Cold Brew Coffee

My love affair with cold brew has spiraled out of control. It’s just so dang delicious and perfect for the warmer months. What is cold brew, you ask? For starters, cold brew is not iced coffee. Iced coffee is traditionally brewed coffee that is chilled after the fact. Cold brew, on the other hand, brews in the fridge.

Eliminating heat from the brewing process results in a less acidic, smoother, and naturally sweeter cup of coffee. It’s naturally sweet enough, in fact, that I don’t feel the need to add sugar. Let’s just say that is not the case with traditionally-brewed coffee.

The best part about cold brew is that it’s extremely simple and cost-effective to make at home. Now, I don’t have to rely on my local coffee shops for a cup of joe that I can easily prepare on my own. From now on I’ll venture over only when my heart desires a fancy latte or the like. Enjoy!

What you’ll need:

  • 1.5 cups ground coffee
  • 6 cups filtered water

What you’ll do:

  • Combine coffee and water in an airtight container; store in the refrigerator overnight
  • Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth; discard the cheesecloth and grounds
  • Pour the liquid into a 1 liter bottle; store in the refrigerator

Pro tip: Make ice cubes from your cold brew because nobody likes watered-down coffee. ;) I got this mold from Amazon.

Chanticleer Garden

Yesterday, I had a wonderful Sunday with my mom and brother. We started the day off at Chanticleer Garden in Wayne, PA. It was my first time visiting, and it quickly became no wonder that it’s touted as one of the loveliest gardens in the world. After a yummy picnic on the estate lawn, we aimlessly walked around the garden’s 28 acres.

After spending almost five hours at Chanticleer, we worked up an appetite and headed to nearby From the Boot for delicious Italian food. The fresh-cut gnocchi was easily my favorite item that we tried.

Lastly, we ended our day by seeing The Jungle Book in 3D. It was fantastic! For those of you who have seen it, can we talk about those baby wolves?!?!? [Insert heart eyes emoji here.] Also, since when does Regal have reclining seats? Those things are a game changer.

Of course, I took countless photos at Chanticleer Garden and would like to share my favorite shots with you. To narrow them down to a reasonable number proved to be a challenge since there was beauty everywhere. I hope you enjoy them!

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May ’16 Alternative Playlist

Happy Saturday, guys! Let me just cut to the chase and say that, if you’re an alternative music fan, this playlist is everything. Like, I’m obsessed with every single song on it. It includes all of my favorite alternative songs as of late and, in my humble opinion, includes the perfect mix of upbeat and mellow. Feel free to let me know of any new(ish) songs/artists I might be missing out on. Enjoy! :)

A Philadelphia Native’s Guide to the City of Brotherly Love

Taken on the Ben Franklin Bridge

I have been wanting to write this post for over a year, so I’m super excited to share it with you guys! I grew up in the Philly ‘burbs, but found myself venturing into the city often. Between family functions in South Philly and exploring the rest of the city as much as possible, Philadelphia has always been a source of pride for me. Now, I’m going on three years of living in Society Hill, which is a quaint and historic Center City neighborhood. I love Philadelphia now more than ever.

When I travel, I use various sources, such as TripAdvisor and Yelp, to help me plan my trips. My favorite sources, however, are guides that I find on blogs through Pinterest. I particularly love guides written by locals and find their tips to be invaluable. So, being that I’m so passionate about Philadelphia, I decided to create a guide of my own.

First and foremost, Philadelphia has an incredible (and perhaps, underrated) food scene. I’ve traveled to many cities in the U.S., and few are rivals for Philadelphia when it comes to food. While dining out is one of my favorite things to do, I am still eating my way through this city since my list of places to try is ever-growing. As such, I will be the first to admit that the lists that I’ve compiled are not all-inclusive. Instead, I only included restaurants and bars that I have tried and absolutely loved. Although, I must admit that I have never heard anything negative about Laurel and Vetri.

Further, I omitted quintessential “Philly things,” like trying cheesesteaks at Pat’s and/or Geno’s. While I wholeheartedly agree that you should try at least one Philly cheesesteak while you’re visiting, I encourage you to opt for Jim’s or Tony Luke’s. I also omitted the obvious, such as visiting the Liberty Bell and City Hall. Although they are totally worth checking out, I’m sure they’re listed in just about every Philadelphia guide book out there.

As a Philadelphia native, my hope is to provide you with information that guide books might not, making your stay unique and unforgettable. If I’m lucky, you’ll even realize why Philadelphians have so much pride for their city. If you have any questions, ask away!

Best Brunch/Lunch/Casual Spots

  • Green Eggs Café
  • Cheu Noodle Bar
  • Wedge + Fig
  • Federal Donuts
  • Bud + Marilyn’s
  • Dizengoff
  • Buena Onda
  • Hawthorne’s Biercafé
  • V-Street
  • Nomad Pizza
  • Tria Café

Because 🍕+🍻 on St. Paddy's Day makes a whole lotta sense. 🍀🌈🎉

A post shared by Lauren Novak (@l_novak) on

Taken at Nomad Pizza

Best Dinner Spots

  • Talula’s Garden
  • Barbuzzo
  • Pumpkin (BYOB)
  • Amada
  • Vernick
  • High Street on Market
  • Zahav
  • Double Knot
  • Zama
  • Vedge
  • Little Fish (BYOB)
  • Kanella

And to think that this was only the first course. 💃 #salatim #hummus #laffa

A post shared by Lauren Novak (@l_novak) on

Taken at Zahav

Best Drink Spots

  • Continental Midtown
  • Charlie Was a Sinner
  • Time (live jazz!)
  • Independence Beer Garden (seasonal)
  • The Dandelion
  • Frankford Hall
  • Heritage (live jazz!)
  • Monk’s Café
  • Hop Sing Laundromat
  • Franky Bradley’s
  • The Good King Tavern
Taken at Heritage

Best Things to Do

Antiquing with Danny boy 😁

A post shared by Lauren Novak (@l_novak) on

Taken at the Philadelphia Flea Market

Simple Pleasures Sunday, Part IV

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36 Hours. This series is phenomenal. Barbara Ireland, once a travel editor for The New York Times, chronicles the best way to spend long weekends (hence the title 36 Hours) in various cities around the globe. As a plus, they make for lovely decor and are beautifully illustrated. There are several volumes, including Asia & Oceania, Latin America & The Caribbean, and Europe. However, as long weekends in the USA & Canada are most practical for me given my locale, that is the volume that I started with. I’m hooked and can’t wait to collect them all.

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Meyer Lemons. Oh, Meyer lemon season. How I love thee. If you use fresh lemon juice regularly and haven’t acquainted yourself with Meyer lemons, do it. Now. Native to China, this delectable fruit is thought to be a cross between regular lemons and mandarin oranges. As such, they are more sweet and juicy than your typical lemon. Meyer lemon season spans from December to May, so be sure to try them while you can. They’re perfect for adding some flair to salad dressings, cocktails, and hot tea. But really, the options are endless. I’m thinking that Meyer lemon dessert bars are in my future.

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Serial. If you haven’t heard about Serial, download and listen immediately. If you’ve heard about Serial and are resistant to the idea of a podcast (as I once was), download and listen immediately. I’m convinced that Serial has forever changed the world of podcasting. It’s compelling from start to finish, and so much so that listening without having an accompanying visual becomes more than tolerable. I listened over three days – on the bus, while running errands, as I was falling asleep at night. I couldn’t get enough. It’s free to download on iTunes and free to stream on serialpodcast.org. I’m already stoked for Season 2, set to air by the end of 2015.

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Mongo Kiss Lip Balm. Thank goodness I found this visual so that I don’t need to type out the countless ways in which this lip balm is superiorly made. In addition to being organic, fair trade, etc., with ingredients like cocoa butter and mongongo oil, it works  – even amidst harsh winter weather. The best part: it can be purchased for a mere $1.99 at Whole Foods.

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Spotify Premium. You’re probably thinking, “Duh. Everyone’s heard of Spotify by now.” And I get that. But for me, Spotify Premium has been a game changer. I used to agonize over keeping my iTunes library up-to-date and organized. Furthermore, when it got to the point that I had to start deleting albums from my devices due to lack of space, it was straight up frustrating. I started building my music library in 9th grade and was suddenly forced to kiss part of my collection goodbye. It was rough. Luckily, my cousin Mike, a fellow music junkie, talked some sense into me and convinced me to make the switch to Spotify premium. Leaving only my absolute favorite albums behind, the majority of my iTunes library was trashed. While it was gut-wrenching, I simply followed the artists on Spotify as I deleted them on iTunes. Now I can stream and download nearly everything I want to on a whim without having to deal with the stress of not having enough space on my devices. Totes worth the extra $9.99 per month.