Carpe-ing the java at LaBriola Bakery Cafe’

After a day of coffee, coffee, coffee at CoffeeCON, on Sunday I need to have…coffee. :-)

When I knew I’d be in Chicago, I made plans to visit with a long time twitter friend, Jay Beaton aka @Chi_Coffee_Guy

Lauri and Jay

I was staying out in Oakbrook so a quick Google search of coffee + Oakbrook brought me to the LaBriola Bakery Cafe. Having no advance knowledge of where this place was in relationship to my hotel, I arranged to meet Jay there. And it was SO easy. Three roads in one. Cermak turned into West 22nd Street, turned into Butterfield Road and I was there. :-)

And what a great choice I made! You see, I had also checked to see if they served Almond Croissants. They are my favorite and I have not found a real almond croissant in the state of Oklahoma yet. 

I have fond memories of almond croissants at a no name coffee shop in New Orleans. Delicious and as big as my head. This one was very close to that. 

Almond CroissantI had to window shop through the other cases, too.

IMG_6546On instagram, my friend Suzie said of this next photo, “That right there is what Heaven will look like.” I think she’s right. As long as there’s a coffee pot somewhere in the area. :-)

LaBriola Bakery

All in all, this was a great place to visit. The food (and coffee!), service and company were all top notch. You know my main goal in being on twitter is to meet people to have coffee with and it was good to share a cup with Jay. :-)

#CoffeeCON 2014

Last year, in May (yes, MAY!) I drove through a snow storm to get to CoffeeCON 2013 in the suburbs of Chicago. It was an awesome event where I was able to meet four twitter friends in real life (IRL) and have some fabu coffee. I also took classes and learned a lot about coffee. And got sick. Really, really sick. 

You see, with all that coffee there, I was like a kid in a candy store and I had ODd by around 11 a.m.  I was hoping to go back this year and was absolutely thrilled to be invited as a media guest. 

press pass

This year, I knew I would pace myself so I could fully enjoy the day and the coffee. And the visiting, of course.  CoffeeCON 2014 was held at the Zhou B Arts Center in Chicago. It’s on the same street, a few blocks down, from the park formerly known as Comiskey. 

Zhou B Arts Center

It’s such a cool old building which I loved almost as much as the coffee. I have this fascination and love of doors and had to take a photo of one to complete my day.

Zhou B Door

 This year, I was not too sick to try the Kopi Luwak coffee from Indonesia. If you aren’t familiar with that, in a nutshell, civets (a catlike animal) eat the coffee berries and they are processed after elimination. Sounds gross but the story behind why they originally did this is very interesting.

Kopi Luwak

 I found the coffee to have an interesting, sort of nutty taste. The little coffee cracker cookies they had at their table were delicious!

coffeejoy

 It was fun to go around and talk to the vendors and sample their coffee. I absolutely got goosebumps when I tasted Rustico from Counter Culture and I had to take that one home. Their website describes the coffee as having a kaleidoscope of flavors and it truly does. 

Rustico by Counter Culture

I also got a Sowden Oskar pot which I haven’t tried yet but plan to this a.m. In the Sowden class, the man said it was simply the easiest way to make a good cup of coffee. I’m looking forward to that. The thing that struck me even more, though, and made me choose it over the Aeropress (which I’m sure I will get one of these days) is that it is like French press coffee, which I love, but the filter is so fine, less particulates are left in the coffee when it’s poured. I’m hoping this will help it to be coffee that David enjoys better, too.   

Sowden Class

The winner of the contest I held last week was Dwana, a long time twitter friend of mine. I was so happy I would get a chance to meet her. Our first reaction to each other, IRL, was “OMG you’re tall, too!”. :-)  

My only regret for the day was that we didn’t take a photo together but I did make my CoffeeCON movie staring Dwana and the Aeropress.  

We were introduced to the iCup machine by iCoffee. I enjoyed the presentation we were given. The iCup will take a K-cup and turn it into a good tasting cup of coffee by steaming and aerating the grounds, extracting the Co2 before dispensing the coffee. It also plays a little Mozart!

Although I’m not a Keurig user, I’ve had coffee from one a couple of times and found it to be bitter. The coffee we tried from this machine was much tastier. A real improvement!

Of course I can’t forget about the fun coffee roasters outside. I know I talked about the heat gun lady and popcorn popper guy all year and they were there again. 

heat gun coffee roasting

The popcorn popper roaster had a new addition this year: a Weber grill. Ingenious! 

Roasting with a WeberOne of the ladies outside gave me my own little packet of green coffee beans. I’ve decided that I will make Beauty Pageant Roast by using my blow dryer and curling iron. ;-)

green beansOnce again, I had a great time at CoffeeCON. Well, I actually had a better time than last year since I paced myself. Thank you, again, to Kevin Sinnott for inviting me.

There are other CoffeeCON events planned for this year in San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles. Check the website for further information and Carpe Java! :-)

Book Review: The Reluctant First Lady

The Reluctant First LadyThe Reluctant First Lady by Venita Ellick

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Although I wanted to kick Ashley in the butt several times, I really enjoyed this book!

Ashley’s husband is elected President of the US. Although she helps him to win the election, always with him on the campaign trail, she has no plans to become First Lady if he’s elected.

When he is elected, her plans become public causing her to have probably more attention focused on her than less. Ashley doesn’t like living in a fish bowl, doesn’t like politics but realizes that her marriage may be in jeopardy if she is constantly in New York working at her museum director job while her husband is in D.C.

I would never consider not being First Lady if my husband were president so Ashley’s vantage point was different than mine but I still enjoyed this book. :-)



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CoffeeCON Ticket Winner!

I held a giveaway for a pair of tickets to CoffeeCON and I’m excited to announce the winner is Dwana De La Cerna! 

coffeedwana

I’m super excited to meet Dwana in real life and enjoy meeting another friend at CoffeeCON where I met four long time twitter friends last year. The face that coffee is involved makes it one of my favorite things to do in life! :-)

If you want to go to CoffeeCON but haven’t purchased your tickets, you can buy discounted tickets using the code: LCoffeeCon

Super excited to be in Chicago for CoffeeCON on Saturday and I hope to see you there! Carpe java! :-)

Book Review: Dog Gone, Back Soon

Dog Gone, Back Soon (Cyrus Mills, #2)Dog Gone, Back Soon by Nick Trout

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was awesome! So cute!

This is a story about a veterinarian who goes back to him home town to take over his dad’s practice after his dad passes away. He has been working as a pathologist previously so working with pets and their owners is all new to him.

He likes a waitress at the diner and his less than suave approach with that relationship makes him feel like the high school nerd. I love a book with a good dog and Stash fills the bill here.

This is a great book and I highly recommend it. Although it’s the second in the series, I didn’t feel like I missed anything not having read the previous book. :-)



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Book Review: The Here and Now

The Here and NowThe Here and Now by Ann Brashares

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was very unsure of this book before I read it. I’m not a science fiction reader and I also made the mistake of reading some reviews before I started reading. But, big BIG surprise, I loved it!

This book is about Penna and some people from the future coming back in time to 2010 to avoid plague and starvation. Penna becomes friends with Ethan, who is able to see time travelers so knew she was one without her having to tell him.

Together they discover something that should set the future right. In the process, they fall in love, something that is completely advised against in there traveler world.

I liked the story of Penna and Ethan. It could have happened in any time frame and it would have been a good one. Two thumbs up! :-)



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Book Review: Waiting for Wednesday

Waiting for Wednesday (Frieda Klein, #3)Waiting for Wednesday by Nicci French

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow. Well, I really liked this book. It’s the third in a series and the only reason I’m giving it a four instead of five stars is that I wandered around about the first third of the book trying to figure out who people were. Would it have been better if I’d read the previous two books first? Maybe.

But…once I got into it, I couldn’t put this book down. What an amazing tangle of mystery and intrigue. Frieda is a psychiatrist but apparently has been injured and recovering? But still, she is brought into the murder of a mother of one of her niece’s friends. That story I would have never figured out.

Then came another story where her life intersected with a former newspaper man who was on the trail of murdered/missing girls. Another big surprise.

I give this book two thumbs up but it may be good to read the first two books first. I know I plan to read them! :-)



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Book Review: The Hiltons

The Hiltons: A Family DynastyThe Hiltons: A Family Dynasty by J Randy Taraborelli

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really liked this book! Like most people, I know of the Hiltons of today. But I was so intrigued with the history of the family.

The book chronicles Conrad Hilton’s rise in the hotel industry. I love knowing that he wasn’t “to the manner born” and worked hard to achieve his success. Twice, as he lost almost everything during the Great Depression.

I was especially interested in the hotel properties he acquired long ago that are still held and could feel his excitement about buying one he had his eye on.

It was interesting to read about his children’s lives. I didn’t know that they were involved with so many movie stars!

This was a terrific book. It drew me right in and I couldn’t put it down. Two thumbs up for The Hiltons! :-)

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Meet Me at CoffeeCON!

Upload your photo to my facebook page and then have your friends vote for it. 

If you’re not the lucky winner, I’ll have a discount code for you to purchase tickets when I announce the winner next Monday. Good luck! I really hope to see you there. :-)

How to Get Rid of Dead Bananas and Avocados

The other day when we were dropping the glambaby back home, my daughter-in-love, Nikki, asked if I wanted four avocados. They were pretty ripe and she wasn’t going to use them. I love avocados so I said sure. 

Paleo Chocolate Pie

I needed to use them right away, though, four of them. They were very ripe. That’s a lot of avocado for me to eat alone. I remembered seeing a chocolate avocado pudding recipe so I searched for it.  Since I also had some dead bananas, it was a perfect thing to use the avocados for. 

I thought, just maybe, that if it was good enough, David would eat it. And he did. He said it had an unusual flavor but he liked it. Awesome!

So today, I still had two very ripe avocados and two very ripe bananas left. On Tuesday, Nikki had given me some dates so I decided that I would make a chocolate pie with these things. I made the chocolate avocado pudding I made last night and then made Fudge Babies into a pie crust. 

I’m really looking forward to trying this after dinner. It looks delish! The best part is, it’s healthy and has no sugar in it. :-)