Tag Archives: coffee

Things I Do When My Husband is Out of Town

"Hobbit" succulent

Last week, Brian went to a work-related conference for four days, so our dog, Cola, and I were home alone. I observed that my behavior and habits shift a bit when he is not around for several days. According to my observations, I am very productive when trying not to miss someone and I do not care about having a lot of variety in my meals. What do you do when your spouse (or roommate) is away?

  • Keep the doors locked unless I’m using them. Just in case a burglar knows I’m alone and tries to walk in.
  • Stick extra pillows on his side of the bed. The pillows are basically insulation because our bedroom is chilly at night.

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Virtual Coffee Date

Coffee please
If we were on a coffee date, we would probably meet at my house because my favorite iced coffee right now is my Aeropress-ed Candy Cane Iced Coffee. Plus, there’s almost always an open couch or deck seating. I would gladly make a coffee or tea or Italian soda for you, too.

If we were on a coffee date, I would ask about your creative outlets, things you do to stretch and express your creativity. While we were traveling so much over the summer, mine was photography both on my phone and point-and-shoot camera. I have also enjoyed gardening while we were home. I do not know how much time I will spend on gardening and photography now that school is starting or if I will move on to something else that inspires me. I have noticed that I do not blog as much anymore. During the summer it was because I was experiencing and enjoying and intentionally left my computer at home. During the last school year, it was because teaching took up so many of of my words that I did not feel like I had much to share in blog posts.

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What I’m Into: December 2015

What I'm Into Logo

 

This was the first Christmas that I was teaching college instead of working at the high school, so it was nice to have the longest break I have had since I graduated from college. As I told Brian, this was the best Christmas I have had since we got married. The first Christmas, I had a cold and then threw my back out by coughing too hard. The second Christmas, I had a cold that turned into a sinus infection and sent me to urgent care two days before Christmas (my mom also got the flu that year, so she and dad both missed out on our family celebration). This year, none of us were sick so everyone made it and seemed to enjoy our time together.

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Candy Cane Coffee Syrup Recipe

Homemade Coffee Flavoring Syrup Gift Set

I like my coffee dark and sweet, preferably with a flavor. As I have written before, I like to experiment with making my own flavoring syrups. Since I have accumulated several favorite recipes, I suggested to Brian that we make our own gift sets for family members we would see for Christmas. Although many of them do not drink coffee, the syrups are also good in tea, hot chocolate, cider, and steamers (hot milk with a flavor add-in).

Holiday Flavors

I posted the recipe for Cinnamon Stick Syrup a while ago and found the Gingerbread Syrup recipe on AllRecipes. I invented the Candy Cane Syrup recipe, which uses actual candy canes. I much prefer this recipe to peppermint syrups I tried using peppermint oil or peppermint leaves.

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Adventures in Wyoming

Road Trip with an Emergency Room Stop

If you have been following my Instagram or Twitter, you know Brian and I traveled with my parents to Wyoming to visit Mom’s side of the family. On the way, we stopped to visit my grandpa in Loveland, Colorado, where he has been recovering from a fall and broken leg. Unfortunately, he fainted during physical therapy and we had to have our first visit in a nearby ER. After hours of tests, the medical staff determined that he was fine and sent him back to the rehab center.

Going to the emergency room

Sightseeing

While in Laramie, we took a few hours to have touristy adventures, visiting the Pyramid of the Plains and hiking at Vedauwoo. In a couple places, Dad and I climbed around on rocks while Mom and Brian stayed near the trail and took pictures of us.
Brian & I at Pyramid of the Plains

Pyramid of the Plains plaque

Vedauwoo Warning

hiking, rock climbing, Wyoming

Hiking, mountains, Wyoming

Hiking, rock climbing, Wyoming

Hiking, mountains, Wyoming

Hiking, mountains, Wyoming

Coffee & Books

During an afternoon coffee run, I took my parents exploring and found a lovely, homey coffee shop and secondhand bookstore in a hipster-esque neighborhood of Laramie. If you are in Laramie, check out Night Heron Books and Coffeehouse.

Night Heron Books & Coffeehouse

Night Heron Books & Coffeehouse

Night Heron Books & Coffeehouse

I had such a good time visiting with the rest of our Wyoming family that I didn’t mess with taking photos while we were with them, so feel free to use your imagination to see that part of our trip!

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Question Collection: Energy

Question Collection a New Random Question Every Week StairStories.com

Series Introduction

Two years after my 31 Days of Random Questions series, it is still my most popular series and my list of good questions keeps growing. In an effort to blog more consistently, I decided to start another question series. Come back every Monday for the latest installment of Question Collection!

In my mind, good conversational questions don’t have yes or no answers, make people think, start conversations, and invite stories.

This week’s question is…

 Question Collection: What people & activities energize you?

My Answer

I regain energy from spending time with one to three people who know me completely and love me deeply. The ones who first come to mind are my husband, my parents, and my siblings. Being around them all at once is not always energizing but can be tons of fun because we are a lively family!

Of course sipping coffee and eating a snack energize me because of caffeine and glucose levels. Beyond those, I gain energy from a brisk walk – especially outdoors – when I listen to nothing but the ambient noises. I am also energized by reading home decor magazines or websites. Seriously, my creative and physical energy builds and churns out ideas and suddenly it is three a.m. and I am still rearranging my living room! I warned Brian about that particular tendency before we were married and now he hides my magazines if I start to read them late at night.

 

Now It’s Your Turn

Take the questions and ask your friends or family. I would love to hear your answers in the comments (seriously. that’s why I ask, after all)! If you have suggestions of questions for me to include, let me know.

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What I’m Into: October 2014

Techie

I finally got around to setting up custom typing shortcuts on my iPhone. They are marvelous for reducing the amount of typing I have to do!


DesignLoveFest has had some creatively artistic wallpapers lately that I’ve downloaded to use on my phone and computers.


I started a series this month, Abby’s Apps, about my favorite apps as part of 31 Days but did not post every day because things got hectic.
Reviews of iOS Apps | Abby's Apps at StairStories.com #31Days

Clothes

I made a purse! Okay, it is really more like I re-made a purse but I am very happy with the finished result. It originally weighed over two pounds – when it was completely empty! The new purse weighs a bit less than one pound. Now that is a healthy “diet.”

Purse Re-fashion | StairStories.comPurse Re-fashion | StairStories.com Purse Re-fashion | StairStories.com

I also made my costume for Halloween, which did not take any sewing, but involved lots of cutting and painting. We ordered Brian’s online because making it would have been outside the realm of my limited sewing skills. When it arrived, though, the costume fit uncomfortably and I spent an evening altering it anyway. Still, it was much easier than making the whole thing from scratch! If you are curious about our costumes, I will post photos on Twitter and Instagram tonight (Halloween night). We will be handing out popcorn at the college’s costume dance party and have refused to tell our students until then.

Food

We tried a frittata for the first time and it was a delicious way to use up some leftovers. with whole wheat spaghetti, ground turkey, baby ‘bella mushrooms, broccoli, and scallions.


Big batches of cinnamon syrup and gingerbread syrup always make coffee taste like fall to me!


I have been making apple chips for my snacks… and Cola’s. I read that dried apples make nice, healthy dog treats and store-bought treats concern me with what seems like a lack of quality control. Brian refuses to share my apple chip snacks because he thinks it is weird and gross that I make the same exact snack food for myself and our dog. What do you think?


Semi-homemade apple-cinnamon crescent rolls (of my own invented recipe) are a fast fall side dish or dessert.
Apple-Cinnamon Crescent Roll | StairStories.com

Watching

On TV: NCIS: LA has certainly had some fun twists this month! I will not give anything away but have enjoyed seeing more of Nell and Hetty’s character development. I am also enjoying Scorpion, about a team of almost antisocial geniuses who form a tight-knit group and end up working as government problem-solvers.

On Youtube: Consumer Reports channel, especially their “What to Get… & Forget” series. I also loved this sweet story that happens to be a scotch ad.


Friends

We held our Second Annual Classic Mystery Movie Night at Howe House this month. The Campus Christian Fellowship students come and bring friends for snacks and a movie that was probably made before I was born. The movie selection for the evening is never announced ahead of time because whoever is there at the beginning of the party gets to choose by consensus from the movies we provide. (This gets quite a few of them there “on time!”) This year, the three people who were at the previous Classic Mystery Movie Night wanted to watch Charade again and none of the others had seen it or had objections. Our CMMN may turn into an annual showing of Charade at this rate!
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Two of our college students decided to be baptized this month!
2014-10-26 14.22.47 2014-10-12 16.34.15

We had twelve people eating pasta around our table for Sunday lunch last weekend but it was so crazy that I forgot to take a photo.


Around the House

Our adorable and [sometimes annoyingly] energetic pup is five months old now and has developed a bolder demeanor we are trying to train. We encourage chasing squirrels and rabbits out of the yard and discourage eating the tomatoes, tomato vines, and various other “people possessions.” We encourage making new friends and discourage jumping on people or furniture.
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2014-10-11 16.46.43

Brian and I replaced the gutters along the front of our house so now there will not be a waterfall directly over the front door every time it rains. I really liked getting to climb up the ladder and use the drill to mount brackets while Brian handed me supplies. Even before our wedding, we agreed that I would get to do most ladder-climbing tasks because I enjoy it and Brian does not.

2014-10-17 15.51.38 2014-10-17 16.21.47 2014-10-18 16.59.09


What have you been into lately?


I am linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been into lately.

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What I’m Into (August 2014)

Friends

College students back on campus & coming to our house for Sunday lunches. We are all getting back into the swing of school and campus ministry.
2014-08 Sunday Lunch

Food

I used to disdain iced coffee unless it was really, really hot. This summer, though, I discovered Pioneer Woman’s cold-brewed concentrate that I mix with almond milk and one of my homemade coffee syrups. It tastes delicious and the college students who come to our house think so, too!

French Toast Roll-Ups with blueberries and cream cheese… Brian and I liked these so much we rated them “let’s have it again every month.”
 2014-08-19 21.34.36

My tomato cages toppled from the weight of the vines, but they kept growing. Now I have what I call a “tomato thicket.” Rabbits kept eating the unripe fruit but my puppy decided they’re fun to chase. Now we have tomatoes!
2014-08-30 13.43.56

2014-08-30 13.46.32

Watching

On TV: Rizzoli & Isles and Girl Meets World.

On Netflix: Doctor Who season 7. I like Clara, “the impossible girl,” who gets scared and plunges in anyway. “We never just walk away.” In addition, I’m working my way back through Haven (currently on season 2) because I missed having a new season this summer.

Music

Colbie Caillat’s Gypsy Heart Side A, especially “Try.”
The Likes of Us (self-titled album) from Noisetrade has been a fun addition to my jazzy weekend breakfast playlist.

Technology

Since school started this month, I’ve been using Quizlet to make free electronic flashcards for the high school students I work with. As an a added bonus, they can use my flashcards (as well as any they create) online or on their smart phones.

Now that the entire school email system is run through Google, I have been using Google Drive for sharing documents with coworkers (I had never used it for document creation before this month.)

I upgraded to a iPhone 5s and a waterproof, drop-proof Otterbox Preserver case this week and I am enjoying both! FYI: The Preserver cases appear to still be on sale for 50% off on Amazon.

Same-day Instagram prints from Walgreens, especially when I procrastinated making them until the day before I needed them!
 2014-08-18 17.54.41

Random Fun

I like the graphic design of the @HomeGoods Stylescope quiz to “find your home design personality“. I’m supposedly “The Traveler” and liked the graphic so much, I made it my iOS wallpaper.


What were you into in August?


Linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been into lately.

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Lows & [Lots of] Highs

Welcome to Lows & Highs, a Stories from the Stairs weekly-ish feature! Feel free to join in by posting your lows and highs from the week in the comments or by posting a link to your own lows and highs blog post.

 

 

2014-08-19 21.19.24

 

One Low
Our sweet, adorable puppy killed a bird and then tried to eat it. Brian noticed and went out to dispose of the dead body, but Cola decided she wanted to chew on it and play “keep away from the human” instead. After a few minutes, I went out to help, which made us two disgusted people and one playful puppy. Eventually, she dropped her prize for a moment and I picked her up. That gave Brian an opening to make the bird disappear. Since then, Brian keeps promising Cola she will never be allowed to lick his face ever again.

 

Three Highs
2014-08-11 13.06.11-1

 

1. Brian and I put up new gutters on the back of our house.

 

2014-08-19 21.34.36
2. I made French Toast Roll-ups with blueberries and cream cheese. They were delicious and we want to have them again.

 

 

3. A barista was astonished to overhear me talking with a friend about making my own coffee syrups and asked for details, so I gave her my blog address. I have never directed a total stranger to this site before, but it was the easiest way to give her the information!


How has your week been?

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DIY Coffee Flavoring Syrup

Cinnamon & Vanilla Rum

I like my coffee strong, dark, and sweet, so I like coffee-flavoring syrups. Did you know it is easy to make your own, customized syrups that taste better than store-bought? I start with the most basic simple syrup recipe and add whatever suits my taste. Both microwave and stove top work well for me, so I have included directions for both.

What is your favorite coffee flavor?

Basic Coffee Flavoring Recipe

Basic Simple Syrup
1 cup water
1 cup sugar

 

Cinnamon Stick Syrup
Add 1 cinnamon stick (3-4 inches long), broken into pieces

 

Vanilla Rum Syrup
Add 1 teaspoon vanilla (Mexican or some other really good kind), and
1 teaspoon rum or rum flavoring

 

Microwave Directions
Stir all ingredients together in a clear, microwave-safe container that holds at least four cups. (I use my four-cup Pyrex measuring cup.) Cook on high for two minutes, stir, and then heat until bubbling but not to a rolling boil. Stir about every minute and keep a close watch so it does not boil over. Cook at a “bubble, not boil” for about five minutes in total.

 

Stovetop Directions
Stir all ingredients together in a small saucepan that holds at least four cups. Heat to a low simmer, but not a rolling boil. Stir occasionally. Simmer for about five minutes in total.

 

Taste Test & Finishing
When the sugar is completely dissolved and the solution is thicker than plain water, you can check the flavor: Scoop up about a half-teaspoon of HOT syrup and let it cool before you taste it. If you prefer a more intense flavor, you can simmer for a little longer and consider adding a little more of the flavor add-ins. When you like the flavor, let the syrup cool.

 

If your add-ins are not dissolved (like the cinnamon stick), strain out the pieces with a strainer and cheesecloth. Pour the syrup into your preferred containers. I prefer easy-to-pour bottles. Use right away or store in refrigerator.*

 

*I always store mine in the refrigerator and have no idea how long it lasts because I use the syrup quickly!

 

 

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