Throwing Money in a Cup

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Christmas came big to my house this year.  I have a boyfriend who spoils me rotten. Have you ever been on the receiving end of being spoiled rotten? It’s not as easy as I always thought it would be. It’s downright difficult. I’m a sputtering mess on how to receive graciously. I feel like I need to reciprocate and when I can’t, it’s just worrisome for me. I stress out about it. But I’m learning to accept and be grateful. Maybe I need more practice. Just kidding!! I don’t need more spoiling! Seriously.

I better give you some history before I unravel the whole story of spoiling though. A while back, on a whim, Payam (that’s his name, said like Pie – Am or Pay-Am) bought me a $50 espresso maker. He was at Best Buy or some such place and he knew I liked lattes (since that’s what I drank on every single date we went on, and maybe it might have been somewhere in my online dating profile, cough cough.) so he picked it up. It was no biggy to him. Like throwing a few candy bars into the basket on your way to check out. Crazy! I’m not trying to say he’s loaded but you know, things are different.  To me an espresso maker was a BIG. MAJOR. DEAL.

I have a HISTORY with coffee. I’m a snob of all snobs. I don’t just drink any old coffee. I obsess over coffee. I have very particular tastes (Strong, with milk. No sugar, unless it’s bad and then I need sugar but I hate flavored creamers…and so on). I always wanted an espresso maker but I couldn’t settle for just any old machine. I’ve had coffee machines in the past but not a real espresso maker with the steam I needed to make the best latte.  I figured I needed the best of the best espresso makers and since I couldn’t afford that, what was the point? My French Press was doing the job and I like to go out to coffee, so it was all good.

When he showed up with the cheap Mr. Coffee espresso maker I was delighted yet skeptical. I’d never had one of these home jobbies before. What could it do? I immediately put it to the test.

I tested it EVERY DAMN DAY. All in the name of research of course. This little Mr. Coffee espresso maker kicked butt! It made a pretty good latte. So good that I never used my French Press again and if you know French Press, then you know that’s kind of a big deal. French Press coffee is delicious!

I made latte after latte after latte after latte. I made lattes for everyone! I tried to create latte art on top like the barristas do at fancy coffee shops but I had no luck. Flop after flop after flop. I made interesting art but I never quite mastered it.

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Payam said that if I mastered latte art on the little Mr. Coffee espresso maker that he’d buy me the real thing someday. Hmmmm! Now that’s a challenge worth taking seriously.

And so I aspired. I really did. I tried and tried and tried. But I never quite got it. I’d make progress and then fall back into foamy messes. One step forward two steps back. But it was fun. I sipped delicious failures every day. Sometimes two and three times a day. They all tasted pretty great.

I finally resigned myself to the fact that the little machine just didn’t have enough steam power. It couldn’t make the creama espresso that’s just the right dark color and the foam often was just super airrated and not really thick foamy milk like it needs to be. Your latte art foam needs to be the consistency of house paint to get the pour just right and I couldn’t get it there.

So guess what I got for Christmas?

A super deluxe Mr. Coffee Maker!!! Ha Hah!

Wait, what?

Oh man. A Mr. Coffee Maker again?!!  A super-size version?  I tried really hard not to be disappointed. The sad fact was that I just don’t love Mr. Coffee. He’s like a Dodge Neon on his best day when all I really wanted was a fine Italian Lamborghini. I’m not a snob! I’m just smart!! Or am I?

Of course not everyone can afford a Lamborghini. I fully expected to wait twenty years for the espresso maker of my dreams. That’s what you do. I tried really hard to be happy with the super deluxe version of my Mr. Coffee espresso maker. It was big and it made any kind of sweet drink at the touch of a button….but you know what? I couldn’t fake it. The kicker was that it didn’t even let you make latte art! The milk came out in a compartment that you couldn’t even pour. It was stuck in the machine like a vault. I was so sad.

Payam was even sadder. What crappy way for me to ruin Christmas. Why do I have to be such a snob? I was fed up with myself.

We made the best of it and found joy in the kids unwrapping their many presents.  But deep down I had a monstrosity on my counter that I wasn’t sure what to do with. Later we talked about it and I admitted to him that I really just wanted to send it back. He understood. At the end of the day I really liked my little $50 espresso maker better. I just like making latte art. All the bells and whistles on the other machine didn’t excite me.

But you know the story doesn’t end there! Of course not!!

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Black Friday, or maybe the day after, came around and Payam talked me into going shopping with him. I don’t really like shopping in general and I don’t really like crowds so a bit of coercion was involved. But I figured I’d tag along for the fun of an outing with him. We walked and window-shopped and somehow ended up going into Sur La Tab, the most expensive of all kitchen stores. OF COURSE we ended up looking at the espresso makers, FOR RESEARCH, right?!! That’s what I was saying. We might as well see what they offered so that someday I could save up for what I really wanted. And maybe he’d even help me buy it…

You know what happened next. So much for saving up. Mr. Boyfriend had to go and be a sugar daddy and bought the top model right there on the spot. Oh my goodness.

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Yes, I am the proud new owner of a Breville espresso maker.  I like to call it my boat. As in it’s a close-your-eyes-and-throw-money-in-the-water kind of hobby.

Espresso making is such a crazy expensive hobby!! Did you know that? There are so many variables! Just to create the perfect espresso you have to have the best beans (which I don’t), the best burr grinder (which I don’t) and the best water (which I don’t). If you want to create latte art you have to practice about three-thousand-and-eleventy-three times before you get it right. So that’s where I’m at. I’m working on extraction and pre-extraction. I’m working on double-grinding my grocery store beans and I’m learning. It’s going to take a while. But I’m making progress. This new espresso maker blows doors off the old $50 Mr. Coffee Maker. Unfortunately it blows out all the doors and windows and floors and everything else too. So I’m pretty much starting from scratch with my new espresso making skills. It’s a game changer.

In the meantime I’ll be creating lots of latte flops! You should come try some, they’re delicious!

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1. All the filters and date night make up., 2. When all else fails, break out the toothpick. , 3. Coiled snake of micro foam. I don’t seem to be making much progress. , 4. Oh no it’s another cat butt! I seem to have mastered the cat butt latte pour art. , 5. Sloppy love. , 6. One step forwards, two steps back. , 7. Afternoon Taliban latte., 8. Maybe I need a bigger cup. , 9. Getting there… This is toothpick art but I sure have a lot more variables to play with., 10. Well, it’s pretty! Still have a ways to go… , 11. Attempt #3 radio antennae! , 12. Try number two. It might take a while before I get it but this new machine is a game changer!, 13. First work of latte art from the new espresso maker. I think we are in BUSINESS!! , 14. Latte in a cup from Lubna. Thank you @lubna_lola99 ! , 15. An ornament on the tree? , 16. Lips with spots. , 17. It’s not always all about the pour., 18. , 19. Twee to go latte. , 20. Steaming ñ with a side of “Do not even think about eating ONE cookie!!” So that means I’m fine if I eat four or five? , 21. B as in “I love it when you call me Big Poppa (latte).” , 22. Two birds in one…latte! , 23. Two birds in one latte. , 24. Rock me like a subtle hurricane. , 25. Six-toed bear paw? , 26. Brachiosaurus in the sky with sprinkle stars which is sort of like Lucy in the sky with diamonds but with more caffeine and less LSD. , 27. Crack o’ dawn Whirling Dervish Latte., 28. Looks prettier stirred up. , 29. Looptiloop P or something… , 30. Not impressive but I’ve almost got it… I’ll call this “kissing swans” #failedathomelatteart #brendaslatteartcollection

Meanwhile on Instagram

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What a crazy beginning of September it’s been! Back to school (third grade!). Soccer practice TWICE a week. Bug taught herself how to ride a bike…. I think her brain is exploding.

It’s been brutal. I don’t know what we’d do if she added music lessons or fashion camp or robotics classes to her schedule, along with her once-a-week gymnastics training. I was feeling pretty sorry for her and her lack of a day off until Toby informed me that that’s how all kids do it these days and if she wants to compete with them in the future job market she has to get used to the rat race sooner or later. Sigh…I just want to go back in time. I’m glad she had a long boring summer now.

I’m sad to say her anxiety has come back but she’s handling it as best she can.  Which is really all we can do.  That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned through this journey.  I have to let her find answers and solutions. I can help but I can’t do it for her which of course is impossible for this helicopter mom.  I’ve been meaning to write a post on all our tips and tricks (and $600 bill to a therapist!! So not worth it.) but I haven’t quite gotten to that yet. Hopefully soon.

Lately she’s been sleep-talking and crying which breaks my heart. Has anyone dealt with that? It’s not really about her phobias and fears, more like just creepy nightmares that kind of scare me when she refuses to wake up. It’s like I’m part of a horror movie and she’s turned into a zombie looking all over the dark room at things I can’t see. When I ask her about them in the morning she can’t remember a thing. I’m thinking it’s just the way brains deal with scary stuff but it worries me.

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Soccer! Soccer, soccer, soccer. What a huge learning curve for Bug and I. She finally got assigned to a team and everyone is bigger and more experienced than her. Seriously, she’s playing with nine and ten year-olds. That’s what I get for daring to ask the commissioner if she could be on an under-eight team because she’s little. I guess they don’t take personal requests seriously. I can understand that. I’m sure they get tons.

It’s Bug’s first year playing so most of the time she stands like a tree in the field while everyone else runs around her. Thankfully, she has a really patient coach who believes in her and is very encouraging.  I think she’ll get it soon. They did win their first game which was super exciting.

I’m taking to soccer-momming quite well. I should have a blog on field-side drink recipes and fashionable shade receptacles coming along soon…maybe one on snack ideas since I am the designated snack mom on the 20th. Just kidding. I don’t have any such thing. I’m completely clueless. What do I make? Rice Crispie treats in the shape of soccer balls? Kababs? Frozen grapes? The first mom who handed out snacks had a three course meal stuffed in a princess party swag bag. I’m kinda worried.

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Outside of new school stress, crazy nightmares and overall soccer exhaustion, Bug is up to all her old tricks. She has always been a funny kid who makes people laugh but lately she gets me rolling. She’s a little comedienne. Super Girl costume with bra headpiece? Check. Take Your Stuffed Animal to Work Day, complete with mini paper laptops?  Check. She’s always up to something. I love this stage because she’s so much more self motivated. If I don’t pay attention, she completely messes up the house with one grand plan or another.

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Like looking for the tape (that she used up) in my desk drawer and completely upending it all over on the floor.  Oh boy. Who says toddlers make bigger messes? It doesn’t stop! Just because they are bigger and more coordinated? No.

This block of photos is a bit random because it also pictures a t-shirt craft Bug dreamt up all by herself while I worked on another t-shirt craft (coming soon) for Alphamom. Isn’t it cool? We got into a big argument over the puffy paint. I hate puffy paint like I used to hate sororities in college.  Maybe because sororities always made those puffy paint posters that drove my inner artist crazy. I don’t know. Anyway, in the end I scripted the word team on it for her but I fully expect it to be peeled off by the end of the day (she wore it to school today).

Also pictured is my good friend Tamie in the play, Little Mermaid. We went to see her this last weekend and it was a blast. (Yes, I am singing Little Mermaid songs on repeat in my head now. At least it’s not Frozen!) Tamie has always been in drama and watching her belt out Ursula songs was like being back in time for me.

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Also seen on instagram: cats. What? Isn’t that what phone cameras were invented for?

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And failed latte art! A few friends have asked me if I have an endorsement for lattes from some coffee company or something. No. I wish!  I’ve got no coffee gigs. I’m just stubborn and I refuse to give up trying to create latte art even though it clearly seems like I’m never going to get the hang of it. There are just a whole lot of variables! And now that I’m making them during my morning rush to school, things seem to have taken an even further step backwards. Oh well. It makes life more interesting. Never a dull moment around here.

Coming soon: Talk Like A Pirate Day, Anxiety Tips and (insert drum roll here) Dishtowels from Daiso! I know you are dying to get the low down.

Anything else you’d like me to blog? Bueller?