How I Made My Own Iced Coffee (and You Can Too!)

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With returning to Austin and visiting some of my favorite spots that I haven't seen since January, I was also welcomed back by the trademark Austin (or Texas) heat. While 80-90 degrees isn't hot by any means, coming back to this after living in a country where the high temperature was mid-70s I feel like I'm going to melt at any second. Unfortunately this heat also means that besides a morning cup of coffee or tea, I'm only drinking cold drinks. It was this predicament -- and my having gotten accustomed to having an afternoon coffee or tea -- that made me think, "What if I made my own iced coffee?" So yesterday afternoon, that's exactly what I did! I used some coffee grounds I have from Cianfrani Coffee in Georgetown that I got at some point last year in the flavor Irish Creme.

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Because I wasn't sure how this would turn out I only used 4 tablespoons of grounds. I added 1 cup of cold water per tablespoon, so I used 4 cups of water.

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After all of the water was added I mixed the grounds and water to make sure that everything was wet. I did this once right after the water was added and once more after it had settled a bit, wanting to be sure I got every bit of the grounds.

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I covered the bowl with a towel and let the mixed grounds and water sit overnight to get as much flavor into the water as possible.

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This morning I had to be a bit creative as to how to separate the grounds and the coffee and I ended up taping a coffee filter to one of the biggest glasses we have with masking tape and using a ladle to transfer the grounds and coffee mixture to the filter and let the coffee drip out into the glass.

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I ended up using two glasses to get all the coffee that was in the bowl. The coffee has a really great color and while it is stronger than if I had brewed this coffee with hot water in my french press, it isn't nearly as close to the strength of cold pressed coffee concentrates. I'm having a class as I type this post -- I filled my glass half with the coffee and half with milk, adding just a little bit of sugar since the Irish Creme is sweet on its own.

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While this method was successful, I'm interested in looking into a Toddy system or some of the others I saw at Whole Foods the other day, and having a self-contained system instead of jerry-rigging my own.

Have you ever made your own iced coffee? I'd love to hear how it turned out!

6 Last-Minute Valentine's Day DIY's

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DIY-Gold-Heart-Pinata

I know that sometimes I mean to make amazing things for a holiday and then somehow it just never happens until the days before. Has that ever happened to you? Just in case you've let Valentine's day slip away from you, I've rounded up my six favorite DIY projects for you to be able to pull off at the last minute. The first is that amazing gold heart piñata from Studio DIY. Seriously, how amazing is that?!

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rosebathfizz

You can make these sweet dried rose bath bombs from Henry Happened and spend an evening in the tub feeling absolutely luxurious!

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Screen Shot 2014-02-09 at 7.26.20 PM

So technically, according to One Charming Party these crowns and wands are for a princess party, but who wouldn't want to wear a pink crown on Valentine's day?

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valentinesHero_V2

From the blog of Camille Styles we have printable Valentine's. All you need: a computer, a printer, and an x-acto knife. How much simpler could it get?

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treat-nail-polish-brand

The Beauty Department shared a wonderful gold heart manicure tutorial, which looks absolutely magnificent!

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diy-confetti-stix

Last but not least, you can learn how to make your own confetti sticks on Best Friends For Frosting. Although I'm secretly lusting over that purple and glitter manicure!

Happy DIY adventures, magical babes. If you make any of these, or are inspired to do something else, let me know in the comments below!

Kimchi and Blue Cheese Croissants

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spikes_and_stardust_kimchi_blue_cheese_croissants_milk_bar_recipe

On Sunday my parents threw me a Bon Voyage party, a French-themed going away gathering with my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. My dad and I cooked all the food for it -- from scratch I might add, and I made these kimchi and blue cheese croissants from the Milk Bar cookbook we've had for a few years. The only other things I've made from this book, the blueberry and cream cookies and the volcanoes, have been time-consuming but delicious, and these croissants were no different.

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To get the kimchi flavor in the croissants, you make a kimchi butter (pictured above) which was one of my favorite parts of the recipe. You puree kimchi and add softened butter, mixing them until it is a creamy, kimchi-flavored and colored delicious butter. This butter is then used as the butter in the dough, rolled into it for the book turns so the croissants come out with the layers of flakiness.

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As I tweeted on Saturday night:

Pro tip: making croissants from scratch is a marathon, not a sprint — Indigo (@sunshynedarling) January 5, 2014

My dad told me how it would be a long number of hours, I didn't really realized just how long it would take until I was in the middle of the recipe. For me it was frustrating to do one book turn and then have to wait 30 minutes before doing the next step, although I understand how it is necessary to do that for the layers to form in the dough. I also made a little mistake of not cutting the dough recipe in half before adding in the butter, so I was able to make larger croissants that weren't quite as strongly flavored with kimchi because of it, but they were still incredibly tasty.

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Also? Making croissants is MESSY. Like, flour on the counter, on the floor, on your clothes, and seemingly always on your hands no matter how many times you wash them. My croissants weren't perfectly formed, but for the first time making them, I'm really proud of the shape I managed to get. They ended up being huge, which I wasn't expecting, because after you roll the dough and shape them you let them sit for 45 minutes to double in size, and then they double AGAIN in the oven while baking.

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spikes_and_stardust_kimchi_blue_cheese_croissants_milk_bar_recipe_finished_croissant

 For the party we cut the croissants in half, so everyone could have as much as they wanted, and the hole you see in the photo is where the blue cheese was rolled into the dough. Most of it melted while cooking, so next time I would definitely put a LOT more blue cheese inside initially. After more than four hours of cooking, assembly, etc, I am very pleased to announce that these croissants were hit-the-spot delicious. I learned a lot this go around so the next time I make them, or any other kind of croissant, I can make them even better! And, without further ado, the recipe so you can try making them at home:

Kimchi and Blue Cheese Croissants

For the Mother Dough

  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 packet active dry yeast
  • 1 3/4 cups water, at room temperature
  • grapeseed oil

For the croissants

  • 1/2 recipe of Mother Dough, proofed
  • 2/3 cup flour, for dusting
  • 1 recipe Kimchi Butter
  • 1 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon water

For the Kimchi Butter

  • 1/2 cup kimchi
  • 8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Mother Dough

  1. Stir together the flour, salt, and yest in the bowl of your stand mixer -- do it by hand, using the dough hook like a spoon. Continue stirring by hand as you add the water, mixing for 1 minute, until the mixture has come together into a shaggy mess.
  2. Engage the bowl and hook and have the machine mix the dough on the lowest speed for 3 minutes, or until the ball of dough is smoother and more cohesive. Then knead for 4 more minutes on the lowest speed. The dough should look like a wet ball and should bounce back softly when prodded.
  3. Brush a large bowl with oil and dump the dough into it. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough proof at room temperature for 45 minutes.

Kimchi and Blue Cheese Croissants

  1. Punch down and flatten the dough on a smooth, dry countertop. Dust the counter, the dough, and a rolling pin with flour, and roll out the dough to a rectangle about 8 x 12 inches and even in thickness. Grab the butter pad from the fridge and place it on one half of the dough rectangle. Fold the other half of the dough rectangle over the butter pad and pinch the edges shut around it. Drape with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes at room temperature.
  2. To make the croissants, you will need to put 3 "double book" turns into the dough to create enough alternating layers of flour and butter to make the croissants rise and puff in the oven. To make your first double book turn, dust your counter surface, your rolling pin, and the dough with flour, remembering to dust under the dough as well. Roll the dough out again to a rectangle 8 x 12 inches and even in thickness. Be gentle with the rolling pin, making sure not to break into any part of the butter bundle or roll so hard that the butter rolls right out of the dough. (If this happens, push it back in and pull a little dough over the escape hole to patch it up.) Make sure there is not an excessive amount of flour left on or underneath your dough -- dust off any excess with your hands.
  3. Visually divide your dough lengthwise into quarters. Fold the two outer quarters over to the center axis, or spine, of the rectangle of dough, so they meet in the center. Then close the book, bringing one edge to meet the other with the spine now to one side. Wrap it loosely in plastic and transfer it to the fridge for 30 minutes.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 twice more to make a total of 3 turns. Each time you start a turn, make sure to have the open edges, or seam, of your dough facing away from you. If you put in one too many turns, it will not hurt your dough; if you skip one, you will end up very disappointed in your softbody croissants.
  5. For your last and final roll-out, dust your counter surface, your rolling pin, and your dough with flour, remembering to dust under the dough as well. Roll the dough out to a rectange that's 8 x 12 inches and even in thickness.
  6. With a paring knife or a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 5 triangles, each 8 inches long from the pointiest tip to the center of the side across it and 4 inches wide at the bottom. You should have 5 triangles (2 upside down and 3 right side up) plus some scrap on the right and left. Divide the blue cheese among the croissants, putting it into the center of the wide bottom end of each triangle. Starting at the blue cheese end, use one hand to begin rolling the dough up toward the tip of the triangle while your other hand holds the tip and gently stretches it away. Continue until the triangle is completely rolled up into a crescent shape. Make sure the tip of the triangle is tucked underneath the body of the crescent, or it will unravel in the oven.
  7. Transfer the croissants to a parchment-lined sheet pan, arranging them 6 inches apart. Cover lightly with plastic and leave at room temperature to double in size, about 45 minutes.
  8. Heat the oven to 375F.
  9. Whisk the egg and water together in a small bowl. Generously coat the top of your croissants with the egg wash, using a brush.
  10. Bake the croissats for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they double in size, caramelize on the edges, and have a crusty outer layer that sounds hollow when you tap them.

Kimchi Butter

  1. Put the kimchi in a hand blender-friendly container and puree it.
  2. Put the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and paddle on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the pureed kimchi, salt, and pepper and paddle for another 2 minutes; the liquid from the kimchi will try and separate the butter during this time, but the paddling will keep it in line. When the mixture is light, fluffy, and red, stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Turn the butter out onto a piece of parchment. Lay a second piece of parchment on top of it and press down on the butter with your hands to flatten it into a 4 x 6 inch rectangle. Transfer the butter-filled parchment to warm up.

The recipes above belong to the Momofuku Milk Bar and were accessed from a print copy of the Momofuku Milk Bar cook book, printed in 2011.

Have You Ever Wanted To Learn How To Read Tarot But Didn't Know Where To Start?

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Then today is your lucky day! Miss Bri, of Milagro Roots (who I had the immense pleasure of meeting and getting to know when The Blogcademy came to Austin), has answered a question I asked her in August in a guest post so the knowledge can be shared with all of you magical babes. I've always been curious about reading tarot but had no idea where to start, so I asked her if she could teach me, especially since I had picked up a beautiful deck earlier that year. So, without further ado, here is Bri's introduction to reading tarot:

Image from www.lizlamoreux.com
Image from www.lizlamoreux.com

Start with the Rider Waite Smith deck

If Tarot is a romance language then the Rider Waite Smith (also known as Rider Waite) deck is Latin--the beginning of the beginning. Not the oldest deck nor the most traditional, the RWS has attained such high status for a few interesting historical reasons but primarily because so many of the decks that came after its publication in 1909 follow the same basic system of symbol and meaning--if you cut your tarot teeth on the Ride Waite Smith deck you will be way ahead of the game.

Learn the history of the cards

There are some topics (Lady Gaga, the Bermuda Triangle, Bigfoot…) that are as misunderstood as the tarot but not many. The occult trappings of both tarot cards and reading the cards for divinatory purposes did not really get set into motion until the Victorian era. My favorite book that gives a real and fair look at the history of the cards is Paul Huson's Mystical Origins of the Tarot. Follow that up with Rachel Pollack's Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom and you will have a solid foundation to work from. The books do not teach you how to read tarot--that comes from within you, but they do assist in placing tarot within a greater context--and that will help you as you feel your way through the cards.

Divination is a ritual--treat it like one

Tarot cards may or may not have been originally intended for divination purposes (it's a hot debate) but that is their primary purpose, especially in America, these days. Divination is a sacred art and as such one should approach a tarot reading in an open, friendly, and sincere manner. Light a candle, burn some incense, take time to center yourself and access that still, small voice within you--the cards reflect truths you already know.

Image from www.milagroroots.com
Image from www.milagroroots.com

Keep your spreads simple

I am always surprised at how many beginner books hand out really elaborate spreads, especially since some of the best readers I know stick to the old so-called Gypsy method of 1/2/3=past/present/future. Start with drawing one card, two cards (especially great for yes/no questions) and three cards--then bloom from there with a spread like this one.

Know that you know

Tarot cards are a map. They show us what we already know to be true--but maybe forgot (or decided to willfully ignore)--you already know the answers sweet thing!

Happy Trails and Happy Tarot!

[lightgrey_box]You can connect with Miss Bri on her

website / twitter / facebook / pinterest / tumblr / google+ / instagram[/lightgrey_box]

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11 Steps to Redesign a Room in Your House

What do you do when none of the rooms in your house feel like you anymore? When you realize that all that awkward, clunky furniture really doesn't fit together and you're never going to refinish it, no matter how many times you promised yourself you would? When you would rather close the door to a room forever than deal with what's inside? I've put together a list of 11 steps (well, really 10, but you'll have to get to step 11 to see what I mean) to help you deal with this very situation! As someone who is constantly moving from my parent's house to a dorm room, back to my parent's house, into a completely different dorm room, I'm redesigning a standardized format of a room at least once per calendar year. This list is full of tips and tricks I've picked up, as well as things I've learned from watching my mom, an interior designer, design spaces for her clients.

For this exercise let’s say the room giving you a hard time is the bedroom, but these steps are applicable to almost any room in a house! I want to emphasize that this is not the same thing as hiring an interior designer!! My mom is an interior designer and while a lot of these things I've learned from her over the years, it’s a much more involved process for someone else to design a room for you. If you don’t want to do it yourself, I highly recommend finding a designer you click with and whose design style is appealing to you.

What you'll need: a Pinterest account, a roll of painter's tape, a measuring tape, a camera (this could either be a ridiculously fancy DSLR or it could be your mobile phone -- whatever you have handy), and -- if you're like me and you love physically writing things down -- a few sheets of paper (or a notebook) and your favorite writing instrument, and your imagination!

Image from elle.es
Image from elle.es

1) Start a Pinterest board where you gather inspiration for what you want your new bedroom to look like!!!!! This is really invaluable, as it allows you to pin an infinite number of items and will quickly help you notice any color schemes, themes, or similarities in what you’re pinning. For example, this is my Pinterest board for interiors and from a quick glance it’s easy to see that I’m drawn towards modern, minimalistic design with white walls and color accented in bedding, furniture, etc. This step is invaluable in moving forward, and you can take anywhere from 2 hours to 2 weeks cultivating your board.

2) Make a list of the common themes you see in your board. This list could be in a Word or Pages document, on a sticky note, or jotted on a coffee-stained napkin that happened to be laying on your desk within reach. I personally like to write things out on paper, so I would get a pen and jot down things like “minimalist furniture and design” “modern lines” “neon accessories” etc.

3) Make another list where you write down what you WANT from your space! If you want to be able to do a jumping jack in the middle of your floor but don’t have the space to now, write it down. If you only want to walk on pieces of furniture without ever touching your feet to the floor, put it on the list! Write everything down, don’t try to edit your ideas. It could be anything from “all new furniture” to “new recycling bins because the ones i have right now are five years old.” This step is really important because it forces you to articulate what you feel like you’re missing from your current space. Again, try not to take a year on this step, but give yourself time to really assess what you feel like you're needing from your space. Make the room work for you, don't bend yourself to fit the room.

4) Figure out what color palate you want to use. Again, I prefer to physically write everything out, so I’d probably start a third list at this point. Write the colors you  like and the ones you don’t. Go back to your Pinterest board and see what speaks to you color-wise. This will help you narrow down your color scheme, because it’s beneficial to see the colors you like in a space that exists already. I would advise that two colors (other than neutrals — black, white, beige, and gray) are the maximum that you want to pick. Now, you have the choice of making these colors the main focus (painting the walls with them) or using them to accent a neutral on the walls. I would advise you to follow your instincts and what you find aesthetically pleasing. If you want two neon pink walls and two neon yellow walls with black baseboards, go for it!!

5) Okay! So now you should have your color scheme, an idea of what you want from your space that you aren’t getting now, and a source of inspiration you can go back to at any time. Now it’s time to really assess what you have right now. Does your bed frame squeak? Is your desk marked up and rickety? If you have carpet, is it in good shape or is it incredibly worn? You need to take stock of what you have and how it functions for you in order to decide if you want to get new furniture or work with what you have. Be ruthless!!!!! Don't get sucked into the trap of "Well I payed x for this, I should keep it...." unless the piece is really working for you and the space. I would personally advise making a list (can you tell I love lists yet?) so you have something to refer back to.

6) If you're getting new furniture for your space, it’s time to do some shopping! As a college student who can't spend all of her gas going from store to store just to see something in person, I'm more partial to online browsing at 2am while listening to Southern Gothic music on 8tracks. Some good resources I like that are good quality items without being too tough on the wallet are IKEAPB Teen,CB2Urban Outfitters, and Crate and BarrelAnthropologie has a pretty good selection of things for the home, but are on the higher end price-wise. West Elm is one of my favorite stores (the bed frame I have at my parent’s house is actually from there!) is a bit more expensive, but I love to just look through what they have, online and in the store downtown here in Austin.

7) After finding items that you love (it’s very important to LOVE WHAT YOU BUY!! Trust me, you don’t want to get something you kind of like because it’s cheaper, you’ll dislike it a few years down the road and wish you'd gotten that other thing that stole your heart the first time you saw it) it’s time to space plan! Now, I've never actually done this, I've seen from my mom's work how invaluable it is to space plan before you have a room full of furniture that won't all fit. My advice on this step? Empty EVERYTHING out of your room. Absolutely everything. Then, with masking or painter’s tape, tape out approximate outlines of the furniture you have or are planning on buying, using the dimensions that are available to you on the websites. This will give you an idea of how much space you have to play with and it’s much easier to pull off some tape and reapply it than to move full-size pieces of furniture repeatedly. Once you find an arrangement you like, take pictures!! Label which shape is which so you don’t forget when you take the tape off or refer back to the photos.

8) After you’ve completed the last step and found an arrangement that you're happy with, it’s time to order your new things!! Most of what you order won’t come at the same time and you’ll either get huge amounts of things at once or they’ll trickle in. Make sure you know what the lead time is before you order! Lead time is the amount of time it will take someone to ship an item to you. For example, a bed at one store might have a 2 day lead time, but a similar bed at another store might have a 2 month lead time.

9) If you’re painting anything, this would be the time I would suggest doing it! The room is empty, your furniture is ordered, and you're impatiently waiting for boxes to come so you have something to do. You can get good quality, inexpensive paint but make sure you talk to the people who work at the paint store to figure out how much you’ll need. That’s part of what they are there for, after all! And a very important tip, don't go to an expensive paint store to get swatches or samples and then try to color match at a store that will charge you less per gallon. This is because YOU CAN'T COLOR MATCH PAINT!!! If you're willing to invest in your paint, go with the more expensive store, but if you're on a budget, start and finish at the less expensive store. There are also other factors, like the type of base the stores use, that can effect the price per gallon, so if you're in love with a color but the price per gallon is a little high you can always ask if there is a less expensive base that can be used and how that will affect the final color.

10) Once you have all of your furniture, new or existing, it’s time to arrange it. Get out the photos you took in step 7, moving your furniture into the spots you figured out before. Also have your list from step 3 handy! Once you get everything in place, it’s really important to see and feel how you feel in the space. Does everything feel right? Are you getting what you need or want that you wrote down in step 3? If not, move the furniture around. This may take a few tries or it may take many. But it’s very important that the space feels good to you, since you’ll be living in it!

11) Do a dance!!!!! You’ve made it to the last, which is to enjoy your new space! Remember that you can change things at anytime. I know when I was growing up my mom and I would rearrange my bedroom at least three times a year. Because how your room works right now may not work four months down the road. Also, take pictures of your rockin’ new room!!

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