Thankful Thursday: Suspended Coffee

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I read the story below today and it filled my heart with hope and faith. I love the concept of ‘suspended coffee.’ After reading it on A Well Traveled Woman, I searched for the original source and was delighted to read this press release from Starbucks offering a suspended coffee program in London. The original suspended coffee concept started in Naples, Italy and it’s quickly catching on. There’s even a Facebook page for the idea. Talk to your local coffee house and let’s get the program going here in the US!

Today I am thankful for this story and coffee! Happy Thankful Thursday!

We enter a little coffeehouse with a friend of mine and give our order. While we’re approaching our table, two people come in and they go to the counter: ‘Five coffees, please. Two of them for us and three suspended’ They pay for their order, take the two and leave.

I ask my friend: “What are those ‘suspended’ coffees?”
My friend: “Wait for it and you will see.”

Some more people enter. Two girls ask for one coffee each, pay and go. The next order was for seven coffees and it was made by three lawyers – three for them and four ‘suspended’. While I still wonder what’s the deal with those ‘suspended’ coffees I enjoy the sunny weather and the beautiful view towards the square in front of the café. Suddenly a man dressed in shabby clothes who looks like a beggar comes in through the door and kindly asks, ‘Do you have a suspended coffee?’

It’s simple – people pay in advance for a coffee meant for someone who can not afford a warm beverage. The tradition with the suspended coffees started in Naples, but it has spread all over the world and in some places you can order not only a suspended coffee, but also a sandwich or a whole meal.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have such cafés or even grocery stores in every town where the less fortunate will find hope and support? If you own a business why don’t you offer it to your clients… I am sure many of them will like it.

Image and story source.

Here’s to the Kilted Pig!

Well, it officially feels like summer! We’re at our first BBQ competition of the year!

This competition is especially exciting because if the spouse places high enough, he’ll go to a regional competition in Albuquerque, NM. Wish him luck!

It’s also very special because it’s our little piglet’s first competition. All we’ve done is unload the trailer and he’s already zonked out!

Hope you all have a great weekend! Enjoy the Kentucky Derby on Saturday and Happy Cinco de Mayo, too!

Wish the Kilted Pig good luck!

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Tasty Tuesday: Sweet Treats

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

I hope you all have a LOVE-ly day planned. Even if you don’t have a Valentine per se, I hope you do something nice today for someone you love (giving yourself a little treat totally counts!).

For today’s Tasty Tuesday, I thought I’d share how easy it is to make Snickerdoodles. I decided these delicious cookies would be a perfect V-day treat for my coworkers and spouse (he swiped a couple right outta the oven last night) and gave them a little Valentine’s flair using red sugar instead of white.

I know Snickerdoodles aren’t traditionally a V-day treat, but honestly I’m not a huge fan of sugar cookies with frosting (and I can never make the frosting look quite right). I’m much more of chocolate gal or a spicy gal and this time the cinnamon-sweet of the Snickerdoodle won.

Check out this super-easy, super-quick recipe to whip up a batch of your own.

Wishing you all a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Tasty Tuesday: I Miss Beer

I’m a beer drinker. I like it…a lot. And not because it makes my head feel floaty or because it’s easier to make bad decisions after having a few. Nope, I’m not into beer for the alcohol alone…I like the taste of beer.

I’ve been labeled a bit of a “beer snob” or “beer geek” by those that genuinely enjoy a Bud Light, but truth be told, I’m really not all that knowledgeable about the brown bottle. Living in the Napa Valley of beers, I’m surround by actual ‘beer geeks’ who know far more than I do….I just like a good beer.

I like it hoppy and a little malty. I love Pale Ales, Reds and IPA. I enjoy the light flavor of a Stella on a hot day and heavy creaminess of a Guinness in March. I have dreams about Yeungling (only available east of the Mississippi). And when I’m feelin’ fancy, I’ll bust open a bottle of Chimay. Mmm….

And, as many of you know, my spouse is a home-brewer so we often have two home-brews on tap at the house. Lately, because he’s a real sweetie, he has one beer on tap and a home-made root beer on the other for his expecting wife. Awwww.

But root beer doesn’t always cut it. Over the last eight months, I’ve missed my hoppy elixir of malted grain and in efforts to satisfy my craving I’ve tried about every non-alcoholic beverage under the sun. Today, I thought I’d share my findings so you lovely beer guzzlin’ gals will have some guidance when it comes to spirits if you suddenly find yourself with child.

Non-Alcoholic Beer

In order of preference:

St. Pauli Girl – Hands down, my favorite NA. It’s a little odd, given my affinity for the heavier, hoppier microbrews, but I have to say when it comes to “beer” taste, St. Pauli Girl gets it the closest. It’s a lightweight malt beverage, perfect for a hot day or with a meal. I’ve knocked back quite a few of these green bottles in the last eight months and will definitely be trying regular St. Pauli Girl post-pregnancy. I’ve never really considered regular St. Pauli Girl beer before and can honestly say I have no idea what it tastes like.

O’Doul’s – Probably the most famous of the NA’s, you can find O’Doul’s at almost every bar, restaurant, or liquor store. For those that typically imbibe on the more flavorful selections, I’d recommend trying the Amber O’Doul’s (comes in a brown bottle). It has a lot more ‘beer’ flavor and has more substantial weight on the tongue than O’Doul’s Premium (green bottle).

Kaliber – An interesting spin on NA if you ask me. This swig will definitely give you some taste, but it’s not what you’d expect. Created by the folks who bring us Guinness, this slightly darker ale has a coffee-infused flavor and aftertaste. While the flavor of Kaliber is stronger than that of most of the other NA’s, it’s still a very light-weight brew and won’t fill you up.

Bitburger – I just stumbled upon this one recently. Bitburger is a German beer with more hops than most NA’s and quite a bite. The flavor is definitely strong….it takes some getting used to…but it grows on you as you sip down this bubbly beverage. It’s the only beer I’ve found that is 0.0% ABV (most NA’s are less than 0.5% ABV).

Becks – I’m not a huge fan of Becks NA. It’s a light amber but a little too light in flavor. Also, there is something of an unsettling aftertaste with this brew. I wouldn’t necessarily turn it down but it’s not the first one I’d ask for.

Sharps – By far, the worst beer I’ve ever had (and I had a Hamm’s once pre-pregnancy). Unfortunately for Miller, their NA beer is just as bad as their regular beer. I assumed that the domestic beer giants (Budweiser, MillerCoors) would make a terrible NA because their regular beer sucks, so I avoided the majority of their products while preggo. In Vegas, I was accidentally served a Sharps when I mistakenly asked for a NA brew without asking what the options were. I made it less than half-way through the bottle before paying a ridiculous Vegas-price and leaving it to be dumped out.

So, there ya have it…my NA beer reviews! Like I mentioned, I never explored the typical domestics so I’m not sure what Coors Light NA tastes like (but I’d venture to guess, based on the taste of regular Coors Light, it’d be…..water-flavored?). And I’m sure you can find more flavorful, zany brews if you really dig through the NA aisle but I think the selection above captures most of the widely available NA’s.

I know for sure, the brews near the top of the list will definitely quench your thirst when you’re a sober sister in need of cold one.

Thankful Thursday: A Baby Shower

It’s our last Thankful Thursday in 2011….can you believe it?? To make this Thankful Thursday an extra special day, I wanted to share with you the amazing baby shower that my family threw in anticipation of our baby boy’s arrival.

I am so very lucky to have a huge family full of loving, funny, creative, and talented people. In addition to flying me out for a girls’ weekend on the east coast, my adorable kin hosted an incredibly thoughtful (and super fun) vintage baby shower for me and the little bump. To top it off, my lovely sister, Maggie, and dear friend, Jesse, joined me for the trip! It was an incredible weekend!

The amazing “Bun in the Oven” theme was cooked up by my mom and sister, Kate. Personalized invitations were hand-drawn by my talented friend, Keryn, and my awesome cousin, Richard (plus they framed the original artwork for me to take home!).

Guests were invited to share wishes for our little man while they sat at tables adorned with vintage table clothes and old-school toys – thanks to the imagination of my Aunt Roni and cousin, Janel.

The food (oh the food!) was AMAZING! My Aunt Edna, Aunt Roni, Grandma, Mom, Sister, Cousin Lori, Cousin Janel, and Cousin Jared poured their hearts into a deliciously classic feast with homemade turkey pot pies, a delectable fennel salad, buttered brussel sprouts, and hearty sandwiches.

And dessert! They had every kind of pie you could imagine as well as cake pops that tasted just as amazing as they looked…compliments of the adorable Brittany. We also enjoyed egg nog, hot apple cider, and a yummy fizzy punch (with champagne on the side).

These creative ladies didn’t stop there. The chalkboard details, blue checkered napkins, and rustic buckets gave an extra bit of vintage to the eclectic decor, but to top it off, the hosts of the shower wore hand-made aprons (made by my Aunt Roni and my cousin, Richard)! Aren’t they adorable?!

And wait….there’s more!!! While I couldn’t resist snapping my own photos to share with you and capture the memory of such a special day, my dear friend Jesse documented the day professionally. Please check out her photos over at freckle photography. Mine don’t do the shower justice!

I’m so thankful for the many friends and family gathered to help us celebrate our little bundle of joy (due on March 9th). I am still overwhelmed with gratitude for the delightful shower, the gifts upon gifts received, and the time spent with such wonderful people.

On this Thankful Thursday, I couldn’t be anymore appreciative of the fantastic women (and men) who put together such a special day. I’ll keep the memories of that weekend with me always and can’t wait until our little guy is here and can meet his amazing family.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!!!

Christmas Treats

There are only six days left until Christmas! SIX!!!!! My activities as of late have been holiday shopping, wrapping presents, planning a Christmas outfit, singing Christmas carols, decorating my house, and I’ve even had visions of sugar plums in my dreams. Let’s just say I’m full of holiday spirit.

I’ve also been indulging in one of my favorite aspects of Christmas….holiday treats!! Oh, how I LOVE Christmas-inspired foods (who doesn’t?). There are so many delectable goodies this time of year…it just seems wrong to have them any other time. Like, cheeseballs for instance. In the last nine days, I’ve jammed a cracker into an orange ball of port wine flavored creaminess and let my taste buds implode at the excitement of the salty, sweet Christmas classic not once…but TWICE. And you know why it’s okay? No…not because I’m pregnant (but that doesn’t hurt) but because it’s CHRISTMAS! When else is it acceptable to eat a ball of cheese?

Mmm. Or have pie for breakfast? Or drink eggnog? There are so many edible ways to celebrate Christmas. What are your favorite holiday goodies? For me, the list includes eggnog lattes, cheeseballs (duh), chocolate crackle cookies (heaven with a sprinkle of confectioner’s sugar), warm biscuits, walnut rolls, candy canes, sparkling cider (and every other year champagne tops the list), a whole Feast of Seven Fishes spread, fudge, and hot coffee by the tree on Christmas morning.

Note: My mouth is watering with joyful anticipation as hungrily type this post.

Tonight, I plan to bust out my baking pans and really get to work on some holiday cookies. And I plan to have an EGL every day this week! Hope you have a holly, jolly food-filled Monday!

Images Clockwise from Top Left: Tasty Kitchen, Savory Sweet LifeVintage Rose Garden, Katie Cakes.

Thankful Week: Baking

Happy Tuesday!

I woke up this morning with a serious hankering for coffee cake. Doesn’t that sound amazing? I think I’m making a stop at Starbucks on the way into the office today. Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake, here I come!

(Side note, I wrote this post before heading into the office and the car in front of me at the drive-thru bought my coffee! Isn’t that awesome?! I bought a cup for the person behind me…keep the joy going! I’m also thankful for kind people today!)

Today, I am thankful for baking. More specifically, for the resulting baked goods. If I’m being honest with myself, I’m thankful for home-baked goodies every day…especially the last few months. I’m no stranger to carb cravings but being pregnant has amplified my usual lust for a loaf (or a cookie or a muffin) to an obsession. Mmmm, cookies.

Being that this week is Thanksgiving, I’ve decided to indulge in my desire for delectable buns by baking a few of my favorite pumpkin treats. I’ve always enjoyed baking (whether or not I’m actually good at it) and I’m thankful for the smell of cookies or pastries in the oven, for licking the spoon, eating the dough, and for the warm treat I get to enjoy once it’s done.

Here’s a few of the planned treats for this week. I can’t wait to make them!

Pumpkin Pie – My contribution to Thanksgiving dinner since the spouse cooks everything else (seriously, I’m lucky gal).

Pumpkin Bread – A yummy treat for Thanksgiving morning. I plan to enjoy it with an egg nog latte.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars – Something to hold me over until T-Day. I need a sweet bit o’ pumpkin and little chocolate now.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding – WHAT!!!?? How have I not had this before!

Okay, I totally don’t plan to attempt to make bread pudding before Thanksgiving but I might let myself try it out over the weekend. I found it while searching for the other pics and recipes…..it looks mouth-watering good (don’t you agree!?).

What Thanksgiving day baked goods are you thankful for?

All images & recipes via Martha Stewart.

Fort Fun

Happy Wednesday!

I’m so excited today because my cousin and his girlfriend are here visiting all the way from New Jersey! We’re going to spend the next few days exploring Fort Collins….which is one of my favorite things to do! There’s nothing quite like getting to act like a tourist in your own town; going to our favorite restaurants, an excuse to shop in our quaint downtown, and visiting our plethora of breweries. It’s gonna be AWESOME!

We’re looking forward to a fun couple of days of tourist-time. I thought I’d let all of you in on a few of our local faves so next time you’re in Fort Fun, you know the best places to check out:

Dining

Hotels:

Shopping:

Night Life:

Brewery Tours:

Outdoor Fun:

Not to mention there are a zillion ski resorts within two hours of Fort Collins, Estes Park is only an hour away, and the bright lights of Denver are a quick 60 minutes south. Man, I love this town.

Have a great Wednesday!

Happy Halloween!

It’s Allhallows Eve! I hope you all are enjoying this spooky holiday!

I’m not sure if I’ve ever told you this or not, but I have this weird thing for commercials. Silly, I know. TV commercials can make me giggle like little else can….and who doesn’t like a good giggle?

In honor of today’s holiday, and in honor of my all-time favorite candy, I thought I’d share one my very favorite commercials with you. This commercial has been on for ages and, although I’ve seen it hundreds of times, it never fails to result in a chuckle (and a craving for Reese’s).

This year I didn’t  see it on tv (probably because it was made in 1992 – I’m guessing it’s run its course) but thanks to the magic that is YouTube we don’t have to miss out!

Have a safe and happy Halloween!!

Tasty Tuesday: Strawberry Rhubarb

Happy Tuesday!!

Today’s treat dates back to my childhood…mom used to make Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp every Sunday during the summer and I always looked forward to it! A few weeks ago, my rhubarb was growing out of control and craving a for a summer-y cobbler struck me hard. I needed to eat cobbler and I needed to use the rhubarb….immediately.

So, into the garden I went. I whacked down the giant-leafed fruit and unloaded stalks of it on my counter. Wanting a sweet dessert, I thought back on the days of mom’s Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp and found this recipe online. After a quick trip to the store for some strawberries, I got to work.

Unfortunately, I accidentally used too little corn starch so the consistency  was a bit more soup-y than cobbler-y. I served it to friends at a football party and it wasn’t exactly a touchdown. However, after a few hours in the fridge, it firmed up and I happily ate it for breakfast, lunch and dessert for the rest of the week. :)

Although, I admit this is more of a summer treat than a fall dessert, I thought some of you might still have rhubarb growing in your gardens (if not, I’m sure your local grocer has it). Serve it warmed up with a little vanilla ice cream – and this dessert is delicious any time of year. Give it a try and let me know if you like it!