Soup (recipe!), community, and open adoption {31 days of The Life Poetic, day 20/21}

roasted corn soup Last winter, one of our friends did a series of Sunday Soup Nights where she and her husband cooked a batch or two of soup in the crock pot and invited a mish-mash of friends and neighbors over to hang out over dinner together.

It was a yummy dinner-y version of my Ice Cream Sundays that I used to do at our last house. I haven't quite gotten in a groove with something consistent like that since we've been in our current place, which has been, ack! almost two years.  But it was fun to sort of "pass the baton" and see another friend host regular community gatherings like that for a while, stepping outside their comfort zone, and welcoming others in with open arms.

One of my favorite memories of Soup Nights was the week when Brody's birthmom randomly texted me that she was in our neck of the woods (she lives about an hour away) for the evening. I immediately invited her to join us at Sarah's house for Soup Night. Seeing her there and connecting with friends from our little community just seemed so natural. Our kids love her (and so do we).

I don't write about it too much but we've had an amazing experience with our open adoption. It was awkward and unusual at first, not surprisingly, but in the last four years we've grown to love our get-togethers with both of Brody's birthparents. A spontaneous, natural hangout was particularly special though.

Five years ago, when we began our adoption journey, I didn't know what to expect or what the future of our family held. Now, seeing where God has brought us so far has me convinced that this was exactly the path our family was meant to take. Sarah and her husband are in the early stages of their own adoption journey and I'm excited to see things unfold for them.

If you're looking to cook up some hearty comfort soup for your own community or family, here's one of my favorite soups that Sarah made for us.

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Sarah's Creamy roasted Corn Soup
Ingredients
  • 2 bags of frozen corn (we use Trader Joe’s Roasted Corn) (set aside and save 1 cup for garnish)
  • Sprig of thyme
  • 1 sweet onion, diced small
  • 2 leeks, thinly sliced
  • 1 stick of butter (salted)
  • 32-64oz of veggie/chicken stock
  • One cup of heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Bacon/shredded cheese/corn (for garnish)
Instructions
  1. Defrost corn if already roasted. If not, simply dump it out onto a rimmed cookie sheet and roast in a preheated oven (I do it at 425*). Stir and remix every 5 minutes or so until the corn has some nice brown spots. Set aside a cup of corn for garnish
  2. Chop onions, leeks and thyme.
  3. Cook onions, leeks and thyme in three tablespoons of butter for about five minutes until onions are translucent. Do not brown. Add corn- don't be afraid to add more butter (up to 1 stick)!
  4. Sauté the veggies together for 1-5 minutes. Let the corn to soak up all those yummy flavors.
  5. Add stock till it covers the corn. Use your discretion. If you want a thicker soup just barely cover the corn. If you don’t want a super thick soup add more stock.
  6. Bring this to a boil. Once at a boil turn heat down and simmer for 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. If using a immersion blender (I have this model and love it), blend in the pot until creamy smooth. If using a blender, ladle out the soup into blender and blend in batches. Once it is all blended smooth, put it back in the pot and whisk in the heavy cream. You do not need to add the whole cup if you don’t want to. Just till the soup is at the consistency you’d like. Bring soup back up to heat before serving, or transfer to crock pot..
  8. Enjoy!

roasting corn

 

sautéing corn and veggies

yum, creamy roasted corn soup

Thanks, Sarah, for sharing this yummy recipe with us.

Linking up with Beth's Sunday Soup Night at Red and Honey.

Affiliate links included, thanks for your support!

the life poetic 250pxThis is Day 20/21 of 31 Days of the Life PoeticView the other posts in this series here.

If you’re new here, you might want to consider signing up for email updates or for my (bi-)monthly-ish newsletter.

 

3 Little Things {5.10.14} + homemade lemon-lime sports ade recipe

Untitled Friday may have come and gone, but here I am to share a few things making me happy this week... as I link up with Amy of MomAdvice. (What always makes me happy? The three pictured above, especially at the beach.)

3 Little Things

1.  New worship song... by Phil Wickham-- Over All-- it's a great addition to all the Dustin Kensrue we've been listening to.

2.  Inspired lunches... I finally made Aimee's tuna cheddar lunchbox bites and the've been a hit! So easy-- I made a double batch, froze them, and can pop a couple in each LunchBot and it will defrost by lunch time. Between that, getting back into the mode of making homemade granola bars (recipe pin here, from the amazing Healthy Snacks to Go cookbook) and diving into one of Katie's lastest gems, The Healthy Lunchbox, an eBook full of sandwich-less inspiration.

3.  100 Best Juices for Kids... My friend Jessica Fisher's latest book is all about kid-approved juices. I don't have a juicer (yet?) so I was excited to see that many of the recipes are actually smoothies, sparklies (juice + "bubbly water" as we call it), slushies and more. It's a perfect resource for the warm spring we're having and the summer ahead (yay!).

On a hot Saturday when David and a few guys were installing a new window in the girls' room I whipped up a batch of this faux Gatorade and they couldn't believe how "real" it tasted. I loved serving them something free of HFCS/food coloring/ETC, made with real fruit juice that hit the spot and quenched their thirst.

Check it out for yourself!

lemon-lime sports ade

Lemon-Lime Sports Ade

makes 1 quart

3 1/2 cups water 6 tablespoons honey syrup 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice 1/4 teaspoon sea salt (I used celtic sea salt)

Make the honey syrup by dissolving honey in water on the stove (medium heat) with a 1:1 ratio (3 Tbsp water: 3 Tbsp honey for this recipe). Before it's completely cool, mix in the sea salt and stir to dissolve.

Whisk together water, honey syrup + salt, and fruit juices in a pitcher. Enjoy chilled! Store in a covered jar in the fridge.

Weekly Surf Spots

  •  How to make chocolate peppermint lotion bars (or lip balm!) :: A Delightful Home ~ This is an old post but I just found out it's the recipe my friend Stacy used to make the homemade lip balm she send me that I adore!
  • Juices for Kids: Q & A :: Life as Mom ~ a great companion post Jessica wrote highlighting some FAQs you might have about juice to go along with her book.

What's making you happy this week?

Affiliate links included. Thank you for your support!

One bowl oatmeal blender pancakes {gluten-free}

You know how every now and then you find a recipe that is super simple to prep and deemed delicious by all family members? It's a home run! Well that's what these pancakes are in the Bennett house. oatmeal banana nut pancakes

Gluten-free pancakes made with coconut or almond flour never suited my preferences completely in their texture. But at soon as I tried this oatmeal-textured pancake I knew it would be a hit.

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I started with a recipe from Renee at FIMBY (who had herself adapted it from elsewhere), made a few changes to suit our preferences and we've been making it a few times a month at least since then.

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We've tried this recipe with a handful of variations and it's been tasty each time. Last night's version was banana pecan; pumpkin chocolate chip has been a favorite, too.

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Since I have an immersion blender, I just make it all in one bowl-- my batter bowl that has measurements on it-- starting with measuring the milk, and then dumping everything else in. The blender grinds up the oats nicely- you could probably also make this right in a high-powered blender if you have a Vitamix or BlendTec (I don't unfortunately), too, or blend it in a couple of batches if you have a regular blender.

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Oatmeal Blender Pancakes

recipe from GidgetGoesHome.com

makes enough for our hungry family of 5, about 2 dozen pancakes

  • 2 cups milk, preferably whole (or buttermilk)
  • 3 cups gluten-free rolled oats
  • 2 bananas (broken into a few pieces) or 1/2 can of pumpkin purée
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp. flax meal
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • few grounds of fresh nutmeg, optional
  • 2 Tbsp. maple sugar, optional
  • Optional add-ins: chocolate chips or chopped walnuts, or whatever else! (blueberries? pecans? go crazy!)

Mix all in large batter bowl and blend with immersion blender. Pour out about 1/4 cup of batter and cook on hot griddle (about 300 degrees F) until golden brown.

Serve with butter, and your choice of maple syrup, brown rice syrup or berry syrup (my kids loved it with elderberry syrup!). I also highly recommend it with bacon, so amazing.

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If you're looking for a gluten-free (just make sure to get gluten-free oats) pancake staple, look no farther. We make this most Saturday mornings now and sometimes (like last night!) for dinner, too.

A little update... GAPS, the blog, and life in general

Finally hung our stringed instruments. I love it!! Inspired by @kristinrogers :)(photo unrelated to anything, so you can see how we hung our guitars on the wall)

On the blog

First of all, I'm getting super-duper excited because I have a brilliantly talented designer working on a new design and sometime in the next month I will be giving GGH a much-overdue overhaul, update and makeover. All the bloggers out there will understand how nerdily thrilled I am about this.

I haven't been writing much over here lately, but in the next couple of months that should be changing a bit as well. You may have read about all the changes happening and coming to Simple Mom and therefore to the whole SLM network. As Simple Homemade comes to a close as a stand-alone blog, I will be drifting back over to these parts to get back to my roots, while also writing monthly over at Simple Mom (ahem, dreamcometrue).

If you're new around here, coming soon as I relaunch are some book reviews, ice cream posts, and more thoughts on community, creativity (including creative projects), and contentment-- the big three Cs I try to base a lot of my content on around here.

In our tummies

GAPS is going well. We are actually really enjoying breakfast and dinner, although lunch is a bit more challenging as I'm trying to avoid cooking an entire meal, and we don't always have enough leftovers.

I'll be posting soon a more detailed post on what we're eating, but I just wanted to get an overview up here to say that other than social situations, which are challenging, Gigi is doing awesome with the changes. She's totally on board with it theoretically, although still struggles when she feels the cost, such as no pizza day school. I did however make a batch of Paleo Chocolate Chip cookies and made her one with one solitary-cheater-chip in it to make her feel special.

Dinner is ready! #PicTapGo

Her energy and attitude may be improving, but it's still too early to truly tell in my opinion. I will say that her "explosions" have been fewer and farther between and bedtime has improved.

We've all had some out-of-the-ordinary gas and we definitely saw some minor "carb flu" type symptoms during the first week as we were detoxing from all the flour and sugar ("healthy" versions even) we normally eat. I feel like I have much more energy, although that may be canceled out from how late I've been staying up trying to cram everything in I want to do.

Two things: this diet is expensive (You pay now or pay later, though, right?), and time consuming. I really do spend most of my day in the kitchen, when I'm not occupied with the kids, that is.

And finally, do we (the adults) cheat? YES. David and I are definitely on a modified GAPS diet. I drink decaf coffee with a bit of raw sugar almost daily and we still must have our dessert every night. We are getting creative though. It's not ice cream every night anymore by any means. I'm not giving up homemade ice cream, don't worry. :) But we are trying to satisfy ourselves with other things, too, like warm milk steeped with cinnamon, nutmeg and raw honey mixed in (yum!), yogurt with granola & honey, bananas with cocoa almond spread (oops, that's totally not legal!), or a high quality chocolate bar (also ILEGAL but darn good).

In our homeschool

We're down to the basics around here... reading lessons, math, handwriting, our devotional, read-aloud, and not too much else. It's going really well though, especially since we've made the huge shift from morning to afternoon. I would much rather do school in the morning, but right now with an almost 3-year old and a 21-month old around, it's more like crowd control mixed with a bit of school. So we've been doing school when they nap and that's relieved me of a lot of stress.

I keep reminding myself, it's just kinder and I really just want Gigi learning to read primarily. I'm getting excited about the future though, starting Story of the World next year and going more down the Classical path. I'm going to a seminar in a few weeks on Classical education that I'm really looking forward to.

My 3 fish in for a swim lesson! Happy Saturday!

It's swim lesson season around here and our kids are doing awesome!! I love seeing them improving and getting safer and more comfortable in the water.

In our wallets

After years of reading about Dave Ramsey (mostly through Tsh), we are finally hunkering down and watching Financial Peace University and getting serious about paying off my student loan (the only non-mortgage debt we have left) and then starting that fully-funded emergency fund.

It's really exciting. I've been interested in all of this for a long time, but I've been terrible at implementing and actually sticking to the budget. Ever since David took over the money (we still can't figure out why I did it for over nine years) we've been making continual progress, and I'm loving seeing him get pumped on the Dave Ramsey plan. For those of you who know the FPU terms, he's definitely the nerd/saver, and I'm the free spirit/spender.

So that's where we're at! God is good. Questions? Comments?

GAPS: T-1 week

Farmer's market bounty: CA-raised grass-fed/finished meat, grapes, pluots, kiwi, almond butter, & chamomile mint tea for Gigi. Score! ( So it's official, we are starting the GAPS diet in one week. I thought it would be nice to give a "concise" overview of what we're doing and why since lots of people are curious. I have a lot to learn, but this is where I'm at with it so far.

What is GAPS?

GAPS stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome. The diet consists of two parts, the Intro and the Full GAPS diet. The Intro is an intense elimination diet that progresses through several stages. We are starting on the Full diet. The simplest way I would describe it is no grains, no sugars, lots of meat, vegetables, fruit, healthy fats, raw dairy and probiotics.

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The idea is that when the gut flora is out of balance, the bad bacteria can take over and essentially bore holes in the gut lining, leaking toxins out into the body which can effect the body psychologically (and physically). The diet aims to heal and seal the gut. It is not a forever diet (or rather, it doesn't have to be). Once the gut is healed, the diet can be modified, although ideally a patient would never go back to a Standard American Diet of processed foods and white flours/sugars.

Our story begins

 

For a couple of years now we've been challenged by Gigi's behavior. I have alluded to this before. She doesn't have any particular diagnosis, and many of her struggles just stem from being a kid and being a sinner. We tried going gluten-free-- while we definitely we noticed when we added gluten back in that things got worse, our day-to-day experience being GF wasn't that drastically different.

Then a couple of months ago I started noticing fatigue being an issue for Gigi. At first I just thought it was normal kid behavior, especially as she was adjusting to being a kindergartener.

She currently goes to a charter school where she has several different teachers over the course of her two full days of school a week. More than one of them mentioned to me that she seemed tired in class. I was called more than once to pick her up because she just could not pull herself together (either emotionally or just by being physically over-tired).

She is always tired in the afternoons, but on some days, even after a full night's sleep, she can barely sit up to do schoolwork because she's so tired, even before lunchtime.

So I called her pediatrician. We really like him, and have a good rapport with him but when I asked about getting her tested for anemia or some other issue, he didn't seem too concerned. But a mama knows her kid, and I could tell all wasn't totally right with her.

Finally, I decided to see a nutritionist that a friend had recommended to me a long time ago. After an extensive questionnaire and then meeting with Gigi and me and talking through Gigi's history (one red flag was how constipated she was as a baby after I began feeding her standard American baby solids starting with rice cereal {which I cringe at now}; she's also had bouts of minor eczema), she recommended GAPS for Gigi.

Gigi's first primal/lacto-paleo lunch: natural beef jerky, dried pineapple/freeze-dried banana/raw sunflower seeds, cheddar cheese, local almond butter and fruit spread in a bowl, grapes & cherry tomatoes. Guess I need more veggie ideas!

Our plan

Our nutritionist recommended we start on the Full GAPS diet rather than the intro because of Gigi's history of constipation primarily. I think this will be easier because the allowed food list is pretty doable compared to the Intro. But it's still relatively extreme, especially compared to the Standard American Diet.

I have a lot of friends who eat paleo, and several who are doing the Whole30 challenge. Our diet, or eating plan, as I'm going to be calling it so as not to get strange looks from other moms who think I have my 5-year old on a "diet," will be basically paleo, but with raw dairy, and lots of bone broth (ie drinking chicken broth with meals), and probiotics. I will embark on the strange experiment of making sauerkraut for one thing, and maybe other lacto-fermented vegetables eventually.

We will be doing GAPS as a family for the most part. I will not be giving up my swiss-water-processed decaf espresso or chocolate, although I will try to choose soy lecithin-free, good dark chocolate when I indulge. :) I'm sure I will still occasionally have sprouted bread to make the little ones AB & J and I won't be as strict with them, or David and myself as I will be with Gigi. Basically whatever we do with GAPS will help us even if we aren't technically all GAPS patients.

We live a life in community, so one my biggest concern is dealing with social situations. But I will be getting a thermos so we can bring along broth or soup for Gigi, and do the best we can. One thing my nutritionist made clear was that "cheating" won't take us back to square one, but we will notice its effects.

The great thing is that our wellness office is doing monthly GAPS support meetings so I will be able to ask a lot of questions and get connected with others doing it. I'm also in a local real food group on Facebook where some other members are venturing down the same path.

The goal

We are not expecting a miracle cure from this, like suddenly Gigi will be a perfected being, no longer a sinner. ;) No, we simply want to level the playing field for her.

We've already started adding broth into her diet and cutting down on the grains and sugars she eats (although not strictly yet). Then, last Sunday she had cookies and Kool-Aid at church and all afternoon she was fidgety and had a harder time than usual with her self-control.

The ugly truth is that we notice the food we eat affecting her little body. We want to give her the opportunities to make good choices, and if changing the way we eat for a time will help with that, then I am excited to get started. I think it will be a good chance for us to experience the discipline of making certain food choices as well.

I'm collecting GAPS-friendly recipes on Pinterest and would love more-- please share if you have any!

Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies

Looking for a fun girl's night out idea?

A couple of weeks ago I headed out to the local paint-your-own pottery shop with some of the girls with my community group -- cookies, champagne, good conversation with friends, and time to relax and create? Perfect.

I made a fun "special day" plate for my family to start a new family tradition. And speaking of the cookies I brought along...

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Way before we ever considered a (mostly) grain-free lifestyle, a friend shared these little gems with me. A simple recipe, but a delicious treat.

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They mix together in a jiffy so I've been known to whip a batch out for a spur-of-the-moment sweet snack. Totally tasty, and relatively guilt-free... perfect for a girls night out, where you lose track of how many you've eaten. mmmmm.....

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Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies

from gidgetgoeshome.com

makes 2-3 dozen

1/2 cup salted butter (I'm hooked on Kerrygold grass-fed*), melted

1/2 cup honey or agave

1 Tbsp. vanilla

3 cups coarse almond meal

1/2 tsp baking soda

chocolate chips to your liking

Mix wet ingredients. In another bowl/stand mixer, whisk dry ingredients. Add wet to dry and mix. Stir in chocolate chips.

Bake at 35o* for 9-15 minutes.

A few notes: make sure you use almond meal rather than blanched almond flour; it's important for the texture. Honey is delicious, but agave makes a slightly fluffier cookie-- take your pick!

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Wishing you all a happy day... and happy November, too!

xo

today

What we planned for Mother's Day:

  • church, 1st service, where I would watch a touching slideshow honoring the moms who had babies this year (including me)
  • brunch at my favorite local spot, Swami's Cafe
  • a walk by the beach, or if nice enough, an afternoon at the beach
  • a delicious dinner of rotisserie chicken (from Sprout's), corn, CA salad, and scalloped potatoes

What really happened (the not-so-good):

  • Last night Brody threw up right before we left my brother's house (an hour away from home); he slept fine all night but we opted to stay home from church anyway (plus Hallee has a cold and I have a persisting sore throat).
  • Hallee was up all night (or at least it felt like it). She was bothered (maybe a sore throat, too?) enough to not even nurse at times. My physical therapist urged me not to lay down and nurse her anymore though anyways because of my shoulder so the part of the night spent nursing, I spent part of the night sitting up like a zombie.
  • I awoke to the sound of complete meltdowns from Brody and Hallee and various complaints from Gigi.
  • We stayed home all day, and in fact, I am still in my pajamas at 4:25 pm.
  • It was foggy most of the day (May Gray and June Gloom are my nemesis).

From my crew.

What also really happened (the GOOD):

  • David made me eggs, toast and tea for breakfast. Yum.
  • He played with kids so I could catch up on reading blogs and updating our photos on the computer and family blog.
  • Kids quietly and contentedly watched Mary Poppins.
  • He made me lunch (tuna melts!) and we enjoyed some El Nopalito chips and salsa (THE best).
  • I received Parenthood Season 1 (yay!) and a beautiful art book that the kids will draw/write in every year for me (I requested this and LOVE it).
  • David ran to the store to get the chicken. We're scrapping the potato dish but he's currently putting together my favorite salad ever (see below).
  • Hallee caught up on sleep a bit with 2 great naps. Brody took a marathon nap and kept all his food down today!
  • Gigi picked me flowers from the yard and drew me odd combinations of letters and a drawing.
  • Two days of resting my shoulder means it actually feels better today.

Lessons (re)learned? Finding beauty in the ordinary, blessings amidst the bummers, it's really all about perspective.

I hope Mother's Day treated you sweetly.

Want to try out my favorite salad? It's based on one from a restaurant I worked at in college.

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Mix up these items for a delicious California Salad, courtesy of GidgetGoesHome.com.

Lettuce of your choice (red leaf is my favorite)

Sliced red onion

Generous crumbles of goat cheese

Plenty of avocado cubes

A sprinkle of chopped walnuts

{optional} strips of chicken

Top with raspberry vinaigrette (I love Trader Joe's). Enjoy.

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P.S. I took a little time today and revamped the blog a bit. If you're in a reader, won't you click over and take a look?

Cups Cooking Extravaganza!

DSC_0013 One of the really fun things I got to do this fall was take a cooking class at a really cool local San Diego place called Cups-- an organic cupcake eatery in La Jolla with a full, state-of-the-art kitchen classroom in the back.

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The class was called cream cheese-making, but that title really only scratched the surface of what the class really was. I was expecting simple how-to on making homemade cream cheese.

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I got that, and so much more.

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The fifteen or so of us students worked with the chefs and other Cups employees to make, and eat, a complete meal including several courses, and desserts, full of amazing dishes using the homemade cream cheese as an ingredient.

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Michelle, the owner, brought in this beautiful basket of freshly picked herbs, edible flowers and vegetables, straight from her garden.

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Several recipes required us to take from this huge bowl of butter.

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The food was spectacular, the venue was cool and modern and the people at Cups were friendly and knowledgable.

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To my local, foodie readers, a class at Cups would make a super-fun date night or gift experience. I'd love to go back at take another with David (I was sure to bring him home a cupcake, at least).

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Possibly my favorite part? Homemade cream cheese ice cream. And an industrial-sized ice cream maker. Yes, please!

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A Little More About Cups

Probably the best part of Cups is their philosophy. Everything they serve is made in-house with the highest quality local, sustainable, organic ingredients, and they've been awarded the first 3-star Green Certified restaurant in San Diego.

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Cups serves organic Straus (strawberry!) milk on tap along with their delicious selection of cupcakes and coffees in the Lounge. And they serve the milk in mini reusable Straus bottles, too!

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Thank you so much to Cups for the amazing class. I can't  wait to go back!

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me with Cups owner, Michelle