5 Ideas to Shake Up Your Coffee Routine

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You may have settled into your coffee routine. Perhaps you drink 1 cup of brewed coffee in the morning and get an iced latte once a week in the summers. Or maybe you’re the kind of coffee drinker that drinks only doppio espressos.

Maybe you’ve been hearing about people going caffeine-free? While some people do not enjoy how they feel while caffeinated, there’s no need to feel guilty over your coffee consumption. A 2015 study concluded that a higher consumption rate of coffee correlates to a lower risk of mortality. This is happy news if you’re like me and love your daily cup of joe. Or maybe for me that’s more like two cups. Three? Who’s counting? But seriously, coffee is what helps me stay focused and energized throughout the day.

So without further ado, here’s my list:

S’Mores Iced Coffee (Recipe from A Night Owl)

If you’re a fan of the timeless campfire treat, then I bet you’ll love the S’Mores Iced Coffee. This recipe includes chocolate milk, marshmallow whipped cream, and crushed graham cracker. Yum!

Soylent Cafe

Soylent recently launched two more flavors of their Coffiest product, which they’ve rebranded to Soylent Cafe. The three flavors are Coffiest, Vanilla, and Chai. While I haven’t had a chance to try these yet, I’ve really been enjoying Soylent’s original drink. Coffee and Soylent just seem like a match made in heaven.

Cold Brew with Almond Milk

I really enjoy Pressed Juicery’s Vanilla Coffee. Its ingredients are almonds, dates, Kona coffee, and vanilla bean. If you’re more in a DIY frame of mind, here’s a Recipe from the Almond Board of California to make your own cold brew and almond milk.

Espresso Granita (Recipe from Bon Appetit)

On a recent trip to Italy, one of my friends tried an Espresso Granita for the first time, describing the drink as “sweet espresso with the consistency of a slushy.”

Condensed Milk Iced Coffee (Recipe from Delicious Shots)

If you’re more into coffee with a Spanish twist, try this Condensed Milk Iced Coffee. In Spain, this drink is known as the Cafe Bombón. When I was in college, I’d often have this drink at the Espresso Royale Cafe near Boston University. The location is now called Pavement Coffeehouse.

Got a favorite recipe of your own? Please feel free to share in the comments.

3 Rituals to Practice Mindfulness

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Defining Mindfulness

Jon Kabat-Zinn, an author of several iconic books on mindfulness, defines mindfulness as “Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”

The Benefits of Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness has many benefits, including the reduction of stress and emotional reactivity. Being mindful is also a key skill in caring for yourself. If you are being mindful, you are not beating yourself up over mistakes you have made, or worrying about what bad things might happen in the future. By grounding yourself in the present, you create a space in your mind that can be free from anxiety.

A Ritual for Waking Up in the Morning

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Those moments when you first wake up can go a long way to helping you prepare to have a pleasant day. In the evening, write down your chosen mantra on a piece of paper and place it under your pillow. If you’ve been feeling worried, you might write, “I can handle whatever challenges come my way.” If you have been unkind towards yourself, try writing, “I am someone deserving of love.”

As soon as you wake up, take out the slip of paper and read it. You can do this out loud or in your head. Say it over and over again, meditating on this mantra. After a few minutes, you can think about all the ways in which the mantra is true. By mindfully focusing on the mantra, you are able to start your day off on a positive note.

A Ritual for Mindful Eating

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When you are eating a meal or drinking a beverage, bring your focus to the sensations of taste and smell. Looking to your five senses can keep you firmly in the present.

I find this especially helpful to do when sipping a hot beverage like tea or coffee. Start by smelling the aroma of the beans or the leaves. Then take your first sip. If it’s too hot, wait a few moments to let the drink cool down. You can also focus on your breath by softly blowing on the cup to help it cool.

Eating an entire meal mindfully is a greater challenge, since it involves being mindful for a longer period of time. Mindful eating can help you build a better relationship with food. If you are mindful about how you feel while eating, you will be able to notice when you are satisfied. Being mindful of your hunger and satiety will help prevent you from overeating. Noticing each bite of your food will also make the food more pleasurable to eat.

Practice Mindfulness Through Journaling

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For this exercise, take out a pen and paper, or a notebook, if you have one. Set a timer for 5 minutes and write anything that you’re thinking at this moment. After you write each thought, let it go and move on to the next one. The idea is not to linger on any one thought in particular.

For example, you might start writing down a worry, but once you finish writing it, you can move on to an entirely different thought. Maybe your next sentence will be a thought about the delicious dinner you had with your friends, or how grateful you are to live where you live. If you are finding trouble letting go of each thought, try writing, “I let this go” after each sentence.

Another way to bring yourself to the present when writing is to focus on the way that you hold your pen and write your words. Think about each letter and how your hand moves across the page. Being aware during the act of writing, as you are writing, is an easy technique to focus on the present and to approach your thoughts without judgment.

If you are interested in learning more about topics like mindfulness and self care, please subscribe to my email list below. 

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Celebrating with an Afternoon Tea

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One of my favorite things to do is to go to an Afternoon Tea. This past weekend, Tom and I celebrated our 3rd anniversary together at the Langham Hotel in Boston, MA.

If you’re unfamiliar with Afternoon Tea, it’s an English tradition that started in the 1840’s when the Duchess of Bedford, Anna Maria Russell, invited her friends over for tea and food.

These days, Afternoon Tea is a lovely meal that usually includes a pot of tea, tiny sandwiches, scones with jam and clotted cream, and petite desserts.

Going to an Afternoon Tea is one of the things that makes me feel really good. It’s a special treat that allows me to slow down, relax, and enjoy spending time with others.

Here are some photos from our Afternoon Tea.

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The Top Row (Left to Right): Cucumber and Butter Sandwich with Radishes, Lobster Sandwich
Bottom Row (Left to Right): Ham and Pickle on Brown Bread, Chicken Salad Sandwich

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Included in Photo Above: Chocolate Profiterole, Strawberry Mousse Tart, Lemon Meringue Cupcake with Blueberry, Cherry and Milk Trifle

DIY Afternoon Tea

If you’re looking to save money, I highly recommend that you host an Afternoon Tea in your home. This is something Tom and I are planning to do at some point over the summer.

If your friends enjoy dressing up, this could be an occasion that they can fancy it up for. Or if your group is more casual, have a relaxed dress code, and everyone can enjoy Afternoon Tea in casual clothes. You don’t even need to have a teapot. You could simply boil water in an electric kettle or on your stove top. If you don’t have tea cups, mugs will likely do just fine.

A DIY Afternoon Tea is a great way to spend time with your friends and take a break from the boozy bar scene. Though, if alcohol is a must, tea pairs very well with sparkling wine.

Tea Sandwich Recipes

To make sure your guests are well fed, be sure to provide them with a few kinds of tea sandwiches.

Here are some awesome recipes that I’ve found online:

Cucumber and Butter Sandwich – This is the classic Afternoon Tea sandwich. It’s surprisingly delicious for something so simple. This recipe calls for a vegetable peeler, but if you don’t have one, feel free to just thinly slice the cucumbers.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Sandwich – Who doesn’t love a sweet sandwich? Strawberries and tea go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Sharp Cheddar & Branston Pickle Sandwich – This sandwich includes a British pickled relish, made with several kinds of vegetables.

For even more suggestions, The Food Network has an extensive list of 50 Tea Sandwiches.

Scone Recipe

Finally, no Afternoon Tea is complete without a good scone. I recommend making plain ones and providing clotted cream, lemon curd, and strawberry jam. I’m going to try my hand at baking the Classic Scones Recipe by the King Arthur Flour company. This recipe combines 2 cups White Flour with 1 cup Whole Wheat flour.

Have you hosted or attended an Afternoon Tea? Let me know in the comments. 

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