You blink your eyes and two months have flown by. As my career is currently up in the air and the job search continues, I’m finding myself baking. A lot. It can be a dangerous hobby, but I am trying to get creative with my sweet tooth and find slightly healthier versions of traditional treats. I recently found this flourless brownie recipe on the ever amazing internet using none other than my favorite food, SWEET POTATO! I was excited to try it out but was slightly disappointed by the outcome as it did not yield a brownie-like product. I cooked it 8-10 minutes longer than the recipe called for, and it still did not form the brownie-like consistency. I then put it in the fridge after it cooled and hoped it would harden a little more.
After I gave it a taste, I realized what it really resembled was closer to fudge. Really, really good fudge!
So, lesson learned, when something does not go as planned, think creatively and just put another name to it! I did not follow the exact recipe, but close enough. Here is how I made this delicious fudge:
Coconut oil to grease pan
1 c. mashed sweet potato (previously baked, obviously)
1/2 c. peanut butter (smooth)
2 tbsp. maple syrup (the real/pure stuff)
1/4 c. cocoa powder
A handful (but really unmeasured amount of) semi-sweet chocolate chips*
*Next time I am either going to try it with carob chips like the original recipe calls for (to cut down on the sugar) or with dark chocolate (because it is my favorite).
Grease a small cake or loaf pan with coconut oil and *preheat the oven to 350º
Melt the peanut butter and maple syrup together on the stove (be careful to not put the heat on too high as it could burn quickly). Low and slow heat while stirring constantly. When it is warm and melted together, pour into a medium-large bowl or mixer.
Mix mashed sweet potato and cocoa powder in the bowl with the melted peanut butter/maple syrup mixture.
Fold in chocolate chips.
Pour mixture into greased pan and bake for 25+ min. or until cooked. (Although it will not get to a “bread-like” state where a knife will come out clean in the center, so keep that in mind.) <- And if you figure out how to do so with this recipe, tell me how.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before slicing and refrigerating and/or freezing.
Enjoy (best enjoyed with a nice Earl Grey and a positive mindset)!
*It might be interesting to try this without baking it in the oven at all as there are no ingredients that need to be cooked any further than they already are in order to be ingested. Just putting the batter in a lined or greased pan and freezing or putting it in the fridge overnight. However, I think baking it in the oven gives it a slight “baked” edge, which is kind of nice.
Hello to all my lovely readers on this fine January evening,
It has admittedly been way too long since I have written. The reason for this mostly being that it has been a very busy holiday season, and for that I am thankful. But I am also glad to move forward into 2017 as moving across the country is exhausting! I have also been traveling back and forth between Ann Arbor and Houston since early November, so as much as I will miss many aspects of Houston, I will also be very happy to be in one place and in the same place as my husband for longer than 1.5 weeks at a time.
As far as the New Year goes, I am not one for resolutions. I am more of a planner. That might be the same thing, but making plans seems more fun. My biggest plan for the coming year (more specifically for the next two months) is to find a job in Ann Arbor, hopefully in my field. Andy and I will also be making big strides to be more healthy. So, OK, I guess that is a resolution. I won’t go into the specifics and bore you all, but I’m thinking a lot of meal planning is in my future!
As you may know from reading my previous posts, one of my 2016 revelations was Beautycounter. Beautycounter is a luxury brand that uses 100% safe ingredients in all of its products and has a kick-a** mission. To read more about why I love Beautycounter and decided to try my hand at being a consultant, read my blog post HERE.
NOW, on with the good stuff. Since it is winter and will be for the next 2.5 months (or more if you live in the north like I do now), I have decided to review the fabulous Face Oils! There is nothing like more moisture to ward off dry, winter skin! A lot of people ask me why it makes sense to put oil on your face as it seems counterintuitive. Another myth going around is that face oils are only for mature skin. I had similar thoughts when it first came across my radar. Well, my wonderful mentor recently posted a great article by Well + Good, that I think you will also find very helpful! Read it here because it will explain everything that you are thinking of asking me: I USED FACIAL OILS FOR A MONTH AND THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED.
Have I got you interested yet? I hope so! Oh, and one more thing, Beautycouter’s Face Oils are currently on SALE for the big Limited Time Winter Sale. They usually sell for $68 for 20ml, but during this sale, they are only $48! So hurry while the sale lasts because this is an amazing deal! I have stocked up on my favorite, which is the Soothing Face Oil! Beautycounter never uses fake fragrances—only pure essential oils. The word ‘Fragrance’ is considered a trade secret in the beauty industry; therefore, companies aren’t legally bound to disclose what chemicals make up said fragrance. Often times, it can be dozens, even hundreds of chemicals, chemicals linked to dermatitis and even reproductive issues.
While I still have your attention. Let me break down the three oils for you:
Balancing Face Oil – Comprised of Ylang Ylang and Wild Chamomile: Helps to moisturize very dry skin, evens skin tone and protects the skin from the elements. It is great for issues with dermatitis, eczema, dandruff, psoriasis, and even helps relieve pain.
Soothing Face Oil – Comprised of Calendula: Helps with sensitive skin, acne, scarring, eczema, and rosacea. It is also an anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and helps to improve rashes or infection.
Hydrating Face Oil – Comprised of Jasmine: This is the powerhouse for anti-aging and improving elasticity. It is naturally soothing and calming for the skin, which makes it a great before bedtime treat! It is super moisturizing, antiseptic, and also helps with managing oils on your face and body and stretch marks!
I have been using the Soothing Face Oil daily in the mornings. I mix one or two drops in with the Nourishing Day Cream and I have visibly noticed just how much this wonderful product has fueled my skin daily. When I am feeling very dry (which is most days this winter), I use the Hydrating Face Oil at night. I generally apply 2-3 drops directly to my face after I cleanse and moisturize.
These three products are a special treat and you will not regret investing in your skin!
Life is weird. About two or three months ago Andy and I decided together that if we wanted a great job to fall in either of our laps (metaphorically speaking, of course, it is obviously not that easy), we would have to widen our job search beyond Houston. We have both been frustrated, excited, let down, built back up, frustrated again, rinse and repeat since mid-summer, with both of our job searches.
7 weeks ago, Andy got a random call from a recruiter in the Midwest who found his resume on monster.com, who most likely found it initially because of certain keywords. About 6 grueling weeks later, one coding kata test, 6 or so formal and informal interviews and phone calls, Andy finally got the good news that they were bringing him on as a Software Engineer in their Ann Arbor office. He signed the contract on Monday, and his first day is November 14!
So… the box collecting and packing have commenced! Our place looks so crazy right now. It is still very surreal to me, even after knowing that this would be a possibility for 6 weeks. What an incredibly long 6 weeks those were. I have moved many times in my life, so maybe that is why I am so numb to the process, but it feels slightly different this time. This is the first time both Andy and I have moved on our own as adult people (besides college, but that doesn’t count). I never realized how much work and planning goes into something that seems so straightforward. I give my parents a lot of credit now that I know.
We are so very lucky in this process because of many factors, including the very rare chance it was that one recruiter happened to come across Andy’s resume for this particular position, but mostly the people in our lives that have helped keep us sane, given us great advice, and are helping us in the physical process of moving. We are even luckier that Andy happens to have been born and raised in Southern Michigan and a lot of his family will be about a 1.5-2 hour drive away from us.
We are currently in the stage of talking with realtors about houses that I’ve been tracking for a couple of weeks. We have our eyes on one in particular that we would love to rent, but are hoping it will still be available by the time we get our act together. Andy’s Dad and Stepmom have so nicely agreed to go look at it for us this week to make sure it is not made out of sticks or something, which I doubt from the many photos we’ve seen. We are hoping to put a deposit down on that house (or another house) so it is available to stay/sleep in as soon as we get there in a few weeks! Turns out extended stay hotels are really expensive when you are planning to have two cats with you! We are trying to avoid that at all costs.
Considering all of this is happening around the holidays, I will be going back and forth from MI to TX between mid-November through the end of December, officially driving there (again) with the other car and my pup, most likely after Christmas or the New Year. The particular details have not been worked out for this part this far out. Send good vibes that MI will be freakishly warm or snowless (at least) during that time. Haha. I can dream.
I find it incredibly fitting that Andy is turning 30 this week. A new job, a new state, a new decade, a new adventure. Michigan, here we come. Well, I’ll let Sufjan tell you about it.
So, Happy 30th Birthday, Andy my love! What a birthday it is, indeed.
This has been a busier week than I expected. Lots of possibly exciting things happening, lots of unknowns. Writing once a week in my blog has proven to be challenging, but one thing is for sure: I will not let this day pass me by. HAPPY NATIONAL COFFEE DAY! An extra large pot of pumpkin spice coffee is currently flowing through the veins of this place, just as it should be.
This post brought to you by Sneakers, coffee enthusiast.
This is all I have for you today, but I hope all of you have a wonderful day, filled with caffeine!
Happy Autumn! I currently live in Houston, TX, so it does not really feel like it quite yet, but I can not pass up the opportunity to wish everyone a happy day on the first day of my favorite season!
Along with Autumn, however, starts the season where sometimes skin needs a little bit more love. Fear no more, and let Cleansing Balm melt all your skin woes away!
This product deserves its own post and more. Mostly because of all the uses it possesses! It smells heavenly, melts like butter when it touches skin, and just a small, almond-sized amount is enough for one use. It also comes with a reusable 100% muslin cloth, which is softer and less harsh on skin than a traditional washcloth.
Here are the many reasons to love Cleansing Balm:
It is super hydrating, containing raspberry and cranberry seed oils. It also contains Vitamin C, which will help brighten the appearance of your skin!
It is a makeup remover! And YES, it works. This is the reason I started using this product, and I am not disappointed!
It is a mask! Apply to a clean face at night, go to sleep, and wake up with hydrated, soft and dewy skin. Who needs anti-wrinkle treatments, when you have a product like this!
It is a cleanser. Use in the morning or night, apply a small amount in a circular motion with fingertips, then rinse off with the muslin cloth and warm water! Simple.
It softens feet and elbows. We all have some rough areas!
It helps to keep cuticles and nails healthy and crack-free! Rub a little on your cuticles after cleansing your face or applying as a mask!
It softens those lips…It is a balm after all.
It is also a great help for those suffering from Eczema or Rosacea.
OH, and did I mention there is a GIANT sale on it right now! $80 value, for $55! But you need to hurry as the sale ends September 30th. There is also a smaller version currently available at Target for Beauty Counter’s capsule collection (if they have not run out yet). However, it is a much better value to buy online through me! Just make sure it reads my name, “Meg Patch Howard,” when the box appears that says “If you shop with a consultant, please enter their name below.” Run, don’t walk to this sale and you will not be disappointed. The time to stock up is now. Not to mention, this product would make a great gift if you are thinking ahead to the holidays or birthdays!
Be good to yourself and others! Enjoy the beginning of this great season, break out that Pumpkin Spice tea and those boots and socks, and remember to hydrate the biggest organ on your body!
One thing that is new to me, but I am very excited about, is being a consultant for Beautycounter! I never saw myself as one to be involved in an extroverted, direct sales sort of business, but it did not take me long to fall in love with the products and the mission of Beautycounter.
My story starts when I randomly searched the words “Charcoal Face Bar” on Google. I had heard of the benefits of charcoal and wanted to know more and see if it was worth it to switch over from my usual “natural” bar of soap I have been using for a long time. That is when I found Beautycounter and also found their Never List. I started to read through it and a big wave of realization came over me: What ingredients on the Never List are sitting in my bathroom at this very moment? I then started to read about Beautycounter and their mission. Did you know that the US has not passed a single major federal law that regulates how safe the ingredients are in personal care products since 1938? The US only partially banned 11 ingredients to date, compared to the 1,300+ chemicals the European Union has banned. You know what was also happening in 1938? The release of Loony Tunes animated short Porky & Daffy. I was going to say something about the lead up to WWII, but that is not happy. The point is, wow. Really?
Now, I am not here to say, “Hey, what you are using is bad and you should obviously switch over to something that is not harmful right now.” You know what? No. No one can be perfect. However, you CAN make minor changes slowly to see how much better you feel just by making those minor changes. I have not tried ALL Beautycounter’s products, but I can say that the products I have tried are quality and they WORK. I will highlight two products that I am currently in love with right now a little later in this post. Personally, I am slowly trying to replace any unsafe products I have been using in the past with safe products, and Beautycounter is the go to I want to invest in!
I have been dabbling in using sulfate-free shampoos and natural this, and chemical free that. But you know what? Cosmetic companies can slap whatever they want on their bottles, take out one harmful trendy ingredient, stick another harmful ingredient in there, and put it on shelves to trick product-loving people like me (and many others with similar affinities).
Before I get any further, watch the videos that helped me get excited about being a part of the Beautycounter movement! Take it away Gregg! (Beautycounter CEO)
Like many people, cancer has hit very close to home, on more than one occasion. Also hitting home, reproductive issues, and hormonal imbalances. As women (and men), we all have had our issues or know someone that has had various health issues.
The point is, as stated previously, no, we cannot always be perfect. We cannot see the future. We buy things for our families, and ourselves without giving it a lot of thought. Being passionate about this is not easy, as I am a product lover. However, if we can be assured that what we are putting on our skin is safe and free of health issue causing ingredients, then I ask you, why the heck not? It might not come cheap like those fun-sounding drug store brands, but investing in yourself and your family is important. I am starting to invest now, and will do my best to share the wealth of knowledge to anyone I can and also share my thoughts about the experience along the way!
Charcoal Cleansing Bar
The very first product of Beautycounter I tried and fell in love with is the Charcoal Bar. Now, you might say, “Well Meg, $24 is a lot of dough to plop down for a bar of soap.” Here is a tip I learned from other consultants! Cut up the bar into many smaller square pieces (I cut it into 8 pieces), and use those smaller pieces one by one, storing the rest in a bowl or container in a dry place. I have currently been using 1/8th of the bar for three weeks now and have barely made a dent in it. So if you do the very rough math, one of those bars SHOULD last you almost a whole year. If you use the bar for your body as well as your face, I might cut that time in half, but I think you get the idea.
Something to note: As someone who has struggled with sensitive skin, the drying agent in this cleanser can be pretty strong. For those of you who find this to be true at times, my tip is to use a very small dab of Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil to help replace some of the moisture after patting your face dry. I do not use coconut oil every day, but some days I am drier than others. Using a moisturizer afterward can help too. I have not been using this product that long, and I cannot tell you how many people have said something to me recently about how beautiful/soft/nice my skin looks. Trust me, it has not always been that way!
Purifying Charcoal Mask
This product is a real treat. I just started using it, but it is so amazing and multifunctional! It can be used as a full mask as seen in the photo below, but it can also be used as a spot treatment for any body acne, or facial blemishes! I have been using it as a full mask about once or twice a week so far and have also spot treated with it! It is a wonderful product and I have found it works great!
I am thinking my next product highlight will be the Cleansing Balm, so stay tuned! Many, many more product highlights to come in the future.
I have just launched a new Instagram page for my Beautycounter business, so follow if you wish! @beautycounter.meg
I will also be working on a Facebook page to the same effect very soon!
If you are interested in any of the highlighted products in this post or other Beautycounter products, you can go to my website at the top of this blog. I have labeled it Beautycounter. If you have any questions about any product, let me know and I would love to fill you in with the knowledge I have been given!
I am excited to start writing again, as I have done so in the past and it really is something I enjoy. I definitely started doing this when I was in high school but have since erased some of that embarrassing evidence from the Internet. You’re welcome.
I am going to be real with everyone right now; this blog is in no way to show people the “edited” version of my life. I am a typical, at the moment, 28 year old who dabbles in way too many things, has not figured out what she wants to be when she grows up (and probably never will), struggles with her own set of issues, and tries to finally find a solid job that she loves and can turn into a career. You know… the dream.
Anyway, I am going through a very transition-like part of my life, similar to most people who are on the edge of their 30s, and there is no better way for me to feel okay about things than to hash it out on the keyboard of my aging, yet trusty Macbook. I am newly married, we are BOTH job-hunting at the same time, I went back to school to better myself and my opportunities in a subject I never thought I’d have the patience to learn, I struggle with body love (but am now working on that daily), I am a lover of the Weight Watchers plan, Beautycounter products, photography, and people (more on all of these topics later). I am continuously yet unrealistically worried my dog is depressed half the time, I have a strange love of vitamins, herbs, essential oils, and home remedies for all sorts of things. I worry about stuff I have no control over, and yet I still try my best to do one thing every day that makes me, and the people I love, smile. After all, I am pretty sure that’s what it’s all about. That is a snapshot of what is going on currently, and I am excited to go more into depth on these topics and more as I move forward with this blog.