Monthly Archives: November 2006

Dragon’s Bane: The Roaring Ego


“Seeing the truth about our own ego is not usually an easy or comfortable process. We spend a lot of time building up and defending this “I” as if it had a real stability and substance. In fact this “I” is really a process with very little real continuity other than the stream of stresses and strains that has shaped it.

“When we become committed to leading a spiritual life, to growing and opening ourselves to change and uncertainty, the ego reacts with fear and resistance. If we let this agitation dominate our awareness we will not only find change impossible, we will eventually cut off the nourishment for our spiritual development.

“The good news is that human beings are capable of remarkable personal evolution and change. If we look to the power behind the ego we come face to face with the same power that manifests this whole universe. In that vision and experience of the ultimate, the “I” is simply transcended.”
~Swami Chetanananda

Sometimes the tools and inspiration come to us from out of, it seems, the air. This has been happening to me lately. The first time was last Saturday when we spent some time with my husband’s cousin. At the end of our visit, I changed Gabriel’s diaper and should have really left the room but lingered to check out her books. Shortly after, she came in and we started talking about spirituality, straying from the strict doctrine of the Catholic church. One thing led to another as we each had ownership of Linda Goodman’s books, “Sun Signs” and “Love Signs”. She also had “Star Signs” and a few others. She let me have 3 books to read, “The Red Tent”, which I thoroughly enjoyed and it only took me 2 days to read, AND almost bought several times. The other two are “The Seven Spiritual Laws for Parents”, which, BTW, she has no children of her own and told me that she believed that it was meant to be mine, even when she bought it, “You know how sometimes we buy things on impulse that we don’t really need?”; the other book is “The Mists of Avalon” which I never thought to even read because I already knew the King Arthur/Merlin stories. It seems that this title is told from the woman’s point of view. The 876 pages scares me a bit, but I am looking forward to getting into it.

Getting to the quote above. This comes from one of my own books that has been hiding for a few years entitled “The Open Moment (Reflections on the Spiritual Life)”, by Swami Chetanananda. I actually thought I’d given this book away as I had other new age-type books. My son finally ferreted it out for me, as he does ALL my books, and I started leafing through it. I noted the section on “Ego” which has got to be my biggest challenge in life. Yes, I do feel, very much so, the agitation the passage above speaks of. I find it ironic because of my early life spent being very insecure, with LOW self esteem. I often wonder how this can be, that I am being possessed of a huge ego, yet spend my life being insecure. I know there’s an answer out there, but I need to find it myself. Maybe it’s the child-like, immature ego inside screaming that I AM WORTHY and, like a child, takes more than it’s share when it gets the chance to make up for the times it is denied.

Why are my eyes stuck between awake and asleep? I am afraid to cross over that bridge leading to true Christianity, or maybe wishful thinking of what I think it should be. My priest says that we are all human and that we cannot escape it and that God knows this and loves us in spite of it. I do believe that with all my heart, even while I know we can never be totally like Christ, though we “strive” to be like Him. What does the word “strive” mean? Don’t we need to actually accomplish something when we strive for it; or is intention enough? I find it cannot be enough because we must find the strength to ACT on our good intentions and beliefs; and not only talk about it, or just “believe it”. It’s so easy to believe we have actually done something for real, when in reality, we’ve only just fantasized about it. I have found myself doing this very thing. An opportunity will arise and I envision myself following through. I will experience a feeling of satisfaction and it seems to stop there. I never took the steps to follow through with what I intended to; and part of the reason (or all of it) is this feeling of satisfaction; as if I had already went through the whole process I created for myself. Maybe this is why you sometimes have to act without too much thought.

I find that I am a purist in a lot of things, and I take, literally, the words of the bible. I know that times have changed, but I believe that the same words apply to us, in this time, as much as they did back then in the early church…. And I am not just talking about ideas here; I am talking about literal scenarios. When Jesus said we should help others, I want to really go out of my way, but take it so far that it’s not physically safe for me. My example is of a time I met a homeless mother and wanted to get clothes to her but she had no transportation. I was actually contemplating meeting her father in a totally different neighborhood to give the clothes. Then I was thinking about taking her in… All good ideas, but I did not know this girl from a hole in the wall. She did have a “fiancé” (somewhere) and she had an 8 month old who had no clothes on his back, with winter closing in. Sadly, I was not thinking of the safety of myself, or my family. In the end, I never heard from her, so I donated the clothes to a shelter. It’s a pity that we must hold ourselves back like this. On the other hand, I could have turned into an enabler by doing for her, what she should have been doing for herself. I did give her information on public assistance out there, but I am not sure if she ever followed up on it.

If you are still with me, I’ll close with another ego quote from the same book. BTW, I am glad that I have this book. I now have a tool to help me focus on different things I want to talk about. Thanks for staying with me.

“What if the self that we understood we were yesterday, was the person that we had to live with from now on? What if that were true? It wouldn’t be pretty would it? It’s a wonderful thing to be released from whom we think we are, because who we think we are is really a fabrication.” ~Swami Chetanananda

First Felt


My first felted booty slippers for my son.

Felted Booty

These were done on the KK (Knifty Knitter) Loom. I still have the ones I am knitting on the needles, but these were started and completed in one day! You could say that I couldn’t wait. I ran them through the washer one time; but want to see how they fit and if that would permit me to run them through again. Even though the stitches still show, they feel like solid fabric.

I am still working on my Log Cabin Blanket but will post a picture soon, maybe after the current strip is done. I intend to keep going until we see Gabriel’s godmother for Christmas to see how big it gets because it’s for her. Still working on the poncho, though, it’s almost done, just need to finish it off~maybe today.

Loom Socks


Loom Socks

Finished Sock

Yea my first socks, done! I was so excited about them that I am wearing them right now, even before I got the chance to finish them off. I pretty much got stuck on the heel for the little ones I am knitting to felt:

Booties for felting

I got stuck on these heels because I read ahead, now I will try again. I am glad that I made the first ones on the loom because I got to see how the heel is supposed to look as it’s being constructed. Did you know that there are at least five different ways to make the heel? I read that somewhere. I can’t tell you the name of the book I got these out of, but it’s that new, popular book from Cat… you know the one! I lost the book while cleaning for the holiday and now have to wait for it to pop up again.

Post Thanksgiving


Well, it came and went. We had parts of both families, about 12 people and all… plus Little Drake.  I made my asparagus/corn recipe and at least I loved it.  I made the extra corn bread… oh Boston Market cooked the turkey and provided side dishes and spinach dip.  We all made extra dishes… oh and we got 6 pies… all either apple or pumpkin so we sent them home with people as favors!  It was a good day, except….

A mere 2 hours before company was due to arrive I break the shower curtain rod, BEFORE I had a chance to shower.  Hubby attempted to help by going out to a local store he thought sold it…. and never came back.  Turned out he WALKED there in the rain.  Did I mention there was only two hours before showtime?  The store did not have it, so he went and walked to Home Depot, but it was closed.  I wonder why?  By the time he got home, TWO minutes before his sister’s family, it was over an hour after the people were due… oh, did I mention that nobody showed up on time?  I was furious… I was actually walking out of the house to drive in the holiday traffic, to my sister’s house to take a shower… oh, she was on her way to our house and was not here yet.  Does this sound insane?  My hubby simply said, “Why don’t you take a bath?”  So, I slunk into the bathroom, after POLITELY asking if anyone wanted to use the bathroom.  Still could not wash my hair which annoyed me, but I was glad that I could wash myself even if I had to sit in dirty water… Did I mention that I hate to take baths?

Before I continue, I’ve got to say that I am blessed with a superior husband because I was yelling and screaming at him in front of my father and his wife.  BTW, they came early to get a good parking spot on this crazy block of ours.  If it weren’t for them entertaining Little Drake, I’d have really lost it.  Really though, he also walked with the baby in the rain, AFTER he just took a bath, to church.  Why would he not take the car, I ask you?  He loves to walk…. ugh.

Anyway, why get so upset?  Why do we women feel that we must be supremely “presentable” after we do all this work, sweating our balls off?  Like Betty Crocker… the perfect housekeeper and hostess.  Well, I’ve gotten okay with having people over with a less than perfectly kept house.  Then, I had to get used to the idea that they will see dirty windows that were not cleaned since around the time Gabriel was born.  The rainy day really helped me out with that one.  Then I got used to the idea that I will probably never wear makeup again unless I have tons of time to get ready and for my own preening… yeah right!  Well dammit, I want clean hair at least!  It seems that my face will look good after a shower, but not so much if I just wash it in the sink.  I think it has to do with all the oil it accumulates.  My husband says that in “the old days”, people took baths once a week, if that.  Well, I am pretty sure that they saved their weekly bath for holidays.  He says that if it’s so important that I should take it the first thing in the morning… and I say that I want to save it for right before company comes so they can get a glimpse of the cleanest mommie they can.

Oh well, Big Drake sort of wins because I caused this whole thing by breaking the rod in the first place; but I win for the part that walking everywhere when there was a time sensitive situation was definitely not the wise thing to do, especially on a holiday.

So There!  I get the last word because this is MY BLOG.

Platelet Donation Update


Apheresis (ay-fur-ee-sis): A special kind of blood donation that allows a donor to give a specific blood component, such as platelets. During the apheresis procedure, all but the needed blood component is returned to the donor.

Yep… I finally was able to donate yesterday at the RIGHT hospital. If you don’t know the story, check it out here…. Guess what? When I walked in there, however, the security guard told me that she didn’t have any notification that someone was donating last night. I almost hit the roof again, but I said there must have been a mistake. So she made a phone call and whoever was at the other end of the line informed here that they didn’t know anything about it either, then she just looked at me. I said, “Look, this is the second time that this has happened to me.” In a way, that was a little fib (check out why here); but I wasn’t leaving that hospital until I got in, so she sent me down to the lab and said that they would know there.

Great, my foot was in through the door. I made it to the blood “lab”, which was just a blood drawing station. I blurted out to the first guy I saw that I had an appointment to donate platelets and that the woman at the security desk said that she didn’t have any information on it. He told me that she didn’t have the right information. I said that “she called someone”, to which he replied that she called the wrong people. Ugh… He asked for my name, then checked his schedule and said that I was at the right place…. yea! So, sat down and filled out the forms and was interviewed right away.

As a side note, they do this by appointment only, so you are taken right away and everything happens very quick, though they were totally polite, informative and did not give the impression of rushing things. Next, my blood got tested; which tells them iron level, platelet level, other stuff but I don’t remember. I sat down on the very comfortable couch and the guy asked me how much I weighed. I said, “WHAT?” Ha, I hadn’t expected that. I was told that they take the height and weight of the donor, which will tell them exactly how much of a donation I can make and what components they can take. I’ll just leave the part out here because, well, lets just say for confidentiality reasons. He informed me that I could make a triple donation, which means that my total donation of platelets could be given to three people. It was totally up to me as to what I wanted to do, give platelets, whole blood, plasma, or red cells. I said, “Give me the works, we’ll go for the triple platelets”.

I found this whole process very interesting. Did you know that your platelets can be given to anyone? Blood type doesn’t matter. I asked the tech if I could knit while doing this, but he said “no” because I had to keep squeezing a squeeze ball while the machine was drawing out my blood…. shucks! I also brought a book and attempted to read, but that proved impossible because I could not really turn the pages, so I just talked with the blood man and watched some TV. Getting back: He familiarized me with the machine. He told me to squeeze the ball on the draw, then on the return (of the blood to my body) I needed to stop squeezing. The blood goes in, then the blood is separated, the platelets go into a blood bag and the rest of the blood comes back to me. How cool. I watched this happening as a little clear plastic box shows out of the machine and I could see the blood coming in and emptying out as it came back to me.

Oh, I was a “quickie”. Personally, I love quickies! Apparently, 71 minutes for a triple donation is pretty quick. In the beginning, he actually told me the time it would take for each type of donation that I was able to give. How cool is that? Anyway, there are a few things you guys should know. In addition to the side effects you can experience from giving whole blood, there are other side effects when giving platelets. First, they treat the blood with “citrate” to stop it from coagulating. You can experience a tingly feeling on your lips and head, which I felt almost immediately. This has something to do with calcium, so they give you Tums to counteract the effect, but it didn’t help me too much. This was okay, though, because it’s no big deal. Then I started to feel dizzy and nauseous… well not nauseous, but my whole body was something. Vibrating? I don’t know, but lets just say that I was queasy, but not exactly sick to my stomach. I felt light headed, too. I never had this when giving whole blood, so for me, it’s significant…. but still, no big deal. Maybe I’m just a trusting person and I trusted these guys? Don’t know… but I was just so happy to be doing something worthwhile that I was absolutely giddy throughout the whole thing, joking and kidding around. They might have thought that I was drunk or high or something but hey, they tested my blood, right? I told them that I had a toddler at home and this was a vacation for me!

All in all, no problemo and I’ll do it again next month. Yeah, with platelets, you can give them once a month. They get mostly replenished in 24 hours. I did, however, underestimate the toll this procedure took on me. I was planning on spending the rest of the night out, hitting the stores, or coffee shop, or something. Well, when it was over, I just wanted to get home and get into bed. I felt very tired, very drained. So I got home and went to bed early. This morning, the nausea was gone, but I had to take a nap after breakfast, then again in the afternoon, though Little Drake didn’t let me sleep. I just need to eat well, get iron in my system and calcium. I have supplements to take and I bought calcium fortified OJ today, so I’m set to go.

I never realized how much of a special gift, platelets are. Without a platelet donation, it takes 6 donations of whole blood to get 1 donation of platelets. So if someone can give platelets, it saves 6 donations of whole blood. Oh, better explained below:

Why is Blood Separated?
Different patients need different types of blood components, depending on their illness or injury. After you donate whole blood, the unit is separated into platelets, red cells, and plasma in our laboratory. Only two tablespoons of platelets are collected from a whole blood donation. Six whole blood donations must be separated and pooled to provide a single platelet transfusion. However, one apheresis donation provides enough platelets for one complete transfusion…that is six times the amount collected from a whole blood donation.

Who Needs Platelets?
Many lifesaving medical treatments require platelet transfusions. Cancer patients, those receiving organ or bone marrow transplants, victims of traumatic injuries, and patients undergoing open heart surgery require platelet transfusions to survive. Because platelets can be stored for only five (5) days, the need for platelet donations is vast and continuous. The platelet donation process is called an Apheresis donation.

This is a link for the American Red Cross. This has got to be the easiest thing one can do to help others out there. Some of us cannot donate money, but giving blood is free, giving platelets is free, too!

And you get juice and cookies after!

Crocheted Headband Pattern


Here is a quickie pattern for a cute crocheted headband. Got it from the Lion Brand Site. This link should be the actual pattern as the other link was not to the actual page of the pattern.

Braided Head Band

LITE ‘N’ LACEY BRAIDED HEADBAND

GAUGE:

One Headband Strip = 1 in. [2.5 cm] wide. BE SURE TO CHECK YOUR GAUGE.

HEADBAND STRIP (make 3)
With 2 strands of yarn held together, chain 36.

Row 1: Double crochet in 4th chain from hook and in each remaining chain across. Fasten off.

Finishing
Place 3 Strips on top of one another and sew together at one end. Braid Strips, and then sew together at other end. Weave in ends. Cut ribbon length in half, sew one half to each end of Headband.

Platelet Donation


About a month ago, I wrote about my non-experience of an attempt to donate platelets. Here is the refresher for your memory. Well, then there was the follow up after my <ahem> little outburst, you can find it here.

Just so that I don’t forget, I want to announce that my next appointment is this Monday at 4:30pm at Rahway Hospital. I just want to say that I will NOT miss this appointment! The Drake will be home, so I will not have to worry about a thing.

I really am still very excited about doing this. My blood type is really very common, so the fact that I am able to donate platelets is very special to me; something that will mean more and save more than one life with the one donation. The whole process is called “Apheresis Donation”. More information here. If you want to do something really worthwhile, please consider donating blood, especially if you have type O-… rare type, but also the most needed because anyone, regardless of their blood type, can receive type O- blood. Can you imagine the importance of this? Also, please consider becoming a platelet donor. One donation goes so far.

Of course, I will blog all about my experience. My only concern is whether I’ll be able to knit while they are doing this. It will take a couple of hours and I’d like to get some knitting or looming time in. 😀

I believe that the greatest gift anyone can give is of oneself. Blood donation embodies this idea. You are literally giving of yourself… at no cost.

Save Us, O Lord


Save Us, O Lord
by: Bob Dufford

Refrain:

Save us, O Lord; carry us back.
Rouse your power and come.
Rescue your people; show us your face.
Bring us back.

1. O Shepherd of Israel, hear us. Return and we shall be saved.
Arise, O Lord; hear our cries, O Lord: bring us back!

2. How long will you hide from your people?
We long to see your face. Give ear to us.
Draw near to us, Lord God of hosts!

3. Turn again; care for your vine;
protect what your right hand has planted.
Your vineyards are trampled, uprooted, and burned.
Come to us, Father of might!

This is a hymn but sometimes our music director uses them for the psalms. Psalms are prayers spoken or sung between the first and second readings from scriptures. This Advent, I will be singing the psalm for at least one of the weeks. I feel so blessed with this gift of voice that God has given me. The midi audio for this song is here.

I have always loved music, and naturally singing, since I was a kid. People will tell you, however, that I had a horrible voice… of course I disagreed! Through the years, I’ve been allowed to develop it, by the will of God. By His will also, and through the Drake, I came to the choir here, in Elizabeth, NJ, at Immaculate Conception Church. My voice has really come a long way as far as range. When I was a teenager, I sung almost only Barry Manilow tunes… which you know is of a very low key/note/whatever. My voice, then, adapted and I could not sing high. I could sing some Barbara Streisand and maybe Celine Dion, but my voice could never hit the high notes. I was also singing Meatloaf and other male oriented rock songs which gave me strength, though, I did not know how to use it and usually ruined my voice on Bat Out of Hell. My mother also had a very loud speaking voice and I know for a fact that I inherited that.

Since being here in the choir, however, I have been forced to sing higher and higher because the music director/organist refused to play lower for me. Ugh… but you know, I can now sing higher than when I started. When I am singing in church, my heart is filled with such joy…. Joy that I am allowed to create something beautiful. I believe that God gives me “the voice” each and every time I need it. I mean, it’s very different singing in church than singing along with the radio or CD. Thankfully, I get more and more comfortable singing in front of the congregation each time I do it. Still can’t reach some of those high notes, but the journey is filled with pleasure for me and I hope, God. It doesn’t always go smoothly, but I believe that God’s hand steers me and if I mess up, it’s for a reason. Maybe to show the kids in the CCD class that, hey, we’re all human and Jesus wants to hear us sing, just as we are….. so let ‘er rip!

Vegetarian Stew for Friday Meal


I’ve really been wanting to write something spiritual, but lately my mind has been on culinary delights. Today’s concoction was inspired by The Drake’s roaring edict, proclaiming: NO MEAT ON FRIDAY…. <<nostrils flaming>>

He had been forewarning me lately that once the OT dries up, we will have to start eating rice and beans, so I decided to make rice and beans today to try it out, crock pot style. Let me insert a disclaimer here stating that I am not a vegetarian, so I apologize if any of the ingredients do not pass the vegetarian mustard. Please let me know and I will make a revision as I will also be posting this on my Crock Pot Recipes page, as well.

So I started with some beans!

Vegetarian Stew

Black beans, 1 can
Chick peas, 1 can
Butter beans, 1 can
Red Kidney bean, 1 can
Corn, whole kernel, 1 can
Crushed Tomatos, 1 large can
Tomato Paste, 1 little can
Yucca, (they come all different sizes, you decide)
Shallots, 2
Sofrito, amount per directions on jar
Dark Brown sugar or molasses, to taste
Louisiana Hot Sauce, optional to taste
Herbs, to taste
Rice (optional)

First, I coated the crock pot with cooking spray, then I dumped in all the canned ingredients, beans, tomatoes, paste and corn; but first rinsed off all the starch. You do not need to strain the corn; but if you like to drink corn juice, like I do, feel free!

Peel and cut your yucca root into chunks and add to the mix. I boiled it first but that was because I am unfamiliar with yucca. I think that you do not need to boil it; but you folks judge if you know yucca.

Chop and add the shallots, and by all means, add more if you want to. I am just trying to stick with two for awhile as I am unfamiliar with them. Now, I’ve never used Sofrito before and if you are not familiar with it, information here.
( Here are some recipes on how to make your own sofrito. )Yum!

Now for the fun (as if it hasn’t been all along!) Even though I let you guys know that there are directions on the jar to for the amount to add, I dumped in half the jar before I knew it. I wouldn’t recommend that in the interest of getting your money’s worth, though, it was pretty cheap. The finished product was still pretty good. My goal with this recipe was to create something sweet and spicy, so I added a solid form of molasses I found at the store, much like dark brown sugar. Chucked in some Louisiana Hot Sauce. I love this because of the vinegar, so if you don’t have it, add a little vinegar, preferably balsamic. I grow rosemary, so I added some of that and Mrs. Dash’s Southwestern Chipotle seasoningno salt!

Okay, next thing I did was to add water just enough to cover everything, if not covered already. If you want thick gravy, take a tsp. or so of corn starch, mix with just enough cold water to liquify it and add it to your veggie stew. Mix everything up well. Crock pot should be set to 4 hours on LOW. You’re good to go!… Literally, out the door if you want… whoo hoo!

You can throw this over rice if you want, but I didn’t. I loved it the way it was. If you want to add other stuff… again, feel free and I’d love to hear how it came out.

! Debbie’s kitchen loves unique and interesting combinations !

As a side note, the Drake never tasted my scrumptious veggie stew. He claimed that his cold took his appetite away… GRRRRRRRRRRRRR

Adding Spices To Coffee


I see that I came up on someone’s search that said, “adding spices to coffee”; so I decided to write a little about what I do in that area. Those search terms picked up my, “More Food” which was the post about my Asparagus and Corn Recipe.

First of all, the absolutely best coffee is, by far, perked! You younger whipper snappers will not even know what I’m talking about! It’s called “progress”. Alas, I also have a coffee maker because I need to be quick in the mornings with getting the coffee out and love the programming feature of the automatic drips. I started adding spices to coffee well before these specialized coffees came out in the supermarkets. My favorite is grating fresh nutmeg into either my cup or with the grinds in the basket, though I do others, as well.

Another little special thing I do is add honey in place of sugar. Before I get into this any further, I must state “DIABETICS BEWARE”. Using honey is just as bad as eating sugar right out of the sugar bowl. I read this book one time on back water medicine that talked a lot about remedies containing apple cider vinegar and honey. At that time, I was really turned off by white sugar, so it seemed natural for me to use honey. At first, the taste was strange to me, but I liked it. Another factor that affects taste is the kind of honey you buy. If you look on the label, you will see a little blurb about what type of flower the bees were getting their pollen from. I started with NJ Wildflower Honey from a particular place called “Cheesequake Farms”; but then I went to another place and got honey labeled the same way and the taste was far different. Also, you can see that different honeys have varying colors, or hues to them. The darker ones have a more intense flavor than the light ones… kind of logical. In the supermarkets the most you see is clover honey that is “okay”, but once you start being aware of the differences out there, you just might want to try others. I would suggest paying that extra money for what they sell on those farm produce stands.

Getting honey with a bit of cone in it is great, too. I read that chewing on the cone can relieve sinus symptoms. My nephew did corroborate on this after he tried it. Another consideration before consuming a lot of honey, as I had when drinking at least 3 cups of coffee a day at work, is that honey is a great bowel regulator, though consuming a lot of it might give you diarrhea. I started using honey as a bowel regulator. I mean, you will GO the very next day and it’s a normal, natural “GO”. Since I am in danger of getting diabetes, however, I have stopped using it like that. Keep in mind that honey is pure sugar, though, it’s predigested so the body does not have to work as hard digesting honey as it does for white sugar.  Ah, I remember a special person once telling me that honey was actually bee excrement!  Well, that might turn some people off, but not me.  If you look at it, technically, it IS excrement, but not in the sense that we know.  After all, honey is what bees feed to their babies developing in the egg chambers of their hives.  Special honey, called royal jelly is given to the eggs destined to be queens.

Another thing you can do with coffee is add a teaspoon of cocoa to it and get mocha. I was definitely doing this LONG before it came out commercially. I loved cocoa and wanted to blend the two and got a bit of heaven right there on my counter. Try adding a bit of orange extract to it… if not with the coffee, definitely put it in hot chocolate. Chocolate and orange a marriage made in heaven. I even have a basic hot chocolate recipe of my own doing for people wanting to get the perfect hot chocolate, but without the time or the incentive to stand at the stove, attending to a proper hot chocolate recipe.

In a mug, mix a tablespoon or so of baking cocoa, preferably dutch processed, and equal amount of powdered coffeemate. Emulsify with a bit of hot water. Once this is done, add in milk and sugar, stirring. Microwave until piping hot. Ta da! To really get that chocolaty flavor, add a teensy pinch of salt. This recipe leaves plenty of room for experimentation. Add a little bit of something here and there. I’ve also added a teaspoon of instant coffee for that mocha taste. Better get with it now and perfect your own special cup before the cold winter sets in. I have special gigantic mugs to accommodate my lust for chocolate… ah!

If you don’t have much imagination, but love to try different flavors, you might want to try out International Gourmet or Coffeemate liquid creamers. I love the current Pumpkin Spice that is out in both brands. Very expensive, however, and after I am finished with what I have, I will just add my own spices to get the same flavor. Plus, if you really like the coffeemate creamers, getting the plain one is almost a dollar cheaper than the flavored ones. Something I was doing for awhile was getting actual cream to lighten my coffee. That is a real treat for the holidays. I use the heavy cream to get that really creamy taste, while actually using less product.

Another thing I put in coffee is dark brown sugar. That is a flavorful kick if I ever tasted one. I suppose you can use light brown sugar, too, but remember, I always go for the “darkest” possible offering of a product. Brown sugar… or even molasses… Yes, I’ve used molasses and it’s another heavenly flavor for coffee. Have you ever tried mixing coffee and tea together in the same cup? Another nice change, but not for the squeamish. Nothing bad or bad tasting about it, it’s just the “thought of it” that would deter some people.

Yep, I’ve tried a lot of things in coffee, but never soy sauce!

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