Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Great Seattle Coffee Taste Test

At the end of my work trip, I ended up in Seattle for 2 quick days. I had a few free hours one morning, so I decided to set out on foot and do a massive taste test of different coffee all across the city. Since Seattle is so well known for it's coffee, I was very excited to see how it tasted and see how my home roasted coffee stacked up. I hopped online at the hotel, picked out 4 different roasters, drew up a quick map, and headed out on my tour. I was like a giddy little kid on Christmas morning as I headed hustled down the street. The four roasters I chose were Caffe Vita, Espresso Vivace, Stumptown Coffee Roasters, and Victrola Coffee Roasters.

They were all unique in their own way --

Caffe Vita was the first stop and ended up being my favorite. The espresso was the thickest espresso I've ever had and tasted incredible. It was very comfortable inside and had a large window where I could see into the large roasting room and watch the people working. What I would've given to go into that room! I was pretty envious. I've since found out that they give home roasting classes. Maybe next time I'll happen to schedule a trip around one of them...

Next stop was Espresso Vivace, which was the one I was most looking forward to as I'd heard good things and had tasted their coffee before. Their espresso was excellent, but their location wasn't nearly as comfortable as Caffe Vita. It felt more like a retail store b/c they were really pushing the sales of their t-shirts, mugs, etc.

Next came Stumptown Coffee Roasters which was great. VERY good espresso and pretty comfortable. I was in Portland prior to Seattle and stopped in a Stumptown there and bought a bag of roasted beans to take home. They were such flavorful and strong beans. I'm not sure how they get them to taste that way, but I want to learn!

Last stop was Victrola Coffee Roasters which was also very, very good. It was a great location and very comfortable. They also have a big glassed-in room for roasting as well as a separate glassed-in room for cupping and tastings. It was fun (and made me envious!) to watch the roasters working on the other side of the glass.

Someday I'll be on that side of the glass...

More Burnsville

Here are pics of our backyard and our side sledding hill...

Back to Burnsville!

A couple weeks ago I got to go back to Minnesota for a work trip and was so excited as I hadn't been back since probably 8th grade. I was only there for 2 quick days, but I still managed a trip down memory lane through our old neighborhood. The neighborhood looked great and our house looked good too, even though it was now red instead of blue. It is the perfect neighborhood and I had such an amazing childhood growing up there. Here are some pics I took...

The first 2 are of our old house. My room was the window on the far right.

And this is the mall where my friends and I used to always hang out

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Feast of our Farms

Last night we went on a double date to our favorite place on the planet, The Inn at Baldwin Creek. Our date night began with a beautiful fall drive to the picturesque Inn. When we arrived we were all happily surprised at the magnitude of the massive production that Inn owners Doug and Linda put on.

Feast of our Farms is an annual fall celebration of all the local farmers and food producers in the area. Mary's, the restaurant at the Inn only uses local food, and last night the best of the best was on display. Over 40 farmers set up camp in a rustic barn and served their food to 2oo guests. A local band provided some great old timey fiddle music and we ate and ate and ate!

Along with our massive consumption of delicious food, we chatted with farmers, cheese makers, beer, wine, and coffee makers, and some really nice folks who shared a table with us. We plan to make a tradition of this delicious night!

Here is a view of the tent and barn (where the festivities occurred) from the front porch of the Inn.

Posing for a last minute picture with our friends Erik and Hillary

They're Baaaack!

No, not the the students (they've been back for awhile). It's their loving parents that I am talking about. Each afternoon I make it a point to call five or six parents and let them know how their child is doing in my class. In most school districts, I would hope to speak with at least a few parents out of the five or six calls that I make. In my class I'm lucky if I get a hold of one parent a week. It seems that most of my student's parents "lose" their cell phones on a daily basis, so phone numbers are always changing, or being disconnected, and I go for weeks trying to get a hold of parents.

Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to speak with a parent regarding an on campus suspension for giving another student a "five point star". For those of you who don't know, that's a big hard open handed slap on the back. The kids were in science class and were not fighting, but this year we are really striving to nip any violence in the bud. So, my partner teacher and the principal came down hard on this student.

As I was making the mandatory parent phone call I was unprepared for the earful that this student's mother gave me! I explained to her that we don't tolerate any kind of violence school, and that we are really trying to teach our students coping skills so that they don't resort to violence. She let me know that she gives her daughter permission to fight anyone that does anything to her. This led me to talk a little about how school is a place for academics and learning new skills. After I finished what I thought was a very clear explanation of what we are trying to teach our students, the mother's reply shocked me. She said, "So, your saying that I should tell my daughter to wait until after school to punch him."

Unbelievable, after that phone call I plan to search high and low to get some kind of tape recorder attached to my phone...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Shelburne Farms Goes to the Dogs!

Last weekend we took NJ to Shelburne Farms Goes to the Dogs. We had a great day, and after a few hours, so did Norma Jean!

Here is the arrival!

Norma Jean is not quite sure that she likes it here....


Kevin trying his best to win fabulous prizes for Norma Jean!

Lion tamer and Lion.

Doggie Party!

Here are a few more pictures of our day. Check out Norma under the bed. She's a real go getter...

Back to School

Summer is over and fall is finally here! My return to school this year started a bit rocky... The weekend before the first day of school I was scrambling (like many other teachers) to buy some supplies for my class. As I was finishing up my buying frenzy at Staples, I had an unfortunate foot-on collision with a rouge shopping cart and broke my baby toe. It quickly turned an ugly shade of purple, and hurt really bad! My gross toe didn't fit into any of my work shoes, so I've been wearing flip flops for the last few weeks. This week it feels much better and I think I'll be able to go back to my high heal wearing ways very soon.

The other rocky start had to do with our teacher contract negotiations. We haven't had a teaching contract for the last few years and the members of our school board are not exactly "team players". With the negotiations at a stand still, the teachers union set a date to strike. Teachers were worried, students were unsettled, and parents were up in arms about potentially missing school days. Lucky for everyone late Tuesday night, the school board finally came to their senses and settled our contract with the teacher's union. Now we can finally get back to teaching!

Iowa Trip

Iowa Trip

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Summer, Summer, Summer!

After spending time in Curacao, Waterton, we headed to California. We went to a down home country sing-along, saw a bear, got to spend time with our cousins, and went to a COLD baseball game in San Francisco. It was a great quick trip.

California Trip

Summer, Summer, Summer!

Waterton, Camping, Curacao, and Wedding!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Grillin' and Chillin'

Here are some more good ones from Brad's visit. We did a fair amount of cooking while he was here. He showed us how to cook steak on the grill and we introduced him to our pasta making ways.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Maine Weekend

Kevin's brother Brad came for a visit and we took a weekend road trip to see the Maine Fullers. While we were there we ran a 5k fun run, Kevin and Brad's first one! Everyone did a great job and finished. It was unseasonably warm and we took full advantage! We grilled out every night, had a campfire, and toured Portland. We had such a great time, thanks so much to Scott, Melia, Sage, and Benny!

Here are some nice ones from Portland and our BBQ at Bob and Linda's!

Two Fat Cats makes THE BEST whoopie pies. If you are ever in the Portland area I highly recommend that you pick one up.