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You're About to be Redirected to the New Home of Ground Control to Major Mom: 3/25/12 - 4/1/12

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Searching for that Perfect Cup...Without So Much Garbage

I "won" this Keurig Elite from the HSC Charity Auction last fall

Like millions of other Americans, we have become Keurig customers.  It's like a revolution in coffee...Keurigs give you a "perfect" cup of coffee with very little work.  The American dream, right?

We got our first Keurig, a "Mini", just before we moved from Nebraska to Florida in fall 2010.  After the movers took our regular coffee pot, it was a nice way to keep having our coffee in the morning.  It's small and we didn't have to keep coffee grounds on hand, just a box (or two) of K-Cups and some disposable coffee cups. That one ended up in Dave's office.  We like how it turns itself off after the cup of coffee brews.  We get a bit paranoid about coffee pots being left on.

This past fall we got one for the home.  It's been great.  When you register your machine with Keurig, you get coupons for free K-Cups.  BOGO for 2 boxes of 48 K-Cups.  This was a great deal after Christmas when the Starbucks K-Cups became available online.

K-Cup-brewed coffee is delicious and perfect every time.  No doubt there.

My conundrum: K-Cups are very wasteful and are expensive.  After all, traditional coffee pots brew through compostable coffee filters and then you can go on to compost the spent coffee grounds.

You can compost coffee grounds -- and as a bonus, they also offset the odors in your compost pail.
But with K-Cups, you're dealing with a plastic cup that has a paper filter glued to the inside...all topped with a foil lid.  The very ambitious can peel off the foil lid and compost the meager amount of grounds inside.

Not only do K-Cups generate a lot of waste, but they're also expensive.  
Let's talk about the cost.  Your typical box of 12 K-Cups will run $6-10.  Starbucks will cost more (because they can, people are buying them anyway).  The prices vary considerably, based on the brand of coffee and the number of K-Cups in the box.  It goes without saying that the large multi-packs will sell for less-per-cup.

I often seek out the big deals for the cups: Keurig's own website has good deals, military commissaries have the best non-sale prices around, and you can use the Bed, Bath and Beyond and Kohl's coupons for some good deals also.

My goal is to keep the costs under 50 cents per cup.  I'm usually pretty good about that, even with the Starbucks cups, which tend to run closer to 80 cents per cup.

So I decided to try the "My K-Cup" contraption, which is found where Keurig machines are sold.  You remove the K-Cup holder from your machine and replace it with this grey cone, inside which you put a fine mesh filter with 1-2 Tbsp. of coffee grounds.

My first attempt at using this was a gi-nor-mous FAIL.  My first cup of coffee was super-weak, but when I added more grounds, the system overflowed and I got a countertop covered in hot water and loose coffee grounds.  I attempted to adjust the size of the grounds to make the coffee stronger...unfortunately, if the water flows too slowly through the filter, the machine will stop flowing water...and you end up with a smaller-than-planned cup of coffee.

I asked friends on Facebook for advice -- and received all sorts of ideas, which I've tried.  My Mom clued me into some replacement filter baskets that are bigger than Keurig's.

The BB&B filter is on the right.
This helped somewhat.  But the coffee was still weak.

One of my Facebook friends told me about Keurig addressing the waste problem by launching a brand-spanking new coffee brewing system: The Vue Brewer.  Sounds promising...but....

...what about the millions of us who have already invested in a coffee maker that only uses K-Cups?  I'm hoping for some backwards-compatibility here...Amazon has so many options out there to make your Keurig machine more efficient...let's see what we have, shall we?

I also tried a friend's idea to simply stuff a standard paper filter into the "My K-Cup" grey cone.  It was on its way to brewing a nice strong cup of coffee but then the water began to overflow around the filter.  Oops...another mess on my hands.

How about a standard paper filter in My K-Cup?  That didn't work so well either.

What am I doing?  I'm back to the standard, expensive, wasteful K-Cups.  For now.  I've been trying to get my coffee right for two weeks with the more resource-friendly options and so far haven't been successful.  On weekends we revert to our classic French press coffee maker, no filters, and the grounds go straight into my compost pail!

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

USS Alabama Battleship "Overnight Adventure" in Mobile

You can get an idea of how BIG the guns are on this ship.

This past weekend the boys had the opportunity to camp out on the USS Alabama battleship at its museum location in Mobile Bay.  This is something the organization does for Scout groups (and other groups) most weekends.  

The USS Alabama trip is truly one of the highlights of the scout year for my boys' pack.  I was the coordinator for the trip this year, even though females aren't allowed to remain on the ship if it's a male-booking.  Everything went surprisingly well; the kids and male chaperones seemed to have a great time!

There were scout groups from Petal, MS, Phenix City, AL, Marietta, GA and Jacksonville, FL also camping.  Over 300 people total!  I think we were the envy of the other groups -- we only had a 90 minute drive to the ship :-)

Enjoy some pictures I took of the gang before I left the ship at 8pm.  I stayed at the hotel that's adjacent to the property.

Most of the people you see here are from our Cub Scout Pack.  Dave and the boys are in the line somewhere.  There were over 80 from the pack on board!
Not a great picture, but you can get an idea of the berthing setup.  It's remarkable that they gave us 95 beds in two rooms...and how little space that took.
Here's a clearer view of the berthing -- I took this picture the following morning after everyone had disembarked and we cleaned up.  We had everyone in this room and the room through the door behind it.

Dave took the boys through the museum area.

A view of the downtown Mobile skyline from the ship.

The ship's snack bar can prepare meals for the group (for an additional fee) -- they prepared a pizza dinner for us.

Sunset over Mobile.

Jacob and I took a walk down to the tanks on display nearby.

Jacob liked that this was called "Amtrac".

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

It's Baseball Season!!!

It's baseball season here -- the boys are both in Navarre Youth baseball this year, and they got their uniforms and had their first games this past weekend.

Enjoy some pictures!!!!

At practice, Timmy is got some time as a catcher.

At practice.  The look on his face is priceless!  I can't remember if he hit this one or not....

Here's Timmy practicing as a 2nd baseman.

Game day!  He was so excited to be on the BRAVES!
Dave snuck in a couple of pictures while they were taking team photos.  These pics were taken SO early in the morning!  I wonder how the shadows will be resolved...
Timmy's team had the kids' names embroidered on the hats.  This will help them when these hats are strewn all over the dugout when the boys are batting.
Dave watched Timmy's first game while I watched Jacob's.  Dave got this picture of Timmy's first at-bat: it was a base hit!  He ended up running it in for a score, too!

Later in the game, he was catcher.

On Jacob's team, it was uniform issue day last Thursday.
I need to call that Jacob's "baseball smile" because it's one of the nicest ones he has.

Can you see the ball?  It's above the 3rd baseman's head.

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