The Great Pumpkin Spice Latte Quest

I have gone on a quest, a noble quest, a quest to find the best pumpkin spice latte in the greater Ann Arbor area. I have traveled near and far and sampled many lattes. I love pumpkin and I love coffee and I adore their intersection-the pumpkin spice/pie latte. I love the savory taste of pumpkin and the mixture of the various spices that go into a pumpkin pie. I also find the taste of soy milk to be an excellent addition to the mix of spices.

So where did I go to become an expert on this all important matter? And which latte did I like best? Read on…

  1. Sweetwaters Coffee and Tea-This latte is the perfect mix of sweet and savory. It has a delightful spice taste to it and a nice pumpkin taste as well. I love it. This was my favorite.
  2. Starbucks-very sweet, it has a nice mix of pumpkin and spice but it’s too sweet. Pumpkin ought to be more savory.
  3. Espresso Royale-very pumpkiny tasting, not strong in the way of spice but that’s fine since the name of the latte is “pumpkin pie” and not “pumpkin spice.” Also, the sweetened condensed milk gives it a nice pumpkin pie feeling. I enjoyed this one thoroughly.
  4. Biggby-very pumpkiny tasting, but not very strong in the way of spice. It has a very nice pumpkin flavor to it that is sweet but not too sweet. But it needs more nutmeg, allspice, and cumin.
  5. Panera-very good in the spice department, but not much pumpkin; I actually had to remove my lid and check to make sure that I had a PSL and not a chai latte.
  6. Great Lakes Chocolate and Coffee-This one was the roughest to drink. The latte was very poorly mixed, which made it mostly (unflavored soy) milk for about 30%, then about 60% of pumpkin, and then 10% spice. When I told her about my quest, barista told me that she thought GLCC’s latte would be an excellent option. I would definitely choose Starbucks or Biggby over GLCC. And I would obviously choose Sweetwaters.

So, in my humble opinion, Sweetwaters has the best pumpkin latte. I plan on revisiting it at least a few more times this fall.

Disclaimer: These are just my opinions. I was not paid for them. Anyone is free to disagree with me.

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Pattern Release: Elise McKenna

Last summer, I was privileged to visit one of Michigan’s little bits of heaven, Mackinac Island. While there, I asked my lovely friend, Kathleen, to model a cowl I had just designed that I was going to name Elise McKenna after the main character in the classic film, Somewhere in Time (Collector’s Edition). Kathleen was, naturally, a wonderful model, and the cowl flowed beautifully with the beautiful waters of Lake Huron. IMG_0862 The cowl is worked flat and then seamed at the end. It uses US Size 6 needles and about 300 yards of fingering weight yarn. It is a relatively simple pattern, and I hope that you’ll give it a try. IMG_0863I have decided to publish this pattern as a free pattern until the end of 2013. The pattern can be found here and you can see my project page hereIMG_0864

Why I Don’t Mind Being Single

First of all, let me say that I do want to get married and have a family. It is something that I desire and something that I believe that God is calling me to.

However, I believe that there is a purpose to this single season in my life. While I would love to be married and have a family, that isn’t where my life is right now. And by and large, I am fine with that. Why is that?

First of all, I am so much more than my relationship status. I am a heck of a lot of things and most of them don’t depend upon whether or not some dude has asked me out. I have managed to grow in various area of my life over the past few years specifically because I’m single. I’ve been able to use this time in my life to grow and to become more of the person that I am.

Secondarily, I believe that God has a plan for my life. I believe that he has put me where I am for a reason. I may not always understand that, but I try to accept that. I have accepted the fact that it is God’s will for me to be single in this season of my life. I don’t know how long he intends for this season to last, but while I’m here, I might as well make good use of this time.

Thirdly, I realize that I’m doing something with my life right now. I don’t need to wait until some guy puts a ring on my finger to have a purpose in my life. I don’t need to be a wife or a mother to have a purpose. I have a purpose to my life these days-and it’s a pretty awesome purpose.

As I have said before, I have my dream job. At the age of twenty-four, I got my first full-time teaching job. As a teacher, I have the opportunity to work with young people and to hopefully help shape them in a positive ways. I can introduce them to literature, to culture, and to ideas that they may have never considered before. I get to talk to them, to work with them, and to pray for them. To be honest, I think that I am able to be more available to them because I am single. I have more time and energy for my job because I’m unattached.

Now, my students not my children-although we’ve talked before about how I have been known to call my students my kiddos. But these children have become a part of my life. They have shaped me in little ways. Some of them have allowed me to see a window into their lives. Some of them have adopted me as a sort of older sister. I get to be involved in shaping their lives. There is nothing that I love more than those random moments when I get to give them my (usually solicited) opinion on important issues that may not be directly related what we’re covering in class. At the very least, I get to stick a new idea in their brains, give them something to chew over. I like that. I like making them think.

All in all, I’m happy with my life. I have a great job with great coworkers, wonderful friends, an amazing God, and an amazing yarn collection. I’m happy. I have all of the things that I need to survive and the ability to obtain most things that I want. To me, that’s a good life. It’s a happy life.

I don’t need a husband to make me feel validated. I don’t need to have rings on my finger to make me happy-although they might make the boys I teach stop trying to flirt with me. But I don’t need a husband. I have a life that fulfills me. And I believe that God has a plan for me. I firmly believe that I am single at this point in my life because it is His will.

Even in this life, I am trying to prepare for marriage. I pray for the man that I may someday marry. I ask God to bless him and to help him to become a strong, holy man of God. I pray that God will help me to become a strong, holy woman of God. I spend time with my friends and family because I know that I need a well-rounded life.

But for now, I’m single. And I am pretty darn content with that life. After all, I’m spending my Friday night grading homework, and I’m not sure how a boyfriend/husband would like that too much.

The Beatrice Shawl

About two months ago, I released the first of my five patterns inspired by Elizabeth Kostova’s The Swan Thieves: A Novel. Today, I am releasing the second pattern of that set, Beatrice. IMG_1648 IMG_1649 The character of Beatrice de Clerval from Elizabeth Kostova’s novel, The Swan Thieves, inspired this shawl. Beatrice is a half-circle shawl worked top-down in garter stitch with alternating colors and concluding in a simple lace pattern. It is designed to reflect Beatrice’s delicate but resilient grace.IMG_1652 IMG_1653 IMG_1656 IMG_1657 IMG_1663 IMG_1664 IMG_1667 IMG_1668 IMG_1669 IMG_1670

Beatrice was written for two different colors of yarn. I used Tanis Fiber Arts blue label fingering weight for the sample. You will need a whole skein (420 yds) of the main color (sand in the sample) and a bit more than half a skein (~250 yds) of the secondary color.

Pattern here.

Raveled here.