Cold Brew + Pomegranate Soda [featuring FreshGround Roasting]

Cold Brew + Pomegranate Soda | Sarah J. Hauser

My three kids actually napped simultaneously yesterday. It was glorious. I don’t think that’s happened in at least six months, because my twins have dropped their nap for the most part—and it came back to bite us last night when they weren’t asleep until 10pm. But for one afternoon, I savored the quietness while my kiddos slept. And by savored, I mean that I didn’t do anything “productive” and read a book the entire time. I sat with my book (If You Only Knew by Jamie Ivey!) for over two hours, and I didn’t feel the least bit bad about it.

While I loved reading the whole time, what I enjoyed the most was resting without feeling guilty. I’m not good at that. I’ve talked in the past about my need to feel accomplished, but sometimes letting go of my to-do list proves to be an accomplishment in itself. I constantly battle this inner guilt that’s neither helpful nor even true. Rest isn’t all that restful when we sit there feeling bad about it the whole time. When we do let go of that guilt, there’s freedom and joy to be found. It’s like our soul can finally exhale.

Today I’m back to the to-do list. We needed groceries. The house needs to be cleaned. I have to get work done. That’s okay, because there’s been a break, a renewal, a physical and emotional refueling. I can work from the overflow rather than pouring from an empty cup. That is a gift.

Cold Brew + Pomegranate Soda | Sarah J. Hauser
Cold Brew + Pomegranate Soda | Sarah J. Hauser
Cold Brew + Pomegranate Soda | Sarah J. Hauser
Cold Brew + Pomegranate Soda | Sarah J. Hauser
Cold Brew + Pomegranate Soda | Sarah J. Hauser

Need a little pick-me-up, or want to sip a fun drink while you dive into a favorite book? This Cold Brew + Pomegranate Soda is perfect for that! You could also make it with decaf cold brew or add a splash of vodka for the grown-up version. Enjoy!


Cold Brew + Pomegranate Soda
Yields 1 drink

¼ cup pomegranate juice (make sure it’s 100% pomegranate juice)
¼ cup cold brew coffee (such as FreshGround’s Black Ice Brew)
2-4 teaspoons simple syrup
1-2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ cup sparkling water
Ice
Lemon slices for serving

Add the pomegranate juice, coffee, 2 teaspoons of simple syrup, and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to a glass filled with ice. Stir well until all the ingredients are fully incorporated.

Top with sparkling water to taste. (I use about a ½ cup of sparkling water.) Stir gently, and add more simple syrup or lemon juice if desired. Serve with a lemon slice and enjoy!


This post was created in partnership with FreshGround Roasting. All opinions are 100% my own.


(Paleo + Vegan) Maple-Cinnamon Hot Chocolate [and the gift of play]

(Paleo + Vegan) Maple-Cinnamon Hot Chocolate | Sarah J. Hauser

My daughter keeps asking to have a tea party or a picnic or play doctor with her. I oblige when I can, but preschool play is not my strength. But little by little, my kids draw me into their worlds, teaching me how to play again. They show me the joy of silliness and letting go of inhibitions. They help me loosen my grip on practicality. I still fight it every day. I want to see check marks on my to-do lists and know I’m working toward a goal. Those desires aren’t all bad, of course, but we’ve lost something when we let utility push fun completely out of the picture. We’ve lost the joy and beauty of play.

Dr. Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play, researched how the absence of play contributed to the violent behavior of homicidal males. (Don’t worry. This blog post won’t take a dark turn toward examining the psychology of murder, but if you want to learn more check out Dr. Brown’s TED talk or resources on the National Institute for Play website.) Through years researching both humans and animals, Brown “came to understand that humans are uniquely designed by nature to enjoy and participate in play throughout life.”

We shouldn’t wait to play until all the more important things get done. Play—doing something for the sheer joy of it rather than as a means to an end—is essential for human thriving. It’s something we need in our everyday lives. It cultivates creativity, combats stress, and stimulates the brain. Whenever I watch my kids play, I see them creating, adapting, growing, working together, figuring things out, smiling, and so much more. Yet somehow as an adult, I decided play wasn’t important.

Even when I do try to play, I struggle. I play with my kids but grow easily frustrated by the fact that they’re not following the rules of Candyland or adequately explaining the rules of their own made-up game. I set a mental timer trying to decipher how long I have to sit and eat pretend food or roll cars across the floor before I’ve fulfilled my duty as an attentive mother. To be honest, preschool play can feel utterly mind-numbing to me sometimes. (Please tell me I’m not the only one?) I marvel at the creativity of my kids’ preschool teachers and friends and family who play with my kids with ease. Give me a basketball and a high school kid, and I’m good to go. Give me Play-Doh and a three-year-old, and I’m lost at sea.

When I attempt to play as an adult, I often only do so when there’s a clear goal. I run for exercise. I photograph to get a blog post out. I create a recipe in the kitchen so I can share it online. But what if I did all those things—running, photography, cooking—for the joy of it? What if I allowed myself to do something I love just because? That sounds so...frivolous.

Despite my ineptitude for play, having kids has given me a new chance to learn how to do this. I see them making funny faces, running in circles until they’re dizzy or creating elaborate story lines as they talk to their stuffed animals. They’re learning and growing in many areas that could be labeled as productive. But my daughter doesn’t assign dialogue to her stuffed sloth because she's practicing her language skills. She’s doing it because it’s fun.

O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. Here is the sea, great and wide, which teems with creatures innumerable, living things both small and great. There go the ships, and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it.
— Psalm 104:24-26

God has given us the gift of play—a gift we see his creatures using throughout creation. In Psalm 104, the psalmist writes of the Leviathan in the sea, “which you formed to play in it.” Leviathan (whatever we deem that creature to actually be) was created to play. We see the playfulness of God throughout his world, in the colors of the sunsets or the creativity of the animal kingdom. What was God thinking when he made a platypus? I wouldn’t be surprised if he simply thought it was fun. If we’re to image God, one of the ways we do this is through play. We see and recognize the joy he takes in his creation, and we image that to the rest of the world. If we only ever image our God as practical, realistic, or utilitarian, are we really demonstrating who he is to others?

When’s the last time you did something for the fun of it, not as a means to an end? When’s the last time you allowed yourself to truly and wholeheartedly play? Do you view it as a luxury, or as a necessity? What can you do this week to wholeheartedly, unabashedly play?

(Need some play inspiration? How about playing in the snow and then savoring some hot chocolate afterwards? The recipe below is dairy-free, paleo, vegan, and so, so good! Scroll down to learn how to make it!)

(Paleo + Vegan) Maple-Cinnamon Hot Chocolate | Sarah J. Hauser
(Paleo + Vegan) Maple-Cinnamon Hot Chocolate | Sarah J. Hauser
(Paleo + Vegan) Maple-Cinnamon Hot Chocolate | Sarah J. Hauser
(Paleo + Vegan) Maple-Cinnamon Hot Chocolate | Sarah J. Hauser
(Paleo + Vegan) Maple-Cinnamon Hot Chocolate | Sarah J. Hauser
(Paleo + Vegan) Maple-Cinnamon Hot Chocolate | Sarah J. Hauser

(Paleo + Vegan) Maple-Cinnamon Hot Chocolate
Yields 1 large serving or 2 small servings
Adapted from Detoxinista

1 ½ cups unsweetened almond milk
3 Tablespoons maple syrup
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
Coconut whipped cream for topping*

In a small saucepan, add the milk, maple syrup, cocoa powder, cinnamon, salt, and cayenne pepper (if using).

Turn the head to medium-low. Cook until warmed through, whisking frequently until the hot chocolate is smooth.

Pour into a mug and top with coconut whipped cream. The coconut whipped cream adds an amazing creamy richness, especially as it melts into the drink!

*For full instructions and tips to make coconut whipped cream, click here for a post from Tastes Lovely. Basically, take a can of full fat coconut milk and put it in the fridge for a few hours (I just store a can in my fridge at all times). The cream will separate from the coconut water. Scrape the cream off and add it to a bowl. Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer, beat for a couple minutes until soft peaks form, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. I whip in a bit of maple syrup to sweeten the cream. The ratio I like is about 1 tablespoon of maple syrup per cup of coconut cream.


Coffee Mule [cocktail and mocktail versions!]

Coffee Mule | Sarah J. Hauser

Happy New Year! I’m sure almost everyone says this, but I can’t believe it’s already the end of the year. It’s been a good year, a hard year, a whirlwind of a year, and everything in between.

This afternoon, I snuck out and spent a couple hours reflecting. (By the way, I use the Cultivate What Matters PowerSheets Intentional Goal Planner to do this. I cannot recommend this tool highly enough!) I jotted down highlights from each month, areas I grew in, and challenges that came up along the way. I leafed through my 2018 planner and wrote down ideas as I looked ahead to 2019. This focused time of reflection has become absolutely essential for me for a number of reasons—the main one being that it’s helped me practice gratitude for how God worked. When I don’t write things down, I don’t remember them, and physically looking back on goals, progress, events, and milestones helped me see growth that happened little by little.

Around this time every year, I feel frazzled and tired. I often feel like the year flew by with little fanfare and minuscule progress. Without taking time to actually reflect on the year, those feelings of weariness and discouragement scream loudly. But God once again showed he’s good. He taught me that “accomplishment” sometimes means getting things checked off a list, but other times it simply means tiny steps of growth that maybe no one else sees. And both the check marks and the baby steps warrant celebration and gratitude.

I’m tired, yes. But I have much to be thankful for. So to close out 2018, here are a few things I’m celebrating:

  • I actually finished writing a book proposal. This was huge, and while I have yet to discover what might happen with it, I’m celebrating that I finished.

  • My twins are potty-trained. This also means I have only one kid in diapers. Having twins first, I never had only one kid in diapers. Hallelujah. Thank you, Jesus.

  • My husband and I took a vacation together this summer (sans children). We couldn’t have done this without the incredible sacrifice of family willing to watch our kiddos, and we are so grateful!

  • I made a huge shift in my blogging and writing. If you’ve been around here for a while, maybe you’ve noticed it, but maybe you haven’t. The change has been mostly in my own mind and heart, but I hope you’ve seen a shift in these words, too. There’s a lot more I could say on this, but basically I’m working to be more intentional about what I write and create. In the process, I’ve found greater joy and purpose in my work.

  • I read 18 books. That’s a ton for me in this stage of motherhood. Okay, I’ve actually read 17.25 books, and I plan to frantically read the rest of a book tomorrow so I can hit my goal of 18 books in 2018! I’m hoping to post a roundup of a few favorites, too, and share what I’m planning to read in 2019!

  • I noticed God’s goodness more. He’s always been good, right? But as I look back on this year, I feel like I’ve seen it and tasted it more fully than in the past. It’s not been necessarily because of great circumstances or tangible blessings, although we’ve been given more of those than we ever deserve. In many ways, this year has been hard. But I’ve tasted God’s goodness in a way I missed in the past. I pray that’s true in an even deeper way this next year.

  • I asked for help. A lot. I’ve written about this before, but the act of asking for help has been one of the most humbling and important lessons I’ve learned in the last couple years.

  • I quit a lot of things. This may seem odd to put on a list of “accomplishments,” but 2018 was a year when my husband and I stepped back from a few very good things that we loved in order to rest and refuel. We’re praying about what our “reentry” may look like down the road, but letting go of several responsibilities has been so important for our marriage and family.

I could go on with more, but I’ll leave it at that. (I’ll leave you with a cocktail/mocktail recipe, too!) Another year has gone by. God has been faithful and good. Whatever 2019 brings, he’ll be faithful and good then, too.

For that I am thankful…also, coffee.

Coffee Mule | Sarah J. Hauser
Coffee Mule | Sarah J. Hauser
Coffee Mule | Sarah J. Hauser
Coffee Mule | Sarah J. Hauser
Coffee Mule | Sarah J. Hauser
Coffee Mule | Sarah J. Hauser
Coffee Mule | Sarah J. Hauser
Coffee Mule | Sarah J. Hauser
Coffee Mule | Sarah J. Hauser

When my brother (Eric from FreshGround Roasting) first told me about this Coffee Mule, I admit I was skeptical. The combination of flavors seemed odd to me, and I couldn’t image how they’d work well together. Wow, was I wrong. This is such a refreshing drink that works well as a cocktail or a mocktail! (You can also use decaf cold brew coffee if you want to avoid the caffeine.) It’s the perfect drink to ring in 2019!

Check out the recipe below, and have a Happy New Year!


Coffee Mule
Yields 1 drink

3 ounces cold brew coffee concentrate (such as FreshGround’s Black Ice Brew)
3 ounces ginger beer
1 ounce Rose’s sweetened lime juice
1 ounce vodka (optional)
Ice
Lime wedges for serving

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add the cold brew, lime juice, and vodka (if using). Shake vigorously for at least 15 seconds.

Strain into a cocktail glass or copper mug filled with crushed ice. Pour in the ginger beer. Give it a gentle stir and top with a couple lime wedges. Serve and enjoy!

Notes: You can easily adjust the proportions to your liking! If you want it sweeter, add more ginger beer or Rose’s lime juice. If I’m making this with vodka, I usually opt for an extra splash of Rose’s.

While I like this best shaken, if you’re making this for a crowd you can definitely multiply the recipe and stir all the ingredients together in a pitcher.


This post was created in partnership with FreshGround Roasting. All opinions are 100% my own.


Elderflower, Lemon + Rosemary Cocktail [and learning to play]

Elderflower, Lemon + Rosemary Cocktail - Sarah J. Hauser

I sat at the kitchen table with a blue plastic bowl full of applesauce, spoon-feeding my son, Josiah. My three-year-old twins ran laps around the house, and for a few moments I savored the fact that they were playing well together. No fighting, no tantrums, no tears. I overheard whispers about superheroes, and I knew what was coming. They stomped upstairs to retrieve their blankets and within a minute stood next to me asking for help tying on capes.

I set down the baby spoon and knotted the corners of the blankets around their shoulders. Off they went shouting, “We’re superheroes!” I smiled—until I saw them carrying a third, larger blanket.

“Mommy! Be a superhero with us!”

Let me confess something: I am not good at playfulness. Silliness for the sake of it seems so unproductive. I need to plan dinner. Change diapers. Write that essay. Answer an email. Basically, I’m a maternal Scrooge.

Fortunately, my kids’ pleas got the best of me. I tied that blue and green quilt around my neck and chased them from the kitchen to the living room, then through the dining room. They laughed hysterically, as did their baby brother who didn’t seem to mind taking a break from eating to witness this hilarious spectacle.

Keep reading and get the recipe at Coffee + Crumbs!

Elderflower, Lemon + Rosemary Cocktail - Sarah J. Hauser
Elderflower, Lemon + Rosemary Cocktail - Sarah J. Hauser
Elderflower, Lemon + Rosemary Cocktail - Sarah J. Hauser
Elderflower, Lemon + Rosemary Cocktail - Sarah J. Hauser

Read the full essay and get the recipe at Coffee + Crumbs!