Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Gift Guide for that Coffee Snob in Your Life

This is my office’s go-to coffee maker. We use them for tastings, to rate new coffees, to hold flowers (I’m joking). Most importantly, it’s pretty. It’s beautiful design has earned it a cameo in a James Bond Novel - From Russia with Love - and a place in The Architecture and Design Collection of the MOMA. Bonus: if your snobby coffee friend is also a snobby wine friend, they can use their chemex as a decanter.

So it took me some time to find a nice looking picture of an AeroPress, because it’s not the most attractive of coffee devices. Despite it’s ugly design (and even uglier packaging) the AeroPress is small, convenient, easy-to-clean and best of all makes a great cup of coffee.
Just as a warning though, despite it’s name, the AeroPress is NOT an espresso maker. It makes great coffee, but I definitely can’t say the same about espresso.

The Porlex Mini is a durable yet handsome grinder that provides an amazing grind consistency, which is vital to efficiently extract the coffee flavors. After all, what’s the point of fancy coffee if you don’t efficiently extract your coffee flavors?! But actually…
As an extra bonus, the Porlex Mini fits perfectly inside an aeropress. This combo makes a great travel kit so that your coffee snob is never deprived of his snobby coffee - even on trips.

Are you a little shocked by that price jump? Well, that’s the cost of premium and snobby laziness. If you’re put off by the manual labor required of hand grinders - and let’s face it, if you have to do this everyday, multiple times a day you’re not gonna want to do that - an automatic burr grinder like the Virtuoso is the way to go. This one is on the high end price wise, but any good grinder that provides a nice, consistent grind will be upwards of $100.

In ordering to appropriately brew your coffee in your brand new spiffy chemex, you’ll need a gooseneck kettle. And while there are less expensive versions than this one (such as the Hario V60), I figure “go big or go home,” right? The gooseneck spout provides you with greater control as you pour, which is essential to do a pourover justice. This fancy gooseneck kettle also allows you to program a specific temperature for your water, so you can finally control that vital variable in coffee brewing.

This is the perfect gift for your friend who is both obsessed with coffee and obsessed with Mason Jar wedding photos on Pinterest. While currently super trendy, mason jars are also a cost effective way to keep your beans nice and fresh.

To be honest, this gift is more for the Blue Bottle obsessed than the run-of-the-mill coffee snob. Blue Bottle has a pretty loyal and enthusiastic following, so your Blue Bottle obsessed friend will love her Timbuk2 x Blue Bottle travel kit. This kit comes complete with a Porlex Mini Hand Grinder, Blue Bottle Travel Dripper, 2 Porcelain Tumblers, 2 Timbuk2 ‘Zarfs’, filters, and some Three Africans coffee making it the ultimate gift for you Blue Bottle fanatic. And honestly, how awesome (and douchey) will he look chilling in Mint Plaza casually sipping on his Blue Bottle latte with his Blue Bottle bag in hand? According to Timbuk2 the bag works as a weekender, perfect for the “urban traveler, weary of stale hotel [coffee] selections.”

This is probably the most frequently read and appreciated book that we have in our office. It’s like an encyclopedia on coffee because it addresses practically everything that has to do with coffee. I personally was a little disappointed about the limited amount of time spent on coffee and the economy, in particular the section explaining the different trade relationships in the coffee world - Commodity Pricing, Fair Trade, Direct Trade, etc.  But despite my petty issues with the book, it’s a great resource for your coffee snob to actually gain some knowledge on this intricate and expansive industry. And how cool would it be to have a Coffee coffee table? Heh? Heh?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Juice Cleanse Review

So I survived my juice cleanse, which I'm kind of surprised by. The beginning of the first day, I was so disgusted with the juices that I almost gave up. But by the time yesterday rolled by, I was able to pretty much breeze through the juices. The major problem I found was that I had horrible cravings the whole time, so instead of gradually beginning to incorporate solid foods into my diet like Urban Remedy recommends, the first thing I ate this morning was an egg and brie sandwich on a Hawaiian bun--fat, dairy, and gluten all at once. And I'll admit it, if I had found sausage in the fridge I would've cooked that up too--red meat, fat. 
But I guess the juice cleanse me taught me how to handle my hunger. Whenever I'm bored or feel the slightest hungry, I stuff my mouth. But now, I know what hunger feels like and that I don't actually need to eat. I'm not positive this is a healthy approach, but is it that horrible feeling uncomfortable? Maybe I've just grown accustomed to being unnecessarily full? We'll see how resisting my hunger cravings serves me.
Back to the juice cleanse, I'm not sure if I'd do it again. Physically, I don't feel much different. Looking at myself in the mirror, I think I look thinner but that might be some placebo self-esteem thing. I don't think my stomach actually got small with those 3 days of starvation and a couple Soul Cycle classes. However, my skin didn't glow....I'm 95% positive of that. Also (and this is a tad TMI) besides having to pee all the time, I did NOT spend an abnormal amount of time on the toilet. Everyone warned me of that with a cleanse (I mean honestly Rachel, how else does it "cleanse" it from your body") but I guess I just peed it out or it was released through my pores or something. I felt fine. 
All in all, it was an interesting experience, and I definitely got more work done during the past three days than the rest of break. Hopefully, this juice cleanse will really be the beginning of better habits. Here's to exercising more, eating better, and appreciating food more!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Juice Cleanse: Why Do We Juice?

I woke up this morning certain that my phone had died and I had missed my alarm. Instead, I had actually woken up before my perfectly timed chiming period (Sleep Cycle reference). I'm also super hungry but have run out of lemon for my tea in the morning. So here I am sitting in bed, with hunger in my throat, but unwilling to drink the Brainiac juice sitting on my bedside table.
Urban Remedy's email this morning told me that I'm supposed to glow today. As if my juice cleanse has the same magical powers as pregnancy. Looking at myself in the mirror, I don't feel like I'm going to be glowing. I look disgusting, this horrible pale color with a yellow undertone. I'm not blaming my juice cleanse for my unattractiveness. That I can only attribute to poor genetics and my lack of sun. Now I wish I had asked my parents to send me to LA for a "job fair" and gotten my winter tan on. But honestly, even if after this cleanse I feel all fresh and healthy, how could that be properly translated to the world without the appropriate sun kissed face??
Today, I'm hoping to continue with my job app streak. But I'm not feeling as motivated as I did yesterday. Since I submitted my last app, I've started looking at positions I care more about and would be devastated if I didn't get a call back from. I've also stalked every person remotely related to these companies on LinkedIn to see how they got there. I've discovered that they got there by being better than me.
All my life people have told me not to compare myself to others, but that just seems like the biggest load of crap. Grades, GPAs, resumes, not to mention the load of superficial insecurities that I have that do not relate to job searches are all a comparison game. Sadly, I think that I wanted to do this juice cleanse to make myself a better version of myself. I was hoping that I'd be thinner and prettier and more attractive. Maybe this juice cleanse could be the thing that jumpstarted the me that I always dreamed I'd be? That statement seems potentially harmless. Be your best self, right? But under that statement is the true unshakable insecurities that will undoubtedly haunt for the rest of my life. And unfortunately, there's no juice cleanse to detox me from that.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Juice Cleanse: Day 2

Wake Up (10:20) I woke up on the second day of my cleanse feeling pretty good. However, I'm not sure I can attribute that to the juice cleanse or to the fact that I used Sleep Cycle for the first time since my semester abroad. Waking up to the sound of perfectly timed chimes just feels better than the usual uhhhh fuckkkk what time is it??? hungover-like wake-up I experience during breaks.
What I found strange was what my Sleep Cycle told me: I didn't sleep well. It gave me a 51% sleep rating, telling me I almost never fell into a deep sleep all night. This was particularly surprising since I have a temperpedic bed, so I actually thought the phone would detect less movement than it did on my horrible bed abroad. What does it mean if I didn't sleep well on my juice cleanse?
So right now, I'm watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians. I'm hoping that watching a less serious, more background TV show will encourage me to actually write some job applications. Wish Me Luck!! I'm also waiting for my tea + lemon to cool down to the recommended "warm" temperature and starring apprehensively at my first juice of the day: Brainiac aka the bane of my existence. That's the juice that took me over 2 hours to drink yesterday and had me start the whole juice cleanse with a
horribly negative attitude.

Lemon Water (10:55) The tea was nice and soothing in my throat. Strangely enough, with every gulp, a little headache began to pang. According to the email I received this morning from Urban Remedy, I will be experiencing those all day. I wonder if they realize that I've actually been experiencing these headaches since my pre-cleanse days. This really does mean that I have a caffeine addiction, doesn't it?

Brainiac (11:15) I was really nervous to try this drink again, since I found it so disgusting yesterday. Today, I still don't like it. I don't even like it as much as I liked the "Flush" drink from yesterday, which I barely liked. The salty celery tasting water is apparently never going to grow on me, but I don't find it as horrible as yesterday. I'm able to gulp it down in under an hour.

Time Machine (1:30) The time machine is the drink that is supposed to help weight loss and kickstart your metabolism, so obviously it's one of my least favorite drinks. It was not as difficult to drink as yesterday, but I'm not downing it due to thirst like I did with Brainiac. I have decided to do something productive today, so I actually put in my retainer for the first time since I joked about wearing it to my sorority's crush party. I'm also beginning to work on my AT&T application and just started the cover letter section (it's my least favorite section!) Just kidding, they said it was optional so I'm skipping ahead and doing that shit later.

Flush (3:45) Drinking with a retainer is weird. Also, I submitted my first job application to AT&T. I'm sure it's horrible, but WISH ME LUCK! I really need to be employed in May. Unfortunately, I'm scrolling through more job applications and am losing any motivation. FYI I haven't showered or even changed out of my pajamas today. Sexy can I, right?

After Party (5:50) My stomach is started to rumble in this strange way. I'm not sure if I'm just hungry or have a stomach ache. I am now watching He's Just Not That Into You and finishing up another cover letter. Also, I would prefer a little less ginger in this drink . . .

Warrior (8:15) Oh how we've met again. Once again my favorite. Except this time I took my retainer out and the chia seeds are actually kind of tough on my newly sensitive teeth. Lesson? I need to wear my retainer more frequently. I'm also LinkedIn surfing now, looking at alums who are in positions I'm applying for. It's funny, I'm pretty sure I'm a good applicant but every time I stalk people, I feel so inadequate.

Relax (9:40) I still don't really care for it, but I'm surprised how well the whole day has gone. It's pretty much the end of the day, and I'm not rolling around in hunger pains or cravings. Even more surprisingly, I've applied to four jobs today. My mom asked me if "it's working" and if I'm feeling really good. I told her I'm not feeling bad? It's been kind of nice not having to think about what I'm eating and how to feed myself, but  I don't feel incredible. Although, I haven't been able to convince myself to submit a single job app until this juice cleanse, so maybe that's enough to say it's worth it? How about this: If I get an interview from any of the job applications I submit during this cleanse, I'll say it was worth the $185. 

Juice Cleanse: Day 1

My first day on my juice cleanse was really difficult. I started the day wondering why in the world I thought this was going to be a good idea. I found the first couple drinks absolutely disgusting and preferred starving myself to forcing more of it down my throat. Honestly, I felt like giving up after the very first drink, already regretting completely wasting $185. Urban Remedy said to take it easy fitness wise during my juice cleanse, so I took that as permission to become a couch potato. My intention was to do some job applications, but of course I just watched TV. Specifically, I bought the first season of Girls and watched that for the first time while grimacing through my juice cleanse. If you want more insight into my thoughts during the first day, here's some tweets:
Here's my review of the drinks on the first day:
Juice #1: Brainiac is made of Cucumber, Celery, Spinach, Parsley, and Lemon. What it tasted like? Watery, salty celery. Gross. It took me 2.5 hours to gulp that shit down. I seriously hated it, especially how salty it was. I understand that they needed to put my sodium levels somewhere in this juice cleanse, but it tasted like they put all of my daily sodium in my first drink. They didn't, but they did put 10% of my daily sodium intake.
Juice #2: I found this one (Time Machine) slightly easier to gulp down. I wouldn't say I liked it, but I didn't grimace quite as much with every sip.
Juice #3: The Flush. I was super worried for this juice. It sounded pretty similar to the other green juice I had had that morning and almost puked up (Brainiac) but its name was even worse. The name 'Flush' made me think that the moment it touched my lips I'd have to run for the toilet. Surprisingly that didn't happen. And the ginger in Flush made the rest of the drink much more tolerable for my taste buds.
Juice #4: It was carrot, beet, apple and ginger juice. I wasn't in love, but it seems like the juices are getting better as the day goes on. I could see myself buying this drink when I'm in a healthy Marina, yuppie mood. Apparently beet juice is amazing for detoxing your liver, so they named this juice "After Party."
Juice #5: A-MAZ-ING. It was a raspberry shake and it made me feel so much better about the whole cleanse. It's odd, but I think the JUICE element of this has been weirding me out. In reality, juices from Naked and Odwalla are pretty thick, so having all the juices so far be so thin and watery kind of disgusted me. But this juice/shake was so thick with the yumminess of raspberries. It was definitely my favorite drink of the day. I think this juice helped me regain my strength...and the drink was aptly named "Warrior."
Juice #6: Relax. I was really expecting to like this drink more. The reviews I read from bloggers said it was amazing, so when I finally got to #6 I thought the day's struggles were already over. But after the thick quality of Warrior, I was disappointed by the thinness of the Cashew milk. I vaguely could taste an horchata-like quality to this drink. I'll probably like it a lot more tomorrow....and now I want a real horchata.

Well, the whole day is done and I'm not feeling as hungry as I thought I would. I think this might be because I went to bed feeling more hungry the night before. That's the final part I feel like I should mention. I just downloaded the app FitBit, which has been giving me a calorie target for each day based on my activity and the amount of weight I want to lose. After all the calories I burned from Soul Cycle, I actually ended up having LESS calories with my real food (and froyo) than on my juice cleanse........Maybe it would've been better to just eat normal food and have a tough workout?

Friday, January 3, 2014

Urban Remedy: Pre-Juice Cleanse

When I was in Geneva, I was feeling pretty lethargic and gross. I got it in my head to do a juice cleanse and be more healthy. Unfortunately, during the summer I didn't have enough time to both enjoy the yummy food in San Francisco and do my juice cleanse. But here I am again in San Francisco for four weeks with plenty of time to do the juice cleanse, so I have no excuse. Well, I guess I did have an excuse. Juice cleanses are pretty freaking expensive. Ranging from around $150-$250 for 3 days.
I looked around at a bunch of local juice-cleanse spots and settled on Urban Remedy because the juices sounded pretty yummy (well for primarily vegetable juices....) When I signed up for the cleanse, I assumed it would just be those three days. But in reality, it's a 9 day ordeal. In order to prep your body for a juice-only diet, Urban Remedy recommends that you cut out pretty much everything that's good in the world.
So basically, I've already been deprived of chocolate and steak and milk and alcohol and everything yummy since January 1st. Unfortunately, I still have 6 more days of cravings and they will only get worse.
However, I think I did a pretty good job with all my diet restrictions. For breakfast, I would have a breakfast scramble full of veggies. I made my parents buy me chicken which I ate at every occasion. I had my fill of pistachios (like honestly it was disgusting). And I watched my friends with envy as they downed chocolate chip cookie after chocolate chip cookie. Oh and I forgot to mention I also peed all the time. Urban Remedy told me to make sure I actually get my 8 glasses of water a day, which made me realize that I NEVER get my full 8 glasses. Even though it seems like 4 water bottles isn't a lot....it's so much water I have to pee every fifteen minutes!!

I must admit, I cheated. I wasn't supposed to eat sugar or soy, but I met up with my friends at FraƮche after I went to a Soul Cycle class and I just couldn't resist the cool, refreshing froyo. But I got it in soy instead of original because I felt like that would be healthier. Unfortunately, I ended my 3-day pre-cleanse period with horrible cravings which were not helped by my brother who dragged me to Krispey Kreme and In-N-Out as I ate my berries....god I want a fucking cheeseburger, with a milkshake, and more cheese on the side...maybe some poutine on the side. FUCK. I have to start a juice cleanse like this.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

What We're Listening To: Livvy & Anna

Livvy & Anna are a  recently formed high school duo from New Zealand. I found them this summer when I became obsessed with Lorde. I listened to her song so much, YouTube started recommending covers for me and one such cover was this school group from New Zealand. The lead singer was Anna, and I was impressed by her skill as were all the commenters. Digging a little into Anna, I found her YouTube account with Livvy which had the videos they had made for a music competition in New Zealand. I started listening to the songs and got a tad bit obsessed. I loved the harmonies and how Livvy's light soprano voice intertwined with Anna's fuller alto voice. I contacted them about doing a little interview and here's the not so little interview that came out of it. 

How would you describe your musical style?
We would describe our music gendre as folk-indie. We really use our harmonies to build the dynamics in our songs and create a unique sound which adds to the melodic feel to each song.

How long have you been interested in music? How much have your families influenced you?
We both come from musical backgrounds so music is something we have been brought up with.

Anna: For me, music has been something I have been passionate about from a young age. I think I might of been 3 or 4 when some opera came on the radio, mum and I were playing with some magnets on the fridge and I suddenly stopped what I was doing and became very interested in the music. Mum did hope I’d become an opera singer after that incident. Unfortunately for her, that didn’t happen haha my grandmother was very musical so I think the musical ability has come from her and also my mother who learnt up to grade 8 on the piano. My mother has also been very influential in my music as she got me into playing the piano for a year when I was in year 8, I stopped having lessons but continued to play by ear and also from youtube tutorials. I then went into year 9 and had 3 or 4 lessons of the guitar and then left it for 3 years and started playing again by ear and also through youtube tutorials which I found very helpful! My biggest influence would definitely be my family. My mum and my sister have really supported my music and done a lot for me. My dad, who died when I was 11 years old, was and still is a massive part of my music as he gave me a lot of confidence, love and support before he passed. He taught me to just go for it and never give up so I think thats where alot of my motivation behind my music comes from. He really gave me a lot of confidence to do things that I thought I couldn’t and he is still very present in my music.

Livvy: I have always been interested in music ever since I was a young girl. My family has been brought up with music for many generations and continues to be passed down to further generations. My grandad David is a very musical man and inspired all of his children to get into the musical side of things. My dad Garry (one of his sons) played in the ‘Family band’ along with his other brothers, and his sisters all sang. My mum Paulette is also a very good singer and is very musically talented. My family is very close and i think music has made us this way. We all feed off each others feedback which helps us all to grow. Given that everyone is so supportive it is very easy to express yourself in my family which is a gift some don’t have. I myself have found that my older brother Caleb and older sister Georgia have been my biggest inspiration for they have shown me how to really express myself when it comes to music and how to write from the heart. They have influenced me the most and have helped make me so passionate about music. They are very successful themselves with having won rockquest nationals in 2011 as The Peasants and coming second the year before as The Peasants of eden. I am inspired by their success and I am motivated to be as successful and talented as the both of them one day. I read that you only started collaborating two weeks prior to entering the Smokefreerockquest.

Was it difficult entering as such a newly formed duo? Did you know each other well before your teacher recommended you collaborated? We did start singing together only 2 weeks prior to the Smokefree Rockquest Heats. Our music teacher, Kyle Proffit encouraged us to get together and just give it a go and so we did just that. For us, we didn’t have that much experience with performing live and so we just went with it knowing that the other acts in our category had been performing together for longer than us. We didn’t find it a difficult process being so newly formed as our friendship through college of 4 years prior to rockquest helped us bond musically.

From what I've gathered, you write your own music and Anna even won an award for her lyrics in Intertwined. Lyrically, where do you find most of your inspiration? 2013 has really been the year for both us when it comes to songwriting. We’ve found ourselves becoming more comfortable with writing our own music and creating our own sounds and its also something we really enjoy doing. The majority of our music is influenced by relationships and how we view and have experienced them as we are only young teenage girls ourselves, though we try to be as relatable as possible so our music can be enjoyed by a wider audience.

Do you have any more songs written that you plan on sharing as Livvy & Anna? 
We will definitely be writing more music and uploading originals and covers to our youtube and facebook page though school has been really hectic lately so it is something we will be getting onto very soon!

Do you plan on continuing on together as a duo after the competition?
The competition has now ended for the both of us as we made the top 10 but didn’t make the top 2 (nationals) though we did get highly commended. We will be doing it next year though which is something we really look forward to as this year we have gained a lot of confidence and experience so we now have gained more skill in that area to put it towards doing better next year hopefully

Do you both plan on pursuing music professionally? If you couldn't pursue music, what would you do? 
A: Music is definitely something I hope to pursue as it is something I am extremely passionate about. I can’t actually imagine wanting to do anything else as no other profession compares to my love for music though in the realistic case that I didn’t make it into the music world, I’d have to start thinking about something else to pursue though music will always be something I do in my own time if not as a profession as I love everything about music; the performing, others hearing your work and appreciating what you do and just being able to be myself

 L: I would love to be able to have a career based around music which really pushes me to be the best and to express myself to the wider world. It has been my dream for a long time to get my music out there and share it with others, show them what I can do. To perform for people and have them appreciate what you do is such a great feeling and I can't imagine just stopping what I love. If musically it didn’t work out I would like to become a teacher because it is another area where you can inspire people and help them grow.

Who are some of your biggest musical influences? 
A: My biggest musical influence would be passionate musicians in general. Just seeing them getting up on stage, enjoying what they’re doing and being able to see that passion. Seeing that really inspires me to do well in my music so I can get that experience. Some artists that inspire me would be lyrics wise; Kodaline and The Neighbourhood. They are both amazing artists who put a lot of thought into their music especially their lyrics. You can really feel the story behind each song which leaves the listener amazed and that is a skill I would really love to acquire with time. A performer I look up to is Beyonce as she is not only an incredible singer but has a lot of stage presence and puts a lot of emotion into her singing. You can see that passion in her eyes and you can feel it in her voice. That alone is an amazing skill and is something I would love to be able to do with time.

L: Some of my biggest influences are the artist who started from the bottom but have reached their goals in time because of their passion and will to succeed. Musically my influence is my sister for she is constantly writing music which not only expresses her feelings but also the emotions of others, something I hope to do one day. She has shown me that even though things don't go your way you keep going and keep creating, for the ultimate goal is not to be famous or be rich because of your talents, but to share yourself with others and create a life which you love and appreciate every day.

How would you describe your clothing style? 
A: Describing my clothing style is pretty difficult as it depends on the occasion but I’d describe it as vintage.. I also like bright/pretty colours especially during the summer. I LOVE cute, girly & vintage dresses... dressing up is just so much fun! I like having an original dressing style thats different to other people though I do get inspired from different celebrities such as Selena Gomez, Troian Bellisario (from pretty little liars) - I love her dressing style, so vintage and chic!

L: Depends where I am going/what I am doing but I enjoy the vintage feel and also just the relaxed plain colour blocking style. If the shirt or dress has a cool and unusual pattern on it then I love it. Different is kinda what I look for, op-shopping is always fun and when money is tight it's the perfect option. I also enjoy the preppy kind of look... This is so hard because I love clothes!!!

Who are you some of your favorite designers? 
A: I like a lot of different designers. Some of my favourites would be ‘bluejuice’ from a little shop in Nelson called ‘The Rock Box.’ The have some really girly, cute dresses there.. I also like ‘Dotti’ which is a clothing store full of really gorgeous and affordable clothes. They often have some really gorgeous stuff!

L: I like the New Zealand stylists for they are different and funky. I like the designer Melissa (shoes). I have some heels from her and they smell like lollies! I also like Evil twin and anything my brother likes (he is very fashionable and knows what's good and not good). The designers that I mostly like are all in the little boutique in town called ‘Trouble & Fox’.

What are your top played songs of this month? 
Anna’s September playlist: 
1. Foals - My Number
2. Jason Derulo - Talk Dirty
3. Frank Ocean-Lost

Livvy’s September playlist: 
1. Frank Ocean-anything from him (favourites are lost and thinking bout ya)
2. Lana Del Ray-National Anthem
3. Jason Derulo-Talk Dirty (weird but so catchy!)