Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Cookie Recipe

When I was younger, I was all about eating sweets. I loved candy, cookies, ice cream, cakes, you name it! After dinner, I always begged my mom to let me indulge in some sweets. Once I'd eaten everything she'd allow, I'd try to push the envelope and ask for just one more. It almost never worked, but I always asked anyways. I think I exhausted my sweet tooth as a little girl, because I always go for the more savory options now.

Even though I don't have a sweet tooth quite like I used to, I absolutely love baking. Honestly, one of my least favorite things about living alone is that I don't have anyone to eat what I want to make- so I don't end up making it! My family got together for Easter, so I decided to use the opportunity to try out a new cookie recipe. Y'all. It was AWESOME.

Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Cookies

Before I get to the recipe, I wanted to share a little back story behind my ingredient choice. I've always been told that the choices you make for ingredients greatly effect the outcome of your baked good! I completely agree with this, but feel as though I was interpreting it incorrectly. There are some great butter alternatives and gluten-free flours that bake just as well as their original counterparts. These alternatives can help people avoid allergens but still enjoy their favorite treats. I've been experimenting with different butter alternatives when cooking and thought it was a great time to transition into baking experiments! This was my first time baking with County Crock and won't be my last. The sticks were just as easy to use as real butter and produced delicious, fluffy cookies.

Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Cookies

This recipe is perfect for someone like me because it marries salty and sweet into one delicious cookie. The dough that I used for the base isn't overly sweet and can support some sweeter add-ins. I used Ghirardelli 60% cacao dark chocolate chips in my recipe, but feel free to use what you like best. Personally I don't think there's any other brand of baking chocolate that comes close to Ghirardelli's flavor, so that is what I use.

Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Cookies
Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Cookies
Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Cookies

Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Cookies
Personalized from Country Crock's "Make It Yours" Dough Recipe
Yields ~4.5 dozen cookies

1 cup Country Crock
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour (I used gluten-free)
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
10 oz dark chocolate chips
coarse sea salt

Preheat oven to 375. Cream together Country Crock, sugar, and brown sugar in a stand mixer using the paddle attachment. Add egg, egg yolk, and vanilla. Stir until well mixed. Using the stir setting, add in flour 1 cup at a time. Finally, add in baking powder, salt and baking soda until well blended. Using a wooden spoon, fold in the chocolate chips.

Cover baking sheets with parchment paper to prevent sticking. Spoon heaping teaspoonfuls onto baking sheet about 3 inches apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool on wire racks for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt then continue to cool completely. Enjoy!

This post was sponsored by Country Crock. Thank you for supporting the brands that support A Peachy Sonder!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Pantone Spring 2016: How to Wear Rose Quartz

Over the past few years, I've become a fan of the Pantone seasonal color palettes. For those of you who may be unfamiliar, Pantone curates a color of the year as well as palettes for the different seasons. The colors are representative of the season during which they're picked, and can usually be found in stores throughout the season! For spring, they have a gorgeous set of 10 colors (check them out here). I thought it would be fun to take a few of my favorites and do a blog mini-series for some practical ways to embrace these colors!
Pantone Spring 2016: How to Wear Rose Quartz
I wanted to highlight my favorite for the first feature- rose quartz. I've always been a fan of soft colors and my love affair with blush tones goes back many, many years. I'm thrilled with this color and love seeing it on racks and shelves more than usual! Rose quartz offers a feminine touch to any look but isn't overly pink or girly. Click below to shop my favorites!

I would be happy with a closet full of this color, but will settle for a few new pieces this spring! I absolutely love the lace top and chunky-heeled sandals above. I also think I will need to get atleast one piece of jewelry while the color is popular. I know I will continue to wear it past the springtime! It's just too great to resist. I'm leaning towards the Kendra Scott right now, what do you think?

Stay tuned for the next installment of my mini-series!

What is your favorite spring Pantone color? How will you wear rose quartz this spring?

Friday, March 18, 2016

Royal Rose Hydrating Serum Review

I'm absolutely a creature of habit- there's no denying that. I love a good routine and feel at peace when things run according to plan. My skincare routine is probably the least predictable of all of my routines, because I LOVE trying new products. My routine also gets modified often because I have so many different products at my fingertips that I've used that produce awesome results. I'm all for mixing and matching different types of products to achieve my best fresh face! Things have been quiet out here on my blog as it relates to my beauty/skin care favorites, but I have to break the silence to share a new great product that I've been using- Valentia's royal rose hydrating serum! (showcased here earlier this month)
Valentia Royal Rose Hydrating Serum
Valentia is a skin care brand that focuses on creating products that are natural, free of toxins, paraben-free, and effective. I was unfamiliar with their products before using this one, and am so glad to have been introduced! I'm very careful about what I put on my face and these products pass the scrutiny test. This particular serum packs a serious punch of moisture, antioxidants, and soothing botanicals. It's designed to smooth out you skin's texture and tone while nourishing. Hello, gorgeous skin! 

Valentia's royal rose hydrating serum is not only beautifully packaged, but it is potent. I could feel the hydration immediately after my first use. No burning, no itching, and no sticky feeling follows application either. Over my first week, I noticed more radiance in my skin and I felt as though my skin was glowing even before I put any makeup on! The serum is more of a thin lotion that a traditional serum. It's so easy to use and doesn't run all over the place or promote wastage of product. You only need 1-2 pumps to coat your entire face and neck, so this bottle is extremely cost effective at $35. It has a dreamy and light rose scent, not surprising given the ingredients. Overall, it's a hit!

A quick testimony to the results I've seen: unless I'm sick, I rarely leave my house without applying some form of makeup to my skin. I just prefer the little bit of confidence I get from having nice-looking skin when I go out. Even just a tinted moisturizer or BB cream will make me feel better before I leave. On Saturday morning, I actually went out to pick up some breakfast bare faced. THIS IS HUGE FOR ME! I definitely owe my newfound comfort with my skin to this fantastic serum.
Royal Rose Hydrating Serum Review
If you want more information about Valentia or the royal hydrating serum, check out their website. To purchase, you can head here. And as always, please reach out to me if you have any questions that are left unanswered!

Full Disclosure: I received a complimentary product sample from Valentia to review honestly. As always, all opinions and words are my own. I benefit in no way if you purchase this product. Thank you for supporting brands that support A Peachy Sonder!

Monday, March 14, 2016

My Favorite Ways to Use Coconut Oil (+2 I don't recommend!)

To be completely honest with y'all, I thought I hated coconut for most of my life. I basically got tricked into liking it! I didn't know that coconut was in my favorite Girl Scout cookies for years and that's what made me reconsider my hatred. I am still not a full-blown lover of the flavor, but I won't run the other way when it's in front of me (anymore). I'm thankful to have my newfound openness for coconut or I would've missed out on my new all-purpose product: coconut oil.
My Favorite Ways to Use Coconut Oil
The name is misleading because it's more like a solid gel than an oil in my opinion. Most oils are pourable, but coconut oil needs to be warmed up before it has a liquid consistency. It has a lovely smell and a light texture once it's thinned. I've been using this in many different areas of my life so I thought I'd share my favorite ways to use coconut oil, as well as 2 uses that I don't recommend after my experience!

Cooking. I originally purchased my jar of coconut oil off a recommendation from my sister, who is very health conscious and holistic. The obvious use for an oil is while cooking. Coconut oil does add a subtle coconut flavor to whatever you're cooking, so there's a definite time and place for it in my opinion. I love to saute veggies and seafood with this!

Removing eye makeup. Now this sounds extremely odd, but hear me out. I'm extremely careful about what I use near my eyes- my contact solution, my mascara, eye drops, eye makeup remover, etc. It all undergoes scrutiny before I make a choice on what to use. Why wouldn't you want to use something that's natural?! It takes a little bit of rubbing, but this removes my mascara, eyeliner, and eye shadow COMPLETELY. Simply take a small scoop, warm it between your fingers and gently swipe your fingers across your eyes. The makeup will melt right off! I wipe it all off with toilet paper or a wash cloth and then proceed with my nightly skin care routine. I've also noticed a change in how soft and conditioned my eyelashes are since I've started this!

Moisturizing your skin. It may seem strange to rub cooking oil on your skin, but coconut oil has antibacterial properties so it is great for dry spots or acne-prone areas! I love to lather this on after an evening bath/shower before I hope into bed. I wake up smelling like the tropics AND with soft skin!

Soothing chapped lips. This isn't a total substitute for my favorite chapstick or vaseline, but it's great at night. My nose has been stuffed up with allergies lately, so I've been breathing through my mouth at night. Sliding on a little coconut oil before I hop into bed keeps my lips from drying out over night.

Drawing a soothing bath. It's no secret that I love to pamper myself. One of my favorite ways to do so is to take a luxurious bath. I've drawn up a warm bath, added a scoop of coconut oil and a few drops of lavender essential oil, and been transported to relaxation station.

DIY deep conditioning hair treatment. My hair is pretty long right now, and I do whatever I can to treat it well (read more about my hair secrets here). I love to do a deep conditioning treatment every now and then, and coconut oil is a great alternative to some of the pricey treatments you can find. I will warm up a little between my hands and apply to my hair, concentrating on the ends. I usually braid my hair and sleep with it in, then wash my hair as usual in the shower the next morning. It's not particularly goopy or thick, so it doesn't require an extra wash for my hair.

My Favorite Ways to Use Coconut Oil (+2 I don't recommend!)

These are my favorite ways to use coconut oil, and really make the cost of a jar into a bargain price. These uses that I've shared just scratch the surface- there are so many great uses out there. If you use it in any way that you love that I didn't list, please let me know! I'm a newbie and would love to try out your recommendations. While discovering these great uses, I came across 2 uses that I did not enjoy and do not recommend.

Cleaning your makeup brushes. Given the fact that I use this miracle oil to take makeup off my face, I thought I'd give it a try on my favorite foundation brush. Major FAIL! The bristles were stuck together, even after I rinsed 5+ times with hot water. I was able to fix this by using my regular method of cleaning my brushes, twice, with VERY hot water. But I won't be deviating from that again.

Oil pulling. This is a popular phenomenon, so I thought I'd give it a go. I did NOT enjoy the experience any of the 3 times I tried to swish it, and ended up gagging 2/3 times. I'm all about whitening your teeth and removing bacteria from your mouth, but I'll stick to Listerine.

Do you use coconut oil? What are your favorite uses?

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

'Me Before You' Review

It's been a minute since I've shared a book review with y'all! Not because I'm selfishly keeping all of the good titles for myself, but because I honestly haven't been prioritizing reading. I hate when I do that. Thankfully, a good friend let me borrow this book for a business trip I had back in February. It really helped me break my streak of being "too busy to read" because it was too good to put down.
'Me Before You' by Jojo Moyes

When my friend recommended the book, she told me that I wasn't going to be able to put it down. For the most part- she was right! I had to get through a few unsuccessful attempts to make time to actually get into the plot of this book (due to my schedule, not the book itself), but once I did I was hooked. This is a well-written romance novel that really captivated me. It also has some darker twists and turns written into the plot. These caught me a little by surprise and really challenged me to think about my moral stance on the issues brought up. I love books that beg you to put yourself in the main character's shoes and evaluate the situation through your own lens.

I'm an extremely emotional person, so I love a good love story. This book kept me enthralled with the story and adventures up until the last page. And even then, I had a hard time putting it down. I really didn't want it to end! The main character, Louisa, is so easy to relate to and I was cheering her on throughout the entire book. I don't want to ruin any of the plot- but I know that I wouldn't have been able to handle the ending as gracefully as she did. But hey, that's why it's fiction, right?!

To my sheer delight, this book will be gracing our theaters this summer as a movie. I know it will be a hit if it's closely related to the book's storyline! I am one of those people who always wants to read the book before seeing the movie, so make sure to grab this book soon if you're the same way. June will be here before we know it!

What are you reading right now? Do you have any recommendations for what I need to read next? Have you read this book?

Monday, March 7, 2016


Independence is an incredible thing, no? No matter the scale- possessing the freedom to make your own choices and to pursue your dreams is the ultimate luxury. I remember being a young teenager chomping at the bit to get my drivers license. Then, an older teen waiting to hit "adulthood" and leave my childhood home for college. Next, I waited to be able to drink and go out to bars with my friends. After that- all I wanted was to march across the stage in my cap and gown to take my career by the horns. I've grown up on the hunt for more independence and fewer boundaries, yet rarely took the time to ensure that I was ready for all of it.

I've always heard that as you gain independence, you also gain responsibility. This has been all too true. Getting a car comes with the task of maintaining it. Going to college meant learning to do the activities for myself that my mom did for me when I was still at home. Heading out to drink required planning to get home safely. Beginning my career came with a whole new set of responsibilities and well, work. So, how on Earth do you prepare for these things?!

If I somehow had the answer to that question, I probably wouldn't need to be working my full time job anymore. That would be a pretty valuable life hack to discover. I don't have it all figured out, but I do know that a little planning and soul searching beforehand can help make these life changes more enjoyable. You will not be a functioning adult for very long if you neglect the responsibilities that come hand-in-hand with your freedoms. In fact, overlooking certain aspects of these responsibilities can cause you to lose your independence completely!

One of my most impactful life lessons that I've learned in adulthood so far is that the seemingly small things in the short term can have a huge impact in the long term. Simply making a habit of considering what new freedoms will require of you is often enough to avoid those pitfalls. Be educated! Be aware! And relax- you'll be just fine.

What do you do to embrace the independence in your life? How do you handle what life throws at you?
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