May 21, 2015

DIY Lavender + Earl Grey Bubble Bath Potion

It's been a long week, you're exhausted, your feet are aching, and you just want a nice, relaxing bubble bath. Sound familiar? If so, I have just the project for you: Lavender Earl Grey Bubble Bath Potion, and best of all, it's made with ingredients you probably have in your cupboard now.

Both lavender and Earl Grey have long been touted for their relaxing, calming, and rejuvenating effects. Lavender oil, especially, is used in aromatherapy for relaxation, and aiding with sleep. It's perfect for a pre-bedtime soak. And Earl Grey tea, which contains Bergamot oil, helps calm and relax as well as clearing and cleansing skin for a healthy glow.

For this, you just need a few simple ingredients to get you started:

- Mild hand or body soap
- Lavender essential oil
- a couple Earl Grey tea bags
- dried lavender leaves (optional)
- bottles or containers for storage
- something to mix it in and something to stir

1// If you decide to add some dried lavender leaves or buds, add them into the cup first. If they're longer, like mine were, crush or crumble them up first so they don't cause your drain any trouble.

2// Then, carefully rip or cut open the tea bags and empty the contents into the mixture. I started with two tea bags, and it may have been a bit much - this step is sort of trial and error, depending on how much you're making and your personal preference.

3// Add the soap. I started with just one cup, but it wasn't quite enough, so I went for two. It filled up three and a half of my little bottles in the end, so now I have enough to use and share with friends! It all depends on your container sizes and how much you want.

4// Add a few drops of lavender essential oil. Remember, a little goes a long way with this stuff! Since my soap already had natural lavender scent added, I only put a couple small drops into the mixture. If you chose unscented soap, you may want to add more. Remember to experiment - you can always add more, but if it gets too concentrated too fast, it's hard to remedy the situation.

5// Mix it all together! It looks kind of gnarly, I know (hey, it's organic, that's what happens) but harness your inner Hermione Granger potions skills and stir it all up so it's evenly mixed.

6// Bottle it up. If your bottles or containers have smaller openings, you might want to use a funnel for this bit. Since the measuring cup I mixed it in had a spout, I decided to wing it, and surprisingly, did not make a huge mess.

7// Get sudsy! All that's left now is to  enjoy it. Light a few candles, grab a glass of wine (or some Earl Grey!) and relax. Note: there will be tea bits floating about in your bath. That's what's supposed to happen. Take a deep breath and chill.

What do you do to relax after a long day? Would you give this a try?

May 12, 2015

Weekend Staycation with Palm Breeze

A couple weeks ago, I got the chance to try out Palm Breeze Sparkling Alcohol Spritzers, and got to have a lovely weekend stay-cation before finals:

So, it's the weekend before finals week and it's finally in the 70s for the first time all spring. Naturally, that causes a bit of a conflict of interest. We all have things we should be doing, like studying, writing papers, and pulling out our hair. 

But thanks to Palm Breeze, I got a chance to try out their new sparkling beverage. So, I decided to make a little picnic to celebrate the end of classes, and to give us a break from all the frantic studying and paper writing (okay, I've been watching Parks and Rec reruns all day, but WHATEVER). 

So I made caprese and cut up some fresh fruit to add to the Palm Breeze. The flavor I got was Ruby Red Citrus, and it was SO DELICIOUS. It honestly was so refreshing, and completely perfect for summer days. 

Palm Breeze comes in two flavors, the Ruby Red Citrus that I got, and Pineapple Mandarin Orange - I can't wait to try the other one too! 

From the brand:

"Palm Breeze is a flavored malt beverage (FMB). Which basically means it’s an alcoholic drink made with a malt base, kind of like beer.  Palm Breeze is for those who are: spontaneous, carefree, confident, social & stylish; loves to spend her free time hanging with her girlfriends; loves to travel, enjoys outdoor activities and tries to soak up the sun."

I absolutely loved this drink! If you live in the San Diego, DC, Austin, or Dallas areas, you should check out Palm Breeze's events coming up!

Would you try Palm Breeze?
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

April 27, 2015

What's In My Bag: Spring 2015

It's been a while since I've shared what's in my bag and since I just got this gorgeous (vegan!) leather tote from Target not too long ago, I thought it was high time!

Of course, there's the necessities like my wallet, headphones, and sunglasses. And since it's the rainy season, a portable umbrella always helps (I got this Dabney Lee one in my Popsugar Must Have box and it's adorable). I like to always have lotion on me since my hands get so dry from washing them constantly at work, and this Stress Relief Aromatherapy lotion from Bath and Body Works is my jam. 

And since a lot of mornings start with my cramming my hair up into a hat for work, then rushing off to class, I like to keep a comb and some de-frizzer at my disposal. This Weightless Oil from OGX is a miracle worker. Plus, I always keep a notebook, pens, and a reading book for commutes, quiet moments, and procrastination before class. I keep my writing utensils, hair ties, and lipstick in this gorgeous rose gold glittery Stila bag. Burt's Bees and NYX Butter Lipstick have been my favorites recently!

Shop these items below!

What's in your bag for spring time?

April 24, 2015

7 Albums That Defined Me

I've written before about books that have stuck with me or defined parts of my life, but music is just as important to me as literature, so I thought I'd catalog some of the (various) albums that have really defined a certain era of my life. It was really really hard to pick just 8, as well as picking only 3 favorite songs from each one.

*All the song titles have links to Youtube videos in case you're curious!

>> Riot! by Paramore - So it's no secret that Paramore has been one of my favorite bands since I was like 12 years old. I picked Riot! because it was one their first album I ever heard, and I adored it. I got the CD for my 13th birthday, and I pretty much wore my 1st gen iPod Nano out listening to it on repeat. In fact I found a pair of pink Converse in my closet that still had the words to That's What You Get scribbled on them in Sharpie.

Top Tracks:

1. That's What You Get
2. For a Pessimest I'm Pretty Optimistic
3. Miracle 

>> Red by Taylor Swift - Another artist I've been a fan of since I was literally 11 or 12 is T-Swift. This album came out my freshman year of college, and really defined it for me in a lot of strange and wonderful ways. I still can't listen to Begin Again or Holy Ground without immediately being brought back to walking down the sidewalks to my first college classes that September, feeling all at once lost and completely at home.

Top Tracks:

1. All Too Well 
2. State of Grace
3. Treacherous

>> Wicked Soundtrack - Having been a theatre nerd since about 9th grade, it's imperative for me to add this soundtrack to the list. Seriously, this cast recording was my life blood for like 2 years. I know my memory probably isn't serving me correctly, but I swear this was the only thing I listened to for like 8 months on end. I still know every line, pause, and note (even if I can't hit them). Finally getting to see the show live in 2011 was pretty much the most amazing thing ever.

Top Tracks:

1. For Good
2. Popular
3. Defying Gravity

>> Lungs by Florence + the Machine - I first heard Dog Days Are Over in my freshman or sophomore year of high school, and I fell completely in love immediately. I downloaded the rest of her album and she instantly became one of my favorite artists. The tattoo I'm planning on getting this summer incorporates lyrics from Rabbit Heart, which sort of became one of my top 5 most important songs without me realizing it. 

Top Tracks:

1. Dog Days Are Over
2. Rabbit Heart (Raise it Up)
3. Cosmic Love

>> 1989 by Taylor Swift - Similarly to how Red came out my freshman year of college, 1989 came out in October of 2014, my third year of college. I'm two weeks out from finishing up what has been the most difficult school year of my college career, and this album is as relevant now as it was when I heard it for the first time. 

Top Tracks:

1. New Romantics
2. You Are In Love
3. Welcome to New York

>> Self Titled by Paramore - The latest Paramore album came out at the tail end of my freshman year of college, defining the latter half of it and that summer much the same way that Taylor Swift's album defined the first half of the year. It's duly important to me, as it was the album the band was touring last summer when I finally (finally finally finally) got to see them in concert.

Top Tracks:

1. Ain't it Fun
2. Last Hope
3. Future

>> The Rocky Horror Picture Show Soundtrack - Oh Lord, where would I be without Rocky Horror? I'd been completely obsessed with the idea since I'd read Perks of Being a Wallflower in 10th grade, but it wasn't until freshman year of college that I was finally able to attend a live screening. Now we go every single year and it's one of my absolute favorite things ever. Like ever ever. One of my best friends got me this amazing red vinyl copy for Christmas this past year and it's probably one of my most prized possessions. 

Top Tracks:

1. Sweet Transvestite
2. Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me
3. Time Warp

Honorable mentions: 
-Made of Bricks by Kate Nash
-Speak Now by Taylor Swift
-All We Know is Falling by Paramore
-Brand New Eyes by Paramore
-Save Rock and Roll by Fall Out Boy
-Metamorphosis by Hilary Duff (yeah, you know)
-Speed of Life by Sugarland

What are your favorite albums? I would love to read about it! If you're inspired to do a similar post, send me a link in the comments. 

April 19, 2015

Barista Basics: Cold Brew Coffee (at Home!)

So I've been a barista for nearly three years now. Yikes. And in that time, I've come to realize exactly how much I love iced coffee. I prefer all of my coffee drinks iced, even in the dead of winter. 

And in that time, I've struggled and experimented and failed to make iced coffee concentrate that tasted as good as the in-store stuff at home. It seems simple enough: make coffee, add ice, voila. But see, the problem then becomes that the regular coffee becomes weak and watered down with the ice cubes. And sure, you can make it extra strong, but it then becomes bitter and acidic.

So, after a lot of trial and error and research, I think I've finally found the perfect way to make cold brew coffee concentrate at home, allowing it to be poured over ice without becoming acidic or losing its rich coffee taste (or potency, let's be real here). 

1// Get a dark roast. You'll want a robust, medium to dark roast coffee to help keep the potency. Blonde roast just isn't going to cut it this time.

2// Grind the beans to a medium-large course grind. Ideally, you should grind them fresh at home, but if you don't have a coffee grinder, any regular ground coffee will do - just make sure it's not finely ground.

3// Add 1 cup of ground coffee to 4 cups of cool water (cold brew coffee actually means room temperature, go figure). If you want to make enough to last a while (or if you have a big brunch crowd) I would double or even triple the recipe - you'll just need to get a bigger container than I did!

4// Stir vigorously until the water and grounds are all mixed together. Don't worry, the grounds will float to the top after a moment, but they're still working their magic!

5// Now let the concoction sit and steep overnight, for up to 12 hours (but at least 6 for maximum steepage). Don't put it in the ridge, just set it somewhere on your kitchen table or counter and, as John Lennon once said, let it be. 

6// After it's been steeping for an adequate amount of time, you'll want to strain the grounds out of the concentrate (unless you like your coffee with a bit of crunch). The easiest way for me was to pour the whole mixture into our french press and push down the lever to separate the grounds. If you don't have a french press, you can use a coffee filter and a funnel, a very fine mesh strainer, or if you're really in a pinch, a paper towel.

7// And serve! Important note: this is meant to be mixed with equal amounts of water and then poured over ice. If you don't mix the water you will be in for quite the intense coffee experience but hey, more power to you. Add cream or sugar to your liking and enjoy!

How do you take your coffee? Keep an eye out for more Barista Basics coming your way, including latte art 101, a DIY home coffee bar, and more! Got a specific coffee-related question you'd like answered in a future post? Comment, tweet me, or shoot me an email at