Saturday, February 25, 2017

Samoa Cookie Bars

You ever have those days when you need to bake!? The other day it didn't matter what I just needed to mix, stir and turn on the oven. So I did some digging in my pantry and baking drawer (yes, I have a "baking drawer") and came across coconut flakes, chocolate chips and caramel candies.

What does that mean? Samoa Cookies!!

Now I made a similar cookie to this during the holidays (minus the chocolate) and during Girl Scout cookie season Samoas are always on the list. So why not make an easy at home version?

The family LOVED them! My older sister K even asked for a few to be set aside for when she came over next (there are three awaiting her in the freezer).

For something I whipped up last minute and out of my head, this may become a family favorite and go-to cookie.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Beauty Review: Charcoal Pore Strip Masks

I'm not usually one for "New Year's Resolutions". Unattainable goals that we cast aside less than a month in. But this year, I've decided on one that I think I'll be able to keep up. It's (basically) taking better care of my skin.

I'm not one who minds the thought or onset of wrinkles. They're smile lines. Road maps to the life I've lived. But I am (almost) 34 years old and have noticed some significant changes to my skin over the last few years.

Where I used to have strictly an oily complexion, it's changed to very much combination skin. I still tend to have break outs (whether because of a hormone change or when I know I've been bad at going to bed with makeup on), have discoloration and dry patches.

Now I've been MUCH better at not going to bed with makeup on. That really has been step number one. And I'm making a goal to increase my water intake more (gotta stay hydrated even in the winter months). So the last step is finding facial products that work for me and my skin - moisturizers, exfoliates, lip balms (pictured are a few of the products I've been trying lately).

I've been a user of Biore strips for years. Forehead, nose, chin....I was born with large pores and being an avid makeup wearer (and known sweater), Biore helps pull that last bit of oils out that exfoliates can't reach. So when the new fad of charcoal pore strip masks came onto the market! Hallelujah! Now I can clean out those craters anywhere on my face!

There are so many brands out there I basically searched "charcoal peel mask" into Amazon and this is what I came up with. I didn't realize when I bought it that it would be coming from China (China mainland requires products to be tested on animals and I try hard to avoid supporting companies who do - future blog). But this is what I have so figured give it a try and go with a different company next time around.

I've used it a few times now. Sometimes just across my nose, sometimes with cheeks...chin...forehead....etc. The trick has been to apply a thick enough product. Sure you don't want to be wasteful and too much makes the product drip like big black boogers. (Yuck I know). If you apply too thin it flakes more than peels.

You also want to make sure to peel UPwards. I'm sure there is something scientific/biologic about the way pores face, pulling out the gunk, etc. I just know that it's the tip I've heard from beauty bloggers, and the time I pulled sideways I didn't get nearly as much "gunk" as I knew was in there.

I only use it once every few weeks - I don't want to aggravate or irritate my pores. It's just one piece of a larger "Better Skin Care Regiment" that I'm trying for the new year.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

WHO doesn't love chocolate chip cookies? Whether soft and chewy or crispy with a snap! there's a cookie out there for for everyone. Personally? I love a soft and chewy cookie. Thick and fluffy with lots of chocolate chips!

I've spent years looking for the perfect recipe. Making slight changes, tweaking things just a little. In the end here is my go-to recipe:


2 1/4 C all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda (for an extra fluffy cookie)
2 sticks (1 C) unsalted butter, not warm but slightly soft to the touch*
1 1/4 C dark-brown sugar
1/4 C granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
Approx 2 C semi-sweet chocolate chips (okay sometimes I do 2 1/2 cups)

*Tip: When the butter is too warm it makes for flat melted cookies. This is also why I keep my dough in the fridge between batches.


1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add both sugars; and beat on medium speed until incorporated. Slowly add vanilla, and eggs. Beat until well mixed.

2) In another bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture until just combined. DO NOT OVER MIX! Stir in the chocolate chips gently with a large spoon (folding in the chips).

3) Drop heaping spoons of dough (2-3 TB worth) onto parchment paper lined baking sheets; about 2 inches apart. Bake approximately 12 minutes (give or take a few depending on your oven) until golden brown on the edges. Remove from oven and let cool* before transferring to a wire rack.

*Tip: I usually have 2 baking sheets I rotate, one in the oven and the other on the counter cooling with cookies. 

If you try my recipe, let me know how it goes? 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Round Two with Bettina May

Years and years ago....okay not really that many ago....

For my 30th birthday I created a "30 During 30" list of accomplishments. A bucket list of sorts - without needing to kick the bucket that is. One of those items was to take a class for fun. I hadn't (still haven't) been in school for years, and I wasn't necessarily looking for a textbook and grades sorta class.

So as a mark off my list I signed up for Bettina May's Bombshell Basics course. Learning how to apply makeup in different era pin up styles (yes there is a difference between 50s pinups versus 40s pin up etc), hair curled and styled, posing lessons and an amazing photo shoot. (Read more about the experience here).

I've followed Bettina since, she was a true inspiration in embracing the style and making it my own.

So when I heard she was coming back into town I jumped at the opportunity to attend another of her classes. Yes, it would be similar/the same as the one three (plus) years ago, but I'm a believer in always getting better (curling my hair still doesn't go as planned).

The session was small, me and two other ladies, which makes it more personal and intimate. Bettina had the same assistant as before (adorable gal named Lily) and the session was held at a local yoga studio. They set up a beautiful backdrop and scene for us (I wanted to mop everything there).

Bettina makes you feel so comfortable, will help guide you in posing and facial expressions. In the end you walk away with not only a memorable experience but also a link to your raw footage. I was glad the first time I attended Bettina's class but the second time made it even better.