Archive for March, 2009

We’re coffee people.

If you’ve ever met Russ in your life, this will not be news to you. The man has an omnipresent cup of coffee in his hand, usually Starbucks.

Yes, even onstage!

I have heard him place his drive-thru Starbucks order so often I even have it memorized:  venti dark roast with half and half and two Splendas.

But here’s a little secret about Russ, aka Mr. Coffee: he rarely if ever actually finishes a cup of coffee. He has one within arm’s reach at all times like a security blanket, but he also leaves a trail of half-filled take-out cups in his wake. At home, I pour mugs of cold coffee down the sink all day long. Seriously, if he actually drank all that coffee he carries around he’d be visibly vibrating and running around like a crazed weasel.

Now don’t get me wrong, I take my coffee pretty seriously as well, though I am just a ‘1-2 cups first thing in the morning’ kind of girl. I grew up with that wonderful acrid smell greeting my nose first thing every morning, and when I’m home in Arkansas it’s still what I wake up to. I come from a long line of  coffee aficionados. When the whole family gets together for holidays, there’s some serious coffee shop-talk floating around. We compare favorite blends and debate the merits of a French-press vs. drip, blah blah blah. My brother Matt has specially roasted beans delivered to his house from some fancy place on the internet, and my brother Joel is even more hard-core– he bought his own dang coffee ROASTER! He dropped a couple hundred bucks on a machine that roasts the raw beans that he orders from all over the world in a meticulous process that requires a tremendous amount of monitoring and the use of a big honking flashlight. I snapped this photo of him at Thanksgiving, watchfully observing the roasting process so that the precious beans (from some obscure African coffee-growing region) will turn the exact right shade of rich brown– not too light, not too dark…

Charlotte was fascinated. And bemused.

Whaddya gonna do, he lives in L.A., he can’t really help it. He’s actually an incredible gourmet cook and a very knowledgeable foodie, which of course didn’t stop me from making merciless fun of his labor-intensive bean-roasting pretensions– until I TASTED THE COFFEE!!!!  It was the nectar of the gods! It tasted like fireworks and sparkles and rainbows in my mouth! Soooo smooth and rich, no acidic bite or burn… *sigh* I’ll never make fun of Joel and his silly roaster and his special order hand-picked-by-Panamanian-nuns-in-the-middle-of-the-rainforest coffee beans again. I’m also thinking about buying him a miner’s helmet for his birthday for some hands-free roasting. It would be totally worth it just for the photos alone.

Sadly, I’m not dedicated enough to devote the time and energy it takes to produce one of those incredible cups of coffee. But I do have a handy-dandy little single-cup contraption that I just love, and it makes really good coffee. When I groggily roll over every morning to turn off my chiming alarm clock at the ungodly hour of 6:30 a.m., it is only the thought of my chickadee mug full of Sumatra coffee that keeps me from disappearing back under the covers and letting the girls fend for themselves.

I discovered this particular coffee maker on one of my runaway mom weekends to a bed and breakfast in Murfreesboro. They had this machine in the morning room with an impressive array of coffee, tea and hot chocolate right beside it. I loved the ease and speed of it, not to mention it made a dang good cup of coffee, but it was the commercial version and was pretty big and cumbersome. Later that year Russ and I spent a weekend at Mark Lowry’s house in Houston, and he had a smaller home version of the same machine, which I promptly went home and ordered for myself. It is called the Flavia Fusion brewer, and it looks like this:

Here’s what the actual coffee looks like:

The only part I don’t like about it is that you have to either order the packets from the Flavia company, or get them from eBay. It would be so much more convenient to be able to run pick them up at Kroger or Target, but I order about 100 packets at a time, which averages out to about 45 cents a cup. They have a lot of different blends and I’ve tried most of them, but my absolute favorites are the Dark Italian Roast and Sumatra– really good.

Well, I realize that’s way more information than you ever wanted to know about the hot beverage preferences of the Taff family, not to mention I just totally did a commercial for Flavia. (Hey Flavia! Send me some coffee!)

So now it’s your turn. What’s your morning wake-up call– Coffee? Tea? Orange juice? Chai? Diet Coke? Do tell.

I’m not completely sure, but I think Mark Lowry and my mom might be An Item.

It was such a lucky accident that our spring break coincided with the Homecoming concert in Little Rock! I’m posting a lot of pictures, so bear with me– I wanted to show you guys what a great time my parents had last Friday night.

The evening started off a little rocky– 20 minutes before we were ready to walk out the door, my mom came into the living room with one hand over her mouth and the other hand holding up a small white object which turned out to be the cap from her front tooth. Yeah. So in between laughing our heads off, we started making a series of increasingly desperate phone calls to their dentist’s emergency line, which proved to be an exercise in futility. (Dear dentists of the world: If you’re going to close your office early on Fridays, then at least ANSWER YOUR DANG EMERGENCY LINE!) When it became increasingly apparent that nobody was going to call us back, Daddy went into McGuyver mode and started rummaging around in his workbench in the garage to try to come up with some kind of glue he could use to repair the bridgework. I had to nix his first two suggestions because, hello, if it says on the label that it’s not safe to even breathe the toxic stuff, I’m thinking maybe it doesn’t need to be in Mom’s mouth! That left us with good ol’ Elmer’s glue, which none of us thought would really work, but hey, it was better than duct tape. Surprisingly, it seemed to be holding, so with an emergency kit of glue, a Q-tip and a toothpick safely tucked into my purse, we jumped in the car and headed to Little Rock.

When we arrived at the Alltel Arena, Russ had arranged for us to be able to park back with the buses which certainly made things easier. Once inside we went straight to the backstage catering room to eat some dinner. That’s always the best place to find the artists all in one place and I had an agenda– I wanted to get as many good pictures of Mom and Dad with as many people as I could. My parents aren’t big fans of being photographed, but they do love to have the pictures as keepsakes, so honey, I was firmly in paparazzi mode. And may I just say that my sweet Homecoming family COULD NOT HAVE BEEN SWEETER to my parents, and I am forever grateful. Seriously, I have now expanded my list of People I Would Give A Kidney To If They Really Needed It to include the whole dang Gaither crowd, and most of the backstage Alltel people as well.

I want you to know that Russ’ beloved family of choice was also well represented at the concert, along with one of our favorite readers here at B’Bloomr, Carolyn (aka carsmith) and her sweet husband. Momma June, my incredible sister-in-law Berna and her handsome son, Seth were there with bells on. They all seemed to be having a great time, though I was kind of distracted and hyper-aware of Mom and Dad and how they were doing and were they too tired and blah blah blah, so I didn’t really get to spend as much quality time with them as I wanted to. Forgive me, Smedley clan, I’ll make up for it soon, I promise. I missed talking to you.

So anyway, here are the pictures, and I am so glad I have them.

**Here’s Claude Hopper telling my dad a joke. (He’s not to the punchline yet.)

**I was not kidding about Mark Lowry and my mom. They totally connected– started talking Bible right off the bat (favorite thing to do for both of them), quoting scripture to each other and comparing favorite translations. Mark’s inquiring mind kept the conversation going for over an hour, peppering Mom with questions about everything from raising 6 kids to the Great Depression. They talked politics and religion, agreed with each other passionately, disagreed with each other occasionally and thoroughly enjoyed each other. Mom was so impressed with Mark’s depth and his heart for God. Mark was thoroughly impressed with Mom, period. Also? She totally cracked him up, a lot. I love his face in these pictures.

**This kind of looks like Bill is trying to pin a corsage on my Dad. Actually I think he was fixing the backstage pass on his lapel.

**Look at the way those two are looking at Mom.

**OK, Mom looks like Bill could put her in his pocket! No wonder Madi is so dang tiny!

**Dad with Ryan and Doug of Signature Sound. Char loves those guys and all, but she is much more interested in her chicken fried steak at the moment.

**Mom and Dad chatting with fellow Arkansan Joy Gardner– kinda blurry because I got a little carried away and whipped that camera out too fast.

**Kim Hopper, or as she’s known around our house, Karlye’s mom.

**BTW, the reason Madi is not in ANY of these pictures is that she and Karlye and their gang  were busy running all over the arena and generally having a fabulous time. Charlotte spent most of the night happily ensconced in Russ’ dressing room. She had everything she needed for a good time– endless snacks, a comfy sofa and “America’s Funniest Home Videos” on the television. Here she is with Nanno at halftime.

**OK, Mom and Mark may be a new item but Dad’s crush on Janet Paschal is longstanding and well documented. She even called him when he was in the hospital a few years ago (which he mentioned to every single doctor, nurse and janitor in the whole dang place!) He just adores her and she is so darling to him. This is another crappy shot, but I love it because it was taken immediately after the concert when Janet had just exited the stage. She was totally surprised because she had no idea Daddy was there, and he was just so pleased to see her–look how cute they are!

Aren’t these great?! (P.S. Mom’s tooth stayed firmly in her mouth the entire night– score!)

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