Sunday, June 26, 2016

Raspberry White Chocolate Mocha Recipe

Recently, I tried a mocha at Starbucks and I loved it! So I wanted to make it at home and ended up liking my homemade recipe even more.  Since I don't like the bitter taste of coffee, I like a drink that has a slight coffee flavor. I'm obsessed with this recipe so I had to share it with you.


Ingredients:
1 shot of espresso (if you like a stronger coffee flavor, you can use 2 shots)
1 pump Starbucks Raspberry Syrup
15-20 white chocolate chips
milk or creamer to taste (I use So Delicious French Vanilla Coconut Creamer) 

Start with tossing some white chocolate chips in the bottom of your cup (the hot espresso will melt them). I'm using a Cosi Nespresso espresso pod, which has a light lemony flavor. Any espresso will do just fine.
Next, add the raspberry syrup and stir well to blend in the chocolate. If the chocolate isn't stirring in easily just heat it in the microwave for 10 seconds, then stir again.
Now add your creamer or milk and enjoy!


I've also tried this with Starbucks Flan syrup and it was delicious! Another variation is to use semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of white chocolate. Do you get creative with your coffee?
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- Serena 


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Exfoliating 101

Whether you're new the world of beauty or just looking for some tips, this is a great place to start. We've all heard that exfoliating is good for our skin, but what does it really do? 



The benefits:
• Gets rid of dead skin cells 
• Reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles 
• Helps to prevent blackheads by cleaning out your pores
• Helps your self tanners go on more smoothly 

How much is too much? 
You don't need to exfoliate on a daily basis. For gentle exfoliating, once a week is generally good. If you're using an intense exfoliator, once or twice a month is all you need. For dry skin, you might want to go a little longer between exfoliating to keep your skin from becoming too dry. Always moisturizer afterwards just as you would when you wash your face.  I like to use Jason Brightening Apricot Scrub weekly.

Exfoliating isn't just for your face. 
You can exfoliate all over for the same benefits you would see on your face. A pumice stone is great to use on your feet.  On the rest of your body, try a loofah with an exfoliating cleanser.  Apply your cleanser with a loofah in circular motions. The warm water in the shower will open up your pores so the product works better. Make sure you moisturizer afterwards. 
On your lips, scrubbing gently with a baby toothbrush is a good way to exfoliate dry, peeling skin.

Other tips: 
• Your skin should be clean, so remove makeup first. 
• With any type of exfoliating,  remember to be scrub gently.
• You only need to scrub for about thirty seconds, then rinse. After you wash it off, you can splash with cool water to close your pores. 

Hope you enjoyed the first post in my new series #sparklestylebeautyschool. 
Stay updated and follow me on Bloglovin, Pinterest, Google+, and Etsy
- Serena 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Free Daily Planner Printable!

Today, I wanted to give you this daily planner printable I created. It's rose and light blue. Feel free to write the date at the top and your daily to-do list in the section below. The right side is for a few of the most important tasks of the day and appointments.  Finally, below is a spot to track how much water you're drinking throughout the day.



To download just right click and save the image. 
I hope this planner will help keep your day on track.
To check out the rest of my printables, head over to my Etsy shop.
Use the code BLOG10 to get 10% off your first order.
Follow me on Bloglovin, Pinterest, Google+, and Etsy.
- Serena

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Diary Free Churro Recipe

Happy Cinco De Mayo! While I am not Mexican, I love to celebrate different holidays and learn about different cultures. Plus, who doesn't love churros?? I found out a few months ago that I'm allergic to dairy, which has made eating deserts kinda hard, because most deserts have butter or milk in them. In this recipe you can use your favorite milk alternative or regular milk instead, the measurements are the same. The recipe I adapted is from Food Network, so if you want to see the original recipe click here.


What you'll need for the churros:
1 cup of Water 
1/2 cup of Vegan Butter 
1/4tsp. of Salt
1 cup All Purpose Flour
3 Eggs beaten
Canola Oil (for frying)
1/4 cup Sugar (I used raw sugar)
1/4tsp Cinnamon or to taste
 Kitchen Thermometer
Wooden Spatula
Whisk
Saucepan
Deep pot or pan with high sides for frying in

What you'll need for the chocolate sauce: 
4 oz of Bakers Semi Sweet Chocolate (this chocolate is dairy free, but does contain soy)
1tbs Corn Starch
1/4 cup of Sugar
2 cups of milk alternative (I used So Delicious coconut milk, because I like that it has a very neutral flavor)
Whisk
Saucepan
First we have to make the dough, so grab a saucepan and combine 1 cup of water with 1/2 cup of butter and 1/4tsp of salt, then bring it to a boil over high heat. Stir in the cup of flour with a wooden spoon. Reduce the heat to low and stir quickly until a ball is formed, then take the pan off the heat. Gradually beat the eggs into the dough while stirring constantly. Leave this off to the side while you make the chocolate sauce. 

In a small bowl, dissolve 1tbs of cornstarch in one cup of milk alternative and put it aside. Grab another saucepan and put one cup of milk alternative and the chocolate in it. Stirring constantly, melt the chocolate on medium-low heat and whisk in 1/4 cup of sugar and the dissolved corn starch mixture. Reduce the heat to low and cook for five minutes, whisking constantly. Now the recipe says if it doesn't thicken after five minutes to add more cornstarch, but when using a dairy alternative it doesn't thicken the way regular milk would—you don't need to worry about this step. Put a lid on it and set it aside. Now we're ready to start frying the churros. 

In a heavy, high-sided pot heat up about 2 inches of oil to around 360 degrees. 
Mix the cinnamon and sugar together on a plate and put it aside for later, then grab a plate and put a few paper towels on top to put your churros on after you're done frying them. Spoon the dough into a bag and cut the tip (you can use a piping tip to get that nice star shape). Squeeze three or four strips of dough into the oil that are about four inches long. Fry the churros for about two minutes or until they are golden brown, then flip to the other side using tongs and repeat.


Once they're done, use your tongs to take them out of the oil and put them on the paper towels to drain off the excess oil. Put the next batch into the oil and while those are cooking when the first one are cool enough to handle, roll them in the cinnamon-sugar mix. Repeat until you're out of dough and enjoy! I think they were delicious. I say were because as I'm writing this I finished the last one. 


3 Facts about Cinco De Mayo:
1) Cinco De Mayo means 5th of May in Spanish 
2) The holiday actually celebrates the Mexican armys' victory over France at the Battle of Puebla in 1862, not their Independence day. 
3) Cinco De Mayo is celebrated with parades, dancing, festivals, and food

I hope that you try out the churros! I plan to do a post like this for most holidays. So if you have any requests for holidays or dishes please let me know. Also, comment what you think of the recipe. 
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- Serena 



Friday, April 22, 2016

Go Green: Save the Planet and Money!

Hey everyone! In honor of Earth Day today, I put together 5 easy things you can do to save the planet and save some money at the same time.


Use Reusable Bags
Paper or plastic? How about neither. Not only do reusable bags come in super cute designs, but they also save tons of waste. A lot of Target stores even give 5 cents off your order for every bag you bring. 

Bring Your Own Cup
When you go for your morning coffee run, grab your travel cup. Starbucks gives 10 cents off when you bring your own. According to carryyourcup.org, "If you buy just one cup of coffee or tea in a disposable cup every day, you'll end up creating about 23lbs. of waste in one year". Imagine if we all took our own cups for even half of our trips in a week. 

Stop by the Library 
Buying a book you probably won't read again? Get it from your library instead. Not only is it saving you money, but it saves trees.

Eat Less Meat
Meat is expensive, harmful to the animals, and unhealthy for the environment. Peta.org mentions, "Producing just one hamburger uses enough fossil fuel to drive a small car 20 miles." If you're not ready to go vegetarian, try meatless Monday. There are so many delicious vegetarian and vegan recipes online now, so it's easy to make the switch.

Spring Cleaning
When you're spring cleaning this year, don't throw away your old clothes, jewelry, decor, or books.  You can take them to your local consignment shop, donate them, have a yard sale, or sell them online. You can even take your old clothes to H&M to be recycled and receive a store coupon.

We often forget about conserving and recycling but saving the earth should be a big priority. Are you ready to make a commitment to save the planet? Comment below on ways you can go green!
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- Serena

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Announcement!

Hi everyone. I'm going to be taking a bit of a break from blogging and social media. My dog, Blitzen, was diagnosed with aggressive cancer on Tuesday (3/1). The vet says that he only has days - weeks left, so I'm trying to spend as much time with him as possible. Thank you for understanding.
- Serena 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Valentine Gifts for Your Bestie + Free Printable

Valentine's Day is tomorrow!! Don't worry, here are some cute gifts under twenty dollars that you can pick up today for your bestie. At the end of the post I have a Valentine's Bucket List printable for you!

Is Starbucks her bae? 

Get a cute tumbler from Starbucks and fill it with Hershey kisses. What's better than coffee and chocolate? 

Nail art maybe? 
Wrap up a bottle of red and pink nail polish with some other cute nail accessories. You can find these Sally Hansen Salon Finish polishes at Target.

If she's a baker at heart, you could get...
  
    You can find these adorable measuring spoons and cupcake set from American Eagle. 

As promised, here is a free Valentine's Day bucket list printable! 

To download it, just right click and save the image. 

If you're looking for a DIY gift or a pink treat to bake, check out my post from last Valentine's Day! 

 














 
I hope this gift guide gave you some ideas on what to get your best friend or maybe just some cute things to buy for yourself. Enjoy the printable and let me know if you want to see more!
❤️ Serena 

Monday, January 25, 2016

12 Books Releasing in 2016

This is a great time to make your reading list for the year. Here are 12 anticipated young adult books that are coming out in 2016! I'm really excited to read some of these! Let me know which one your looking forward to or if there's a book that isn't on the list. I tried to pick a lot of different types of books, so hopefully, you will see one you like. You may even want to step outside your comfort zone and read something that you normally wouldn't. Let's get right into it.



Cruel Crown by Victoria Aveyard - January 5th, 2016
This is two novella that go along that are prequels to the Red Queen series and it's already out! Can't wait to read it! Let me know what you think if you've already read it.

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard - Febuary 9th, 2016
This is the sequel to Red Queen and I think I am most excited about this book.

Morning Star by Pierce Brown - February 9th, 2016 
This is the 3rd book in the Red Rising series, which is a dystopian novel. 

The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine - Febuary 16th, 2016
This is a dark fantasy inspired by the story of Snow White. 

The Mirror King (The Orphan Queen Series) by Jodi Meadows - April 5th, 2016
The Mirror King is the second book in The Orphan Queen series.

The Crown (The Selection Series) by Kiera Cass - May 3rd, 2016
This is the 5th book in the super popular selection series, which I have yet to read (though it's on my list). 

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi - May 3rd, 2016
This is the first full length novel the author has written and story is inspired by Indian mythology, which you don't see too often.

The Last Star (The Fifth Wave Series) by Rick Yancey - May 24th, 2016
This is the fifth and final book in the Fifth Wave series. The movie for the first book is also coming out this January.  

Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories by various YA authors - June 14th, 2016
This book is written by twelve different, best-selling, young adult authors. Two that I recognized were Veronica Roth & Cassandra Clare. I think this book is going to be really popular this year. 

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan - October 4th, 2016
This is the second book in Rick Riordan's Norse mythology series. I'm excited about this one because I thought the first one was pretty good.

Frost Like Night by Sara Raasch - 2016
This is the third book in the Snow Like Ashes series. There's no release date, but it will come out sometime this year.

Young Elites (Book #3) by Marie Lu - 2016
This book will also be released sometime this year, no date or title
yet. 

While making this list, I found out about some new series that I can't wait to read! I hope you found some new books too! Also, I was looking for non-fiction/autobiographies to put in the list but couldn't find good ones being released this year. If you have any suggestions please, comment them below. 
Stay updated and follow me on Bloglovin, Pinterest, and Google+.
- Serena  

Saturday, January 2, 2016

How to Set Goals You Can Achieve

Hi everyone! I hope you had a great holiday. Can you believe that it's already 2016?! 2015 just flew by. In honor of New Year's resolutions, I decided to write a post on how to set goals and ways to help you achieve them. We all set goals in the beginning of the year and usually start out strong, but sometime during the year, they fall by the wayside. Setting your goals right and staying on track can help you achieve them.



Step 1: Have a Goal in Mind
Maybe your goal is to get in shape, start a business, get better grades, eat healthy, travel, etc. Once you have your goal in mind, don't let anyone tell you that you can't do it. If it's something that you really want and are willing to work hard for, it's achievable. Don't get discouraged if things get tough, don't work out right away or you don't have much support. Just keep at it! You can do anything that you put your mind to as long as you're willing to work for it.

Step 2: Make it a S.M.A.R.T Goal
What's a S.M.A.R.T. goal? It's a specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and trackable goal.  Here's a little more detail.

Specific - Make your goal specific. For example, instead of saying—I want to eat healthier this year, try I want to eat a salad for lunch  five days a week.
Measurable -Track your progress as you work towards your goal. Set bench marks and reward yourself when you meet them. You could even reward yourself when you reach half-way.
Achievable - Evaluate your goal. Is it realistic? Is it something you can achieve or something that your willing to work hard enough to achieve? If it's a long term goal, break it down into short-term goals or stepping stones that will make achieving your goal less over-whelming.
Relevant - What does this goal mean to you? You're more likely to achieve it if you feel strongly about it.
Time Bound - Give yourself a deadline that you want to achieve your goal by and write it down.

Step Three: Plan of Action!
Write it down! Put your goal somewhere that you will see it everyday. Write it in color, put washi tape on it, add glitter, do whatever makes you like to look at your goal and motivates you. On another piece of paper, make a checklist of all the little steps or bench marks it'll take to reach your goal. Don't forget to reward yourself when you check them off. 

Step Four: Make it Official 
Tell someone about it.  Telling a few friends about your goal will make you feel more responsible to complete it. Even just saying it out loud makes it feel more official. In fact, comment below on your New Year's resolution!

Keep at it and don't give up. I hope you all have a great New Year! As always, follow me on Bloglovin, Google+, and Pinterest
- Serena