Monday, September 29, 2014

Morning coffee (it's a MUST!) #CoffeeBuzz Keurig 2.0 K400 review

It's International Coffee Day!!! Let's celebrate :)

With two littles who are keeping me astoundingly busy - and tired - coffee is a MUST. I have always loved coffee, and *before kids* used my espresso machine faithfully. It took a good 5 minutes of coddling to produce my morning joe, but the process was part of the pleasure.

Fast forward to life with kids, and I'm all about convenience in the morning. I'm getting breakfast for myself and the kids, tending to the dog, and trying to stay sane on very, very little sleep. My 15 month old doesn't sleep through the night any more than his sister did at this age - I'm up to about four years now without sleeping through the night once!

So I've become a quick and dirty coffee maker. I've been using *gasp!* instant coffee for a while. It comes pretty close to blasphemy for this aficionado, but I do buy the pricey coffee chain brand and it does the job.

However, given the chance to test out the new Keurig 2.0 K400 coffee maker from Staples.ca, I jumped at it. I had a Keurig machine years ago (check out my review on that one here), and was very curious to see what had improved with the new version.

I love the ease of popping in a K-cup and pressing a button to make one of an overwhelming number of varieties of coffee, tea, and other drinks like hot chocolate or dulce de leche. It is so simple and fast.

Keurig 2.0 K400 colour touch screenThe K400 has some features I love - like the ability to brew a single cup or a carafe! I had been making espressos for dinner guests and my espresso machine is noisy and slow. It takes a good 10-15 minutes to produce three espressos, it needs me to stand there for milk steaming, and it makes so much noise I can't take part in a conversation. Brew a carafe with the touch of a button? Yes!

The colour touch screen is easy to use, and the machine itself, while large (it has a 70oz water reservoir), looks nice and shiny on my counter.

Keurig 2.0 K400

Overall, it's so darn easy that I'm tempted to make coffee all day long. Luckily, there are lots of decaf varieties available as well! And when you register your machine on Keurig's website, you get a great discount on your first purchase of coffee.

My current favourite is the Tully's Italian Roast. Paired with French Vanilla milk, it is amazing. 

There are just a couple things I don't love about the machine. One is, like in my previous review, the waste of the K-cups. I have learned that the cup bit is recyclable - which means I'm spending time each morning peeling off the lid and pulling out the filter and coffee grounds, getting my fingers covered in wet coffee grounds, to recycle the cup. Convenience factor just took a big hit. The other thing I don't love is that it makes a big of a mess. It may just be the shape of our mugs, but I have found that the coffee splatters a bit as it goes into the cup. Not a huge deal, but again, taking some of the convenience away as I'm wiping down the counter and machine after use.

In honour of International Coffee Day (today, yo!) Staples is hosting Pick Me Up Hours where you could WIN! Watch Staples Canada's tweets and the hashtag #CoffeeBuzz for details!!

Disclosure: I received the Keurig 2.0 K400 and coffee products from Staples.ca to review. This is my honest opinion.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Birthday girl

Oh, my, it's been a while. It is amazing how much energy and time two little ones take! My son, now just coming up on 8 months old, has been teething (enough said!). My daughter has just turned three (how did that happen?!). How time flies!

This is just a quick post to share some images from my daughter's birthday. We did a pirate princess party (I had no idea these were so popular, and can thank Pinterest for a lot of the ideas I used at our party!). It was two hours of madness: 14 children and assorted parents. The power went out for 40 minutes in the middle - thank goodness it didn't affect us too much.

I borrowed a giant Wilton cupcake cake pan from a neighbour for her birthday cake. I used the recipes for Dark Chocolate Cake and Raspberry Jam Buttercream from Food.com, and they turned out wonderfully. Unfortunately for ME, every slice of cake and every mini cupcake was gone by the end of the party! On the plus side, I'd made double the batter, thinking I'd need it, and ended up with an extra dozen large cupcakes as well as an 8x8" cake in the freezer. Phew! Personal chocolate crisis averted.

I learned a couple of things about the pan before I baked, and I'm going to pass on these tips for anyone baking a giant cupcake cake with the Wilton two-part pan.  First, turn your oven to 325 degrees rather than 350. Cover the dome side with oiled foil before baking, and remove it after the first half hour. Test after 40 minutes or so, but mine took an hour to cook fully both sides. Apparently you need two cake mix boxes to fill the pan, as the base takes 3 1/2 cups of batter, and the top 2 1/2. But, if you use the truly delicious recipe above, you only need one batch worth (unless you just want loads and loads of cake, which really is okay in my books.

Here's my sweetie before the party:

Love that girl!