friday fun: teenage mutant ninja turtle tumblers

TMNT tumblers

In a perfect world, I’d have a cabinet full of Kate Spade china and gorgeous Waterford crystal stemware. I’d also love to be blonde, a self-made millionaire, and never shiver through another Chicago winter again but that just isn’t me. I’m a brunette, I pay with coupons, and I love these Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle tumblers ($29.95). Colorful, witty, and all sorts of nostalgic fun, the turtles on a half shell have been immortalized in 16 oz. glasses from Neatoshop. Dibs on Michelangelo! –Katie D.

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want it now: cb2’s coffee spoon mug

cocoa

I realize that it may be considered too early in the season for this, but as someone who may be single-handedly fueling the hot cocoa industry in this country, I have something to share. As the days grow colder, I’ve been seriously considering upping my game when it comes to cold weather drinkware, and I’ve identified my next purchase. I saw these spoon coffee mugs, $3.95 each at CB2, as I was pulling the catalog out of my mailbox and I am going to make them mine. Perfect for coffee, hot cocoa or tea, the spoon holster doubles as a handle while keeping used spoons off the table and at the ready. I’ll definitely be snagging a few for some friends who share my cocoa obsession. One reviewer even suggested dipping the spoons in chocolate and gifting them with hot cocoa packets. Santa, are you taking notes? – Sarah C.

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spooky sippers for halloween

spookytumblers

Sure, drinking regular old beer out of cans or bottles is great for every other holiday, but for Halloween I really like to kick it up with some fun and macabre drinks. Blood orange screwdrivers garnished with eyeball fruit skewers (canned, pitted lychees stuffed with blueberries, skewered and frozen) would look fantastically gross in these haunt highballs. For the kids, you can mix up a batch of this black punch recipe in a mad-scientist approved Catamount flameproof measuring beaker. Serve shots of Redrum in shot glasses frozen in these Halloween ice molds from Wilton. If all this isn’t inspiration enough, look to Megan at Not Martha, who had a great post about her Halloween cocktail experiments, working with black vodka and a bunch of fun ice cubes. And of course, the goddess herself, Martha Stewart has a fabulous Halloween cocktail roundup here. –Megan B.

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my awesome espresso machine: rancilio silvia

silvia2

My espresso obsession began back in high school, when I convinced my dad to buy mom a Krups espresso machine/drip coffee combo for Christmas instead of a boring drip machine. I loved making my coffees in the morning, steaming the milk, grinding the beans, the smell of that freshly pulled shot… it’s the ritual that gets me out of bed every morning to this day. Eventually, I received some barista training and realized that my steam boiler espresso would never be good enough again — you just can’t get crema from those boiler-style machines. After blowing through a couple of “disposable” machines, we decided to upgrade to one that would last us a lifetime: the Rancilio Silvia. Miss Silvia (as the label reads) is a serious rig: 9 bars of pressure pumpin’ out some serious brew! What sets this Italian gal apart from most other home espresso machines is that she’s got a brass boiler rather than a cheap aluminum one, and the pressure and temperature systems are fully modifiable (as many hardcore coffee geeks like to do). Oh — and for a machine this major (and dare I say GORGEOUS), it’s fairly priced, $649 here, which is where I bought mine. Of course you still need to buy a good burr grinder, a good tamp, and a knock box which adds another couple hundred to the tab… But I figure the machine has paid for itself in “espresso savings”: $3/day for a latte from a coffee shop would add up to the price of a machine and all the accessories in less than a year! — Megan B.

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post off: how do you get your coffee fix?

pioneercoffee

A while back we shared our daily rituals, and like many of you, mine involves a good cup o’ joe. Every weekday morning I go downstairs and grab coffee with two coworkers and everyday we hit three (yes, three!) different places for our coffee fixes, because we all have different, non-negotiable tastes when it comes to that morning milestone. And from what I gather, we’re not alone in our strong opinions. One coworker swears by Starbucks, but their regular coffee is too bitter for my taste, though I love their specialty drinks. My sister digs Dunkin’ Donuts, but I only like their iced coffee. When I make it myself, I like to add a dash of cinnamon to the grounds for an extra sultry sip, and a friend adds vanilla extract for a heavenly-smelling kitchen. I’m not generally picky, but when I do have a choice, I take it seriously. How about you? What goes into your perfect cup? — Sarah C.

Photo by Flickr member Gilfer at the Pioneer Coffee Roastery

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