Week 3 - How did you do?
Another great week here for The Bookhostess - while the weather was a bit damp, cold and rainy I was able to make some excellent progress in my creative journey. This week I decided to highlight two of the tasks at hand - I hope you had great success this week as well. And for those of you who may need a refresher here is the blog we used for inspiration.
1. BREATHE - This w as one that seemed simple enough but in practice faired to be a bit more challenging than expected. If you are anything like me you find it hard to take a moment for yourself or a moment to relax at all. I found that yoga helped me a bit with my breathing along with some great meditations - the tips I got below were very helpful. Take a look and let me know what you think.
The key to deep breathing is to breathe deeply from the abdomen, getting as much fresh air as possible in your lungs. When you take deep breaths from the abdomen, rather than shallow breaths from your upper chest, you inhale more oxygen. The more oxygen you get, the less tense, short of breath, and anxious you feel.
- Sit comfortably with your back straight. Put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
- Breathe in through your nose. The hand on your stomach should rise. The hand on your chest should move very little.
- Exhale through your mouth, pushing out as much air as you can while contracting your abdominal muscles. The hand on your stomach should move in as you exhale, but your other hand should move very little.
- Continue to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try to inhale enough so that your lower abdomen rises and falls. Count slowly as you exhale.
If you find it difficult breathing from your abdomen while sitting up, try lying on the floor. Put a small book on your stomach, and try to breathe so that the book rises as you inhale and falls as you exhale.
2. DRINK COFFEE - This one was my favorite and the one I enjoyed the most (so far). I normally drink coffee on the way to work and on occasion around 3pm when I hit the wall. But this week I tried to really enjoy the coffee and my time drinking it. I discovered the french press and found that my coffee tasted better and I truly enjoyed the intense taste and was even more excited when I discovered the travel french press.
After I discovered the travel french press I began to explore local coffee shops and then I stumbled upon this great article listing the top shops in the US. Hopefully there is one near you.
Top Local Shops in the USA!
Sixteen years ago Mary Allen Lindemann and Alan Spear opened this tiny coffee shop in Portland, Maine with the idea of building a place for the community. Over the years, the shop has grown from their original Congress Street location to three other shops and a micro roaster where they process all their beans. But despite their mini-expansion, the independent store remains homey and popular for Mainers as they continue to serve the community one cup of Fore Street coffee at a time.
The name El Beit means “home” in Arabic, and that’s precisely the vibe this Brooklyn café exudes. The shop opened in early 2008 and since then has served a constant flow of killer coffee made with the ubiquitous Clover machine or with a French press. The beans come from 49th Parallel, a roaster in Vancouver, but all the pastries they serve are made locally at their sister store.
Seattle has always held the reputation of being the coffee king, so picking one of their numerous cafes wasn’t easy. Espresso Vivace was chosen for its rich history in the Seattle scene, and for their rich Northern Italian espresso. Since 1988, owners David Schomer and Geneva Sullivan have made the art of espresso their life and have delved into roasting, pulling, preparing, pouring and grinding for the perfect shot. Each of their three locations remain unique too, one is a sidewalk bar, another a European style café and the third a more modern coffee shop featuring a cool design.
Coffee shops have often been associated with poets, activists, college students and any artistic type looking for a caffeinated connection. And, given that the patron saint of Firestorm is writer and feminist Voltairine de Cleyre, this stereotype fits perfectly with this café in Asheville, NC, and not in a bad way. The cafe opened in 2005 with the goal to be worker-owned, and for the past six years, they have achieved that goal while also using Counter Culture Coffee to make a mean cup of joe.
The artistic aura that Austin puts out has been drawing people in for decades and, like any good, creative-minded person, they need caffeine. At Flipnotics they get that and for the past 19 years this quirky café has served the needs of musicians and artists with cups of steaming Fair Trade organic coffee and by hosting live bands. Also, while the shop remains laid back, that doesn’t mean the baristas are lazy, in fact, the coffee mavens here make some of the best lattes and cappuccinos out West.
As independent coffee shops started closing up in Denver after the corporate coffee boom, Pablos has remained strong since 1995. Owner Craig Conner first catered to the theater crowd at his original location next to the Denver Performing Arts Center. Now the shop has moved and taken root in the historic Alamo Placita neighborhood and not only serves up quality cappuccinos, lattes and café solo, but they roast their own beans daily. Aside from keeping the community caffeinated, they also host an annual pancake brunch extravaganza for their customers.
Owner Phil Jaber has been researching coffee for almost 35 years, and nothing shows off his aptitude for the bean more than his system of “by the cup” brewing he does at Philz in San Francisco. First, you pick your beans from a detailed list that includes options like the medium-blend Philharmonic or the dark-roasted Jacob’s Wonderbar. Then they grind and set it to drip. For the past eight years this has been the drill, and though they have added a few more locations, it’s still a personalized and true coffee shop experience, right down to the worn out couches and strategically placed laptops littering the joint.
Customers flock to this Dayton, Ohio coffee shop for a number of reasons: One, they hire skilled baristas to make outstanding drinks; two, the beans they use change constantly to keep things fresh; and three, they don’t cater to the masses with silly drinks like the frappuccino (because really, that’s not coffee). They use beans mainly from Counter Culture and newcomer Dogwood, and the shop sports numerous plugs for those hard at work freelancers, and of course, they also hang local art on the walls. All of this adding up to the perfect indy coffee shop.
They had us with their Beaumont blend espresso, which gets described as a “deep dark chocolate and ripe berry” blend. Yum. But it’s not just their beans that make this Portland spot jump out, it’s the pure love and joy owner Din Johnson put into his shop. Johnson first got into roasting coffee in 2000 in his home. That hobby grew until he needed an actual store to house the roaster, so, in 2005 he created his coffee shop by hand, picking out everything that gives it the clean, cozy vibe. Though they have two locations now, Johnson can be seen entombed in the glass-walled roasting chamber at his original shop.