Archive | January, 2012

How to Make the Best Coffee in the World

26 Jan

This is part of a series on roasting your own coffee.  Today’s post is the actual roast process.  Do you have all of your equipment?   If you missed the previous post about the supplies you’ll need, please read this post first.

When your popcorn popper has heated to 400 degrees (again, this is more difficult if your popper has not yet been seasoned), you want to add your green coffee beans at that point.  Once you have done that, the temperature usually falls about 50 degrees.  You will want it to hover around 350 for the duration of the roast process.  Begin stirring (with the popper’s handle) immediately.  You’ll need to continue constantly stirring during the entire process.

After about six minutes, the first signs of “first crack” will appear.  You’ll actually hear the beans making a cracking sound.  With some roasts, this may be barely audible.  However, with some practice, you’ll begin to notice other signs of pending first crack.  Once first crack occurs, second crack will not be far behind.  I like to turn down the flame at this point so that I can control these events, because from here on out it begins to move more quickly.  Once first crack has finished, the roast is said to be a “full city” roast.   When the coffee beans start to sound like popcorn popping, you’re into “second crack”.   Once second crack starts, I pour the coffee into the colander quickly.  This is “full city +”, and is how I like most of my coffee, but depending on what the label on my bag of green coffee beans says, I sometimes vary this.

Once the coffee is in the colander, I usually take it outside, shaking it in the colander and blowing off the chaff.  Chaff doesn’t really affect the taste of the coffee, but it makes a mess, so I just get rid of it.  This also serves to cool the coffee down quickly.  This is also important because the coffee will continue to roast if not cooled quickly.

If you prefer a darker roast, you can go on to French roast, which is what occurs after second crack is completely over.  Go past French roast, and you’ll produce a coffee which tastes burnt and lacks body.  I don’t recommend it.

Once your coffee has cooled enough to touch, remove any beans which are tan or white in color.  You can also remove any beans which have gotten too dark for your liking.  This ensures continuity of the cup.

Once you have roasted your coffee and gotten rid of the chaff and “quaker” (unroasted) beans, you’re ready to store your coffee.  I store my coffee in a tin (which I am fairly certain is not made of tin).  I do not completely seal the lid on it for 4 hours.  This is also the amount of time it takes until the coffee reaches its “peak”.  Freshly roasted coffee tastes much better after aging 4 hours.   Since the biggest perk of roasting my own coffee is freshness, I do try not to roast more than what I can use in a few days to a week.

There are also a variety of coffee storage methods available in the same location I buy my coffee from : Sweet Marias.  This website also has in-depth information about other roasting methods, such as using a wok or an air popper, all the way up fancy roasters specifically for the purpose of coffee roasting.

In my next installment, I’ll talk about how I brew my coffee to continue consistency in the cup.

The Best Coffee in the World

25 Jan

… okay, so maybe it is not the best coffee in the world, (but it’s just a tribute…..) it is SOME of the best, if I say so myself, though.

I’ll admit it.  I’m a control freak.  I try to control all the important aspects of my life.  Coffee is one of those VERY important aspects.  And it’s full of antioxidants!

So this post is all about how I roast my own coffee….. or….. how I control my entire coffee process.  Now you’re thinking I’m a complete loon.  You’re somewhat right.  In fact, it was my stepdad who taught me the home roasting process, and when he told me that he was going to start roasting his own coffee, I was like you are crazy!  Just go to the store and experiment until you find something on the shelf you like.  I wish it were that simple, but the sad truth of the matter is that as soon as something new comes on the market, it tastes so good, but as we continue to buy it, it doesn’t taste as good as it once did.  You want to know why?  When it first comes on the market, it’s a fresh roast!  People always talk about how good the coffee was on their Caribbean vacation, etc., etc.  That’s because you’re also getting fresh roasted coffee in those countries when you go!

Roasting your own coffee is also a somewhat cheaper alternative to buying from the shelf, and if you buy it from a retailer who supports fair trade coffee, you can feel good about the money you’ve spent on your ‘cuppa Joe’!

First for the equipment:

My equipment is very simple.  I use a stainless steel stovetop popcorn popper.  I could not find them anywhere near me, even at the specialty kitchen store… so I left you a link below this:

Here’s a link to the one I use.

I use stainless because I prefer it over aluminum for my cookware.  To me, the few extra dollars are worth it.  Also, it’s much easier to clean, although I don’t clean the roaster as often as you’d think.  A slight “patina” of coffee oils actually makes the roasting process easier.  However, stovetop roasting can create a lot of smoke, so wiping the roaster out after every batch or two with a paper towel is helpful.  I have a hole drilled in the top of my roaster and a thermometer stuck through the hole.  This is so I can control the roasting process and check the temperature without opening the lid and without throwing another variable of cooling before desired into the process.

You’ll also need a dry measure or a scale, or something like this which has a scale built in:

Measuring cup with scale

Measuring cup with scale

You can find the measuring cup with scale here.

That way, you’ll be able to weigh out your coffee.  I like to use approximately 8-16 ounces of coffee to roast at a time.  As coffee roasts, however, it will actually lose density.  When I was starting, I stuck to 8 ounces at a time.  I still occasionally cobble up a roast, but if you only had 8oz of beans, you don’t have to feel (too) bad about throwing them out.

Another thing you’ll need is something for your beans to cool off quickly in.  I use a large stainless colander.  These can be purchased pretty much anywhere kitchen stuffs are sold.

Colander

Link to colander.

You’ll also need a thermometer that goes to at least 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Candy/Deep Fry Thermometer

Candy/Deep Fry Thermometer

Here’s a link to the thermometer.

Coffee roasting is a process as individual as the roaster themselves, so there is a high degree of variability.  If you’re a control freak like me, you’ll love the results you can get.  I like to use natural gas or propane to cook with, and I find that its high degree of CONTROL (sensing any theme here?) is perfect for roasting coffee.  When your roaster is unseasoned, your thermometer may not read correctly, so sticking with medium-low temperatures is best at first.  You’ll need to heat the roaster up before you place any of your coffee in it.  If your roaster has been seasoned, during the warm-up process, you may see some smoke coming out of it.  That is an unfortunate by-product of the stovetop roasting method.  However, don’t let it dissuade you from trying this method!  It’s one of the cheapest ways to get started roasting, and if you decide it’s not for you, you have the equipment to make the best homemade kettle corn, ever!

The beans in the photo above are YirgaCheffe Dimerso Cooperative.  It’s a wet-process coffee, and wet process coffees are my personal favorite.  I’d encourage you to buy a variety of coffees to start roasting.  Although each type of coffee roasts differently, they all have their own individual characteristics.  You might be surprised to see what you like.  All these years I thought I loved island coffees, then figured out that my favorites were from Sumatra and Africa!  I buy my beans here (no affiliate link, I just like their quality and price):  Sweet Marias.  This link will take you to a sampler pack.  That is how I started and it is a really great deal.

Stay tuned for the roasting process… next post (here)!

*Disclosure*:  Some of the links above are Amazon Affiliate links.  When you purchase your roasting supplies from these links it helps support my family and pay for these blog posts.  Thank you for contributing.

Great January Special for lia sophia!

12 Jan
Me with Fall/Winter 2011 Catalog

CDO with Fall/Winter 2011 lia sophia catalog

Well, the bad news is that we have a great catalog that is discontinuing… but the good news is that there is still time to get your favorites out of the catalog at a great deal before they’re gone!

The January 2012 special is:  Buy one at regular price, get TWO for half off.  You can make those two items your most expensive.  This means you can purchase a $20 pair of earrings for regular price and get that $100 necklace for only $50!  It’s an absolutely amazing deal and just the thing to collect your favorite items before the next catalog comes out.

If you think our customer special is great, you’ll love our hostess special!  If you have a $650 show in January, you may purchase a sneak peak style from our brand new catalog for only $10!  It’s an excellent deal and you won’t want to miss out!  In addition, if you hold a $650 show in January, and get an additional $100 worth of jewelry for only $19!  That’s in addition to our already great hostess specials!

Looking for a way to eliminate that Christmas debt?  I can help you, step by step, to build your brand new business!  It’s easy, and getting started only costs $149!

Contact me at glamourousbling@gmail.com, or find my other contact methods on my website here!  Thanks for stopping by!

WGU Stuff!

11 Jan

Just wanted to take a photo of my latest acquisition from my University, which you can read more about here.

WGU is awesome at keeping their students motivated, and I recently received this in the mail from them:

New WGU Swag

It’s a stapler in a stand with little Post-It flags and a place to put pens and pencils!  :)  I know, I get excited over the little things, but whatever works, right?  One more thing to help me with staying motivated and to send me into a guilt trip when I am not working on school!

Since I have a super-supportive person in my life, who you can read about here, and I received two staplers in the mail, I gave the other one to him to take to work.

Thanks for reading!

 

Behind Every Good Woman, There’s a Great and Supportive Spouse!

11 Jan

I’m blessed, very blessed.  I have a great family, and I’m blessed to have their support.  That’s a big thing, especially given the fact that despite being the Chief Domestic Officer (stay at home parent) of our household, I actually am busy all the time.  As you may know, I attend school full time for sales and sales management and run two businesses in addition to being a wife and mother.  Sometimes juggling is difficult.

One man makes it much easier… and I’d like to give him a bit of a mention here:

My wonderful husband cooking breakfast

Not only does he cook, but he’s an excellent father as well, and really helps me pick up the slack that being so busy causes.  Did I mention that he works excess of 80 hours a week most weeks?  He’s been my number one supporter and even though we haven’t always seen eye to eye, we check and balance each other.  He’s never told me no to something that I really really wanted to do, such as starting a business or going back to school.

My hubby and I met at the first school I attended out of high school… and since then I’ve attended two other schools.  He’s the most patient person I’ve ever met.  And I think I finally have a grasp on “what I want to be when I grow up”.

This is a salute to not only my husband, but all the great spouses and family members or friends that make it possible for us to achieve our goals  and are our greatest cheerleaders!

Hoping your journey leads you to a great supporter as well

Happily Ever After

Introducing… the Thirty-One Spring 2012 Catalog!

11 Jan

Thirty-One Gifts Spring 2012 Catalog

Yesterday, I introduced you all to another catalog here .  Today, I would like you to check out the Thirty-One spring catalog!

Lotsa Dots

Mini Utility Bin in new pattern *Lotsa Dots*

It’s just absolutely chock full of some adorable new prints, your favorite classic prints, and some new products that will blow you away!  Perfect for spring and summer!  I know as soon as you see it, you’re going to want some products for yourself, and that’s why you need to stay tuned for our great February special.

In the meantime, don’t miss out on our fall catalog before it gets away!  More details to come on the current special.  If you’d like to have a catalog, please contact me (details below).  You’ll see some of these products in the new catalog!

Essentials Crossbody Thirty-One Gifts

Essentials Crossbody

I have a great hostess special this month, if you’d like to know more… let me know!  Thirty-One has certainly changed my organizational habits, and it can help change yours, too.  And if you’re looking for a way to pay off your Christmas debt, this is a great time to start!  Please contact me today at  at glamourousbling@gmail.com,  my site, or fill out the form below.

Thanks for reading!

~Liz~

Thirty-One Gifts January Special!

10 Jan

Take a look at this great January special from Thirty-One!

It’s our thermal tote sale, now featuring our ADORABLE new cinch-it-up tote!

Right now, you can get our adorable thermal tote for only $10, and our cinch-it-up tote for only $15.  The cinch-it-up features a cute cinch opening and is roomy enough for lunch for one or more than one.  It has straps that you can sling over your shoulder and wear like a purse!

Our “traditional” thermal tote is so adorable and is available for personalization!

Contact me at glamourousbling@gmail.com with any inquiries or visit my website here!  Thirty-One can also be a great way to earn some extra money!  We have a great new starter kit!  Join my nationwide team!

lia sophia NEW catalog!

10 Jan

lia sophia Spring 2012 Catalog

I’d like to share with you how excited I am about the 2012 Spring lia sophia catalog!

In this catalog, you’ll find 44% more color than the Fall catalog!  Color is going to be big this spring, and you’ll be right on the edge of the trend in lia sophia Jewelry!    You’ll also find 202 NEW styles in the collection, bringing our total number of styles to 532 in the catalog.  You’ll find that 56% of the catalog is under $50.  Our jewelry is an even BETTER value when you pair it with the customer special!  Details will be forthcoming on February’s special.

In the meantime, DO NOT miss out on the January special… and the last chance at some really awesome styles!  January’s special is buy one at reg he first to be seen in the spring lia sophia jewelry, and DON’T miss out on the last chance at the great styles in the current catalog!

I have a great hostess special going on right now as well.  Please message me, visit my site or fill out the form below if you’d like to know more!  Thanks for reading!

~Liz~

A Tiny Preview of Our New Spring Jewelry!

Tiny Preview of the Spring Line

 

New Bracelets

New Bracelets

Western Governors University

9 Jan

I go to a little-known, yet highly accredited university, Western Governors University.

Western Governors has been amazing to me.  Every contact with the university never ceases to exceed my expectations.  I don’t put my name beside anything I haven’t done my homework on.  As you’re sure to see in the coming weeks, I do extensive research before I do virtually anything.  Western Governors has met and exceeded my criteria for accreditation.  I won’t list all of them here because you can certainly go to their webpage (at the bottom of this post) to learn more.

Not only are they highly accredited, but they’re cheap.  Well, relatively speaking.  When was the last time you heard of a school where you could pay one price and do as many credits as you wanted in a term?  Tuition for my program is under $3000 per term.  Last term, I was able to do 70 credit units.  That’s another awesome thing about WGU… you can do as many credit units (CU’s) as you want, but you only have to do 12 CU’s per term.  At a traditional university or college, you may eek in a few over 12, but probably not many.

WGU is a non-profit university.  They really truly care about the outcomes of their students — there is always someone you can turn to for help.  If you’re here, you might already be enrolled in WGU, you might be looking for an online university for the first time, or like me, you might be jaded from your last experience at an online university (or maybe you just like this blog — THANKS!).  I was in the third category, and starting to become very skeptical of online universities.  Yet, as is the case with many stay-at-home parents, ahem, “Chief Domestic Officers”, I had to find a university I could do all or at least mostly online with the maximum return on investment.  WGU meets that criteria for me.

At this point, you’re thinking it’s too good to be true, right?  That’s what I thought.  Go do a web search on WGU and see what you bring up.  I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.  I sure was.  Make sure you also visit their website, http://www.wgu.edu , to learn more.  If you like what you see, send me an email with your full name and email address in it and I’ll refer you so that you can get a waiver for your application fee.  Yep, WGU will let you apply for free… as long as you get a referral from me first!  :)

Here’s a short video about “doing your homework” on online schools: Do Your Homework

I’m currently ending my first term at WGU.  I have about three weeks until the next term starts, and I briefly thought about resting, but since WGU lets me accelerate, they’ve already let me begin my next classes, albeit not officially.  This means I have access to everything I need to complete the class and can work on it at my leisure.  Although, I’m sure you’ll find out I’m going about college any way but leisurely.  My hope is to finish my Bachelors degree in two terms and move on to my Masters.  I’m majoring in “Sales and Sales Management” and my Masters will be an MBA.  If I could, I’d make a career out of being a student.  I truly love learning.  However, the reason for school right now is so I can be finished before my daughter goes to Kindergarten and head to work myself at that point.   I guess that means that, for now, a career as a student is out and a career in sales management is in!

At any rate, WGU is perfect for me.  If you’re looking for an affordable, accredited online university, WGU may be perfect for you as well.

Thanks for reading!

The First Post

9 Jan

Well, the ink isn’t quite dry on the header and background… but here we go.  Time to write the first post of a fresh blog.

I suppose you want to know a bit about me to see if this blog is worth your time!  (Thanks for reading, by the way.)  This blog is about my life and its many aspects.  I’m first and foremost, as the title of the blog suggests, a (mostly) stay-at-home mom for my little girl.  I say mostly because I do have two businesses which I mostly run from home but do have to occasionally leave the house.  You’ll learn more about them later.  In addition, I also attend Western Governor’s University full time.  Well, it feels more like all the time than full time, but that’s my choice.  You’re sure to hear more about WGU as you follow my blog.  Tell you what, why don’t you go over and click the follow icon right now so you don’t miss any of the fun?  Thanks for stopping by!

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