Thursday, July 31, 2014

Guest Post: Easy Homemade Bread Recipe

Have you been itching to try your hand at making your own fresh bread at home?  Well wait no longer because Farin of The Newest Vazquez's has the perfect recipe for easy homemade bread!  Your house will soon be filled with that delicious smell of bread baking!

Ingredients: 1 packet of Active Dry Yeast (I used Fleischmann's Yeast)
3 cups white flour, additional as needed
1/4 cup Milk
5 tsp. Sugar
5 tsp. Butter
1 tsp Salt
Cooking Spray for loaf pan

1. Get a bowl, and mix 1 packet of Active Dry yeast with 1 cup of warm water. Stir it up well until it's no longer lumpy.

2. Take the butter you set aside and microwave it until melted. Stir butter into yeast water.

3. Continue to add your sugar, salt, milk and then (gradually) add flour to the yeast water.

4. Stir it up. It should look like the photo below.
---As you can see, I underestimated the size of bowl I would need. Get the bigger bowl the first time. It's better than more dishes.

5. Continue to mix it together, adding flour gradually. I added about 4 cups to reach the desired texture in the photo below. It might be different for you, but basically it should reach the point where you can hold it and it stops sticking to your hands when you pick it up.

6. Let it sit in that bowl for an hour. Cover it with a towel (to keep dust out).

7. When you come back, your dough should be somewhat larger. At this point I forgot to take some photos, but it's around 1.5 to 2 times it's original size. This is why you should get the large bowl from the beginning.

8. Flour your cutting board and poke your dough. It will shrink back down. Put it on the floured surface and start kneading it for around 10 minutes.

9. Spray your loaf pan with cooking spray.

10. Roll it into a 'log' shape, that fits inside your pan. Next time I'll be more careful to make the top smooth, since mine came out pretty lumpy because I just threw it in the pan.

11. Let it sit in that pan for another hour. It will grow more, and probably over the sides a bit. Cover with a towel.

12. Come back and back it. I baked the bread at 400 degrees for 30 minutes exactly. It came out easily, I just flipped the pan and the loaf slid out onto the cooling rack.

12. Let it cool.

13. Slice. Enjoy!

That looks amazing!  Can't you just smell the delicious scent of warm bread coming out of the oven?  Thanks for the recipe Farin!  Be sure to check out the original post and more on her blog!

Have you ever made homemade bread?  What's your favorite?

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Blog of the Week: The Heart of a Flower

Welcome to blog of the week!  This week's blogger of the week is Courtney who writes the blog The Heart of a Flower. 

Tell us a little about you:
I'm Courtney, a Connecticut girl who loves to write, take pictures, immerse herself in the world around her. There is just so much to see, to breathe in, to live.

What is your blog about?
My blog is about my life and focuses mainly of my writing and photography. A lot of it has to do with my New England surrounding - shoreline Connecticut to be exact. There are so many hidden treasures in my own backyard that have yet to be uncovered.

What is your favorite spot to visit in the Northeast?
I absolutely love Madison and Mystic Connecticut. I've been to Heath, Massachusetts when the season was right about to turn Autumn and it was the most breath taking thing I have ever seen.

What do you love most about blogging?   
I get to write about my life and get feedback from people who are going through similar things. I like to be able show my part of the world, and also read and look at other blogs and build friendships.

What is your favorite form of social media?
My blog, I can post longer statuses and a whole lot of pictures!

Thanks for sharing with us this week Courtney!  Be sure to check out her blog this week and follow her on social media!

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

July Instagram Hop!

Welcome to our Tuesday social media link up!  This week's link up is for Instagram.  Link up below to your instagram account and then go follow some other Northeast bloggers on instagram!  
Be sure to like some of their photos and leave a few comments around!  Show some instagram love to your fellow Northeasterners!

Don't forget to also follow Northeast Bloggers on instagram for all our updates and to meet our weekly Northeast Baton holders!

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Guest Post: Dos and Don'ts of Pedicures

Today's guest post comes from Rosa who writes the blog Lady Diana's Pearls.  Rosa shares some great tips for getting a pedicure with us today- did you know #1?

Dos & Don'ts of Pedicures

It’s summer time, and you know what that means! Toe peeping shoes and sandals galore!

On a recent visit to the mall I found myself sitting down for a pedicure, unplanned of course. To make matters worse, I was embarrassed to show my hairy legs, hence I hadn’t shaved. Fortunately the nail tech was quick to put me at ease. I learned something interesting that day regarding pedicures. This in turn led me to the hunt for the dos and don’ts for a fabulous pedicure.

Essie, mint green
  • DON’T shave your legs before getting a pedicure! This was news to me! Resist the urge to have smooth legs, at least until afterward. Apparently, freshly shaven legs can leave small cuts on your legs. These may be microscopic in size so you don’t necessarily see them, or at times you may nick yourself while shaving. If you go in for a pedicure with legs in this condition you risk allowing bacteria to enter your body. So from now on I’ll be showing up with scary hairy legs!
  • DO bring your own pedicure utensil set to the salon.  This is something I don’t do but I always make sure the nail tech uses a new set of utensils when she works on me. Usually these come in a sealed package that has been sterilized. Bacteria and fungus can move easily from one person to the next if the salon doesn’t use proper sterilization techniques.
  • DON’T use a foot razor to remove dead skin! I never have this done because I freak about the potential to have my foot sliced. I do however see people get this done ALL the time.  You risk getting permanent damage if the razor is used incorrectly. And don’t even think about it if you’re a Diabetic! Getting an infection is seriously high if too much skin is removed.
  • DO use a pumice stone, foot file or exfoliating scrub when eliminating thick, dead skin buildup. Also known as calluses, on the heel, ball and sides of the feet, these need to be treated accordingly. Lucky for me, I don’t have any of the above but I still have a scrub done. Ask your nail tech to allow you to soak your feet in warm water for at least five minutes before beginning a scrub. Then use the stone, scrub, or foot file.
For even more tips head over to her blog to see the full post here!

What are your best tips for getting your feet "summer ready?"

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Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Five Hop and 5 Loyalty Programs!

Welcome to the Friday Five!  We invite you to write your own Friday Five post about anything you want and link it up with us below!  Just one stipulation: if you link up, it must be a Friday Five type of post!  Today's guest Friday Five post comes from Jamie of the blog Snap Ginger. 

Top 5 Loyalty Programs to Check Out:
1. Amazon Prime:
Topping the list is Amazon Prime. Unless you've been living under a rock, you know all about the benefits of being an Amazon Prime member. From the free 2-day shipping, the access to Prime Instant Video, Prime Music Playlists, the Kindle Owners' Lending Library, Kindle First and Prime Pantry (which I didn't even know was available to me), the $80 yearly fee more than pays for itself. I would pay that much for the shipping benefits alone, but shhhh don't tell Amazon that ;)

Here is some info on Prime Pantry, launched in April of this year, apparently I have been under a rock myself! 
Prime Pantry is an exclusive benefit for Prime Members. Prime Members pay a flat delivery fee of $5.99 per Prime Pantry box and Prime Pantry items are all shipped together.
Prime Pantry allows Prime Members to shop a wide range of items including heavy and bulky items in regular pack sizes that are cost prohibitive to ship for free.

2. Overtsock Club O:
Club O from Overstock rewards you for shopping on the Overstock site. You are credited from 5% cash back on every order, 5% on select restaurants and up to 40% on some items. You also receive Free Shipping (I am a major cheapskate when it comes to shipping fees) and the Overstock claims that the membership is risk free. They will make up the difference if the membership does not pay for itself in rewards. Right now if you sign up for $19.95 you receive $10 in rewards, so its really only $9.95 for the year. 

Don't forget to check out the Secret Overstock Deals Page (Thanks

3. Zappos VIP:
I'm not sure if you're noticing a trend here, but I like my shipping free and I like it fast. For your money, you can't beat the Free Overnight Shipping from Zappos VIP. I was a member of this program when it first launched, so I have been grandfathered in free of charge. According to the FAQs, there is a waiting list, proceed to this page to sign up, or call the "special phone number" listed on the site. I am not sure the fee for the program now, but the customer service at Zappos, and again the speedy free shipping, will certainly make it worthwhile.

4. AMC Stubs:
I just recently signed up for AMC Stubs and I am a big fan already. The membership fee was $12 for the year, and that waives all online ticket fees when purchased on the AMC website. I've paid fees upwards of $3-5 in fees per purchase, so I will make that money back quickly. You are also given instant upgrades on concessions, so if you pay for a medium you can get a large. Lastly, you receive $10 in rewards for every $100 you spend at AMC, including tickets and concessions. With the prices at movie theatres these days, I'll be earning tons of rewards. Plus they recently upgraded our local AMC with the amazing comfy recliner chairs.
5. CVS Extra Care:

Last on the list is the Extra Care savings & rewards program. I can't say enough for the coupons, the Extrabucks Rewards Dollars, the free items, the Quarterly Extrabucks Rewards Dollars, the Beauty Club Rewards and the Pharmacy & Health Rewards. Well, maybe not that last one, as a NJ resident I am not eligible, and it is probably saving CVS a lot of money. If you fill 10 prescriptions, you earn $5 Extrabucks, and man does my family fill a lot of prescriptions. Thought I'm not sure that's a good thing.

Anyway, the Beauty Club awards you $5 Extrabucks for every $50 you spend on beauty. You also receive $3 Extrabucks on your birthday and receive a ton of very tempting and valuable coupons.

In addition to those perks, you receive 2% back in Extrabucks from your purchases, and your spending is also totaled up Quarterly and Extrabucks are rewarded based on that spend. I had a $19 total the other day and paid $1 for everything, the rest was Extrabucks. Sign up and start earning now!

Do you have a favorite loyalty club that everyone might be interested in?

Thanks for the great information Jamie!  Definitely worth looking into some of those programs!

And now it's your turn!  Do you have a Friday Five post to share with us?  Link up below!

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

July Photography Challenge!

Welcome to our Photography Challenge!  This is a once a month challenge to take a photo that fits into the theme for that month.  This months theme is: SUMMER.  The link up will remain open the rest of the month so everyone has a chance to show off their photos!

Please make sure to visit other blogs on this hop if you link up and leave a comment on their photo!
Remember you can link up to a post with the photo you want to show off, or to your instagram photo that fits the monthly theme.  Please do not link up to your blogs main page, this link up is for the photography challenge only! 

Be sure to join us for the August challenge next month!  August's theme is: OUTDOORS and will take place starting August 21st. There will also be a slight change starting next month.  The photo challenge will switch to being a blog only challenge.  This means you can craft a spectacular blog post featuring the photos you took for this challenge theme each month.  You can feature one awesome photo or 5 awesome photos, it's up to you!  You can share a story about the photos, photography tips or make it a wordless photo post.  Remember, this change starts next month, so for today you can still link up a blog post or an instagram post.

Do you have a SUMMER photo to link up for the July challenge?  Share it below!

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Fitness Tips: Teaching Cycling Class

Have you ever considered becoming a spinning instructor?  Lena of Lean Lena has, and she shares some great tips with us today about becoming a spinning instructor!

Below are some tips for the first time teaching that I got from the Team Spinning:
  1. Bring a back up CD in case you have iPhone/iPod issues. In fact, my instructor carries both a CD and a TAPE! Yes, he is that prepared :)
  2. Remember to introduce yourself, ask if you have any new riders in the class,  go over proper bike setup and safety making sure all the rider pop-pins are tight.  At the end of class thank the riders for attending your class.
  3. Discuss with your riders that it is NOT about the number of miles they go. Remember, anything above 110rpm is useless and dangerous!
  4. Remember the 4 P’s to Spinning. Population, Purpose, Plan, Progression. Know your audience. Profile accordingly and think about the intent of your ride.
  5. Keep an eye on your participants during class so it’s about them and not watching the stereo or your notes too much.
  6. Pace your verbiage because even though it’s their ride, not yours, and you’re not going anaerobic, it is very different to talk and teach when first starting out.
  7. Don’t be afraid to jot down some notes of what to say during certain planned segments of your profile. There’s nothing wrong with an instructor having notes.
  8. Try not to let lyrics of any chosen music over-ride what you are saying. Hence, it’s easier not to play that type of music so you’re not combating with it.
  9. However, do play what you like initially because they will feel your energy.
  10. Act confident. If you act it, you will feel it. They will sense that and respond to it providing positive energy back to you to go back to them! It creates a circling effect.
  11. Don’t talk too much! Don’t feel obligated to fill every moment of silence.
  12. Brining a spare water bottle for a rider who forgets is a good habit to get into.
  13. You might feel like people are giving you the stink eye; don’t take it personally.  Some people are very attached to their instructors and if you’re taking over a class, it might take some time for them to “warm up” to you.
  14. Practice.
  15. Relax. Be yourself. Smile. Bring your love for Spinning with you. If you have it, your participants will feel it.
Thanks Lena!  Great tips for anyone looking to go into any sort of fitness class teaching!  Click here for her full post!

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July Bloglovin Hop

Welcome to the July bloglovin link up!  Be sure to link up directly to your bloglovin page, not to your blog itself!

Don't forget to hope around and follow your fellow bloggers on bloglovin, too!

Let's get hoppin'!

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday Five Hop & 5

Welcome to the Friday Five, a weekly link up where you can share any post that is a list of five!  This week's guest blogger is Kelly of A Lovely Life, Indeed.

5 Motivational Morning Mantras:

Every day is a new chance to make good choices. In many cases, you can't control what happens to you, but you can certainly control your reaction. Choose well. 
Here are five mantras you can try on to set your morning off on a positive note. 

Do you have a favorite mantra that inspires you or challenges you? Please share and inspire us all. 

And now it's your turn!  Do you have a Friday Five post to share?  Link it up below!  And, if you would like to submit a guest Friday Five post please let us know!

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