Film Photos: Washington Tulips 2013.

I'm going back in time quite a bit, to before we moved away from Seattle. We are heading there (for our first visit since moving back to the PNW) later this week, so I won't have another post for a week or so. Enjoy these photos in the meantime.

These are from Roozengaarde Tulip Farm in Mount Vernon, Washington. It was April in 2013.


Intentional Living: Coffee Products Part 2.

Taste, smell, and method
Are all part of enjoyment.
I love my coffee.

I just love coffee. I'm so happy to live in a big coffee city and have extremely wonderful coffee shops absolutely everywhere. We'll prefer a traditional latte at Barista, or try a new concoction at Never. There's Heart, Good, Stumptown, Kiosko, Coava, Tov, and that's a small fraction. They're all amazing. And on most weekend days, David and I enjoy our second (or third) cuppa at one of them.

But for that first cup, on a cozy weekend morning snuggled up with a book, David greets me with a nice hot cup of French Press. When we run low on coffee beans, we'll pick up a bag at one of the aforementioned coffee connoisseurs. We've had a Bodum Bistro Burr Grinder since 2011 (seriously! We have it in white, but the copper looks v cool.), and keep it on coarse grinds for our copper 8 cup Bodum Chambord French Press. We drink our coffee black, so that's all we need.

I recently stumbled across a newly improved French Press design called Rite Press. It is currently a Kickstarter campaign that has received over $900k over its small $20k goal. Incredible. The big selling point is that the bottom twists off to easily remove the used coffee grinds and is marketed as the "no mess french press." It sounds fantastic to me! Another big selling point for us is that the materials used will help hold in heat longer. And no plastic! They also tout a thermometer and timer, which could be useful. Rite Press originally launched with stainless steel options, but they just released the Ceramic Rite Press. I have backed the Ceramic option in Black and Gold. It is beautiful.

The campaign ends in just over a week on March 9th, so if you're as excited about Rite Press as I am, snatch up the lower prices now. Of course, I haven't tried this product yet, so I can't speak to its performance. I guess we'll all see if it lives up to the hype!

Not often enough, during the week, I'll use a Bialetti Moka Express to make some very strong and delicious espresso to enjoy. I started with the 3 cup stovetop espresso maker and we recently purchased the 6 cup for when David would like some, too. To note, Bialetti "cups" mean 2 ounces (not your typical 8 ounce cup). So a 3 cup maker produces 6 ounces of espresso. You need extremely fine coffee grounds for the Moka Express. The Bodum Bistro Burr Grinder requires the machine to run while changing the coarseness setting. Since French Press and Moka require such extremes, it's difficult to reset, and you get a lot of mixing coarse and fine grinds if you switch back and forth often. Therefore, I keep a small hand burr grinder set to fine grinds and use it when I have the spare time. (I have my eye on this pretty one, but just be sure it's a burr grinder.) I always prefer freshly ground coffee, but since using a manual coffee grinder can be time consuming, I like to have a bag of finely ground espresso in the cabinet just in case.

My two favorite things about Bialetti are the taste and the process. I recommend watching a video of how to brew your espresso with this machine, because you learn how to listen for your coffee to be ready. It's quite an accomplishment when you get the timing right. Another good bit is you can't use soap to wash it. A quick rinse, and you're done!

The great thing about all of these products (maybe minus the burr grinder) is that there is minimal plastic and extremely minimal waste. No plastic for a landfill and no plastic fumes or chemicals in your drink. A small investment up front can last for several years with basic care.

This post contains affiliate links. You can read the Amazon Affiliate disclosure in the sidebar. Please know I only ever post links I personally support and think may add value to my readers. Thank you for supporting the blog!


Intentional Living: Coffee Products.

Get to school on time!
Compromise can be ok.
Quick coffee to help.

In my quest for healthier, more sustainable living, I’m always on the lookout for products that will help me use less plastic, create less waste, add to my family’s health, and hopefully be cost effective. When I feel like I've found a winner, I'll share some of those time-tested favorite products with you. Today, let's talk about one of my favorite subjects: coffee.

My daily morning coffee routine has become more of a compromise than you might assume. Yes, I love our French press and Moka Express (I don't like pour-over), but on mornings that require school drop-off, I opt for a faster, single-cup option. The dreaded wasteful Keurig (or off-brand, as mine is) has come to my rescue, but I've found ways to feel more comfortable about using it.

I'll back track a little bit and mention that I tried to switch to a Nespresso machine. I was very excited about the aluminum capsules and their recycling program. And I prefer the taste of espresso to drip coffee. It was a clear winner in my mind for a fast single-cup option. My body, however, felt differently, and I developed a crazy rash. Right before we went to Hawaii. When I realized what was causing the rash and stopped drinking Nespresso, it cleared up very quickly. Then a few months later, I tried drinking it again, and the rash popped back up. I researched and could find no good explanation. It should just be coffee grounds in aluminum, so it's still a mystery.

I returned to finding a better solution to plastic Keurig pods and found San Francisco Bay Coffee Company's OneCup options! It's a single-serve coffee pod that is made from plant-based renewable resources. They are biodegradable, compostable in some systems, and shipped in a biodegradable bag and recycled/recyclable box. The coffee grounds are Fair Trade and have an organic option in Organic Rainforest Blend. I buy a 36 count box about every 5 weeks.

In case you're interested, I bought an off brand single-serve coffee machine because it is much smaller and has a better design. You can find it here, though note that the OneCup coffee pods don't fit perfectly in this machine. It hasn't deterred me from using them together for the past year, so it's just a heads up.

Whenever the time presents itself, sometimes for my second cup of coffee after school drop-off or on the weekends, I very much love slow-method coffees. Look for Part 2 about my favorite slow coffee setups soon.

This post contains affiliate links. You can read the Amazon Affiliate disclosure in the sidebar. Please know I only ever post links I personally support and think may add value to my readers. Thank you for supporting the blog!


That Danish Life: Candles.

A flame lights the mood.
When all you want is hygge
Go make a candle.

Buying nice smelling candles is expensive. And if you want to be picky about the wax and fragrances, you’re going to pay even more. You can save quite a bit of money and feel accomplished that you created something useful and beautiful if you make them instead!

Let’s have a quick chat about your fragrance and wax. Most fragrance oils are synthetic. That means they’re made with chemicals, and when you burn them, those chemicals get into your lungs, on your skin, and coat your house. I use essential oils for any recipe that might require a fragrance. The smell will not be as strong, but I think it’s worth it. As for waxes: paraffin is most commonly used, but is a by-product of the crude oil refinement process (read: toxic). Beeswax is nice, but I honestly don’t want all yellow candles. It also has its own smell, which can detract from whatever scent you’re trying to make. Soy wax melts clear, dries a milky white color, and blends well with your oils. Therefore, I make my candles with soy wax and essential oils.

What you need:
Soy wax
Pouring Pot - I bought a 4 pound pot and it's far larger than I'll ever need. I recommend this 2 pound pouring pot instead.
Essential Oils
Wick Cutter

*I’m still trying to figure out the best routine for the wicks. I like using the foam sticker to keep everything in place, but it’s very difficult to get off when you’re ready to reuse your container and it creates unnecessary waste. However, using the traditional method of dipping the end of the wick in hot wax and letting it cool in place in the container simply doesn’t work. As soon as the rest of your hot wax hits, it melts and moves and bends. I'm going to try these wick centering devices next. Any tips are appreciated.
**You can use any jar, bowl, or cup as a container. I just prefer using these aluminum jars with lids. Though, reusing containers instead of recycling them is the best option.

What to do:
Place water in your pot and place it on the burner on high.
Using your intended candle container, pour two scoops (not heaping) of wax into your pouring pot and place on the pot of hot water to create a double boiler.
While you wait for the wax to melt fully, attach your wick.
Once the wax has melted, quickly remove from heat.
Set aside and wait about two minutes while the wax cools down.
Add 10 drops of essential oil per ounce of soy wax. (For my 4oz aluminum jars, I use 40 drops of essential oil.)
I usually just swirl the solution to mix, but you can also use a whisk, etc.
Place your candle container on a kitchen towel.
Pour your wax solution into your container.
Wrap the towel around your candle to slow cooling (this helps the wax solidify evenly).
Wipe out your pouring pot before the wax hardens.
After your candle has solidified, trim the wick ⅛”. I recommend using wick trimmers to help get the correct length, but you can try scissors as well.

There are several candle DIYS that will tell you to use a thermometer for specific wax temperatures, but I found that to be tedious. The only concern is that your essential oils have flash points, at which they will evaporate. If you wait and let the wax cool, just before it starts to solidify, to add your oils, you won’t have any problems with this. If you would like specific temperature details, the wax can cool down to 122 degrees fahrenheit, but should be fine up to 150 degrees for most essential oils. (There is a good guide to essential oil flash points here.)

You can always use a single essential oil for your candle, but if you’re interested in making blends, my favorites are below:

I buy my essential oils from Edens Garden. I also recommend Mountain Rose Herbs.

This post contains affiliate links. You can read the Amazon Affiliate disclosure in the sidebar. Please know I only ever post links I personally support and think may add value to my readers. Thank you for supporting the blog!


Home Renovations: Wall Shelves.

Shelves for books and looks
Paired atop a piano,
Music to my ears.

After our neighbor gave us a beautiful piano (yep, best neighbors), and it was given a prominent spot in our living room, we decided some shelves above it would be great. We mulled over the idea for a few weeks until David noticed some very interesting shelves at a local coffee shop, Good Coffee:

They were perfect and I knew I had to recreate them. My favorite part was the little alcove for a plant in the center. Yes, please. I immediately sketched out a blueprint, measuring the wall and noting the studs.

I used painters tape to create a mockup on the wall, which stayed up for quite a while.

Then came the research for what type of shelves to use. I didn't want to use brackets underneath because they compete with books or decor for shelf space. And I liked the clean lines of floating shelves. My first plan was to use steel floating shelf brackets (these can be pretty expensive for the heavy duty versions) and buy big 2"x10" solid wood boards and drill in the holes for the steel bars. I headed to Lowe's to check out the lumber, and their head guy talked me out of it. Mostly, it would be extremely difficult to drill a perfectly straight hole by hand. There was no room for error. I hated that he was right, but glad to contemplate some cheaper options. The two of us walked around the shop for almost an hour, and new ideas started percolating. I was back to the drawing board and went home to re-think my plan.

I ended up buying 1"x10" boards and adding a lip to the front and exposed sides. I also found some steel braces to use underneath that are mostly hidden (especially when painted to match the wood/wall).

The whole experience was quite a learning process. And very old school. I sanded and set every last finishing nail by hand. But for my first real woodworking project, it felt like a right of passage. (Though I definitely have an air nailer and orbital sander now.)

I also learned a lot about wood filler, wood glue, and trying to get even paint without using a spray can. I didn't want the streaks of a paint brush, and even the low nap that was recommended by a Home Depot employee had too much texture. Thanks to some amazing friends, I learned that high density foam rollers were the way to go. And I used a foam brush on the underside edges. The paint is Behr's Ultra Pure White (which we'll slowly be using on all of our interior walls.)

In the end, they're not perfect, but they're exactly what we wanted, and I'm quite proud.

Some links:
The brackets I almost bought
Similar braces to what I used
Nail Setter
High Density Foam Roller

This post contains affiliate links. You can read the Amazon Affiliate disclosure in the sidebar. Please know I only ever post links I personally support and think may add value to my readers. Thank you for supporting the blog!
Related Posts with Thumbnails