Cosmos, K-Cups and Pour Over Coffee

supernovaI know you weren’t expecting to talk about space today but space is fascinating, so let’s all just take a second. We dream of going to space but the fact is that we are in space RIGHT NOW, and we always have been. I know, you meant you wanted to leave Earth and look into the star studded darkness for yourself. I hope (secretly believe) that space will become a more common travel destination in the not too distant future (talk about frequent flyer miles). Thankfully experiencing the expanse of the universe and all of it’s wonders isn’t completely out of reach. Insert Fox’s Cosmos. Yes, the majority of it is computer animated, and yes it can be totally cheesy, but the remake of this Carl Sagan classic is fully mind blowing. If you haven’t been tuning in, CLICK HERE to go catch up. I promise you will be left contemplating your own existence in the best way.

The real order of the day isn’t a far cry from mind blowing space stuff, I’m talking about COFFEE! I adore coffee. I don’t care if it’s good for you this week or not, it’s satisfying in a way that nothing else ever will be. But for every cuppa worthy of your time and affection there are about 10 cups so sub par you’re better off skipping it altogether. If you’re like me, and millions of people around the world, coffee is an important part of your day, every day. In my opinion, if you’re that devoted to something (consuming it daily) (sometimes more than once), then investing time and energy to produce the best result is worth your while.

Coffee Bean LifecyleTo up your coffee game, you need only consider two things. First, how was the coffee grown? Did you know “coffee is the heaviest chemically treated food commodity in the world”? By purchasing organic coffee you will not only protect yourself from these chemicals but also promote coffee harvesting that is less destructive to the land. To learn more about coffee harvesting and your purchasing power, visit this site.

Secondly, to create a cup deserving of you, consider your preparation method. There are many different brewing techniques, each with their own origins, but today I want to focus on two, the Keurig K-Cup method and the pour over method. Both methods yield a single cup of coffee but one comes at a much higher price. To start off, K Cups are adorable (although expensive) and there’s something satisfying and addictive about pushing down the lever to puncture the aluminum top. Then with the push of a few buttons, your coffee is brewing in your fave mug and you’re good to go! You feel like a real life Jetson. But all technology aside, I had never considered what is left behind, that aforementioned adorable cup.

My space age coffee odyssey jolted to a silent halt when my husband came across an article titled “Your Coffee Pods’ Dirty Secret”. Buckle up, it’s about to get turbulent. So what happens to that cute little coffee pod once it’s done it’s due diligence? Trash. At least 95% of them, because only 5% can be recycled. All of the K-cups sold in 2013 alone could wrap around the Earth 10.5 times! That’s 261,460 miles worth of plastic little cups. And remember how we are all supposed to be freaking out over heating plastic? Well, go ahead and freak out a little because Keurig refuses to reveal exactly what plastics 95% of their cups are made of. Meaning that luxurious morning cup has more than just your dose of caffeine, it also could contain carcinogenic plastic chemicals. If you aren’t beginning to sway yet, let me hit you where it really hurts, your wallet. By the pound, the most affordable K-cup coffees cost about $50. Even the most premium, organic, locally roasted coffee in Portland is less than $15 per pound. $15 per pound vs. $50, how does that work?

Are you totally bummin? Me too. Keurig’s are FUN you guys! But the pour over method is about to save this space/coffee blog post. Pour over, also called hand dripped coffee, is not a brewing technique to be left up to your barista professional. You can be the master of your own pour over universe and totally impress yourself (and all your friends) with every cup! Zetus lapetus!

Here’s what you’ll need.
1. Coffee Dripper

2. Cone Coffee Filter (#2)
3. Measuring Spoon
4. 2-3 tbps ground coffee (depending on desired strength)(preferably freshly ground)
5. Mug
6. Boiled Water, slightly cooled. (approx. 200°F)
7. A steady hand

pour-over ingerdientsBefore we get started, take note of the seam that runs down one side of the paper filter and across the bottom. The seam is delicate when wet, so be careful.
Start by setting about 10-12oz of water to boil. Meanwhile, insert your hand into the filter, with the nonseam side facing up. Gently wet the filter under running water.

wetting filterTo protect the seam at the bottom of the filter from splitting, fold it upwards and hold it there as you place the filter in the dripper. Gently form the filter to the dripper, folding the top over the sides if possible.

filterfilter2filter3

Place the dripper, fitted with filter, onto your mug. Use a coffee scoop or tablespoon to spoon 2-3 tablespoons of grounds (medium grind) into the filter. You’ll have to play with the ratio of grounds to water, depending on how strong you like your coffee. I use 3tbsp of medium roast coffee, ground on a medium grind to about 10oz of water. This results in a rich, full body cup of coffee. Once the grounds are in the filter, use the back of your spoon lightly to create a shallow well in grounds. This is really more to level the grounds out than to create a place for water to sit.

pour-overadding groundstamping

With your slightly cooled boiled water, slowly *SO SLOWLY* pour the water over the grounds in a circular motion, starting in the middle and making your way outwards until the grounds rise to the top of the dripper. Careful not to overfill the dripper. Once the coffee begins to filter down into the cup and the grounds begin to sink, pour a little more water in a circular motion to bring the grounds back to the top. Then STOP! Do not keep adding water or else your coffee will be watered down and not as wonderful, unless you’re into that sort of thing.pouringThis is what the pour motion looks like in gif mode

Pourover

Serve with cream and brownie

pour-over all done!Thanks to my husband for photographing! He takes amazing pics and you should check out his instagram, it’s unreal.

If you want to dive deeper into pour over technique there are plenty of “how to” videos, like this one. But with good coffee, the right ratio of water to grounds and a slow, steady pour, you’re going to have a great cup of coffee with minimal fuss. And if you didn’t notice, I am currently making the pour over coffee dripper you’ve seen in this post. You can go here to check it out!

Thanks for reading and come back soon to see…
Planters (springstyle)!
Big decisions and exciting things (reallifestyle)!

How about one more cosmic image to seal the deal?
Light and Love!

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 8.22.15 AM

Wild and Free

First, it has been over two months since my last post! Apparently, blogging is not a natural strength of mine but I refuse to give it up! Lots has happened, we’ve had visitors, we’ve been house hunting, my mom completed her treatments and my studio has seen standing water! All of those excellent excuses aside, I’ve got some stuff up my sleeve to aid me in creating content for this site. I’ll mention those things at the end of this post. For now, things are about to get wild and free, and happy.

Laurie's Mountain MugsMy mother in love, Laurie, has the courage to do what she thinks will make her the happiest (footsteps I try to follow in). While maybe it shouldn’t be, doing what you think will make you happy can be hard. It seems like the hard part might be figuring it out. What is it that will make you happy? It’s a tough question to answer, but once you realize where your happiness may reside, there is no running from it. I think the hardest part of trying to do what will make you happy is actually putting thoughts into action. Of course action would be the hard part.

Thoughts and wishes are private but action is out loud.

So what is this thing that makes Laur the happiest? Mountains. Mountains make her feel so many things but mostly very happy. When you’re trucking I-70 and the Rockies come into view, the feeling of the moment is inescapable. Somehow just having the mountains in view, you become a part of them. Mountains rule hard for real. We all agree.

Cutting to the chase, through a summer of discovery, Laur fell head over heels for Frisco, CO. Before long she had permanent plans to split her time between CO and KS. As of this winter she’s seen more inches of snow than I’ve ever heard of and has taken full advantage of it like a true Coloradian (is that right?)(IDC). She makes the drive between the two states often and instead of being bored to death of it, she kind of loves it. I have never known anyone so inspired by billboards. Like really inspired. When I titled this post wild and free, I meant free-thinker.

So what does this new CO life need more than anything? Mugs, of course. Mountain Mugs. These mugs are the cozy kind. The kind to warm up with après-ski. Two forest, two mountain, two summer, two winter. I think I covered all of the bases. IMG_7107

Lastly, Laur has a knack for expressing inspiration through photography and prose. She has begun to compile her KS-CO forays in a blog, which you can enjoy by clicking this sentence. FUN!

Now to reveal the aforementioned plans for this blog. I have a vision for this blog, it involves a lot of pottery, but it also involves the rest of my life and inspirations. So prepare yourself for that kind of thing!

Thanks for reading and come back soon to see…
Pour-over coffee (homestyle)!
Planters (springstyle)!
Big decisions and exciting things (reallifestyle)!

I’ll leave you with this photo from Laurie’s blog!
Light and Love!

http://lauriedsunderland.blogspot.com/

 

Mugs for Lovers

me mug circle

Behold my latest creations! I have been conceptualizing this design for a while. My initial vision for these mugs was as part of a Twin Peaks series. At the time my sketch book was littered with Dale Coopers, chevron and of course cherry pie. I wanted the mug itself to be reminiscent of the standard, mass produced mugs found in abundance at airports and gift shops. Think “World’s Best Boss” a la Michael Scott. Something Lucy might be drinking from as she answers phones at Twin Peaks PD.

Before I could slap a slice of fan art on even a single mug, I was inspired to paint the two things I see most and know best, the faces of myself and my husband (he has a great beard, it is true). The results were better than I could have expected. There is something magical about drinking from a mug with your face on the front. It’s like you’re never alone and you always have something to laugh at.

me mug faces I can see these mugs being great for couples (my MIL suggested they would make a great wedding gift) (she’s right). But I can see these mugs going beyond paired portraits of lovers. Also consider these as a great investment for BFFs, siblings, office mates or you and your favorite cat (just don’t tell the other one). Possibilities are varied and endless.

Click here to place an order of mugs for lovers on my Etsy site. For each mug I will need a photo to create the character. To create these portraits, I first carve a wreath as a frame and then use a high pigment black ink to paint the visages onto bare clay. They are then finished with food safe glazes (of course!) and fired to 2200°.memugs

Joy

JC

Meet Joy! To her face, Mom, to my family, JC and to everyone else, Joy. I could write books all day about how great I think my mom is, but this post is actually about something we all really hate. Cancer.
My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in July. She was incredibly lucky to have found her breast cancer early (herself, I might add!) (keep doing those home exams ladies!) and her prognosis was great. By the end of August she had already undergone a double mastectomy and in the beginning of October she received the first of six chemotherapy treatments. My mom has had an incredible attitude throughout the entire process. Even when the reality of the situation begins to hit you, it’s hard to be anything but in awe of her positive energy. Even when she reached the point in treatment she thought would be one of her biggest hurdles, shaving her head, she didn’t cry but smiled throughout the entire appointment (so my Dad says). Turns out she has been hiding a perfect bald head under hair all these years and she would tell you that everyone should shave their head once in their lives. She finds it freeing in a way. Instead of being struck down by her situation, she has allowed herself to be inspired by it. And I have to think that a lot of her inspiration has come from the amazing support she has been shown by so many. Joy is greatly loved and we are so grateful to her for fighting to be with us. I don’t know what we would do with out her.
703Davis_Sunderland_WD
Joy is not the only inspired one in our family. My father, a gifted writer, created the blog  “Alphabet Soup” to share the breast cancer journey, the moments spent laughing and crying alike. I have been inspired to create a piece of pottery to serve as a reminder that there is always hope. As you can see the Hope Mug has no certain shape. Like the women breast cancer affects, it seems as though their shape is conjured by the spin of the wheel, out of no design. But, again, like those women, these mugs stand united under the same message, there is hope.

All proceeds from the Hope Mug sales will be donated to breast cancer prevention research, donated to hope.Hope Mugs

Joy.
The word alone tells you almost everything you need to know.

 

website launch!

Screen Shot 2013-12-15 at 3.09.48 AMChristmas came early this year, as the website is up and running! Stay tuned for new wares, inspirations, how-it’s-made and the occasional recipe!

Lately I’ve felt pulled in every direction while trying to develop bas pottery. I want to do so many things, I get excited about them all at once and end up with just bits and pieces. I’m working on my focus. Getting the website to a functional place is a big check off the list. I’m excited to share more details about what I make and what it’s like to run a one person pottery parade.

IMG_5282

It might be a bit early for looking toward the new year but I have a really big goal on the horizon, make more local sales. There are so many reasons for selling locally, listing them all would almost be embarrassing. Finding a way to sell locally presents challenges though, like the matter of where. The answer was in my very own front yard earlier this month. The photo above is from the small scale holiday art show put together by myself and a few friends. We made about 20 sales on one of the coldest days Portland will see this year. It felt good to be out there in the public with my pots, out of the basement, out from behind the computer. I love the chance to truly interact people, in person. Don’t get me wrong, as I sit here blogging, I love the internet and the far away people who inhabit it, but understanding happens on a different level when expressions can be seen and tones heard. I find both helpful when discussing art and function. And boy do I love a good discussion, just ask anyone.

Make more local sales. This coming year I am looking forward to more of that.