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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Valentines Survival: did you make it?

This week, Clare posted about Valentine’s Survival.  What did you end up doing to celebrate Valentines/Galentines/Palentines? We want to know!! REALLY!

One of Clare’s passions is cooking. On the 12th she hung out with the soulmate and they made a delicious dinner together. Then Clare made fudge on the 13th with another bestie. See the sweet video here.

On the 14th Lesley and her boyfriend did couples yoga, went on a romantic hike, and went off the grid–shutting down their phones and all devices– and spent the time with each other. Spending time together was more important than exchanging presents:

Clare and a bestie went to dinner on the 14th, saw The Last Five Years, and afterwards met composer Jason Robert Brown.

At LiveClareLesley we made our experiences surrounding Valentine’s what we personally wanted and needed. We survived Valentines, by sharing love with the people we care about. What did you do? Please share below, or Tweet and Facebook your photos and experiences and tag us, and don’t forget to add #liveclarelesley

–Love LL and Clare

Valentine’s Survival

I wrote this January 10th and while starting thought: I’m writing, ugh, a Valentine’s Blog. (We’re trying to get ahead so we can spend more time editing the book…yes, its coming. Get excited. Stay tuned!) Just to think about Valentines so far in advance makes me take deep breaths, and requires me to relax my shoulders.

I’ve been single every Valentine’s Day of my adult life. The rational part of my brain says, “its just another day.” The anti-greeting-card-gal thinks, “there are 364 perfectly other good days of the year to say ‘I love you’ so why are you all doing it today?” The 10-year old inside urges me to buy the kiddie valentines and give them to my friends when I see them. I’ve spent a few sad Valentine’s Days feeling sorry for myself for being single, but I refuse to do that anymore. Instead, I choose to give and observe, love and caring instead. I know it sounds cheesy, and I’m still fantastically single, so I totally understand if this statement makes you cringe. Nevertheless, here is my recipe for a sorrow-free or at least a sorrow-less greeting-card-holiday.

1) Screw the red and pink hearts/flowers/balloons! Unless you like it all… then share it, respectfully! Reach out to those closest to you: Mom, dad, best friend, lover, child, roommate, pet, music teacher, bus driver, barista, writing partner. Tell them in some way you appreciate them. Feel free to make a monetary gesture if you feel it necessary, but love is best exchanged in heartfelt words.

2) Make your own damn plans. If you have a significant other or not, if you have friends, children, pets—if this is your holiday, go make your own plans. How do you want to spend the evening? With strangers at a bar? With friends around your own home cooked meal? Serving a meal to the homeless? With family members cuddled on the couch to watch a silly movie? Drinking a bottle of wine while on the phone with your mom who has a similar bottle of wine at her house? Don’t wait around to be picked—no one EVER liked being the last one picked in kickball at recess… screw that feeling. Do what will make you feel the happiest on this day. Plan it early, plan it late. Answer this question now without thinking: What will make you the happiest? Do that.

3) Don’t put so much damn pressure on your plans. I cannot begin to tell you how many Friend-en-tines parties I’ve thrown or attended, or even just made dinner plans, and put so much pressure on them that they were doomed from the beginning. This holiday should be about appreciation of relationships you share. Its been 6 weeks since our last major holiday to get together… relax and remember that you enjoy the people in your life. Spend the evening with people that make you laugh, food that makes you happy, and go places you won’t feel lonely.  Keep the day free of expectations!

4) Be prepared. If you throw a party, there might be a crier. There will probably be a few engagement announcements the following day. You might or might not get laid. Someone might give you a heartfelt something, making you realize that if they were picking kickball teams, you wouldn’t be last.  If any or all of these happen, take deep breaths and roll with it. February 15 is a day away. All will go back to normal tomorrow.

Valentine’s Day isn’t my holiday. Some years I get into it, and others I don’t. I’ve found that the best, and most memorable (or least memorable, depending on your perspective) Valentine’s were low key and spent with people who love me. I am so incredibly grateful to have so many incredible friends, most who would drop everything when I’m in need, to text me and tell me they’re available in 5 minutes. Just kidding—most would drop everything and run to me in a heartbeat.  (I love you all so much, and am infinitely thankful we’ve found each other.)

In every tribe there is a gatherer, a shaman, a group leader, a healer, the mama. I’m that person, in most circumstances. The hard part of that is not the being needed, instead it’s the asking for help and love when I need it. When I’m truly hurting, it hurts even more to ask for love. I’m telling you this because I understand the depths of despair and loneliness that holidays bring. I also understand that once I get over myself, and just ask for care that I want or need, it is given. Immediately. Wholeheartedly. Without hesitation. Don’t be afraid to ask for love.  Especially on Valentine’s Day.

I found my soul mate at the end of last year. Its kind of ridiculous, because its nothing like I would have assumed or expected. Its not storybook, or text book, and there isn’t going to be a traditional happy ending with us riding off into the sunset to a picket fence and kids and dogs… which I’m actually joyful about. It’s actually less pressure to know that someone who makes me immeasurably happy, and a better person just by standing near me, isn’t someone I have to be romantic with, but that I can just love and appreciate for everything he is. I’ve always known love comes in different forms, shapes, colors, and speeds. I appreciate and try my best to adequately reciprocate any love that comes toward me. That is the ultimate challenge, and goal: to simply love and be loved in return. Love might not be in your life in the picture perfect vision you seek, but I’ll bet you that you receive more love than you realize. I believe that love, like matter, cannot be created or destroyed, but it instead changes forms. I believe that all the love you want or need comes at you at any given time, it just might not all be from one direction, or from the direction you would prefer. But like my handsome soul mate is for me, love will be there for you, when wanted and needed.

So, my dear ones, as the cardboard hearts, flowers, and balloons flood your visions this Friday (and probably all weekend), remember that love begets love. The more you open your heart and share, the more you’ll find in return. I KNOW it sounds new agey, and dumb… but its true. Spend the day with someone you appreciate, and will appreciate you. If you can’t find a human, find an animal; find a view; find a park. Breathe it all in and know you are loved. You wouldn’t be here if you weren’t.

LOTS OF LOVE from both LL and I!!  Go, Love ClareLesley!

–Clare

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