Four Ingredient Bread for Gluten Lovers Everywhere.

If you’re anything like me, you consider bread an integral part of your daily existence.  Personally, I’d take fresh baked bread over chocolate any day.  Seriously.  But with two toddlers and less personal time than I’d like to admit, baking bread just doesn’t usually make the cut of things we get to do very regularly.  I even have a bread machine and I’ve cultivated my own sourdough starter (epic fail – don’t even get me started on that one).  Still, we don’t see a lot of homemade bread in our house.

Enter, the easiest, most delicious bread recipe…..ever. I’ve actually tried a couple variations of this recipe in the past.  I’ve taken a few similar recipes and condensed them into one, easy, foolproof method so you can have fresh, delicious bread any time you want it.

First, mix 3 c. flour, 1 3/4 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. yeast in a very large bowl.  Pour in 1 1/2 c. warm water and stir until you have a thick, sticky lump of dough.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit on your counter for 12-18 hours.  Seriously.  Just leave it there.


When you wake the next morning (I tend to make my dough before I go to bed), go straight to your oven and crank it up to 450 with your dutch oven (or other large pot with a lid) inside.  By now, your dough should have doubled or even tripled in size.

It’s now even stickier than before, so sprinkle some flour on top and gently pour (pull/scrape/maneuver) it into a ball-like-shape onto a large piece of parchment paper.  After your dutch oven has been heating up in the oven for about a half hour, carefully pick up your dough by the parchment paper and plop the whole thing into the pot.
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Bake for 30 min with the lid on, and then an additional 15 min with the lid off.


That’s it.  For real.  No kneading, no hard work.  About 5 minutes before bed and 5 minutes in the morning (plus baking time) and you can have fresh, preservative free, homemade bread any time you want it.

You don’t need to thank me.  But, do tell me if you give it a try!

Jen.

The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Saving the Planet (And Getting Something In Return!)

I’m a true California girl.  And with all this sunshine and summertime, Californians are expected to reach above and beyond when it comes to saving our planet.  We put a heavy emphasis on recycling, water conservation and energy saving initiatives.  And, while my heart wants to reduce my footprint for the sake of my kids, my head is often spinning from all the rules and options available.  Here are a few super easy ways to help save the world and make it a better place for the future generations.

 

ThredUp:

If you’re anything like me, you have about 10x more clothes than you actually wear or need.  And your kids’ closets are probably even worse (mine are, anyway!).  Research shows we’re not alone – only 20% of clothes in most closets are worn regularly.  Enter ThredUp.  You order a kit, send them all of the gently used clothes that you aren’t actually wearing, and they pay you upfront for them.  Cash out on PayPal or use the credit to buy yourself something you’ll actually love.  You can get high end items (think LOFT, J. Crew, Hudson, Zara, Mini Boden, Baby Gap, etc.) for up to 90% off, and the clothes you send are going somewhere other than the landfill.  ThredUp up-cycled 14 million items in 2016 alone!

Get started HERE and you’ll get $10 toward your first purchase.

Imperfect Produce:

Research has shown that up to 60 MILLION TONS of food is grown and wasted in the U.S. each year.  That’s enough to feed the 800 million hungry people in the world twice over! Much of this produce isn’t accepted by grocery stores because of the way it looks – too small, too big, not the predictable shape or color Americans know and love.  So Imperfect Produce is out to change that.  To date, they’ve saved over 3.2 million pounds of produce that would’ve been trashed otherwise.  They buy the “rejects” from local farms and sell them to consumers at a fraction of the cost you’d pay at the grocery store.  The produce is fresh, delicious, and often organic; it just doesn’t fit the standards that stores require.  It’s a small way that you can boost your produce intake (always a good thing!) AND help reduce waste.  Win win!

Sign up for your Imperfect Produce box HERE.  Use my name (Jennifer Hooper) when you sign up and you’ll get $10 off your first box!  They currently only deliver to the Bay Area, LA and Orange Counties, but they’re rapidly expanding!


OhmConnect:

We’re all supposed to conserve energy, especially at peak times, but it’s often confusing and frustrating trying to figure out how and where those energy cuts can be made.  On top of that, you usually don’t even know how much energy you used (or didn’t) until you get your bill at the end of each month.

I recently found out about OhmConnect, a company that syncs with your energy provider to help you conserve electricity, and therefore, save money.  It’s completely free, and you can earn both product and monetary incentives based on your performance.  OhmConnect sends you a text or email alert when there’s going to be an OhmHour, and you can make the necessary choices to cut back on your usage.  Take a walk, read a book, go outside, turn off lights, wait to run the dishwasher – it’s completely up to you!  Additionally, they sent me a FREE smart thermostat so that my old house doesn’t have to work so hard to keep the temperature comfortable for me and my family.

Get started with OhmConnect HERE and start seeing the savings roll in.  With Summer coming, there’s never been a better time to reduce your electricity bill!


What other ways are you working to reduce your carbon footprint?  I’m always looking for easy ways to do more good and be rewarded for it!

Jen.

Mother’s Day Hangover

I saw a funny meme this morning as I was scrolling through my Instagram:

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While I’m sure some of my friends out there had a lovely, relaxing Mother’s Day (as indicated by all of the overly enthusiastic social media posts), I found comfort knowing that I wasn’t the only mom out there struggling to enjoy Mother’s Day.  I mean, it was really just a regular day with a little side of added pressure to do something magical with your family, who I spend a ton of time with anyway. Right?

I don’t mean to complain, as I know my family (and most families, I’d imagine) means well and tries their best, but Hallmark holidays just aren’t my thing.  There’s a lot of pressure to do something meaningful, post your favorite mom pic ever, shout out to all the mom friends – including the fur moms, rainbow moms, moms of babies lost, moms that aren’t really moms but act like moms, and every other maternal figure in our lives (major guilt trip if you forget anyone!).  It’s just that while we’re out there trying to make sure the world knows we have “the best mom EVER”, I’m pretty sure there are a lot of moms who wish they could just drink a cup of coffee without hearing their kids fighting over their two identical, purple beach buckets (because one is CLEARLY better than the other) or have the week’s groceries magically appear in their refrigerator.

I hope I don’t sound ungrateful.  I adore my kids, I know I’m blessed with an incredibly hands-on husband and family that lives nearby and steps in to help without even being asked.  But this “Mother’s Day Hangover” really is a real thing.  It’s nearly impossible to not sit there comparing your day, gifts, and Insta posts to those of the people around you. I love being a mom – it’s the best, most rewarding thing I’ve ever done – but I think I’d rather just skip the Mother’s Day fuss and try to find the joy in the normal days, because I’m pretty sure these are the ones I’m actually going to look back and remember.

So, this morning, while the 3-year-old declared that the only food she’d eat for breakfast was garlic bread and the 1-year-old hated every pair of shoes we own in her size, I took a step back and a deep breath and let the world slow down around me.  Because, even though it’s cliche, these are the moments that define me as a mother.  The good, the bad, the exhausting, and everything in between.  And I know that my kids adore me without requiring them to cooperate at an overpriced brunch or crowded pedicure spot.

Today I did my entire family’s laundry and didn’t end up with any unmatched socks.  A true victory in our home.  And tonight, I’m going to snuggle my littles, read them some books, tuck them into bed, and wait to do it all again tomorrow.  So, I’m going to pat myself on the back and declare today a win.  Because, to my sweet little fam, I’m already the #bestmomever.

 

Jen.

The Dirty, Black Truth Behind Charcoal Masks

Anyone else completely obsessed with facial masks? I’ve been using them for years. First, there were those gooey, sticky fruit-based ones that peeled all the peach fuzz off your face. Then came self heating masks, sheet masks, mud masks, and everything in between. But the one that remains my favorite? The black, charcoal ones.
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There’s something about slathering that thick, obsidian paste on your face and removing it to reveal smoother, brighter, -dare I say- happier skin. Redness? Gone. Zits? Shrunk. Dull skin? Glowing.
Masks are serious business in my house. So, I recruited the Hubs and we tried out some of the more popular charcoal masks on the market.
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Origins Clear Improvement Charcoal Mask, $22:
This charcoal mask goes on more gray than black, but that doesn’t mean it’s not prepared to get down and dirty with your pores. It’s the thinnest consistency of the 3 we tried. It’s smooth and doesn’t need to dry completely prior to washing it off. I kept it on for 15 minutes and washed it off to reveal smaller pores and less redness. A little goes a long way, and it’s the least irritating of the three I tried – a plus for sensitive skin.
Get it here.
Boscia Luminizing Black Mask, $36:
This was the one that started it all for me.  It’s thick, sticky and completely opaque, and it peels off once it dries.  You have to use quite a bit (it doesn’t peel off properly if you apply too thin of a layer), which is hard since it’s not a cheap product, but the results are worth every penny.  My face is consistently left glowing – luminized – exactly as promised.  It’s effects on blemishes are not as noticeable as the other two masks, but it’s one of the few masks that leaves lasting improvement for a few days after using it.
Get it here.
Clearskin Pore Penetrating Black Mineral Mask, $6.99:
Ok, this mask is more of a mud mask than a charcoal mask, but because of it’s fabulous black color and awesome skin transformation abilities, I’m lumping it into the same category as the others.  This is also the only mask that has Salicylic Acid, which means it’s a mask powerhouse when it comes to blemishes.  The pleasing tingle reminds you that it’s working and it dries relatively quickly from a dark black to a light, concrete gray.  It’s easy to rinse off and leaves pimples visibly reduced.
Get it here.

Any other charcoal masks you’ve tried and loved?  I’d love to check them out!  In the meantime, I’ll be sitting here with a fabulous, black paste on my face, waiting for it to work it’s magic.
xoxo, Jen

May contain affiliate links.  Origins product received free from Influenster.  All reviews and opinions are 100% my own.

 

Hey, It’s Me, Jen.

Hi!  Welcome to my blog.  Not quite sure how you stumbled across it in the sea of millions of other (more established, and therefore more interesting) blogs… But I’m glad you’re here.
A little about me.  I’m married to an awesome guy, we have two feisty, energetic daughters, and two small dogs that my dear husband puts up with because I had them before we were dating.  We live in Southern California, and despite the insane cost of living, we can’t imagine ever leaving.  We love the sun, the beach, and being outdoors.  We laugh a lot and we love a lot.
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I consider myself a professional shopper.  I love coupons, deals, and bargains.  I’ll be sharing some of my best tips and tricks as I go along here.  I love food and I eat like a truck driver.  I liked to blame it on pregnancy and breastfeeding, but now that I’m past those stages, I’ll be honest and just admit that I love to eat.  I drink a lot of coffee and I’m not ashamed to admit that I don’t like wine.  I’m obsessed with beauty products, but I’m a pretty harsh critic.  Hopefully you don’t mind brutal honesty!
Anyway, that’s me in a nutshell!  I’m excited to finally start the blog I’ve been thinking about for years now, and I hope that you’ll follow along.  It won’t follow a schedule, it won’t always fit into a specific genre, but I promise it will be real and it will be me.
xoxo, Jen
P.S. Leave me a comment and let me know you were here.  Or, better yet, subscribe and stay up to date with all of my future ramblings!