Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Roasting Coffee

Returning to some of our Do-It -Yourself goals Kevin tried a new challenge of roasting our own coffee.  We are coffee lovers and really enjoy a deep roasted, rich cup of coffee.  So after doing a lot of online research of the various types of coffee, how to sources etc...  He located suppliers of the green beans and ordered a 5 lb. bag of Colombian and a 5 lb. bag of the House Blend from Caracolillo Coffee, a store and online supplier of mills, beans and other coffee related goodies. Here's their link :ccmcoffee.com

We had found an old air popcorn popper at an estate sale for $4.00, that's the style that many of the sites say is the best for this simple method of roasting coffee beans and now with our beans it was time to put this to a test.  Kevin got all his supplies together and  set them up in the garage because we wanted the air flow and to control the smell as some sites said it could get quite strong. We didn't find the odor offensive at all, in fact the garage smelled wonderful, We did find though, that you need the air flow we could get with the partially opened garage door, or you would need a good exhaust fan to clear off the smoke it puts out in your work area.

With the beans measured out.  A box he set up to catch the chaff as the beans roast, his phone set up as a timer he was ready.  We watched as they whirled around the popper and then as they heated up the chaff began to fly off.  Then as the time hit about 5 minutes the first pops known as "first crack" took place and we could smell the roasting beans and begin to see a color change.

You can see the pale green color of the beans here

Kevin with the popper and his box set up to catch the flying chaff as it roasts

We kept watching not wanting to burn the beans by letting them go too long, but wanting them dark enough to really get the flavor we like.  A "second crack" of the beans happened a little bit later and then at the 16 minute mark we achieved the color and smell that looked right.

The beans are then poured into a strainer to let them cool, then placed in a jar with a loosely placed lid for about 24 hours to let the oils release and the flavor set in.  Kevin has made several batches now and is becoming quite proficient at this.  The flavor is really good and it's been a truly satisfying experience.

Beans in popper ready to start

As beans roast and get darker you can see all the chaff flying off here

Bean color before and in process

We'll keep looking for these old poppers at thrift stores and garage sales, until a time we may want to invest in a more substantial roaster.  Since the green beans can last for years, we'll probably stock up and keep them on hand especially since coffee prices are expected to get higher, it can be our little hedge on inflation and an indulgence for something we are hard pressed to do without (insert big smile).

Color difference of the green beans and the next day with the roasted house blend beans

This has been a fun and really worthwhile experience.  Kevin will be making a video and have all his resources soon on our Project-128 blog that I have a link to on my side bar.  All this has made me ready for a nice cup of coffee!!

Have a great day.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Do You "Pin It ?"

I have a new obsession Pinterest.  It's been around for awhile and I've checked other peoples boards for some time now, but more recently I began making my own boards.

It started on a rainy day, and we've had LOTS of those lately!!  Not really having anything pressing to do I thought I'd start a board of pretty things I found and wanted collections of these "pins".  After creating my first board "So Pretty", this led to a Classic Style board of clothes and styles I like.  Then I began a board on beautiful gardens that inspire.

Shortly after starting these I was invited to contribute to a board that's a collection of pretty, romantic and inspiring pins.

When I have time, I'll sit and spend a bit of it searching for inspiring pictures to pin to my boards, and now as I prepare to get my yard and gardens looking better I've started a board for planting ideas for Central Florida's climate and unique challenges as well as opportunities.  Having a desire to get the house more organized I also created a board for organizing ideas.  These boards serve to have a quick reference for helpful ideas and with the pins linked to sources, articles or blogs there's helpful information attached with the images.

So, how about you. Do you Pinterest?

Friday, August 8, 2014

Violin Lesson

Hannah has been wanting to take violin lessons for quite a long time.  Our oldest daughter Amber tried my mothers violin on a visit years ago and when Baba passed her violins on to Amber she took lessons and played for several years.  Then as life got busier for Amber, she set the violin aside and later passed hers on to Hannah.  The one 1/4 size is too small for regular playing and the full size is still too large for Hannah, so when I recently found a music store that offers lessons and rentals we signed her up.

Yesterday was her first lesson with Mrs. Bennett and Hannah was SO excited!  After fitting her with a 3/4 student violin her first class began.  Her teacher had to work with her to get a comfortable and secure grip on the bow with her little hand, then began showing her the correct position for playing the notes.

Playing together to get the correct notes

Once Hannah was able to locate and play these, she began the process of teaching her the count she needed for the new music symbols Hannah has in her notebook.  Not bad for a first class, and now with her violin and note book she's working on mastering the new challenge of learning to play this instrument. As she gets these initial steps down, the work to learn fingering will begin.

So happy for her and thrilled to have found such a patient and talented teacher.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Let The Organizing Begin

When we moved from California we left a home that with our additions was almost 3000 sq. ft.  We had a barn/garage that was 24ft x 36ft. and was 2 stories.  There was also shed that was 12 x 24, so we had plenty of room for our stuff and storage.  Though we got rid of literally loads of things prior to our move, we still brought a lot with us, and with this house being just under 2000 sq. ft and Cameron's shed/room that's 12 x 20 we have far less space.  So as we've been getting ourselves settled over this last year, storage and organization is have been issues we're still working out.

We've made a lot of progress and had previously added a tool shed that's a 7 x 7 over near the tower garden area.  In an effort to further straighten out the garage we've purchased 2 more 7x7 ft shed's and a small one to organize the plant foods, tower pots, hydroponic nutrients, etc that was the first one to be put up and in place today.

Lowe's delivered the blocks we'll use as foundations and the 3 sheds first things this morning.

Then Kevin cleared the weeds behind Cameron's shed near the pipes.  He set the blocks in place and leveled them around the pipes, to be able to protect them and make use of this space.

Space behind Cameron's shed and Kevin weeding it.

Once, his foundation was ready he enlisted the girls to help him fit the pieces of the small shed together. Then to stand in and weight it down as he set the roof piece on.

Blocks in place and leveled around pipes and weed barrier cloth.
Hannah and Lauren helping dad

All done.

Once this was together, Kevin set it in place and put the doors on.  The shelves still need to be cut to size and added, but we have our new storage place and as the title of this post says, "let the organizing begin"!!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Entertaining Friends

Almost a year ago we met in person for the first time friends we'd followed via our blogs for years after meeting online during our adoption of Lauren and their adoption of Teresa.  We followed as the kids progressed in their adjustments to their new families and all the trials and triumphs that go with this.  We were particularly concerned as the Bartlinski's sought to bring health and wholeness to their youngest treasure who was challenged from the beginning of life with heart and lung problems.  We celebrated her milestones, prayed along with SO MANY others as she faced her greatest challenge of a heart transplant that would ultimately take Teresa out of this world and into the arms of her savior to wait for her loving family to join her in heaven.  While reeling from this incredible loss, a group that helps grieving families made arrangements for their return to Teresa's favorite place with all the princesses that she so loved - Disney.  It was there we met them in person for the first time.  I wrote about that in this blog post: New Friends and Celebrating Life. We met for lunch on a couple other occasions after this initial meeting and have continued to follow and dialog via the Internet and emails.

At Disney, we're all sporting our Got Love T shirts that are part of a fundraiser for the Love You More Heart Home in Teresa's honor.  And of course we all have our princess tiaras on that were a favorite part of Teresa's fashion style.

Yesterday, we were thrilled to be able to visit again as they spend time in Florida with their girls. While Grace, their 15 year old had to stay and babysit the new puppy at the condo, the rest of the girls along with Ann and Ed joined us for lunch.  It was so much fun visiting with them.  Hannah and Lauren absolutely loved having so many playmates to share their time and toys with.

Mary visiting with Bear, who loved all the extra attention he got!

Ann with Mary and Gemma

Ed, Mary, Ann and Gemma

Playing Wii, with Lauren and Lucy "boxing", while Hannah, Emilia, and Gemma cheer them on.

I was so busy talking and visiting I almost forgot to take photos, but I did manage to get some to share by the time we had desert and the kids were playing with the Wii or visiting with the dogs, just before the Bartlinski's had to leave.

Bear and Bea quite happy with all the extra attention.

Gemma giving Hannah a hug good bye

Gemma seeing who's taller between she and Lauren- so cute.

As they all head back to their van it was time to say goodbye and bring an end to a wonderful visit.

We will make a trip down near Orlando to visit with them again, before they need to leave for home. The time always flies when we get together.  Absolutely agree with Ann that I wished we lived closer to each other!!

If you haven't met this wonderful family, I invite you to check out their Blog here: Our Place Called Home

Looking forward to seeing them again soon, and hopefully I'll remember my camera sooner!!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Crafty Barbie Details

Hannah is like a crafting machine with her love of being  creative and always looking for a means of expressing this passion.  In addition to her store bought craft kits, she regularly borrows from our recycling materials to use for her latest craft project.  She goes online for ideas and how to videos and then tries them out for herself.  Her Barbie house has been redecorated with many of these creative pieces.  Hannah has been drawing Lauren into her activities and has an enthusiastic partner in this as well.  I was taking some laundry into Hannah's room when I noticed her redecorated and rather cluttered Barbie house, and as I looked at the detail in the vignettes she created, I thought I needed to show off her creations.

This is an ad for the basic "modern" Barbie house and the pieces it comes with.

This is Hannah's decorated house and the additions she's made with boxes she's grabbed from the recycling bin.

Though a bit more cluttered, the special details are intriguing. There is a box on the left I didn't get in this photo that serves as a bedroom addition I'll show in the following photo.

It's the tiny details that fascinate me.

The bedroom addition with bed, side table and clothes hanger

Mulan doll with her Hannah created reading materials
Love his tablet!
This is the side table with a report card next to the mirror, the pencil holder on the right with individual pencils and the Barbie shopping bag near the front.
Barbie teen room with an additional bed added and the dolls teen posters and skateboards with bead wheels
The box turned refrigerator on left with "Kids artwork and shopping lists" on door,  the counter table and cloth. The food and unique TV.  Love the details!!

This is her kitchen television, bowls (bottle lids) with food (beads and cut foam pieces), her cookbook and a card left of the green "fruit" basket.  Then there's the framed artwork for the wall.

Love this note over the sink by the window
Living room. with her shelf on the left, TV console and her iTouch acts as their TV.

Shelf closeup with magazine cutouts of old phono style radio, several video game boxes, framed picture on top of shelf and kids toys and artwork at the base of the shelf. 

Family TV night.  Books and game on top of console.  "Candles" made of beads and red dyed Q tips on right  side of console.  Then the "trash" container made from an old vitamin bottle.  Hannah will turn on her iTouch and let them "watch" the television.
Teen music room, the white "bongos" Hannah made on the floor
Dog by the stairs and Hannah's photo collage on wall behind stairs

Picture on wall, and the "phone machine" she created to cover the weird wall lamp pictured on the house.
Bathroom rugs added, wall art and storage trunks

Just had to share, as I found the attention to detail fascinating as well as her willingness to spend the time making all of this.

As an aside, we were able to "visit" with Amber and Eddie using Facetime on Saturday as they have now settled into their new apartment in Oregon.  Loved our time with them, though we really miss our visits and meals that we used to be able to share together when we all lived in California.  Love technology that allows us to see each other as we talked.

Have a great day!!