Over the past few months, I've tried different recipes, apps, and products out, and I've discovered new blogs. Here are some of my favorites:
Audible - I got my first book for free through my Amazon Prime account, and I've been loving it: the book is called The Nightingale (by NY Times bestselling author, Kristin Hannah), and it follows two French sisters (Vianne and Isabelle) during World War II. I'm a sucker for historical fiction, particularly when the novel takes place during WWII; my 5th grade teacher spent the majority of our school year teaching us about the Holocaust and reading WWII based historical fiction books. I can always expect so much depth and emotion, and I love that there are so many possibilities for character ideas. Other historical fiction books that I've loved are: Number the Stars (Lois Lowry), The Devil's Arithmetic (Jane Yolen), and Catch-22 (Joseph Heller). All the Light We Cannot See (Anthony Doerr) is next on my list of "Books to Read".
Disney Emoji Blitz - I haven't had a game on my phone for over 2-3 years, but I recently discovered this app and I'll open it every now and then to play the game ;) I think I like it so much because of the cute Disney characters!
iTunes Podcasts - I've been listening to podcasts (and audiobooks) in the car and while food prepping. The radio has become so repetitive, so listening to people talk and share ideas is incredibly refreshing. My favorite podcasts lately have been:
- Bon Appetit Foodcast - love love love their interviews with famous chefs! Your perspective really changes once you hear about the stories behind the chefs and how they've gotten to where they are now.
- Ladies Who Lunch - hosted by YouTubers Ingrid Nilsen and Cat Valdez! These ladies talk about subjects thoughtfully, and their opinions have made me reflect on and form my own.
- Modern Love - heard the story read by Jesse Tyler Ferguson and was hooked. That's all I'm saying ;)
Beauty & Skincare:
Cetaphil Body Moisturizer - I have been using Avocado oil as a moisturizer in place of drugstore lotions for years now, but my skin has been changing, and it's becoming more dry. I apply the tiniest bit of cetaphil body lotion to damp hands, rub the product between my fingers to warm it up, and apply it on my face in the mornings and after my weekly mask. I still use avocado oil after I wash my face, but this lotion has been a necessary supplement. (Why the body lotion? Well, the face lotion tends to be too thick for my face, and I've only seen the body lotion in stores now)
Coconut Oil Pulling - a simple, natural, and inexpensive way to freshen your breath and whiten your teeth! All you have to do is eat a tablespoon of coconut oil and swish it around your mouth (veeery gently) for 15-20 minutes. Spit the coconut oil out into the trash (to avoid clogging up your sink!) and rinse your mouth with warm salt water. Brush your teeth afterwards, and you're done! Most people do this in the morning, but I've been doing this at night out of convenience. I tried this beauty trick out every day for a week, and I saw noticeable differences in terms of the whiteness of my teeth! I no longer do this everyday because I tend to forget ;), but it's still a once weekly regimen that I practice.
Dead Sea Mud Mask - this mask is very easy to apply and remove! A little bit seriously goes a long way, and this mask does a great job at pulling those impurities out of your skin. I use this as recommended (once a week).
Eyelash Serum - I bought mini, empty mascara tubes from Amazon and filled them up with castor oil (cold-pressed, hexane free). After I shower, I apply the castor oil to my lashes and to my eyebrows to condition my lashes/brows.
Madewell Striped t-shirt - got this on sale for $11, and it's one of the best quality shirts I've ever gotten. It's soft, stretchy, and sits on my body in a flattering way (not too tight, not baggy).
Old Navy Grey Skater Dress (no longer available, very similar here) - I've been wearing it once a week! It's such an easy piece to throw on and it's long enough to be appropriate for work. This piece is soft and washes really well too - definitely a worthwhile buy ($17).
White High Top Converses - a long awaited purchase that was very well worth it, particularly because I got it for $17 + $8 shipping from ebay. I've loved pairing these shoes with dresses.
Panasonic Earbuds - an all time favorite that I've been using for years. I finally caved and bought a new one after using a broken one for months; I don't know what took me so long since it's relatively inexpensive ;)
Love Taza - While her blog is amazing, I want to highlight her YouTube videos! Naomi posts videos that are short, sweet, and tell a beautiful story. I aspire to make videos like she does ;) Her NYC guide video series is my favorite.
Smitten Kitchen - I discovered Smitten Kitchen several years ago, but I've only recently tried the recipes posted. If you want fail-proof, tried and true recipes, stop by this blog. Everything that I've made has turned out PERFECTLY (highlighted two recipes below)!! I don't often come across recipes that are this perfect, so this blog has become my all-time favorite food blog.
Un-fancy - I've been a follower of this blog for ages, but my obsession has continued (and may have grown). Caroline is a proponent of ethical and sustainable fashion; she's best known for her capsule wardrobe experiment. She no longer practices the binding rules of a capsule wardrobe, but she's still big on balance, minimalism, and sustainable fashion. I've learned a lot about the value of quality over quantity, and Caroline has also opened my eyes to ethical clothing/shoe companies as well.
Not much has changed with the TV scene, but I have been watching Phineas and Ferb during my 6 am workouts in place of CNN. The news is only full of political discussions, which get very boring after a few days. Phineas and Ferb brings me back a few years; I think it's funny how I didn't like the show all that much when I was younger, but I find it so entertaining and enjoyable now.
Smitten Kitchen's Greek Chicken - pardon the not so appealing photo, but it's the best I had on hand. This chicken tastes even better than Mamoun's chicken kabobs, and I'm not exaggerating. Instead of grilling the chicken, I cook it on the stove top. I haven't tried baking it, but I'm sure it would taste great that way too! I promise you, this is the BEST chicken I've ever tasted (my dad, brother, mom, and family friend agree). It's savory, fragrant, flavorful, moist, tender, juicy, and all things good. It's made me really happy that I eat an omnivorous diet now ;)
Smitten Kitchen's Pizza Crust (perfect recipe for beginners!) - pizza crust is a sensitive topic for me; I've tried to make homemade pizza a few times (homemade pizza crust and even storebought pizza crust), and the dough tends to be hard to work with and ends up tough/hard. I made this recipe last night (I know, last night and it's already a favorite?! believe it or not, yes!) and we were all blown away. My dad said "5+ out of 5 stars", my mom said "5 stars", and my brother said "4.3" (he's tougher to impress, okay?). The crust is crispy on the bottom but soft and pillowy in the middle. The taste reminded me of homemade french bread, and I couldn't put my pizza down. I'll be sure to post photos in the future; I even made calzones out of this dough and they turned out beautifully! This dough is more of a sticky batter, and I believe that this consistency is what makes it turn out so well! You won't be able to toss the dough in the air, but that's a small trade off for an amazing pizza crust. I plan on using this recipe to make crusty bread rolls and breadsticks too, in the future.
Homemade Pierogis/Dumplings using this dumpling wrapper recipe - homemade dumplings couldn't be easier! This dough requires little effort to make, and the filling options are endless! I've made sauerkraut/mushroom pierogis and curried quinoa filled dumplings too. Next on the list - miso mushroom vegetable dumplings!
Browned butter cornbread recipe - I'll share the full recipe in the future too! This recipe is soo flavorful and has satiated my cravings for really good cornbread. It's moist on the inside but has a beautiful texture on the outside too. I've been disappointed by many cornbread recipes, and this is the only one that has met the standards of my taste buds!!