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A Moment of Gratitude: Holiday Gifts and An Ode to Espresso

The year-end holidays have wrapped up and we are moving into the new year at light speed (how is it the end of January already!?). With a new baby in the house, the time is equally flying by and dragging as my nights-with-no-sleep streak drags on. So, you can imagine how important a good cup of coffee is in my house right now.

I am also working on a New Year’s resolution this year (something I typically avoid): to eat out at restaurants less. Aside from trying to fit into my dress for my impending nuptials (June 2019), eating at home will help me save a ton of money. One of my biggest food expenses last year was my latte addiction. While I love the entire experience of going into a little café and having some hand-poured craft espresso concoction, at $6+ a cup, my guilty pleasure was becoming a daily habit and a measurable financial drain.

So, I had begun to research what my at-home options were. In the end, I settled on the Nespresso machine because, despite the downsides of the pods (relatively expensive compared to bulk espresso and limited selection, only available through Nespresso, not freshly ground beans, and lots of material waste - although they do offer free recycling of used pods), it offered a one-touch functionality that I knew I was more likely to use on a daily basis than a fully manual barista machines. Let’s face it – I’m doing everything one-handed right now with baby in the other arm - and milk foam art isn’t exactly an interest area of mine any way...

So, for Christmas, my family got me a Nespresso Lattissima Pro and it is already a part of my morning routine. I calculate that since Christmas, minus the cost of the pods and milk, I’ve already saved over $150 with my new home habit. By far, the best present I received this year.

On the flip side, my favorite gift to give this year was one that my daughter has been asking for literally five years running now: a backyard trampoline. For various reasons, I haven’t been able to give her one. This year, mommy (and Santa) finally delivered and she couldn’t be more thrilled. It feels like a big parenting victory, especially at a time when she’s getting a little less mommy attention thanks to our new addition. I’m not above child bribery to keep her happy.

What are the best (most fun, thoughtful, creative, etc.) gifts you’ve received and given this past year? They don’t have to be expensive or even tangible – just well appreciated.

latte.png (377.3 kB)
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29 Comments

  • Jan 23 at 07:41 PM

    Hi Jamie,

    Sending you virtual sleep in solidarity...

    I think I totally rocked it this year when I gave both my sons Banana phones. I don't know (or even care) if they ever use them. It's the fact that I FOUND THEM.

    Sadly, the makers of the awesome medieval knight sweatshirts didn't come through, otherwise you could envision my two sons (25 and 18) jousting around with their banana phones.

    Sue

  • Jan 24 at 04:22 PM

    All I wanted for the holidays was a Twilight Sparkle coffee mug. And I didn't get it.

    Wish I knew somebody who had one and would be willing to give it to me...

    P.S. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=il8Q5ZoJELQ

  • Jan 24 at 05:01 PM

    How similar! I tend to eat out at restaurants far too much as well, with dramatic effects upon both the wallet and the scale, so this also is something my wife and I are both trying to cut down on. We still enjoy and plan to eat out, but we want it to be more of a planned thing, vs "I'm tired/cranky/whatever, don't feel like cooking, let's go to the neighborhood restaurant." That latter, I think, is what was getting us.

    That, and I tended to eat out for lunch too much, too. This is a harder one, because it requires me to get into the habit of preparing a lunch at home in the mornings, but I'm getting there.

    The espresso one, however. Yes, the morning latte was a very hard habit to break, but I managed to do it about a year ago. Part of the secret was, like you, getting a machine at home that is easy to use and which I love the results of. I didn't go with Nespresso, because I'm actually quite happy with simple espresso shots, and therefore it's not a lot of trouble to use a traditional machine. I ended up with a DeLonghi, nice and small for our countertop, and not as horrendously expensive as many of the other fancy machines out there, and it produces a beautiful, tasty espresso with a perfect crema on top.

    Like Jerry, I'm a fan of the mug. :) Here's the one I use at work:

    mug.jpg (76.7 kB)
    • Jan 24 at 05:47 PM

      "I'm tired/cranky/whatever, don't feel like cooking, let's go to the neighborhood restaurant."

      This^!!!

    • Jan 24 at 06:03 PM

      Random aside: Shortly after Finding Nemo had come out on DVD, I was working in a Bose store and they had this scene on repeat all day and now I can't watch that movie anymore. The end.

      • Jan 24 at 06:07 PM

        Lol! I just thought the mug was cool, one day a few years ago when my boss brought in a bunch of mugs to hand out. I chose this one, though I hope it doesn't really reflect my general attitude. ;)

        I hadn't actually connected it with Finding Nemo. Been too many years since I saw that, I guess.

      • Jan 24 at 06:08 PM

        This is a coworker's mug. I kind of wish I had this one:

        meeting-mug.jpg (93.4 kB)
        • Jan 24 at 06:13 PM

          I'm kind of a crazy mug collector. My friends & family know to bring me those Starbucks "I was here" mugs anytime they travel or come visit me.

          Here's my Monday mug:

          mondaymug.png (325.5 kB)
          • Jan 24 at 06:17 PM

            Now I'm jealous! You have a MONDAY mug! I just have... a mug. Clearly I need to step up my game.

    • Jan 24 at 07:31 PM

      Here's my two favorite mugs. Tinker Bell because she's a woman with an attitude and the dragon because...well...dragons!

      But I don't drink coffee - I love the smell of fresh ground beans but I can't stand the taste of the stuff. So these get used for tea instead - that's the kettle for boiling water for tea behind them.

      coffeemugs.jpg (209.6 kB)
      • Jan 24 at 07:51 PM

        Nice juxtaposition, the attitude-laden fairy and the fire-breathing dragon!

    • Jan 24 at 10:15 PM

      My husband is a certified cheapskate, so we eat out maybe once a month tops. But I have yet to see a decrease in our waistlines. :) Oy vey...

      • Jan 24 at 10:26 PM

        Seeing a decrease in waistlines implies that there was a corresponding decrease in the frequency of eating out, but if you've been on an infrequent eating-out schedule for some time, then there has been no decrease, yes? :)

        And, it's certainly possible to still eat a lot at home. I need to learn how to wean myself from roasted potatoes. Or maybe it's the cashews that I much on all the time? Hmm...

        • Jan 25 at 04:53 PM

          I'm trying to replace potatoes with sweet potatoes whenever possible (which is challenging because no one else in our household likes them). For dietary purposes, potatoes are considered "starch" but sweet potato falls under "vegetable" jurisdiction. And it is the official vegetable of our state. :)

          • Jan 25 at 05:03 PM

            I like sweet potatoes! And, they truly are sweeter, sometimes too much so. I've tried getting sweet potato fries in restaurants when I have a hankering for french fries, which usually involves a small premium in price. I do like them, but not all the time; sometimes they're just too sweet. But they work well for roasting and baking.

            • Jan 25 at 05:12 PM

              Unfortunately, I found some restaurants are actually adding sugar to the sweet potato fries. :( Once I literally got the fries sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. Yuck (sent them back).

              Sometimes I do "half and half" roasted potatoes. Half plain, half sweet. Just cut the sweet ones into a little bit larger chunks. Half way healthy. :)

    • Jan 28 at 03:34 PM

      Oh, wait...we're sharing mugs now? I wanna play too!

      OK, none of these is a holiday gift. I commute into the office, so I need a travel mug. That's the one on the left.

      I do keep a regular ol' mug at my desk...a relic from when I thought I should drink more tea. It was a short-lived exercise, but I loved the mug and simply found another use for it.

      mug.jpg (313.2 kB)
      • Jan 28 at 04:12 PM

        Apparently, however, your tea-drinking experiment led to a container for pencils? Did you find the imagery of drinking coffee out of a "tea" mug just to much to bear? ;)

  • Jan 25 at 10:08 AM

    hi,

    for the nespresso machine there are reusable pods. So you can use your preferred coffee, it's better for the environment as there is less waste and it will be less expensive on the long run.

    just google reusable nespresso pods....

    M.

    • Jan 25 at 03:32 PM

      But, how easy is it to grind beans and fill the reusable pod... and clean it after... one-handed while holding a baby in your other arm? I think that was part of the functional spec... ;)

    • Jan 25 at 06:12 PM

      The research I did on the reusable pods for the Nespresso showed that they were not very functional and in most cases voided the warranty on the machine. I think it has to do with how the pods drop into the machine and how the machine uses high pressure to extract the espresso vs the keurig which has plastic cups and just runs the hot water through the coffee. I’ll continue my search though :)

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