Protect Your Mental Health

Since last year, I’ve made it my priority to keep happiness as the baseline, not as the exception.

When I say ‘keeping happiness as the baseline” I really mean protecting mental health against an onslaught of negative thoughts and feelings.

Once the fragile gates of your mental health have been overrun it can be hard to pull yourself out of the rabbit hole. During this global pandemic, it is incredibly important to protect and maintain your mental health before it becomes a chronic issue.

Step 1: Accept Your Emotions

There are many reasons the COVID situation is sad. Deaths, lay offs, being separated from family and friends. You are allowed to mourn the loss of normalcy.

It is possible though to still mourn and feel content. Too much sadness is hard to hold onto and is not a sustainable way to live. You can be sad your friend got let go, and happy that you still have a job. You can be sad you can’t see your friends, but glad knowing you are doing your part. You can be grateful that we still have running water and can enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning.I think that’s about the best we can do right now. There is space for more than one emotion at a time, even if the emotions are seemingly conflicting.

The goal of life isn’t to be happy all the time- if it is, any negative experience or bad event will send you into a tailspin. Pivot your expectations, and look for meaning and purpose, not necessarily happiness.

Step 2: Thank Your Emotions and Let Them Go (without allowing guilt to replace them)

Sadness isn’t a bad thing; we need sadness to make us balanced, caring people. So, let’s accept our sadness, thank it for reminding us to have empathy for our neighbors, and Konmari it goodbye. Our sadness has served its purpose, so we can let it go now.

Once you let your sadness go, there will be a gap. Don’t allow feelings of guilt to settle in where sadness once resided. Guilt is just sadness masquerading as another emotion. I give you permission to not feel guilty about feeling content when so many other people are distraught. We must take care of ourselves and put our oxygen mask on before we can help others.

Step 3: Find Meaning

Times like these make me realize how human and vulnerable I am. A lot is out of our control. However, because everything is so out of our control, we don’t have to try to control it. I can’t begin to comprehend why this is happening, so all I can do is trust the universe and look for meaning.

Here is what I have learned from COVID:

-Without suffering there is no compassion or gratitude. I have seen so much compassion over the last few weeks, and that is what I hold onto.

-It is possible to maintain close relationships with people that live across the country. I talk to my friends more than I did before quarantine, and virtual hangouts are no longer burdensome but something I look forward to.

-Even with an extra hour of time (no more commute!) I still struggle to carve out time to work on drawing (AKA, it wasn’t commuting that was holding me back). When I am done grieving, I will hold myself more accountable.

-I usually rush through things because I’m always thinking about what’s next. Now that I’m forced to stay still, I am diving into topics more deeply, and I’m learning a lot about graphic design and my cooking has become rather artisanal.

Faith us trust, not understanding. We will make it through this. I hope this helps.

-Deidre

Relax by Looking at This Relaxed Senior Cat

This is my foster cat, the 15 year old bronze cutie! (or bronze terror, depending on how often he wakes me up during the previous night)

Take a page from Skippy’s book: forget about all your worries and just pass out on a hard chair.

I have a trick question for you: were these all taken on the same day?

Look at the subtle changes in sleeping positions!

Look at his little paws covering his widdle face!

He really likes this really hard and uncomfortable chair.

Believe it or not, these are all different days! He’s just so cute I can’t help but photograph him every day. Also, what else do I have to do during quarantine? LOL

He sleeps about 90% of the time. However, he is wide awake between 4-6AM though, and loves to poke my face with his paw until I pet him.

Hope you’re all a little more relaxed now 🙂 feel free to share your cuties with me!

How to Eat More Dessert

I love dessert. So much in fact, that I found a way to eat more dessert (perfect for coping during this crazy time of Covid!)

In January, I challenged myself to go sugar free for 30 days. And I did it! An impressive feat for a chocoholic such as myself. How did I do it, you ask?

Sugar free baking (which also happens to be vegan, gluten free, and dairy free. Holla!)

By sugar free baking, I don’t mean cheating and just using Stevia instead of sugar (spoiler: I do use maple syrup, which depending on your definition of sugar, may be sugar. But hey, at least it’s natural!)

So, pop over to Costco, and get yourself some medjool dates, cocoa powder, maple syrup, coconut oil, and some toilet paper while you’re at it.

First Up: PEANUT BUTTER CUPS

During Sugar Free January, I discovered that coconut oil + cocoa powder had a very similar texture to chocolate, and it was just enough to scratch the itch. I didn’t even feel deprived at all. Look at these beauties!! I dare say they are down right professional.

After making these life changing treats and discovering that I could indeed live without chocolate, I experimented with what other sugar free desserts I could trick my brain with.

I first bought medjool dates to try out a recipe for sugar free and flour free muffins. Gosh darn, I was fooled again! This is when I fell in love with the sticky and sweet fruit.

After making the banana muffins, I had about 30 leftover dates. What to do? Obviously, create VEGAN BROWNIES!

Almonds optional

NO SUGAR, JUST DATES, WALNUTS, AND COCOA POWDER (and almonds, but those are optional)

KABOOM! BOOM! KAPOW! That is the sound of my mind being blown, again and again!

If you’re expecting these to taste exactly like brownies, you’ll be disappointed. But if you want something that has the same characteristics that make brownies awesome (AKA gooey and chocolatey) then welcome to vegan brownie town!

I still had some dates leftover, and my internet search led me to my final baking experiment: chocolate peanut butter balls.

Wowee! These are truffl-y and I don’t even know how (actually I do, it’s the magical medjool dates!) They are creamy and soft, and the cocoa powder gives it that chocolate-tasting magic.

yummy

My work here is done. Being stuck indoors has forced me to use up unusual experiments and has been a great exercise in creativity! What have you created during quarantine that you wouldn’t usually have made?

Ultimate Distraction Time: Wash yo hands with melt-and-pour soap!

I asked, you answered: this week’s blog post will be the ULTIMATE DISTRACTION! CATS AND CRAFTS COMBINED!

My foster cat is good at sleeping.

Full disclosure: I didn’t think of this post idea until after I was done crafting, so my photos are not perfectly curated and beautiful. I was playing around with my leftover melt and pour soap without a particular project in mind, so I made some more ~unusual~ looking soaps

Also, sometimes you can’t be bothered to wash soap off your soapy dishes to make more soap because it’s just soap anyway and you’re in quarantine and you’re over it. So be warned, the following photos may contain soap residue.

Without further ado, here are the remnants of my melt and pour soap craft!!

experimental!

I started making soap because I was fascinated by the beautiful bars I would see at craft fairs and in fancy boutiques. I too wanted to be fancy, so I taught myself how to make soap with a simple melt and pour kit from Amazon.

All the hassle of real soap making is taken out with melt and pour soap. There are no hazardous chemicals such as lye, which is used when making soap from scratch. Melt and pour soap has already been through the lye process and is just plain old ready-to-use soap.

You can get all the ingredients online. I use a combination of Amazon, CandleScience, and Bramble Berry to get all my supplies.

This is what you need:

  1. A soap mold (around $10 on Amason)
  2. A dough cutter or knife (around $7 on Amazon)
  3. A cutting board you don’t really care about (free or thrifted)
  4. A glass bowl/measuring cup (ideally thrifted)
  5. Melt and pour soap
  6. Optional: fragrance oil, colorants such as micas
Tools of the trade!

I have a larger soap mold (the purple one) for making large batches, but I started with the pink mold just to make a few bars at a time. I use the brown mold make pretty jewel soaps which I either keep as is or use to decorate other soaps.

I put fragrance oil and colorants as optional because when you’re starting out, it’s a little tricky. Since it’s touching your skin and gets close to your eyes, I’m a little more cautious about the products I use in my soap. I only use the fragrance oils specifically made for soap from CandleScience or Bramble Berry.

More experimental soap

Now that you have everything you need, let’s make soap!

First, take our your soap base and place it on your crafting cutting board. (You could probably use your normal cutting board, but I’m a bit of a hypochondriac so I like to keep things separate).

I use around 3-5 ounces of soap at a time, around 1/4 of a block.

Using your dough cutter or knife, chop it up into itty bitty pieces, a little smaller than an inch. This makes them melt and easier, which also means you don’t burn your soap. Believe me, the smell of burnt soap is nasty. You don’t want to burn your soap. So chop chop!

I highly recommend the dough cutter. It makes cutting the soap so much easier, just like slicing through butter! I had used a knife for a while but it makes cutting soap a monumental effort, and wasn’t particularly fun.

All chopped and ready for melting!

Now put the chopped bits in a glass measuring cup or bowl. The glass measuring cup works really well since it has the pouring spout. Again, I like to keep my crafting and cooking separate, so I have a specific measuring cup designated for only crafts.

The pink bits are from soap I already made. I chopped them up to use as decoration for this soap!

For about 5 ounces of soap, I microwave it for 30 seconds to start. Then I stir it, and if it needs more microwaving I’ll pop it in for another 20 seconds. I don’t do increments of more than 30 seconds, lest I burn my soap. Small increments and stirring is key! Repeat as necessary, but seriously, try not to burn your soap.

Once melted, you can stir in the fun stuff! I used Blood Orange fragrance oil, my favorite scent from CandleScience. It tells you on the bottle what % is safe to use in your soap, in this case the fragrance should make up about 3-6% of the soap. If you get really into soap making, it might be a good idea to get a small scale so you can weigh this precisely.

For this batch, I didn’t use any colorants because I’m using the pink embeds to jazz it up. If you’re just starting out and don’t want to shell out a ton of money for fragrance oils and colorants, you can use things such as turmeric, tea, or honey.

I put my pink ’embeds’ into the mold before pouring the soap over it.
Wow, look at my pretty soap embedded within even more soap!
Ta da!

It might not look that beautiful LOL but in quarantine anything goes. I made do with what I had just so I could show you the process 😉

Take care, and I hope you enjoy your new quarantine hobby!! 🙂