14 Ways Brownies Make You a Better Person

Screw Valentines! Let’s celebrate a holiday that will never make you feel lonely or less than–figuratively or Literally! HAPPY HAVE A BROWNIE DAY!! (And if you really want a Valentines Blog–check out my Survival Guide from last year). And if you feel self loathing go check out Love the skin you’re in now.
Instead of hearts and flowers, lets discuss 14 ways a brownie makes you a better person.

1) Chocolate triggers the same neurons in the brain that sex does–in other words chocolate wakes up your serotonin, which is the body’s natural antidepressant. So: eat more brownies and you’ll be happier. And probably nicer.

2) Cocoa/chocolate has a higher flavanol content per weight than most foods according to Health Herbal’s Website so it’s a better antioxidant than a glass of wine or an apple, according to the site. Get your antioxidants on by eating brownies!


3) The act of baking brownies allows you feel organized while slowing you down  When you bake you have to read directions, be organized, do one thing at a time–doing a recipe makes you go step by step and slow your life down.

4) Inversely–the waiting for the brownies to come out of the oven returns you to a state of childlike innocence–which we all should have. Waiting in anticipation for the ooey-gooey chocolatey goodness to come of the oven makes me feel like I’m 10 again. I liked being 10.

5) No one really wants to eat an entire pan of brownies by themselves–so brownies encourage fellowship. Here’s 52 ways to make new friends from

The Food Network: 50 Brownie Recipes

Black Bean (Vegan) Brownie by Happy Herbivore

And. A grain free Black Forrest Brownie by my friend Tamika at She Flew The Coop


6) A brownie can also make for good alone time. If you don’t want to make friends–or want to be sensible about calorie consumption here is a recipe for “brownie in a mug”
1/4 c flour

1/4 c sugar–plain white, not big chunky sugar

2 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder

3 TBSP water

2 TBSP oil–I suggest vegetable or coconut oil. (Olive tastes a little weird)

Pinch of salt. (Optional)

Pinch of cinnamon (optional)

Put dry ingredients in a cup and mix. Add wet ingredients. Mix. Put in microwave for 2ish min. Let cool a little–it will be molten lava hot. Add ice cream or whipped cream if desired and eat!!

7) Making brownies make you you in touch with your creative/artistic side. No one needs to make brownies–they are a want. A desire. Anything that isn’t just a fuel food, and even those, I recommend you slow down and take the time to–without trying to sound overly hokey or new-agey–be in touch with the food. It really does taste better. I’ve stopped making food when I’m not in a creative mindset when I start. Especially baking. It always comes out better and it’s not as stressful a process for me.

8) It makes your house smell good. Which makes you happier. (Is it cheating to go back to “happier”?)  Seriously–who ever walked into a house and said, “Yuck, your house smells like brownies”? Happy, yummy smelling homes are always lovely. Sometimes I put a pot on the stove with lots of water and I sprinkle cinnamon and cloves in the water and put it on to boil…


9) Brownies make you smarter–or at least after you read a few facts on Brownies, you can wow people at parties. Like the origin of brownies according to Sweet Tooth Design, The Brownie came from a chef at Chicago’s Palmer House Hotel during the late 19th century. It all started when Bertha Palmer wanted to requested a special dessert for ladies attending the Chicago 1893 World Fair. What she wanted was a dessert that is smaller than a piece of cake, though still retaining cake-like characteristics and easily eaten from boxed lunches. Eventually the first brownie was made, specially topped with walnuts and an apricot glaze. It was an instant hit at that time and this same recipe still remained and served today at “The Palmer House Hilton” in Chicago. If you want to be a super nerd–go to your favorite search engine and look up brownie facts–it’s a black hole of chocolatey goodness.

10) Sugar is energy and energy is good! (Ok, so you’ll probably sugar crash…but hey, after eating a brownie or 6, you might be motivated to write that novel or clean out the garage or practice your OCD!)

11) Make yourself a brownie conversationalist! It brings out friendly debate: nuts or no nuts? Chewy or cakey? Corner or center piece?  Which mix is the best (Ghirardelli double chocolate is my fave, but Munchkin is chiming in and likes Duncan Hines)? Everyone has an opinion–go ahead, next time you’re with people, start a brownie conversation!

12) They make you smile. It’s impossible to say “brownie” without smiling…. Well you can. But the “eeee” sound at the end of the word lifts the corners of your mouth.  Go ahead–try it… especially in front of a mirror or your phone in selfie mode… Its fun!

13) They remind you to have options!  Some days you feel like double chocolate. Some days: nuts. Some days: chips. Some days: Classic standard.  Make your days or your hours, your dinners or your lunches, your clothing or your routine different–give yourself different options each day!


14) Fill your life like brownies fill a pan. It might have starts out a whole lot of different things, but it melds together into a magical yummy treat.

Ok. So some of these were a stretch and some of these just made you hungry. But too many people take certain holidays seriously… I just wanted to remind you that it doesn’t have to be.  Go out and celebrate all of the February holidays and Live ClareLesley!
Clare

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Kissing IS Personal

One of my first memories of the tale of my Love and I was our first kiss. Oddly, I don’t tell this detail I’m about to share with you often. In fact, when I tell our story I see this scene in my head but I gloss over the detail, or shorten our first night into a sentence or two. “We had an amazing night, I knew he and I were perfect for each other just Not right now. I left without giving him my number and he didn’t ask.” Then I go into the next headlines.
The truth is that our first night getting to know each other was/is truly special. We talked for hours at Sassafras, a saloon in Hollywood. We actually shared our breakups (both of us just barely 6 months out of serious relationships). Shared our life goals and our Strength Finders results. Ok, so we are also kind of nerdy. My point in telling you this is, before there was even the potential of another encounter we got intimate. Vulnerable. We shared honest details about ourselves.

Then he ASKED if he could kiss me.

I remember it like it was yesterday. We were standing there face to face. Of course I wanted him to. Of course I was hoping. Then he asked!

Now, I’m trying to think back of all the kisses I have had. As you know from my post “First Kiss” that one didn’t. I know my ex didn’t and I’m pretty sure those I kissed during “Duty Dating” didn’t.  Not that they should have or needed to ask. Body language can also imply that one is ready and open to kissing.

However, in this moment he asked me. When my entire insides screamed YES!   I knew this was different. It wasn’t just my physical being but much deeper than that.  I responded with “I was hoping you would.” Not so much a spoiler alert since we are together. But, yes we stood there and kissed and…well our families read this so….

My favorite movie, if I haven’t told you already, is Pretty Woman with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. When I say favorite I mean FAVVVVVORITE!!!! I can quote it from the opening to the closing credits. Aside from the great and soon to be blogged about “What’s your Dream? Hey Sista What’s your dream?” or the scene where she walks back on to Rodeo and says “You work on commission right? Big Mistake! Big!  Huge.” Shoves her bags up in the air at the snooty sales women. I am sure I’ll write about that too. Today’s blog is about Getting Personal.  When Richard Gere’s character and her are discussing what she will and will not do for money. She’ll do anything. But she won’t kiss on the lips. Too Personal.

Is Kissing too Personal?

I have written about Your Best Sex and  Sex with Friends. If you haven’t read those. Click the links and do read. It’s important you know that I am not a prude. I am not here to say that you shouldn’t get close, personal, intimate, sexy. Quite the opposite. I want all of that and more for you.

Today, on the phone with my Love I said “I cannot wait until you’re not sick; I miss kissing you.” He has the flu; I teach Pilates so I cannot get sick. He knows that if I get sick, it halts my income. But back to kissing.  He said: “I know two days ago I was thinking if it was possible to have sex without kissing.”

Aside from the weirdness of that remark. Also, how anyone with the flu could possibly perform is a question I do not have the answer to. I proclaimed No Kissing is the best part. Ok, well almost the best part. But it’s one if not THE most important part. It’s like Julia Roberts’ character says: it’s too personal.

Maybe this is TMI, but I love kissing. When I see him at Trader Joe’s waling down the isle toward me, I can be taken up in the moment, and we actually kiss like couples do in a romantic scene in the movies. I guess low cost organic food packages for individuals gets me romantic. Or more likely than not we just enjoy being that personal; that intimate.

Kissing is very important!   Before you do the deed, I think it’s pretty important to enjoy kissing the other person. You can learn a lot about someone by the way they kiss you. If you’re present and aware of what you like and need you will probably be better prepared to make the decision of whether or not you want to take it to the next step. P.S. I am not sure what the next base is anymore. Somewhere in between the generations, first and third, or second base just became a blur of tastes or preferences. But kissing should be first. You should like it and want more of it.

If you’re single, please take the time to get to know someone, enjoy kissing them. Do not rush this step and end up in a relationship that doesn’t have kissing you enjoy.

In a relationship…when’s the last time you truly kissed your partner? I’m not talking about the kisses because it’s part of the routine. I’m talking the kisses where time stands still. The kiss where your surroundings blur, are forgotten, the Trader Joe’s aisles disappear, and it’s just you and your mate. Those don’t have to be special occasion. In fact, I’d argue they shouldn’t be special occasion.

But,  you have to want it. You have to make the point to do it. The next time you kiss, be present. Be intimate. Let yourself enjoy your partner. Even if it’s in the TJs aisle.

So, before you can have Sex with Friends, Your Best Sex or even a third, fourth or future date: get personal. Get kissed!  And if you like it, have seconds!

Xx–LL

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Sex With Friends

I have promised in the past that I would explain how you can “hook up” with a friend and not “ruin” the friendship.
Finally I’m delivering…

First, is it possible to date, make out with, or sleep with a friend and not “ruin” the friendship? Sure! Anything is possible. Do I recommend getting skin close to all your friends? No. But the reality is: you probably will, and I want you armed with the tools to enjoy it before, during, and after.

A few disclaimers:
1) just because you “hook up” with someone, a friend, stranger, or date does not a relationship or commitment make.
2) if you “fall” for every person you flirt, kiss, text or sext (I have opinions on this stay tuned on my sexting blog another day) then diving into your pool of friends is not the best idea. In fact I would tell you absolutely not. You’re not able to handle it.
3) if the lack of communication from someone you sends you to the fridge, bar, or any other binge…you’re not ready (for dating of any kind, and definitely not dating a friend).
4) if you don’t have all the self love we coach/talk about here at Live ClareLesley…you’re not ready.

If you fall into the “not ready” category this doesn’t mean you have to hide in a closet. I don’t want to make a hermit-nun out of you. Quite the opposite, actually. But your focus shouldn’t be on dating anyone, especially your friends. Your focus should be self love, self respect, self growth. When you’re the person you want to be, then go enjoy the fruits of your labor. If that means hooking up with a friend, cool.  You will have our glowing permission. Get yourself to be your WHOLE self first. Then another Whole self will find you. It may even be a friend.

Ok, now that the disclaimers are out of the way lets get dirty, in a friendly way.

Why are friends with benefits a good idea? Think about it! You pick your friends based on things in common. You spend time together, talk about things you like, don’t like, want in life…sounds a lot like dating to me.

There’s nothing awkward about a friendship, no games being played it’s easy-peasy, my dears. So, it makes sense if you and a friend find your way into each others arms. In fact, in most of my coaching on relationships my clients wish they could find a partner they are best friends with. Again, why not dip into the friend pool?…you want your partner to be your friend. Your friendship foundation is already set. Try the dating thing. It might just be the door to a fantastic relationship.

Can you just be friends with benefits? Sure!  Again, anything is possible and it really depends on the two (or more in some cases…my sweet friend, you know who you are) parties involved. Again, you must be able to get past all four disclaimers above and you must truly know and love who you are. The other parties have to also be the same. It won’t work if one of you is a rock star in the self growth category and the other is starving for love, attention, and a partner.

Remember sleeping with a friend does not a partner make. Just because you and your friend cross that clothing barrier bridge, doesn’t mean you are an item. It means you slept with your friend. That actually is worth repeating! Anyone and I mean ANYONE that you kiss, sleep with does NOT a Relationship make. Partners take time. Just like friendships take time. They deserve to take time. Like a fine wine, tea or beer…fermentation is a good thing.

So, How do you start? Well one of you has to make a move, start the conversation. Is the thought of making a move freaking you out? Then, you’re not ready for this. In my past dates with friends, it’s not so black and white. The line from planning, to hang out as friends and going “out” is blurred. In fact, looking back I can’t say at the time I knew we were “crossing the barrier.” It was more like, I hoped we might.

The Comedian: He was more of an acquaintance. We would see each other out with other friends. The two of us were connected via the benefits of twitter and Facebook but we had not exchanged digits. We had lots of things in common. Eventually, he reached out to me personally. He heard I was single and we took our fringe friendship to a direct one. Texts became more frequent a date was planned and a dinner an kiss were enjoyed. There were no fireworks. We had a great time. We have hung out since even. Celebrate the successes we’ve achieved individually. We are closer friends now because we tried to take it to the next level.

Those of you who understand this, are ready for the dating world and even the dating-your-friend-pool world. Just because we didn’t fall madly for each other, does not mean we can’t be friends still. None of those things changed.

The Yogi: I do not recommend you fall for your Yoga, Pilates, Personal Trainer, EVER! If things get weird you will be the one to find a new teacher. They have their classes, their schedule set. In my case as a Pilates Instructor I know many other instructors so me dating a Yogi friend…well I have plenty of them. We had been friends for some time. Our clients and surrounding acquaintances often overlapped. Finding out we both were single at the same time, we set up a time. Again, no definite plans for the long term, but there were hopes. Wishes do come true. We had a great date, awesome convo, and an enjoyable night. We even wanted to go out again. But timing is everything. In the end we went back to being friends. We still are. We both have found wonderful happiness in other relationships. Turns out, now both of us  are dating someone we were friends with before.

My Love: We were introduced by a mutual friend. We had the best time together. We talked for hours. Then because timing is everything. We did nothing. Over the course of the next 4 months we spoke, even hung out once. We got to know each other. Then logistics in our lives made it easier to hang out. So we did every week. We talk about our pasts, past relationships, breakups, desires and dreams. Then we decided to give it a go! Best decision EVER. Dating one of my friends means I always have someone to talk to about ANYTHING. No games. Just love, kindness and respect.

What do each of these scenarios have in common?
1) COMMUNICATION.  In person, or over the phone. The good, old fashioned conversations. Between each other, not other people.
2) NO BIG DEALS.  We didn’t make a big deal about the event, we didn’t get lots of people involved. We just did our thing.
3) WE ARE STILL FRIENDS.  Friendships don’t end because you kiss. They end for other reasons. See “Growing out of Friends

Each of you reading this will have a different experience. I am not going to sit here and tell you go slow, go fast, do this, or don’t do that. Nope. You have to choose your own adventure. I won’t be there every step of the way. All I can tell you is what I have already: you must be your whole self before you date anyone. Especially your friend.

Have a friend crush? AWESOME maybe that’s the love of your life waiting for you to be ready to give it a go.  As someone who has their best friend as their partner, I will give you my blessing.  Every time.

Self Love first, Date second, and always Live ClareLesley

LL

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Best of 2014 Day Two!

Day Two!!  As this is the week of new years, we wanted to say goodbye to 2014–a great year because it was the launch of the Live ClareLesley movement!  We want to thank all of our followers and readers–you all are amazing!  We’re so glad you’ve decided to Live ClareLesley!

This week we wanted to revisit some of our FAVORITE posts.  Please read, re-read, and share!  Come back each day this week to see what’s next!

Day2 of the 2014 Picks: The Best S-E-X: Are you having it?  Read our tips and tricks–go into the new year with a new view of sex!

And make sure to stop back next, and every Wednesday for new blog posts!  Better yet, follow us and we’ll let you know when we have a new one up!  Also follow us on Facebook or Twitter @liveclarelesley  Also, feel free to #liveclarelesley and share and post!!

xoxo–LL and Clare

The Best S-E-X

Sex
SEX
Sex
I’ve been trying to write about sex for awhile now. I actually have a couple rough drafts sitting in my inbox marked “unread” so that I will go back, edit, and work on them. Clearly, that hasn’t happened.

It’s a funny thing wanting to write about a topic yet having nothing worth posting written. How can I write about sex? I’m not a sex-pert (I’m ok with not having that title, by the way). My family could read this….my lover could read this…clients and coworkers…well you get my point. So instead of writing about sex I decided to just write

Just kidding!  Ok, in all seriousness of Living ClareLesley, I am actually excited to broach this topic. Why? Well, I happen to think that too many people are having sex for all the wrong reasons. Too many people are not enjoying sex and too many people are not vulnerable enough in the bedroom to really, fully enjoy themselves and their partner. Being vulnerable gets a bad rap. By definition “weak, defenseless” but in love vulnerability takes the walls down. It requires you to be your authentic self. In a relationship, shouldn’t you want to be authentic? We as humans fear that if we let people in and reveal our true self that they’ll run. I say: then run! Take me for who I am, and if not time saved. A great article on being vulnerable in relationships is here for your enjoyment.
Seriously, if you cannot be your authentic self, it will be difficult to find an authentic relationship. They kind of go together.

So now, with a twisted arm I’m here writing about SEX–it’s a popular subject, and Clare said that I have a distinct point of view on the topic. I was raised to wait until I was married. Spoiler alert! I didn’t. Then one day my mother told me not to wait until I was married. Her virgin friends were getting divorced. My parents didn’t wait they’re divorced. Clearly, this is not exact science. I already had broken the wait until my wedding day when she retracted her parenting on the subject. But, at least now I wouldn’t have to pretend.

In my years of rule breaking I learned and observed some interesting things. Today let’s go over (briefly this is a blog not a novel) vulnerability in the sack. Now by “vulnerability” I’m not suggesting you cry during the act. Although who knows you might. I’m speaking about you letting your guards down so that you have the freedom to be you: feel what you’re feeling in that moment; have the confidence to share your needs, wants and desires! Seriously, if you guard yourself you can still have S E X…but with your guard up you can also spend your time having a latte, reading a book or catching up on your sleep—none of which need a shower after.
My dearest yoga buddy and I were juicing, post corpse pose. I was telling her about my ideas for this first SEX post. She shared that now that she knows exactly who she is in the sheets and what she wants and desires it makes it easier to decipher if she wants to keep the suitor around. Moral of the story here: if you aren’t yourself how will they know if they enjoy you and you enjoy them? If you’re absolutely your true self then you’ll know (and attract) your best mate! Know WHY you’re doing it. Simon Sinek wrote “Starts with Why”. It’s a fantastic read for all aspiring entrepreneurs but it works for your sex lives as well. Ask yourself: do I want to do this? What do I want to happen after? Am I scratching an itch? Landing a partner?

First, super important if your answer to the first question isn’t a F*ck Yes it’s a huge no and walk away.
Second, are you 100% ok if nothing happens after? Seriously! If you cannot promise yourself zero disappointment then wait. Sex one time or multiple times does not a mate make. If you’re having sex to land a mate…well you’ve heard the saying you get what you pay for. Build a strong foundation before you build the house.
Third, if you do not know what turns you on/off then no sex. You’ve gotta tell your partner what you like or want. If you cannot do this because you’re embarrassed or haven’t taken the time to discover. Wait. Take the time and then proudly share it with your person!

If I’m making you blush or feel awkward then quite honestly it’s not time you’re that intimate with another person. My favorite movie is Pretty Woman. I love Julia Roberts. As a teenager I remember the line where she says “I don’t kiss on the mouth…too personal”.

Well…for crying out loud sex should be personal! You and the person you’re taking to the mattresses or outside or in the kitchen should be this incredible personal moment! It shouldn’t be going through the motions and doing what you think they’ll enjoy or what you think you should be doing. Sex should be this personal time spent together pleasuring each other the way you each enjoy!
For my lady readers it’s not all about them and hoping sex equals a relationship.
For my men a little secret…find out what makes her jump and she’ll never “be too tired” or have a “headache” again!
It’s time we all enjoy sex for what it is, not what we think it should be. Go get vulnerable, readers!

LL

Opportunities

There is a huge theme in the dating world:  Meeting the elusive “One” that you’re meant to spend your life with.  Here is the truth I believe in: Everyone gets a shot, a chance, an opportunity to be with anyone they meet. DO NOT ROLL YOUR EYES AT THIS PAGE! Hear me out:

Recently a letter went around Facebook from “Your Future Mate”. If you haven’t read it, here is the link:    http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/5195511 The letter states why “The One” hasn’t found you yet and sites examples like: They are with the wrong one now; they are still hanging on to what they “think” they want; they are not ready for you yet.

That last one might be my more favorite one. It’s also part of my point. Everyday we meet people. We are set up on dates, we swipe right on Tinder (or maybe it’s left or a double tap? I’ve never used it) or search Facebook and other web pages for a connection. We go on dates and make up excuses as to why it “didn’t work:” “They were great but not what I am looking for.” “Too busy” or “just out of a relationship” and or “Not ready for a relationship.”

Well guess what? If we are not our best selves at the time, if we are not “ready” to be vulnerable and let someone into our world. The connection is missed, at least for now. Maybe even for good.  Sometimes, these connections revisit you later in life. Like my most recent “revisit.”

When I was a freshman in college, I was in lust with a junior. He was the Resident Advisor of my friend’s floor in our dorm, and I just had to have him. I would find any reason to go to my friend’s floor during “visiting hours.” I about died when he showed up at my dorm one night. He had to like me back, right? One night around 2am, I walked past the offices below the dorms. There he was. My crush.  Working on a paper. He saw me, got up and met me at the door to chat. I stood there willing with my mind, talking with my eyes, hoping against hope that he would invite me into that office. I know I am aware that had he invited me in, we just would have had sex and we most likely would not have dated. However, in my 18-year-old mind, sex at that moment would be amazing. We liked each other, but we were in a place where we could be caught (Christian school…so definitely not something looked highly upon). Also happened to be the office of the Resident Director (his boss) and the person who makes RA’s enforce the no sex policy (obviously, that made it more enticing).

Instead, none of that happened. No invite, no kissing, no passionate on-top-of-a-desk in an office of the very person who could have kicked us out of school sex. Life went on, semesters passed, and he married another girl.

Then, last week thanks to the wonders of the internet, he found me. Added me as a friend and then called me. Yes, it was lovely to catch up, reminisce. But, when he eluded to us hanging out, hooking up etc…I sat there and knew in my gut the answer was no. In my heart the answer was: No, too bad we didn’t do it 10 years ago. My head’s answer was: he missed his chance.  Back then, he totally could have had me. But, the opportunity passed us (well mostly him).

So, what does my trip down memory lane mean for you? Simple, really. In order for you to be with your true counter-part three things need to happen: you need to know who you are, what you want, and why you need it. Who you are.  What you want.  Why you need it.  When you do, when the opportunity presents itself 1) you will recognize it 2) you will be your best, loved and respected self.  And that amazing person who is right for you will be excited to be part of your life.  If you don’t know these three things, the opportunity will occur anyway, but you will not be ready.  You may miss this chance to be with someone who is equal to your BEST self.

Stop wondering where the “good” ones are.  Instead, start LOVING yourself.  Figure out who you are.  Make yourself the best version of you that you can be. Stop second-guessing yourself and FIND yourself instead.  Currently you might feel like you are missing opportunities.  You probably are because you are not being you.  If you are yourself, these won’t seem like missed opportunities because you’ll know how to field them. When you know who you are, and are your best self, you could meet your partner in crime tomorrow.  It could be something as simple as loving yourself today and going for a latte leads to meeting the right person.

What would that be like to attract exactly what you want and deserve?  Guess what, it’s not a unicorn. “The One” exists but you have to be ready to strike when the iron is hot—which means making sure you’re in the best place to receive it.  We here at Live ClareLesley are going to continually repeat this until you are so tired of hearing it that you’re putting it in to practice: live your life and be the best version of yourself instead of actively seeking out another person to complete you.  “The One” will be a complimentary entity of you, not complete you (sorry, Jerry Maguire).  So, are you ready?

LL