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Making Your Own Chocolate

chocolateNovember 29 is National Chocolate Day, and if you are inclined to celebrate (and who wouldn’t?) with a sampling of some delicious chocolates, you may want to try making your own. While you could go out to your favorite local candy store, it is fun to try a new recipe now and then. Making your own chocolate is not as hard as you might think. You can use chocolate in just about any meal to celebrate this national holiday. Hot chocolate and chocolate croissants for breakfast, s’mores for a morning snack, chocolate martini with your lunch, chocolate-covered apple for your mid-afternoon snack and chocolate-infused chili for dinner. Here is a recipe for making your own chocolate in your Austin apartment:

Making Chocolate

If you look online for recipes on making chocolate, you will find several versions. Since chocolate has several health benefits, even health advocates recommend chocolate for the diet. However, it comes in several forms including raw chocolate, vegan chocolate, dark chocolate, etc. While you can always add ingredients to your chocolate, for this post, let’s just keep it simple and use common ingredients that you can find at most grocery stores.

Ingredients

(You can start with cocoa beans. If you want to do that, try this recipe.)

  • 1/2 cup cocoa butter, grated
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • Sugar (dry, not honey or other liquid sugars) to taste (or another sweetener)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • Milk powder (optional)
  • Add-ins such as nuts, raisins
  • Molds, to pour chocolate in

Instructions:

  1. Melt cocoa butter and coconut oil together on a low temperature until they are both melted completely. Keep temperature low so they don’t bubble or burn.
  2. Add sugar, cocoa powder, milk powder and any other dry ingredients. Mix by hand or using a Melanger which makes chocolate blend better and more smoothly.
  3. Mix until completely smooth or to your liking.
  4. For shiny chocolate, temper it by heating and cooling repeatedly until you have the shininess desired. For use in other recipes, you can skip this step.
  5. Mix in add-ins.
  6. Pour into molds and let cool.

Chocolate can be made with many added ingredients such as cayenne for a spicier mix, or without sugar for baking. As you practice this recipe, you can alter it to your own tastes and usage. To get more information on our floor plans to enjoy your homemade chocolate, contact us by phone or email.

5 Ways to Revel in National Dessert Day

cupcakesDesserts are not just for special occasions. There are so many great reasons to eat desserts that there is even a holiday to celebrate the existence of sweet treats: National Dessert Day takes place on October 14 this year. Whether you celebrate it at home, at a local bakery, or with your friends and family, there are a lot of great ways to enjoy National Dessert Day.

Celebrate National Dessert Day

  • Visit a local bakery. Put your money (and your dessert) where your mouth is by celebrating unique, local flavors like dulce de leche, jalapeño strawberry, and cajeta confections to tickle your taste buds and expand your culinary repertoire.
  • Try out a new recipe. Now is the time to search the internet, crack open those dusty cookbooks, or try an old (but new to you) recipe from your great-grandmother. Bring the dessert out at dinnertime or enjoy a little merienda with a neighbor, friend, or child.
  • Have a bake-off competition. Call up your friends or post a Facebook invite. Have everyone make something unique, or try out making the same dessert. Or create a dessert based off of a theme, such as desserts from around the world. Have fun, award prizes, and take lots of pictures.
  • Take your family out to a food truck. Austin is famous for its food trucks. Surprise the whole family after dinner and find the sweetest food trucks. Your taste buds will thank you and your family will remember it forever.
  • Go out to eat. Take your significant other on a date to a restaurant and only order desserts. Try an eclair at a French restaurant, sopapillas at a Tex-Mex restaurant, or a baklava dripping with honey at a Mediterranean restaurant. The choices are endless. Or go out for some delicious gelato and enjoy strolling around afterward.

Whatever you end up doing, have lots of fun, and enjoy this fun holiday. If you are looking for a way to make life a little sweeter every day of the year in your Austin apartment, 9500 Apartments may be the cherry on top! Call us to see what floor plans we have available.

Celebrate National Cheeseburger Day In Austin

burger and fries
Texas is known for the outstanding beef that comes from its cattle industry, and residents of the Lone Star State will go out of their way to get a great burger whenever they can get a chance. With that in mind, you’ll want to celebrate National Cheeseburger Day in Austin, which takes place on Sept. 18, 2017.

If you’re new to Austin or are just unfamiliar with its many great burger spots, a recent article from the Eater offers some excellent choices that will tempt you on National Cheeseburger Day. Here are some suggestions that will be sure to have your mouth watering for a burger with cheese at one of these establishments:

Casino El Camino

Perfect for those who love spicy food, the Amarillo burger served here comes with jalapeno jack cheese and roasted Serrano peppers.

Chu-Mikal’s Cafe

Mike and Margarita Raupe (from Dan’s Hamburgers, see below) launched their first version of Chu-Mikal in South Austin back in 1989. You’ll love the family-friendly ambiance as you eat one of their cheeseburgers.

Dan’s Hamburgers

This eatery is part of a 44-year-old Texas chain. Dan’s Hamburgers is known by locals for the eight minutes it takes them to create each cheeseburger after being ordered.

Hopfields

If you’re in the mood for something rich and strongly flavored, you can’t beat the Pascal burger, which comes covered in mustard and Camembert cheese.

Jacoby’s Restaurant & Mercantile

Many diners appreciate knowing exactly where their food comes from. If this is your preference, you’ll want to head on over to Jacoby’s Restaurant & Mercantile, which obtains its beef from a Melvin-based family-owned ranch. Don’t miss the half-pound beef burger with bacon, a fried egg and that all-important cheese.
With so many amenities and great places to eat around town, you may be interested in finding an Austin apartment to call home. For details on which floor plans are available at 9500 in Austin, please get in touch with us today!

Austin’s Free Day of Yoga

back yoga poseDating as far back as the Stone Age, the practice of yoga brings serenity and peace to the modern world. More than 36 million Americans practice yoga, according to the 2016 Yoga in America Study.

The reason that yoga is so popular is because it offers numerous benefits for both the body and mind, including pain relief, flexibility, muscle strength, improved posture, better bone health and stress relief. Once you experience the healing power of yoga for yourself, you’ll be motivated to step on the mat every chance you get.

Residents at 9500 apartments in Austin can experience the benefits of yoga—for free. Mark your calendar for Monday, September 4; the 18th annual Free Day of Yoga will take place on Labor Day. Studios all over the area will be offering completely free yoga classes to residents from Austin and the surrounding communities. The classes will take place all day from dusk until dawn.

This event is perfect for beginners that want to try yoga for the first time. As there are more than 100 different types of yoga around the world, it is great to try new practices from time-to-time. The Free Day of Yoga provides an excellent opportunity for experienced yogis to try a new class, studio or teacher. Pure Yoga Texas, Yoga Yoga, Castle Hill Fitness and other businesses are sponsoring this event. Some of the participating studios include Birdsong Bodywork and Pilates, Yoga Sense, SunstoneFIT and more.

The classes are perfect for all ages and fitness levels. There will be a variety of yoga practices to choose from on Labor Day, including:

  • Yoga basics
  • Hot flow
  • Yoga in the garden
  • Tibetan and yin yoga
  • Somatics
  • Sun and moon salutations
  • Unwind with yoga

A kickoff class will take place on Labor Day at 7 a.m. at Whole Foods in downtown. There will be prizes, free snacks and more at the kickoff. Bring your yoga mat and discover yoga on Labor Day. Share this information with family and friends so that they can experience the benefits of yoga, too!

Austin, Texas offers residents so many lifestyle and cultural events throughout the year. For more information about apartments in Austin, call (855) 205-9261 and find out what floor plans and amenities 9500 Apartments has to offer!

How Mirrors Can Transform Your Apartment

gallery wallMirrors can be both practical and mysterious. Checking your reflection helps match clothing and they also create amazing illusions. Here are four ideas that may help the residents of 9500 in Austin, Texas, use mirrors to transform your living spaces.

Go Big

Mirrors lend the optical illusion that spaces are larger than their actual square footage. For example, an oversized mirror at the end of a corridor can make that pathway look twice as long. In spaces like the living room or dining room, changing a full wall from white to a reflective surface makes a cozy room appear huge. Strategic use of big, oversized mirrors is all about perception and creating a feeling that you and your guests are immersed in vastly larger spaces. Target your largest walls for the greatest effect.

Mirror Doors

Adding an over-the-door mirror to doors can extend the appearance of the room and be tremendously practical. It provides an opportunity to preview dresses, suits and ties by retrieving them from your closet and holding them up in the mirror. With the mirror only a few steps away, it streamlines the process of getting ready for work, parties and networking events. A full-length mirror of this type can be a dress-up game-changer.

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

The artistic repurposing of vintage items can be both environmentally friendly and trendy. Many interior designs feature repainted old picture frames with inset mirrors. They add a splash of color to a room and the mirror adds brightness.

Vibrant Displays

Collectors often enjoy sharing their treasures with friends and family. These rarities may be set out on a table or in a display case. Either way, adding a mirror can really make them pop. Place a mirror under a table display and suddenly it has a new, eye-catching dimension that draws people’s attention. Using mirrors in this way puts your prized possessions on full display.

We hope these transformative mirror ideas inspire our 9500 community members. If you or a friend would like more information about our Austin apartments, call us today!

Summer Tea Recipes

ice teaSummer is the perfect time to mix up a batch of iced tea and spend the afternoon outside with a good book. Are you tired of your same old boring iced tea recipe? Try one of these wonderful alternatives.

Power-Packed Iced Tea

This recipe comes from AZ Foothills and incorporates chia seeds, which many people claim is a superfood. Healthier than regular sweet tea or not, this recipe is certainly delicious!

  • 1/2 t. black chia seeds
  • 1 cup boiling water plus 2 t. room temp water
  • 1 bag of your favorite black tea
  • Ice cubes
  • Lemon wedge
  1. In a small bowl, add chia seeds to 2 tablespoons of water. Set aside.
  2. Bring remaining water to a boil and brew tea for 5 minutes. Add soaked chia seeds.
  3. Fill a tall glass with ice.
  4. Slowly pour brewed tea over ice and garnish with a lemon wedge.

Old-Fashioned Southern Sweet Tea

Traditional recipes stand the test of time because people love the way they taste. This iced sweet tea recipe from Food.com adds a pinch of baking soda to smooth out the acidity. The result is a smoother than smooth beverage, perfect for sipping on the hottest of summer days.

  • 6 black tea bags
  • 1⁄8 t. baking soda
  • 2 cups boiling water plus 6 cups cold water
  • 1 1⁄2 cup sugar
  1. Boil 2 cups of water. Add baking soda to the water and stir until completely dissolved.
  2. Brew tea in a large heat-proof container for 15 minutes.
  3. Remove tea bags and discard.
  4. Add sugar to the hot tea and stir to dissolve.
  5. Add cold water to hot tea and stir together.
  6. Cool on your countertop until room temperature.
  7. Place in refrigerator to completely cool.
  8. Serve over fresh ice in a tall glass.

Spend this summer at the 9500 Apartments in Austin, where you can enjoy a summer of swimming and relaxation in a cozy residential setting. Call (844) 230-8099 to learn more about the community or to schedule a personal tour.

5 Ways to Stay Protected on a Sunny Summer Day in Austin

Guy Wearing SunglassesSummer is right around the corner, and the Texas sun is going to be blazing. While Austin is a great place to spend the season, offering plenty of things to do, it gets pretty warm in this part of the country and it’s important to stay protected from the sun’s rays. If you’re spending the summer in Austin, here are five ways to stay protected on a sunny summer day!

Wear Sunscreen

The sunshine is good for you, but UV rays are not. To stay protected, you will want to make sure you are wearing plenty of sunscreen. Look for a sunscreen that is rated at SPF 30 or higher.

Wear Sunglasses

Your eyes are especially vulnerable to the sun’s rays. To keep them safe, be sure to wear your polarized sunglasses when you go outdoors on a summer day.

Wear a Hat

Another article of clothing that can keep you safe from the sun is a hat. Long before they were fashion statements, hats were meant to keep the sun’s rays away from your face and eyes. A good ballcap (or any other type of hat that provides adequate shade) is always a great idea on a summer day!

Stick to the Shade

It’s always significantly cooler in the shade, which means less chance of a heat stroke. The shade also blocks most UV radiation, which means less chance of skin damage.

Stay Hydrated

One of the most important things you can do to stay safe in hot weather is to stay hydrated. Make sure you bring a water bottle with you when you go outdoors, and drink from it often.

At 9500 Apartments, we hope you will join us in sunny Austin this summer. If you would like to learn more about our Austin apartments, feel free to contact us today!

Follow These Tips for Your Next Spring Picnic in Austin

Outdoor picnicSpringtime in Texas is picnic season! The residents at our Austin apartments have been packing their baskets and stocking up on flying discs, so we thought this would be a great opportunity to share some spring picnic tips with you.

Supplies

There are a few items that are simply picnic essentials.

  • Large blanket. Go for an oversized blanket that’s ideally large enough to accommodate food and people.
  • Insulated picnic tote. Insulated totes do the duty of keeping refrigerated items chilled. Plus, they help keep everything organized and easy to carry. Look for a tote with pockets that hold easy-to-forget tools, such as corkscrews.
  • Plates & cups. Styrofoam is hard on the environment. Strong paper works perfectly, and it’s recyclable. If you’re looking for something even more eco-friendly, look for compostable products made from fallen leaves.
  • Utensils. Plastic, disposable utensils get the job done most of the time, but it helps to have a few real knives on hand in case you have cheese or hard-to-cut items.

Food

Most picnic food can be made ahead of time, allowing you to enjoy the carefree afternoon when you unpack your basket. A quick online search will provide you with thousands of tasty recipe ideas that travel well and are delicious make-ahead outdoor meals. In addition to sandwiches and salads, be sure to pack a variety of nuts, cheeses, fruits and berries; they’re great for grazing throughout the day.

Drinks

Many parks don’t allow glass, so be sure to check the rules before you head out. For beer, it’s just as easy to opt for cans. If you’re going for wine, cartons are a great workaround in glass-free spaces.

With this checklist, you’ll be on your way to fun in the sun in no time! Naturally, a great picnic takes place outside, but it’s even better when the basket’s packed in a great kitchen. If you agree, stop by our 9500 Apartments, and check out our beautiful living spaces.

Tips for Keeping Your Pup Healthy and Happy This Spring

White puppyWith the weather warming up in spring, you can expect your pup to want to spend more time outdoors. While fresh air and exercise are great for your pet, there are certain hazards you should be aware of, such as tick-borne diseases and illnesses spread by other dogs. Use the following tips to make sure your pup stays safe and happy this season.

Keep Fleas and Ticks at Bay

Fleas and ticks can make your dog miserable or even ill this spring. Some dogs are allergic to flea bites, while ticks can spread certain diseases to dogs. Applying a preventative flea and tick product can help reduce your dog’s risk of being bitten by these pets when you’re outside.

Check Your Pup’s Vaccinations

Your dog should be up-to-date on all vaccinations required by law and recommended by your vet. Being vaccinated helps reduce your pup’s risk of getting seriously ill from infectious diseases, such as rabies and distemper. Keep in mind that some vaccinations are good for three years, while others are only good for one year. Your vet can let you know which vaccinations your pet needs, so you can schedule an appointment.

Use a Leash

Don’t let your pup run around off leash when you’re out and about this spring. The only exception should be local dog parks that have off-leash areas that are fenced in. Keeping your dog on a leash when you’re outside helps reduce the risk of having her run off and get lost or injured. When you do take your pup out this spring, make sure she also wears a collar with current tags and microchip information in case she does get loose.

Our community in Austin, TX has well-tended ground for you and your pup to explore this spring. Please contact us to learn more about our available apartments in Austin.

3 Cocktail Recipes to Make for the Big Game

CocktailThe big game is just around the corner, which means that football fans all over the nation will be gathering to eat finger foods and cheer on their favorite team. If you are hosting the party this year, you may want to spice up the party with some fantastic cocktails. Below are just three ideas to get you started.

Sweet Tea Cocktail

If you are hosting a game day party, this sweet tea cocktail is sure to be a score with your guests. This cocktail is incredibly simple to make and only requires a few ingredients. Start by mixing mint, raspberries, cucumber and ice in a shaker, and then add lemonade and sweet tea vodka. After you shake the mixture very well, poor it over ice in a mason jar.

Lemonade Cocktail

Lemonade is a staple at most parties, and this cocktail will be no exception. You can either make homemade lemonade or use a mix, and then simply add your light liquor of choice, such as vodka or gin. It will be a great refresher to keep your guests in the game.

Beer Margaritas

Beer and football go together like a touchdown and a field goal, so why not add a little fun to your party by making some beer margaritas? All you need to do is mix together limeade, tequila, and your favorite beer in a pitcher. Then, poor the drink into margarita glasses that have salt around the rim. Now, you are really ready to support your team.

Regardless of which team you support, having amazing cocktails at your party will make you the winner of the night. If you are looking for a new place to host your party for the big game, take a look at our Austin apartments and call today to see which floor plans are available!