Coffee Breaks & Other Food Thoughts

coffee breaks and confections

Days and events over the past month have me thinking. About food. About family. About friendship. About time. About what is normal life. About coffee breaks and cafes.

Is this now normal life? COVID numbers remain high and the pandemic continues. But government policies and the actions of most people indicate that society has moved on. I still have not worked in an office building in more than two years. Working from home is easier in many ways and cheaper. Impromptu coffee breaks with colleagues are what I miss the most. I also miss randomly stopping by coffee shops alone.

A few weeks ago, I had a chai date with a friend from law school that I hadn’t seen in about twenty years. She returned to India within a few years after we graduated, so there weren’t that many opportunities to connect in person. One of the last times that I saw her, she made me chai from scratch at her house. Of course it was delicious. One of my favorite memories of her is how we would share snacks in class too. Bonding over food and the law.

This time, we were only able to meet for a short period of time, so we had chai at a Starbucks near me. She looked the same, but had cut her hair and I remembered how she has the best laugh. It was also my first time taking my mask off in a Starbucks since before the pandemic.

A few weeks before, I attended a rehearsal dinner and then a wedding the next day. It was the first time in more than two years that I had eaten in a restaurant and attended a truly large gathering — mostly unmasked. The dinner was delicious. The wedding was amazing. I saw family that I hadn’t seen in years. We talked and danced and laughed. My cousin was the groom and he and his wife are perfect together. I’m so happy they found each other. Our family adored her from the first time we met.

I’m fully vaccinated and double boosted. I timed my second booster with the week of the wedding, so I’d have the highest immunity for this very large gathering. It seems to have worked. Now I’m inching toward whatever this new life is. Will we ever be post-pandemic? Maybe not. So this is it. I’m still uneasy about it all. But I guess I’m starting to move on too.

Since cafe visits are no longer tied with where I’m working, I’m attaching my errands with coffee breaks. I had wanted to visit French Press Bakery & Cafe in Needham since 2019. I’m not usually in that area, but suddenly I needed to be and had a little time to relax. So I enjoyed a cold brew and an almond croissant sitting outside in the sun. I love this place! The area is adorable and full of other restaurants and shops. It’s not too far from Quincy, so I’ll definitely return.

A few days later, I needed to be in Hopkinton, so I paired the errand with a visit to Muffin House Cafe. They also had outdoor seating where I enjoyed my iced coffee and blueberry muffin. This place was jumping! At a certain point, there was a line of people waiting to get in. It’s definitely a favorite local spot!

What’s next on my food journey? Well, it’s not a cafe, but I learned recently that H Mart will soon be arriving in Quincy. I’m so excited! It’s a Korean grocery store and I’m looking forward to trying some different foods. During the pandemic, I started watching a ton of Korean dramas and following several Korean YouTubers. I’ve learned about many Korean dishes and ways of cooking, so there have been foods and ingredients that I’ve been looking for. Now I should have an easier time finding them.

Have you noticed shifts in your daily life to bring back what you’ve missed from before the pandemic or new things you’re bringing in?

Roses, Coffee & A Plant Hack

roses

Do you know the countries that supply the world with roses? According to an article that I just read in Quartz, for this past Valentine’s Day, the top cut rose exporter was Netherlands with 42.4%. Coming in second was Ecuador with 20.9%. Kenya was third with14.7%. Fourth was Columbia with 12.8%. Rounding out the top five was Ethiopia with 4.3%.

When I think of Kenya, I often think of coffee. Now that I look closer at this list, my mind often links Ethiopia and Columbia with coffee too. There are rich nutrients in the soil of lands where coffee beans and roses flourish.

A few days ago, I wrote about my problems growing roses. Back then, I hadn’t learned about the coffee hack for plants. Years ago, I heard that putting coffee grounds in or on the soil would help house plants. That never worked for me.

The coffee rose connection reminds me of the pH level of soil. I’ve never tested the pH level of the soil that I use. Maybe it’s something I can see on the packaging? I’ll have to look. According to a Homes & Gardens article, pH stands for “potential of Hydrogen.” I know I learned this back in grade school at some point! Acidity and alkalinity are measured against the pH scale. The scale measures different types of things, not just soil.

Water is also measured with this scale. The U.S. Dept. of the Interior states that the pH scale goes from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. A pH under 7 indicates an acid and over 7 indicates a base, also referred to as alkali. Medical News Today states that the purest water is right in the middle with a pH of 7. An acid like vinegar has a pH of 2. Bleach, an alkaline, has a pH of 13.5.

Coffee Hack For Plants

Coffee is acidic, with a pH level ranging from 4 to 5, according to Healthline. I’m not sure of the pH level needed for the soil best to grow coffee or roses. However, it seems that depending upon the pH level of soil that you’re starting with, you’ll either make the soil more acidic or get it closer to being neutral if you add coffee grounds.

The Homes & Gardens article states that most plants prefer somewhat acidic soil (pH 6.5) but vegetables prefer more alkaline soil (7.5). I’m a proud plant parent with 30 plants at the moment and they mostly do quite well. Cacti, roses and African violets tend to be challenges for me. However, a few things changed. Snake plants used to be a problem and now one is thriving! A former neighbor gave me two baby snake plants. The soil was a different mixture than what I usually used. They grew a lot after just a few months. I repotted them together into one pot for a fuller plant. This plant is getting so tall now! The coffee hack isn’t the miracle here though.

Likewise, my cebu blue pothos and zz plant are both growing like crazy now after doing nothing for a year. My aunt suggested adding coffee. Not coffee grounds. She said to reserve a bit of the coffee that I would normally drink and use it to water the plants. I tried. Within a couple of weeks, the zz started growing new shoots! The cebu blue grows so fast now that I made cuttings and have several of these plants. The coffee hack absolutely works.

I water the cebu blue once every seven to ten days. For the zz, I water once every 10 -14 days. I also water my impatiens with coffee water and it has more flowers. Impatiens like a lot of water, so I water twice a week. I don’t use coffee water each time I water the impatiens, but at least every other watering. It’s an ongoing experiment though. The timing changes depending on the season and with each plant.

Recently, I’ve tweaked the coffee hack a bit. Instead of taking from the coffee that I drink, I remove the coffee filter with the grounds still in it. So more coffee for me to get my morning jolt. The coffee hack works for people too! I put the filter in a small glass of water, so the grounds don’t come out, but continues filtering into the water. After a few hours, I take out the filter and use the water for my plants.

If you try the coffee hack for your plants, let me know! ☕

Free Coffee Today @ Coffee Break Cafe!

coffee break cafe turns 24

Happy 24th Birthday Coffee Break Cafe! On Instagram yesterday, I saw that today, Tuesday, March 3rd, Coffee Break Cafe will be giving out free small coffees, iced or hot, all day until closing.

What a generous way to celebrate their birthday! You can get free coffee at all four locationsWollaston, Quincy Center, Milton and Hyde Park. The locations have different closing times, but they are all open until the early evening, so you still have a lot of time to stop by.

Since it’s also Super Tuesday, many of you here in Massachusetts are out voting and breaking up your usual routines. So while you’re out, treat yourself and grab a free coffee! ☕

 

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Image Credit: Coffee Break on Instagram

Sunday Morning at Wollaston Beach

Collage of six pictures, sandy beach with water, sea grass, a book with travel mug, a hand holding an egg sandwich, feet with grey sneakers over the sand.I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’d like to spend my summer mornings.

In my fantasy life, I would sit on the front porch, back deck or balcony sipping my coffee, eating my breakfast and reading a good book.

In my real life, I don’t have a front porch, back deck or balcony. But I have to be grateful for what I have and work with what I’ve got.

Wollaston Beach is just a five minute drive from me. So I started thinking. Why don’t I just make my breakfast and bring it to the beach? So I made a spinach, kale, fried egg, Parmesan cheese sandwich with rosemary and olive oil flatbread.

Then I made my coffee and used my What Would Olivia Pope Do? travel mug. It makes me wildly happy. The little things! I put on my favorite sneakers and headed out the door.

The salty beach air smelled wonderful. I mostly ignored a few ants. After all, I was in their territory. And I really enjoyed my breakfast and reading my book.

It was a nice start to my day and I enjoyed taking a few pictures while I was out there. Since I started blogging, I stopped keeping a regular diary. Instead I keep a notebook with goals, random thoughts and things that I want to remember.

Instagram is slowly becoming a daily diary of sorts. Not that I’m sharing my deepest feelings and thoughts. But I am documenting my life and being mindful of all that I have to be grateful for.