Some could say Fair-Trade, others would say substituting sugar-free syrups in place of the heavy calorie sauces.
My coffee is pretty low in calories even when I have a “cheat coffee” which is an oatmilk cappuccino these days. My morning coffee is anywhere from 45-65 calories depending on how creamy I want it. My cappuccinos are only 65-95 calories depending on the size I get which means I add two sugar in the raw packets or one. So again this is not really anything I feel super guilty about.
What I mean when I say, “guilt-free coffee” is that my coffee is sourced from a fair wage plantation that takes care of the workers and the profits go right back to the producers. My conscience is guilt-free and I know that I am helping the farmers and workers.
There is another element that guilt-free means and that has to do with my creamer. Most people are surprised that I used powdered creamer. Before I go into the details of that let me explain why I use powdered creamer.
I’m lactose intolerant and cannot use, drink, consume, or go anywhere near dairy cow’s milk. My mom informed me that I was covered in a rash from head to toe and had to have goat milk delivered to the house so I could get my calcium and nutrients. My rash was so bad that I would be walking around in a diaper or just completely naked. I am glad she never took pictures of these memories and only shared them with via story-telling.
So growing up it was always hit and miss with dairy. Sometimes I was fine, sometimes not so much. I think I have had upset tummies all over the world and have learned that I should not go anywhere near half-and-half in Southeast Asia because it’s really just milk 0_o.
Over the years I have had enough burbling and gurgling in my insides to stop the madness and take care of things my way. The dairy-free way. And that means powdered, non-dairy creamer. I have never had any issues with this product. I can pack it with me and take it around the world. And I have.
I like my coffee sweet and creamy (see How You Take Your Coffee blog). I have consumed black coffee with sugar in Ireland, Thailand, Fiji and other places where I feel the creamer could be suspect. It’s not my preferred taste or color, but it’s just not worth the trouble if I take the risk.
This leads to the last element of guilt-free coffee: Coffee-Mate, non dairy, powdered creamer. I know this is what seems to shock everyone. The good news is Nestle is now committed to safe palm oil production and this makes the last element of my guilt-free coffee even better.
Not only is my coffee guilt-free, my sugar is guilt-free, and my creamer is also guilt-free.
I sometimes make this sound when I am so desperate to get the coffee into my system while it’s still scalding that I will make a slight slurping sound.
I try to be cognizant of the noise as I am doing it, but sometimes I just can’t help it.
I’d love to hear what you have to say about coffee slurping.
Let’s take a poll:
Some people can’t stand the word, “moist” which I think is silly because it is used in food references all the time. The general consensus is cake should be moist. Who wants to eat a dry cake?
So it seems that coffee slurping would be more disturbing than the word “moist” but I could be completely wrong.
I’ve traveled to very humid places and we would say the air was very thick and moist; I never thought about how it might upset someone to say this. I have made a conscious effort not to slurp my coffee.
If I do slurp it is due to my rash behavior and not being able to control myself with a fresh cup of coffee.
If you’re okay with the word moist and coffee slurping is cool with you, but some other thing drives you crazy, let me know in the comments below.
The CoffeeFitnessUnicorn podcast went through some changes from a solo operation to a joint effort to once again being a solo endeavor.
I’d like to take this time the thank all of you who supported the Those Coffee Humans podcast and redirect you back to the CoffeeFitnessUnicorn program.
I know you loved us both to tell stories and share tales about ourselves and our adventures, however, this new podcast will have special features: such as subscriber benefits, VIP access, and Instagram LIVE specials where I can talk with you personally to make it more interactive.
Right now the voice is automated as we are still unpacking from our arduous and somewhat traumatic move. I did find the podcast equipment, I just wasn’t able to set it up in time to release the episode. Next episode will me talking and sharing the newest features of the podcast.
Stay tuned for more details, give the episode a listen and let me know what you think.
Tell me what you would like to hear, know and how we can make this a better user experience for you.
Coffee mugs have traveled with me around the world and I have traveled back with mugs from those exotic places so I can savor the memories while enjoying my favorite beverage in those magical containers.
If you have ever been a guest, I probably served you a drink of some sort in a coffee mug, be it wine, whiskey, soda, or of course coffee.
I may not have much, but I will always have coffee and coffee mugs. When I was overseas in the Air Force the only kitchen items I had were a: mini coffee maker, mini espresso maker, plate, bowl, and coffee mug. It was all I needed and I never thought about buying anything else. I had everything my little coffee-loving heart needed, why be superfluous with my purchases?
I have pretty much always been utilitarian with things and the coffee mug is the perfect utility drinking tool for me.
Coffee mugs are very multifaceted and depending on the size, it can fit a plethora of uses. I’m sure I’ve even used one as a vase for fresh flowers at sometime.
Many times I’ve used a coffee mug as a pen holder. See image below. I usually use an Alumni mug for pens to remind me how far I’ve come. In the case below, we had just moved and I wanted a little reminder of a friend so I used the mug she gave me <3.
Using a coffee mug as a toothbrush holder was a first for me and I am sure it won’t be the last example of the ever multi-purposeful coffee mugs.
I’d love to hear that I am not the only one who does such things with coffee mugs.
Do you have any creative coffee mug uses to share? Tell me in the comments below…
This is my mantra when I am facing something scary, for example: spiders, bugs in general and anything that isn’t flying helicopters.
Why is this my mantra?
Flying helicopters was one of the scariest things I have ever done. Think about it, it’s a flying death machine being controlled by a human. What could go wrong, right?
I have had to face my fears many times without this mantra and it was not easy. For example, I had to face several of my greatest fears at one time: ocean water, sharks and stingrays all at the same time. That’s right I swam in shark and stingray infested waters and I didn’t have the mantra back then.
I did have a hunky Tahitian guide with a traditional tattoo of a shark and stingray so I had a feeling I was in good hands. We were on an excursion of a lifetime and this was the moment you enter the traveler-zone or stay in the comfort-zone.
The brave ones jumped into the water without hesitation while the rest of us who were more apprehensive considered our options. One-by-one the reluctants joined in. It was me and one other lady and she was not even having it. So I watched our guide as he explained how the stingrays eat, he gave it a fish in the mouth and what looked like its ear! Holy shit! That was creepy!!
Since I was still on the boat, he asked me to hand him the bag of fish. It was blood-soaked and heavier than I expected. Fish blood and fish juice got all over my hand and arm and I was about to go into the shark and stingray water. WTF was I thinking?!
I wasn’t, I just slowly climbed down the ladder into the warm clear water, making sure not step on a stingray because that would be bad, very bad. What you had to do was float and keep your hands and feet close to you so the sea critters don’t think your hands are food and try to eat them. So there I am doing the oddest doggy-paddle of my life while seeing sharks and stingrays through my snorkel mask.
Then I heard my breath. Slow and steady. Calm as I could be while “swimming” with sharks and stingrays. It was the craziest thing I had ever experienced.
I guess you could say, “But I swam in shark and stingray infested waters” would be a good mantra, but I disagree.
Here’s why. I chose to learn to fly helicopters. I paid for lessons. I trained and I drilled the maneuvers. I was prepared for the weather situations, I was prepared for things not to go right and how to adapt. It was skill and hard work—and it was scary as hell.
But you were trained and exposed to various elements that helped you handle a situation. And when you survived it you felt exhilarated.
For example: Turbulence. We know them and dislike them in large commercial aircraft. Let me tell you they feel very different in a small flying death bubble.
The first thing you are trained to do is to ease off the controls when you hit them. Most people want to plow through them and accelerate. WRONG answer. This is a very scary situation, you are bouncing around and being tossed about all the while trying to pay attention to your speed, altimeter, and listening for odd noises.
During one of my three cross country flights I hit some really bad turbulence and I literally thought I saw my heart leave the cockpit while I tried to gain control of the flying death bubble.
Here’s what happened: I was flying through a canyon as per the flight plan. I was flying at the correct altitude and speed. Then I dropped and bounced in the sky. My training kicked in. I eased off the collective, cyclic and pedals, then looked at my gauges about shat myself because I saw the worst thing I could see. My speed gauge hit the red zone which means I could crack the engine and fall from the sky. Yup, that just happened. You are one and half hours away from your home airport what do you do? You pay attention to every sound she makes. You watch those gauges and prepare to land anywhere that looks safe. This is what you train for. This is what has been drilled into you. You can handle this. They would never let you fly by yourself for three hours if they didn’t believe you could do it. You are doing it and taking control of the situation.
You just recovered from a torrent of angry air and maintained control. You can do anything.
That is why I say my mantra is, “But I fly helicopters.” To remind myself that if I can survive a flying death bubble, I should be able to kill a spider or any other creepy-crawly thing out there.
Here’s an article that sheds some light on the flying world from the pilots and owners of my flight school.
(We’re in the middle of a move so my log book, certificate, and photos are all packed up. I trained well before social media was a thing and documenting my flights was hard since I had a flip phone back then. If I was flying now, you bet I’d be filming everything!!)
For example: If Sally goes to the store with Billy and Sally has $.57 and Billy has $.72 how many watermelons can they buy if watermelons are $.17 a pound?
What the hell is this craptastic scenario?!
My brain gets stuck. Not on the math—but in the story.
I want more of the story. Where the hell is the rest of the story?!
For me, my brain, is imagining Sally with a blonde, bob hairstyle, blue eyes and she is wearing a cute, flowy and flowery babydoll dress with patent leather Mary Jane shoes. Billy has a red and white striped shirt, faded jeans and white, low-top Converse shoes. He has a gentle face with brown eyes and a buzz cut. He is very protective of Sally as she is his little sister. In my mind, I’m wondering why their mom has sent them off to the store to buy watermelons since they are so young and watermelons are heavy.
Anytime I saw a “Word Problem” it was indeed a word problem. I was so lost in the story and it was problematic that the rest of the story was missing.
Every time I read a “Word Problem” I had to work even harder to focus on what it was that I was supposed to do because I was so lost in the missing story.
I wanted Sally and Billy to buy purple elephants and apple-sized lollipops. It was so hard for me to do the math when they had that many words without a real story. I always wanted more of the story. Or I wanted to know why these children were doing the things they were doing.
Or better yet, why was a guy standing on platform at the train station? Where was he going? In my mind he was wearing a London Fog, camel-colored trench coat, he was holding a leather bag, he wore a grey fedora hat, shiny wingtip loafers, he had thick black-rimmed glasses, and an intelligent face. I wanted to know what he did for work, what he was going to eat when he got to Chicago or New York. To me, it did not matter how long it took him to get to these places, I wanted to know what he was going to do when he got there.
I survived the “Word Problems” of my childhood only to be more baffled as I got older and advanced to Algebra. When I saw “Solve for X” on the board I was like where is the rest of the word?
Why was there only one letter?!
Is “X” the first letter or the last?!
Was the missing word “Xylophone” or was it “Sex” or was it something trickier?
In my mind you could not just put a letter on the board, there had to be more.
Math for me was the most torturous thing because it always involved letters and these letters were missing letters. I hated that the letters equalled numbers. The letters should be with more letters not be reduced to a singular number.
It is a true miracle I survived my math classes in grade school, high school and college, (Statistics-ugh! Don’t even remind me of that course. I passed with hard work and by the kindness of my professor and walked away never to do anything other than basic math ever again). I could never tell anyone what was happening in my brain with “Word Problems” or Algebra because I knew they would think I was completely mental. I suffered through it and thank the Word Gods who helped me realize words are my friends and as long as I can keep my bank account balanced, I’ll be just fine.
Only now can I share with you the problems with word problems from my youth and know that I am not completely mental. I am a word lover and word freak and in my mind words tell a story. If you give me only bits and pieces of a story, my mind will create a story and get lost in the details that I filled in. And there is nothing wrong with that. Words are not problematic for me, words are not numbers, words are delicious distractions, wondrous wishes, and things of beauty to get lost in.
If you could describe WRR in three words what would they be?
Chilly. Brooding. Feathers.
Why Scandinavian Noir/Nordic Noir? -which title/name do you prefer?
Most of my family lives in Norway and Sweden so Scandinavian Noir is something I’ve always been drawn to. I also did my first master’s degree in Scandinavian Literary Studies and my thesis was specifically focused on work vs. family relationships in Scandinavian crime dramas, so it’s a topic I’m really interested in. Likewise, that’s a theme which is very prevalent in Where Ravens Roost and in the follow-up, Last One Alive.
I also love the importance Scandinavian Noir puts on a story’s location. A large amount of detail and attention is invested in the setting. Setting is intricate to most stories, but Scandinavian Noir really pushes it to another level. The settings in that genre take on a persona of their own and become an essential character in the book. The environment permeates the narrative and often adds an extra layer of difficulty for the characters. That’s something which has always fascinated me. I’m really pulled into stories with bleak, dark, and unforgiving environments because of that extra level of tension it gives to the story. It makes the protagonists’ struggle even more challenging when they have to deal with unforgiving surroundings on top of whatever problem they’ve come up against in the plot.
I actually prefer the term Nordic Noir, but I think that comes from my research and experience in academic literary studies where that term is more commonly used. (Also because I’m a sucker for alliteration!) I think nowadays in the general publishing world it’s more appropriate to call it Scandinavian Noir so as to be more inclusive of the different countries. Also because the word ‘nordic’ is more traditionally associated with Norway.
If you could have Fika with any character in the book, who would it be?
If I could have Fika with any character in Where Ravens Roost, it would probably be Esme. She’s the character who’d come up with the most interesting conversation topics. She does a lot of reading up on strange facts and she isn’t afraid to be blunt about her interests and passions. She’s also quite a bit more personable and forthcoming than a lot of the characters in the novel. She has an introverted side that will be explored more as the books go on, but she’s an extroverted introvert. She can be very social when she wants to be. She’s not afraid to speak her mind. And I think she’d have a lot of good stories to tell. There wouldn’t be an awkward lull in the conversation. Kjeld is more the kind of character who you go out for a beer with. Fika usually happens in the first few hours of the work shift and by that point Kjeld would already be fixated on whatever the problem of the day is. So, getting a good conversation out of him that doesn’t involve crime or murder might be difficult. There’s actually a kind of Fika moment in the second novel between Kjeld and his colleagues and he really struggles to keep up with the perfunctory aspect of the conversation. He’s way more internally preoccupied than the other characters, and for very good reasons, but I think that stunts his conversation skills a bit. But at the end of the week and after a few drinks he’d probably be more interesting to talk to. The sequel also introduces a new character, Sixten, and I think he could be fun to have Fika with as well. Mostly because he’d bring the best pastries! (Just don’t ask him to make your coffee for you, because he always gets it wrong.)
What Fika pastry would you pair with your books?
I think Where Ravens Roost would go well with a good old fashioned kanelbulle (cinnamon roll) because it has more of a traditional Swedish feel to it. It also takes place at the start of winter and that’s always nice to enjoy on a cold day. Last One Alive would probably be better paired with a punchrulle or dammsugare (punsch roll) because it has more layers as a story. And some of the turns, like the taste, are more unexpected if you’ve never tried it before.
Lethargy, the Doldrums. I was 10 years old and clueless as to what these words meant let alone how to pronounce, “lethargy.” So I went to the dictionary and began my love affair with The Phantom Tollbooth.
It was also the book that helped me fall in love with words and literature.
It is a book of wonder and I have read it at each decade of my life.
I love this book so much that I have “To Lands Beyond” tattooed on my arm in an open book.
There is something so magical about this book and I am disappointed I did not write down how I felt when I read it all those times. I had no idea that I would be doing a reading experiment with myself every decade so this read through I will pay particular attention to my emotions.
What sparked my rereading of this book in my 20s was getting it as a gift from a very good friend of mine. It was the 35th Anniversary issue and she wrote a lovely note inside. I was in a very unhealthy relationship and stuck in my life. We talked about how to unstick ourselves and must have mentioned this book and here it was, my journey was about to begin again. Where would this next step, page, door take me? It took me home to find myself again and never doubt my strength and resolve. That was the 26 year old version of this book.
The 36 year old version was the acting version. When I was in undergrad I used this book as my theater book, meaning that we had to act out scenes from it and be filmed so we could see and hear how we projected, emoted and paced with words. I had so much fun using this book because it was so familiar and getting to act out the opening scene was a highlight of my 30s. I was building on the strength from 26 to 36.
Who knew a child’s book could be the impetus for such success?
I read it again at 42 for fun as my life was in quite the upheaval. My late wife was sick off and on and we tried to tap into the things that made us feel happy or good. So I went to my trusty paperback still in pristine condition and read once more about Milo and his adventures. I had many years of memories from this book and my late wife knew how much I loved this book she got me the annotated volume as a wedding gift. It came with pictures of the author and illustrator being silly as they autographed this book!! I was beyond the lands beyond. I was floating in pure joy and happiness. It was the perfect gift and we were about to go on the perfect trip to Thailand and get married.
We had another 5 years of good and bad and I struggled to find my happy again after her passing. It took a whole lot of help from friends to get through that dark period and I am very glad to be on this side of the blackness. I have found love again and I couldn’t be happier. We packed up and moved to a quieter life to write and be creative and find new adventures together.
Now at 50 I am about to embark on a very different, but familiar journey with Milo and Tock as we all head into strange lands together. I am very excited to see and feel this book again after having been through so much at each decade.
There is a new section on the CoffeeFitnessUnicorn page.
Today I am introducing you to Gavin Gardiner in the Writer’s Corner.
Gavin’s debut novel comes out this Friday, April 9, 2021 and this is release week!!
Welcome to a new horror.
Meet Gavin Gardiner. Scottish gentleman, cat lover, and horror writer.
For Rye is Gavin’s first published novel being released April 9, 2021
If You Could Describe For Rye in three words, what would they be?
Two of the most crucial elements in fiction are conflict and characterchange. I’d been particularly fascinated by the concept of character change for a long time, revelling in everything from Matthew Gregory Lewis’s The Monk to Breaking Bad. There’s something that truly resonates with us when a character undergoes a tangible transformation, and I’d began wondering whether I might be capable of writing a character that undergoes some radical psychological change in the context of a horror novel, and just how radical I might be able to make that transformation.
So yes, I’m tempted to be awkward and answer your question with: transformation, transformation, transformation.
Another word that might fit the bill would be ‘rebirth’. One of the main themes of the book is actually hidden in plain sight, in the main character’s name, no less. ‘Renata’ comes from the Latin ‘Renatus’, which itself means ‘born again’. My understanding is that it refers to spiritual rebirth, specifically baptism, the name being prevalent in ancient Rome where baptisms played an important social role.
Anyway, fire and water are both recurring motifs throughout For Rye, and without giving too much away to your readers, Renata goes through two figurative baptisms: one in a very significant (and grisly) scene in a graveyard under torrential rain, and the other in another crucial scene involving fire. The two baptisms Renata goes through – which are both pivotal moments in her transformation – are via the polar opposite elements of fire and water, which is meant to represent the moral complexity of her transformation: if a traditional water baptism is ‘good’, then a fire baptism may be seen as ‘bad’, therefore we already have a hint that Renata’s transformation isn’t going to be entirely wholesome, and most likely steeped in both ‘bad’ and ‘good’; fire and water.
To summarise, I guess the three words I would choose to describe For Rye would be: ‘transformation’, ‘rebirth’, and ‘fucking gruesome’.
Damn, that’s four.
How Did This Refreshing Book Come About?
Well, as I mentioned before, my fascination with character change played a pretty big role in the decision to write this book. But there was another factor, without which my musings of transformation would never have been enough for this novel to come into existence.
My friend and film analyst Ewan Rayner has spent countless evenings with me discussing and dissecting story, character, plot, and everything else that goes into a compelling movie or novel. He’s repeatedly put me to shame with his encyclopaedic knowledge and insights, but he also coaxed the flames of my obsession with story until a book just had to be written. I can’t put into words how much I’ve learnt from him, but I’m confident that For Rye would never have happened had those endless evenings of discussion never taken place.
I’d encourage budding writers of all genres to grab every opportunity they can to discuss their craft with someone equally as passionate as they are. You can read all the books in the world, watch all the films, gorge upon every textbook on structure and technique, but if you don’t apply all that information by way of stimulating conversations and debates about all things writing, then you’ll never truly understand the information. As Bruce Lee said: “Knowing is not enough, we must apply.”
So this book came about from exactly these kinds of stimulating conversations and debates, and I have Ewan to thank for that. I’m glad you found For Rye so refreshing, and I have to believe that this freshness was also a result of everything I learnt from him. So yeah, cheers to Ewan!
What Is The One Thing You Want Us To Be Left With From For Rye?
Having read the novel, you yourself know that this ain’t a happy story. It was never my intention to give readers a morally fulfilling experience, or to make them feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I’ve had enough of that. I knew the patterns and tropes and structure into which most of the horrors I’ve read slot, and although I’m probably a fool for going against the grain, I wanted above all else to shake my readers.
Personally, I find For Rye disturbing. I’ve read books that are more explicit and graphic, but I still find my little nightmare extremely hard going. I want this novel to disturb you as much as it disturbs me, if only by its abandonment of certain established patterns of modern fiction. Maybe what shakes me most about For Rye is its moral uncertainty; the fact that throughout the book ‘goodies’, in the traditional sense, have the capacity to turn into ‘baddies’, and baddies into goodies. It is my hope that you’re pulled out of your comfort zone and reminded that the spectrum of good and evil is a slippery one.
If reading For Rye shakes you as much as writing the thing shook me, then I’ll sleep easy.
Follow Gavin on his social media pages and sign up for his newsletter on his website:
I had the pleasure of beta reading “For Rye” and was blown away by the freshness of the prose, the originality of the story, and the classic gothic and horror elements. I was hooked instantly by Gavin’s words.
In a few months we will do another IG Live to discuss All Things For Rye.
Joins us again as we deep dive into Gavin’s “little nightmare.”
Sometimes the item is delicious, sometimes the items is gross. The goal is not if the coffee-flavored item is good, the goal is to eat and/or drink coffee-flavored everything.
Many years ago it was not easy to find coffee-flavored food or drinks, now there is an abundance of coffee-flavored items.
One of my favorite coffee-flavored things is Pocket Coffee from Italy. It seriously is the one of the best things on the planet! I bought five boxes when I left Rome for fear that I wouldn’t be able to get it back home. If you haven’t tried it, please do. It is so freaking delicious.
Pocket Coffee is the perfect chocolate and coffee treat. The chocolate is smooth, creamy and not sugary; it melts in your mouth perfectly and the espresso flavor is rounded out by the chocolate. A truly delightful coffee-flavored treat.
Another item I got in Rome was Vigorsol coffee gum. It was fun to try, but it had a very interesting taste and texture. The flavor was okay; I’m glad I tried it but won’t ever get it again.
We recently bought Java Chip Oreos and Mocha + Chocolate KitKat.
The Oreos are very sweet and have a mild coffee flavor; I can only have one every so often.
KitKat is one of my favorite candy items so I am already a fan, but now they upped the flavor game by adding a little coffee.
It is now a new favorite. They have upgraded a classic and I hope they keep this one around. It has a mild coffee taste and the crunchy wafer and chocolate are well balanced.
So far I have been pleased with the coffee-flavored treats I’ve tried.
My love of coffee and coffee-flavored treats goes back to childhood.
The very first coffee candy I ever had was when I was 10. My step-mom is Dutch-Indonesian and introduced me to Hopjes hard coffee candies. It was love at first taste; I thought it was the best hard candy I ever had. My family wasn’t worried about me getting jittery because there is no actual caffeine in the Hopjes.
Kopikos, however, do have caffeine, according to the label it takes “4-5 sweets” to equal a cup of coffee. Good thing I discovered Kopikos as an adult. It could have been scary if I ate the Kopikos as a kid.
I discovered Kopikos while traveling in Indonesia. Kopiko hard coffee candies were everywhere and I had to buy bags of them, once again fearing that I couldn’t get them once I was back home. Thank you Internet for closing the gap on foreign treats. I still have few of these in my writing desk drawer.
So far the coffee-flavored treats have been successful. There was one, however, that was not.
I was excited to see something similar to Pocket Coffee that was an American item because that meant I would not have to order online. Pocket Latte was not what I was hoping it would be.
Pocket Latte was disappointing to me. I wanted to like it but, the texture and flavor were off-putting so this is one coffee-flavored item that I am glad to have tried, as that is the goal, but was bummed that it wasn’t a flavor success.
Pocket Latte markets itself as a coffee energy bar, however, I prefer Clif Bar Coffee series energy bars.
I have only tried the Espresso flavor, but look forward to trying the whole series.
The next coffee-flavored review will be a bottle of coffee-flavored Kombucha. Stay tuned for that.
There are so many more coffee-flavored treats for me to try.
And I look forward to sharing them with you. If there is a coffee-flavored item that you recommend, please let me know and I give it a go.