I Heart Coffee

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If I have one great love in my life that I really couldn’t live without, it would be coffee (that isn’t really true, but jeez I love it). Coffee makes me so, so happy, I can’t even tell you. I don’t mean the sugar-flavoured coffees that you get from Starbucks, I mean the brewed coffee with a little cream and a little sugar. The wake-up-in-the-morning-to-the-sweetness-that-is-life.

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Brewed coffee is by far the best. What is more amazing than being able to refill your coffee with more coffee? You can make it hotter, a little more bitter, and you can just have more by adding it in because it is there. If I am home by myself I could probably drink an entire pot in a day just for me. Those slogans that say “Just give me an I.V. of coffee”, or something silly like that, I always repost because it just rings true. This doesn’t mean that I cannot survive without coffee. I love it, but I won’t die without it. I just REALLY like it. It reminds me of Sunday mornings too…at home, watching t.v. with my husband and making breakfast. I don’t get that many weekends off, but when I do, it is really nice.

When I was little my parents would take us camping in the summer, and if you know anything about camping, it can be cold, even in a trailer, but boy is it cozy. There were 5 people sleeping a trailer built for 3. I loved it. In the mornings my mom would always make coffee on the Coleman stove outside, and I would wake to this beautiful smell of percolating coffee. Just thinking about it brings back wonderful memories of summer, swimming, and the sun. Ahhh…

Sorry about that, lost in my little world there. As you can see, I just have a deep and personal relationship with coffee, and subsequently, coffee mugs. I like drinking coffee in only so many of my favourite mugs (this is very important, no cheap mugs). I really like the nice ones that are fun and colourful, or personalized. When my husband and I travel, we especially like to look for new mugs that really remind us of our trip. (The only exception was when we went to Germany and we bought beer glasses, surprisingly).

Some of my favourites in list form include:

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1. My fox mug that I recently bought in Portland, Oregon. This is currently my go-to mug right now. It is absolutely adorable, and I just feel so happy when I am drinking out of it. I don’t know why, but I love foxes right now – so cute!

2. My “L” mug from Chapters, which I bought at Christmastime last year. I got this mug in a pair with a “K” mug for my husband. It is so simply and cute. It has a small cursive sized letter on one side, and a capital cursive letter on the other side. It is black and white, and small, and very sweet. Plus then my husband and I don’t get our drinks mixed up. Bonus!

3. Next, is my “Little Miss Naughty” mug that I got when I was in New York this year, at The Strand Bookstore, which was by far my favourite bookstore in New York for sure. I think that in total I went in there about 4 times, and spent several hours just looking around and reading. I don’t know, but I loved it. And this mug is equally adorable. Just the name seriously defines me to a “T”. It even has a little saying on it that says, “Looks like a nice day for being naughty!”. It makes me smile.

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4. Last, but not least, my blue Starbucks mug is a favourite as well. I got these mugs at my bridal shower before I was married, and they were the first expensive and beautiful mugs that I had ever gotten. They are this beautiful blue (yes, we got 2 matching ones), and they remind me of my first years of marriage. I love them. Plus, they are perfectly sized and just really sleek mugs.

Did I just write an entire post about coffee and coffee mugs? Yes I did. That is how I feel about coffee. I could go on, and on about it for an entire blog post. Probably more if I let myself. Anyways, thanks again for reading!

L.

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Figs, Figs, and More Figs

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My husband and I have a huge fig tree in our backyard that seems to be getting bigger and bigger each year. Last year, after we had been at our house only 1 year, we had no idea what to do with them. They also ripened just at the time that we were away in Europe, so we didn’t get a chance to harvest them. Honestly, I had never eaten figs before, and didn’t really know what they were. This year, I tried them and boy were they good. I have been going a little crazy looking up different recipes to do with figs. I have been picking them for about 3 weeks now, and I have about 4 huge containers full of them in my freezer (there is no way that I could eat them all). Plus, they get ripe very quickly and don’t last very long in my fridge or on my counter (about 2 days tops). A few days ago I picked more than 50 from our tree in about 15 minutes, and just from branches that I could reach (no ladder involved). Crazy!

I thought to myself, what am I going to do with all of these figs? Seriously! I hope people like figs, because I am pretty sure that I am going to be giving them away for Christmas presents. Hello friends and family! A DIY is coming your way.

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So I made some jam…I used about half of one bag of figs and it made 9 jars of jam. How many jars and I going to fill? Lets just say…I am going to have to buy a few more (plus a hell of a lot more sugar). It is a good thing that this jam is tasty! Actually, it isn’t really very sweet, but almost has a savoury quality to it. I love it!

My mom and I made it at her house, and it really only took maybe an hour to make one batch. If any of you have ever made jam, let me just tell you that it is hot! I have burnt myself on more than 1 occasion, and that stuff hurts bad. Like, really bad. Nothing burns more (except maybe tomato sauce). Making jam is really quite easy to do, and doesn’t require a lot of effort. Like I said, about an hour or so just for the one batch (and a lot of counter space), then you are pretty much done. It does help to have another person to be there so that you can multitask most stuff, but it can definitely be done by yourself.

I got the recipe from kraftrecipes.com for a Certo based recipe (which is a powdered pectin product that is common to buy to make jam). We first chopped the figs into small chunks until we had 4 cups. Next time, I think that I will chop them up a little smaller in hopes that I could use more figs. I then measured out 7, thats right, 7 cups of sugar. If you have ever seen that much in a bowl, it is very surprising. I look at it saying, “Are you sure? ALL of it?”. You want it to taste good. I have made low sugar jam before, and it is gross. Probably better for you, but in general, if you don’t slather on the jam every day (like my husband), than I think that you will be just fine

We then put the figs in a pot, added 1/2 cup of water, and 1/2 cup of lemon juice (to prevent them from going brown), then mixed it all together. Then we put it on the stove and added the sugar. Then came the hard part. We boiled it. Stirred constantly, and boiled it. The nerve-racking part. Let me just say that it is a good thing that I wore a longsleeve sweater. When anything boils it starts to pop and spray, and when you have to stand right over it and stir it continuously for about a minute to prevent it from burning, is a really long time and can be quite dangerous. I would definitely recommend a long sleeve sweater and maybe oven mitts. Don’t wear something that you don’t want possibly tainted with jam.

During this time we washed all of the jars, and boiled the lids in a pot. Then we put all of the jars in the oven at about 200 degrees. Preparation is key! You always want to have these steps in the works first before you start the pot. If you start the pot too early than you won’t be prepared to start when the jam is ready. This is sometimes wear another person does come in handy if you need to do more than 1 part of the process at a time, because while the jam is boiling you can’t really stop to do anything else. If the phone rings, you will not be answering.

Once your hot jam is boiled, you need to move all of the hot jars onto a large wood cutting board, or a tea towel to protect the counter. You then skim off whatever foam is on the top. With this jam I didn’t quite follow the recipe to add the other ingredient to prevent it from foaming because I usually just use the skimmed off bit as jam (it is really yummy), but there wasn’t really much. Then you can start pouring in the jam. I like to use a funnel that is shallow and fits into the jars well. My mom has a perfect one, but if you don’t have one you can buy one here. We just used a plastic one and if worked just fine. So you basically just use a ladle and a funnel to fill a jar. Then you get a hot lid from the pot on the stove, and place it on top. You then use the screw tops for the jars to make sure that it is sealed, and set the jar aside.

You follow these steps until all of them are filled, and then comes the fun part. Only when I have canned pears or peaches have I ever had to do this, but this step makes sure that all of the bacteria is killed, so it is pretty important. For all other jams that I have made I didn’t have to do this step, but figs are special. You need to get a canner, or a pressure cooker works just fine. You fill it with water and place all of the jars in. The water must be high enough to cover an inch above the highest jar. You then boil the water for 30 minutes. When taking these babies out, please use tongs so that you don’t burn your hands (like my mom is famous for doing because she just thinks that she can take them out…Christmas gift idea!). You can then set the jars on the same tea towel, or wooden cutting board to cool, and voila!

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We have been enjoying our jam for sure these past few weeks and I can’t wait to make more. We just got another 100 or so figs from our tree just today, and I don’t even have enough space in my freezer for them! I know what I will be making constantly this year! Time to research more fig recipes! Thanks for reading.

L.

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*Sorry I didn’t include any photos of the process, and basically only the before and after, but I honestly didn’t have time. The whole process went by so fast, that I just didn’t get a chance. But since this jam situation will be happening in the future, you can be sure that I will have more photos!

*Also, if you don’t really want to purchase any really new items in order to make jam, I found this website that shows you how to make some of them! Or you can make freezer jam (not with figs) with raspberries or strawberries