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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Hosting a Holiday Gathering

I will take any excuse to pretend that I’m Ina Garten. Holiday gatherings or just cooking up a lavish meal on a Sunday, you name it and I’ll switch on my Ina Garten alter-ego.

I’m sure that none of us can do it quite as easily as Ina though. Holiday gatherings can be stressful. When was the last time any of us cooked for 6+ people? I’ve learned a few things from this years Friendsgiving that make hosting a much easier task and also make it easier to focus on the real task at hand, spending time with loved-ones and making good memories.

The table setting was easy for me, because that’s just who I am. But it was Harrison’s idea to typewrite everyone a little note on their place setting. How adorable is he?

Refine your menu.

You don’t have to do it all. Limit yourself to 2 or 3 main dishes. I was lucky and got a friend to make the turkey and one to make the desserts so all I needed to do was make the sides. So I stuck with some simple recipes: carrots and mashed potatoes. Ending the dinner with a cheese course is probably the easiest thing you could do. Pick up some cheeses and bread and put them on a platter and there you go. Simplicity is your best friend.

Plan ahead.

Start thinking about your party well ahead of time. Make a concise shopping list and then when it comes time to do the shopping you can get it done and be on your merry way. Trust me, this is much better than scurrying to figure it all out the day before.

Ask for help.

Ask your invitees to give you a hand with the cooking, the drinks, the decor, anything! If you are willing to put work into the gathering then friends and family should be more than willing to help out a bit. Time and energy saved there.

These three little tips really helped me out this year as I planned a little Friendsgiving for all my pals. Happy holidays from me and I hope your holiday gatherings are filled with happiness and cheer!

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 🙂 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.

Goûtez 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 Holiday: Stop and Sip the Coffee

I’m going to share a bit of advice with you that I learned this past week. This lesson might be hard to come by this time of year but I’ve already learned it a few times so I’ll share some of my learned wealth with you. Are you ready? Here it goes. Stop and sip the coffee. Or tea or whatever you like but when you feel like everything is go, go, go and spinning out of control just stop and sip the coffee.

This past week was Thanksgiving and Harrison and I traveled far and wide. Okay not that far and wide. Just from Sheboygan, WI to Aurora, Il. But never the less. We decided to take a pit stop, wander around a little town called Cedarburg, Wisconsin. It’s full of charm and seems to move at the pace of that ever so imaginary ‘small town America.’ If you have ever seen the series called Once Upon A Time, you’ll understand what I’m talking about when it comes to Storybrooke, Maine in that series.

Cedarburg is filled with cafes, small shops full of trinkets and crafts, little inns and bed and breakfasts. They even have an old fashioned cinema. It great, it’s all really great. The right kind of great that you just wanna stop and sip the coffee. So that’s what we did. We went to a cafe called Java House. We were immediately greeted by a sign out front with a quote from Kurt Vonnegut so we knew it’d be good. We ordered two macchiatos and a cookie or two. With the old rustic charm, the quiet hum of the other cafe-goers, and the perfectly warm macchiato served in our favorite cafe cups was enough to make me quit the world and disappear for the next ten weeks.

But alas here I am. All I needed was a moment to slow down, sip some coffee and take a breather. With final projects due soon, final exams in a few weeks, the holidays, etc. etc. all the advice I can give you is stop and sip the coffee. I promise this is the last time I’ll say stop and sip the coffee for a long while. I’m gonna leave you with a Kurt Vonnegut quote here:

I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you different. 


  
   

  

Chocolate-y Chunk Ginger Snaps

cookies1

It seems that Sundays around here were meant for baking. I invited my good friend and fellow blogger, Samantha Nitti, over for a festive baking party which included and was not limited to, listening to records of various festive sorts, sipping eggnog and hot chocolate and catching up on each others lives. It was great to spend time with Samantha and I always feel like I get to know her a little better each time we see each other. As I’ve said before, baking is very therapeutic. The recipe we decided to use was from The Kitchen McCabe but we both love chocolate and found it very fitting to stuff each cookie with a chocolate chunk. Samantha and I actually initially bonded over our love of chocolate chunks. The recipe is very easy to follow and only takes about 25 minutes to make. The outcome was a classic chewy ginger snap with a creamy chocolate center. We had also decided last minute to throw some crushed sea salt on the top. Yes, we both love the ‘salted everything’ craze but it just adds a whole new dimension of flavor to these cookies. We loved everything about the cookies and Harrison can attest to that as he was our Official Taste Tester. These cookies would make a great holiday treat to share or to give as a scrumptious gift.

Try them out and let us know what you thought!

hannah13

hannah12