Chalkboard Art: The Simple Things in Life

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New York City streets are filled with a lot of things: people, dogs, trash, mysterious things you’re better off not knowing what they are…but my favorite things NYC sidewalks offer are Chalkboard Art.

I mean honestly, when it’s in the mid-90’s (or mid-30s Celsius), who could ask for anything more (aside from beer and a beach, of course!)???  😉

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The Actual Pilgrimage

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As you may or may not remember (or read/didn’t read), the Big Island has approximately 790 coffee plantations/farms.  Narrowing it down to only one was a rather daunting task, but I did a bit of research and history, looked at only those in the Kona region, and further narrowed it down to those who offered tours.  After learning about Captain Cook’s fate, I decided the best thing to do was not show up unannounced any where there weren’t tours, especially given we were only a couple of miles from where he landed!

In the end, I picked Greenwell Farms, located on the Mamalahoa Highway in Kealakekua.  It was not a far trip from Kailua-Kona and is conveniently located on the highway we chose to take to Hilo, filled with lots of fun things to do along the way!

As we drove up the driveway, I could barely contain my excitement and I’m sure that I was out of the car before it was even in park!  Greenwell offers tours everyday from 8am to 4pm–you don’t need a reservation, just show up and wait for the next tour they offer (I think we waited about 4.5 minutes).  The tour itself was about 30 minutes with a coffee tasting following.

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Greenwell Farm was founded in 1850 by Henry and Elizabeth Greenwell, who left England and relocated in Kona.

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Before we even started the tour, we saw several other fruit bearing trees/plants–all of which I had never seen before (the tree/plant that is, I am well acquainted with the fruit), like avocado, banana, and pineapple.

The first stop on our walking tour (don’t panic–it’s an easy walk, you’re not scaling the mountain!) was an up-close look at a few trees with cherries on them.  I think I made EVERYONE take my picture with The Trees.

After I was dragged away from we left the coffee trees, we then headed over to the building where all the magic happens: what happens to the cherries after they are picked.  Aka, they are soaked in water, depulped, and then dried.

After the beans are dried, they are graded, sorted and then packaged in 100lb burlap sacks to store until it is time to be roasted and packaged.

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As our tour guide colorfully walked us through the process, she had on had various coffee cherries/beans at different stages of the process.

The tour concluded with questions and then we headed back for my second favorite part (aside from The Trees): tasting!

Alas, there were no pictures of the tasting because well, WE WERE TASTING!  Greenwell Farms has a very impressive line-up of coffees, in various roasts.  Wahoooo!  I was so excited and it was another reason I chose to visit Greenwell–because I noticed that they have medium roasts in their collection.  I think we all know how I feel about dark roasts. If you don’t, I’ll just keep my rant to a minimum and just say that I liken dark roasts to licking the bottom of an ashtray.  Not that I have ever actually licked the bottom of an ashtray, but in my mind it’s the closest descriptor I can get.

I WILL HAVE TO ADMIT that I did have a few decent dark roasts while in Hawaii because they weren’t too darkly roasted–only a step or two up from a medium roast–so you still got a lot of flavors other than “bottom of the ashtray”.

After we had tasted nearly everything, it was hard not to buy it all!  I did manage to narrow it down to my two favorites–the Peaberry and the Onouli–and then debated/lamented for a good 20 minutes about which one to get.  I mean, in addition to the gifts I was purchasing (I wasn’t going to be totally selfish, even though I reeeeeeeeeeally wanted to be!).

In the end, I went with the Onouli because it is sourced from 100 year old trees and if you’re making a pilgrimage to a coffee mecca, you should definitely splurge and get the really delicious and rare stuff.

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I was a bit sad when it was time to head out, but I knew that we still had a lot of places to see on the Big Island–and besides, I was taking a bit of Greenwell home with me.

🙂

 

 

 

The Pilgrimage to (Coffee) Mecca

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Let me start out this post with a bit of house keeping:

  1. Yes, I’m technically late with this posting….although I will argue that it’s still Saturday in Hawaii and since this post is about Hawaii, I’m using that as my justification for the lateness.
  2. When writing don’t forget to click save/update frequently, lest you walk away and the iPad goes into sleep mode and magically erases the last hour of work.  I know this is basic computer 101, but I’m so used to writing on the computer–which automatically saves it–that I forgot on the App, saving is manual.
  3. I realize as I’m typing this for the second time that I suppose I should have started with our time in Oahu, since that is where we started our trip. However, given the fact that I’m retyping this all again, I’m more committed than ever to start with the Big Island. Besides, I don’t know that I’ve ever written about any of my trips in order, so why start now?
  4. Just in case it wasn’t clear in Planning To Get Lei’d, the person who insisted we go to the Big Island so that we could tour coffee plantations was little ol’ me.

Shocking, right?!?!?

I’m just going to pause here for a moment and let all the people who actually know me stop laughing.

For those of you who do not know me and/or haven’t had the pleasure of dealing with me sans coffee, the easiest way to describe my love of coffee is to say that I’m 99.9738% certain that my blood type is C for coffee–or perhaps more accurately, K for Kenya and Kona, my two favorite types of coffee.

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So there was no way in hell that I was going to fly allllllll the way to Hawaii and not go to Kona.  Period.  End of discussion.  Perhaps that is why everyone acquiesced to my suggestion of visiting the Big Island.  Of course, I could have easily made the entire trip about coffee, but I didn’t.  Since my darling friends were kind enough to agree to travel with me to the Big Island, I was kind enough to agree on visiting only one coffee plantation (the parameters set to me went something like “fine, we’ll go to A coffee plantation.  You pick.  You pick ONE.”)

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Yes, that’s right.  I’m a big, fat tease and am NOT going to tell you about our trip to the coffee plantation–just yet.  First I want to introduce you to Hawaii, the Big Island.

The best part of the Big Island (aside from THE best pina colada I’ve ever had in my life) is that every where you go, Kona coffee is on the menu.  I was like a kid in a candy shop anytime we went somewhere and I saw it on the menu.  I mean, sure you expect it but when you get there and see that it is an actuality, it’s quite delightful.  Well, delightful to me–I’m not sure everyone else in the group felt the same!

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Here are some more delightful…or rather informative tidbits about the Big Island.  Most of my information comes from hawaii.com, which should be your first stop when planning to visit Hawaii.  And they’re not even paying me to say that, although I would be perfectly a-okay if they wanted to pay me to say that–and visit more often.  Just saying…

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  • Hawaii, aka The Big Island, is so named because it is the biggest of the Hawaiian islands.  Just in case you were confused, thought they were being ironic, or wanted to be argumentative.
  • It is just over 4,000 square miles and is the youngest of the islands.
  • It has 12 distinct climate zones ranging from rainforest to snowcap peaks.
  • It was formed with 5 volcanoes, although only two of them are still active.  One of which is Kilauea, the longest continuously erupting volcano in the world (this eruption phase started in 1983!).
  • One of the most fascinating aspects is how different the weather is on each side of the island.  Hilo boasts an average rainfall of 128 inches, whereas directly across the island a mere 75 miles away is Kawaihae, who only receives about 10 inches of rain a year!
  • It is home to four coffee regions: Kona, Ka’u, Puna, and Hamakua. There are approximately 790 coffee plantations (do you know how hard it was to only pick one?!?!?!) on the Big Island, however, the largest coffee planation is actually in Kauai!
  • The Big Island is home to both a green sand and a black sand beach (more about those later!).
  • The southern most tip of the Big Island is actually the most southern point in the United States.
  • And just in case you thought it was all fun and games and coffee, Captain Cook was captured, killed, and eaten at Kealakekua Bay (just south of Kailua-Kona).

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Aloha!

 

 

Chalkboard Art: Unicorn Lattes

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New York City streets are filled with a lot of things: people, dogs, trash, mysterious things you’re better off not knowing what they are…but my favorite things NYC sidewalks offer are Chalkboard Art.

I have ABSOLUTELY NO idea what unicorn tastes like.  I have no desire to live a half-life or a cursed one for that matter, so I consider unicorns to be on my “DO NOT EAT” list.  Those who actually know me know just how short that list is–I mean, after all I am not only willing, but love to eat Vegemite and Peeps (although not together–that would be gross!)

BUT if I were to imagine it, I would think that unicorns would taste like cotton candy or perhaps marshmallow.  They would NOT taste like mango and mostly certainly not with some sour sauce added to the mix.  For the record, this description was thankfully provided by a person who has asked to keep his/her identity a secret.  Also for the record, I solemnly swear it is not me, as the only colorful drinks I allow myself to drink have rum or tequila in them!  True story…oh, except for slushies….I do enjoy a nice cherry coke slushy from time to time.

But I digress.  Back to unicorns and coffee and the reason we’re here today: Chalkboard Art.  I think the Chalkboard Art below accurately sums up my thoughts about anything unicorn flavored that a certain coffee company might offer (and a big thanks to Camilla for sending it to me because she knows that I like my coffee as black as my soul!)

Chinese Non-Delivery

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Remember in my earlier posts about it being the start of low season and everything closing up early?  Turns out, that affected the food industry as well.  Since our deck had not one, but two grills, we decided it might be fun to grill something for dinner.  We found a grocery store, strolled around for awhile, but nothing struck our fancy.  So we decided Chinese delivery sounded great, bought some candy and left.

Get back to B&B, find the menu, and notice that they don’t offer delivery service between October and April.  Great! Fantastic!  We peruse through the rest of the menus that would deliver–at least in October–but nothing sounded as good, so we opted to go back into town to pick up dinner.  Besides, I needed coffee supplies anyway–because thankfully while April was reading the menu, I was exploring kitchen supplies and noticed the only coffee on hand was decaf.  DECAF!  DEEEEEECAAAAAAFFFFFFFF.  Who does that?!?!? Plus it also allowed us to pick up blizzards at Dairy Queen–so in the end, it was quite a successful jaunt into town.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Chinese delivery take-out:  it’s 7:40pm when we call.  It’ll take about 30 minutes, can we be there by 8pm?  Uh, what?  Okay [definitely not arguing with getting our food faster].  She gives me the price and the address and just happens to mention not to be late because they close at 8pm.  Okay.  BY 8PM [she just keeps repeating this].  Message received loud and clear.  We arrive at 7:53pm because, well, we definitely wanted our food–not just because we were hungry–rather we weren’t sure if any other food options would still be open other than the 24-hour gas mart.  At this point we were even panicking that DQ might be closed.

Fortunately it was still open.

With food, blizzards, and coffee supplies in our hot little hands, we returned back to the B&B for a quiet night in, playing Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit.  And for those of you in my life who think I’m a LotR’s fanatic, I just want you to know that April kicked my ass!

Better Than Sex!

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Sigh.  Okay, here’s the deal: I thought I would be proactive and upload all of the photos from my FL trip.  The problem with that is whenever I go to my photo library to see what I want to write about next, I see all my Harry Potter photos from Universal Studios and suddenly THAT’S what I want to write about.  However, my OCD won’t let me write about Orlando until after I finish Key West.   Don’t get me wrong, Key West was amazing and amazing and even more amazing.  But Diagon Alley has a dragon!  That breathes fire.  A FIRE BREATHING DRAGON!

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If I were more technologically savvy, I could get the video to play…

There isn’t much that can compete…except, maybe…a grilled chocolate and cheese sandwich.

“What the what?,” you ask.  Oh yes, I said grilled chocolate and cheese from a fabulous little dessert restaurant called Better Than Sex (you can’t make this up, people!).  There were a plethora of tempting desserts from which to choose, however, since I feel that cheese is non-negotiable in my life, when push came to shove that’s what I picked.  Dark chocolate and brie grilled together on homestyle bread, topped with cinnamon and powdered sugar.  It was served with a strawberry champagne dipping sauce…and it was divine.

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chocolate grilled cheese!

Are you drooling yet?  You need to be!

Being the GENIUS people that we are, we all picked a different dessert to try (and share!).  While I think each preferred our own, I will confess that Tracy’s order of the signature dish was a very close second to my concoction of melted cheese and chocolatey gooey-ness!

Tracy ordered the Better Than Sex

Tracy ordered The Better Than Sex

Jamie's Kinky Key Lime Pie

Jamie’s Kinky Key Lime Pie

Christi's Peanut Butter Perversion

Christi’s Peanut Butter Perversion

NOW ARE YOU DROOLING?!?!?

Of course, there was quite an extensive list of dessert cocktails, along with a great wine list and the usual dessert drinks.  Even the coffee was fancy, with the option of a chocolate rim.  I enjoyed the delicious coffee as is, but Christi ventured out with a pretty white chocolate rim!

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It’s a tiny restaurant and always packed, so either make a reservation beforehand or be prepared for a wait (don’t worry–it’s well worth any wait!).

Better than sex?  No–but pretty darn close!

Expresso

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As in the funniest part of this fabulous diagram, not the actual abomination of a mispronounced word. Inquiring minds want to know: what does your coffee say about you?

Me? Depending on my mood, I’m a triple espresso or black coffee kind of girl, although every great once in awhile, my friends have to remind me to wipe the foam off my lip…

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Easy as ABC…

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Now that you have The Jackson Five playing background music in your head, I have a confession.  You know those silly/annoying emails that circulate every couple of years in which you answer questions about yourself?  Yeah, I’m one of those annoying people who not only fills them out, but sends them to nearly everyone in my email address book.  I’m a details kinda girl and I love collecting tidbits of information about people.  Who knows what you might learn about your friend that you’ve had since the 2nd grade or some great blackmail information on the annoying coworker 4 desks down?

A couple of months ago I saw a getting to know you post in the format below.  It’s been a long time since I filled one out (probably because everyone on my email list has a secret pact with each other to NEVER EVER send me another!).  Aaaaand it is different than any other that I’ve seen, so I thought I’d give it a go!

How is it different?  Why, thank you for asking: rather than answer questions, you simply list (although WARNING: I never list–I always have to explain!) 26 interesting things about you, each item starting with a letter in the alphabet.  While I’m horrible at explaining, I know that you’re brilliant and by the time you get to “A,” you’ll have it figured out!

One last thing before I begin: individuals did not make this list.  So if you are just reading this in search of your name stop right now and go back to work, uh, I meant lunch.  Don’t pout–invariably I’d leave someone out and then I have to endure years of guilt trips.  Ain’t nobody got time for that!  And honestly, how am I supposed to pick between Bubba and beer?  Although, actually that’s rather easy because I’m 250% sure that Bubba (aka my brother) would agree it should be beer.

Now, back to the task at hand.

The ABCs of Shez:

A is for Addy, my darling pupcicle (you know, in case you weren’t aware that I had a darling pupcicle whom I adore!)…and before you call me out on it, yes, I broke the “No Individuals” rule, but it’s the ONLY time I promise.

B is for Beer…mmmmmm….beer (I hope you heard that in a Homer Simpson voice!).  I don’t think that needs further explanation.  Plus you should have seen it coming.

C is for coffee.  Again, no further explanation is needed, especially those who have had the “pleasure” of seeing me in the morning before coffee–it ain’t purty!

D is for dogs.  Pupcicles are special because they bring so much love and joy into our lives–in so many ways.  Of course, it ain’t all sunshine and roses, particularly when you live in NYC and have to pick up poop for a very large dog.  But they make our lives whole with their amusing antics and unconditional love.  PS–if you’re wondering how much I love dogs, I picked them over dessert!  If that’s not love, I don’t know what is!

E is for Eso se que es, which literally translated is confusing so I like to go with the loose translation of “it is what it is” and whenever I say it, people look at me like “did you just say socks in the middle of my rant?”  No, but yes.  Anyway, it is a reminder that life is bigger than all of us and that any time you think everything is perfectly mapped out, the Fates will take the opportunity to intervene so they can laugh at you.  Thus to keep sane, I like to remind myself of three things: eso se que es, que sera sera, and Lord give me coffee to help me change the things I can, and wine to help accept the things I can’t.

F is for FOOTBALL!

G is for Grace.  By that, I don’t mean elegance or beauty or charm.  Did I mention I was clumsy?  Well, I am.  I come by it honestly (right Auntie K??).  As such, my Ome would always call me Miss Grace (as in, I am anything but).  To this day whenever I hear the word grace, I think of my Ome.

H is for Hamburgers.  Preferably ones with cheese and bacon and avocado and served with onion rings….but any ol’ burger with cheese will do! 😉

I is for Ice cream.  And anyone who doesn’t think it should be on EVERYONE’S list is just wrong.

J is for Jigsaw puzzles.  I love to put them together–although I haven’t put one together in a long time.  Why?  Well, whenever I find one that I love and makes me want to set up a card table and put it together, I remember that I live in a house with Princess Adelaide Grace, who is so named because like me, she is anything BUT graceful…

K is for Kaas (Dutch for cheese).  I couldn’t leave cheese off the list, thankfully the Dutch helped me out a bit.  And before you accuse me of using Google Translate to find a language where cheese started with a different letter than C, I will have you know that I was a Rotary Exchange Student to The Netherlands.  How does this relate to cheese?  I used to live about 6 miles from Gouda and would go on Thursdays to the cheese market…because…how can you go wrong with a cheese market???

L is for Laughter, because it truly is the best medicine–unless you have TB or malaria or something like that, then I would highly recommend medication.

M is for Molasses cookies, my favoritest cookies in the world!

N is for Nelson, as in Willie (and Waylon and the boys).

O is for Oven–I love baking and roasting and I can go without a lot of things, but an oven ain’t one of them!

P is for Peckish.  For most people, it means slight hungry.  But I’m never slightly hungry, so when you hear me say peckish know that it means “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse and chase the rider, but I don’t want you to think me gluttonous, so I’m going to just pretend that I’m kinda hungry and then either eat all of the snacks you foolishly set out or go back for seconds and thirds when we do eat.”

Q is for quixotic, which is just fun to say…quixotic, quixotic, quixotic!

R is for reading and don’t ask me to pick a favorite book.  I’m still trying to narrow my list down to 10 so I can post it on FB (and we’ll just pretend I wasn’t tagged to do it a month ago…sorry Becca!)

S is for Shiner…and failing that, Stella (and don’t tell me it’s cheating because I’ve already listed beer…it’s MY list!)

T is for Tolkien.  You thought it would be TEXAS! didn’t you?  I just wanted to share a line in a poem in Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, which completely sums up my life:  All those who wander are not lost.  I do hope, though, that you appreciate that I was still able to work TEXAS! into the T slot 😉

U is for umbrellas.  I totally have Mary Poppins to thank for my love of umbrellas.  Ironically, I hate using them in NYC.  People here are oblivious when using them and tend to poke other people in the head, repeatedly until I feel an urge to grab the umbrella out of their hands and give them a good smack with it.  I refrain, of course, but I know that I’m one huge rainstorm away from needing bail money.

V is for vino.  What?  It’s a word.  It is in my house….and that’s all that matters.

W is for wanderlust.  The reason wine is called vino in this list.  Traveling is truly my passion.  Even more so than eating and drinking.  Luckily, I consider imbibing in the local food and drink an integral part of traveling!  I was bit by the wanderlust bug when I went to The Netherlands (see K is for Kaas) right after high school–and I have no plans to stop any time soon and “I haven’t been everywhere yet, but it’s on my list.”

X is for Xi, which is one of my favorite words to play in Words with Friends.

Y is for Yoga, something I’ve recently started doing.  Who knew stretching and finding on your inner zen could be so draining?  Please don’t write in and tell me yoga is more than stretching and finding your inner zen.  I know it is, but when you’re watching others it looks so relaxing and graceful.  I’m here to tell you for me it is neither relaxing nor graceful, but I do enjoy blundering through class–even if I look like a bull in a china shop.

Z is for zazzy.  And yes, you have to say it like Sheldon.  And if you need further explanation, I’m not sure we can be friends anymore (if you’re worried about it, I can totally be bought with wine, beer, and cheese….but not crappy cheese–if you’re trying to bribe me, it had better be aaaaaaa-mazing cheese!).

And that’s me in a nutshell!

For the record, this was a lot more tedious than I thought it would be, so not as easy as the Jackson Five would have you believe!

Thanks for indulging me!

hey mom are you done with the stupid laptop yet?

hey momma are you done with the stupid laptop yet?