Pod Invasion

Pod invasionI’m not much of a coffee drinker when it comes to drip brewed coffee. It’s bitter, and even with milk and/or sugar the average cuppa joe doesn’t do anything for me. My morning poison has been Orange Cappuccino from GFIC for 20 plus years, though I do like “regular” coffee if it’s made into something like a real Cappuccino, Latte Macchiato or something equally frou-frou and high maintenance.

ITMan started drinking the Orange Cappuccino instant coffee by default at some point shortly after we married, since he’d make a pot of coffee and drink one cup and the rest would still be sitting there when he came home from work. He doesn’t hate the instant (he’s not that picky), but he still might prefer brewed coffee in the morning. The “cup at a time” solutions we tried over the years tended to be too much fussing around for him to use just to make a cup of coffee before work.

Aerobie AeroPress Coffee Maker

The last single serve solution we tried was an AeroPress from Aerobie, which really does make the absolute best cup of coffee ever with no bitterness whatsoever, but it’s just too much work and too many steps in the wee hours of the morning no matter what they say about 30 seconds from start to coffee in your cup. I love it for making cappuccino in the afternoon or after dinner, but I almost can’t push the plunger myself with my weak wrists, I’m always afraid that the cup is going to tip over under the pressure during the pushing stage and leave a giant mess all over, and ITMan just isn’t going to go there in the morning and I can’t say I blame him.

Enter the Pods. ITMan’s been raving about the coffee maker that someone in his office has and lets everyone use. He says something about it at least three times a week, how simple it is, how good the coffee is, or that he must go buy more pods to contribute to the communal supply because he’s been drinking more than his fair share. I nod and smile, knowing that he’s less picky about bitterness, and even more of a techie gadget guy than I am, and that the machine is undoubtedly a “gadget.” Despite all that, I knew it was only a matter of time and opportunity before the gadget would arrive on my counter top.

Philips Senseo Pod Coffee MakerSure enough, while shopping for an air conditioner at Media Markt (more on that later), ITMan couldn’t resist the call of this very special machine. I finally just shook my head at him, insisted he get a silver one instead of bright blue, and watched while he collected half a dozen bags of pods in all different types and flavors to go with his new gadget.

And does it make the grade? Well, as single-serve coffee solutions go, this one ranks high for ease of use, and the coffee itself is pretty good, though still rather bitter, to me. Part of the “big deal” about this type of coffee maker is the foam, or “fine crema layer” it leaves on the top of the coffee, though not being a coffee aficionado, I’m not sure why it’s such a big deal. I will give it high marks for making cappuccino, since it’s ever so much easier than the AeroPress, and when you add the frothed milk and sugar I can put up with the bitterness a bit better than if I was drinking black coffee straight up. Cost is a factor though, since the Philips Senseo Coffee Machine costs 5-6 times what the AeroPress does, and of course, there are those special coffee pods to consider, which naturally cost more than even loose ground gourmet coffee. Surprisingly though, the Pods are quite a bit cheaper here in Europe than in the States, even with the dollar being as weak as it is these days.

My coffee cabinet has now been invaded by little bags of pods in seemingly infinite varieties, and using the new coffee machine is the deal of the day for everyone in the house. You can get pods to make Cappuccino and Latte Macchiato (without having to froth your own milk), and even tea if that’s your poison. Not wishing to be left out, LittleOne even uses it to make her SwissMiss hot chocolate, by running the water through without a coffee pod in the machine. I may try to get a different brand of pods, since the Senseo brand is made by “Europe’s renowned” Douwe Egberts, and I wasn’t too awfully impressed with that brand before it was sold in pods. Perhaps Illy would be smoother and less bitter. All in all, I’d give the machine an A++ for speed and convenience, and the coffee it makes a B.

What does all this have to do with quilting, you ask? Sometimes quilting requires chocolate, coffee, and Cosmos, though not necessarily all at once or in that order. Anything that makes coffee quicker or saves cleanup time is a good thing. Now, if only Cosmopolitans came in pod form, I’d be even happier. 😉

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Adventures in Lighting, part two

The electrical fun continued yesterday, after a semi-warm shower (no, the heating/hot water system isn’t really “fixed” yet, though the plumber is here again this afternoon, and I hear that a service man from the manufacturing company will come on Monday to look at the system. Sheesh.) which made me feel slightly better about the world after the midnight millipede visit. So here’s the before pic:

The old ceiling light in the studio

(except that it’s really an after pic because I forgot to take one while the light was still attached to the ceiling, which is why you see it on the carpeted floor 🙂 ) The light itself is less than three feet wide in an 18′ x 24′ room, hence the feeling of sitting in a cave.

Anyway, remember that I said the new light wasn’t heavy, and that I could therefore do it myself? Wrong. I swear the sucker was almost as heavy as the big chandelier in the dining room! I was already halfway into the job by the time I figured that out, so I just finished it, but it was hard!

I did have to have GuitarGirl help me hold the heavy part up to the ceiling so that I could wire it, and LittleOne was here to hand tools and parts to me while I was up on the chair, so truthfully, a little help was needed. It was good for the girls to see that you can do these kinds of things yourself, and maybe you need a little help, but that help doesn’t have to be in manly form.

Two hours after beginning the job, I had a new light hanging from the ceiling in the studio:

It’s a modern looking thing, for sure, but as long as I have light, I don’t much care what it looks like up there. It is kind of cool though, since it’s about nine feet long overall, plus the two and a half foot extension on the end, and then there’s the pendant light as well.

All in all, the output of the new light is only 35 watts more than the old one, but the old one really was past it’s prime and might even be a fire hazard anyway. The new light has seven spots that are 20 watts each, plus the hanging pendant light that’s 35 watts, and the lighting is spread out over more of the room area, so it’s a bit better than it was. I even managed to position the pendant lamp right over one of my tables.

I’ve ordered new bulbs that will hopefully not be so yellow, and not lose so much light out the back either. If that doesn’t work, I may have to spring for the daylight halogens that I managed to find online yesterday, but they’re a bit pricey, so I thought I’d try the cheap ones first!

Still on the list of electrical to-dos: lighting for the design wall area, switching the ceiling lamp in the kitchen for the one in the master bedroom (they’ll look better that way), and installing an combination outlet/switch (as opposed to just a light switch) in ITMan’s bathroom so he can plug things in in there. sigh A woman’s work is never done. 😉

A Series of Unrelated Rants

Why?? Because that’s what I’m feeling like today. And these probably have nothing to do with quilting, unfortunately. I’d even be happy to be working on some quilting project that wasn’t going well, as opposed to not quilting at all, which is how it is right now. Anyway,

Rant #1: Six weeks ago or so, in preparation for the move, ITMan cleaned out the storage room. Um, let me rephrase that so that it actually fits with reality: Six weeks ago, in preparation for the move, ITMan was supposed to have cleaned out the storage room. Okay, that’s better. I had planned to be around for this big event which was likely to take the better part of two days, because I knew there was stuff in there that I would need to a) prompt him to GET RID OF, and/or b) look through myself and decide what to do with it.

Somehow I wasn’t around for a good portion of that first day, though I have no idea why at this point. When I came home and he said he was done ( 😕 ) with the whole storage room project and he’d cleaned out and gotten rid of everything that needed to go, I was very skeptical, especially when the only things that needed my attention and decision making abilities were two little bags of stray Christmas decorations that he didn’t know what to do with for some reason.

Even under close, repeated questioning, he swore that the job was done. Flash forward to last Saturday. He went into the storage room to locate the old ceiling lamp that was hanging in the dining room when we moved in, so that we can replace it and take the one we installed with us when we move. He didn’t even think it was in there, though I KNEW it was, and I couldn’t understand why he was so confused about it since he’d just been in there a few weeks before cleaning and sorting, right?

Right. He starts pulling stuff out to try to find the lamp, and I start seeing things that shouldn’t even still be here. Many, many things, all of which should have gone bye-bye six weeks ago when he supposedly cleaned the storage room out. Two SUV loads left the house yesterday, most of which was from the storage room, and we only got through half of it. What exactly did he do six weeks ago? Got me! Continue reading A Series of Unrelated Rants

Looking forward to new projects & better shopping

Today we took off for Heidelberg to go to the Arts & Crafts Center, where they have all the quilting fabrics and supplies, to pick up a quilt book that my good friend Liz recommended. She said that making a One Block Wonder was great fun, and it sounded intriguing, so I thought I’d take a break from Creativity Projects that are filling in the break from The Misery Quilt and give it a whirl. I also found some really wonderful fabric to experiment with, and here’s the loot from the day:

The day's loot

The fabric goes pretty well with my bed linens, the upholstery on the antique French chairs, and the tapestry that is in my bedroom, and since the new house will have a straight wall behind the bed (as opposed to the slanted ceiling that we have above the bed now), I figure that a new quilt to go above the bed would not be amiss. It will be a great first project for my new studio, since I’ll have lots of space for cutting and a real design wall to use.

While we were in the store, GuitarGirl found a pattern by Fourth & Sixth Designs she liked and asked if I would make the Kinetic Energy quilt for her. I told her I would help her make it, and that it was pretty easy. I’ve seen this pattern in catalogs, and I liked it too, so it won’t be a chore to help her with it! Maybe I’ll make a quilter out of her yet.

The last time she quilted, she was at a point where she was going to have to take out a seam and sew it again since the fabrics weren’t lined up right when she sewed it the first time, hence the gaping hole in the seamline. She didn’t want to take it out, and I told her she had to, so she left and never came back to the machine. (Have I mentioned that teaching kids anything isn’t my strongest point?)

She’s a bit older now, so maybe this quilting thing will go better, but she’s already going on about having to do “all that stuff you do by hand with the flipping and the clips” (she means hand sewing the binding down on the back)! We’ll see how it goes, though I can already tell she’ll probably get bored pretty quickly since the quilt needs 27 strip sets of at least 9 strips each or something, so that’s a lot of straight (boring) sewing. Continue reading Looking forward to new projects & better shopping

A bit of this, and some of that

Valentine’s Day came and went rather peacefully here. ITMan and I shopped for a couple of things for the girls between house viewings on Monday, and then when GuitarGirl put her guitar in my trunk on Tuesday evening before her lesson, she said “Way to hide the Valentine’s presents, Mom!” I’d forgotten all about them by the time we got home Monday night, and I never took them out of the car!

At that point, I said to heck with it and left it all there, since nobody else was going to be peeking in the trunk again before Thursday. The girls liked their little “I ♥ you” presents, and ITMan came home from work with a balloon bouquet of flower-shaped balloons for all of us. He’s such a sweetie!

We tried to go out to dinner at our current favorite restaurant, but they were closed for vacation, so we headed for the mall to have pizza and hit MediaMarkt for a few electronic-type purchases. Since we now know we’ll be here in Germany for another 3-5 years, we decided it was safe to buy a new cordless phone, electric toothbrush, toaster oven, and hair trimmer, and then ITMan decided he should have a new iron as well to replace all of the hand-me-downs he has received from other people when they move back to the States. Nothing like a mad dash through the electronics store to get the blood pumping and lighten the wallet! Continue reading A bit of this, and some of that

Girl meets quilt

I have quite a few quilts hanging on the walls in the stairwell of our house, and most of the time that works out fine, and looks pretty nice (way better than boring empty walls, in any case). Sometimes the cat decides to try to take them off the walls for me, but he hasn’t done that in a while so maybe he’s growing out of that particular quirk. (Just guess which cat does that!)

Then there are the times when the quilts get a little overly friendly and jump off the walls at people, which is what happened here, I’m sure.

The quilt gets friendly

This would be GuitarGirl stuck on the stairs with a quilt falling on her head, wooden hanging rods and all. Sometimes it’s just not her day. The quilt couldn’t possibly have fallen because GuitarGirl twitched it with the guitar case as she was going up, no sirree. *snicker* It was kind of her to “hang out” while I got the camera!