Brewing the Perfect Morning Cup with Big Shoulders Coffee

The ideal morning routine: Wake up, take a big morning stretch, walk out to find a barista making you an americano in your kitchen and a yoga teacher waiting in your living room to get you flowing.  Oh dreams!  More likely, you are running around with one shoe on wondering where you dropped your car keys the night before.

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Delicious aromatic coffee can help you feel like your wacky mornings are a little more relaxed.  Coffee isn’t only a eye opener in the morning but research studies show it can boost your workouts, improve mental clarity, and sneak some antioxidants into our cute “Bloggers gonna blog” coffee mug.

However, the way we go about brewing that coffee can make a huge difference in our morning jolt of java.

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We studied the intricacies of brewing the perfect cup two weekends ago at the Windy City Blogger Collective private roasting session at Big Shoulders Coffee. Founder, Tim Coonan, gave us an all bean access tour of The Roastery, where Big Shoulders coffee beans are delicately processed, like a green coffee caterpillar becoming an espresso butterfly.  As an artisanal micro-roaster, the company builds fair trade relationships and creates unique crafted blends and single origin coffees with bold tastes (herbs, toffee, dark chocolate) .

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Along with watching the coffee roasting process, we asked pointed questions to get to the real issue that many coffee guzzlers want to know.  How do we make the perfect cup of coffee?  Founder, Tim Coonan, poured out tips to ensure that each coffee brew is the best for you.

For us humdrum Autodrip consumers (that’s us!):

  1. Keep your coffee pot clean!!  Kate’s mom recommends 3 rinses with white vinegar to reduce mineral build up, followed by 2 rinses of water to get rid of the vinegar taste.
  2. Use fresh coffee.  The recommendation was that a ground bag of beans should last a week.  Get chugging coffee fans.
  3. Measure out 2 tablespoons of freshly ground Big Shoulders coffee per 6 ounces of water.
  4. Brew and enjoy!

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For the coffee savvy Chemex, Kalita Wave or Clever Dripper user (Tim’s personal faves for home brewin’):

  1. Again, keep your brewing vessel clean.
  2. Choose fresh Big Shoulders coffee and use within a week.
  3. Stop grinding the life out of your coffee (aka don’t grind coffee too fine)!  Match the grind to the brewing method.  Tim recommends a burr grinder.
  4. Using a scale, focus on the ratio of 1 part coffee to 15 parts water.  We hope you are good at math on this one.  Note: phones have calculators so…no excuses.
  5. Heat filtered water to 204 degrees.
  6. Now it’s time to put on your hipster clothes and get down to the Pour Over method.  Bloom the coffee by pouring in enough water to moisten coffee grounds but not to brew.
  7. After 1 minute of blooming, begin the brew the coffee by carefully pouring remaining water and controlling brewing time (3-4 minutes total) by slowing or stopping the pour as needed.

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Thank you Windy City Blogger Collective for the coffee connection and Tim Coonan for the tips and tour!  Big Shoulders, situated at 1105 West Chicago Ave, is sold at various Chicagoland locations, like Target and Whole Foods, or you can purchase coffee online.  Now go find that other shoe and get to work, coffee cup in hand:).

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Ladies, This Weekend in Chicago is for Brunchin’ and Burnin’

Yes, it’s Monday and we are already dreaming of the weekend.  Those lazy Saturdays where you roll out of bed, throw your hair into a messy top knot and meet up with your gal pals for a hearty brunch.  This weekend, twist up the routine by adding some blowouts and beauty goody bags to that brunchin’.  Join Kathy Ruda, HERFITNESS health and fitness blogger, in her quest to raise funds for AVON 39 and breast cancer awareness.

Are you Burnin’ to hear all the Brunchy details?

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*Currently all workout classes offered at Brunch x Burn are full but Kathy is looking to expand them.  Stay alert by following the Brunch x Burn event on Facebook, fit family!*

When: May 22nd, 2016, 1-3 pm

Where: Equinox Gold Coast, 900 N. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL

Brunch: Fuel your day with healthy juices from JuiceRx and tasty pastries from Beatrix

Blowouts and Braids: Check the Brunch x Burn page for updates! Blowout Junkie will make ya look fabulous (um hello blowouts usually cost like $35 and up so this ticket is a steaalllll)

Benefits: You will feel like a charitable goddess as you shake your glossy blown out hair. Bring some cash to for the raffle table and prep yourself for a bounty of giveaways.  Each guest will also receive a free HERFITNESS goodie bag filled with healthy snacks & discount cards from sponsors (think free passes to Equinox, Kind bars and more).

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Cost: Only $15 and your donation goes directly towards to AVON 39: The Walk to End Breast Cancer.

Tickets! brunchxburn.splashthat.com or Follow Kathy on IG @kathyruda

Oo La La: Fresh French Fare in Humboldt Park

You relax with an espresso in one hand and a flaky croissant at finger tips reach.  Sun beams on you as you slowly sip and watch the world go by.  If you got no money for Europe but want to take a lunch mini vacay, Cafe Marie Jeanne is a tiny escape for your hour.

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Only 6 months out of opening, Cafe Marie Jeanne is situated in a prime corner of Humboldt Park.  This Parisian inspired cafe is nestled in a quiet yet booming restaurant area so you still feel serene when visiting.

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Executive Chef Mike Simmons, part owner, is an import from nearby Rootstock wine bar and yummy Lula Cafe in nearby Logan Square.  The menu focuses on a la carte grab and go items mixed with more hearty lunch and dinner fare.  Vegan and veggie options are available and there is a smattering of seafood for pescatarian as well.  A small wine and cocktail menu make this an unharried bunch destination as well.  Don’t trust the menu online, however, as Cafe Marie Jeanne picks up local produce, thus switching up some of the offerings based on what is most fresh and seasonally tasty.

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We noshed on 3 different dishes to get a feel for their lunch service.

Curried Sweet Potato Soup

April, with snow and rain, and even the first day of May have not been too kind to us Chicagoan.  This steamy and creamy bowl of soup warms the soul with fragrant curry that tampers down the sometimes saccharine sweet potato.

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Raclette with Seasonal Roasted Vegetables

Our culinary pièce de résistance — Think of this as a fancy grilled cheese piled high with heart healthy veggies.  Roasted root vegetables give the sandwich a savory and filling profile.  The raclette, a semi-hard  cow’s milk cheese, is a magic melter, giving the crusty homemade bread a smattering of delicious fondue like goodness.

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White Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce

Funny story about white asparagus – many people don’t know it exists.  It’s like a ghost veggie.  Dig this weird veggie fact: white Asparagus lacks pigment because it is kept buried and deprived of sun, almost like it’s in a veg bomb shelter.  The lack of chlorophyll gives it a pale complexion in addition to it being more tender and mild than it’s hulk counterpart.  We liked the easy crunch of the asparagus but couldn’t taste anything outstanding in the hollandaise sauce.  Side note: it’ll still make your pee smell funny.

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Quick tip: Looking to explore more than one spot in the neighborhood?  Restaurant hop and grab a homemade piece of hibiscus key lime pie across the street at Spinning J, break out your cash and do a night cap at California Clipper or sip on more wine at Rootstock — all within walking distance!

 

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Ride into the Sunset with Divvy Bike Week!

Celebrate Earth Day, C’mon (sing with us)! Keep your Earth Day vibes going on all week with Divvy Bike Week!

April 22-29, 2016 is officially “Divvy Week!” and you can all reap the green benefits.

 

New Membership Perks:

  • Become a member during Divvy Bike Week and, BAM, you’ll get a Chipotle gift card with your new membership to refuel with a burrito, bowl, or tacos after a long bike ride.

Current Divvy Peeps:

Take a bike break and stretch your legs with two free walking tour passes from the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF).

Flash your Divvy key at the CAF Shop & Tour Center (224 South Michigan Avenue 9am – 9pm daily) to snatch those passes. Check the CAF schedule for available tours and don’t get too fancy-some tours may require an additional charge.

Insta-kings and queens:

Choose Chicago and Divvy join forces to display the best of the best Divvy pics from talented photogs.

How to win!!

  • Tag your duck faced Divvy usies and post your photos on Twitter or Insta using the hashtags #MyChicagoPix & #DivvyBikes
  • Faves will be shared throughout the week on Divvy’s social media
  • 6 talented gurus will win a free Divvy Membership, and Divvy stations will be decorated with the pics.

Follow the trails of all these goodies all week with the hashtag #DIVVYWEEK or snoop at Divvy’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

 

-Picture courtesy of Divvy/Naked Juice-

 

Divvy Week

Nutrition Gets Fancy With Curate Snacks

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Us gals are always on the look out for new healthy and interesting grab n’ go snacks.  Call it the too busy syndrome or too curious syndrome.  Balancing full time jobs with our passion for blogging sometimes leaves us with … Continue reading

Chicago Bucklist: 360 Chicago!

As a local Chicagoan, sometimes the best of our city is hiding right beneath our noses (or way way way above our heads)!  Our normal views of the city include looking at monstrous traffic on the Dan Ryan expressway off our back porch or driving up Lake Shore drive to catch the waves out our window.  We are on Cloud 9 now that we visited 360 Chicago.  Formerly known as the John Hancock, 360 Chicago lives up to its name with spectacular 360 views of our pretty city and a newly renovated space.

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Now, us 606-zip code Chicago residents can score a sweet discount of half off admission.  360 Chicago features the ONLY tilting attraction in the world, aptly named…Tilt!  Giggle and gasp as you extend out and over the city in double pane glass at 1,000 feet above.  8 people at a time can Tilt!, so grab your best buds for moral support.

Local tip: There’s a bar and snack area, the Architect’s Bar, where you can gain some liquid courage if you need it!

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Sunset Series

How do you decide when to go?  360 Chicago has themed events, called the Sunset Series, to elevate your interests.  All events are from 6-9 p.m. unless otherwise noted.


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Mondays (Encourage your Inner Artist): Photography Night

On Mondays ONLY, photographers can bring in tripods to heighten their insta-fame and catch gorgeous skyline scenery.  Professional photographer, Nick Ulivieri, will be on hand with contests and learning segments throughout the year.

Tuesdays (Friends and Family Friendly): Chicago Architecture Foundation Night

Chicago Architecture Foundation volunteers are available to give you the deep dish on Chicago’s rich architecture scene and the buildings that star in our skyline.

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Thursdays (Perfect for You and Your Boo): DJ and Dancin’

Mode Events makes sure your night is “on fleek” with live DJs and a sunset toast.

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Get ready for summer too because 360 Chicago has the scenes to fit your light show dreams.  During Wednesdays and Saturdays, beat the heat and rest your feet on 360 Chicago’s cozy furnishings, as you gaze at the Navy Pier seasonal fireworks.

Other Upcoming Events

For Football Fanatics:
During the madness of the NFL Draft in Chicago (weekend of April 28-30), rep an official team jersey and buy a 360 Chicago admissions ticket to Tilt! for free!
Honoring our Veterans:
In May, sample the special cocktail, The Yellow Ribbon, and a portion of proceeds will help ChicagoVets.org.
Military veterans and active duty members to visit 360 Chicago FREE throughout Memorial Day weekend (May 27-30).

What are you waiting for?  Get your superman on and impress visiting friends, fam and your Air B and B guests (ha) with 360 Chicago.

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Where: 360 Chicago 875 N. Michigan Avenue, 94th Floor in Chicago, IL.

For more info, weekdays 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., call 312-751-3681.  All other times, please call 312-654-2892 or visit www.360chicago.com.