Friday, May 20, 2016

Recipe: Vegan Brownie Batter Energy Balls

Today I have a recipe for you guys for these brownie batter energy balls that taste almost exactly like the Chocolate Brownie Cliff Bars. They're super simple to make and a great grab and go snack!

1 1/3 cup oats
2/3 cup cashews (or almonds)
3 tbs cocoa powder
1/3 cup coconut
1/3 cup chia seeds
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
dates (soaked for a few hours to soften) 
the amount you need depends on the size, I used 21 but mine were super small
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

the first step is to grind up your oats and nuts into a flour-like consistency 

add the rest of your dry ingredients and pulse to mix
 add the vanilla and then blend dates in a few at a time until the batter starts to stick together 
it should be easy to form into balls and not too crumbly
add your chocolate chips and pulse a few times to mix without completely smashing them, you want some chunks left

I like to use an ice cream scoop to get equal amounts of dough that I roll into balls and freeze in a foil lined baking pan

you can eat them without freezing, but I think they taste best straight out of the freezer

If you give these a try pretty please let me know, I'd love to hear what you think! You can leave a comment or tweet me @xomotheblog :) 

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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Vegan Banana Coconut Pancakes

Today I have for you the recipe for one of my favorite breakfasts, these delicious and super easy to make banana coconut pancakes. If the word vegan instantly makes you skeptical of how delicious these could possibly be, I think you should just give them a try before you make a hasty judgement ;) 

> 2 RIPE Bananas (The spottier, the better)
> 1/2 cup oats
> 1 1/2 Tbs Coconut Sugar (You can swap in brown sugar if that's what you have)
> 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
> 1 Tbs Chia Seeds (sort of optional, it's not the end of the world if you don't include them)
> 1 1/2 Tbs (or more if you want) Shredded Coconut
> 1/2 cup (ish) milk of your choosing (I used vanilla soy milk for this batch but I also like to use almond milk or coconut milk, it just depends on what we have) 
> Cinnamon 

Okay so that's the basic batter, and you want to throw all of that into the blender until the oats are all ground up and everything is blended smooth. 

Then... you can stir in some extras like nuts, chocolate, blueberries, more coconut, whatever floats your boat. 

I use a 1/3 cup measuring cup to scoop out my batter onto the griddle and it usually makes 4-5 pancakes depending on how big the bananas were. Let them cook until they start to puff up and get bubbles on the top just like with normal pancakes and then flip and let the other side get nice and golden brown too. 

These pancakes are so sweet that you don't need syrup, I usually just top them with some more blueberries and coconut like in the picture. 


If you give these a try pretty please let me know, I'd love to hear what you think! You can leave a comment or tweet me @xomotheblog :) 

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Monday, February 29, 2016

2016 Oscars Red Carpet

In case ya missed it, last night was the infamous Oscars and, along with lots of shiny gold men being handed out, there was the true reason that I pay attention to awards shows: the dresses. I've rounded up my top 10 favorite looks from the red carpet... 

10. Naomi Watts in Armani Prive
This dress reminded me of mermaids and, let's be real, you really can't go wrong with looking like a mermaid. 

9. Jennifer Garner in Atelier Versace
When I first looked at this picture I wasn't a fan but on my second time through the gallery, I was like, you know what, Jen is killing it. The asymmetrical look is really unique and made this dress stand out. 

8. Sofia Vergara in Marchesa  
Sofia always looks great in super princess-y dresses and this is no exception. 

7. Chrissy Teigan in Marchesa
One can only hope to look as amazing as she does whilst pregnant, wearing a gorgeous Marchesa probably helps. 

6. Brie Larson in Gucci
This is another one that I wasn't a huge fan of when I first saw the picture but it's really growing on me. I love the statement belt and the color looks amazing on her. 

5. Margot Robbie in Tom Ford
There's always that person who takes a pretty literal inspiration from the Oscars for their red carpet look and in Margot's case, it paid off because she rocked the gold. 

4. Lady Gaga in Brandon Maxwell
It's a pantsuit people. Lady Gaga has been looking flawless lately and proving that she can still dress a little outside of the box without, ya know, dressing in head to toe meat. 

3. Priyanka Chopra in Zuhair Murad
Priyanka looked stunning in this dress. I loved that she went with the super chill ponytail to really let the beautiful detailing of the dress take center stage. (Also shout-out for her show Quantico coming back in a week!!!) 

2. Cate Blanchett in Armani
Cate looked like a majestic woodland princess and I absolutely loved it. The detailing on this dress is incredible and the pale blue is such a nice color on her. 

1. Saoirse Ronan in Calvin Klein
My absolute favorite look of the night goes to Saoirse who I think looked incredible in this simple but elegant dress and the color really popped with her fair skin and blonde hair. 

So there you have it folks, my top 10 from the Oscars Red Carpet. Do you agree with my picks? Did I miss a look that you loved? Let me know in the comments section or tweet me @xomotheblog :)

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Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Method Beyond My Madness: Part 2

Sooo.... you might have thought that I dropped off the face of the earth but, surprise! I didn't :) Things got a little crazy, I was dealing with some personal stuff, and long story short I stopped working on things that I enjoy, like this blog. But I'm back, and I'm going to finish out this promised post series. If you missed the first part all about how I put together my schedule, you can check it out here. Without having a schedule and a clear vision of what you want to accomplish, the tips that I have for you today on having a productive day won't be as effective so I recommend checking that out first :)

1. Know your best time of day
Look, I get it, some people are not morning people. It doesn't matter how many studies have been done about productivity being at it's peak in the morning, if you hate mornings, you probably will accomplish nothing all morning except for complaining about how much you hate the fact that you're awake. Personally, I think mornings are awesome, but I'm not going to try to convert you. (Ok I actually might try to convert you if you spend enough time with me...) What's important though, is knowing what time of day you work best and planning to get stuff done then. Key word is plan. Even if you know that you do your best work at 10pm, you still need to be intentional about working then or you will get sucked into watching Netflix in bed and will wake up the next morning in a panic because you didn't get your assignments done. Have a time set that you are committed to starting your work at each day and stick to it. For me, that's 8am right after I've eaten breakfast, but you have to figure out for yourself what time you will be most effective. 

2. You've got to wake up eventually
And it's best to be consistent about it. As someone who wakes up early every weekday morning, I can tell you that it's a lot easier to do now than it was when I first tried to get up at that time. Even on weekends, when I prefer to stay in bed a little longer, I usually wake up around my normal time without my alarm (and then roll back over and fall back asleep). Your body will eventually get used to waking up at a certain time so you can't give up on getting up at your goal time just because it was awful the first 2 or 3 times. Another thing that's helpful is using an alarm that wakes you up when you're coming out of a sleep cycle because it's a lot less jarring. The alarm that I use is called Sleep Cycle and you can set it for a window of time that you want to wake up within (6-6:15 if you're me). I've found that I'm a lot less groggy when I'm woken up in the morning since I've started using this. Plus, it keeps a log of your sleep and shows you when you were restless during the night and all kind of other stats if you think that stuff is cool like I do. 

3. Be Prepared
When I get up in the morning, the last thing I want to do is scramble to gather up what I need for the day... I want to be eating breakfast because I'm hungry. So every night before I go to bed, I make sure that I've written in my bullet journal the tasks that I need to get to the next day (see part 1 of this series for more on bullet journaling), pack my backpack with everything that I need for the day, and check the weather so that I can pick out my outfit. This way, when I get up in the morning, everything is ready to go and I don't have to worry about forgetting something in my haste. My dorm isn't in the most convenient location to be popping back in if I need to grab something so it's important that I have everything I need for several hours of my day. Plus, I'm pretty sure my roommates appreciate that I'm not making a ton of noise by opening all my drawers and throwing things around in the morning while they're still sleeping.

4. Have a Routine 
I basically do the same thing every week. I know that sounds super boring, but trust me on this, having a routine helps you to get everything that you need to get done, done, so that you have time to do fun things without stressing about a pile of uncompleted assignments or wondering when the last time you exercised was. For example, every Monday, my roommates and I watch the Bachelor, so my Monday routine ensures that I'm sitting on my floor with some snacks by 8pm with all of my homework done and a Pilates class completed. I can enjoy hanging out with my friends because I'm not stressed about stuff I didn't get done because I didn't have a plan for my day and wasted a ton of time. This works in your favor for spontaneous plans too. If your routine involves getting all of your work for the day done in the morning, you're free to make last minute plans to go grab milkshakes at Cookout at night. I'm not going to tell you what the "ideal routine" is because, honestly, it's different for everyone. The key is deciding what things are a priority to you and figuring out how they can best fit into your day, and then just doing that every day. 
(I have been told that this makes me sound like a crazy person and a robot, so take of this what you want ;) I would advise at least having a morning routine that you stick to though because it makes getting up in the morning a lot easier!)
5. Stop Wasting Time
There's about a million things that probably seem more appealing to you than doing your homework. You might be reading this post right now to procrastinate on your homework. Staying focused is hard, I get it, but there's ways to be a lot more efficient. One method that I like to use if I have a lot of work to get to is the Pomodoro method. Essentially, you work for a half an hour and then you get a 5 minute break. After 2 hours of work, or four "pomodoros" you get a 10-15 minute break. The key to making this work though, is that when you are in work mode, you're actually working. No touching your phone or clicking over to other tabs on your computer. I put my phone on do not disturb and totally ignore it for the 30 minutes and then I get to check it once I hit my break time. This method is great if you're someone like me with an extremely short attention span and 30 minutes is about as long as you can focus on something. I get way more done in 30 minute increments of focused time with short breaks than if I spend 2 straight hours on something but check my phone every time I get a notification (and honestly most of them are junk emails anyway) which often sends me down a 15+ minute spiral of time wasting. Another thing to add to this, if you're not motivated to do something at the moment, instead of procrastinating by doing random pointless things, just move on to something else or procrastinate productively by doing something that maybe isn't an important item on your to-do list but you'd actually rather be doing than refreshing your Facebook again, like reading a chapter of a book or going to talk to a friend or working on a personal project, etc. 

I hope that at least one or two of these points is helpful to you :) Good luck with the remaining months of your school year!

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Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Method Behind My Madness: Part 1

Disclaimer: I'm a little bit of a nerd. I like learning, and school, and sticky notes, and notebooks, and planners, and.... you get the point. Starting college this fall meant that I had the opportunity to research different organizational and study methods to figure out what would work best for me because I wasn't going to be able to use quite the same systems that worked for me when I was homeschooled. Since you might not probably aren't as into reading study blogs and watching videos on YouTube about setting up planners as I am (I wasn't joking about this nerd thing), I thought I would share just what I found that works for me. These methods have helped me to stay organized, maintain good grades, and keep stress induced freak outs to a minimum. This is not to say that my roommates and I have not been heard singing Jesus Take the Wheel at 2am while trying to finish assignments. It's college, it happens. (If you're not in college yet, you'll learn this eventually. And these tips are just as helpful for those of you in middle school/high school :)) Because this is a lot of information, I'm going to divide it into a multiple post series. Today's is all about scheduling/planning...

Keeping track of all your assignments and to-do's can be one of the biggest challenges in college. Unless you're professor is constantly reminding you about when things are due, you have to know your syllabus and keep track of everything yourself. I've found it extremely helpful to have a visual of what I need to do each month, week, and day and have different methods for each that all work together. First, at the beginning of the semester I copied all of my assignments from my syllabus into my calendar. I know this seems like a lot of work but it took me less than 2 hours, I watched tv while doing it, and it's saved me a ton of time this semester. 
At the beginning of each month, I transfer the tests and major assignments (essays, projects, etc.) to the whiteboard over my desk so I can easily see what's coming up.
At the beginning of each week (usually Sunday night), I plan out how I'm going to divide up all the work that's due and make a plan for the week. I got this notepad in the dollar aisle at Target and it was a great find. I've seen different variations of this since then at Target, but you can also find notepads like this on Amazon, such as this one. Or you can just write it down on a plain piece of paper if you don't feel like being so fancy ;)
Finally, there's my system for daily planning. I'm a to-do list girl, checking boxes is extremely satisfying, which is why a bullet journal works best for me. If you've never heard of bullet journaling, a quick google search will give you tons of information (, but here's the basics/my bullet journal. (Disclaimer: mine is super artsy because I'm into that sort of thing, but yours can be very basic and will be just as useful) Before I get into my daily spreads, this is how the beginning of my bullet journal is set up...
I use a large squared black Moleskine but you can use whatever kind of notebook works best for you. I just like the size of this notebook and I like graph paper, which is why I chose this one. 

 Each day, or more often the night before, I will transfer all of my school assignments from my weekly plan into my bullet journal, as well as anything else I have to do, using the corresponding color. So basically, what I end up with is one big consolidated to-do list that I carry with me everywhere instead of a bunch of random papers. 
Because I always have my bullet journal with me, it's a helpful catch all for other information too. I have a page that I record my times on the rowing machine, a page for blog post ideas, and I use the inside front cover to hold sticky notes of other random lists/reminders. 

Some people also create a monthly calendar in their bullet journal instead of having a separate planner/calendar but I prefer to use both, it's just whatever works best for you. 

My bullet journal, combined with this planning system has been a life saver this semester in keeping me organized. If you have any questions be sure to leave a comment and I will make sure to answer them :) Also stay tuned for the next installments of this post series which will be on time management and test prep. If you have any questions you want me to address in those posts, also leave a comment below. I hope this was helpful for you!

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