Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Coffee and My Camera at the Kansas City Roasterie

I love my coffee and my camera, but not as much as I love my family. When I have the combination of all three it is a real treat.  We visited The Roasterie, in downtown Kansas City.  My children weren't exactly excited when I told them that we were taking a field trip to a coffee roaster, but once we arrived they were quickly intrigued.  The smell of brewing coffee welcomed us into the industrial cafe atmosphere.     

The girls perked up when they discovered the silly hats and goofy props available for mugshots and selfies.  Their imaginations took them to far away places while sipping pretend coffee.  Fun was definitely in the lesson plans for the day, and this dress up session was just the warm up for the tour.

Welcomed by our tour guide we were encouraged to take a seat for a mini documentary on the history of The Roasterie and the care the company takes to ensure the best coffee gets to their customers.  After the movie our girls weren't thrilled with the cloth hairnet, everyone was required to wear as we entered the rotating room, but they thought it was funny to see me in one.  We enjoyed the tour and we learned many interesting facts about the growing, harvesting, and roasting of coffee beans.  

One interesting fact that surprised me was that a coffee tree only produces one and a half pounds of coffee beans per year.  This made me appreciate my daily cup of joe a lot more.

The air roasting process is the not the most common way to roast beans, but can be argued that it is the best way to evenly roast each bean.  The Roasterie only roasts the quantity of beans to fill the daily orders to ensure the freshest coffee is delivered to their customers.

They roasts larger batches in the machine on the left, to meet the popular demand of daily orders and special blends or smaller orders in the machine on the right.  The smell of the roasting beans was amazing, like warm caramel!

The Roasterie has a huge selection of coffee beans from all over the world.

Different geographical locations and the ecological qualities of the soil and air contribute to the flavor of the coffee. Mixing different beans from different areas of the world enables roasters to create new flavors.

Each burlap bag holds approximately one hundred fifty pounds of coffee beans.  The girls and I were amazed to think that took one hundred trees to fill on of these sacks.

There was so much information shared with our family during the tour.  They covered subjects like agriculture,  social studies, economics, chemistry, and math all wrapped up in the art of coffee.  I felt like we could return multiple times to learn something new each time.

Adi loved watching "the workers" as they diligently monitoring the beans from burlap bag to sealed bags ready to be shipped to the customer.  Her favorite part was watching the bags be deoxygenated and filled with nitrogen to keep the beans fresh longer.


The tour ended with a brewing lesson and demonstration of a french press brew and a pour over.  I was amazed at the difference in the taste of the types of brews.  I preferred the french press to the pour over because it tasted less bitter.  The girls didn't get to experience the awesome coffee at the end but we did spring for a hot chocolate at the cafe.

The attention to detail from the technical measures to ensure a perfect bean roasting temperature and time to the chocolate syrup doodles on a hot cocoa in the cafe, made us feel special and want to come back again.

My kiddos reported that it happened to be the best hot chocolate they had ever had!  The Roasterie has become one our Kansas City favorite places.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

KC Tradition Lights Up My Heart

This November has been SPECTACULAR!  I really have enjoyed our unseasonably warm weather.  Looking ahead to next week's holiday endeavors, I am particularly excited about the forecast on Thanksgiving!!! Lows in the 40s and highs in the mid 50s, are perfect for layering up, sitting with warm hot cocoa, and making memories with my family at the Country Club Plaza.

The lighting ceremony at the Country Club Plaza has been one of Kansas City's most enjoyed holiday traditions.  The gleaming lights sparkle in my childhood memories and now I get to share them with my girls!!!  I am so excited to be back in Kansas City!

There is a full evening of entertainment here is a link to the event's itinerary: Plaza Lighting Ceremony

Friday, November 18, 2016

10 Reasons to be Thankful on Thanksgiving

There is so much more to Thanksgiving that turkey and diabetic comas.  It is one of my favorite holidays because it helps us remember what we are thankful for, at least until the stores open on Black Friday.  No but really inspiring gratitude is the best way to get over the holiday stress and focus on what matters.  My friend Sarah is a huge list maker so I thought that I would share 10 things that I am including in my Thanksgiving celebration!

10.  Cute Kid Crafts.  Go ahead and show off your Thankful Spirit with a homemade Turkey Hat. Here is a link to 8 Turkey hat crafts.

9.  Saving Money. I enjoy stocking up on practical items on Black Friday.  No need to fight the crowds for those techie gadgets when this girl can get her hairspray over half off.  I usually go after the initial store rush, and after my babies have gone to sleep.  

8.  Taking time to help my children practice gratitude.  Here is a great link to a printable Thankful Journal by artist Becky Kelly

7.  The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade - every year our family lounges around in our PJs and occasionally dance to the live performances.   This is the 90th anniversary of the parade and they have an interactive activity on their site that highlights the parade over the last nine decades.

6.  Gluten Free Dessert always stirs warm and fuzzy feelings of thankfulness.  Thank you Mom Loves Baking for this delicious idea: Chocolate Turtle Apple Slices

5.  Homemade Gluten Free Egg Noodles - Check out this recipe from one of my posts.  I look forward to these every year.  I consider it a labor of love to make them, because I LOVE TO EAT THEM!

5. Left overs, yes left overs!  I can't express how thankful I am to always have more than enough.

4.  Friendships, each and every person.  It is always fun to connect especially since we've moved so much.  No matter where we live we host a Misfit Thanksgiving on Black Friday, for all our friends that don't have family around to celebrate with.  Our cup of Gratitude overflows into Friday.  Yep two days of Turkey feasts, who says we have to be thankful only one day of the year.

3.  Laughter! Part of spending time with our friends is playing Just Dance Kids on our Wii.  Laughter during Just Dance Kids helps burn those extra calories.  It is a necessary tradition that reminds me how blessed I really am.  Here is a snippet of what one can expect from our calorie burning activity, Just Dance Kids

2. My family.  I do believe I have the best husband and the most amazing children a girl could ever ask for.  I also am thankful that we will one day welcome our adopted children into our family.  I look forward to the day when I can thank God for all my children by name.  National Adoption Day is November 19th, I am thankful of all those who made the choice to adopt and redefine Family. I am thankful for my Forever Family!

1.  I am most thankful for my salvation.  There is nothing I could do in my own power to make things right with God except his free gift of salvation through His son Jesus.  
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Romans 3:23-26

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Fostering Creativity Through Homeschooling

There are days that I find homeschooling very challenging; I sometimes wonder if it is the best schooling choice for my children, but yesterday wasn't one of them.  I am so thankful we are able to foster individual thinking and creativity though homeschooling.  My children have different learning styles and they work at different paces.  Olive often stays focused and cruises through her daily assignments and Adi keeps up with her big sister in areas like Latin and art, but Olive usually finishes her core subjects quicker.  Her speedy scholastic skills results in more time for independent study or exploring hobbies.

Olive usually spends her extra time reading for fun, working ahead in her math book, Minecraft, making music.lys or drawing in her sketch book.  Recently, she was given an assignment by her cooperative finance teacher to make a craft to sell for class cash.  Carefully, she thought of an original idea for her contribution.  It needed to be tangible, homemade, and enough for multiple students to purchase.  The teacher had provided suggestions like baked goods or jewelry, but Olive decided to be think out side the box by creating hand drawn color sheets.  Her selection is an adorable reflection of her interests and displays her hidden talent of illustration.  She drew three different animals and made a few copies of each.

Drawing has been a passion of Olive's for many years.  She received accolades from her public school art teacher when we lived in Wisconsin.  The encouragement from that teacher has fostered her desire to sketch, drawn and color. Yesterday was one of those affirming days that homeschooling is the best choice for our family, because homeschooling has allowed her to work at her own pace and explore her creative intelligence in the extra time.

I believe that math, science, social studies, and language arts are very important.  But I also believe that the creative arts are often under appreciated and the first to go when schools cut budgets. Watching my children thrive in their core subjects and in the creative arts makes me a happy mama.

I have attached a link to her blog that will allow you to print off her hand drawn color sheets.  Please leave a comment to encourage her.  Positive words go a long way and are a precious currency!


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Pumpkin Spice Cran Scone, Yummy and Gluten Free

During the holidays we usually snack on pastries for the early parts of the day, to save room for a large lunch mid afternoon.  I usually bake breakfast and snack treats in advance because my kitchen will be busy enough with Turkey and fixings.  These Pumpkin Spice Cran Scones are a sure fire way to please any crowd, and they freeze well.

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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Memories of Friendship

When I was a little girl I remember playing outside till dark with my neighborhood friends.  Our days were filled with imagination and jumping fences to play in each other’s backyards.  The small house next door was called home by three generations of one Laotian family. I am not sure what brought them to Kansas City but I am glad they moved in next door because that's how I met Ana.  She was younger than I, but was smart and mature for her age, so I enjoyed her company.  Ana often had to translate english to the older generations.  She showed her parents and grandmother unconditional respect.  Their household always seemed to be in order and she knew her place in her home.  

Our homes were like two different worlds only separated by a chainlink fence and a language barrier.  My parents did their best to provide for us in very humble circumstances.  Both of them worked outside of the home and sometimes there was no parental supervision on long summer days.  My older brother would babysit, but under his care orderly would not describe us.  The lack of order overflowed into our backyard.  Our backyard was a place of free play and Ana’s a place of work and resource.

Ana’s petite grandmother was always working long days in the garden.  She didn’t speak a word of English but I knew she expected order from the pale freckled face girl from the strange world next door.  I remember Ana had a gentle and graceful way of translating her grandmother’s stern reprimands to me, when we would sneak strawberries from their garden.  Those strawberries were tiny, but delicious on those hot summer days.

Ana’s family garden was full of small plants with colorful peppers and vegetables.  I will never forget the day I was tempted to try one of those colorful peppers.  They were so tiny and I couldn’t help think they would be as refreshing as the tiny strawberries.  I would have never guessed they carried a powerful kick of heat that would set my mouth on fire. Nor did I realize that as I bit into it that the oils would run down my hands and become a catalyst for an overwhelming wildfire on my face.   I had wiped the tears from my eyes as we ran into their home for some milk and I was confronted with a new burning sensation that only intensified by my second wave of tears.  There was no rebuke from her grandmother that day, but I definitely felt punished.

 Ana’s backyard was a rural oasis in the midst of urban calamity.  Sometimes there would be live chickens pecking in there backyard.  It didn’t dawn on me that they weren’t pets until the day Ana’s grandmother chopped one of there heads off and let it run around till it fell lifeless to the ground.  At first I was terrified until I realized the feathered friend wasn’t a playful pet; it was family dinner.  Though lifeless the fowl still provided entertainment to a group of dirty faced neighborhood kids, as we explored the science of the chicken talon.  I remember her brother pulling the tendon causing the claw to open and close.  For me the grass seemed greener on my side of the fence that day; I was thankful our chicken came frozen from the grocery store. 

There was always a since of mystery on Ana’s side of the fence and I was often introduced to new food experiences.  I guess that is why food is often linked to my memories of Ana, and it is a food that reminds me of her sweet friendship.  I had moved away when I was in sixth grade and I don’t recall interacting with Ana ever again.  I have never forgotten her or her strict grandmother, because I am reminded of them when I eat on of my favorite foods.  Ana introduced me to pomegranates.  She and her siblings would snack on the vibrantly colored seeds.  One day they offered me a handful; I was hesitant to try them after my pepper experience, but am so glad I did. Not only do they taste good, they will always remind me of the quiet girl from another world who happened to lived next door to my childhood home.  

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Frugal Festive Frill: Christmas Craft

Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year, so I am not bothered by the early arrival of holiday decor in the stores.  The commercial craze sets my mind toward family traditions and reflection of my savior.  I can totally see how all shiny things can distract us from the true meaning, and I am often guilty of getting over stressed this time of year, as well.  One temptation this time of year is to over spend and extend my budget and well that stresses my husband out.  God provides for our family through Matt's hard work, and I need to respect the boundaries of our budget, especially this time of year.

Savvy shopping and saving all year is the key to apply our budget wisely for this costly time of year.  This summer I was in a cute gift shop in a small town in Nebraska.  It had last year's Christmas decor on clearance for seventy percent off.  I had spotted an adorable pom pom garland for $5.99 (after the discount), and really wanted it.  Matt, who is often the voice of reason, pointed out that there was only one (and I would want more of them) and the price even at the discount was a little high for pom poms on a strings.  The cuteness of the garland and the logic of Matt's observation made me think about how easy it would be to recreate it on my own and have several to decorate with throughout the home.

Recently, I was running an errand at Target.  The store like many others had rolled out their holiday enticements and in the midst of them were these red, green, and white pom poms.  Instantly I remembered the vintage pom pom garland.  So I bought a few packs and some cotton string from Hobby Lobby, and created my own.  My total cost was under $8 and I was able to make several garlands.  Here is how:

The Light and Airy Pom Pom Garland:

Red, Green, White Pom Poms (approximately 24 total per garland)
Cotton String or Yarn
A Yarn Needle

The Light and Airy Pom Pom Garland:

1. Measure and cut 120 inches of string.

2. Tie a knot at one end of the string and thread the needle at the other.

3. Insert the threaded needle into the center of the pom pom, and slide it along the string to the knot.

4. Tie another knot on the other side of the pom pom, to keep it in place.

5. Tie a third knot a few inches from the pom pom.  I used my hand as a guide, grabbing the string with the left side of my hand at the pom pom and started the knot at the right side.

6. String another pom pom and tie another knot to secure it.

7. Repeat this process until you run out of string.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Coffee and My Camera

Coffee!  Yes please!  In desperate need of an hour to myself and a good cup of joe, I set out for some mommy time this afternoon.  I was intent on finding a caffeinated oasis, and decided to check out the City Market Coffee.

Every mom deserves a coffee break, especially one that involves crafted swirls of steamed cream and awesome 90's music. Bravo on the Beve!

Today, I decided to find a little rest by taking a coffee break with my camera.  I found that a couple hours of enjoying two of my favorite hobbies was beyond relaxing.  It has been nearly a decade since I moved away from Kansas City and since I have photographed for my own enjoyment of art.  

My favorite shots of the day reminded to not forget to take note of the little things, and the value of a grander perspective.

I am excited to jump back into my hobby. Leave comment below and tell me a hobby you have neglecting because life is too busy to have hobbies.