Ode to Coffee

A white Coffee LED signage

There are people who love coffee, and then there are people in love with coffee. I am in the latter group.

I started drinking coffee at 18. It’s a comfort, a hobby, integral to my wake-up routine, and a way to socialize.

How do you take your coffee?

I like dark roast coffee with cream, enough so that it’s the color of cardboard. Sugar, too, if I am being honest. I adore raw sugar in my coffee. But I gave that up a while back. I switched to vegan cream a couple of years ago. I like the sweetened kind but watching my sugar intake has led me to explore low sugar options like Trader Joe’s coconut creamer and my current favorite, Silk Half and Half, a combination of oat milk and coconut milk. A milk frother makes all creamer better–ours is a Nespresso frother.

Coffee equipment

I use a Keurig with reusable K-cups for the first cup or two. The Nespresso machine usually serves up cup number three. Depending on how the day is going, there might be a cup number four. Research of coffee seems to indicate that some coffee is good for you but too much caffeine is not (Check out this coffee research round-up in Understandably by Bill Murphy*), so there’s some half-caff in the mix and cup number four is almost always a decaf Nespresso. If I am gifted ground coffee that is too fine for the K-cups, I have a ceramic pour-over cone. The pour-over cone also comes in handy when the power goes out.

Conscious consumption

Ah, the story of coffee production isn’t always pretty. Fairtrade issues and environmental concerns loom large over every cup. So it’s fairtrade shade-grown coffee and swiss water process decaf for me whenever possible. Drinking less is probably helps me and the planet. (Would love to hear about strategies to be a more ethical coffee drinker.)

Mushroom coffee?

I haven’t gone for the mushroom coffee yet but I have tried the mushroom creamer: BetterBody Foods Vegan Organic MCT Creamer. It’s good — earthy — and especially good mixed up with a frother. It’s a little spendy but also very good for you with a healthy dose of B vitamins.

flat lay photography of eight coffee latte in mugs on round table

Zoom coffee date, anyone?

The pandemic — and my remote location — has put most in-person coffee dates on hold, but I love to share coffee via Zoom.

  • I am a long-time subscriber to Understandably and recommend it. Subscribe here.

Photo by Lexie Barnhorn on Unsplash

Parmesan in a pinch: no cow required

two brown cows

We recently tried this caramelized zucchini pasta recipe by Ali Slagle in the New York Times. It calls for parmesan, and I haven’t found a good vegan option locally, so I googled for a recipe. Cookie and Kate came to the rescue with this easy recipe! It’s just 5 ingredients mixed up in a bowl–nutritional yeast flakes, hemp seed, salt, garlic powder, and onion powder–no food processor required. I know many people put nutritional yeast on everything. I am not that vegan. For me, texture matters as much as taste, and the hemp seed gives it the right granular texture.

Two suggestions on the zucchini: a spiralizer works well in place of a grater! And it doesn’t *need* to be cooked for 20-25 minutes, but you may discover the longer cook time enhances the taste. Be forewarned that this dish does not resemble zucchini. It’s more like pesto. We layered it with our all-time favorite pasta puttanesca sauce over red lentil pasta.

(Hemp seed and nutritional yeast flakes are available at Trader Joe’s.)

It’s not working

Concentric yellow circles painted on asphalt surround the phrase “And so I chose to begin again” painted in white. Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

I’ve temporarily lost my quilting mojo. I find myself not wanting to make any wrong moves for some reason. I know that mistakes come with the territory and that experimentation can go wrong OR right. It can all work out. But still, I sit among the carefully folded, color-coordinated stacks, not knowing where to begin—not wanting to begin. 

So if you feel stuck right now, I feel you. I’m right there with you.

Vegan Cheese: The Final Frontier

say cheese neon signage

The difference between a vegan and a vegetarian usually comes down to cheese. It’s a hard leap to make. For the longest time, it was the only thing standing between me and being a vegan. All my comfort foods revolved around cheese: grilled cheese, mac’n’cheese, pizza. 

As a vegetarian kid, these were my go-to entrees in a meat-oriented world. It was hard to give them up. 

Other vegan items were easier. Vegan butter: early adopter. Vegan milk: yes, I prefer it. Vegan ice cream is amazing. Vegan yogurt took a while, but I got there, too. Even vegan cream cheese: sold. 

But shredded cheese often fell short. Sliced cheese for sandwiches was meh at best. Vegan mac and cheese was hit or miss. 

I’m not sure when things shifted, but vegan cheese is now markedly better than it used to be. 

  • It melts.
  • The texture is right. 
  • The flavor is good. 
  • I have favorites, even. 
  • Cheese slices I can eat straight out of the package. 

So if you are vegan-curious and cheese is what is holding you back, it’s time to try again. You may be surprised.

Artisan vegan cheesemaking is in my future. Or artisan vegan cheese eating, at least! 

I don’t know who needs this: Editing Zoom recordings

A green ceramic coffee mug sits next to a silver laptop with a video call on the screen featuring multiple participants.

I recently edited a lot of Zoom recordings stored in the cloud. It’s very easy to share recordings directly from Zoom if you have that capability on your account.

The editing options are limited but worked for all but one of my recordings. Basically, you can trim the beginning and end of the recordings. This worked well for most of the videos. One challenging thing was editing down to the second but through trial and error, I figured it out.

The editing is done by opening the recording, selecting the video, and then clicking on the scissors icon.

This will add a slider to the beginning and end of the recording. You can adjust the start and end time of the recording by moving the slider to your preferred start and end time. If you need more precision, click on the arrows in the sliders to move the slider back or forward by one second. The Playback Range in the lower left will help you know that you’ve hit your target.

More help from Zoom: https://blog.zoom.us/so-youve-made-a-zoom-recordingnow-what/

P.S. I also learned that to remove the chat from the cloud recording, I had to delete the file. I downloaded the file before deleting it so I would have a backup if I needed it. 

Feature photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

I don’t know who needs this

Trio of e.l.f. products: Holy Hydation face cream and Flawless Satin Coverage Foundation in Light Ivory and Sand

I am always in between shades when it comes to foundation. Light makeup is a little too light, and the next color is a little too dark. After buying a new product that was too dark and then one that was too light, I decided to take a painterly approach and mix the colors. Ah … perfection. And now I mix in sunscreen or lotion, too. 

I use e.l.f. products–they are vegan and cruelty-free. I like elf Hello Hydration! Skin Cream with Hyaluronic Acid, elf Flawless Finish Foundation, and elf BB Cream Foundation with SPF 20 

Finding your purpose

Black and white tarot card with message "let your intuition guide you, you are what you have been looking for" is displayed, held in a woman's hand.

I was intrigued by this quiz on finding your purpose on the Greater Good Science Center website: Purpose in Life Quiz | Greater Good 

Most quizzes are of questionable value (other than the fun factor), so I’m always especially interested when they have a little science behind them.

The results were interesting and sobering. I have work to do on aligning with my purpose. 
The results page linked to the VIA Survey of Character Strengths which I’ve done a couple of times, and I decided that today seemed like a good day to retake it. My top five traits have stayed somewhat consistent, but this time, Creativity came out on top.

Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

Roll Tide (Powder)

I’ve been following @gocleanco on Instagram and learned about using powdered Tide laundry detergent for, well, everything. As part of our Kitchenette Cabinet Painting Adventure of 2021, we removed some corner turnaround racks. And how do I put this … they were disgustingly dirty. Barkeeper’s friend, a Go Clean Co. standby, didn’t make a dent. 🙁 I also tried Method all-purpose cleaner and even a white eraser sponge. Finally, I dissolved one teaspoon of Tide in some very hot water and let it sit on each tray for 10 minutes. Then I scrubbed with a dish brush and let it sit for another 10 minutes. I scrubbed again and rinsed. WHAT A TRANSFORMATION. I mean, they were almost good enough to go back in as-is. 

I decided to stay true to my overachiever self and paint them for a like-new facelift. I found a very close color in plastic-friendly spray paint. Handy-tip: both trays had globs of varnish on them that I could get off with light sanding. Sanding was remarkably effective. I was able to get a couple of coats done before the temperatures dropped, along with 15 inches of snow. I need things to warm up a bit before I can do the final coats, but they look great. 

Note to self: always take before pictures. Especially of the gross cleaning projects. 


Photo of a folded quilt

I’ve been taking a few quilt classes to level up my skills and learned a technique called popping the seam. You can use this technique when four blocks come together at an intersection, and the combined seam allowances create an unwieldy lump. Popping the seams flattens the intersection by distributing the seam allowances. It’s nothing short of magic.

See for yourself.

Photo by Nathan Bang on Unsplash

A maximalist falls in love with a minimalist

minimalist photography of open door

If I have a motto, it’s that more is more. I’m not usually talking about stuff, but if I am being honest, I am no minimalist. If I like something, I usually wind up with at least three of that item. So I have a hard time explaining my complete adoration for Dawn, The Minimal Mom on YouTube. I am hooked; I’ve already watched a handful of videos in the last five days. 

Maybe I’m trying to change my ways. I think I am realizing the limits of abundance. Dawn often mentions that she doesn’t want to manage that much inventory: I can so relate to that at this point in my life.  

Check out 5 EASY Ways to Make Christmas Extra Special This Year and especially Get rid of these 3 things to feel BETTER about yourself today!! Don’t wait to have clothes you love. Your weight is fine right now. Give away and recycle what no longer fits and love the body you have. Yes, a million times, yes.