Beautiful Reasons To Fall In Love With Flowers

+ 3 ways to preserve flowers

5 min read



My Lola (grandmother) and I prepared tropical and spirited flower bouquet assortments on all Souls Day to honor our deceased family members.

She cut thick green stems of mighty and blood red anthuriums as she carefully placed them into the wet green foam. Next to the alluring anthuriums were a different beauty: the most subtle, pure, and virtuous flower of Baby’s Breath (gypsophila) filled the space like beautiful angels.

Our preservation of memories are acts of love. Preserving flowers symbolize memories of our loved ones.

Here are the 3 best ways to preserve flowers:

1. Dry Hang Flowers

How to dry hang your flowers?

  1. Bundle about 5 stems together.
  2. Tie them with a rubber band, cotton string, or embroidery thread.
  3. Hang them from a high place that is dark yet airy to prevent discoloration from light
  4. Wait about a week to dry

After a week, you can use the preserved flowers as decoration by displaying them in glass bottles.

2. Book Press Flowers

How to book press your fauna?

  1. grab a book or sketchbook
  2. arrange flowers between pages
  3. close book and put heavy books on top
  4. Wait 1 week and don’t touch

After waiting a week, the flowers should be flat and dry ready for your next art project.

You can put book pressed flowers in collages and bullet journals or even as decoration in your room.

3. Flower Bottles and Herbariums

How to display flowers in bottles?

1. Petal bottle:

photo taken by Bianca Soriano
  1. leave petals to dry
  2. and after a few days, put them in a small bottle

You use small glass vials or any clear container.

The bottled flowers can be given away as gifts or souvenirs at parties or events.

Pro tip: add a tag or thin ribbon around the neck of the bottle.

2. Herbarium:

Herbariums are the same as flower bottles but with filled with oil.

  1. arrange a small bottle with assorted flowers and foliage
  2. Fill with herbarium oil (mineral/baby oil)
  3. Seal with cork or top

You can even put scented herbs like rosemary and lavender to use as essential oils.

These herbarium bottles can be used as gifts and decoration for your home.

Pro-tip: Use your favorite pressed flowers as decoration in your art or bullet journal.

Conclusion

What’s your favorite flower?


How Journaling Can Save Your Mental Health

5 min read


My senior year of high school was rough. I took all college classes including AP and Dual Credit. On top of that, halfway through senior year I was shocked to see 2 random science classes that popped up on my spring schedule. It turned out that my advisor forgot to verify I needed another science credit to graduate!

In total, I took 9 college classes.

Meanwhile, being an overachiever that I am, I had 3 honor societies and 3 leadership positions under my belt. Did I mention I was a martial artist as well?

Obviously after a few months the bubbling madness of stress took a toll on my mental health.

School can be stressful. That’s why its crucial to take a step back and reassess yourself daily.

Journaling is a powerful tool that can help cope with the stresses accompanied with your daily grind.

Journaling is actually proven to help manage your anxiety, guard against depression, and lower stress. (source: University of Rochester Medical Center) Why?

  • Journaling is a way of active thinking about your own problems, fears, and worries. You will be able to rationally talk to yourself and view your conflicts on paper.
  • Journaling can track things that make you worry or upset in order to come up with better solutions to handle them.
  • Journaling helps you talk to yourself like a friend to put issues into perspective.

source: (source: University of Rochester Medical Center)

The University of Rochester Medical Center reminds students that journaling is only one puzzle piece in building a happy and healthy lifestyle.

They highly recommend these essential practices:

They emphasize using a journal to track these necessary healthy habits everyday. (tip: a bullet journal can help you track these habits)

What is the most beneficial way for me to journal?

1. Write daily.

It is important to write daily. Set aside a time and place to write.

For example, I personally write in my bed when I wake up in the morning in a prayer journal and practice thankfulness (all of us have so much to be thankful for).

I even write at night in my bed before I go to sleep to think about things that happened in the day. I reflect on what excited me or events and occurrences that stood out that day.

2. Write everything.

Don’t think about making spelling mistakes or if your handwriting is nearly illegible. This journal is only for you.

Write everything that is bothering you. Write everything you are thinking about. Write everything that you want to.

Writing all your fears and worries down on a physical piece of paper is when the power of journaling creates a healthy state of mind.

Journaling is a physical reality of emptying your mind of toxic thoughts and putting them away in another location away from your brain.

3. Relax.

Journaling shouldn’t be stressful and should be one of your favorite parts of the day.

It is a time for you to relax and reflect. Journaling is a way of self-care.

I suggest drinking a hot cup of your favorite tea while sitting in a quiet space in your room. Surround yourself with candles, plant friends, or anything that relaxes you.

What is your favorite way of journaling?


3 Quick Secrets on Starting Your Journal

5 min read

*Disclosure: I only recommend products I tested and approved of. All opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links that are no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. Thanks.


How can I start my own journal?

Whether you’re keeping a journal or writing as a meditation, it’s the same thing. What’s important is you’re having a relationship with your mind

Natalie Goldberg ( author of Zen Living, Writing and Eating)

1. What is my goal through journaling ?

Having a purpose for your journal can lead you in the right direction and look back to see if you grew and met your goals.

Some questions to ask yourself:

  • Is my journal for mental health, productivity, or to express my feelings in a positive and healthy way?
  • How do I express my thoughts? Do I enjoy writing them? drawing? or both?
  • Do I like to keep souvenirs from places, people, or events?

Here’s a quick reference guide on journals for creative students:

Art, health & fitness, productivity and goal setting, and personal writing are essential towards a happy and healthy mind and body. As college students you and I need to take care of our mental health because college can be an especially stressful time.

Types of journals you can start today:

1. Art Journals

Do you like to express your emotions through images?

  • art collage – a collage of photos, art, souvenirs, memorabilia, magazine and image clippings
  • sketchbook – your own drawings, paintings, sketches of people, urban sketching, lifestyle
  • nature – a collection of pressed flowers, art, drawings, dried foliage, poems, or any observations, feelings, thoughts, or studies inspired by nature.
  • travel – a collection of photos, souvenirs, drawings, sketches, thoughts, ideas, and writing about where you’ve been.

2. Health & Fitness

  • food log – keeping track of your intake and diet, water consumption, healthy recipes, dishes you’ve tried from different cultures, your own favorite recipes
  • exercise tracker- track your workout routine, weight loss plans, goals for your sport (ballet, track, martial arts etc.)
  • women’s health – period tracker, hormones, mood swings, feelings, fertility cycles etc.

3. Productivity

4. Personal Writing

  • personal log & feelings- a record or observation of daily events that resonated with you, interesting thoughts, ideas, goals, events, what you felt, people you met etc.
  • creative narrative- story writing, describing your own life or small moments in details, and short stories
  • poem- writing songs, haikus, writing down a moment or something that inspired you through the art of poetry.

Your journal is a reflection of yourself.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say”

FLANNERY O’ CONNOR

Don’t feel pressured to follow the bullet journal trend or confine yourself to a set of rules.

I personally have multiple journals that are a mix of all the above: a planner for tracking my college studies, deadlines, assignments, tests, projects as well as my social and personal life like parties, birthdays, and events. I also keep my goals, daily to-dos, and fitness plans. I have a pocket sketchbook for drawing quick sketches of people or scenes that inspire me while traveling. A bullet journal for dumping creative ideas, souvenirs, and pressed flowers and foliage. And a prayer journal for my daily life.

The most important thing about journaling is to relax and have fun!

2. Find Your Aesthetic

Finding your aesthetic may be more for creatives.

It may take some time but “find” what you like. In art, the more you practice, the more you start to develop your style.

Here are some of my favorite themes:

  • vintage theme
  • black and white
  • minimalist
  • floral
  • Brown, black, white, and gold
  • pastel
  • asian
  • glam or girly
  • travel
  • or a mix of your choice

3. Find Supplies

To me, this is the fun part.

Finding a notebook or journal that you love will make you want to write more. Here are some materials I love:

Materials ideas + recommendations

I got a lot of these from my local craft store like Michaels

Notebooks:

Writing Supplies:

Extra:

Note: you don’t have to purchase a lot of materials to journal. Just be creative with already existing papers, photos, pens, and materials.

“When it comes to art, it’s important not to hide the madness.”

Atticus

How does journaling help you?

Comment down below and check out other posts on mental health here:


3 Teas’ Secrets You Never Knew


There are so many delicious and health boosting teas to drink including hibiscus, jasmine, oolong, white tea, and peppermint.

Try:

  • black tea
  • green tea
  • matcha tea

1. Black Tea

Black Tea is definitely one of my favorite teas because of its rich taste.

It’s not bitter or sweet but has a dark, earthy, and wholesome flavor.

It is one of the most common teas on the market.

Black tea can be found at nearly every supermarket at an affordable price.

Brew hot water then add the tea.

Mix with almond milk for a healthy milk tea.

Health benefits of black tea:

  • powerful antioxidants
  • decrease inflammation
  • decrease risk of heart disorders
  • reduces LDL (bad) cholesterol in hypercholesterolemic (too much cholesterol) humans
  • reduces risk of stroke
  • prevents risk of cancer & inhibits cancerous cells
  • decreases blood glucose and improves insulin

click here to see the full article on the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health

Black tea can help diabetics, stroke patients, and decreases your risk of cancer.

2. Green Tea

Green Tea is another great tea with several positive health benefits.

Compared to black tea, green tea has a lighter taste.

It has a fresh and calming aroma.

Add a green tea bag to a steaming cup of hot water.

After 2 minutes, remove the tea bag (or else it will become bitter).

Health benefits of green tea (according to Dr. Mike):

Click here to view 7 Health Benefits of Green Tea & How to Drink it | Doctor Mike

More green tea powers:

  • decreases risk of degenerative and neurodegenerative (Alzheimer & Parkinson’s) diseases
  • protects against hip fractures
  • has recently been shown to have anti-obesity and anti-diabetic effects

Make sure to read the full study here

3. Matcha Tea

Matcha tea is my new favorite!

It is originally from Japan.

Matcha tea has a rich green color that has healthy and bright appearance.

I recommend Matcha over regular green tea because it has much more health benefits.

When making matcha, they ground young tea leaves into a fine powder to capture all the essential nutrients.

Whereas, when making green tea, the leaves are simply boiled and you do not get as much of the healthy nutrients from the plant.

Matcha is more expensive than regular teas.

Good quality Matcha is not bitter but slightly sweet.

Health Benefits of Matcha

  • decrease or inhibit cell damage
  • lower risk of chronic diseases (illness persisting for a long time or a re occuring illness)
  • has more catechins (antioxidant compounds) than any other green tea
  • prevent kidney and liver damage
  • helps with faster reaction times, focuses the mind, and recall of information

read the full article and studies from Healthline here

Conclusion

Here are my top 3 favorite teas to try:

  • black tea
  • green tea
  • matcha tea

Remember to drink tea moderately daily. Some say 3-5 is safe unless you have a sensitivity to caffeine. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about all dietary supplements including tea when on certain medications because of potential interactions.

disclaimer: remember correlation does not equal causation. We still need many studies to prove the health effects of tea. Regard tea and health benefits as merely an association.

clear drinking glasses
Photo by Jess Bailey Designs on Pexels.com

Other great teas:

What is your favorite tea?

creative workplace with laptop and notebook
Photo by Cup of Couple on Pexels.com

Simple Tips For Sanity During a Lockdown

6 min read


“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life and what you will eat, or about your body and what you will wear” – Luke 12:22

full verse

How can you stay healthy during such difficult circumstances? Here are 3 essential and science-backed ways on maintaining your health:

1. Take care of your mind, soul, wellbeing

take care of.. you.

It’s okay to not be okay right now. Remembering that you and I have 0% control over this challenging time is one huge leap towards a rich inner peace.

How can you take control of your mental health?

Accept your emotions of anger, frustration, sadness, and helplessness while channeling them into a healthy or creative medium such as art, poetry, writing, sports, or music.

Find your creative outlet

“ I think most art comes out of poverty and hard times.”

Willie Nelson

Try writing down how you feel in a journal, prayer journal, or a bullet journal. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, journaling can help “reduce stress, manage anxiety, [and help one] cope with depression”.

Practice daily prayer and mindfulness

  • Mindfulness. Your mindset is so powerful. Having hope and seeing the best of things in troubling times are keys to success to many people. Changing your mindset and practicing gratitude and thankfulness is also an incredibly great way to stay positive. 

Talking to someone

  • Communicating your feelings to your best friend, parent, or a psychologist is crucial to maintaining your mental health. Furthermore, you and I are obligated to console those who need to be consoled.
  • If you are not comfortable speaking to a friend or family member, text HOME to 741741 and connect with a crisis counselor for free 24/7 or visit crisistextline.org 

2. Take care of your body

Get moving!

Sports and exercise for at least 20 mins 3 times per week is a scientifically proven way to de-stress. Recently, I’ve been taking beginner ballet classes from a professional dancer on YouTube called the Ballet Coach.

Simply taking a leisurely walk while enjoying the scenery and fresh air (while wearing a mask of course!) can lower your cortisol levels. 

Rest and Relaxation

Time to use those gifted beeswax candles, sweet-smelling lotions, and charcoal face masks! Don’t forget to treat yourself and take care of your hygiene.

Whenever, I feel stressed and overworked I have my own inexpensive and relaxing “me day”. Give your hair a treat by deep conditioning your it with luscious leave in conditioners. You can even freshen up by cleaning up your brows and shaving your legs for girls.

Remember also to get a good night’s sleep of 8-9 hours!

Taking care of yourself and your hygiene will help you relax and de-stress.

Eat healthy foods

According to Harvard University:

“A diet rich in vegetables and fruits can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, lower risk of eye and digestive problems, and have a positive effect upon blood sugar, which can help keep appetite in check”.

“Eating non-starchy vegetables and fruits like apples, pears, and green leafy vegetables may even promote weight loss. [1] Their low glycemic loads prevent blood sugar spikes that can increase hunger.”

3. Maintaining a sense of “normalcy”

Creating a daily routine

“No Bible no Breakfast, no Bible no bed.” -Fr. Larry Richards

Purchase a planner or simply write your goals down for the day.

Have a regular and consistent sleep schedule by avoiding electronic screens 1 hour before bed as the blue light will keep you awake.

Develop a nighttime routine in replacement of screen time. You can read your favorite book such as a novel or the Bible. Another great idea is to pray and journal before you sleep.

Staying productive

Make goals and try new things.

Conclusion

1. Take care of your mind, soul, and emotional wellbeing

Accept your feelings and channel them into a healthy and creative outlet

2. Take care of your body

maintain your wellbeing through food and leisurely exercise

3. Maintain a sense of “normalcy”

craft your own daily routine and stay productive

How can you help others during Covid-19?

I would love to know how you can help or are already helping others during Covid-19 by leaving a comment down below!

“Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy”

Luke 12: 33

Check out our new posts on Mental Health Matters


5 Essential Drawing Tools for Beginner Artists


I took art for 3 years in high school including drawing classes and AP Studio Art. These 5 materials are easy to use and inexpensive if you are just starting out. Here are some of my favorite art materials I used in high school.

1. Ticonderoga Beginner Pencils

This is the most basic art tool I learned to use in beginner art class. It is something I still enjoy to draw with today. This pencil is great for shading, sketching, and adding value to your drawings.

Note: This lightweight pencil is thicker in diameter than regular HB pencils!

Here are sample drawings and sketches with the thick Beginner Pencil:

a study of Michaelangelo’s David
the Outsider by Bianca Soriano

2. Charocal Pencils

Types of charcoal pencils:

  • Black Charcoal
  • White Charcoal
  • Colored or tinted Charcoal

This is one of my favorite classic drawing tools. General’s black and white charcoal is delicately soft and leaves dark hyper-pigmented marks. It is great for shading and drawing bold lines.

For beginners, buy the black and white first for its cheaper price. I recommend the General’s for their good quality and affordable price.

note: remember to purchase the General’s sharpener!

Here is my sample drawing using a mix of the black and white charcoal for the darkest parts of the face and graphite pencil for the lightest parts:

Angelic Comfort by Bianca Soriano

Colored Charcoal has the same soft and highly pigmented application as black and white but with different colors. This type is much more expensive than regular charcoal.

My favorite colored charcoal set is the Stabilo CarbOthello Pastel Pencil Sets in which a starter set is about $14.58.

Another high rated colored charcoal set is the Conte a Paris set!

My sample drawing using colored charcoal:

White Lillies by Bianca Soriano

3. Oil Pastels

I love how vibrant and pigmented these oil pastels are. They have a smooth application and are incredibly easy to blend.

You can use fun and colorful pastels for landscapes, portraits, still-life drawing and more.

Above is the 36 count Oil Pastels from Pentel Arts that I got from my local art store.

A 12 piece set from Pentel cost only $2.25.

Here is my sample drawing using oil pastels:

Drei Dreaming by Bianca Soriano

4. Blending Stumps

Blending Stumps

Blending stumps will smoothen out the marks of pencil, charcoals, graphite, oil pastel, chalk pastel and more.

Use them for a smoother portrait and background.

5. Micron Ink Pens

Micron is known for its for fine and high-quality pigmented ink pens.

It can be used to draw cityscapes, urban sketching, and simple portraits.

The brush tip pen can also be used for calligraphy.

A sample drawing using Micron pens:

Texas Darling by Bianca Soriano

Conclusion

My Favorite Drawing Tools for Art

  1. Ticonderoga HB Beginner Pencil
  2. Charcoal pencil
  3. Oil Pastel
  4. Blending Stump
  5. Ink Pens

Other great tools also include: Hi-polymer erasers, graphite pencils, watercolor pencils, and chalk pastels.

What is your favorite drawing tool?