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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

My Favorite Coffee Spots- National Coffee Day

In honor of National Coffee Day, I have picked some of my favorite coffee shops to share with you. Some are chains, some are small local ones, but they all have delicious coffee, lattes, and other drinks and treats.  If you have the chance to go to any of them, make sure you do!  I couldn't put them in an order from best to worst, so they are in a random order.

The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf- various locations across the U.S

I love The Coffee Bean so much mostly because they have a huge variety of drinks.  They always have new seasonal flavors and you can have anything made that you could ever dream up.   Another nice feature is that they actually sell the ingredients to make the drinks they make in the store both in store and online, like the teas, powders to make lattes and their special coffees.  The baristas at the stores I have been to are always super friendly and chatty which I love at a coffee shop.

Smith and Chang- Jersey City, NJ

I discovered Smith and Chang this spring and have been back weekly since.  Not only do they have the best iced coffee around, they sell locally made pastries and desserts that are amazing.  They also sell their own line of soaps, lotions and body care, all natural and some other locally made body care items, jewelry, pottery, honey and artwork, again all by local New Jersey artists.  The store shop has a very relaxed hipster kind of feel with a lovely little sitting area outside during warm weather.  

Caffè Bene- Various locations across the U.S and Asia

Nicole and I discovered CaffĂ© Bene while wandering in Hoboken when we first moved to Jersey City.    They have delicious coffee, tons of different lattes, bubble teas, frappes and smoothies.  Along with the huge selections of drinks, they serve pastries, sandwiches, parfaits and even waffles.  The pink drink pictured below is a strawberry iced latte.  So good!  

Tim Hortons- various locations across Canada and the U.S

I wouldn't be a very good Canadian if I didn't include the iconic Canadian symbol, Tim Hortons on my list.  Tim Hortons has been a staple for many years and I love everything there.  Their coffee of course is the main draw, mostly because it has some sort of addicting drug in it, or in the cups, depending on who you talk to.  They also have yummy donuts, sandwiches, breakfast items, soups and even smoothies and of course iced caps.  Probably my favorite foods there though are the chili and the cheese tea biscuits.  I have to say that all of the U.S stores I have been to don't hold a candle to the Canadian ones, but you can still get most of the basics.  

Dunkin Donuts- Various locations in the U.S

I wouldn't be a very good transplant American if I didn't include DD on my list.  Dunkins actually, was one of the first places that made me love coffee, while we were living in Long Island City a few years ago.  I started off with their flavored iced coffees, usually coconut or blueberry.  Now, every time we go out of town, or if we need a break, Dunkin Donuts is usually the place we stop.  They have great coffee as well as breakfast sandwiches and wraps.  It's a sure bet if you are road tripping across 'Merica!  

Chobani- SoHo, NYC (soon to be another 10 locations in the U.S)

When you think Chobani, you probably don't think coffee, which is why I walked by this place for over a year and never stopped.  I can get Chobani yogurt at the grocery store!  So a couple weeks ago when I finally stopped, actually to get a water I was in for quite the surprise.  They have cold brew coffee on tap, one of my favorite things and this has to be one of the best cold brews that exist.  I also had a moment to check out their whole menu.  They don't just have yogurt, they have sweet yogurt creations, as well as savory ones, as well as sandwiches and soups.  

Urban Ground Coffeehouse- Swift Current, SK

This is one of my favorite coffee shops, and it happens to be the one closest to my hometown in Saskatchewan where you don't exactly expect a gourmet specialty coffee place.  The owner also happens to be a girl that also lived in residence at the University of Sk.  This place has some of the best selection of hot drinks I have seen anywhere with some I have never heard of and twists on classics, like the London Smog (a London fog with chocolate milk),  Hawaiian Hot Chocolate (Hot chocolate with coconut syrup) and a Coconut Cream Latte.  They have some great cold drinks and smoothies as well AND in house made delicious desserts.

 Caribou Coffee- various locations in the U.S

Although I have only been to Caribou a couple times, I know they have great coffee.  I have also bought their K-cups and ground coffee because it is so good!  I know they have a larger menu with food, but sometimes all you need is a good black coffee.

Rae Rae's Coffee Shop- Anchorage, AK

This was one of my favorite places, and almost daily stop when we were living in Anchorage.  It is actually a coffee shack, which were everywhere there for some reason.  They had such good coffee and lattes in any flavor you could ever think of!

 Kulka Cafe- Miraflores, Lima, Peru

I went to this place a few times when I lived in Miraflores, mostly for the Nutella latte.  So good!  The place is actually German with a few German food items on the menu, and it is the cutest, cosiest coffee shop in Miraflores.  The coffee is good, but Peruvian, so very strong, but also very good!  You get used to how crazy strong it is.

 Guy on the bike cart- Downtown Tampa, FL

I don't know exactly the name of the company, but this is THE BEST iced coffee.  It is kind of in a category of its own, because it is nitro brewed, which currently is not very common.  When we where in Tampa, we just happened to see him across the street and had to go over and check it out, a decision which I will never regret.  If you are in Ybor City in downtown Tampa and you see this guy, be sure to stop him for this draft beer like, consistency coffee.

Brooklyn Roasting Company- Brooklyn and Manhattan, NY

Brookyn Roasting is a staple in NYC and has a huge selection of coffees from all over the world.  It is simple, delicious coffee or and strength you could want.  They also do popups at events all over the city so you never have to look to far.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Fab Friday Faves 9.25.15

Hello Friday!  What a week.  Some things have happened that have made this week hard so I haven't been doing too much.  That and I have some sort of sickness and have been packing and cleaning because until yesterday late afternoon we thought we had to be out of our apartment next Wednesday.  We have to be in NJ now until the end of October for Josh's job (yes I have been saying since the end of May that we were moving but it is for real this time) but were told we could not extend our apartment another month.  After quite the run around we now can stay until October 15th. So that gives an extra couple weeks which I could really use.  I hope everyone has a great weekend, there is a ton of stuff going on here that I am going to check out, starting with the NYC Coffee Festival in a few hours. One last thing, don't forget to tell your loved ones just how much you love them.  

 1. Saturday was the Jersey City All About Downtown Street Fair.  There were over 250 vendors of every kind you could ever imagine.  I would say most were food but there was awesome clothing, gifts and businesses set up as well.  I went for a couple hours in the afternoon (it took about an hour to walk from end to end!) and then again after Josh got home from work in the evening.  We had some great food and I got some really great "stuff".  Stay tuned for a post about the whole thing.

2. Wednesday morning I got up bright and early and headed out for a bike ride on the brand new Citibikes in Jersey City.  These things are all over Manhattan but I have always been to chicken to try them out there.  Turns out the bikes are really great, they have gears and hand brakes so I decided to go all the way over to Liberty State Park.  I went the entire length of the park and ended up having an almost 15 mile bike ride.  I could barely walk when I got home but I had a really nice time.

3. Early Sunday afternoon Josh and I went over to the first Craft Brewery in Jersey City, Departed Soles Brewing Company.  It also happens to be just a few blocks away which made it even better.  They aren't technically open yet but have a few hours on the weekends that they open on the weekends.  The place is really cool and we tried all the beers on skateboard flights.  There are some great beer and I know the place is going to be huge.

4. This week is the start of the Fall season or TV premiers.  A couple new shows that I checked out this week were "Scream Queens" and "The Muppets".  These two shows had the highest ratings for new shows so  I know I wasn't the only one who was intrigued.  "Scream Queens" was awesome, I am a huge horror movie fan and this show was really fantastic.  Plus the original Scream Queen Jamie Lee Curtis plays a really weird Dean in it.  "The Muppets" have always been some of my favorite characters and I am a huge fan of "The Muppet Show" so I had high hopes.  It didn't disappoint, and I am so glad they didn't go to crazy with changes.

5. A few weeks ago I read that Utz was releasing Fried Dill Pickle Potato Chips.   I was super pumped because it is really hard to find Dill Pickle chips in the US and almost impossible to find ones that are decent.  I found them at Shoprite last week and had to get them.  they are actually pretty great!  They aren't the best I have ever had but I would say the best ones I have found Stateside.  Pretty exciting.

Today I'm linking up with:

Jennie @ The Diary of a Real Housewife
Lauren @ Style Elixir
Erika @ A Little Bit of Everything
Tif @ Bright On A Budget
Amy @ {The Farmer's Wife}
April @ A.Liz Adventures

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

*Recipe* 1st Day of Autumn PSL

Where did the summer go?  Today is the first day of fall.  I must admit, normally I am not a fan of autumn because where I grew up, it could mean a foot of snow and -30c temperatures at any moment.  Now living a bit further south I am a bit excited to have a few weeks of crisper weather (and less humidity!) before we head south to Florida for a few months.  Monday was really our first day of what felt a little like Fall weather.  Actually Saturday was so hot I was in a little dress and was still sweating like it was mid July.  Its nice to go out and not have that instant overwhelming heat feeling after our very long hot summer!  

Oh by the way.... Since when is the first day of Autumn September 23rd?  I could swear that growing up it was always September 21st!  Oh well, maybe I'm crazy! 

With all that being said, what better recipe to try out today than a homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte?  We have all had them at Starbucks (I've had them at probably 50 different coffee shops) and while they are delicious, I thought that I could probably improve on the classic while making it healthier and knowing what is actually going into my recipe.  

I looked around online to get the basic idea on how to make one of these (I have never made a latte from scratch before!)  and got down to business.  It didn't take much longer than standing in a 10 person Starbucks and you don't have to get out of your pajamas to get it.  It turned out delicious and I can tell you for certain that my huge mug full of this treat still has half the fat and calories and a third the sugar of  a classic Starbucks PSL.    Enjoy and have a fantastic Autumn day!  


-1 cup whole or 2% milk, 1 cup Silk unsweetened coconut milk or 1 cup unsweetened soy milk.  (I used half Silk Coconut and half whole milk)
-1 cup hot brewed coffee (I used a Nespresso Intenso pod)
-2 tbsp canned pumpkin puree (or homemade but I didn't have any on hand)
-3 tbsp brown sugar
-2 tbsp vanilla extract
-2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (I used 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground cloves and 1/2 tsp ginger)
-1/4 tsp ground black pepper
-for the topping you have a couple options- I used 3 tbsp of half and half in my Aeroccino milk frother because I had it on hand but you could use frothed milk of your choice or any kind of whipped topping that you like.  
-cinnamon to taste for on top.


1. Make your flavor base. 
    -Add the pumpkin puree, brown sugar and spices to a small saucepan.  Cook over medium low heat, stirring frequently with a spatula until the sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes.

2. Add the milk.  
  - slowly add the milk to the flavor base and whisk constantly. Heat until it reaches a simmer and remove from heat.  
3. Blend well. 
    -Pour the heated mixture into a blender, followed by the coffee and vanilla extract.  Blend until its thick and frothy.  Be careful, sometimes the stream can build up and burn you!  Pour into a nice big mug.

4. Add whatever topping you have chosen and sprinkle with cinnamon then enjoy!

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Budreaus In NYC

I can't believe we have lived in NJ for 16 months now!  Where has the time gone?  We have had lots of visitors which has really made the time away from friends and family easier.  But as we all know life gets away from all of us especially for those living super busy lives like Josh's parents.  We were lucky enough to have them make it down from Maine for a long weekend and as usual I had a packed schedule set up for them.  Both of them have been to NYC before so there were a few essentials that we could skip but still lots and lots of fun ways to spend their time here.  

They got in on Saturday evening just in time for some NY style pizza and the amazing night time view.  This is one of my favorite thing to show our guests, the Manhattan skyline from the boardwalk in front of our apartment.  It was an early night after their 12 hour drive and we had to be up at the crack of dawn for our busy day!  
At 8am we were already out the door on our way to Yankee Stadium.  We had tickets for the Yankee game at 1pm and I had gotten us tickets for the 9:40 Stadium Tour.  The tour and the game were both amazing, and you can read about it here.  Here are a few pictures from the day though, if you don't feel like reading the blog... But you should!

Day 2 was a little bit of a more relaxed morning.  we hung out for a bit and then made our way into NYC.  We planned to walk up through Times Square and get some bus tickets for a little later in the day and then hit up Central Park, another one of those places that I always have to show off.  

One of the first things we saw was the Naked Cowboy.  This Naked Cowboy looked a little rough but he was rocking his almost nudeness.  Funny side note: not even an hour later, Ellen posted a video of him in almost this same spot from around the same time as well.  Now seeing Ellen would have been a bit more exciting to see!  


Strangely enough, I guess i forgot to take much for pictures in Central Park.  We had a delicious lunch at "Tavern on the Green" where we met up with Josh who was able to leave work a little early.   *NYC tourist tip* Tavern seriously has the BEST Caesar Salad I have ever had in my life and also AMAZING sandwiches.  After lunch we walked over to Strawberry Fields, the John Lennon memorial, which also happened to be where our uptown bus tour started from.   

So the bus tour we went on was a "Big Bus" Tour.  The red double decker uses that you seen TV everywhere and all over NYC while you are here.  Josh and I hadn't been on a bus tour since we lived in Long Island City, and I don't really know why... It was great, super informative and relaxing (as much as I love walking, sometimes its nice to not, especially in 95F heat!).  We started heading up the upper West side, past all the crazy buildings where tons of celebs reside.  Of course we started by The Dakota, one of the most famous buildings in NYC, where John Lennon was shot and where Yoko currently resides.  Unfortunately, it is under repair at the moment and is covered head to toe in Scaffolding and netting.  

This is the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, opened in 1894.  

These buildings are occupied by some of the biggest celebs there are... Sting, Bono, Demi Moore, Bruce Willis, Steven Spielberg, Steve Martin etc.  I can't remember exactly which buildings but they are all here!

St. John the Divine Church.

Here we are heading into Harlem, I have wanted to visit Harlem for some time and never have, and now that i have seen the main area of it I would feel much more comfortable heading up there to check out the amazing food and the Apollo Theater!  

this is Riverside Church, probably one of the largest churches i have ever seen and I had no idea it was even there!

Jazz Legend, Duke Ellington's statue in Harlem where he was from.

The world famous Apollo Theater in Harlem.  

Back down to the Lower East Side one of my favorite places in the world, the Met Museum.

The famous Plaza Hotel at the bottom of Central Park off 5th ave.

Times Square Billboards from the bus.  It's always cool to see things from a different perspective.

This guy was just randomly using a garbage can as a laptop stand.  This is where we changed busses to start on our lower Manhattan leg of the tour.

5th Avenue.

My love, the Flatiron Building.

Some sort of brawl or disagreement in Chinatown.

The beautiful NY County Courthouse.

City Hall.

Everybody is ready for the Pope to get here apparently!

The Empire State building.

Massive T-Mobile billboard.

That was the Cliff notes on our bus tour but we really had a great time and got our money's worth!  Highly recommend a hop off hop on tour if you come visit!
After a very long day and several hours on the bus, we were hungry again and I thought we should got to "Juniors".  If you read my blog you know I am pretty much obsessed with the cheesecake from this place.  Hands down the world's best.  They aren't just cheesecake, they also have a huge and delicious food menu as well.  I got the Combo sandwich... Pastrami and corned beef Rueben on rye.  So delish!

As we were walking out we saw a mounted police officer.  He was bust flirting with the tourists, but we got to see this beautiful horse.

On our walk through the Garment district on our way back to the PATH I noticed some new, very real statues.  

And of course the Empire State building lit up in red, white and blue.  Maybe for the U.S Open??  It is red, white and blue quite often!  That was then end to a super packed, super awesome day!

Day 3 was a record setting heat day so we started off a little later and planned a shorter day.  We were all tired from so much the last couple days!

We started off at the 9/11 Memorial.  This place gives me goose bumps every single time I visit.

After the Memorial we thought that we should head up to the top of the Freedom Tower.  As you may remember, Josh and I went to a pre opening here and although it was amazing (and free)  it happened to be the foggiest day ever and we had no view at all so I was pumped to go up on a sunny day.  Check out my more in-depth blog about the trip that Josh and I took to the top here.

It starts off with the a giant screen showing the number of visitors since it opened as well as where the visitors that day are from and the how many visitors there have been that day.  It's pretty cool.

After the amazing (and the world's quickest) elevator ride to the top, we were greeted with this view.  One of those buildings with the green thing on roof is our building!

The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

Pretty much all of Manhattan from the bottom to the top.  You can see the Empire State building, 30 Rock and a few other iconic buildings if you squint.  

A panoramic of Manhattan and Jersey City and Hboken and a few other NJ towns.

The Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges.  

In this photo you can kinda see the building that we used to live in, in LIC.  On the right hand side, right on the water pretty much straight across from the Empire State Building.

We also wandered over to Trinity Church near Wall Street.  Always takes my breath away.

We continued walking through the Financial District on our way to the Brooklyn Bridge.  Found this really cool mural on a building.

And a different view of the Freedom Tower.  Can you believe we had been way up in the top of it not even an hour before?

Once we got to the Brookyn Bridge we stopped for a little break because we were dying from the heat!  This little birdie came to visit.

Steve and I took a little stroll to the first Anchorage of the bridge.  

After another break when we got back to Stephanie at the bottom of the bridge, we started walking back, it was just too hot!  We walked through City Hall Park and saw this new art installation.  Every time i look at it I think this girl is being auto tagged on Facebook.

We got back to the apartment and on a whim, Stephanie and I decided that we should go to a Broadway show.  It was 2 for 1 Broadway week so we ended up getting awesome seats to "Finding Neverland" (starring Mathew Morrison) for technically half price. About an hour before we were set to leave, Josh called and had hurt his back quite badly at work so I met him downstairs and we went to the doctor.  Doctors orders were pretty much just rest and some muscle relaxants so Stephanie and I decided we should still go back into the city for the show and leave Steve to look after Josh.  

The show was another amazing Broadway show (I think they all must be!) seriously from laughter, to heartbreak about the story of how Peter Pan the story came to be.  The cast right from the dog to the children to the adults were all so unbelievable talented and flawless.  

After the musical, we walked back down through Times Square.  So pretty at night.

The Empire State Building was lit up a beautiful gold color, which I assumed was for the US Open, but I was advised later that it was for Education Week.... Gold like a pencil!  Thanks Miranda!  

Stephanie and Steve left the next day, exhausted and amazed about how much of NYC they got to see.  It was such a great trip and it was the perfect time to have some family come visit.  Thanks guys!