My “specialty” dessert

Today’s post is about food!!! We all love food, right? And even more, we love dessert. Just not too much, because… well, I’m sure you can figure out why. There are countless reasons.

Anyway, I think that I have a dessert that people someday may call my “specialty.” Maybe it seems silly, but I have always thought that it would be cool to have a “signature dish” or a “specialty.” I guess it would make me feel like a good cook or baker! My hopefully future specialty dessert is called “Peanut Butter Brownies.” Sounds simple, but they are a true killer mix of chocolate and peanut butter. They are the type of dessert that you have to hide… and even when you hide them, you can’t help but dig them back out to have another. They’re the type of dessert that you keep saying “… Just one more bite” about. I hope that I don’t sound full of myself for calling my own dessert so delicious. For the record, it is my aunt’s recipe! I give recipe credit to her– I’m lucky that I know how to bake so that I can bring the recipe to life!

Do you have a specialty or signature food or dessert? (Even if it is just a signature to your own self?)

Now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for: the recipe.

Peanut Butter Brownies

3/4 C. butter, softened

3/4 C. creamy peanut butter

1 3/4 C. sugar

2 tsp. vanilla

4 eggs

1 1/4 C. flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 C. cocoa powder

  1. Heat oven to 350F
  2. Grease 9×13 pan.
  3. Melt butter. Add peanut butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, baking powder and salt and mix well.
  4. Add flour and mix well.
  5. Remove 1-3/4 cups batter to a small bowl; add baking cocoa into this part. Spread chocolate batter evenly in bottom of baking pan.*
  6. Remaining batter on top.
  7.  Bake at 350F for 30 minutes, or until brownies just begin to pull away from sides of the pan.
  8. Let cool on wire rack and cut.

*For a swirled look, put the remaining batter in first, and then drop large spoonfuls of the chocolate batter on top. Take a knife and use it to drag the chocolate batter around the pan. Take extra care to make sure the chocolate reaches the corners and edges.

If you make it, let me know how it turns out! It is seriously to die for and one of my all-time favorites.

Have you heard about Plastic Free July?

My blog is going to be stuck on environmental friendliness for a while, but I’m not going to apologize because it is something that I have realized is very important. I know that I, as one person, can only do so much, but this Earth belongs to God and I will not sit by and let it go to waste.

That being said, have you heard about Plastic Free July? It started in Austrailia and is spreadinng around the world. Here is a link for all of the “deets”: http://www.plasticfreejuly.org/register.html

You can register to go plastic free for a day, week, the whole month of July, or forever. I registered for the first time to go plastic free for the month of July. I’m afraid that I am biting off more than I can chew, but we will see. I have selected to stop using plastic bottles, plastic bags, plastic straws, disposable coffee cups, and single-use plastic packaging (ex. Plastic ziploc bags.) Starting on July 1st, I will try to eliminate these things from my life. I will also be collecting all of the trash that I use and taking a picture of it at the end of the month and posting it on a “Post-Plastic-Free-July” post. I am actually very excited to see how much I end up with at the end of the month. (However, I will throw away perishables, like food, and not let them rot for a month in my trash! I dont want the neighbors to think something died.)

I hope that I will be up for the challenge. If you sign up, let me know! I’d like to hear about your experience and pledge.

The Semi-Science behind Stinky Pits (pt. 1)

Lately I have been realizing that I am not totally satisfied with the results that I am getting from my personal hygiene products. My dandruff (or dry scalp– I’m not sure which it is) has been nothing but terrible for a decade, even when using dandruff shampoo and/or extra conditioner. My armpits sweat and stink out the wazoo sometimes (yes, I did just say ‘out the wazoo’) despite my regular use of antiperspirant/deodorant. I have more complaints, but will spare you the details. Today, I am focusing on the infamous armpit stink.

I have tried just about every brand deodorant/antiperspirant on the market. Secret, Suave, Ban, Dove, Lady Speed Stick– you name it. I have tried gels, solids, and roll-on liquids. (For the record, my favorite so far is Ban, and my least favorite is Dove, in terms of effectiveness.) Today, however, I am trying something new, and I am using this post to explain why.

I am going to try natural deodorant. To be clear, natural deodorant is not an antiperspirant, which does make me a little bit nervous. So why am I willing to give natural deodorant a try? Allow me to explain.

  1. Antiperspirant may actually make your pits smell worse. It turns out that the sweat that your armpits produce isn’t what makes you stink! It is a bacteria produced that makes you smell bad. According to an article I found on thompsontee.com, antiperspirants work to block your sweat ducts so that your pits can’t sweat. This alters the amount of odor-causing bacteria that the armpits produce—it causes the amount to increase. So really, by using antiperspirants you are blocking the good stuff (the sweat) and increasing the bad stuff (the bacteria.) Make sense? I hope so.
  2. Antiperspirants can irritate your underarm skin. I have always been self-conscious of my underarm skin. It may sound ridiculous, but my underarm skin is rough and bumpy, so it makes me feel awkward and embarrassed at times when I wear tank tops in public. I hate lifting up my arms for fear of someone seeing my ugly armpits. I’m hoping that switching to natural deodorant will help heal my skin and bring about a change that I have wanted for years.
  3. Sweating is a natural thing that is supposed to happen. Okay, I’m not totally on board with this reason yet because I still think that sweating is gross. But I know that sweating is a way for my body to release toxins, which I definitely believe is important.

I went to the store last night and bought three different types of natural deodorants. Two of them are from local sellers and one is a type that is sold in just about any store. I shelled out some big bucks for only three sticks of deodorant, but it will be worth it if it means that I can find a deodorant that works for me.

If you are interested in knowing what types of deodorant I am testing, here are pictures of each and some details. I took the pictures myself. 🙂

crystaldeo

This is the one that is sold is most stores. It is just a lump of natural mineral salts that is fragrance free and creates an invisible barrier against odor-causing bacteria. At least that is what the package says.

chagrindeo

This one is a local brand made in Cleveland, Ohio. The company is called Chagrin Valley Soap and Salve Company. This is the one that I am testing first. It is made mostly out of oils (essential and coconut), with some cornstarch and baking soda thrown into the mix. I chose the citrus mint scent and it smells heavenly.

skinfoodiedeo

This third type is by a local brand from somewhere in Ohio (turns out Ohio has more local natural body care companies than I thought!) It is called Skin Foodie and is mainly made of shea butter, a couple of types of oils, arrowroot powder, and baking soda. What makes this brand unique is that it uses probiotics to try to combat the stench. For this one, I chose the litsea scent. I do not know what litsea smells like, but I will find out when I open it!

It is time to test the science. In a few weeks I will come out with the “part two” to this post and let you know if natural deodorants are effective, or if they are only good in theory. If you are interested in reading more about stinky pit science, I will have my sources posted below.

Sources: http://theeverygirl.com/why-you-should-switch-to-natural-deodorant/ Even though this is a website called “The Every Girl”, you guys can still read it 😉

https://thompsontee.com/blog/antiperspirants-can-make-smell-worse

 

The Butterfly Circus

Today I watched a short, inspirational movie called The Butterfly Circus. I will admit that it made me tear up a little at the end– it is one of three films that have ever made me tear up and/or cry, so you know it had some serious inspiration going on.

I won’t give any spoilers because I am going to put a link to the movie at the end of this post, but I will tell you what it is about. The Butterfly Circus is about a limbless man, Nick, who finds his place in a circus.

One of the most important themes of the movie is that you are who you believe you are. If you believe that you are useless, then that is what you become. If you believe that you can be more than you have condemned yourself to be, you can be so much more! I have seen so many people speak negativity on their own lives, and because of their negative thoughts and words, they get stuck in a bad rut. Good things are less likely to happen if you tell yourself they never will. (Of course, I understand that bad things can still happen if you are positive and happy. If you aren’t looking for happiness, though, it will probably not look for you.)

The Butterfly Circus is an especially great message for Christians who have had a dark past, or have been dealt a difficult hand of cards. Many Christians think that God will never forgive them for what they have done. Some think God has cursed them with physical or psychological illnesses. Many think, “I am nothing more than a felon,” or, “I am nothing more than a blind man,” or, “I am nothing more than a terrible mother.” What they fail to realize is that we are SO MUCH MORE in Christ. You are more than a former alcoholic, more than a thief, more than a quadriplegic. As we work through our struggles and become strong, it may be easier to see the good in our situations. It may become easier to see why ours sins, or why our misfortunes, were necessary for us to grow into the butterflies we are today. Would we still rather just be “normal people”? Sure, sometimes. I think, however, that God hopes for us to learn to appreciate the skin we have been put in, and the life that He has given us– whether that be a hard skin to love or an easy one.

Now, if you have 22 minutes to spare, here is the link to The Butterfly Circus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p98KAEif3bI

I hope that you enjoy it. Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments! And in case you were wondering, the main character, Nick, is actually played by someone who has no arms or legs. His name in real life is Nick Vujicic and he is an Austrailian evangelist. Enjoy!

No more hiding

Goodbye, Facebook. Hello, life!

I can’t tell you how many hours I have wasted browsing Facebook in the past few months. I’m sure that they are innumerable. Last Tuesday I decided to put a stop to my Facebook addiction, because I can’t take it anymore. I’m taking a break– perhaps forever. Facebook can be enough to depress a person– especially during engagement season. It’s hard to watch everyone move on with their lives, while you sit stagnantly, feeling as if you are doing nothing with yours.

In my (less than) one week away from Facebook, I have done many things that I haven’t done in at least a month or more. I have:

  1. Started reading a book.
  2. Felt happy about the way things have been going in my life
  3. Stopped feeling sorry for myself and being jealous of others
  4. Taken my head out of the sand and took charge of myself
  5. Written in my diary.
  6. Worked on my relationship with God.

I really can’t believe how much I let my life get away from me. It is scary. I let my morals loosen, and I am not proud of it. Yesterday, for the first time in a long time, I felt in control of my life and happy with the way I was living. I felt like I was truly doing the right thing. This would not have happened, had my head been buried in the internet and in people’s Facebook posts (most of which I don’t care much about anyway.)

How many people let their lives waste away as they scroll through endless media? How many people use social media to forget about their troubles and sorrows, rather than standing up and fixing them? Here’s a tip: don’t be one of them. I know it’s cliché, but be yourself. Don’t worry about others, and don’t hide from life! Embrace it, whatever it may bring.

“You don’t understand!”

I have to admit something: I can’t stand when people tell me I wouldn’t understand something. Even if I know perfectly well that I don’t understand, it still “irks” me to hear someone tell me, “You wouldn’t understand.” I don’t know why. But I have learned to push past that irritated feeling.

There are many things in life that we don’t understand. I was talking to my classmates and professor the other day about how people who don’t have depression don’t understand what it is like to be depressed. I have never had depression, so I don’t know how it feels. I used to judge people for being depressed, but I will never do that again. Many people choose to invalidate the feelings of others, simply because they “can’t imagine how anyone could feel that way,” but that is wrong in my eyes. I think it is one of our duties as humans and as God’s children to lift others up and to respect them and their feeling despite how different they are from our own. We cannot spread God’s love if we are holding hostile attitudes towards others, accusing them of “only feeling that way because they want to” or “only being in that situation because they want to”, and withholding our kindness from them. Nothing is holding you back from reaching out with words of kindness or friendship (unless, maybe, you are an introvert… just saying.)

One thing that I have found most beautiful about getting older is that I have learned to love more and judge less. There are a lot more people in this world who need help and a good friend than we would like to imagine.

The bottom line of this short post is: Love others. Accept that you may not understand. Support them anyway.

Hobby time!

Do you have a hobby?

I recently started a new hobby: sewing. Today I finished hemming the edges on two dresses and I feel SO ACCOMPLISHED! I feel good because: 1. I paid $7.43 for the fabric for each dress (so a total of roughly $15 for two dresses). In a regular store, I probably would have paid more for ONE dress than I paid for the two. Of course, the quality isn’t as high as it is in the stores, but they are unique and custom to me, and the more I practice, the higher quality my clothes will become. And 2. (I almost forgot about 2) I am now learning a semi-lost art! Sewing is not as popular as it used to be. Many older women sew, but not many young ones. Young people are very into photography and social media as hobbies, but I like how sewing really uses my hands. I like how I get to cut things out and visualize how fabrics will look as certain articles of clothing.

Expect pictures to come in the future! I will wait until I make a few more things to show you what I am creating. I am so glad to have a mother who is able to teach me how to sew! And a mother with a good sewing machine.

I hope things are going well with everyone. Sorry I haven’t posted in a while (and I apologize for the short post. The next one will be longer)– I’ve been busy lately! Comment and let me know what your hobby is.

The Resolutionless Year

Most people make New Year’s Resolutions. (It’s okay if you did– it isn’t a bad idea.) This year, however, I decided to skip the resolutions. Normally I would create a list of five (easyish) resolutions. Simple things like, “Stop overusing [insert annoying phrase or saying here]”, or “Stop tapping your feet all the time.” I usually complete them within a few weeks by paying close attention to my annoying ticks and habits. Luckily, I haven’t picked up any new ticks or annoying habits! So, this year, I will not be having any resolutions. Personally, I think that resolutions are things that many retailers use in order to make more money. For example, you may notice that many stores come out with displays of exercise equipment and protein drinks and shakes and bars on New Year’s Day. Everyone is resolving to get in shape. I am not saying that it is bad to try to get in shape– just don’t let the retailers suck you in! (And, you know, actually stick with your resolution past February. February is when most people drop back off into the world of Nutty Bars and Oatmeal Cream Pies.)

This year I will not have a resolution because I like myself. I will spend the year appreciating my life, focusing on loving it and myself, and being glad that I am not putting pressure on myself to try to lose 30 pounds. I don’t even have 30 pounds to lose.

This was a very short post, but I wanted to put it out there because I want everyone to know that you don’t have to let the New Year pressure you into being unhappy with yourself! Just because you can make a resolution, doesn’t mean you have to. That is all. Thank you and Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas!

I wanted to wish a Merry Christmas to my fellow WordPress-ers! I hope you all enjoy the day and get to spend it with loved ones. Here is some food for thought that my brother told me yesterday as we were sitting in church: the Bible never tells us to celebrate Christmas, and it never records the date of Jesus’ birth. (I still celebrate Christmas, but don’t you think that’s interesting?) I may research this interesting fact and make a post on it at some point. Still, remember that Christmas IS about Christ! Merry Christmas!

The Spirit of Receiving

That’s right, ladies and gents– the Spirit of Receiving! But before I jump into talking about receiving, I will talk about the Spirit of Giving. For me, generosity has come with age… and is still coming as I get older. I used to be selfish, but I find myself able to give more freely, and without even thinking about it at times. I suppose it’s because my life revolves less around material objects now, and more about relationships. I didn’t get this way naturally, though. It took a lot of work and advice from others.

I’ve always heard the saying, “Christmas is about giving– not receiving.” It is a good saying in the sense that you should give without expecting anything in return, but shouldn’t the saying be, “Life is about giving– not receiving”? Why stop giving after Christmas ends? If you watch TV, I’m sure you have noticed that St. Jude’s, Children’s Hospital, and multiple other organizations have been pulling out all of the stops to ask for donations. Their commercials all feature sad, sick children in need of life-saving treatment. They have been pulling on the heartstrings, and it is because they know that people are more generous during the Christmas season. Why are people donating the most around Christmas time? Shouldn’t organizations be able to count on donors to help them out in January through November as well? (For the record, though, those heart-wrenching commercials actually really annoy me… Just had to get that out there.)

Now it’s time to hear about this mysterious “Spirit of Receiving” that I keep talking about. My mom gave me this piece of wisdom when I was in high school. She said, “If someone offers you something, you should take it. You’ll become closer to that person.” She told me this when I was telling her about how a teacher offered me a piece of cake, and I accepted it, and another student that I was with declined the cake. If someone offers you a bagel, take the bagel. If someone offers for you to go ahead of them in line, accept. This is the RIGHT kind of receiving. How else are we supposed to become closer to others if we won’t share with them or accept things from them? You can’t go through life without taking or receiving, and expect to still have relationships. Relationships can start with something as small as a snack pack of MNMs or a bag of chips. One time when I was working, an old man walked around with a bag of mints and offered them to one of my coworkers and me. We took them. Just like that, I was closer to that customer than I was to any of the strangers in the grocery store!

I suppose what I’m getting at is this: Set aside selfishness and give freely, BUT don’t forget to accept what others have to offer you. Giving and receiving both bring the world together– just make sure that you are receiving the right way. Have a very Merry Christmas and a magical New Year!