Friday, August 26, 2016

How to Make Cold Brew (Not Iced) Coffee at Home: A Healthy, Aromatic Brew Recipe

Is there anything as comforting as an iced coffee on a sweltering summer day? Or any day, if you enjoy your coffee chilled. Cold brew coffee isn't coffee brewed in hot water and iced or chilled afterwards, cold brew is stepped in cold or room temperature water for 12 to 16 hours. The result a superior confection that's more aromatic and sweet with more nuanced flavors than coffee brewed with heat. The best part, it's beyond easy to create your own flavor rich cold brew coffee at home. You can even make a large batch you can sip from throughout the week.

Why It's Better: Brewing your coffee (or tea) via heat releases acidic and bitter tanin constituents and can destroy a percentage of the delicate, aromatic essential oils that form the bean's distinctive flavor. When you cold brew you bypass the release of bitter compounds while preserving delicate notes, resulting in a sweet, mellow, smooth brew with layered flavor. A good cold brew is akin to an artisan craft beer or mixologist's cocktail.

Fun Fact: Cold brew coffee is known at Kyoto Coffee in Japan and has been popular there since the 1600s. In Japan the coffee is made with striking glass drippers, but it's easy to make cold brew at home with a simple mason jar.

How to Make Cold Brew Coffee:

1) Combine one part grounds to three parts water in a jar.
2) Shake or stir thoroughly to combine the water and the grounds, then refrigerate. You can store your coffee on the counter but it's hot as hell in Florida and I prefer mine ice-cold from the fridge.
3) Agitate your brew by shaking it a couple of times within the 12-16 hour brew time. (It'll still turn out fine if you forget, though. This makes the coffee more even and concentrated.)
4) The next day filter the grounds from the coffee two to three times. You can use coffee filters over a fine mesh strainer, run it through a french press a couple of times or a combination theroff. I've read that some professionals start with a nylon strainer then switch to a paper one to remove all trace of grounds.

The resulting concentrate will last around a week in your fridge in a well-sealed jar. The delicious brew is strong, you may want to dilute to your taste. I've heard of people who like their coffee warm re-heating the mix, too! Starting your day with your coffee pre-made and ready to mix to your tastes takes another hassle away from your morning routine. It only takes a little prep the afternoon before. Try cold brewing at home for a mellow, flavorful start to the day!
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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Massive Productivity Improvement #4: Handwrite Before You Type Blog Posts- Or Anything Else

I was spending a $10.00 Office Depot gift certificate when I noticed a sad sight, notebooks on sale for 1 cent each! True, it was a back-to-school promotion, but the price being that low seems indicative of having more in stock than they could sell. There's less writing by hand now. It's good for paper waste, but bad for learning, writing skill, preserving brain function and what I'll focus on here- productivity.

When you write on the computer it's incredibly easy to give in the siren's call of social media or YouTube. Before you know it you may have spent hours checking up on Facebook, Instagram, or your favorite blogs. And that's fine and fun to do in those designated time slots but it can be the death of a piece of writing.

Meanwhile, writing by hand with all electronics turned off stimulates different creative areas of the brain. You guessed it, it's that creative group of cells in the brain that keep coming up in my studies, the Reticular Activating System. The RAS "filters" distractions and helps you focus intently on your writing while you're handwriting on paper. (Versus typing while looking at a computer screen.)

Some physicians claim the act of handwriting engages your motor skills to keep your brain and body limber and active as you age. Many writers, like Susan Sotang and Truman Capote wrote their manuscripts by hand first, Sotang saying it relaxed her and helped the creative process. Studies conducted on children have shown their writing is consistently better when it's on paper. The study illuminated one reason why my "writing voice" changed for the worst after years of copywriting in a cubicle, it was all typing on the computer and no handwriting.

Typing on the computer can be like skimming the surface of a body of water; handwriting is like diving to the deep depths and taking in all of the details. It can be like the difference between reading a buzzfeed article on any given topic and reading a 300 page medical journal or thesis paper on the subject. It increases retention of the information, too. I've been handwriting with my computer off for three days straight and feel like I could possibly hit me goal of being a year ahead on posts in a month of writing, it's a productivity game-changer!

If you're stuck, or have trouble focusing while trying to write on a computer, consider switching it off and breaking out a fresh notebook and a favorite pen and getting lost in the art of blissful, productive, distraction-free writing. Convert it to your computer later (which will help you edit since you'll be reading it again, or you can be like Capote who would re-write a second draft by hand on paper again). There's a place for both, but that's the key, we need both in our writing going forward.

See Also: Massive Productivity Improvement #1: 3 Goals Per Week. 3 Tasks Per Day
Massive Productivity Improvement #2: 80/20 Rule

Massive Productivity Improvement #3: Use Biorythms to be 200% More Productive

(  But if you guys refuse I'll just go blow my $1.00 and get 100 notebooks and do all the hand-writing myself! I'm rich, rich in all the notebooks, I say! Just kidding that sale is now defunct. :(  )
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Monday, August 22, 2016

My One Step For Arranging Gallery Walls: Less Holes, Less Time, More Fun


If you're reading this you might be a fellow weirdo that re-arranges gallery walls often. Maybe you're fickle, maybe you do it to refresh your space, maybe you're always just trying to find the right balance. Maybe you're all of the above like me! Hopefully, you work in an art gallery or something to justify the insane amount of wall art re-arrangement. I've done this too so much that I've decided to do something simple that will make this easier in the future...

I trace all the artwork I own on paper and keep those papers on hand so I can arrange these into pleasing compositions first before any nails go in the walls!

One day I'll have a balance I can leave alone in this space (ha, maybe!) but until then, these paper tracing of my pieces will really come in handy.

How do you hang you gallery walls or art collections? Any tips to share?  I'm still trying to figure out my living area combined "great space" now that I relieved myself of some more furniture. I both follow and break the eye-height formula depending on the function of an area or where I want the eye to go. I'll have more gallery wall hanging tips coming soon!
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