Winter Wonderland Exposed

I happen to be the proud mother of a Boy Scout and a Cadette Girl Scout. While both of the programs are similar in their goals, their approach is greatly different. My daughter’s Girl Scout troop would never think about winter camping; but those sturdy Boy Scouts spent a night this past week-end tent camping. Now for those of you who haven’t read my bio, we live in Nebraska and the temperature Saturday night was -9 degrees fahrenheit. Add to that, snowfall and you have what may be a disaster for many. Not these boys. Eleven boys and 3 adults braved the snow, the wind and the cold temperatures and came home on Sunday, saying they all had a great time. Why? Because they were prepared. While most of us will not be tent camping any time in freezing cold weather, there are things that can be learned by their experience.

First of all, know your weather conditions and anticipate the worst. It is better to have too much and be too warm in cold weather than to not have enough and be too cold. Layers is the key thing. Your clothing layers may be:
#1    A t-shirt, then a thermal shirt (preferably one that will wick away the moisture), a long sleeve shirt or sweater, then a vest and then your winter coat.
#2    Bottom layers would be a pair of wool socks (or socks that will wick away the moisture) a pair of cotton socks and then well insulated boots; Thermal underwear (wicking), a pair of jeans and then snow/ski pants.
 #3    You need a good pair of gloves or mittens. (While mittens may not be the favorite, they will keep your hands warmer) Under your gloves/mittens, you can wear liners that would help in the insulation process. Make sure you have a hat, a scarf or neck gator.

This may seem a lot, but it will keep you warm in the cold, cold weather. If you get too hot, you can peel off a layer. This will get you through the day.

If sleeping in a tent in the cold weather, it can be very simple in keeping warm…layers. After clearing away a spot and setting up your tent, lay a tarp down to protect your sleeping bag from moisture (your body temp could melt the snow beneath the sleeping bag). Next lay down a pad as a barrier between the tarp and your sleeping bag. This will help as an insulator from the snow. You either need to have a great winter sleeping bag or you can stuff a quilt or another sleeping bag in your main sleeping bag.

When getting ready for bed, do not, DO NOT, sleep in the clothes that you wore during the day. Take those clothes off and put on clean clothes and socks. Clean clothes will help keep you warmer. If you want, you can heat up some water and put the hot water in your water bottle and put it in your sleeping bag to help warm it up. You need to put your water bottle in your sleeping bag if the temp is going to drop below freezing. That way you will have water that is drinkable in the morning and not frozen.

The last bit of advice is to make sure that when you are warming up by the fire, drying your clothes or boots by the fire, that you do not get too close. My son has ruined boots by melting them and one camper this week-end burned his snow pants. Being too close to the fire can put a huge damper on a great week-end.

While I could not camp, I am not opposed to trying out winter camping. I feel that I have enough background to survive and actually have fun. The only thing that may make the camping a little more enjoyable is alittlecaffeine!

As I was heading to church, I was thinking how those Scouts chose to sleep out-of-doors and were prepared. But there are people out there that may be out in the elements by their choice or just by their circumstances who are not prepared. While I know that we can’t be all things to all people, I hope that in some way society can be a help to those people who want and would accept help to improve their circumstances. That would be my wish for today.

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Good coffee on the cheap

I know that there are many of you out there that stop off at your favorite coffee shoppe, either chain or locally owned, and pick up your favorite latte as you head off to work. I have been a stay-at-home mom for years but love a good latte in the morning. Add to that I live in a housing development out-of-town, so it takes quite the effort to drive to town to get the venti, caramel macchiato, or almond joy latte to start my morning.

Through trial and error, I believe that I can make a comparable latte at home. It takes just a couple of things that you may or may not have around the house. If you want to have that coffee-house taste at home, continue reading.

You do not need an expensive espresso maker that has the steamer attached. My coffee is made with a $25.00 stove top espresso maker. I tend to like my coffee so I use a 16 oz. maker and make one BIG latte. The other thing you need is a milk frother. I have a Bodum Brand which costs $20.00. Those are you two major expenses – $45.00 – the cost of  6-8 venti lattes at your chain coffee shop. With those two items, and flavoring extract from your spice cabinet, the skies the limit.

I choose a nice, dark, coffee to brew. I do not purchase espresso. Most of my coffee is purchased through Gevalia so I use both beans and already ground, depending if I want a flavored coffee or a not. For a nice strong coffee use 3 Tbls. for 16 oz. of water. Put the maker on your burner, turn on the flame and wait for it to perk up. Now take you frother and add 8 oz. of skim milk (skim milk froths best). Put it in your microwave and heat it for approximately 2 minutes (you will get a feel for your own likes) I like my milk to have that almost scalded flavor. After it comes out of the microwave, put the lid (frother) on the container and froth away.

I like my lattes skinny so I use two packets of sweet n low to my drink which is the 16 oz. of coffee and the 8 oz. of milk.  (See photo of my cup) I like flavors so I get into my spice cabinet and choose from the numerous flavor extracts I have. My favorite is an Almond Joy. While you can use chocolate syrup, it will leave syrup on the bottom of the cup no matter how well you mix it. I prefer Watkins Chocolate Extract. (Watkins is the only company I can find that makes chocolate extract.) So, chocolate extract, almond extract and coconut extract. I put in the sweetener, the extract, the coffee and then the milk and froth. You can use any flavorings you want and if you want a nice summer drink, add ice.  One of my venti drinks (24 oz) sets my day off with alittlecaffeine, milk for my bones and a sweet way to start my day. 

While I don’t always know how many calories I am getting from the coffee shoppe lattes, I know exactly what goes into my coffee. The calorie count for my drink is less than 100 calories. There are basically no calories in the flavoring, sweetener or coffee. The only calories are in the milk and it tastes fabulous.

Most kitchen stores will have the stove top espresso maker and frother. And to find Watkins dealers in your area, go to watkinsonline.com. It is such an easy solution to saving money and having a great latte at your convenience.

Hello world!

Hello World! That is my hope for you, that I can help you “see” the world and experience all it has to offer through “Alittlecaffeine”. I will help you learn how to travel smart, to enjoy the fine things and try to make smart decisions about when to spend and when to not spend.

Do you now that you can make a fine latte at your home and not pay the exhorbitant prices of the popular coffee houses? With a few additional items to your kitchen, you too can enjoy a “candy bar” latte but not pay the price.

My family has traveled quite a bit and I have to say that we do it right. I can help you find the ways to travel smart, find good places to eat and have a great vacation. Now, I will say that, some times you have to pay the money to enjoy a little  luxury, but in cutting costs in other ways, you don’t need to feel guilty.

I look forward to sharing our family adventures to Europe (Spain in particular) and our travels through the U.S.