Yesterday I shared a look at my updated gallery wall with Simply Framed, a wall that definitely doesn’t shy from the bold or colorful. And while gallery walls tend feel very “one-and-done,” I touched upon the process of continually...
I don’t know about you, but I can never make a cup of jo at home the way they do at my favorite coffee shops. I thought a lot about that when we were in New Orleans a few weeks ago and made our way into this gorgeous Stumptown Coffee location.
So naturally, I came home and did some research, and can say that I think I got to the bottom of what it takes to make barista-approved coffee. A few tools are needed, yes, but deciding on which ones you should buy depends on how much of a coffee purist you really are. A Keurig is a really great option for those of you that simply want a quick cup, while a Nespresso machine is perfect for an espresso like you’d order at your favorite cafe. But you may not want either; a French press is for the self-proclaimed coffee snot (I say this lovingly…I know many), while an Aeropress claims to brew a cup that’s even more pure! If you’re a cold brew kinda person, this iced coffee maker will be your new best friend. Lastly, a great frother is an absolute must for any latte (and latte art if you’re feeling extra creative)…most are affordable but I’ve gone through so many that I think it’s worth an investment for a good one.
The list of course goes on, and I’ve broken it down in detail below. But I’d love to know: what kind of coffee drinker are you? Do you swear by any of these essentials? Cheers friends, Kat
When you find great coffee you love, there’s a good chance it’s in whole bean form. You’re going to need a strong grinder to get those beans in the form of grounds to brew your cup of coffee. We’re big fans of this one by KitchenAid to do the heavy lifting.
Making a proper cup of coffee starts with good beans, if we’re being honest here. And in order to store your beans (and their grounds) at their best quality, use an airtight container. It will extend the shelf life and further the flavor.
When you just want a good cup of coffee quickly in the morning or during your afternoon slump, this Keurig does the trick. It keeps the process super simple, the cleanup minimal, and is perfect if you don’t want to find yourself with leftover coffee in a pot.
If you’re looking to make a quick cup of espresso, you really need this machine. Well scratch that, it makes cappuccino, coffee AND espresso. This is your best bet for coffee shop coffee at home, in my humble opinion.
Here’s to you, coffee purists. I know this is the way to do it right. A French press is an at-home coffee staple. It’s the key tool to manually brewing a rich, strong and smooth coffee by simply pouring boiling water on top of the grounds. The method helps the grounds retain their oils for an amazing cup each any every time.
My favorite coffee shop has an Aeropress coffee item on their menu. I had to figure it out, and discovered the Aeropress coffee maker. This is an amazing option for the coffee lover that doesn’t need the fuss of a French press, but still appreciates great coffee on the go. The Aeropress claims to brew an even smoother cup than the French press does, and includes an easier and less messy cleanup. It only takes about a minute to brew a cup of coffee or 1-3 shots of espresso.
This magical tool is a must-have for any kind of latte (even and especially a matcha tea latte!). I’ve tried several frothers in the past, and they all have turned out to be quite dinky, so I definitely think you get what you pay for with these. I’d suggest a higher quality one like this one to last a few seasons of coffee brewin’.
I used to think that I could simply make cold brew by pouring hot coffee over ice. But a proper cold brew will use simple steeping in a coffee maker like this one to bring out all the good flavors in coffee. The steeping actually works to eliminate the bitter, almost-burnt taste you can sometimes get from pouring hot coffee over ice.
I like how you can customize the flavor with one of these, AND the maker seconds as a pitcher to serve once you brew. Bonus!
This week we’ve had a blast sharing scenes from our end-of-summer block party with Pottery Barn, along with a few of our favorite fuss-free finger food recipes and a super refreshing mocktail/cocktail. We already hit the basics you’ll want to have at your own outdoor bash, but we wanted to round up a final checklist today for you as well. You’ve got the comfy chairs and pillows covered, but you don’t want to forget about the great playlist, string lights and games. Click on the image above to scroll through the slideshow of our top 10 block party essentials. Cheers, Kat
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It's a given that string lights make every outdoor experience more magical, and a block party is no exception.
Whip up a refreshing batch drink that everyone at the party can enjoy (and can easily turn into a cocktail with a little vodka). We're huge fans of Arnold Palmers & John Daly's, and this new Citrus Cooler is one you'll want to try STAT too.
Yesterday we invited you to join in on the fun at our end-of-summer block party with Pottery Barn. With great grub and fun activities for kids of all ages, who could ever say no to a carefree block party bash? But I know what you’re thinking: it’s hot (like really hot) and hot doesn’t always work hand-in-hand with “carefree.” As someone who’s already counting down until fall, I hear you. But good news: it IS possible to keep the menu easy and light, while simple DIYs can keep even the busiest of bodies busy so you can enjoy a refreshing drink or two. I think we can all cheers to that!
When I set up our block party, I knew I wanted to keep things comfortable, casual and laid-back. That, of course, was thanks to PB’s cozy chairs, pillows and outdoor dining set, but it was also thanks to the fuss-free food we served: my take on The Cuban and pimento cheese and tomato sandwiches (see both recipes below), homemade potato chips (because what’s a block party without chips!) and healthy-ish dips with fresh veggies and fruit. Along with all the finger food I whipped up a super refreshing Citrus Cooler mocktail (recipe below) that could easily become booze infused with a shot or two of vodka.
For dessert, I stuffed a bin full of ice and freeze pops, plus put watermelon slices onto popsicle sticks for the perfect dessert al fresco. By keeping the menu super simple, and asking everyone to pitch in, no one’s stressed to whip up an over-the-top dish.
But a block party isn’t all about the food (though it’s a big part), so I also set up a few simple DIY activities for kids of all ages to enjoy. I think the biggest mistake people make when pulling together something like this block party is overthinking the agenda and spending too much money on what you think the kids will do. The beauty of a block party, after all, is that it’s an excuse for everyone to come together and do their own thing…kids will be running around, teens will probably just want to hang out, and adults will be catching up (while trying to keep an eye on the little ones).
With all this in mind, I set up an easy DIY crafts table for the little ones with all the makings of a paint-and-plant station. We brought small terracotta pots labeled with each kids’ name (gorgeously handwritten by Jenn Gietzen) for them to paint all over, as well as organic potting soil and a few pre-potted (and hardy) herbs like mint, rosemary and thyme the kids can watch grow inside all year long. The supplies can be kept simple (all you’ll need are a few colors of acrylic paint and paint brushes) and cleanup shouldn’t be overwhelming since it’s outside. And since we had kids of all ages at the block party, I set up a table with colored beads for the teens to create DIY beaded bracelets. We separated each color family into different dishes, making it easy for everyone to fight over the prettiest beads to add to their arm stacks.
Check out the recipes for two fuss-free sandwiches and our Citrus Cooler mocktail (easily turned cocktail) below, and tell me what you’ll be serving at your end-of-summer block party! Truly, MKR
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