Happy Halloween from Agent Otto and his Odd Ewok!

October 31st, 2016

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HEY JUDE with IVY SCHULTE from LUX

October 26th, 2016

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My 6 year old Jude loves music, especially beat boxing. When I began sampling tracks from my college sweet mate’s debut album PAX, Jude and I couldn’t help but to dance. His little voice echoed the brilliant vocals of Ivy and Jake. The music was addictive. So we asked Ivy Schulte from the band LUX for an interview… “with a kid“. Thanks LUX for being such an example for a little music loving boy. Oh, did I mention that Ivy is an incredible GIRL drummer?


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What is the most rock star thing you have ever done? Definitely standing while playing the drums. The chair spins and I have to have super balance. I am sure I will crash and burn someday…

If you could have one super power, what would it be? Fly, then I wouldn’t have to pay to travel. It would be incredible to see everything from above. I am very adventurous and like a good rush. I would fly as high and fast as possible to the top of a building and jump off, only flying up when I almost hit the ground. Really, I am a sucker for a thrill.

What is your favorite junk food? I don’t really eat bad, I am super healthy but when I do, PIZZA and cookie dough.

How did you learn to play the drums? I taught myself. At the age of 12, I asked my parents for a drum set. They told me drums were for boys and instead they bought me a guitar. I would set out pots and pans and practice drumming to the Beatles and oldies. I saved up my money (with the help of my parents) bought my own drum set.

What is your favorite music (greatest musical influence)? John Mayer and Dashboard Confessionals.

Elvis or Michael Jackson? Michael. I feel Elvis was in it for the women, to make the ladies swoon. Michael Jackson has the dance moves. Michael’s heart was in the music, you could tell that he genuinely lived to perform.

If you could learn to play any other instrument what would it be? I would love to get better at the guitar, really shred, rip some sweet guitar solos. Oh, and the kazoo would be fun!

Any other thoughts for kids out there? Kids, when trying something new, don’t give up when it gets hard. Practice what you love; over, and over and over. When you mess up or make mistakes, work through the frustration. It is hard for everyone at first.


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With their age difference over a decade and their height difference over a foot, LUX is an uncanny duo of synths, drums, and explosive harmonies. Both from Springfield, MO, Ivy Schulte and Jake Rogers began playing together in 2012 and are set to release their debut album, PAX on October 7, 2016. PAX and the leading single, Abstract is a reflection of life, youth, and the aftermath of devastation. LUX plans to tour after the release of the album. 

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Over the years, Schulte and Rogers have discovered an elusive energy as a duo. The sound of LUX is influenced by the spirit of the ‘80s and the beat of the blues, carefully weaving acoustic drums and vocals with tracks of synth, organ, and piano layers. Together, Schulte and Rogers write all their lyrics and produce all their songs.  At any given show, the duo is clad in identical, vibrant outfits and an unequal person-to-instrument ratio, with Schulte on the  acoustic drums, electronic drums, and guitar and Rogers on three keyboards and a keytar. Over the years, LUX has had the opportunity to open for artists such as Andy Grammer, Ingrid Michaelson and Phillip Phillips. LUX has also played several festivals including the Center of the Universe Festival in Tulsa, OK.

FREE DOWNLOAD OF JUDE’S FAVORITE SONG!

Follow LUX

FB: https://www.facebook.com/luxtunes/

IG: @luxsucks

TWITTER: @luxsucks

Contact and booking: musicbylux@gmail.com

 

Places to Visit: Steadfast Coffee in Nashville Tennessee

September 29th, 2016

Interview with Jamie Cunningham of Steadfast Coffee

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[photography by Ethan Covey – @ecoveyphoto]

About Steadfast

Steadfast Coffee in Nashville, TN is known for hospitality and quality.

“While we do everything in our power to roast and serve the best coffee possible, coffee itself isn’t actually the core of our company. It’s our guest.”

Jamie started Steadfast with two other founders. The partners met while working for local coffee companies around the city of Nashville, helping these businesses grow and succeed. The trio had a dream of their own, to create a unique coffee culture, different from anything around the city of Nashville. Together they dreamed of creating a new kind of coffee experience and revised details until they had a plan for Steadfast. The team looked for investors because these passionate young adults didn’t have capital to establish a brick and mortar restaurant. Steadfast Coffee opened in April 2015, hiring a new staff and began building what is a now thriving business.

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[photography by Elana Staroselsky – @elanastar]

What is your favorite Steadfast drink? It depends on time of day, I may be reaching for something black and hot or iced. After lunch it may be a cappuccino or coffee soda. 

Steadfast is quickly becoming know for their proprietary coffee soda. Matchless coffee soda is brewed in large batches, 500 gallons of coffee at a time, flash chilled, sweetened with demerara sugar, carbonated and kegged. This innovative coffee soda is best served with a sliver of fresh orange peel. The Steadfast team is working towards canning and possibly shipping Matchless coffee soda around the country… I simply can not wait!

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[photography by Ethan Covey – @ecoveyphoto]

Jamie and I

Some of my fondest college memories involve Jamie, he really was the best of friends. Together we traveled across the country in a 15 passenger van performing with our theatre troupe, 26 weeks on the road. We attended so many concerts, ate great food and had adventures that will never be forgotten.

Each friend you meet in your life leaves a little mark on your heart. Jamie taught me that is was ok to be me, to be silly, to be different and to be passionate about what I love. He remains to be one of the most dedicated individuals I have had the pleasure of knowing and his passion shines through in his love for coffee and most of all people.

About Jamie

How did you start to cultivate your passion for coffee? I moved to Nashville in 2009. 7 years ago. I enjoyed coffee but didn’t know the difference between what was good or bad. I needed a job and found one working with my two friends, who were similarly excited about coffee. This fueled my passion. I allowed this passion to cultivate and grow as my friends and I brewed lots of coffee and studied coffee together outside of work. It really was about community. 

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[photography by Ethan Covey – @ecoveyphoto]

Brewing coffee at Steadfast: Overall, the Fetco company makes commercial brewers called the extractor series and this is what we use in our shop. These machines are highly programmable. In the hands of the right person, these brewers make perfectly extracted coffee EVERY TIME. Most people think it tastes better than coffee from other shops brewed using hand methods. Our machines are programed perfectly, they never mess up, they never get distracted, they never feeling tired or have a bad day. 

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[photography by Elana Staroselsky – @elanastar]

Quality coffee in every cup. Steadfast does not use any pour over methods in their shops. However, I wanted to know how Jamie brews coffee at home…

How do you  brew coffee at home? There are so many different types of brewers and types of brands on the market. The Kalita Wave is the pour over type which I believe results in the perfect pour over cup, other brands have flaws. The design of this particular pour over brand makes consistency and great extraction possible.

The only way to brew really good coffee at home is to invest in the right equiptment. If you are not grinding fresh whole bean coffee, you will struggle. The Capresso Infinity is a reasonably priced grinder and a great entry level burr grinder with conical burrs. The rpms of the Capresso are slow enough that it doesn’t heat up the coffee and the grind particle distribution is very consistent.  

Once you have a great grinder you need to look to your recipe. What is the water to coffee ratio? There are all kinds of recipes out there, the ones that work well measure ingredients in grams. I use the Escali kitchen scale to measure coffee and water. The best recipes use a specific ratio, anywhere between 1 to 16 – 1 to 18. For example, for every gram of coffee you need between 16-18 grams of water. At Steadfast we brew at 1 to 16.9 grams, at home rounding to an even 17 grams. These two things alone, grind and recipe, will make your coffee infinitely more better, you will taste the increase in coffee quality. 

Any other at home brewing tips? Yes, temperature control. Electric at home drip coffee brewers rarely heat water hot enough, 195-205 degrees, for proper coffee extraction. If you are brewing by hand and using a kettle, start with water directly off the boil, 212 degrees is boiling. In between pours place your kettle back on the heat to maintain the proper water temperature. 

Whole bean coffee purchasing? I tend to think through two things when purchasing whole bean coffee; first, what kind of values does the company have; where their money is going and two, what kind of quality am I pursuing. It is my goal to purchase the highest quality coffee. There are two major kinds of coffee sold in the world, commodity vs. specialty. Coffee is a commodity traded on the stock market, the second largest only to oil. As well, coffee prices fluctuate similar to oil based on future need, politics, ect. Only a very tiny part of the coffee market is composed of specialty coffee. The lower quality commodity coffees can be found on the shelves of big chain supermarkets. People who are buying specialty coffees are generally local or regional; for example, Counter Culture, Stumptown, and Intelegista. What makes them difference other than how they are farmed produced and bagged… is at the hand of the roaster. A badly roasted coffee can turn even the best quality coffee bad. Once purchased whole beans need specialized hands and plenty of care to provide the best possible products. These kinds of coffee are our best shot as consumers. Taste the subtle nuances of a specialty coffee, roasted to perfection. Check your local or regional grocer to some of these speciality blends. 

[ My suggestion is that you grab a pound of Steadfast coffee for yourself! Whole bean Steadfast coffee can be purchased at http://steadfast.coffee]

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[photography by Ethan Covey – @ecoveyphoto]

Tips on Flavoring your coffee at home?  Stay away from flavored creamers and syrups from the grocery stores because the people making them don’t care about you. Make your own simple syrups at home. Coffee is complex and tastes really great with anything you could imagine, take your blinders off and have fun! Even if a particular flavor sounds crazy, it could taste incredible. Home made syrups will be infinitely better than what you purchase at store. Most things tastes good with coffee, sometimes you have to tinker and get a bit creative. In the past we have held competitions in the shop to create new, innovative flavors. One flavor that most surprised me was a cucumber simple syrup, it was simple and delicious. Another time, inspired by Thanksgiving, I made ginger and sage simple syrup with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Believe it or not, I have even made a cheese syrup, throwing in the rind of a hard cheese like parmesan, into the mix… just the right amount in a cortado is magical. 

Even at Steadfast we steer clear of mass produced vanilla syrup. We us demerara, which is a single origin sugar that has lots of vanilla notes in it. Quality products make all the difference.

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[photography by Kenzie Maroney – @kenzie.maroney]

Friends, if you are in the Nashville area, stop by Steadfast Coffee for a one of a kind experience. Great coffee. Great food. Even better people!

Motherhood & Hospitality

July 13th, 2016

HTP_8817For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me. Matthew 25:35

I am the mother of two little boys (Jude 6 years and Bear 8 months old) and so far, they are ALL BOY. Raising boys, I worry how my love for hospitality will influence their hearts. I spend hours in the kitchen preparing beautiful dishes of food, piled high to feed my friends and family. I love lighting candles, setting out cloth napkins and drinking from fancy, vintage glasses. To me, decorations and dessert are a necessity when entertaining guests. What guest doesn’t just love a good chocolate cake covered in sprinkles?  I worry how this desire in me to be the perfect host will translate in a home full of growing boys. Of course, I have come to the realization that my dream of playing tea probably won’t happen in my house unless light sabers or dirt pies are involved.

At the heart of hospitality is love, and the love of serving others is something that I can share with my boys. I can teach them to offer biblical hospitality through grace and courtesy, as we open our home and in the way we serve people.

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of writing an article on what motherhood means to me. I would love for you to visit Life of a Minister Mom to read the rest of this article as well as to download a free Hospitality at Home Chart to use in your home.

Oh how we love Kid President!

June 28th, 2016

Several years ago my heart was won by a sweet little Kid President, Robby Novak. Get ready to smile…

The Kid President is a little boy with BIG voice. Robby, with the help of his older brother in law, Brad, began to make videos because they wanted to encourage kids to make a difference in our world. “I believe kids can change the world. I also believe grown ups can change the world. It just takes all of us working together.” Watching his videos, I am always left giggling and feeling so good about the world. With so much negative on social media, it is so great to have a good example for my little buddy to look up too, even better that he is silly too.

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I have used several of the KP’s videos to teach Jude a few valuable lessons; like how to treat others with respect, to be thankful, that we have so many reasons to dance, oh and that corn dogs are awesome!
Being the huge FAN that I am, I ordered Jude (ok, me) the Kid President Box. Of. Awesome. from fanjoy, mostly because I had been eager to get my hands on the book, The Kid President’s Guide to being Awesome. The box also included a T-shirt, enamel pins, stickers, postcards and a few do-good items as well.

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“This is LIFE, people! You’ve got air coming through your nose! You’ve got a heartbeat! That means it’s time to do something!” I look forward to sharing with you a few projects I have in line for our family as we take on the challenge to MAKE OUR WORLD A BETTER PLACE.

One last thing…

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Aren’t these enamel pins just the best? Mom gets the pins.

Happy Father’s Day & Meatloaf

June 19th, 2016

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I know you would probably argue, but I happen to have the most wonderful grandfather in the world, my Gramp. I have never met anyone as self sacrificing, loving and hilarious as him. He was  and always be the greatest father in my life. He helped to raise me and to show me what it means to take care of family, to work hard and to love, love, love.  Every time I come home to Colorado for a visit, I know there will be an entire box of my favorite pink cherry chip cookies waiting for me on the counter and a pound of ground beef waiting in the refrigerator. Ground beef? Yes, the man loves a good meatloaf. I would love to one day cook him a very fancy meal; chicken marsala or maybe braised chicken in a white wine sauce… But no, just simple, classic meat loaf it is for him! And do not let me even try to add anything “fancy,” my gramp will catch it in a minute.

If I were home this Father’s Day this would be his treat. I nice hot slice of meatloaf and maybe a peach cobbler for dessert.

Happy Father’s Day to all my favorite fathers out there!

Classic Meatloaf

1 lb. ground chuck

1 small onion, chopped

1 green pepper

5-6 saltine crackers

2 eggs

1 clove of garlic

Salt and pepper

1 cup ketchup

1/2 cup brown sugar

Tabasco sauce

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Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Dice onion and bell pepper. In a large mixing bowl, combine onion, peppers, eggs, crumbled saltines, garlic and spices. There is no better way to combine a meatloaf (or meatballs) than through squishy finger but a rubber spatula will do as well. Do not overwork the mixture or your meat will become dense. Form raw meat into a loaf on sheet pan.

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Mix together ketchup and brown sugar. This is our family secret… this sauce is the bees knees and so simple. Spread half the sweet sauce on top of the loaf, reserving the rest to apply mid way through the baking.

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Surround vegetables around the edge of the pan for roasting. I enjoy potatoes, carrots, big chunks of onions or broccoli with my meatloaf. When roasting broccoli, I add them during the last 20 minutes of cooking. Bake for 60 minute or until meat temperature reads 155 degrees.

That’s it. Simple, classic meatloaf.

Enjoy!

On the Road: Panama City Beach, FL

June 13th, 2016

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I just wanted to share a few photos from our family vacation to Panama City Beach, Fl. Growing up in the mountains, I am still rather ackward jumping into flip flops and lounging by the ocean. The sand, the salt water, the JELLY FISH (eeek), I am still a little uncomfortable. I will admit few things beat lounging in the sun with a good book. I brought with me Brooklyn by  Colm Toibin and read it cover to cover. I rarely actually get into the ocean because I am a bit afraid of all the sea creatures, ha! When I finally braved the ocean waters with my little Jude man, a crab grabbed onto my pinkie toe and wouldn’t let go. I don’t think I have ever seen Jude laugh so hard. I am sure he will never stop telling that story… definitely worth the pinch.

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IMG_1678This was Bear’s first beach trip. He seemed to enjoy squishing the warm white sand in between his little toes. Sand was everywhere! I am thankful for a friend who shared with me the secret of using baby powder to help clean sand off of little faces and hands.

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My husband took our big buddy jet skiing. I was tickled because Jude continues to tell my how much fun he had with dad “ski diving.” The boys raced their jet ski out into the ocean and were able to find a whole school of dolphins playing around. Next, they stopped off at Shell Island to snorkel discovering tons of sea urchins, shells and lots of pretty coral. We used our new Ollo Clip macro lens to capture all the intricate patterns of our finds (sea urchin, hermit crab, sand dollar, coral).

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IMG_1547One afternoon we drove down to the little walking town of Seaside, FL. In Seaside we visited cute little boutique shops and ate lunch at a food truck strip. We couldn’t pass up trying a few toasty grilled cheese sandwiches from The Meltdown on 30A. We ordered sandwiches for the three of us; bacon, Brie on cranberry but bread for me, meatloaf for Jude and Spicy Turkey for Michael. The meatloaf sandwich was hands down our family favorite, melty mozarella, meatloaf, a thins slice of ham and marinara. We ended our lazy, strolling afternoon in Seaside with fresh juice from Raw and Juicy.

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We celebrated National Donut Day at the famous Thomas Donut and Snack Shack in Laguna Beach. We tried a dozen of their fun assorted flavors, the maple bacon was a hit but my favorite was the deliciously moist blueberry cake doughnut! We had a visitor for the weekend portion of our trip, our best buddy Amanda. Amanda is our nanny and Jude’s best friend in the whole wide world. She loved her swirly, extra cinnamon sugared treat.

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I am told it is a sin to visit PCB without trying out Pineapple Willy’s, there I ordered a giant icy cold virgin Pina Colada, perfect on a hot summer day.

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Each time we have made a trip to PCB my son leaves talking about “the upside down house,” Wonder Works Museum. As we drive along his face is usually squished against the window, screaming in excitement when he sees the building which looks as if it were lifted up into outer space and dropped (kerplunk) completely flipped upside down. Our last day in the city was overcast and rainy SO, Jude’s wish came true. Wonder Works is any kid’s dream; a tunnel that lets you feel 75 mile an hour winds, laying on a bed of nails, roller coaster simulators and more science labs than I could have imagined. Jude even got to step into an astronauts suit for a quick picture on the moon. Best buds and science… it doesn’t get any better.

Have you been to Panama City Beach? If so, what are your favorite places?

 

Wild Explorers Club

May 15th, 2016

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Oh summertime, how I love spending time outdoors (yes, even in the heat) exploring nature and soaking in the sun. I recently discovered the Wild Explorers Club and I couldn’t be more excited about the program. Wild Explorers Club is a monthly membership designed to ignite a heart for exploration and wonder in our kids.  The club includes weekly adventure assignments, monthly print magazine mailed to our home and lovely badges which are earned upon completion of each animal level. Each animal level is thoughtful planned out and so far include activities that our whole family can enjoy.

Wolf- embrace the life of an explorer

Bobcat- be relentlessly curious

Bear- learn new things

Elk- care for others

Fox- know how things work

Bison- read great books

Beaver- see adventure in everything

Owl- discover your passion

Hawk- make awesome things

Eagle- travel to new places

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Jude has earned his wolf badge. As we embrace the life of an explorer, we are learning to make the most of little adventures, open our eyes and see things we would normally pass by and we are learning to become even more brave.

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With our adventure pack on our back and hiking stick in hand, we are ready to take on our Bobcat challenges. We will be sure to let you know how it goes!

Queso Fundido

May 5th, 2016

Queso Fundido or “Molten Cheese”… ooey gooey delicious. This dip is a cheese lovers dream, sort of a Mexican fondue. I love the contrast of the smooth, gooey cheese with the spicy (slightly greasy) chorizo. Every time I pull a dish of Queso Fundido out of the oven, friends and family gather around. Its fun! To eat, dip in crunchy tortilla chips or pile the cheese high on a tortilla, roll up and enjoy.

Queso Fundido

6 oz. of ground chorizo

2 cups of Mexican melting or quesadilla cheese (mozzarella is also a great substitute)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brown chorizo in a skillet until cooked through. Drain off excess fat from chorizo. Load a well greased baking dish with grated cheese and sprinkle over the cooked chorizo. Bake for 15 minutes until bubbly and slightly browned. Simply delicioso!

Get creative with your Fundido toppings, try; ground beef, avocados, fresh pico de gallo, the sky’s the limit!

May The Fourth Be With You

May 4th, 2016

From my house full of crazy Star Wars loving boys, we want to wish you a very Happy Star wars Day!IMG_1022

Flying Paper Airplanes