Thursday, 28 March 2013

Stress and the Art of Zen Doodling

I am not a fan of stress; but lately, life has been piling it on in heaps.  And even though I think I have a great handle on everything, the effects of stress start to creep up in my health and in my emotional stability, so that I don't even resemble someone who has her shit together.  Most days I do have my act together; then enter the 3 months of health hell; and bad performance reviews at work; an on-the-job injury and finally an uncommunicative husband, and Stephanie becomes a mess.  A weepy-at-anything, soppy mess.

Some folks meditate for stress relief.  I'm not very good that that.  I can't focus my thoughts, and the harder I try, the more scattered my mind becomes.  So instead, I doodle.  More accurately, I Zen Doodle.

A Zen Doodle is a way of focusing on drawing repetitive lines and patterns using a pen and no eraser.  It is a way of focusing your attention onto drawing lines.  Because you are only drawing lines, it is not stressful; you don't know what your drawing will look like until its done.

What I like about the process is that it actually helps me focus on one thing.  I don't think about anything else, just what line I'm going to draw next.  It creates a "break" for me from whatever anxiety I'm dealing with.  Usually, I can complete a whole page in about an hour.  After I finish, I feel calmer and more clear headed.  And I have a drawing that I think looks pretty neat.  And sometimes creepy. Like, I've been into eyeballs lately, and that is... weird.

ANYWAYS, It is really easy to start this type of meditation, even if you think you are not artistic or a good drawer.  That doesn't matter in this type of art.  If you can draw a line, you can doodle yourself into meditation.  (Heh, heh.)

All you need to start is a pen, and a piece of paper.  Many people use small pieces of paper; they take less time to fill up.  I like to use my sketch books.  Sometimes I leave them unfinished, but most of the time, I like to fill up the page.

For me the process is something like this:

I sit on my couch by my lamp for adequate lighting.  I have my sketchbook,  3 different thickness of felt tipped pens and a pencil for shading.  It is usually quiet, or D is playing some video game-- there is nothing else to divert my attention.  I will either start with a doodle, like the radio in the above picture, or divide the page with a line.  Any type of line, thick or thin, wavy or straight, depends on my mood.  Once I've divided the pages into sections, I start filling in the sections with patterns or shading.  That's it.  I keep adding to the design until I'm calmer, or I finish and fill up the page.

That's all there is to it.  When I finish, sometimes my drawings look very complex and impressive.  While I like the results, I find the process most helpful.

What do you do to meditate?  How do you take a "stress break?"

Friday, 15 March 2013

Friday I'm in Love (Not an original title at all): The first

I like the idea of listing the fun and awesome things I find around town (and sometimes the internet.)  I thought that maybe you would like to see some of the things I dig.  I was trying to think of a title, and BAM! it hit me; The Cure's "Friday I'm in Love" would be an awesome title for this series.  But then I searched the internet and alas, lots of people were already using it.  And I thought, "Jeez, can't I have an original thought without 'the internet' ruining it for me?"

But then D said, "Rule 21 of the internet," and I said, "yeah, it wasn't a completely original thought anyways. It belonged to The Cure."  And really, would Robert Smith care? (No, because he is too fabulous to care.)

So here it is, my favorite finds this week for the first edition of "Friday, I'm in Love:"

Pic link

Beanermunky Peanut Butter Cups: Today D and I got these.  I love them.  I wanted to sit in a ditch and just eat them all.  If you happen see me sitting in a ditch one day, that means I'm trying to enjoy some chocolate.  Do no approach unless you have more chocolate.

pic link

Galaxy Tights- Aren't these leggings "Out of this world?" Okay, I know.  Sorry.  I'm not usually one for printed tights; but there is something about stars that I love.  Space is so pretty, it should be on clothing more.

Pic link

Mischief Champion comics: This is pretty much me in the morning.  Except now I'm even "happier" since I had to give up coffee while I'm on my antibiotics!

pic link

Rare Specimens:  Jane's earrings are so cute.  I already own the pairs that are circled.  I still want the ones starred. 

pic link

Irena Komadinic's artwork:  I am lucky to have a print of my favorite piece, AND an original painting by Irena from a long time ago.  I love her stuff, its beautiful but a little sad.  This painting is called "Open-Heart Surgery" and is one of my faves of hers.

Not bad for the first time!  I like this!  I look forward to sharing some of my fave finds in the future.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Foodie: Gourmet Grilled Cheese

I love a good grilled cheese sandwich.  Love it.  If I want a not-so-healthy sandwich, then I fry one of these babies right up.  Lately, there has been a food-truck renaissance in Hamilton and one of the most popular is the Gorilla Cheese truck.  I have never had one of their sandwiches.  I don't wait in line for hours for foods.  I've never done it.  Especially when I'm a capable cook myself. 

ANYWAYS, we walked by this truck, and I wanted a grilled cheese.  But there was like an hour wait.  So I said, "No thanks," and went home to make one of these babies.

I did not make up this recipe.  The idea comes from a great blog called Closet Cooking, which is about cooking in small kitchens.  I have a tiny kitchen, so I like that this guy can make the most amazing food with the basic kitchen set up. 

I did adjust the recipe.  The original recipe takes a while, and well, I wanted my grilled cheese NOW.  So, I changed some of the ingredients, and this sandwich still turned out awesome.  D says its like his favorite grilled cheese.  And because he is such a connoisseur of all things grilled cheese, I take his praise to mean that this is a pretty great sammie.

Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese Sandwich 
(Adapted from Closet Cooking)

2 slices of bread (I used French bread for the sandwich pictured)
1-2 tablespoons butter, room temperature (or spreadable margarine)
2-3 tablespoons of spreadable cream cheese
1/2 cup or less of shredded sharp cheddar and Monterrey jack cheese
8-12 slices of pickled jalapeno peppers, drained and chopped.

Butter the bread, put buttered sides of the bread together to assemble your sandwich. 

Spread cream cheese, sprinkle with peppers and cheddar and jack cheeses.

Grill in a dry frying pan until outsides are nicely toasted and insides are melted.

We eat these with some guacamole and tortilla chips.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Link Up-- No Stress Book Club: On Repeat?

I love hearing about the books people read.  And I love Link-Ups.  So this is the best of both worlds.  But this isn't a blog book club in the regular sense.  There is no required reading.  We talk about books you have already read.  Each week there will be a new question about books and their characters to answer.  Once you have answered, link up so that everyone can see your answer!

This week's question:

What book could you read (or have you read) over and over?

There are a number of books I have on repeat.  But there is one that I come back to  often enough that it qualifies as being read over and over. 

My tattered and dogeared copy of The Eight by Katherine Neville is my go-to feel better read.  It is not my favorite book, but it is a book that I enjoy reading every time I pick it up.  Its like a favorite movie to me; each time I read this book, I notice something different.

Synopsis from Goodreads:
" Computer expert Cat Velis is heading for a job to Algeria. Before she goes, a mysterious fortune teller warns her of danger, and an antique dealer asks her to search for pieces to a valuable chess set that has been missing for years...In the South of France in 1790 two convent girls hide valuable pieces of a chess set all over the world, because the game that can be played with them is too powerful... "

Ok yes, it is about chess.  But it is also an adventure fiction; historical fiction (it spans from the 1790s to the 1980s); mystery and a dreamy Russian chess master named Aleksander Solarin.  Overall, it is a fun book.  And when I want to read to be entertained, this book never disappoints.  

The Eight is also quite a long book.  I have a problem with short books (if I like them.)  They end too soon sometimes; but this book is just over 600 pages, which is long enough for me to read it and not feel that it was over too soon.  

What book do you read on repeat?

How to link up:
  • Write a post answering this week's question on your blog.
  • Post the link here;
  • Grab a button to share! (In the side bar)
  • That's all there is too it.  No stress!

Have a look at the first question of the No Stress Book Club here.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

What I Wore: Basic Black

“I wore black because I liked it. I still do, and wearing it still means something to me. It's still my symbol of rebellion -- against a stagnant status quo, [...], against people whose minds are closed to others' ideas.”  - Johnny Cash

It's been a really long time since I've done a style post.  See, the problem is, that I having really been dressing for anything more than comfort lately.  Its a crazy trap I fall into when I'm working so hard:  I wake up and put on the first thing in the closet and go to work.  Since I leave my house when its dark, and return when its dark, there's not much time for photos.  I could take them at work but its super busy there with the students and all.

So, today when we went to the mall, I took this picture to show you how I've been dressing lately.  Funny enough, I haven't be wearing much black.  So today I thought it would be fun to wear some.  That and I wanted to show off my boots.  Aren't those boots great?

I usually have problems finding boots that fit my calves.  I have huge, muscular calves on the account that I run.  I was so happy when one of my fave plus size clothing stores started carrying boots.  They fit me like a glove.  And they are leather.  I love them.

Head to toe: Scarf: I bought it at a train station!/ Coat: The Bay / Pants: Lululemon (but I got them at one of those discount shows.  There's no way I would pay 100 bucks for leggings!) / Boots: Addition-Elle / Purse: Danier Leather

There's still some time to join the first question of the "No Stress Bookclub!"  New question comes out tomorrow!