Category Archives: How-To

For Those on the Go: Create Your Own Day Spa on Long Trips

-Emily Fraysse

When constantly on the go, it is hard to fit beauty time and sleep into your schedule. I’ve done a great deal of traveling and have found that taking the time to stop and pamper myself has been a plus. Whether you are catching a plane or going on a long car ride, this routine get you feeling refreshed when you reach your destination.

Important things to bring along:

– Snag tea or some type of green drink (Superfood from Odwalla is awesome) from the airport or a coffee shop to keep hydrated.

– Pick up a healthy salad with minimal dressing (or hold the dressing on the side) with different vegetables. Also, grab a piece of fruit, like an orange or pieces of cantaloupe, for later if you feel like the salad will not be filling enough. If you feel that you are getting a craving, drink a tall glass of water or tea. This can be difficult at an airport, but do the best that you can to find a different healthy alternative to snack food.

– Make sure you have all your tools to improve yourself before your flight! Remember: according to TSA regulations, each passenger is allowed one 3.4 ounce (or less) bottle of liquid or gel,  and one quart-sized, clear plastic zip-lock bag holding 3.4 ounces or less of containers.

– Print out a stretching guide if you will be in a cramped position before the trip begins!

The on-the-go beauty routine:

#1 The Tools: Before you head out on your trip, make sure that you have all the products and utensils ready. First thing’s first: establish what area you would like to work on, and then get the right products (or create your own product!) to maximize your spa experience.

Face: A gentle facial cleanser, two good moisturizers (one with sunscreen for the day and another to wear at night), an exfoliant, and under eye patches.

Hands: A thick hand crème and possibly gloves so that you let the crème soak into your skin. Dry hands are the worst.

Feet: Tea-tree oil is really good for feet!

Hair: Hair mask and heat protectant.

Body: Sleep (at least eight hours no matter what age), deep breathing, and water. These are all key to feeling refreshed, relaxed, and cleansed.

#2 Breathing comes first: Whether you are in a boat, a car, or a plane, the important thing to do is relax and breathe. It seems simple, but deep breathing calms and relaxes the body. Reading a book, drawing, or writing can also help you unwind.

#3 Think Positively: Remember, this is time that you are taking for yourself. Either write down or make a list in your head of all the things you are grateful for, write a letter to a friend or family member, or list three good things that happened to you that day.

#4 Remember to stretch: If, at any point during the trip you feel that your muscles are getting tight, feel free to stretch. Check out these poses for inspiration.

#5 Apply! Apply your face mask, under eye patches, or whatever else you would like to work on. Remember to make sure you have enough time to really let things soak in.

#6 Take a nap: Even a short 20-minute nap can make a huge difference. So pop off your shoes, shut the blinds, get comfy, and recline (if you can).

#7 Other things to remember: Bring gum to pop your ears if you are flying! And a nice head rest blow-up pillow will do you wonders for your neck.

Enjoy your trip!

Don’t Worry Be Healthy: Five Ways to Make Working Out More Fun

-Marissa Tomko

Running on a treadmill reminds me of hamsters, running and running on their little hamster wheels, going no where, getting no closer to a destination. Talk about boring.

I don’t know about you, but my attention span on one of those mechanisms is about five minutes. I start getting antsy about my music, eyeing the clock, and redoing my ponytail fifty times in a row. I just can’t take the repetition!

Unlike a hamster though, I am able to break out of my cage and make a more exciting workout routine for myself. And with that in mind, I present to you my top five favorite ways to work out without being bored to tears!

Zumba

Call me crazy, but this Latin-inspired workout is probably the best I’ve ever partaken in. Zumba is basically just a big dance party, and at the end of it, you’re sweating your face off and you can kiss the gym goodbye for the day! My personal favorite thing about Zumba is how it can turn even the most uncoordinated person into a superstar. All you have to do is check your inhibitions at the door, and I promise you’ll have the best, most fun workout of your life.

Hiking

If you live in Eugene, you probably have some sort of affinity for the outdoors. Instead of a repetitive hour on the elliptical where you just awkwardly stare out the same window, why not take your talents outside so you can enjoy some ever-changing scenery and become one with nature?

Workout videos

Hear me out: I realize you would probably feel silly in your house or apartment taking orders from some random person on your television. However, it can actually be the best time of your life. Grab a few friends and pop in an amusing workout DVD. My personal favorite is Brazil Butt Lift. The guy on the video cracks me up, and even if I end up not working out for the whole time, I get some nice abs from laughing so hard.

Water fights

Pardon my theatrics, but these days it is so hot, I feel like I am super-glued to the sun and I can’t escape the heat. That makes going on a run pretty difficult because heat stroke is not something I am trying to get out of my workout. So I enjoy the occasional impromptu water fight complete with Super Soakers and water balloons! It entails a lot of running around, and you can finally cool down from the Eugene summer weather.

Rollerblading

My roommate and I have big plans for the summer that involve buying overalls and rollerblading all over Eugene. This activity is a surprisingly good calorie burner, as well as a nice blast from the past! So strap on those wheels and get going!

On Trend: Makeup to Beat the Heat

 

-Rache’ll Brown

It’s 97 degrees and you are pouring sweat. Your eye shadow is creasing, your blush is streaking, and your skin is shinier than a freshly waxed floor. You decide to take a dip in the pool, and your mascara runs down your face making you resemble a raccoon.

This is every girl’s nightmare in the summer. In the past, when the temperature reached 80 degrees plus, I’d be stuck with a dilemma—should I attempt to look like a semi-decent human being, or should I ditch makeup altogether to avoid the inevitable mess that ensues via the blazing sun? But then I learned about the magic of waterproof makeup and immediately started giving the products a little test run. This is what I’ve been left with; may the days of running mascara be left behind for good. Amen.

For the Eyes

In any occasion, whether the temperature is insanely high or not, eye shadow primer is always a necessity. Always. Not only does it help your shadow stick longer, but it also makes the colors more vibrant. Another alternative is cream eye shadow, or Maybeline’s new color tattoos. In the summer I stick strictly to light, neutral colors because if something is to go awry the mess is less noticeable. I’d also recommend skipping a lot of eyeliner—simply lining the waterline should suffice, and if it is a necessity use waterproof liquid, not pencil or gel. And of course, opt for a waterproof version of your favorite mascara to finish off your eyes because mascara is one of those products that should be present even if nothing else is.

For the Face

Just like an eye primer, a good moisturizer is something that should be used year-round. The sun will dry out your skin, and a moisturizer with an SPF will keep your face supple and protect from sun damage. If you don’t have problematic skin, great! Skip foundation at all, or opt for something like a BB Cream or Skin Tint—they both offer light, sheer coverage that’ll let your skin breathe in the heat. I have a naturally porcelain complexion, so I always use bronzer. In the summer, Stila’s One Step Bronze is perfect because it gives a little color without a cakey finish. Lastly, use a cream blush or cheek tint for a pinch of color; they are long lasting and look more natural on the skin as long as they are thoroughly blended.

So this summer, skip the streaky mess and sport a more put-together look. By using long lasting and breathable products, your face with stay in place all day while still being comfortable in the summer heat.

Follow Rache’ll on Twitter!

Best Places to Search for Creative Sparks

Pinterest

-Emily Fraysse

I needed to find a clever Father’s day card. Stat.

Searching Google, I had a hard time finding something that I liked and that was creative. These days, I find that when I need some inspiration, I tend to stray away from using generic sites like Google and Bing. Finding that little spark of creativity or imagination can be difficult when you have an innovation block. Luckily, there are a variety of places you can visit to get that extra push.  As Pablo Picasso once said, “good artists copy; great artists steal.”

#1 Pinterest

Growing in popularity over the past two years, Pinterest (shown above) has become the new filing cabinet for online photographs. By easily organizing the photographs into different “boards,” you can easily access your favorite photos of people, places, and things.

#2 Instructables

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Tic-Tac USBtinyISP Programmer, Speaker Monsters, Laser Cut Record on wood, and a steam punk storm glass are only a few items that you can make step-by-step on this website.This site is chock-full of inspiration and information on how to make crazy things, and it allows the users to post what they make.

#3 The Matboard

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Similar to Pinterest, it allows you to categorize your photographs into different categories and moodboards while promoting inspiration. What’s different is it allows for the user to search for a specific talent or occupation to view portfolios and works from people in your area. You can also promote your personal portfolio board by connecting your page with other social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter.

#4 Gentlemint

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Finally, there is a Pinterest for men! Instead of a website with makeup tutorials, clothing ads, and other girly things, Gentlemint is full of topics like cars, alcohol, fitness, and, of course, Ron Swanson’s Man Rules.

#5 Do It Yourself

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Know what you want to do but don’t know how? DIY will help you get there. Appealing to both men and women, the site can teach you how to build a fancy fence, seal an asphalt driveway, or balance the pH in your soil.

#6 Lover.ly

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Made purely for weddings, the users can search by color or keyword in order to plan their dream wedding. Their mission is simple: “to make wedding planning simple and more fun. Discover ideas, things to buy, and people to hire for your wedding.”

#7 I Wanna Nom

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They nail their purpose, saying “if the internet is now the world’s largest cookbook, I Wanna Nom is the index where you can circle the tastiest looking recipes and dishes that you want to try later.”

And there you have it: seven whole websites to let your mind wander pages and pages of millions and trillions of photographs to get those creative juices flowing. Now to find that Father’s Day card…

The Key to Room Décor: Simplicity, Creativity

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-Rache’ll Brown

It was the fall of 2011 when I discovered the hobby—or more appropriately, the fetish—that is home décor. Color palettes, duvet covers, throw pillows, and more; I had never realized how meticulous interior design was until I left my family home. At my parents’ house, my room was just a chaotic collection of things: a pink comforter I had since the sixth grade, band posters I had collected at Warped Tour over the years pasted on the walls unevenly, and random knickknacks filled every surface. It was a mess. It was shameful. However, I looked at leaving my parents house as an opportunity to experiment with design.

This new-found hobby started in the dorms. My roommate and I immediately started coordinating when we got our dorm packet. The color palette was easy: black and white for a classic look with accents of purple (our favorite color). When we moved in and got everything settled, I was pleased. I thought I was the craftiest freshman in Walton complex. And then Pinterest came along, and my outlook on interior design and crafting completely changed.

When it came time for me to move into my first apartment, I had everything planned out. I’ve concluded that there is an easy formula to a cozy yet coordinated room, and I’ve decided to share my theory.

Pictures EVERYWHERE

Scour Facebook, Instagram, and your hard drive for pictures that have captured your favorite moments in life. There are so many things to do with photos, but my favorite ways to use them is to fill wall space. One of the easiest things I did was take clear fishing line and miniature clothes pins to create banners with my favorite pictures. I just hung a few points throughout the line with mini clear Command strips and everything was set.

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Simplicity is Key

Use simple a color palette, simple decorations, and a simple floor plan for a clean and put together look. Choose two (or three: two neutrals and a pop color) coordinating colors to purchase all comforters, pillows, rugs, etc. in. Ditch the cluttered look and keep only functional pieces around your room—overcrowding makes the room seem smaller and unorganized. If you find an ornate piece you think is a must, get it! But make sure you limit the over-the-top pieces to a minimum.

Get Crafty

Whether you rely on Pinterest or think of things on your own, put your creative hat on to figure out the most functional, thrifty, and aesthetically pleasing ways to utilize your space. For example, I have a lot of necklaces and a lot of wall space. I considered making my own jewelry board but had already spent my crafting budget elsewhere. So, I decided to take my extra mini Command strips and hang my necklaces on the wall (pictured at top). Voila! It’s thrifty, cute, and functional.

If you were lost on how to decorate your bedroom or apartment before—don’t fret now! There are simple ways to spice up your décor without too much effort, money, or time. So take some of my advice, get crafty, and your place will be the envy of all your friends in no time!

Making Cake Mix Your Own: A Guide to Baking With Two Ingredients

cake

-Rache’ll Brown

I’ll admit it, I am a lazy baker. I always try to find recipes with the least amount of ingredients, and my online search history is mainly, “how to make cookies/cupcakes/brownies without eggs/butter” (I don’t keep a lot of necessary baking items on hand—sorry).

A few weeks ago I was searching Pinterest for an easy recipe, as per usual. Suddenly, I stumbled upon something groundbreaking: two-ingredient cake. All that’s needed is a can of crushed pineapple and boxed Angel Food cake mix. Then I remembered that when I was younger, my mom used to make pumpkin muffins with boxed yellow cake mix and a can of pumpkin puree. This made me wonder: how many modified boxed cake recipes are there? So I did my research, and now I am going to share it with the masses. You’re welcome.

Out of everything I found, one recipe in particular was screaming my name. One box of Funfetti cake mix, some Greek yogurt, water, and that’s it! I’ve never had a bad experience while subbing yogurt for oil; my baked goods are usually moist and delicious after using this technique, so I decided to give it a try. I did my own variation, one with a box of Devil’s Food cake mix, one cup of low-fat vanilla yogurt, and one cup of water. I baked according to box directions, and it was delicious. Other options? Combine a box of Angel Food Cake with a can of pie filling—cherry, blueberry, lemon, etc. Also, dark cake mix with a can of coke, or light cake mix with a can of 7-Up apparently creates an airy treat. Regard the Internet for more inquiries.

So next time you’re in need of a cake, skip the eggs and oil for a more minimalistic approach. There really is no way to mess up a two-ingredient cake, so go forth and prosper—cake mix awaits you!

Don't Worry Be Healthy: Five Ways I Get Myself To Workout

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-Marissa Tomko

I don’t really know how to admit this. I’ll just say it.

I haven’t been going to the gym as much this term. WOW, that feels amazing to get off my chest!

Yes, I feel like a complete hypocrite because I write this health and fitness column. And I love you all so much and I just don’t understand how it got to this point. Will you ever be able to forgive me?!

But I think this happens to everyone. We get into the habit of working out, and then decide to take just one innocent day off. This turns into a bunch of innocent days off, which turns into literally all days off, none of which are innocent. But never fear, Pulse readers! I have a plan of action. Even though it’s hard to get back into a workout routine, it is possible. Here is a list of the things I have done in the past (and am currently doing) to get my sorry butt into shape again.

I play mind games with myself

I once tried to date this guy, and I say “try” because we really sucked at being a couple—we could not get it together enough to map out a couple hours in the middle of our crazy lives to just exist in the same room. But sometimes, we’d map out fifteen minutes, which would always turn into a couple of hours. I can’t speak for him, but I always knew this would happen. I do the same thing when I go to the gym. I think, “I love you, treadmill, but I don’t have that much time for you.” And before I know it, I’ve been running for forty-five minutes because I realize how much more joy the treadmill brings me relative to the rest of my commitments. See? The gym is like dating: as long as you ignore the dishonesty, it can be fun!

Speaking of making time, I learned what it actually is

I’m a college student, so it’s super easy for me to use homework as an excuse to avoid the gym. But if I take a second to analyze what exactly happens when I do homework, I realize that it’s a bunch of B.S. and that I’m just a lazy weirdo because when I hit the books, I’m really hitting the books, the Internet, Netflix, my fridge, my roommates’ bedrooms, the convenience store I live next to . . . you get the picture. Basically, if I cut out all of the procrastinating I do when I’m trying to get my academic tasks done, it gives me an extra ninety minutes at least. That is more than enough time to make it to the gym. Why do I make my life so difficult?!

I got cool shoes

Yeah, I know it sounds really dumb. But I’m a big believer in dressing for success. If I’m having a bad day, I try to look nice. If I’m having a hyper day, I try to wear stretchy pants so I can high-kick at everything. If I am headed to work out, I put on the sick Nikes my dad got me for Christmas so I am forced to look like I belong. Fake it till you make it, right?

I make new playlists…

. . . like this one! And then I pretend I’m in a music video for all of the songs. Shut up, it works.

I become the poster child for inspiration

You might not know this, but I am big into confidence, so I don’t think comparing myself to other people is the way to get myself into shape. I know a lot of people practice “thinspiration,” which as I understand it is when you post pictures of impossible six-packs on your fridge to remind yourself of the body you want. To that, I say stop the madness! Don’t work out for someone else; work out for yourself. You will resent it less because it will turn into something you want to do for your own health, not for any other motive.

“Tweets,” “Tweetups,” and “Tweeps:” Confessions of a Skeptical Student Turned Online Science-Writer

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-Sarah Keartes

After a four year hiatus, returning to college was an exciting venture. I was ready to learn—my mind was porous and ready to sponge up the liquid gold which I knew my professors would spew from their educated mouths. “Bring it on,” I thought to myself. I was ready.

Eager and anxious, I peered through the doors of Columbia hall, scanning the ridiculous sea of chairs for just the right spot. Professor Bill Ryan walked down the isles with a calm confidence and inquisitive brow, stopping only to say hello to familiar students, making his way to the front of the room. Though his back was turned to the class, I could just make out the side of his face, and that is when I saw it. The look.

The corners of his mouth crawled up slowly, as if in a Bane v. Batman battle against the muscles in his cheeks. They stopped in a wry smirk—he knew something I didn’t. Liquid gold. I was ready.

“How many of you are on Twitter?” he asked.

Twitter? I was ready for mind-blowing, earth-shattering brain food and this guy was talking about Twitter? My heart sank and I rolled my eyes the way adolescents do when they know they could never be wrong. Twitter was a waste of time, a wannabe Facebook that only allowed enough characters to say, well, nothing important—I knew that.

“If you are serious about journalism, you need to be on twitter, you need to be part of the conversation, find your community,” he explained.

Conversation, shmonversation. How could 140 characters help me become a science writer? The next day, I set out on a new venture—to prove Professor Ryan wrong. My science mind knew that I couldn’t disprove his claim without any data. I needed  working knowledge of the tweet-world—I needed research. I set up my account, ready to taste victory.

Well, Professor Ryan, to my enjoyment, I was wrong—horribly wrong.

Sure, Twitter is another social media platform, and just like Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, and many others can be a forum for pointless life play-by-plays. But what I didn’t realize, is just how useful a tool it is to connect to people who share your interests—people who can debate, brainstorm, advise, and share their experiences with you. In this way, social media can facilitate educational and professional growth.

“Today, social media go beyond personal connections to permeate professional interactions, including scientific ones,” Emily S. Darling, David Shiffman, Isabelle M. Côté, and Joshua A. Drew explain in their paper The role of Twitter in the life cycle of a scientific publication.

“Twitter provides a large virtual department of colleagues that can help to rapidly generate, share and refine new ideas.”

Within my first few weeks on twitter, I connected with Bora “The Blogfather,” Zivkovic, blog editor at Scientific American. He urged me to to register for ScienceOnline2013, an “un-conference” dedicated to connecting people interested in the intersection of science and online media—many of whom met on Twitter. I was unsure if I could hold my own at the event, as I was “just a student,” but I decided to register anyway.

At ScienceOnline I learned an immense amount about online media, writing, science, and networking—but I learned the most about myself. I am not just a student. You are not just a student. We are students with passions, interests, opinions, and unique perspectives. We each have something to say, and it is that something that connects us. We have something to say, and people want to hear it.

From the moment I walked into the conference center, I felt at home. I was surrounded by my Twitter community—my “Tweeps,” (twitter peeps) people who shared my love for science, and who wanted to connect, collaborate, and learn from others regardless of position.  My Tweeps have become, in essence, a family—a network of support, knowledge, and life-long friendships that would never have been had I not reached out to the online science community.

Perhaps you have never tweeted, or you have never thought to use Twitter to network with people in your field of study, perhaps you are uninterested. But if curiosity is calling here are some tips to getting started from a former nonbeliever:

#1 Find your conversation: hashtags are more than a fad.

With over 550 million active users on twitter, there is a conversation for everyone. Searching for hashtags (noted with a pound symbol) is a great way to find people with similar interests. For example, initially, I searched for tweets which had been tagged “#sciencewriters” and “#studentjournalism” in hopes of finding other science writers and student journalists who I could talk to about their experience.

#2 Find your voice: forget titles and don’t be shy.

Reaching out to professionals can be a bit daunting. Leave your fear at the door—er, homepage. The first step in successful networking is saying hello.

My search for “#sciencewriters” brought me to aviation and space journalist Miles O’Brien. I had recently seen one of his films, and had some questions about his experience working on it. He had 31,745 followers, so I assumed he wouldn’t respond, but I reached out anyway. To my surprise, he responded right away, and was happy to talk shop. Remember that most people are active on social media because they want to talk and share.

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#3 Find your “tweeps”

Once you find people who interest you, start looking at who they follow. What are those people saying? Who do they follow? By taking the time to see what your tweeps are saying, and who they are saying it to, you can quickly expand your network.

#4 Find each other elsewhere: “tweetup,” and “Hangout”

Yes, “tweetup!”  Just like ScienceOnline brought together 450 people from an online community, small-scale Tweetups (in person meetings with twitter friends and colleagues) are a great way to stay connected, and make new connections. Find people in your area who share you interests, and suggest a meeting to bounce ideas around, or talk about your work.

At ScienceOnline I was able to connect with the four other undergraduate students attending by sending out the following tweet using the conference’s designated hashtag “#SciO13:”

“Hey #scio13 undergrads, meet in the Marriott [hotel] lobby?”

Now that we are back in our home-states, we are able to stay connected with Google+ “Hangouts” (multi-person video-chats). Every two weeks we meet on Google+ to talk about internships, school, blogging, and science writing in general.  We share our questions, and comments by posting them on twitter using our hashtag “#sciyoung.”

 

@scifleur, @shanpalus and @sarahkeartes discussing the best way to handle rude comments on blog posts at the last #sciyoung Hangout

@scifleur, @sarahkeartes and @shanpalus discuss the best way to handle rude comments on blog posts at the last #sciyoung Hangout.

You can see how my twitter community is helping me achieve my goals. Get out there, get creative, and get connected.

Has social media helped your career? Let me know by commenting below!

Follow Sarah on Twitter!

Infographic by Katie Ph.D.

Rita’s Super Moist Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

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-Rache’ll Brown

I love going home. Not because I get to see my two beautiful Boxers and my loving parents—although that is a plus—but because I have free reign over a fully stocked kitchen to make anything I can dream of. And of course the only thing I ever want to make is, well, cake (which I can attribute to the strange amount of cake-themed music I listen to). So while I was home for spring break, I grabbed my mom’s cookbook and found her friend Rita’s cake recipe, which is a family favorite, and got to work.

Rita’s Super Moist Chocolate Cake

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
½ tsp salt
1 stick of unsalted butter
½ cup of vegetable oil
1 cup Water
¼ cup cocoa powder
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup of buttermilk
1 tsp of baking soda

Peanut Butter Frosting

6 tbsp of unsalted butter at room temperature
¾ cup of peanut butter
1 cup of confectioners’ sugar

#1 First, mix together the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl and set it aside. Next, put the butter, vegetable oil, and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, and then add in the cocoa powder and mix until dissolved. Pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients, and stir until combined.

#2 Next, mix the buttermilk and baking soda in a separate container, then add it in with the rest of the ingredients and stir until the batter is smooth. This batter will be extremely wet and runny, so don’t worry about it—it seems like it’s all wrong, but the result is a super moist cake that is out of this world.

#3 Put the mixture into a greased and floured 9 x 13 pan, and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes, or until the top springs back when touched, and the cake has started to pull away from the sides of the pan.

#4 Once the cake has finished baking, let it cool for at least 30 minutes before frosting. And when the cake is cooling, it is the perfect time to whip together the most mouth watering and simple peanut butter frosting. In a medium bowl, cream together room temperature butter and peanut butter (hint: while measuring peanut butter, spray the measuring cup with a little Pam first to prevent it from sticking).

#5 Once the wet ingredients are light and fluffy, slowly add in the confectioners’ sugar. It might seem clumpy and thick at first, but the longer it is beaten, the creamier it gets. Stick the frosting in the fridge until the cake is completely cooled, and then smooth it on in a thick layer.

This cake is so unbelievably moist, delicious, and easy to make that I will literally never make a boxed cake again. The peanut butter frosting is a perfect compliment to the chocolate cake (which isn’t too rich. The cake has a subtle flavor with an out-of-this-world texture), and I can guarantee there isn’t a human on this planet that would dislike this delicious recipe.

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How to make a perfect cup of coffee using the Aeropress


-Casey Klekas

The word addict, as in “I am a coffee addict,” comes from the latin word addictus, meaning “to surrender” or “to pay religious devotion.” My girlfriend has helped me explore new ways of devoting myself to the coffee bean. She has opened me to newer and more elaborate rituals of transforming those roasted seeds into a subtler and more intricate cup of coffee. For instance, she bought me an Aeropress, a plunger of a device that combines the advantages of the French press and the espresso machine—all for less than thirty bucks.

The Aeropress is a cylinder of two inches in diameter, five inches in length, with a screw on cap at the bottom for a paper filter. You’re supposed to put two scoops of ground coffee inside the tube with the filter locked on. You fill it half full with water, wait thirty seconds, then “press” the plunger device to push the liquid out of the grounds, through the filter and into the waiting cup below. This normally gives you a double shot of espresso, which you top with water for an Americano, or milk for a latte. I have experimented with countless techniques for using the Aeropress and have come to accept a variant of the “inverted method” as my favorite. Here’s what I do (at least three times a day):

I heat the water to just below 200 degrees F. Water should never be boiling (212 degrees) when it hits the coffee or else your liable to get stuck with a burnt flavor. If you’re using an electric kettle, let it sit for a minute after reaching boil, or if you’re as sick as me you’ll use a thermometer for perfection.

Put the plunger bottoms up and place the cylinder just over the lip of the rubber, so as to get the same water tightness as the regular method. Take a rounded scoop of medium ground coffee and dump it into the tube (use the funnel that it came with).

Pour the water so it just barely covers all the grounds, then let it sit for thirty seconds or so in order to “bloom.” Blooming is when the coffee puffs up and releases CO2 at its first contact with hot water. It’s important to let the CO2 escape now rather than slipping into your cup.

Stir with the paddle-thing it came with, then fill to an inch below the top of the brewer. Or fill then stir. Just make sure it is stirred and filled, ok? We wanna get all the coffee grinds soaking, alright? Mmkay.

Let it sit for one minute or more, but not more than two minutes because you’ll be flirting with bitterness. While you’re waiting, put the filter in the cap and rinse with your hot water. You want to rinse the filter so as to get rid of any papery flavor, unless you are one of those who liked to eat the paper as much as the cupcake. I am guilty of doing this well beyond my adolescence. Rinse the filter over the cup you’ll soon fill with coffee. You want to avoid any big temperature jumps so as not to stifle the potential flavor of your (Roma) beans.

Pour out the water in your cup, screw on the filter, then carefully but quickly flip the whole brewer on top of your mug. Press until you hear the hissing of the last bits of liquid being squeezed out of your grounds. Sometimes I press all the way, but you’ll get a “cleaner” cup if you don’t.

Fill another half of the mug with water, let sit for a minute, then pour it on your keyboard, I mean, all over your pillow—no wait, just drink it. Drink it with your mouth. Open your lips and start to suck. Once the liquid fills and scolds your entire mouth, then swallow…