Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Silver lining to the pandemic? Taking the whole year to PERFECT my chocolate chip cookie recipe. I think we can all agree, there really isn’t a more quintessential baked good than a classic chocolate chip cookie. One bite of this ooey, gooey, chewy cookie will leave you wanting to eat the entire batch in one sitting. Follow my simple, straightforward recipe and you’ll be the next Betty Crocker!

QUICK TIPS

BUTTER: When melting in the microwave, make sure it’s not sizzling hot. You can stop it every 5 seconds to check on how the butter is doing.

CHOCOLATE CHIPS: If you like it more chocolatey, add 1 whole cup instead. Feel free to use dark chocolate, semi-sweet or white chocolate. Your cookie= your preferences!

COOKIE DOUGH: Do NOT skip this step! You must set the cookie dough in the fridge for at least 45 minutes BEFORE baking it!!! Cover the bowl with saran wrap, pop it in the fridge, clean up the mess in the kitchen and the time will pass quickly before you know it.

Floral Themed Photoshoot

I’m back with another 1 Prop= 5 Shots and this time, the prop is my beautiful wisteria tree located right in my front yard. You can apply this concept to any flowers you have in the neighborhood, park, garden or just head to your local grocery store to buy a bouquet for less than $5! Make sure to tag me on Instagram if you recreate any of these looks!

XO,

Soph

POSE WITH IT

The easiest one out of alllll these photoshoot ideas- simply lay down or sit next to the flowers and smile! All you’ll need to bring is your big beautiful smile & it’s that easy. I wanted to create a monotone look by matching my outfits with the flower color theme. Feel free to wear whatever you’re most confident in!

PETAL LASH

This photo idea takes quite a bit of practice, but for those makeup lovers out there, you’ll LOVE recreating it. Take a bunch of petals, carefully use lash glue and apply it on your lash line! I matched my eyeshadow with the purple theme, but feel free to do your own makeup however you like. This concept gives you an instant glamorous & effortless look! Perfect for an unclose self portrait headshot. I wrapped a couple wisterias around my camera lens to give this photo some depth during the shoot.

HOLD THE FLOWER

Cut a couple pieces or take a whole bouquet and hold it in front of you. You can use the flowers to block a part of your body from revealing, cover your face with it and it instantly gives you a candid, editorial looking shot!

FLOWER CROWN

Why not wear the flowers on your head? I grabbed a headband (any type will do) and some tape and used the pieces I cut to create a flower crown! You can tape as little or as much flowers on for a unique look. I wanted the wisterias to look as if they were drooping over my head so I taped the branches down at the top of the headband for this look.

FLORAL BACKDROP

Use it as an easy backdrop! Any kind of flowers can instantly turn a photo dreamy, romantic and feminine. Set up a small table, lay out a book, a cup of tea, and you’ll have a fancy photograph!

VALENTINE’S DAY PHOTOSHOOT IDEAS

Valentine’s Day is coming up and I know alot of us are still trapped indoors due to the pandemic. BUT, that shouldn’t stop you from celebrating and changing up the scenery at home for a fun filled weekend. Whether you’re hosting a galentines zoom party with your girlfriends or you want to surprise your partner, here are some photo inspiration for you to easily recreate them right at home!

BALLOON BATH

This photoshoot is probably one of the easiest I’ve ever done! Blow up a bunch of balloons ( you can find them at Michaels, 99cent store, Amazon, etc), tie them up, toss it into a bathtub and plop right in! I do want to kindly remind you to tie your balloons in a REUSABLE way to be more environmentally friendly. Here is a video you can watch to learn how. Now I know not everyone has a bathtub, so you can fill up your shower too or even buy a blow up kiddie pool! My tip is to not blow up the balloons too much to prevent it from popping when you get into the tub.

XOXO

Did you know tic tac toe can be traced all the way back to ancient Egypt? The game was found on roofing tiles dating back to 1300 BCE! Soooo historical right?! Well let’s modernize this game by drawing it on your mirror with a hot pink lipstick! This is perfect for a Valentine’s Day shoot to do with your partner!

CONVERSATION HEARTS

Conversation hearts are the symbol of Valentine’s Day here in the US. Growing up, I remember buying a bunch to pass out to all my classmates at school. So of course, I headed to the grocery store to buy some for myself! As I stared at the products trying to think of a creative way to use them, I began to find the sayings on there boring and plain. I wished the messages would change from just the basic phrases to more meaningful deeper messages. It inspired me to make DIY life size conversation hearts with personal messages that we should all preach and spread more of- from choose kindness, to goal digger, to my favorite, dream big! Check out my IG video here for a step by step guide!

VALENTINE BACKDROP

I wanted alllll things pink for Valentine’s Day so I flipped our entire living room completely! Hang up some banners, blow up a balloon that says “love” or “XOXO” or any lovey dove phrases and hang it up as a backdrop. Remember those balloons you blew up for another shoot? Well hopefully you saved them and reuse it for this shoot!

SWEET TOOTH

One of my biggest hobby is baking! I made some sugar cookies, decorated them with pink icing and thought why not use it as a prop! I filled a cup with sugary conversation hearts, laid down on the floor for a fun picture!

5 COUPLES HOLIDAY SHOOT IDEAS

A CLASSIC CHRISTMAS

Alllll I want for Christmas…. Isss….. YOUUUUU! Blast some Mariah Carey music, get into the spirit and do a classic pose in front of the tree. You can keep this picture simple by sitting in front of any X-mas tree or go all out and surround yourself with decor and extra twinkle lights. It’s a versatile shot that will work with a variety of poses, but I thought this one was a bit more unique. First, sit down and do a half criss cross while he stands behind you bending over to give you a kiss on the forehead. You can thank me later 😉

CHRISTMAS PILLOW FIGHT

Throw on some Christmas pajamas that you have laying around. Target has matching PJs for $10! Set your camera right in front of the bed and have a pillow fight match! It’s perfect for an adorable, low maintenance, “candid”  Christmas themed photo. 

CANDY CANE HEART

Don’t be shy! Show off your lovey dovey PDA by holding up candy canes in front of you to form a heart. It’s such an affordable photoshoot idea that can easily recreate. Do this shot out in nature by some pine trees, in front of a christmas tree, or even at the beach! You can’t get any cheesier than that! 

JINGLE (LIGHTS) ALL THE WAY

I was SO inspired by the 2006 Deck The Halls movie promo shot and wanted to recreate it in our own cutesy way (duh! hehe) Wear Christmas pjs or any festive print clothing, wrap yourself up in some christmas lights and you’ve got yourself a cheesy holiday shot. For the Christmas lights, I recommend getting the white wiring versus the green (won’t look as “snowy/dreamy”) but it’s your own preference!

FESTIVE BACKDROP

Backdrop paper can get pretty expensive, especially since holiday patterns are used seasonally and can get pretty repetitive. I thought of an affordable way to change up your backdrop every holiday season without breaking the bank! Target has the Dollar section by the entrance with tons of simple garlands/ decor for you to put up on a blank wall or you can DIY your own! For this shoot, I used a small wreath and center that on a blank wall and slowly taped on candy canes in a pattern. I love repurposing the same decor and this makes such a unique backdrop for your house. You can even keep it up the whole holiday season! 

BEST CHRISTMAS MOVIES

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!!! If you know me, you know I love a good cheesy, predictable Christmas fairytale movie. I think it’s safe to say we ALL need some extra festive cheer this year (did ya forget were still in a pandemic??) and what a better way to get through the year by staying inside and watching holiday films. I’m sharing my Christmas movie guide of all of the favorites I have on repeat every year. It’s sorted by genre and I rank my top 5 in each category. Some of these films have sequels that are just as good (I didn’t list it, but recommend you to watch!) PLEASE let me know what other movies I should add to my list and check out my instagram @sophcation for more daily updates.

Best TV Shows To Binge

If you’re still being a responsible human and staying at home (um because Covid-19 still exists people!!!) then I’m sure you’re running out of shows to watch. I love a good binge and we all have those days where we don’t leave the couch. If watching TV is the way you prefer to unwind then keep on reading! Here are the shows that I’d’ recommend! Warning: I’m not a professional T.V show critic. I love anything girly, cozy, cheesy, dramatic, aka hallmark vibes. So if you don’t have the same preferences then this list might not be for you…

Genre/shows are listed in alphabetical order. I have a * next to my favorite show in each category! Let me know in the comments if I should check out your favorite show that’s not listed!!! 

P.S You’ll need to have a Netflix/ Hulu account for these shows. Unless you know your way around the web and can fnd them on a sketchy website 😉

COMEDY

Gilmore Girls (Netflix) *my absolute favorite in the whole wide world!*

The show’s main focus is on the relationship between single mother, Lorelai Gilmore, and her daughter Rory, who live in Stars Hollow, Connecticut, a small fictional town filled with colorful characters. The series explores issues of family, romance, education, friendship, disappointment, and ambition, along with generational divides and social class.

Jane The Virgin (Netflix)

Set in Miami, the series details the surprising and dramatic events that take place in the life of Jane Gloriana Villanueva, a hard-working, religious, young, Venezuelan-American woman. Jane’s vow to save her virginity until marriage is threatened when a doctor mistakenly artificially inseminates her during a checkup.

Modern Family (Hulu)

The series offers an honest, often-hilarious perspective of family life. Modern Family revolves around three different types of families (nuclear, blended and same-sex) living in the Los Angeles area, who are interrelated. Modern Family employs an ensemble cast and is presented in mockumentary style, with the characters frequently speaking directly to the camera in confessional interview segments.

New Girl (Netflix)

After going through a rough breakup, awkward and upbeat Jess (Zooey Deschanel) moves in with three single guys.Together with Jess’ best friend, Cece, they bond to form an unlikely, and dysfunctional, family.

COZY/ ROMANCE

Hart of Dixie (Netflix) *

Dr. Zoe Hart, a New Yorker who, after her dreams of becoming a heart surgeon fall apart, accepts an offer to work as a general practitioner in the fictional Gulf Coast town of Bluebell, Alabama.When she arrives in town, she discovers that the man has died and left her his half of the practice in his will.. Despite the shock of Southern life and some less-than-hospitable town folk, Zoe decides to give her new life a chance and discovers a new side of herself in the process.

Sweet Magnolias (Netflix)

Lifelong friends lift each other up as they juggle relationships, family and careers in the small Southern town of Serenity.

Virgin Rivers (Netflix)

Seeking a fresh start, a nurse practitioner moves from Los Angeles to a remote Northern California town and is surprised by what — and who — she finds.

DOCUMENTARY

Evil Genius (Netflix)

We can’t get enough of true crime, and documentary film makers keep digging up real, bizarre events.it follows the events after the death of Brian Wells, a pizza man with a bomb around his neck. As a trail to find the real culprit goes on, it becomes increasingly evident that the plot isn’t quite what it seems. 

Fyre (Netflix)

The documentary tells the inside story of the failure of Fyre.The “luxury” music festival took place in the summer of 2017 but its reputation has lived on following its catastrophically bad organisation and execution.

Don’t F*ck With Cats (Netflix) *

The three-part true crime docuseries follows a group of amateur internet sleuths who launched a manhunt for Luka Magnotta after he gained international notoriety in 2010 for sharing a graphic video online of himself killing two kittens.

The Keepers (Netflix)

The unsolved murder of Sister Cathy Cesnick, who disappeared in 1969.Cesnick, who taught at the Archbishop Keough High School in Baltimore and later at Western High School, was found dead two months after she disappeared. While it remains unclear who killed Cesnick, the series explores how her death may have been linked to efforts to keep secret allegations of sexual abuse against a chaplain at the former school.

Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez (Netflix)

A true crime documentary series about convicted murderer and former professional American football player Aaron Hernandez. The three-part documentary explores his conviction for the murder of Odin Lloyd, other murder cases in which he was a suspect, and the factors in his life that shaped his behavior.

Tiger King (Netflix)

The series explores the deeply interconnected society of big cat conservationists and collectors in America, and the private zoos and sanctuaries they have set up for these unusual and deadly animals. The primary subject is Joe Exotic, the eccentric owner of the G.W. Zoo and his bitter years-long feud with Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue. Baskin presents herself as an animal rights activist whose mission is to provide a sanctuary for big cats raised in captivity, but Joe Exotic maintains that she is simply a rival zookeeper whose aim is to eliminate her competition.

The Twinster (Netflix)

Anaïs Bordier always knew she was adopted. Her parents were French, but she’d been born in South Korea before being adopted as a baby. What she didn’t know, however, was that she might have a twin sister. That’s until she stumbles across a YouTube video of an LA-based actor who looks surprisingly familiar. Twinstersfollows the two young women as they adjust to their new lives and try to untangle the mystery behind their birth and separation.

DRAMA

13 Reasons Why (Netflix)

It is the story of a young high school student as she descends into despair brought on by betrayal and bullying, culminating with her suicide. She details the thirteen reasonswhy she was driven to end her life in an audio diary which is mailed to a friend two weeks after her death.

The Act (Hulu)

The series follows the story of Gypsy Blanchard, who uses a wheelchair due to an illness. Growing up, her relationship with her overprotective mother begins to sour as she increasingly insists on her independence.Gypsy’s quest for independence opens up a Pandora’s box of secrets, which ultimately leads to murder

Big Little Lies (Hulu)

The series’ narrative explores society’s myths regarding perfection and its romanticization of marriage, sex, parenting and friendship.A  comedic tale of murder and mischief in the tranquil beachfront town of Monterey, Calif. 

Desperate Housewives (Hulu)

Behind the facade of a postcard-perfect subdivision live four women whose lives are anything but idyllic. Desperate Housewives follows the lives of a group of women as seen through the eyes of their friend and neighbor who took her life by suicide

Devious Maids (Hulu)

In Beverly Hills, whoever `has the dirt’ holds the power. In some of the city’s wealthiest families, that power belongs to a close-knit group of maids who have ambition and dreams of their own. The maids are brought together by their jobs, life struggles and the upstairs-downstairs universe of their employers. 

The Fosters (Hulu)

It follows the lives of the members of the Foster family led by lesbian couple Stef and Lena, a cop and school vice principal respectively, who raise one biological and four adopted children in San Diego, California.

The Good Trouble (Hulu)

Sequel to The Fosters. It follows Callie and Mariana as they embark on the next adventure in their lives in Los Angeles. Mariana tackles the male-dominated world of tech, and Callie faces the harsh realities of the legal system as she clerks for a federal judge. After moving to The Coterie in downtown Los Angeles, Callie and Mariana realize that living on their own is not all it’s cracked up to be. Although they have new neighbors, new romances, and new challenges, the sisters must rely on each other to navigate the City of Angels.

Gossip Girl (Netflix)

The series revolves around the lives of privileged upper-class adolescents living in Manhattan‘s Upper East Side A ruthless and mysterious blogger reveals secrets about teens in upper east side New York. With roller coaster romances and piles of secrets hiding away for Gossip Girl to find, this show is sure to bring the upper east side and its drama into our lives.

Grey’s Anatomy (Netflix)

The medical drama series focuses on a group of young doctors at Seattle Grace Mercy West Hospital, who began their careers at the facility as interns. The fictional series focuses on the lives of surgical interns, residents, and attendings as they develop into seasoned doctors while balancing personal and professional relationships.

Parenthood (Hulu) *

The show revolves around the four grown Braverman siblings — Adam, Sarah, Crosby and Julia — share the joys, heartaches and headaches of parenthood in their California hometown. As their parents deal with life and marital issues, the four lean on one another while tackling the challenges of modern family life in an updated reimagining of the 1989 film by the same name.

Pretty Little Liars (Netflix)

The series follows the lives of four high school girls whose clique falls apart after the disappearance of their leader. One year later, the estranged friends are reunited as they begin receiving messages from a mysterious figure named “A” who threatens to expose their deepest secrets. 

This Is Us (Hulu)

The series follows the lives and families of two parents Jack & Rebecca, and their three children, Kevin, Kate, & Randall, in several different time frames. Kevin and Kate are the two surviving members from a triplet pregnancy, born six weeks premature on Jack’s 36th birthday in 1980; their brother Kyle is stillborn. Believing they were meant to have three children, Jack and Rebecca, who are white, decide to adopt Randall, an African American child born the same day and brought to the same hospital after his biological father William Hill abandoned him at a fire station

The Vampire Diaries (Netflix)

Set in the fictional town of Mystic Falls, Virginia, a town charged with supernatural history since its settlement of migrants from New England in the late 18th century. It follows the life of Elena Gilbert , a teenage girl who has just lost both parents in a car accident, as she falls in love with a 162-year-old vampire named Stefan Salvatore. Their relationship becomes increasingly complicated as Stefan’s mysterious older brother Damon Salvatore returns, with a plan to bring back their past love Katherine Pierce, a vampire who looks exactly like Elena.

FAMILY

Full House (Hulu)

The show chronicles the events of widowed father Danny Tanner who enlists his brother-in-law Jesse Katsopolis and best friend Joey Gladstone to help raise his three daughters, eldest D.J., middle child Stephanie and youngest Michelle in his San Francisco home.

FOOD

Chef’s Table (Netflix) *

Some of the most renowned chefs in the world share their deeply personal stories, inspirations, and unique styles. Each chef’s discipline and culinary talent is explored while he or she prepares an awe-inspiring creation.

Crazy Delicious (Netflix)

Everyday meals are turned into extraordinary culinary creations in a magical food competition on an edible set. The UK’s most talented food lovers are challenged to produce meals that must impress with originality, visuals and extraordinary flavours.

Somebody Feed Phil (Netflix)

In this charming, delightful & food& travel series, he takes viewers on a goodwill eating tour of the world with his comical comments. No one loves food as much as Phil Rosenthal!!!

REALITY

The Bachelor/Bachelorette (Hulu)

An American dating that revolves around a single bachelor who begins with a pool of romantic interests from whom he is expected to select a wife. During the course of the season, the bachelor eliminates candidates each week eventually culminating in a marriage proposal to his final selection. The participants travel to romantic and exotic locations for their dates, and the conflicts in the series, both internal and external, stem from the elimination-style format of the show.

Bachelor in Paradise (Hulu)

Former “The Bachelor/ Bachelorette” cast members — both fan-favorites and characters who caused controversy — try to leave their wounded hearts behind as they take another shot at finding love. After traveling to a secluded paradise in Mexico, the cast members explore new relationships and see if summer flings will turn into something more — or if their hearts will be shattered yet again. The pursuit of a potential happily-ever-after is sure to include shocking twists, unexpected guests, unlikely pairings and other surprises.

Keeping Up With The Kardashians (Hulu)

The show focuses on the personal and professional lives of the Kardashian–Jenner blended family. Even though things are always changing for the Kardashian family in ways they never expected, Kim, Kourtney, Khloe and the rest of the Kardashian/Jenner clan are determined to remember that family always comes first. 

Dancing With The Stars ( Hulu)

American dance competition show where each week celebrities will leave their comfort zones and endure hours of grueling rehearsals to master new dance styles and technical choreography to perform a dance, which will be judged by a panel of renowned ballroom experts as well as voted upon by viewers.

Love is Blind (Netflix)

Singles try to find a match and fall in love — without ever seeing each other face-to-face, as emotional connection attempts to conquer physical attraction.

Love Island– UK (season 5+6 best one), AU, AU (Hulu)

A cast of hot young singles arrive at a luxury villa looking for a summer of love and romance, hoping to leave the island with the grand prize of £50,000. But in order to claim it, they have to win over each other and the public.

Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (Hulu)

Cameras follow affluent women (some regulars, others who recur) as they enjoy the lavish lifestyle only Beverly Hills can offer. 

Real Housewives of New York City (Hulu) *

Same as Beverly Hills. This is my favorite Housewives series!! 

THRILLER

The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)

This series is set in a near-future New England, in a totalitarian state, known as Gilead, that has overthrown the United States government. The Handmaid’s Tale explores themes of subjugated women in a patriarchal society and the various means by which these women resist and attempt to gain individuality and independence.

How To Get Away With Murder (Hulu)

American legal thriller television produced by Shonda Rhimes- a law professor at a prestigious Philadelphia university who, with five of her students, becomes entwined in a murder plot. Mysteries arise that test everyone’s limits and reveal dark truths.

Narcos (Netflix)

Netflix chronicles the rise of the cocaine trade in Colombia and the gripping real-life stories of drug kingpins of the late ’80s in this raw, gritty original series. Also detailed are the actions taken by law enforcement as they battle in the war on drugs, targeting notorious and powerful figures that include drug lord Pablo Escobar. As efforts are made to control cocaine, one of the world’s most valuable commodities, the many entities involved — legal, political, police, military and civilian — find themselves in conflict.

Scandal (Hulu)

American political thriller television series produced by Shonda Rhimes- Olivia Pope, a former media consultant to the president, is ready to move on with her life and opens her own crisis-management firm, but she can’t seem to shake ties with her past. 

Stranger Things (Netflix)

Set in the 1980s in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, the first season focuses on the investigation into the disappearance of a young boy amid supernatural events occurring around the town, including the appearance of a girl with psychokinetic abilities. As they search for answers, they unravel a series of extraordinary mysteries involving secret government experiments, unnerving supernatural forces, and a very unusual little girl.

You (Netflix) *

What would you do for love? For a brilliant male bookstore manager who crosses paths with an aspiring female writer, this question is put to the test. A charming yet awkward crush becomes something even more sinister when the writer becomes the manager’s obsession. Using social media and the internet, he uses every tool at his disposal to become close to her, even going so far as to remove any obstacle –including people — that stands in his way of getting to her.

TRAVEL

Anthony Bourdin Parts Unknown (Hulu)

 Anthony Bourdain travels the world uncovering lesser-known places and exploring their cultures and cuisine.

Down To Earth (Netflix)

Actor Zac Efron travels around the world with wellness expert Darin Olien to find healthy, sustainable ways to live.The documentary travels to France, Puerto Rico, London, Iceland, Costa Rica, Peru and Sardinia,

Expedition Unknown (Hulu)

Intrigued by legendary mysteries and driven by curiosity, Josh Gates is on a mission for answers. `Exhibition Unknown’ chronicles his global adventures as he investigates iconic unsolved events, lost cities, buried treasures and other puzzling stories.

Extreme Engagement (Netflix) *

An engaged couple travel around the world for a year, exploring marriage customs in diverse cultures; the journey may bring them closer or tear them apart.

Ugly Delicious (Netflix)

James Beard Award-winning chef David Chang stars in this travelogue that sends him on a journey to culinary hot spots around the world. He is joined by writers, activists, artists and other chefs who use food as a vehicle to break down cultural barriers and tackle misconceptions.

My Techniques for Anxiety Relief

Going from one pandemic to another, it feels like the world is collapsing down on us. My anxiety has most definitely heightened and I’ve noticed my mental and physical health taking a toll. Nerve wrecking events lead to chemical imbalances and can have long term negative effects on your health. When the body is under stress, you’ll notice it starts breaking down. We are in fight or flight mode, which makes your internal body work in overdrive. Be aware of that, acknowledge that we all experience those feelings and know that it will pass. The key is to admit your anxiety, express those feelings, and make the changes in your daily life to maintain your physical and mental health.

Health has always been my number one priority. I’ve tested and tried out so many products for the past 3+ years to see what will keep my body functioning well. Here are some natural supplements and products I’ve incorporated in my daily routine to keep my temple balanced and protected. Remember, our bodies are all built differently, so what works for me might not work for you. Long term consistency with ALL of these habits/supplements/products below has made a difference in my life. This does not happen overnight- developing a routine and incorporating all of these elements habitually will help in times like this. 

AFFIRMATIONS

I’m constantly scrolling on Pinterest. There’s an abundance of information on there that is so useful and whenever I’m feeling down or anxious, it’s been an extremely helpful site for me. I search up positive, strengthening quotes that help keep me level headed. Visually reading motivational quotes shifts my mindset and when you consistently repeat positive affirmations, you are actively rewiring your anxious thoughts.

CBD CREAM

Have you noticed the facial expressions you make whenever you’re under stress/ anxiety? Your face has so many muscles and sometimes we furrow our brows or clench your jaws without realizing it. These unconscious facial expressions deepen your wrinkles overtime, but worse, it leads to tension headaches. I constantly suffer from headaches and CBD cream has helped relieve some of the inflammation. I buy the ShiKai brand from Co-Op and apply the lotion on my temples, neck, shoulders, wherever the tension is. 

EPSOM SALT

Epsom salt is also known as magnesium sulfate. Magnesium is a mineral that we do not get enough of in our diet and when you dissolve this chemical compound in a warm bath, you soak in all the benefits through your skin. Taking a hot bath also has calming effects. Whenever I feel an anxiety attack coming along, taking a hot bath reverses those feelings. I like to add Dr. Teal’s foaming epsom salts in my baths. If i’m taking a bubble bath to relax and unwind, I use the lavender scent. If I’m having any sort of tension, aches or stress, I use the Eucalyptus Spearmint scent. 

EXERCISE

I’m not the best with this one… but staying active is key! Even if you do not enjoy exercising, it’s important to get your body moving. Go on a simple walk around the block, a 5 minute yoga video on Youtube, or stretch out your body! It will provide mental clarity, lowers your heart rate and blood pressure. 

MAGNESIUM POWDER

Magnesium helps your brain produce neurotransmitters that reduce stress. I like to scoop some Natural Vitality CALM powder into some sparkling water and drink it right before bed. I’ve noticed it helps me sleep through the night better and relaxes my body. They sell this at Whole Foods and it comes in different fruity flavors for you to choose from- my favorite is raspberry lemon!

MAGNESIUM OIL 

During traumatic, stressful times, our body tenses up, our shoulders and necks form knots, our jaws clench down so tightly, and we might not even notice the subtle changes in our body. The minerals in magnesium help relieve sore muscles. Your body absorbs it very quickly and in a short 10-15 minutes you will feel a difference in where you apply this oil. Make sure to buy a highly concentrated good quality one for the full effect. Sometimes for me, as a hypochondriac, the moment there is a slight discomfort that is all my mind can focus on. So when I’m able to temporarily make the tension fade, it distracts my mind from it and I’m able to relax more. This is the specific magnesium oil I recommend and use.

MASSAGER

This massager was recommended by Chrislle Lim, an influencer I’ve been following and I rarely fall for promotion/ad products, but this was something she purchased on her own and was highly recommended. When I first got it, I wasn’t too big of a fan… It didn’t seem to make my muscle tension feel any better. I realized wearing it properly on my shoulders didn’t fix the deep knots, but I played around with it and made it work. Now I’m constantly using it to ease my shoulder tensions. I don’t recommend just wearing it normally on your neck, but instead place it diagonally on your back, starting from the shoulder. Adjust the massager depending on where the tension is. It is pretty powerful and you will be sore the next day if you pull on this massager too tightly. 

MEDITATION// DEEP BREATHING

This is probably one of the hardest tasks, especially when there are so many thoughts running inside our brain. It’s something you’ll have to practice, and if meditation is too difficult, try 5 minutes of deep breathing exercises instead. Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen which stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system and that promotes a state of calmness. It takes the focus off of the anxiety and helps you feel more connected to your body. There’s many resources out there for guided meditation such as HeadSpace, but there’s one deep sleep meditation soundtrack on YouTube that always does the trick for me! Give it a try and see if the music helps find your inner peace.

PEPPERMINT/ MENTHOL STICK

Menthol is known as a muscle relaxant. It does not cure you, but will help the symptoms subside. I swear by this product!!! It has gotten me through anxiety, nausea, headaches, motion sickness. You can pretty much find one of these sticks in every single room in the house. This is the one I stock up on whenever I’m home in Taiwan. I’ve seen other products out there, however I know this is 100% menthol and I’m all for supporting Taiwanese businesses.

PRAY

Sometimes anxiety can make you feel like your mind is spinning in circles, so actively setting aside a moment to pray can train your mind to snap out of it. For some, praying can help with calming anxious thoughts. Reciting a prayer, repeating a mantra will help you control your thoughts a bit better and slow down the pace. 

PROBIOTIC

When your body is under stress, your tummy gets into all these knots. It can lead to nausea, constipation, diarrhea, etc. Calming an anxious gut with probiotic has been a MAJOR life changing supplement for me. Even if I feel fine, I’ve incorporated probiotics into my diet every single day. If you don’t want to take probiotic supplements, try drinking Kombucha or yogurt, which both contain natural antioxidants and probiotics! I use the brand Antibiophilus for probiotics, which is not sold in the US (my parents send them over from Taiwan), however David uses this one which is widely available online and at Whole Foods. Important: focus on the amount of STRAINS in the bottle (the more the merrier)

SUNSHINE

We’ve been in lockdown for 3+ months now, and with current events, Santa Monica’s even had curfew starting as early as 1:30pm… We all feel so trapped inside. It’s necessary to keep your body moving and soak in some vitamin D! Vitamin D will boost your energy level and nervous system. Go for a walk, read in your backyard, plant some vegetables. Never take a breath of fresh air for granted.

TEA

Staying hydrated is key in everyday life. If you’re like me, drinking water consistently can be a bit tricky. I love a good cup of coffee, but too much caffeine can have adverse effects (heart palpitation which then increases my anxiety) The warmth of a nice hot cup of tea will have a soothing effect. Every night I drink a combination of chamomile and peppermint tea to wind down and relax before bedtime. 

VITAMIN B COMPLEX

This vitamin is so crucial for women. Whenever I am consistent with taking this supplement, I notice a huge difference in my energy level. I’m less fatigued and more alert. Research shows Vitamin B2 helps prevent migraines and vitamin B12 reduces the risk of depression and anxiety.  The one I currently take is only sold in Taiwan and I have not been able to find it here in the U.S, however there are a ton of options!

I’d love to learn more about the tools that you use and incorporate in your life to help manage your anxiety. 

Xoxo,

Soph

Apple Galette with Lemon Marmalade

This has been my go to baking recipe during quarantine. It’s my version of an apple galette. Galette’s are flat, open faced crusts and I’m all about that. I’ve never really been a crust person- with pies & pizzas, I always end up giving David my crusts. I’m obsessed with it and can eat the whole thing in one sitting…. Though I try to space it out with only one slice a day 😉 It looks fancy and complicated, but it’s actually SUPER easy. It’s somewhat on the healthier end compared to brownies, marshmallow stuffed cookies, etc and you can adjust/ add your own twist to it depending on your taste preference! I hope you give this a try and if you do, make sure to tag me on @sophcation 

DOUGH
1 and ½ cup of flour
3 TBS of sugar  (white or cane)
½ cup of unsalted butter  (1 whole stick)
1 tsp of lemon zest
4-5 TBS of cold water 
Pinch of salt

FILLING
3 large apples (it’s quarantine so use what you have!)
2 TBS of brown sugar
2 TSP of vanilla extract 
1 teaspoon cinnamon or more if you like more spice 
1 TBS of lemon zest
Squeeze half of a small lemon 
Pinch of salt
2 TBS of Lemon marmalade jam (substitute with apricot/ sour tangy jam that’ll pair well with apples)

First, make the dough. Combine all the ingredients and use a fork or your hands to knead the ingredients into a soft dough. It should feel like playdoh… If your dough feels too sticky/wet, add a bit more flour. If it’s too dry and flaky, add some more cold water. Use seran wrap and pop it in the fridge to sit for 30 minutes.

During this time, I like to make the filling. Wash your apples and slice them thinly and evenly. Sprinkle in the sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, lemon, salt and mix it together with the apples in a bowl. You can let this sit for 15 min in the fridge so the apples soak up all the flavors.

When the dough is ready, take it out and roll it into a thin round crust. This is when you can add a layer of jam in the center and spread it out (tip: dont spread it out too far to the edge because you will need to fold the edges over after) Line your apples nicely, starting from the outer layer and work your way in. You should approximately have 2 rows of apples! Then take the edges and roll them up to create a barrier.

Bake for 375 F for 30 minutes and voila! Enjoy and pair a slice of this yummy apple galette with a hot cup of coffee.

Xoxo,

Soph

Authentic Taiwanese Pickled Cucumber

This is one of my favorite childhood side dishes- Taiwanese smashed pickled cucumber! My mom and uncle used to make this pretty often and I just can’t get enough of the garlicky, vinegary taste. They have these at Din Tai Fung, but to be honest, they don’t make it that flavorful…. (dont get me wrong, I LOVE Din Tai Fung for other main dishes) 

After my trips back home from Taiwan, I always crave it, so I decided to perfect the recipe. I’m so happy to share this special dish with you and if you give it a try, let me know how you liked it!

INGREDIENTS

2-5 Persian Cucumbers

5 Garlic cloves (we LOVE garlic… add less or more depending on your taste)

1 Chili Pepper (1 Red or Yellow) or substitute with black peppercorns

4 Tablespoons of White Vinegar (depends on how vinegary you like your cucumbers- adjust accordingly)

2 Tablespoons of Sesame Oil

1/2 Tablespoons of Salt

1/2 Tablespoons of Sugar

Red Onion (Optional)

STEP 1:

First, wash your cucumbers. Cut the ends off, take the flat side of the knife and SMASH your cucumber until it starts breaking off into bite size pieces. 

STEP 2:

Put the cucumbers in a glass tupperware and sprinkle in the white/cane sugar and salt. Use your hands and mix it together so the cucumbers are evenly coated. Put a lid on it and stick in the fridge for 2 hours. 

STEP 3:

Slice chili pepper- keep the seeds if ya like it spicy. Since we’re in quarantine, we might not have the exact ingredients…. so improvise! I’ve used fresh grounded black pepper or peppercorn and it works just as well.

Smash the garlic. This method helps the aroma come out more when you marinate it. Optional: slice some red onions

STEP 4:

Drain and rinse the salted cucumbers that have been sitting in the fridge. Add chili peppers/onions/garlic to the cucumbers and combine it with vinegar and sesame oil. I like to sprinkle a generous pinch of cane sugar before I pop it back in the fridge.

Mix it all up and marinate for at least a couple of hours. The longer you marinate the more pungent the taste. ENJOY!

Xoxo,

Soph