Friday, December 30, 2011

Friday Forum Takes a Road Trip

Taking a picture for the blog.
Our Christmas trip to Wisconsin provided a super opportunity for this coffee lover.  On a previous Friday Forum it was suggested we try Berres Brothers Coffee Roasters in Watertown, Wisconsin.  A quick visit to the website and it would be easy to order their popular Highlander Grogg online but with a northern Christmas planned, and Watertown just down the road, a visit was put on the schedule.

As I was posing in front of the sign, D preparing to take my photo, a couple crossing the parking lot asked, "Are you from out of town?" 

I explain I've come all the way from Texas to visit this particular roaster.  They offer to take our picture but D declines, explaining the picture is for my coffee blog and he doesn't need to be in it.  She answers, "Then you might want this man in your picture because he is the owner."  My surprise and delight are evident as I immediately pull Pete Barres into the picture.

Pete Berres Owner
Berres roasting team.
Pete, and his lovely wife Julie, were so gracious to a gushing coffee fan.  They invited me onto the roasting floor.

I was introduced to the Berres roasters who explained the roasting process, showed the diffference of the beans pre and post roasting, demonstrated the roaster, which operates in the same fashion as a hot air popcorn machine, and we witnessed their flavoring method.

The selections were endless, I was in a coffee lovers candy land.  We left with two packages of Highlander Grogg, an explosion of butterscotch, caramel and hazelnut, fresh from the roaster.  Packer Perc, buttery hazelnut with a kick of Irish creme, was the additional choice for a regional flare. 

Everyone at Berres Brothers was helpful and friendly.  It was wonderful to stand and sniff the wonderful aroma that filled the shop.  The sandwich bar was worth the visit as well.  Thank you to Pete and Julie Barres and the whole Barres Coffee team for the informational visit, it was so much more than I expected and great fun! 

The particular insights of the Forum will follow soon.  In the meantime, readers, any other coffee suggestions?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Thankless Jobs Recognized

The holiday season brings out the Salvation Army bell ringers.  Varied souls take on this job for various reasons. 

A fellow co-worker and I were stopping at Hobby Lobby this week and he shared with me that one of the most overlooked workers is the bell ringer.  It was reported how people ignore them, look past them, avoid them and so he was making a point to recognize these workers by greeting each one he passed.

Being a bell ringer and asking for money from the general public is a thankless job.  I will admit to not making eye contact in order to ease the guilt for not putting money in their bucket.  C's comments made me rethink my actions.  Since that afternoon I've greeted every bell ringer receiving some surprised, but enthusiastic, responses.

This brings to mind another thankless job.  Just west of Dickens  and east of Crosbyton is a treasure appreciated by many a traveler; a spectacularly clean rest area/restroom. 

We make a point of stopping at this well tended rest area because it is SO clean.  It is maintained by a company out of TN but I know it is a local individual who is doing an outstanding job.

Cleaning restrooms and picking up after the general public is a thankless job.  I want to recognize those in charge of this rest stop.

What thankless jobs would you like to recognize?

Picture from:

Friday, December 16, 2011

Mid-Week Merriment with the Friday Forum

The holidays are a time for gathering together, enjoying conversation and making merry.  The Friday Forum embraces this attitude all year.  When the holidays roll around we double the fun.  Wednesday we gathered at my house for a holiday lunch and to share the treasures we stuffed into each other's stockings. 

Friday found us back in the office chatting over steaming mugs of fresh ground Sumatran beans, moist chocolate cookies and a tasty snack mix. 
Herein are musings from the Forum:

N., on the north end of the hall, not only provided the wonderful chocolate cookies and snack mix we all enjoyed but contributed these thoughts about the Wednesday party:
Favorite moment: Talking about our favorite Christmas movies/shows, even though S. and V. didn’t have one.
Favorite food: dessert – who knew you could put three different kinds of cookie in one ice cream? (Blue Bell Christmas Cookie . . . yum!)
Favorite thing about parties: laughing with friends.

M., on the south end, said:
The Christmas tree, decorated with so many memories of L’s childhood, was an inspiration. Our family tradition has been one new ornament each year, but I now want to incorporate this idea, with that new ornament representing a special memory. I was browsing Pinterest last night and found another inspiration! This year’s ornament is going to be homemade…a clear glass ball filled with sand and sea shells to remind us all of our wonderful family vacation in Virginia Beach! It will be a reminder of how blessed that time together was and keep us smiling until the next time we can all be together again. And, for our precious grandson there just may be a few clear glass balls filled with snowflakes and photos of his far away grandparents loving on him.
E. shared:
I am so blessed to work with such wonderful people. They are always there for me. I look forward to Friday Coffee Break every week. It is so fun to try new recipes and chat and relax for a spell!

M., in the front office, comments on both occasions:
I love the holiday conversations. I learn about so many different traditions that all of us have. I love S.’s Christmas tree which is a walk through her families past. It’s like a huge scrapbook. C.’s family opens one present every hour. How much fun keeping the excitement throughout the whole day! What we did when the kids where home is, between the 7 of them, draw names out of a hat and go to Wal-mart-give each child $20.00 dollars and they shopped for their secret brother or sister's gift. They enjoyed this so much. Plus, this helped me out since I really hate shopping!

Another topic today was personal space issues that come up when we go out to a store or are waiting in line somewhere. C.’s idea of envisioning a hula hoop around you, to mark as your own area to stay in, was fantastic.

Of course the chocolate cookies were fantastic, thank you N. and also getting a new recipe for a party mix from N.’s mom. They were both delicious!

Those of us in the Friday Forum appreciate you stopping by and sharing our fun.  Please take a moment and comment on a Christmas favorite for you, your family or your workplace.

Wishing you and your family/office a very Merry Christmas and successful New Year!

Pictures from:

Saturday, December 10, 2011

2011 Resolution: A Review . . . of sorts

January of 2011 I declared my words for the new year, "Be Not Afraid". With several major family events scheduled I was already feeling anxious.  As a child of God I know I should "be not afraid" so I made it my New Year's resolution to seek the peace in those words.   How did I do? 
Our only child, L., graduates from High School in the spring and leaves for college in the fall.  Spring term is grueling as he works to finish up Senior projects and pass tests earning his International Baccalaureate, as well as his high school, diploma.  Graduation day was exciting with family traveling in to celebrate.

Summer begins, the economy tanks, unemployment jumps and education funds disappear as the state scrambles to fund a system in distress.  Scholarship and loan money we thought would be available are frozen and announced as unlikely to reappear.  Completing my M.Ed. in 2005 was part of our plan toward paying for L.'s college.  I begin to search for full-time positions in earnest.  We sharpen our pencil, tighten our belts and apply for multiple scholarships.  L. puts in as many hours as his job will allow.

Money begins flowing to the university with down payments, fees and reservations.  Unexpected scholarships come in and we meet all the required obligations.  September we pack up and move L. into his dorm.  Tuition is paid, books are bought, housing is charged.  The first year is covered.

Fall, another school year and empty nest feelings settle in.  Lots of job applications, two interviews, no job offer.  My part time job is stable, my office mates are supportive and encouraging.  My husband and I see a marked reduction in the grocery bill, gas consumption and utilities.

How did I do, not being afraid, in 2011?  At each shift that would turn my insides with anxiety I would kneel at my bedside, offer it up to the LORD, ask forgiveness for my weakness and declare, with His help, I would not be afraid.   
2012 brings many of the same issues but I have known peace through 2011.   We have been steadfast; working, adjusting and tightening our finances and keeping God at the center of our lives.  We have met all our obligations and I am not afraid, that we will meet all that are yet to come.

John 14:27 (NIV) "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
Pictures courtsey of:

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Empty Nesting Quilt #3

#2 Christmas for D.
As of August, when our only son went off to college, I have been channeling my empty nest emotions through a creative outlet, quilting, (more piecing than actual quilting).  The first two were t-shirt quilts made from his High School tees and tees from K-8.

This fabric is the outside frame
This third quilt is a Christmas gift for my husband D. and is more traditional.  The squares have an applique made from remnants of Christmas fabric originally purchased to make pajamas for L. when he was small. 

#1 Christmas, 2001 for L.
Math has always been a bit of a challenge therefore there are plenty of the same scraps allowing for two quilts made from the same Christmas fabric.  

For convenience and ease of sewing I generally buy a flat sheet, (queen size for this), as backing but single sheets, outside of a set, are becoming increasingly difficult to find.  This is even more challenging when seeking a particular color.  Back to the trusty fabric store, a bit more sewing, an extra touch at the top and the backing is in place.

This quilt took much longer than the T-Shirt quilts and it seemed I was running out of steam.  Perhaps it was time to store the machines, (thank you #1 sister, J. for the serger) until my #2 sister, J., tickled my ears with the idea of the Quilt-As-You-Go method.  I like the idea of quilting but realize I don't have the patience for it.  This method, aptly demonstrated here, is very intresting and, I've decided, worth a try.  Stay tuned for #4.