Homemade Spiced Gingerbread Latte

I’m a sucker for homemade coffee recipes. There is something about making coffee at home that is so “comfortable”. But that’s probably because I can make coffee in my pajamas. Also, it usually makes me feel like a scientist in a lab. Whipping up different homemade coffee potions¬†has lead me to make this spiced gingerbread latte more than once.

Now that we have some holiday decorations up, making one of these on a Sunday morning, sitting next to the tree and reading a book makes me feel so festive. When doing lattes at home there are two main components: percolator and milk frother. With these two tools, homemade lattes become so much more desirable.

So to make this spiced gingerbread treat:

*recipe makes one latte

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup milk, of your choice
  • 3 or more bags of Celestial Gingerbread Spiced Herbal Tea
  • Maple syrup, or sweetener of your choice
  • A dash of a spice blend (cinnamon, cardamon and nutmeg)
  • a piece of a cinnamon stick for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons of espresso
  • water

Process:

  1. Prepare the percolator and heat over low flame on the stove.
  2. While the espresso is going, heat the milk, tea bags, spices and maple syrup in a saucepan.
  3. Bring to a low boil and remove from heat. Remove the tea bags and transfer to a liquid measuring cup and use the milk frother to get the milk to a smooth and creamy consistency. I usually stop frothing once the milk volume has doubled.
  4. Once the espresso is finished, pour it into the bottom of a coffee mug. Then pour the frothed milk slowly down the side of the glass until only the frothy part is left. Pour the frothed part on the top.
  5. Sprinkle some spices on the top and add the piece of cinnamon stick.
  6. Sip and enjoy!

I hope all of you have had a wonderful holiday weekend and if you decide to give this homemade latte a spin, let me know what you think in the comments!

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Homemade Honey Lavander Latte

Sometimes my desire for coffee can lead to quite some imaginative creations. And when I say sometimes I mean now. The other day, I was craving a latte but I had no desire to leave the house. It was quite the predicament; venture out and get that perfect creamy latte that I wanted or stay home and curl up with a homemade cup of coffee. Obviously I chose the latter. I decided to be a bit creative and make a honey lavender latte with just a few ingredients. Now, I just happened to have been making lavender cupcakes for my birthday and so I had some lavender extract laying around. It’s not easy to come by but I got mine from Sur La Table. I have a feeling I’ll be cooking a lot with lavender in the next couple of months. Anyways, here is a simple delicious latte recipe that you can whip up at home, you know, for those days when you can’t rack up the courage to leave home. There are a few things you’ll need:

  • 1/8 teaspoon of lavender extract
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • coffee beans: mine were a Valentine’s day gift from Harry ūüôā It’s Stone Creek’s special Valentine’s day roast but whatever you have works fine too
  • milk frother, you can also use a whisk
  • 1/2 cup of milk, I used whole milk
  • and some kind of coffee making mechanism, I use a percolator when I want to make lattes, etc.¬†

Follow these simple steps:

  • brew the coffee to your liking
  • pour the milk into a liquid measuring cup and heat up in the microwave or heat up the milk on the stovetop,
  • whisk or froth the milk until it has a frothy consistency about half way through
  • add the lavender extract and honey to the bottom of your cup and mix them together
  • pour the coffee into the cup and stir together
  • start to add the milk slowly to save the frothy part for the very top of the latte
  • sip and enjoy¬†

And there you have a delicious homemade honey lavender latte. It has a very subtle flavor of lavender with a bit of sweetness and it’s great to enjoy on a lazy afternoon, curled up on the couch with a good book or magazine.

Go√Ľtez bien!

  

Adventures in Starting a Capsule Wardrobe

A few months ago, I saw some articles about a capsule wardrobe and at first glance I thought it was just one of those fads. You know the ones, where everyone hops on the bandwagon about a miracle, life saving something or other and then a few months later it’s almost as if it never existed? This might be one of those things but despite that, I still feel like this might just work.

Let me explain what exactly is a capsule wardrobe. It’s simply a refined wardrobe consisting of 37 versatile pieces that you absolutely love. At the base of the idea is the phrase, “less is more.” By paring down the items in your wardrobe to about 37 pieces, you have more room to keep track of your clothing and have an easier time picking out something to wear. Having only 37 key pieces of clothing might seem scary but by having less you get more of the things you love; you get a wardrobe that you actually like. Obviously 37 isn’t a cut and dry number, you can have as many pieces of clothing that you absolutely love but 37 is a good start.

The capsule wardrobe is a season dependent wardrobe. Meaning that at the end of each season, you go through your wardrobe and clear out the things that you won’t be able to wear into the next season or you just didn’t wear it as much as you though you would. When starting out at first, pair down what you already own to 37 items and try to live with them for a week or so without doing any shopping. This way you can really see what is lacking from your wardrobe and what you absolutely need to get. Once you’ve got your ideal wardrobe, start a shopping fast until the next season. This might be a deal breaker for some but in all honesty you probably won’t want to shop as much because you’ll be truly happy with your wardrobe the way it is.

So after being a little fed up with a constantly messy wardrobe and feeling like I have nothing to wear all the time, I decided that this would be a good option for me. I went through my entire wardrobe, took everything out, and looked at each piece of clothing and placed them into one of four piles.

  • I love it and I would wear it right now. It fits, it’s well suited to my lifestyle, and I feel confident in it. These are the pieces that are going to start your capsule wardrobe so put them back into your closet.
  • Maybe. These are items are ones that either don’t fit right, you paid a lot for and don’t want to get rid of, it has sentimental value or you just don’t wear it. Pack these clothes into a box and store them away for now. At the end of the season, if they are still in the box then it’s time to donate.
  • No. You never wear it and don’t even like it. Donate.
  • Seasonal. You love these pieces and they are a necessity but don’t work for the season that you’re in. Store these away and come back to them in the next season.

 Now I got rid of stuff that I wore in high school and things that really don’t suit my personal style anymore as I’ve grown quite a bit in my personal taste. Some of the stuff I couldn’t believe that I still owned. I really do feel like I have more clothes to work with despite having less because I have cleared out all of the “cluttered” clothes from my closet and only have what I really love.

Next, we’re on to how to structure your capsule wardrobe. Everyone’s will be different but a good base is to think in terms of three’s. Three tops, three sweaters, and three button-up’s and then fill in with a jacket or vest. Three jeans, three pants and three skirts and fill that in with a dress or another piece like that. Seasonally you might opt for two winter jackets, or maybe three pairs of shorts instead of pants. Shoes are another part of the Capsule Wardrobe and a really good number to start with is six pairs. For winter you might have tall boots, ankle boots, sneakers, slip-on sneakers, oxfords and maybe a pair of heels. The capsule wardrobe doesn’t include handbags, accessories or clothing essentials like undergarments, formal wear and gym attire. This leaves you a lot of room to change up different outfits with different handbags and accessories.

With only just starting my capsule wardrobe I already feel at ease when deciding what to wear in the morning and it really does shorten my getting ready time. The whole point of the capsule wardrobe is to have an efficient wardrobe that fits your everyday lifestyle. Look for my next seasons post on my capsule wardrobe update and new purchases. If you try this out, let me know how it goes!

 

 

 

Pumpkin Spice Doughnuts

I’m not one to partake in the hype of Pumpkin Spice but these home-made, baked Pumpkin Spice Doughnuts have changed my views on Pumpkin Spice. In my defense when I first saw the recipe I somehow believed that this was going to be a sweet potato doughnut recipe. Anyways, I saw this recipe and felt really completed to make them, it was probably the photography on Pastry Affair that got me as that is usually the case. First things first, I set out to find a doughnut pan. Believe it or not, there are doughnut shaped pastry pans out on the market, crazy right? I got mine from Target, low and behold. Harry has told me that the doughnut pan is one of the best purchases ever made, and ¬†I have to agree. These pumpkin spice doughnuts conjure up everything that you love about being cozy. Wrapped in a blanket on the couch, favorite record on in the background, book in your lap, doughnut in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other one. I maybe outstretching the bounds of the pumpkin spice by bringing it into winter instead of staying fall but who doesn’t want to feel that cozy, soul soothing feeling all year round?

I followed this very simple recipe from Pastry Affair. You can follow the recipe here exactly but can easily be summarized. Preheat the oven, grease the pan, mix the wet ingredients, add in the dry ingredients, pour into a pastry bag, fill up the doughnut pans with the batter, bake for about 15 minutes, cool and then enjoy. The icing recipe is quick to whip up and adds something to these doughnuts but they would be just as good without it.

This recipe makes about 12 doughnuts but you can always wrap up the left-overs in aluminum foil to save for later and warm them in the oven another day.

It’s a Mod Weekend: The Difference Between Walking and Running

This past weekend Harry and I escaped to the wilderness of Wisconsin for some very much needed adventure and relaxation. I came about the idea a few months ago when I was planning things for Harry’s birthday. I wanted to take a trip together and possibly camp or stay in a cabin for the weekend. But because Harry’s birthday is in the middle of November we decided to take our trip this weekend to avoid literally freezing our butts off. Now looking back at my planning, temperatures reached a balmy 27 F last night which is about as bad as the middle of November anyways. We had a wonderful time and now are convinced that we’ll become camping aficionados.

We arrived at Wildcat Mountain State Park Saturday afternoon after about a 4 hour car ride from Milwaukee with stopping included. The drive was rewarding though long. Just listening to music, chatting and taking in the scenery was enough to work out some of the kinks in my neck. I reserved a campsite that was reachable by foot only; it felt pretty authentic as if we were alone in the wilderness of Manitoba, kinda. We got parked, loaded up a cart provided by the park, and set out into the forest to our campsite. The view from our campsite was absolutely spectacular with the autumn foliage “in full bloom.” We set up our tent and got settled into our new home for the night before hitting the trail for a 3 mile hike. We decided to do the Old Settler’s Trail hike first as it is the longest trail. The hike was invigorating. At one point we took a break to look up at the 100 foot hemlock trees swaying in the wind. Also, there’s gotta be something said for Wisconsin’s limestone walls.

We went back to our campsite after that to start the fire and with a little trouble at first we finally got it going. Not to brag but I did keep the fire burning for 2 hours after we ran out of fire wood. We decided to make pb & j pudgie pies in the pudgie pie maker which essentially is a grilled pb & j…wow. We sat by the fire, had a couple beers and really just enjoyed our time together.

After a not-so-sound night’s sleep because of a lack of support from the ground which was practically a rock and the coyotes howling through the night, we got up to make coffee. It didn’t work out too well but there are no venti iced skim pumpkin spice latte’s with whip in the forest, folks. I must say we did a pretty good job staying warm throughout the night with the help of about 8 blankets, double pajamas, sweaters, 2 layers of socks, hats, mitts and scarves…After a quick breakfast, we packed up and headed over to the Hemlock Trail. It was a 400 foot climb to the top of a peak with an amazing view of the rugged glacial landscape. We headed back down the mountain and back home.

During the week it often feels like I’m running with no time for breaks. I don’t think I can truly some up how extraordinary this weekend was but I could say that it felt like a much anticipated leisurely walk, or hike in this case. Thanks to Harry for being entirely on board and present in everything we do. This weekend was a part of his birthday gift but he, himself, is the real gift.

Bon (presque) anniversaire Harry ūüôā

  
  
   

 
  

It’s a Mod Weekend: Relax is Priority


This past weekend Harrison and I were lead down a seemingly unfamiliar path; a slow-paced relaxing weekend. ¬†I feel as though the weekends starting from the very beginning of August on through last weekend have been filled with travels, chores and homework with little time for R&R. I know Harrison agrees and I feel like my motto of “R.I.P.: Relax is Priority” has escaped me. I’ll admit, I did feel inclined to add some to-do’s and chores to this weekend’s agenda but I managed to convince myself otherwise. Our weekend went a little something like this.

Friday night was spent traipsing around on the beach which proved to have many benefits. The weather was beautiful; the sun was still warm but the breeze was cool that correlated to a perfect crescendo of utter pleasantry. Also the cold sand between the toes and sound of the waves pulling towards and away from the shore; enough said. As an added bonus the sand made our feet very soft.

We left the beach behind and went home to make some homemade vegan pizza. Trader Joe’s makes a great pre-made (vegan!) garlic and herb pizza dough so all we had to do was roll out the dough, add the sauce and throw on lots of veggies. I know, I know eating pizza without cheese seems as though every bite of it would crush your very existence but in fact not. Leaving out the cheese makes room for all of the flavors of the veggies to meld into the sauce and the dough. It’s revolutionary but delicious. We also had sangria that I had prepared earlier in the day with a full bodied wine with spiced undertones, raspberries, apples, fresh rosemary, a cinnamon stick and sparkling pomegranate juice. If you want to make a great sangria all you need is time. Time to let the flavors mix. This results in a perfect unison of flavors. We put on Miles Davis Quintet¬†Cookin’, enjoyed our pizza and sangria and took some deep breaths.

Saturday morning we went for brunch at Beans and Barely, one of our favorites. We were so hungry and the food looked delicious so there was no stopping to take a photo of our food but it wouldn’t have done it justice anyways. We shared a bowl of the vegetarian chili, I had vegan blueberry pancakes with a vegan veggie biscuit on the side and Harry had the vegan veggie biscuits with vegan gravy. Wow.

We left full-bellied and went for a little drive before heading to Washington Heights to go see the French feature film called¬†ZouZou at the Times theatre as part of the Milwaukee Film Festival. We stopped at Valentine Coffee Roasters in Washington Heights for a cup of Bali Blue Moon coffee which has been our summertime favorite. It’s bold and dark with chocolatey undertones. This is the only location that Valentine has in the Milwaukee area, that we know of, but let us know if you know of any others on the East Side.

We saw ZouZou¬†afterwards which was utterly hilarious, we laughed our socks off. As we’re both French speakers and francophiles, we thoroughly enjoyed it for its prime French humor and style. We both love films that place a lot of emphasis on character development over plot line and that is exactly what ZouZou offers. ¬†Go see it.

That was overall the extent of our weekend, the rest was spent doing homework (it’s unavoidable), reading, writing and relaxing. What did you get up to this weekend?


  
  
  

Back to Breakfast: Baked Stuffed Apples


This Back to Breakfast post is all about my recipe for Baked Stuffed Apples. This simplistic, delicious and a tad bit sweet recipe is packed full of nutrients. It keeps me full and going the entire morning making it a great option for breakfast. I used a combination of chocolatey hazelnut butter, chia and flax seed blend, goji berries, almonds, blueberries and coconut oil to create my delicious Baked Stuffed Apples but you can use whatever you have and like! These can be created the night before then stored in the freezer until you’re ready to bake but I usually manage to get it done in about 25 minutes. It’s simple so let’s get started.

 What you need (makes three medium sized apples):

  • Apples; I used organic but use whatever you want
  • 2 tablespoons of flax and chia seed blend
  • 2 tablespoons of goji berries
  • 2 tablespoons of chocolatey hazelnut butter
  • 1/3 cup of blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons of slivered almonds
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
  • Extra spices for seasoning; I used cardamom and cinnamon (optional)


So to get started :

Preheat oven to 350¬į F.

Prep them apples!


 Cut the tops off of your apples. You want to expose the core so you can get in there and remove it. Next use a spoon to de-core the apple. You are essentially going to make an apple bowl

Stuff them apples!


  
Start by adding the chocolatey hazelnut butter to the bottom of each apple. I used the portion sized packet of Justin’s chocolatey hazelnut butter just out of ease and because also Justin’s uses less sugar in their version of this Nutella which helps to cut back on the unnecessary sugars as this is already a sweet breakfast. Then keep going; layer in some slivered almonds, some flax and chia seed blend, goji berries, blueberries and then spoon a bit of coconut oil on the tops. I used frozen blueberries and then drizzled coconut oil on top which helps add a bit of liquid to keep everything soft in the baking process. The result of this is a melt-in-your mouth creation.

Bake them apples!


Set them on a baking sheet and put them in the oven. Our oven is old and only has one setting: scalding hot. Everything cooks quickly but it should take about 15-30 minutes in your average oven. This is when I usually finish getting ready for the day.

When you remove the apples from the oven you should be able to poke them with a fork. Sprinkle a bit of cinnamon and cardamom on the tops if you like. Plate up, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy!