Tuesday, March 15, 2022

New Coffee Offering from Lardera (by adagioteas)

Complimentary samples of the coffee were provided so that I could try them and share my expierence.

I recently was introduced to Lardera coffee, offered by the same people that are behind Adagio Tea. Lardera offers four single-origin medium roasts, all sourced directly from Costa Rican farmers. The farms are located in two different regions of Costa Rica which is a contributor to the flavor that the different beans deliver.
Its "direct from farmer's" advantage bypasses brokers and middlemen. This allows Lardera to source the freshest beans whiles ensuring that the farmers receive the largest percentage of payment. Each farmer is highlighted with their own unique "know your farmer" profile. Read about how they got started in the industry and what makes their coffee worthy of the Lardera name. And, with samples starting at only $3 each, Lardera makes it easy to sample its assortment without committing to larger quantities.
One of the things that I like about their approach is the direct link to the farmer and that most of the money is going to the farmers. I found it interesting to read up on each of the farmers and learn more about them and their farms. There are four farmers that Lardera sources their fresh coffee from.

Lardera offers their coffee both as a whole bean coffee, or ground coffee - for those like me that don't have a coffee grinder (I did see though that Lardera also offers gear for grinding and brewing coffee) and in two sizes, 2 oz samples and 6 oz packages.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have taken the time to try each coffee a couple of times so that I could share my experience with you.

Catuai Anaerobic
I chose to try this one first because of the description on the package:
fruit bomb with lush notes of cherry, black currant, passion fruit and cocoa
I was intrigued, I don't know that aside from a flavored coffee that I had seen so many fruit notes listed for a coffee. I made a half carafe in my coffee maker using the classic brew style (you can learn more about my new coffee maker here). I decided that I wanted to taste it black so that I could really taste the coffee.
In my first taste, I was impressed with the coffee. It didn't have any of the bitter notes that I generally assoicate with coffee. It was flavorful and had body. I definitely picked up fruit notes (I couldn't have named them without the description likely but still noted it had fruity notes). In fact, it was so smooth and had such a great flavor that I realized that this was a coffee that I could absolutely drink black and enjoy. My current creamer is a sweet cream though, so I decided to give it a try in my second mug.
The sweet cream enhanced the flavor and the smoothness of the coffee, in my opinion. This is definitely a coffee that I will buy again.

Catuai Honey
Since I liked the first one that was called Catuai, I decided to try this one next.
complex blend of juicy clementines, tart cranberries, and ripe pomegranate
This coffee was also very good. I found it flavorful and full bodied. I could detect the touch of tart associated with the fruity notes it listed. I really appreciate how smooth the coffee is. Not only can I enjoy it without cream, I also found that when my last mug got cold, it was still enjoyable without that bitter note.
I did however decide to add cream at this point to make it more of a sweet drink, since it wasn't a hot beverage anymore. This is a coffee that I would buy again.

Kenya Washed
I decided to try this one third, choosing it based on the description.
layered notes of juicy citrus accented by sweet sugar cane and milk chocolate
Sweet sugar cane and milk chocolate remind me of a dessert, a treat. Based on the last two I had tried, I did start with this one black.
It was good. The citrus notes hit early but I didn't feel that the sugar cane and milk chocolate popped liked I expected. Then, I added a splash of cream. This brought foward the notes of sweet and of milk chocolate. It was very good. I could drink this coffee black but most likely I would add the cream to deliver on that treat expectation that the description gave me. As with the prior two, a coffee that I would buy again.

Tipica Honey
This was the fourth coffee that I tried, by default.
solid, well balanced cup with lingering notes of citrus, red apple, and pear
This coffee was a nice easy, smooth cup when I enjoyed it black.
It didn't have any noted pop like some of the others did but it was enjoyable in its simplicity. It also made the perfect canvas for a splash of creamer to really shine providing a smooth, creamy texture and a sweet flavor. I'm not sure that I would put this one at the top of my list but I certainly would enjoy it again.

Overall, I was impressed by all four of the coffees I tried. I was not surprised that I enjoyed the medium roast coffees, as I generally lean in that direction when I choose. I was impressed by how smooth they all were, the lack of bitterness or acidity on the tongue when enjoying it black. I definitely would recommend trying this coffee for yourself. You can try any of their coffees for just $3 for a smaple size, or if you are a drinker of single origin cofee, they have a free coffee offer that you can find on any of the coffee variety pages.

No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. Complimentary samples of the coffee were provided for my family and I to try, so that I could share my experience.

Friday, March 11, 2022

I think I'll go for a walk outside now...

As I started to write this post and tried to decide on a title, the first thing that came to my head was that starting lyric to a song that is now running through my head. If you aren't familiar, it is from the Brady Bunch and the song It's a Sunshine Day.

Two years ago, I committed to making time to get outside for at least a thirty minute walk each day. It was the start of COVID shutdowns. The kids were home from school, for two weeks to start (that later extended, as we all know). I knew that I needed to make time to stay active, and not just sit in the house all day. With everyone home, I knew I would benefit from some me time, doing something just for me. I also knew that I needed the mental break, a chance to get away from the news and everything.

So, I headed out that Saturday for a walk. I was pretty close to 30 minutes the first few days, because the pool at the Y was still open and I was putting a couple of miles in in the pool each day. When the Y closed, along with gyms, I was left with just walking and started to stretch my walk most days to a longer. In the beginning, I was unemployed and I tended to walk mid-day. As time passed, I finally was reemployed and I started to mix it up and walked in the morning or the evening working around my schedule. I had a couple of different paths that I took around the neighborhood but started to see people outside on my walks. Some commented, most just said hi.

Of course, living in Northeast Ohio, many of my days were not Sunshine Days, perhaps the quote from Greek historian, Herodotus is more appropriate - “Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these courageous couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” Somedays, I was limited on where I could walk based on snow or ice. Other days, I was ducking under the trees to stay dry for a few minutes. Regardless of the weather and the degree of light or dark, I found a way to get out and walk. Most days were by myself but occassionally, I was joined by friends. When I walked with others, we tended to go much further and for a longer time then when I walked on my own. I got to enjoy seeing the seasons progress and some beautiful sunrises. I fell a few times on ice but I got back up and kept going.

When the first year wrapped up, I decided that I would keep my streak going. In some ways, the streak serves as motiviation that I need to keep going. I wouldn't want to fall short of completing the year, especially as I got closer to the year mark and it was cold and snowy.

As of this morning, I have completed 104 weeks of getting out and walking at least 30 minutes every day, regardless of the weather or around whatever was on my schedule that day. Some days I struggle to get going but I am never not glad that I saw it through. Walking in the morning is invigorating and a great way to start my day, walking during the day is a great way to take a break and get away from the stresses of life, walking in the evening is a great way to wind the day down. The fresh air, the sunshine, the beauty of nature, all make it worth my while. Even in a rain storm, I get to see the beauty of trees reflected in the puddles and the occassional rainbow. Snow is pretty and peaceful, especially in the early morning before it has been disturbed. Whenever and wherever I walk, i am glad that I am doing it every day. Hopefully, this time next year, I will be sharing that I completed another full year, that I have 156 consecutive weeks of getting outside for at least a 30 minute walk each day.

Friday, March 4, 2022

Bright Lights, Prairie Dust by Karen Grassle

Growing up, I have memories of heading downstairs on Monday nights to watch Little House on the Prairie. Given my age and the show's run from from 1974 to 1982, I must have picked it up in the 5th or 6th season. Likely, it was shortly before I started reading the books that I started to watch the show. I caught the older episodes in reruns (syndication) and was totally into the show. Of course, it romanticized the life of a family on the prairie, showing some of the hard work and hardships but mostly focusing on the family and the great times that they had together.

Of course, as with most shows that run that long, you become attached to the characters and you begin to identify the actors as those poeple. Sure, there were lots of celebrity guests that there was no problem coorelating them to other roles. I remember the first time I saw Melissa Gilbert in another role and how strange it was to see her in a modern day setting.

When I read a few months back that Karen Grassle was releasing a book, I decided that I wanted to read it and promptly placed a hold on it at the library. I started reading it last month and finished it up a few days ago, coincidentally on Karen Grassle's 80th birthday (February 25th). I was scrolling Facebook and there was a birthday wish to Karen Grassle - how did it know that I was reading that book, that is one of many things that always surprise me a bit.

Grassle lead a very interesting life, far differnt than the character I knew from the show. Obviously, that is to be expected but still there were so many things in her life that I didn't know about. She struggled to get where she is and overcame a lot of obstacles on her journey.

I had in part expected that there would be more about Little House on the Prairie in the book but really, the focus was on Grassle's life - the challenges and obstacles that she faced, how she dealt with them and eventually overcame many of them. The book was engrossing and reasonably well-written, although there were times where it followed a path to tie up a loose end and then returned to the time that she went off on the tangent. She tells her story with honesty and perspective.

I enjoyed learning more about her parents, her childhood and her sister. You could feel the love for her parents and knew that she was raised in a loving home - "All they wanted was to have a family, give them a good education and be able to tell anyone to go to hell" - even though it was troubled with addictions and her parent's coping methods were not always ideal. I found it interesting that as a child she studied ballet, and was pretty good at it, before moving into acting. I enjoyed learning about her growing up, her college years and the time that she spent in England on a Fulbright Fellowship to the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

She brought the reader along for the journey as she pursued her dreams, with financial support when needed from her parents, in the tumultuous era of the 60s and 70s. She found her fair share of trouble and actively sought counseling to help her through things. She was a participant and supporter of the activism that was part of coming of age in that era, and there was evidence of the influence it had on her as she continued to be an advocate for change. Her experiences working in the theatre and her classical training were influential in how she approached acting throughout her career. It was interesting to learn about the shifts that she had to make in approach as she moved into television and the schedules that they keep in television series.

When we first meet Michael Landon in her book, I totally expected a great relationship but as I continued I learned about several struggles that she experienced. I was not aware of those issues, like her struggle to acheive fair compensation. and never would have guessed it based on all my years watching the show, both while new and in reruns. It was interesting to learn more about some of the other actors and which she was friend's with off the set. I was not aware of the other side projects that she had worked on while filming Little House on the Prairie, including a show that she helped research, write and act in about abusive relationships. A show that impacted a lot of people and drove change for the good.

In the last bit of the book, she shared with the reader about finally recognizing that she needed help with her alcoholism. The efforts she made, the support she needed and the struggles as she sought to overcome it and move forward. She talked about the life that she was able to start to live. About finding love and having a family.

All and all, I enjoyed getting to know Karen Grassle for who she is and where she came from. She did a good job telling her story; honestly sharing with the readers about her life, her values, her challenges, her mistakes and her achievements. I liked learning about her life experiences and the people that crossed her path and how both impacted her life and the person she became. She faced many struggles and challenges and wasn't proud of some of the things that she had done but as she turned 80, I think she is good with where she is and who she ultimately is. In my mind, she will always be Ma living on the Prairie with Pa and the kids but now I feel like I know the rest of her story.

No compensation was received for this review and I got the copy I read through my local library. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family.