The Yoga Essentials + My Favorite Videos

I am a complete yogi. It’s an ongoing relationship of about 6 years, and I couldn’t imagine life without it. What is a “yogi” you ask? Yogis are yoga-obsessed, namaste lovers. Once you go yogi, you don’t go back. It’s as simple as that. Over the past few years, I have become keenly aware of the essentials to the ultimate yoga practice, and I’m more than excited to share with you. Don’t take my word for everything: all yogis aren’t created equal. This can serve as a perfect jumping-off point until you too find your own list of essentials tapered to your own needs.

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Before class, I pack my tote bag with all the essentials I need for class and afterwards. I like to bring a travel mug for my studio’s free freshly steeped green tea. As well, a trusty water bottle is, of course, a necessity. I also like to pack a little pouch for trinkets such as body spray (VS Pink: Fresh and Clean is my favorite), bobby pins for my rather short hair, headbands, deodorant and my favorite lip balm of the moment (currently obsessing over Nivea’s balms). This pouch comes in handy even when I’m not at yoga class!

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Then comes my favorite part: picking out a workout outfit. It might sound weird coming from someone who lives and breathes dresses, but workout outfits makes me almost as happy as a good chiffon dress. For tonight’s yoga class, I chose a pair of crop leggings (Old Navy), a bright blue sports bra (Target), a slouchy tank (VS: Pink) and a long-sleeved workout 1/4 zip. No matter what, I like to be comfortable when practicing yoga, and usually I tend to migrate towards leggings paired with slouchy tees or tanks.

 

Even though I would love to have the time and money to attend yoga classes every day, let’s be real: I’m a college student. So, of course, I love doing workout videos from my own laptop at home. Sometimes, I even prefer yoga practice in the comfort of my own room to the ambiance of a crowded room full of yogis. In this case, my go-to videos are by ToneItUp. When videos just don’t cut it, I like going on Pinterest and practicing routines from the pictures I find.



Good luck on your yoga practice, fellow yogis, even if it’s inches away from your bed!

 

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The Bare Necessity and Chocolate Macarons

 

I’ve honestly always wanted a blog. As a writer, editor and constant conversationalist, it’s something that seems almost a necessity to me. Unfortunately, I could never quite figure out what to write about; that was true until earlier this morning. As I stared painfully into the screen of my twitter (for the millionth time that morning), I vigorously wrote yet another tweet about my struggle making my delicious French macarons on such a humid day. It occurred to me that not all of Twitter wants to hear my very pathetic pleas for attention; however, if I had a blog, I could reason my pathetic stories into documentation of my life as a student.

So that brings me to the here and now: a very tired baker who has decided to start a lifestyle blog (appropriately titled after my one true love in life: macarons). As my first post, I find nothing better fitting than sharing with you my success to macarons.

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My favorite recipes are from a cookbook titled Macarons & More, a great find I picked up at Barnes and Noble after I returned from a trip to Paris last summer. My favorite macaron by far is the chocolate, both because it’s an easy recipe to make, and because they have such a rich and flavorful taste.

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Chocolate MacaronsMacarons & More (page 18)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2/3 cup almond flour (very expensive, but also worth it. You can find it at Target or Whole Foods)
  • 3 T unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 egg whites (room temp or aged overnight)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

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Directions:

  1. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Combine the powdered sugar, almond flour and cocoa in a food processor. Pulse. Sift the mixture into a medium bowl.
  2. Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer on med in a large bowl until frothy. Then, SLOWLY add the granulated sugar with the mixer on high until stiff, shiny peaks form. —Tip from Jen: If you think you’ve mixed the meringue mixture enough, slowly turn the bowl upside-down. If the mixture stays put, it’s ready to go.
  3. Add half the flour mixture from step 1 into the meringue mixture and fold with a spatula. Only stir 12 strokes. Then add the rest of the flour mixture by stirring 15 strokes. Do not over or under mix.
  4. Pipe the batter with a plain tip and piping bag onto the cookie sheets. You can make them any size you’d like, but I prefer mine mini, about 1.5 inches in diameter.
  5. Let the cookies sit until the tops slightly harden. This will depend on humidity (mine took longer because it was a very humid day, but sometimes they will only take 10 minutes to dry). Once the tops are slightly hardened ,(if you touch the top with a finger tip and none of the batter sticks) you’re ready for my favorite part. Rap the cookie sheet on a flat surface to remove air bubbles.
  6. Preheat oven to 375 and bake for 5 minutes at this heat. Then reduce heat to 325 and bake for 10 minutes more (Rotate cookie sheet every 5 minutes for even cooking).
  7. If the cookies stick to the parchment after cooking, I find it easiest to flip over the parchment paper and spray the backside with lukewarm water. The cookies will then peel right off.

For the filling, you can do anything from Nutella, to jelly, to homemade ganache.

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Although I’ve made this recipe many times before, today was 70% humidity in Madison, and these cookies were not loving it. My first batch fried in the oven. My next batch had yolk in the meringue and the mixture never stiffened, even after 40 strenuous minutes of beating them with my electric mixer. By the third try, I had everything under control. In order to further combat my humid conditions, I set up a desk-top fan on my kitchen counter to blow air on the macarons as they dried. Unlike other macaron cookies, this chocolate recipe is always the most presentable and best to bake. When I finally found the right conditions to bake and prep under, the cookies were a breeze to make.

Numerous tweets, a couple dozen eggs, and one sore arm later, my macarons were absolute perfection for my Monday night tea party. Despite my diverse laughable struggles that occurred this morning, I always have so much fun making macarons.

Once it’s drier out, you too can go find some almond flour and become the macaron queen of your dreams!