Hot Yoga Continued…

One of my very first posts was about trying hot yoga. Lets just say since that initial class, I’ve been back sooo many times and learned a few things along the way.

  1. Yoga will improve your other exercise routines. I am a regular gym-goer, but I could tell a definite difference after taking yoga. My balance, stamina, and flexibility have all increased.
  2. Yoga improves your overall mental health and feeling of well-being. Usually, the class begins and ends with a kind, but informative insight from the instructor.  I am continually reminded to live in the moment and focus on what is truly important. I have been able to better handle everyday stress and enjoying a better overall-mood.
  3. Yoga can relieve pain and help you sleep. I love it for relieving my back pain (a result of too many years in retail) and overall getting older pains, *sigh*. My sleep has also improved. I sleep deeper and longer, feeling more refreshed. You really can’t go wrong!

Four good things to improve your practice:

  • Invest in a good yoga mat. In hot yoga, things can get slippery. A good yoga mat will help anchor you and help prevent accidents. My Jade Harmony mat has helped me maintain grip and not slide around. It was pricey, but if you do yoga regularly, it will be worth the investment. I picked mine up from the yoga studio, cause I love shopping local when possible!
  • Buy a yoga specific hand towel. They are super-absorbent, so it’s great for wiping your face or keeping your hands steady. I bought this one from Amazon.
  • Use a water container with a spout/straw. I have found these make it easier to get a quick drink. The Eddy style from CamelBak is my favorite, Amazon.
  • Hair Masks-Why not multi-task and exercise at the same time, right? I like to take advantage of the heat/sweat by applying a hair mask before class.  Here are two I like to use, just apply to dry hair before class and rinse out when you shower.
  • Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Night Cap Perfector, $28, available at Ulta
  • DevaCurl Melt Into Moisture Matcha Butter Conditioning Mask, (from my recent Play! box) $36, Sephora

 

Namaste!

Susan

 

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Butter Cookies..Granny’s Recipe Box 

This is the third recipe I’ve tried from Granny’s Box. The second didn’t turn out so well and it also cost me quite a bit of butter, which should never happen to anyone.  At first glance, the “Butter Cookie” recipe looks like one for cookies, but they are actually bars. These turned out well, but I am including a few “tweaks” for the next time I make them.

Ingredients:

2 sticks butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1 egg, separated (we will use the white later)

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp cinnamon (I LOVE cinnamon and 1/4 tsp was not enough)

1 tsp vanilla (not in the original recipe, but I can’t make a dessert without it)

1/2 tsp salt (original recipe only called for a pinch, this was not enough)

1 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Combine all ingredients, except for reserved egg white with mixer.
  2. Press out onto a 9×13 cookie sheet. It says un-greased, but next time I will definitely use a little Baker’s Joy.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat egg white until frothy and spread over cookie mixture. Then sprinkle nuts on top.
  4. Bake for 35-40 minutes.
  5. Allow to cool for around 10-15 minutes before cutting into bars.

Enjoy!

Susan

Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies stir up feelings associated with home, holidays, and a general feeling of contentment. Everyone has a recipe they grew up with or always reach for, so today I’ve decided to share mine.


My Mama always used the recipe from her ever-trusty Betty Crocker Cooky book. I have made others, but always go back to this one. It’s the perfect combo of soft and chewy, delightful goodness!


Ingredients:

1/3 cup shortening

1/3 cup butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (add a 1/4 cup more for a softer cookie, this is what I usually do. It gives the perfect soft and chewy cookie!)

1/2 tsp soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional, it’s a part of the original recipe, but I always leave them out)

1 package, 6oz semi-sweet chocolate chips



 

Directions:

  1. If making right away, preheat oven to 375 degrees. This will give you a flat and crispy cookie. For a softer, rounder cookie, chill for a couple hours or overnight before baking.
  2. Mix shortening, sugars, egg, and vanilla thoroughly. 
  3. Combine dry ingredients and add to shortening mixture.
  4. Add chocolate chips and the nuts, if you are using them.
  5. Using a cookie scoop (I typically use one that is roughly a tablespoon), drop onto lined baking sheet. You can use a silicone baking liner or parchment paper. This will ensure your cookies don’t stick.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. 
  7. Cool 2-3 minutes on baking sheet before transferring to cooling rack.
  8. Taste test a cookie, while still warm and enjoy with some milk!

This dough also freezes well, so normally I scoop them out, freeze on a sheet pan, then add to a freezer bag. Good for about 6 months or until you need a cookie fix. Oh, and if you eat them using this face mug from Uncommon Goods, they taste even better! 

Enjoy! 

Susan

Three Must Have Photo Apps

After opening my Etsy shop, one of the first things I did was look for good photo apps. The ones below are perfect for editing photos from your phone or DLSR. I don’t post a picture without using at least one, sometimes all three! 

1. Afterlight-It’s available at the App Store and Google Play for $.99 with opportunities for in-app purchases. I don’t normally “buy” apps, but this one was totally worth the $1.06 with tax. It is my go-to for filters! Perfect for all of my food and product photos.

2. Canva– Available free on the App Store and Google Play with opportunity for in-app purchases. Allows you to choose different layouts according to what you need, plus, a custom layout feature. I use this all the time for my Etsy shop. Add your own photos or choose from their selection, most of these are not free though. Great for adding text, making collages, etc. One of my all-time favorite apps!

3. Photoshop Fix– Available for free from the App Store and Google Play is really awesome! I use this quite frequently for my product photos, as it has  great tools for smoothing, sharpening, cropping, lightening, etc. Another bonus, using this on your iPad/iPhone, allows you to use your finger or stylus to make adjustments. I can be really exact about “fixing” my pictures. I love it!

Enjoy!

Susan

Travel Size Beauty

With vacation season upon us, every inch of your luggage has to count. I for one, do not want to pack a ton of toiletries, so I love minis/multiple use products. Here a few of my favorites!

1. Verb Leave-In Mist, $7, Sephora– Great for detangling and adding extra moisture. My hair is very thick and this is my go-to product!  Just a great brand overall, as their products are sulfate and cruelty-free, which I love!

2. Living Proof Dry Shampoo, $12, Sephora– The BEST dry shampoo EVER!!! I have tried many from Bumble+Bumble to the drugstore brands and this one does the trick. It leaves my hair looking clean without that pesky white residue.

3. Yes to Cucumbers Facial Wipes, $2.99, Ulta– I love to double cleanse , but I don’t want to take two full size cleansers on a trip. These wipes are great for removing makeup and quite refreshing. Plus, this company is cruelty free and they use natural ingredients. 

4. Nars Multiple, $39, Ulta– A blush, lipstick and eyeshadow in one! What more could you ask for? A bit pricey, but save your Ulta points and get it discounted. I will warn you though, the names of the colors are a bit risky. 

Smashbox L.A. Lights, $29, Ulta– A lipstick and blush in one, plus a sponge tip for application. A great alternative to the Nars product above.

5. Sunbum Sunscreen Face Stick, SPF 30, $9.99, Ulta– After hitting the beach, my hands get a tad sandy when reapplying sunscreen. This face stick allows me to apply without touching the actual product, so nice! Sunbum uses natural ingredients and is a cruelty-free company. Love their stuff!

Happy Travels!

Susan 😊

 

Basic Muffins-Granny’s Recipe Box

One of the first recipes I pulled from Granny’s box, was this one for basic muffins. Simple, straight-forward, and ingredients I already had in the pantry. I added of few of my own, just because. 


I am an impatient breakfast person, so naturally, I made these the night before. I just stuck the batter in the fridge. And if you aren’t an impatient breakfast person, feel free to make these in the morning…

The batter was a bit thick, so next time I may add a smidge more milk. These muffins were small in comparison to the ones we are used to these days, so naturally this means you should eat two. However, next time, I believe I will use the jumbo muffin tin.

Regardless of size, they turned out really well and have earned a slot in my repertoire. They were moist and perfect for strawberry jelly..



Ingredients:

1 egg

1 cup milk (I always buy whole, as did my Granny)

3 tbsp. of vegetable shortening, melted (recipe also says you can substitute 3tbsp. vegetable oil instead of shortening)

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups self-rising flour, sifted (or cheat like I do and use a wisk)

2 tbsp. sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg (freshly grated is best, but the dried kind is fine)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and grease your muffin tin. Even when using the papers or silicone cups, I always use a little Baker’s Joy. This ensures they won’t stick.

Break egg into bowl and lightly beat with fork, then add milk, vanilla, and melted shortening. In a separate bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry and stir until combined.

Fill muffin tins 2/3 full and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Every oven is different, so I always set the time half-way. You can always leave it in for more time, but you can’t un-bake it. 

Serve with your favorite jelly (strawberry is the best!) and butter. 

Enjoy!! 🙂

Susan

 

 

Granny’s Recipe Box…

My mama recently gave me a recipe box, that belonged to my Granny Nell. Part of it has the Betty Crocker cards it came with and the others are all handwritten by my Granny on index/recipe cards. She even wrote a few on savings account slips, envelopes, and postcards. Some are detailed and others like one for spaghetti sauce, say “cook until done”. I love the recipes because I loved my Granny and actually framed some of my favorites. Over the rest of this year, I plan to go through the box and make some of the gems inside. So excited!



Overnight Wheat Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes


I have always been a breakfast person and love pretty much everything involved in the day’s first meal. Pancakes are at the top of my list and thankfully, a cinch to whip up. Either boxed or homemade, both are a staple at our house on the weekend. Out of all the ones I’ve had to taste test (so sad, ha!), these wheat buttermilk ones are my fave. It’s an Alton Brown recipe I came across a few years ago, and I’ve tweaked it a bit. Here is the link to the original: food.com

The original recipe used white sugar, but I thought brown sugar would be a better complement to the wheat flour. It also called for melted butter, but I have forgotten the butter in the microwave so many times now, I just leave it out. They taste absolutely fine without it, I promise! Cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla are also not in the original, but I always add them to pancake batter, whether homemade or store bought. Blueberries were also an addition, but feel free to leave them out. They are good without them too!

Dry Ingredients:

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp fresh grated nutmeg (if you can’t find fresh, regular dried kind is fine)

1 tsp salt

3 tbsp brown sugar (original called for regular white sugar)

Wet Ingredients:

2 cups buttermilk

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla

Butter for cooking (see, I didn’t leave it out entirely!)

1 cup fresh blueberries, add to batter right before cooking

Makes approximately 12 small-medium pancakes.

Directions:

  1. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. In another bowl, mix together the wet ingredients, then add to dry until just combined. Don’t over-mix, or you’ll have tough pancakes. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. The next morning, stir the batter and fold in blueberries.
  3. Heat a well-seasoned cast iron skillet over low-medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of butter.
  4. When the skillet is hot, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup batter and shape into a pancake. Bubbles will form on top when the pancake is ready to flip, about 3-4 minutes per side, should be a nice golden brown.
  5. Adjust heat and add butter to skillet as needed.
  6. Serve with your favorite syrup and fresh fruit.

 

**Helpful Hint*** Set your oven to a low temperature (175-200 degrees), so your pancakes will stay warm before serving.  These also freeze well too!

This week I tried hot yoga…


Hot yoga is something I’ve wanted to try forever, I just haven’t taken the time to check it out. There is a local studio close to my job, so this week to celebrate the beginning of summer hours, I decided to treat myself. Some of you are probably thinking, hot yoga is not a way to treat yourself, but for me it was exactly the right thing.

Four things I did not expect:

1. You sweat soooooooooo much, and I can’t emphasize this enough. I mean like dripping, slip on your yoga mat sweaty. Thankfully, I was provided with a face towel, but I might have to invest in a towel specifically for yogi’s.

2. All levels welcome, no intimidation! No one trying to do a crazy pose. Similar to my gym, the instructor asked that you only do what you are able. Don’t do something if it doesn’t feel good. Don’t do something beyond your ability, risking an injury. It’s a good mantra and thankfully, a popular one.

3. The ambiance factor was also more than I expected, compared to what I am familiar with at my gym. Upon entering, the room had a candlelit feel and was warm like a hot bath. Feeling calm and relaxed, my decompression had commenced. Very different from the bright florescent lights of the gym.

4. Bonus points for complete relaxation: At the end of the shavasana, or corpse pose, the instructor placed a cool-lavender scented towel over my forehead/eyes. It felt so nice! I have never been able to completely close my mind until this class. Unlike the gym, there were absolutely no distractions and for once I wasn’t thinking about anything, except for how great I felt.

Obviously, this class was awesome and I’ll definitely be back! Highly, highly recommend.

Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

Susan

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My First Post

I have been thinking about starting a blog for quite awhile now, but wasn’t sure where to start. I’ve decided to just go with it and see where it takes me. My intentions for this blog are purely for fun and a way to de-stress at the end of a long work week. Please look forward to recipes, beauty stuff, and the occasional diy/tutorial. Thanks for stopping by!

Susan