TK Maxx Haul

Welcome back to the Dean Kealy Blog! I was out shopping the other day in my local TK Maxx (I think the US call it TJ Maxx?) and shared a few of the bits I got on my Instagram Story (@dean.kealy), when one of you lovelies suggested that I do a haul post of all the bits I got.

I never thought about doing a haul-style blog post before, which I find mad because I love watching them on YouTube (apparently they’re the thing to be doing) but never thought about doing a blog post-style version.

I love TK Maxx–I was out doing a few errands, and TK Maxx just happened to be beside the store I was doing errands in, so I just had to pop in. Bear in mind, I don’t think I’ve ever been let loose on my own in this place–I’m usually with friends or family, who usually keep me in check and accountable to all the ridiculous things I could potentially pick up–but none of them were there on this day, so… here’s what I got:

Black Panther POP

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Gold Black Panther POP

In all my visits to TK Maxx, I’ve never seen a single POP figure in there–I love these things, I have a whole shelf in my room dedicated to them, but I’m very particular about the ones I pick up, I won’t pick up any ol’ POP, it has to be from a series, movie etc that I like. So imagine my delight when I not only saw POP figures but the gold ones too!!!! Now, the selection was not great, but they did have this gold version of the Marvel Studios Black Panther so I had to get it. There was also a gold version of Thor, but I already have a regular version POP of him from Thor Ragnarok, so I didn’t want to double up. He was super cheap too–normally POPS vary from €12-16, and I got this guy for a mere €6!!!

Batman Gallery Wall Piece

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Classic Batman Framed Print

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been slowly but surely building a gallery wall in my room. Not just any gallery wall, but a super-hero/pop-culture themed gallery wall because I’m a huge nerd (as if you couldn’t already tell). The last time I was in TK Maxx I picked up a framed print of a classic Spider-Man cover and it was only €10, and it was a perfect fit for my gallery wall, so I was only chuffed upon discovering this classic Batman cover version of it on this visit, and at the same €10 price tag, it went straight into my basket (yes, I had a basket, because let’s face it I’m going to pick up at least 20 things I’m going to want–even if I put over half of them back in the end…). My gallery wall is 90% complete at this stage, and I can’t wait to share it when it’s done–let me know if you’d like a blog post about it!

Coffee!!!

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Coffeecoffeecoffeecoffee!

OK, so I’ve grouped the next couple of items under one header because they are all coffee related! I love coffee — wait you mean you didn’t know? 😉 — so when I stumbled across the next few items I was in my element! In my defense, they do have an aisle dedicated to tea and coffee, so I did go down that way looking to pick up some coffee, but the others were bonus.

The coffee I picked up is The Live Company coffee, from Brazil and I’m super looking forward to trying this. I also love how the packaging is very eco-friendly! The outer packaging seems to be made of corrugated cardboard, and the only little bit of plastic I can see is wrapped around the coffee itself to keep it airtight, which is understandable. On a side note, it was great to see a good bit of plastic free packaging on a lot of the teas and coffees, as the majority of them seem to come in reusable tins, which is great!

Next I picked up a coffee-syrup ‘sample pack’ and this was reduced to a fiver, which was an absolute steal! It came with 4 x 45ml bottles of flavoured syrups to add to your coffee: vanilla, hazelnut, caramel, and Irish cream. I’ve had all these flavours in my coffee before, except for the irish cream one, so it’ll be interesting to see what that one tastes like! The bottles are also glass, making them perfectly reusable once they’re empty–OK I’ll shut up about stuff being eco-friendly/reusable now…

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My €2 mason jar!

Lastly, and my favourite purchase of the whole lot was the mason jar I picked up! It was on clearance for €2 and it’s huge! Absolute bargain, and it’s perfect for having my morning cold brew coffee in!


That wraps up my haul! I’d really love to hear your feedback on this type of blog post. I know haul videos are popular on the YouTubes, but does it work in blog-format? Did you enjoy this? Should I do it again in the future?

Lastly I’ll leave you guys with the question: do you shop in TK Maxx, and do you love or hate it, because I think it’s fairly evident that I love it!

😉

Easy Homemade Cold Brew Coffee in 3 Simple Steps!

Last month I shared with you guys how to make yourselves an Easy Homemade Iced Latte in 3 Simple Steps. Today I want to share with you a cold coffee that doesn’t require as much effort, but you might have to wait a little longer for this one.

Before I go any further, I want to clear something up: an iced coffee and cold brew coffee are not the same thing! An iced coffee, is hot coffee poured over ice, whereas a cold brew coffee is coffee that has been made with nothing but cold water.

Generally with cold brew coffee, you make it from coffee beans, or ground coffee beans, if that’s how you buy them. You grind your beans and pour cold water over them and then place it in your fridge overnight and that’s when the magic happens. By letting the coffee sit overnight (8-12 hrs) it takes a lot of the bitterness and acidity that can be associated with coffee away, leaving you with a nice cold coffee beverage. Let’s get on with the how to then, shall we:


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Step 1

So like I said you’re going to need coffee beans, or ground coffee. Anywhere between 50g-80g of the stuff depending on how strong you like your coffee. If your beans are ground already, you’re good to go to the next step, otherwise get your beans, and ground ’em up to the consistency you desire.

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Weigh your coffee!

Step 2

Next you’re going to take those ground coffee beans and pour them into a french press, preferably a larger one as opposed to the one-man french press. The reason for this is you’re now going to pour 400-500ml of cold water in on top of your grounds. Get yourself a spoon or a utensil now and give the grounds a stir, making sure they’re all soaked by the water.

Place the top of the french press on your coffee but do NOT plunge YET and place in your fridge for 8-12 hours. I recommend doing this the night before, before you go to bed.

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My french press with coffee waiting to be chilled in fridge

Step 3

Rise and shine friends, it’s coffee time! After your time is up, remove the french press from the fridge. Now you can plunge that coffee, but make sure you do it slowly. I don’t know why but they always recommend you plunge the coffee slowly.

You’ll want to have a container/vessel of some some sort handy to pour and store the cold brew in. I recommend something that can hold 300-400ml, as that 400-500ml of water you poured in last night has now condensed and been soaked up by the coffee grounds.

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Keep your cold brew chilled in the fridge for upto a week!

Get your glass, a couple of ice cubes (to your liking and depending on how big your ice cubes are, I personally go for anywhere between 4-8) and your cold brew. Pour the cold brew in on top of the ice, but don’t go all the way. You’re going to only want to go halfway, because you’re not done yet. Next you need to pour about an espresso sized cup of water in on top of the cold brew, otherwise it’s going to be like drinking concentrated fruit juice without diluting it with water, if you catch my drift. The water dilutes it enough that it’s drinkable. You’re good to go from there, stick a reusable straw in it and off you go, or if you’re like me you can add a dash of milk and/or whatever way you take your coffee, sweeteners, syrups etc.

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Cheers!

There you have it: you’re own homemade cold brew coffee! The best thing about it is, you should have enough in that batch for 2-3 more beverages, and even better news: it will keep in your fridge for 1-2 weeks! So you only have to do all this once or twice a week, depending on how much you love cold brew–if you’re like me it’ll prob be 3 times a week!

😉

 

#PlasticFreeJuly: Be More Enviromentally Friendly

In the past few months, I’ve been trying to do my bit and reduce the amount of plastic waste I use in my every day life. Now, in today’s world, it’s not the easiest thing to do with plastic being almost everywhere, but at the same time, it’s not impossible and there are solutions and alternatives to stuff we use and buy every day.

I’m hopping on the #PlasticFreeJuly bandwagon, making sure I use, purchase and waste as little plastic as I physically can. Like I mentioned, I have been trying to do this over the past couple of months, so I do have a little advantage, but for those of you who feel like you would also like to join me on doing our bit to make our planet a little better, here are my tips, tricks, solutions etc.:

Coffee Cups & Water Bottles

This is probably one of the easiest things you could do starting today! How many plastic bottles do you go through? Just think about it. How many to-go coffees do you get every week? Imagine if you had a reusable coffee cup or water bottle. How many cups would you have not used? How many plastic bottles would you have avoided? If it’s between 5-7 of each, then you’re part of the problem. Get yourself a reusable coffee cup and reusable water bottle the next time you’re out. They’re not that hard to find. Most cafe’s now offer the option to purchase a reusable coffee cup while queuing, and even better again, some offer a discount if you hand them a reusable coffee cup when you order your coffee. As for the water bottle, you can get them almost anywhere. What size you get is completely up to you. I have a 500 ml bottle, a 1 litre bottle and a 2 litre bottle, and which one I use depends on what kind of day I’m going to have.

  • Disposable paper cups contain 5% polyurethane plastic, making composting and recycling of disposable cups extremely rare. — from ecoffecup.eco
  • Half a trillion disposable cups are manufactured annually around the world; that’s over 70 disposable cups for every person on the planet. — from ecoffecup.eco
  • Just one person switching to a reusable water bottle keeps 2,580 balloons of CO2 out of the air per year. Drinking from reusable water bottles can be safer then disposable bottles. For instance, a glass or stainless steel option won’t contain BPA, a harmful chemical used when making some plastics. — from add-impact.com

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Straws

Yes, that’s one of my iced lattes from a few blog posts ago and yes, that was indeed a stainless steel straw in the photo. Plastic straws were on of the first things I cut out when I started, and it’s also super easy to replace them, and it’s only going to get easier as more and more companies are replacing plastic with paper straws. For those of us at home it’s super easy too, paper straws are the common replacement, but for those who aren’t 100% keen on paper, you can also get other alternatives like bamboo and stainless steel straws, like pictured above. I bought my steel straws in TK Maxx, but I know lots of places are now selling them like Sostrene Grene and Flying Tiger have the paper straws.

  • In just the U.S. alone, one estimate suggests 500 million straws are used every single day. One study published earlier this year estimated as many as 8.3 billion plastic straws pollute the world’s beaches. Eight million tons of plastic flow into the ocean every year, and straws comprise just 0.025 percent of that. — from nationalgeographic.com

Shopping Bags & Produce

“A bag for life”. How many times have you seen that written on your plastic ‘reusable’ shopping bags, only to end up bringing it home and throwing it away. When it comes to shopping, try bring a reusable bag that’s not a plastic bag, or even better, try not accept a plastic bag. Most places offer a paper bag alternative, or even better, bring your own! I use this tote bag I picked up in Penney’s a while back, and if I know I’m going to be picking up a few bits, I’ll bring a backpack with me too. As for produce, this is a recent endeavor for me, where I’m more conscious about what I’m picking up and how it’s packaged. Now-a-days all our fruits and veg seem to come wrapped in plastic–why? What’s wrong with the non-plastic wrapped version? I’ll also try refrain from putting the veg into the small plastic bags they offer to put said fruit and veg in–there’s no need for it!

  • Reusable bags are sturdier than disposable bags. Each reusable shopping bag has the potential to eliminate the use of 1,000 plastic bags over its lifetime. Reusable bags are durable enough to be used for much more than just shopping trips. — from sites.psu.edu

Those are just some of the tips I have to share with you folks, I could probably spout on about so much more, but I don’t want to bore you guys. Hopefully I’ve gotten it across to you guys that it’s so important that we become more enviromentally conscious in everything we do, because unfortunately we can’t help that plastic is everywhere–heck, it’s even in the very air we breathe!

Easy Homemade Iced Latte in 3 Simple Steps!

Hi everyone, and welcome back to the blog! I know it’s been a few weeks since my last post, but I’m back, and have a few blog posts lined up for the next few weeks, enjoy!

Today I’m sharing with you how I make my very own homemade iced latte’s! It’s so simple, and all you need is coffee, your coffee making tools, some milk and ice!

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All Photos © Dean Kealy

I’ve been making these on and off over the last few months, and I feel like I’m finally confident enough to share with you a recipe/method in which everyone who loves iced coffees will enjoy!

Step 1

Make your coffee! This is the easy part. Simply make yourself a cup of black coffee, whichever way you prefer, whether it’s with a french press, a cafetiere, with a machine or bog standard instant coffee. Make sure it’s not a massive mug though, we only need less than half a cup of coffee.

Next, your going to take 3-4 ice cubes and pop them in your freshly brewed coffee, and swish it about until the ice cubes have just about melted.

Step 1.5: (optional)

This is the point where if you like sweet coffee, you’re going to want to add your sweetener or flavorings now! Personally I enjoy mine with a teaspoon of honey, but you can add a syrup of your choice if you like. Simply add it to the coffee you’ve cooled, and stir.

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Froth your milk

Step 2

The next step is to froth your milk, and make it nice and fluffy, to really make it the ‘latte’ part of the drink. Take your milk, any kind will do, I personally use non-dairy (almond, coconut, soya etc), but normal dairy milk works too. What you want is about a 2/3rd ratio to your coffee. To froth it, simply pour the milk into a french press, and plunge it consistently for about 30 seconds until it gets nice and fluffy. If you don’t have a french press: you can pop the milk into a leak proof container or a protein shaker, and shake the crap out of it until it goes fluffy.

 

Step 3

We’re on the home stretch now. Pour your cooled coffee into a glass, mason jar, whatever you want, and pop as much ice as you like in with it. Next, your going to take that lovely frothy milk, but instead of just pouring it directly in on top of your coffee, you’re going to take a table spoon, and pour the milk over the tablespoon in on top of the coffee. This make the milk sit on top of the coffee and drip down into it giving a really visual effect.

Final Step:

Grab yourself a reusable straw (no plastic here thank you very much!), pop it into your iced latte, and don’t forget to Instagram the shit out of that thing, because damn! Now you can enjoy your very own homemade iced latte!

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Enjoy!