In today’s bustling world, taking the time for deliberate relaxation has become a modern day necessity. Between work, family life, and other responsibilities, the average person spends his day going from difficult situation to even more difficult situation. Crafting provides a great way to break out from this routine and de-stress for a little while.
Here are 10 reasons crafting is good for your mental health:
1. Crafting focuses our minds on a productive activity.
2. Crafting allows our stressful energy to be released through our hands in creative ways.
3. Crafting provides an outlet for creative problem solving, which creates the flexibility that is an essential element of stress reduction
4. Crafting, like any focused activity, creates a mild trance state which is highly conducive to relaxation and letting go of stress.
5. Crafting gives us time in our busy lives in which we can reconnect with ourselves.
6. Crafting is fun; and fun things reduce stress.
7. Crafting creates a time in which we are free from worries (about time, money, relationships, and the many other things we tend to worry about).
8. Crafting keeps us productive and when we’re productive we stress less.
9. Crafting is a great get-a-way without having to go anywhere.
10. Crafting is something we can do for ourselves (a self-care activity), and doing for ourselves (self-care activities) reduces stress.
So, the next time the stress becomes overwhelming, consider skipping the beer and chocolate, and reaching for the knitting instead!
Ben Klempner, LMSW, founder and editor of Effective Family Communication, is a trained social worker. Please visit his blog at: http://www.EffectiveFamilyCommunication.com
This Three-Bean Chili is based on a recipe from the American Heart Association Quick And Easy Cookbook. Lately, I’ve been trying out at least one recipe from this book each week. Unfortunately, the book isn’t vegetarian, so I’m afraid I’ll run out of new things to try long before I’m ready to give this wonderful book up!
I’ve made the Three-Bean Chili two ways. The first time I made it with beer, according to the instructions in the book. It was good but alcohol tends to give me a stomachache. The second time around, in addition to other changes, I skipped the beer and added onion soup mix instead. The result was much better for my tummy and still very delicious.
The following recipe is my own alcohol-free version.
1 can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 oz. onion soup mix ( I use three single serving pkgs)
3-4 oz. tomato paste
2 tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 cup plain yogurt
garlic powder, to taste
salt, to taste
In a large pot, combine beans, 1 cup water, tomato paste, onion soup mix, chili powder and cumin. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add more water as needed.
Add salt and garlic powder to yogurt to taste. I like mine strong, but that’s just my personal taste.
Pour chili into four bowls and top with seasoned yogurt.
Note: Chili is also delicious served over brown rice. Or, for a vegan chili, skip the yogurt.
In the past, I’ve posted recipes for 3-Ingredient Roasted Potatoes and Hasselback Potatoes. But lately, my style of cooking has changed dramatically. I now cook exclusively low-fat (or non-fat foods) for health reasons. Which means that these (admittedly delicious) recipes are no longer part of my repertoire.
Instead, I now make a potato recipe that’s easy, delicious AND low in fat. Perfect!
3-4 large potatoes
3 teaspoons olive oil
1 oz pkg onion soup mix (or more to taste)
Preheat oven to 240 Celsius or 465 Fahrenheit.
Slice potatoes in half lengthwise. Cut each of the halves into 4-6 wedges, depending on the size of your potato. Dry potato slices well, using paper towels or clean cloth towels.
Place the wedges in a large plastic bag, add oil, onion soup mix, and optional salt. Shake well to coat.
Spray baking sheet with Pam spray.
Cook potatoes till nicely browned and serve with ketchup on the side.
Note: For easier cleanup the baking sheet can be covered with aluminum foil. The potatoes will come off the aluminum relatively easily if you use enough Pam.
On my tenth birthday, I received a knitting spool as one of my birthday presents. I loved that thing. I played with my knitting spool all summer long, making bracelets, necklaces, headbands and fancy dresses for my dolls.
Recently, my interest in this craft has revived and I’ve been curious to see what an adult could do with such a simple tool. However, as I currently live in the Middle East, knitting spools aren’t exactly easy to locate
I created my own knitting spool from an empty aspirin bottle. Not only did I have an evening of nostalgic pleasure rediscovering an old love, I also saved a plastic container from the city dump.
Here’s what I did:
First, I removed all labels and identifying information off the bottle. I will probably hand the knitting spool off to one of my nieces eventually, and I don’t want them equating medicine bottles with toys. Plus, the knitting spool looks much nicer without a label on it.
Next, I removed the bottom of the bottle using a small but extremely sharp scissors.
Finally, using the same scissors, I cut four evenly spaced tabs into the walls of the bottle. I removed all the plastic between the tabs.
The resulting spool is surprising strong and flexible and the entire process took less than an hour.
Cholent is a traditional Jewish stew, made from beans and potatoes, and cooked for almost 24 hours on a low flame. The following recipe started out in Kosher By Design, but after many changes to ingredients and cooking instructions, I feel I can call this version at least partly my own.
1/2 cup kidney beans, rinsed
1/2 cup lima beans, rinsed
1 cup brown lentils, rinsed
3 large onions, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup canola oil
4 thin-skinned potatoes, chunked
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 cup frozen baby carrots
1 cup old-fashioned oats (not quick cooking)
1/2 cup barley, rinsed
3 tablespoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons sweet paprika
1 large pinch black pepper
1/4-1/3 cup ketchup
Cook the kidney beans, lentils, and lima beans in boiling water for five minutes. Remove from flame and let sit for one hour.
While beans are soaking, brown onions in oil.
Drain beans and place all ingredients in a oven roasting bag. Fill the bag with water till the ingredients are completely covered and tie the top with a slip knot.
Place the oven roasting bag in a slow cooker filled halfway with water. Cook on high for about 21-22 hours. Serve immediately.
Note: You will need to add additional water to the bag. Have a urn with hot water available.
Makes 8-10 servings.
Warning: Slow cookers differ in heat settings. The first time you prepare Vegetarian Cholent, watch your food to insure it does not overcook.
From start to finish, including cooking time, this pizza takes three minutes to prepare. I can’t say this is the most delicious dish I’ve ever tasted, but considering how fast it is, the pizza’s not half bad.
The reason I use a double layer of tortillas in this recipe, is that two layers gives more of a pizza crust type of feel than one layer.
2 flour tortillas
1/2 cup high quality pizza sauce
Place one tortilla on a plate. Spread with half the sauce and sprinkle on half of the cheese. Place the second tortilla directly on top of the first. Cover with the rest of the sauce and cheese.
Microwave on high for for 1-2 minutes, depending on the power of your machine.
Makes a good lunch for the kids.
My son, a normally picky eater, loves this combination of rice and vegetarian hot dogs. The trick is in the technique, not the ingredients.
2 cups onion-flavored brown rice, cooked and at least a day old
4 vegetarian hot dogs
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
salt, to taste
Microwave the vegetarian hot dogs for about 2 minutes, or till completely hot. Don’t overcook.
Pour 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil into a large, high quality, non-stick frying pan. Turn on heat to medium high.
While oil is heating, slit each hot dog into four lengthwise quarters. Chop each quarter into small bits, the smaller the better.
Place two cups of cold rice into a microwave bowl. Set the timer for 2-3 minutes.
When the oil is very hot, standing back to avoid being splattered, throw the bits of hot dog into the pan. The hot dog should begin to immediately sizzle and burn slightly. Allow the hot dog to cook till the pieces are dark on at least two sides.
Add the hot rice, and cook, stirring constantly for another few minutes, or until rice has absorbed the spicy flavor of the hot dogs.
Add salt, to taste.
Note: To make onion-flavored brown rice, prepare brown rice according to instructions on the wrapper but add 1 single size package of onion soup mix per cup of raw rice when the water is stirred in.