A Little of This & That… Renovating, Decorating, DIY Projects & Family
A Little of This & That… Renovating, Decorating, DIY Projects & Family

A Latte a Day…

Thank you to all who indulged in my little question surveying yesterday :). You guys are awesome, and it’s so interesting to hear your thoughts on family, house, work… I have so enjoyed reading your questions. Feel free to still send one over here and let’s start a new discussion.

A Latte a Day... a Delicious, Espresso Machine-Free Yummy Start to the Day | PepperDesignBlog.com

In love with good coffee I am. I go back and forth between a drip cup and a foamy latte in the morning, but lately I’ve been on a kick for the latter. It’s such a treat.

It saves me $ by making a latte at home and it’s actually very easy (even without a big espresso machine).

A Latte a Day... a Delicious, Espresso Machine-Free Yummy Start to the Day | PepperDesignBlog.com

I suppose it’s not really a latte because of that reason, it’s more of a very strongly dripped half cup of coffee + steamy, frothy milk. That would technically make it a cafe au lait?

It’s the ritual that really I love most. The smell of freshly ground beans, steaming the milk, the first sip… I used to drink coffee right out of bed and then I realized that I was always drinking a cold cup after the girls were ready for the day. Now I almost always wait until it’s time to sit down at my desk and start my work day. Weekends still get an early cup (preferably with a newspaper or book).

I stopped using my coffee maker years ago and finally gave it away last month. Hadn’t been touched in ages and was using up precious kitchen space. This basic plastic cone filter has made a perfect cup of coffee (one cup at a time) for as long as I can remember. My mom first turned me on to drip coffee and now I can’t imagine anything else. So easy to clean, to store and so easy use!

A Latte a Day... a Delicious, Espresso Machine-Free Yummy Start to the Day | PepperDesignBlog.com

Truly an awesome cup of coffee, too.

Step 1: heat a kettle of water (you can use a standard kettle or one made for pour over coffee like this Hario). Step 2: add a paper coffee filter to cone, fill with 2-4tb (I like it heavy) with your favorite roasted coffee grounds. Some swear by weighing out coffee grounds but I’m more of a can’t-have-too-much sort of scooper. Step 3: pour hot water over grounds slowly and evenly.

A Latte a Day... a Delicious, Espresso Machine-Free Yummy Start to the Day | PepperDesignBlog.com

That and a quick splash of half and half is perfect. If I’m making a morning latte though, I’ll follow the above steps and make a very strong half cup of dripped coffee and then add steamed milk and foam.

I experimented and researched for months before I found a tool that can steam milk and make rich foam sans microwave, sans burning and sans a massive machine. I have used the Capresso frothPRO for about two years now and it’s been the greatest find! Somewhere along the line my lid went missing, but I top it with a saucer and it does the trick.

A Latte a Day... a Delicious, Espresso Machine-Free Yummy Start to the Day | PepperDesignBlog.com

There are three settings: cold frothed milk, extra hot steamed milk and hot steamed milk. The milk foam for all three is so thick you could cut it with a knife.

I pour my steamed milk over my freshly brewed drip coffee and top it with several big scoops of foam. My morning latte is born. If you’re a flavor kind of person, a drizzle of vanilla or carmel is yummy. Or even a dash of half and half or creamer. Mostly I prefer mine as-is though.

 A Latte a Day... a Delicious, Espresso Machine-Free Yummy Start to the Day | PepperDesignBlog.com

A Latte a Day... a Delicious, Espresso Machine-Free Yummy Start to the Day | PepperDesignBlog.com

I really can’t think of a better way to start the day :).

Wondering What’s On Your Mind…

Morgan & Taylor on Mother's Day | PepperDesignBlog.com

This week is my birthday week and I thought I’d do something a little out of the blue. I’m opening up the below question box just as a little way for us to get to know each other better. You ask, I’ll answer and we’ll see if we can find some fun stuff that I might be missing here on the blog :). Home, family, projects, balance, routine, life… I’m always curious for an honest opinion or an unexpected question! Let’s make this fun.

PS questions are submitted anonymously :). I’ll keep this open for a few days and will be back soon with the answers. Yay for birthdays! Hoping for the best year yet!

Tech Tips: 8 WordPress Plugins to Add

Tech Tips: Must-Have WordPress Blog Plugins | PepperDesignBlog.com

Hope you had a wonderful weekend! The guys in our group of friends loaded up the kiddos and went camping (sans mommas) while us ladies headed to a nearby mountain town for a little R&R. It’s an annual trip and it was – as always – so wonderful. Most of us conquer photo albums while there and I caught up with T’s first year (she’s almost one!) and the first half of our family album for 2013. I’m trying out Artifact Uprising for Taylor’s album and Apple Photo Books for our family album. So far so good. T & Liv did awesome with their daddy (my first night away from Taylor! and it was in a tent!).

Today I thought I’d share a few WordPress plugins that I find to be super valuable for those of us who host our blogs on WP. I’m learning about new plugins everyday to incorporate into the site to make it faster, safer and more techy, so I’ll be sure to share as I come across them.

1 | WordPress SEO by Yoast: This plugin allows you to optimize individual posts for search engines right on the post edit page, it also includes cool tools such as on-page content analysis to give you a little feedback on how you can improve.

2 | Wordfence: If this plugin were a friend he’d be da man. Wordfence security runs scans constantly behind the scenes to protect against anti-virus, firewall breaches and to improve site speed. I’ve had websites that I’ve designed hacked before and it’s no fun cleaning them up. It’s SO much work. The crazy thing is, it’s so easy for hackers to do! And they (meaning automated hacking queries) don’t jump on a website to mess with posts or design, they bury terrible spam links in your site and so much more. This plugin recently notified me that there were over 20 attempts to log into the blog (definitely an automated query) and I’m grateful for the heads up to make sure that my password is bullet proof and that my files are clean.

3 | Akismet: I finally bit the bullet about two years ago and installed Akismet, a $5/month service that protects your blog from all spam comments and trackbacks. On the rare occasion it lets one or two through, but really this has been the biggest time saver (spammers are the worst – sometimes 20-100 comments a day!).

4 | WP-DB Manager: Should something ever happen to your hosting provider or website and it goes down or files are destroyed (or you make changes and then accidentally write over original code), this plugin manages your WordPress database and creates backups for easy restoring. Bonus: I’ve set it up to send them to my inbox on a weekly basis so it’s a set it and forget it sort of solution.

5 | WP Super Cache: If you’re noticing that your homepage is loading rather slowly this plugin can help. This plugin generates static html pages from your blog’s heavy (and hard to read quickly) PHP scripts. In English, it really speeds up a blog without affecting user experience.

6 | Pinterest “Pin It” Button: Since I’m listing my favorites a plugin like this is probably a no brainer. This one happens to be pretty easy to use and does the job.

7 | Comment Reply Notification: I’m often asked about old projects or posts in my comments section and I used to email each request personally, and then also add the answer to the appropriate post. Not too time-consuming since I simply replied to the email notification I received when a new comment pops up, but now I’ve found a way to streamline the process even further. When a reply is made to a comment a reader has left on the blog, an email is sent to the reader to notify them of the reply. This is brand new for me but so far so good! (thanks for the suggestion, Dana!)

8 | Sitemap Generator for Webmaster: Here’s another SEO trick. Search engines such as Google use sitemaps to crawl websites to find relevant data for its browser users. Most blogs do not have a sitemap. This plugin generates an XML based sitemap page for your website so that search engines can index your blog completely.

There you have it! Eight new plugins to check out that will hopefully make your WordPress blog just a little bit smoother. Have a beautiful Monday :).

PS you can check in on all of the Tech Tip posts right here (small but growing!).

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