Monday, January 21, 2013

Thai Coffee and a Photo Shoot

Happy belated Christmas and New Years everyone! I know it has been awhile . . .

So, a blog that includes the words "cup" and "joe" in the title should probably be posting about coffee right?


So here it is, my first coffee photo shoot. This is definitely not my best latte art and I haven't been practicing much lately, but it's what we got that day. Lesson learned though . . . it's important to eat something, not have too much caffeine on an empty stomach, and not have to pee badly before I try to do something that requires fine motor skills (hence the crooked leaf).

This photo shoot was for an article I wrote about Lanna Coffee for the little magazine for which I am an editor. I invite you to read the article yourself. I have worked with a lot of different espressos over the years, and I feel like this one is a really good general, not-over-the-top crazy flavor, great starter espresso from Thailand. Normally single origin espressos have very distinct fruity or nutty flavors that can really catch you off guard. Not this one. Because of its nice and balanced flavor, I also find that this espresso is great if you like to flavor or sweeten your drink.

The best part about this coffee? It's a coffee for a cause. Proceeds from the purchase go right back into a wholistic community development plan (think sustainable agriculture, health care, water and education) that is helping the people of the hill tribes in Thailand. It's definitely a cause worth supporting. You can read more about this and order coffee here. This is my daily espresso these days, and maybe you'll enjoy it too!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

DIY Cedar Wreath

Why buy something when you can make it yourself and save your hard-earned moolah, right?! During this holiday shopping season, I have been drawn not to ornaments or the glitzy glam decor, but I have REALLY wanted a fresh wreath. Considering my only Christmas decor is a tree with no ornaments, I figured a wreath would be a good next step, and a nice addition to my naturally natural decor.

I was tempted by the $15 Costco wreaths, and then even more tempted by the $10 Trader Joe's ones. I couldn't bring myself to buy one since the forest is my backyard, so instead I bought a $3, 18 inch wire wreath ring from Joannes (with their weekly 40% coupon of course!) and clipped branches from a cedar tree in my yard. Ta da! Three dollar wreath that took less than an hour . . . and I can re-make it every year.

DIY Wreath
All you need is branches and a ring. No wire, no glue,  no nothing!
I don't think there's too much of a science to this. Messy is nice. 

Step 1: Get a wreath ring, clip lots of branches (2 different sizes)

Step 2: Wind 10-12 inch branches through the wire at 45 degrees

Outer ring done

Step 3: Wind 6-8 inch branches on the inside loop, pointing opposite direction as outside layer.

Step 4: Hang and enjoy (or add other festive things)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Giant Samoa Girl Scout Cake

Everyone and their mother seemed to pin this recipe on Pinterest awhile back, so I decided to make this giant Girl Scout Samoa Bundt Cake for a special fall dessert event we had recently. If you're interested in making it yourself, here's the recipe, from BetsyLife. It was definitely tasty, and it sure gets points on presentation. But there's a couple things I would do differently if I did this again.

1. Not make the mistake of using salted butter for the frosting (salted caramel is still yummy, but it would have been better without it).

2. The recipe is actually 2 cake batters swirled together. One chocolate and one shortbread. For the amount of time and effort it took to do this, I was disappointed that the shortbread flavor and texture didn't really show up. I would speed up the prep time by dropping the shortbread and just using a plain old chocolate cake mix. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Hike to Mitchell Peak

So, back when I was telling you that we went on vacation to Hawaii, and then took a couple stay-cation days at home, I mentioned that we did a hike and that I would tell you about it. So here it is! This was a hike to Mitchell Peak (yes, it was actually the tippy-top of a mountain). It was a 7ish mile, round-trip, hike in the Jennie Lakes Wilderness, which I kind of didn't realize was so close to where we live (about an hour away). 

Right away from the first 20 steps, which were, of course, up hill, I knew this was going to be a hard one. I don't think I've ever complained so much on a hike, as I did this one (although my mother would tell you about the famous Mother's Day Hike we took as a family, where us kids were miserable monsters). I don't think I even complained once when I did the 15-mile Half Dome hike. Luckily I have an amazing husband who put up with me on this one.

 By the time we got near the top I had to take a breather every other minute. The elevation was over 10,000 . . . so I told myself that it was ok to be winded. The summit was actually a huge pile of rocks above the tree line, so we had to do a little bouldering to get to the top (Yay, finally!) We had a fantastic 360 degree view from which to enjoy our tuna sandwiches and to take some pictures. The whole thing was definitely hard work, but worth it for the view. 

After our hike I decided that I was tired of being out of shape, so now I'm back to running. And I'll do my first race in December!


Monday, September 24, 2012

Reclaimed Wood Side Table

What do you think about this new table in our living room set up? This little guy is metal and reclaimed wood, and is actually a table that is designed to fit under a regular sized coffee table. We only got this size, and initially we felt like it was strangely sized for either a small coffee table, or for a big and low side table. But it's kind of growing on me as a short side table. What do you think? Keep, use somewhere else, or sell?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Re-done Nightstands

Happy weekend everyone. Check out our newest project. We've been married a year now, and finally just got some nightstands at Hume Lake's annual Country Fair for $10 each. We repainted them black with gray drawers, laquered the tops, and kept the original hardware. I'm thinking I may starch some fun fabric into the drawers. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Soakin' Up the Hawaiian Sun

Vacation. Ahhhh. I kind of wish I could be on vacation forever. Especially if it's with this guy . . . the location doesn't even matter. We celebrated our one-year wedding anniversary on the North Shore of Oahu, soaking up the sun, hiking, reading, sleeping in, snorkeling, and watching sunsets. Then we did a couple of stay-cation days at home, and that was just as fun. More to come on that! Today was our first day back at work, and we were reminded of how important it is to take a break, slow down, and just enjoy the important things. Plus, it makes work not so bad after a break. 

You may be wondering, how to do two newly married, non-profit employees, both with degrees from a private university who hate debt, pay for a Hawaiian vacation? Here's how:

1. Pay off college first.
2. Take the new flight from Fresno, CA to Honolulu at only $150 each way.
3. Stay in a home rental instead of a resort (about $100 per day).
4. Make our own food and don't eat out.
5. Get a rental car through Costco ($86 for the week!)

We hiked to Hidden Beach, and had it all to ourselves. 

Sunset at Sunset Beach