isn’t cutting it anymore) and so far, there’s been one important thing that has been helping me accomplish my goal: lavender essential oil.

I was first introduced to all the benefits and uses of lavender by my in-laws, who are in the process of growing their new lavender farm. Some of the benefits of using lavender essential oil include:

  • Reduced anxiety
  • Better sleep quality
  • Headache relief

I decided to work this miracle plant into my bedtime routine and for the past few weeks, have been using this diffuser, purchased on Amazon, to diffuse lavender essential oil in my bedroom before going to sleep.

The scent is heavenly and it definitely helps me relax before shutting down for the night. ✨

If you’re looking for a more powerful dosage, you can also apply essential oil directly to your pillow, either through drops or by leaving some dried sprigs on your pillowcase a few hours before going to bed.

So far, I’m loving incorporating lavender into my bedtime routine – it really does help me relax! Not to mention it smells amazing. 🤗 I’ve even started placing dried lavender bunches throughout my house for scent and pops of color.

To learn more about drying florals, click here. 🥀 And to learn more about Hillcrest Lavender Farm, click here.

Healthy Dose of Southern Cuisine: Shrimp and Grits

Food, Wellness

You may remember my mentioning that for me, wedding planning has meant more than just picking out colors and flower arrangements: it has also meant a reboot on my overall wellness.

Ever since I was a child, I have been very mindful of my physical wellbeing. I workout on a daily basis — it’s my favorite part of the day! But as most of us know, what you eat is just as important (if not more so) and plays a HUGE role in your body composition, your energy levels and how you feel!

Thinking about the wedding dress hanging in my closet, I’ve been recommitting to my nutrition and exploring healthy, delicious recipes to add into my weekly rotation.

In my search for something different, I came across this great recipe from Food Network for Shrimp and Grits.

I’ve always shied away from this dish, knowing that most recipes are calorie-laden and rely on a heavy amount of butter for flavor and consistency. Much to my delight, this recipe is only 367 calories per serving and packs a whopping 34 grams of protein per dish.

It seriously only took me 15 minutes to prepare so keep this one in mind for busy weeknights!

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup instant grits
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails intact
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon, plus wedges for serving
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh parsley

Directions

  1. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat, covered.
  2. Uncover and slowly whisk in the grits, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the parmesan and 1 tablespoon butter.
  5. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper. Cover to keep warm.
  6. Meanwhile, season the shrimp with salt and pepper.
  7. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp, garlic and cayenne, if using, and cook, tossing, until the shrimp are pink, 3 to 4 minutes.
  8. Remove from the heat and add 2 tablespoons water, the lemon juice and parsley; stir to coat the shrimp with the sauce and season with salt and pepper.
  9. Divide the grits among shallow bowls and top with the shrimp and sauce.
  10. Serve with lemon wedges.

I paired my shrimp and grits with a side of maple brussels sprouts for an extra dose of southern flair!

Healthy Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins!

Food, Wellness

In a true New York effort, the Nor’easter has covered my tiny town in snow! With travel bans keeping us appropriately holed in at home, this morning was the perfect time to try out a new recipe and indulge in an unhurried breakfast.

Leading up to the wedding, Andy and I are doing what most engaged couples probably do: recommitting to health and wellness.

As I already workout on a daily basis, for me this means re-focusing on nutrition and finding exciting ways to eat healthy. Prioritizing health without losing flavor!

With an itch for baking, I scoured the internet for ideas and found this recipe by Ambitious Kitchen for lightened up Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins.

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It’s the first time I tried this recipe and was definitely impressed by the flavor – you’d never know that these muffins are made without processed sugars and contain essentially no fat! I also love the extra protein you get from incorporating Greek yogurt – always Chobani in our household!

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Check out my adapted version of the recipe below:

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 bananas
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon olive or coconut oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup Chobani plain greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon milk (or almond milk)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (add a full cup if you’re a dedicated chocoholic!) 

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. *Make sure to grease the pan well!*
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix mashed bananas, honey, vanilla, oil, egg, milk and yogurt until well combined.
  5. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  6. Gently fold in the chocolate chips.
  7. Divide the batter evenly into the muffin tin and bake for 20-25 minutes or until tooth pick comes out clean.
  8. Cool the muffins for 5 minutes before removing and transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling. 
  9. Enjoy!

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Calming Your Mind and Environment: Adopting the Hygge Lifestyle

Inspiration, Wellness

Like all other functioning adults, my life can sometimes be a little bit hectic, a little overwhelming and a little bit stressful. The good news is, the internet is constantly coming up with new ways for us functioning adults to deal with our stress, create zen and find our happy place!

With wedding planning and home renovations preoccupying all of my time, I’ve been finding myself (just a little bit) stressed but also, very much focused on design. This comes from thinking about decor, color and themes in both situations. What do the stress and design-focus have in common? My recent discovery of hygge.

what-is-hygge-1

Hygge is a word you may have heard a time or two within the last year and is a Danish term that encapsulates the Scandinavian concept of coziness and the happiness created from life’s simple pleasures. More simply stated, it is the Danish secret for living a happy life. After watching Scandinavian cultures continually rank as having the happiest citizens in the world, Americans have taken note, and popularized hygge in our culture last year.

Still confused on what hygge is? Think coffee, cake, warm textiles, candles, nature walks and time spent with friends.

I first read about hygge in the New York Times last year, but due to recent stress levels decided to further my research. Just this week I came across this book, which provides tips and advice for living a more hygge life. I loved this charming book and speed-read it in one sitting.

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From all of my research, these have been my key takeaways:

Learn to be at peace when alone and in the company of others. Whether you are spending a restful night at home reading or participating in a family get-together, hygge is about appreciating the simple things and knowing how to be happy no matter your social situation. You’re happy to have time alone and just as happy to have time with friends and family.

scandi-image-3-400x600Keep it fresh. For a stress-free environment, do your best to eliminate clutter from your surroundings. You may not realize it, but a messy space can subconsciously influence your mood in a negative away. Another great way to improve your space is to add plants and greenery.

Spend time outside. A key part of hygge is being active, especially outside and regardless of the weather. Being outside in nature helps put your mind at ease. It’s also important to note that one should be active for the sake of being healthy and happy, and not with the goal of looking good.

Eat, drink and be merry! In the United States we tend to demonize food, especially food that which isn’t kale, quinoa, etc., etc. Adopting hygge means allowing yourself to curl up with a cup of cocoa, mix up a whisky beverage and slice into a chocolate cake.

As Andy and I get closer to completing our home renovation projects, I’m determined to adopt these lifestyle habits for a stress-free sale, move and wedding-planning extravaganza. Plus, fall seems to be the perfect time to curl up in a knit blanket with a favorite book and a cup of coffee.

 

 

The Trendiest Way to De-Stress

DIY, Wellness

As you may have noticed, the holidays are coming. This is fantastic because the holidays are full of family, fun, traditions, baked goods,etc. etc. However, they are also extremely stressful, especially today on Black Friday!

coloring fish

But don’t let my ranting work you into anxiety. And if I already have, rest assured that there is a cure! That’s right, a cure for stress and an extremely trendy one at that: COLORING!

I had heard about this coloring trend a few months ago and was eager to return to what I once loved as a child. It was not until recently that I was given a coloring book by Andy’s brother and sister-in-law and was surprised by how much I love it.

 

Here’s a few reasons why  you (whoever you are) should try coloring:

  1. It’s FUN! Enough said.
  2. It’s relaxing. Something about simply focusing on filling a space with color is cathartic and can be especially great for those of us who suffer from stress and anxiety. Filling in color and seeing a complete page can give a sense of accomplishment which is great at the end of the day when you are just lazing around watching TV.
  3. No experience necessary. Coloring is a great hobby because literally anyone can do it. You don’t have to be a great artist to enjoy it and make visually satisfying coloring pages.
  4. It’s cheap. As with anything else, there are a lot of different options and prices when it comes to buying coloring books. And even if you don’t want to invest in a book, you can simply print adult coloring pages off of the internet. Be sure to check out Pinterest for some great pages!
  5. It can be social. If coloring alone is fun, imagine coloring with friends! Invite your friends over for a night of coloring, wine and cheese.

coloring snow city.jpg

As an artist, part of me wants to hate coloring as your creativity is somewhat limited. But it simply is too much fun to hate. On top of that, for those of you who are artists, I find that when I am coloring I am often inspired and find myself thinking about possible new art pieces.

Another possibility I have thought of is using my completed coloring pages for art-materials. In other words, you can take your colored pages and turn them into art pieces or craft projects.

Here’s a few DIY ideas off the top of my head:

  1. Homemade cards
  2. Christmas/Gift tags
  3. Wrapping paper
  4. Book covers
  5. Book Marks

coloring fish

So, long story short, no matter who you are, you should give coloring a go. It’s fun, cheap and can undoubtedly help you get through the stressful holiday season.

Happy coloring!

coloring deer