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Summer: Does Pumpkin Spice Belong Here?

pumpkinspiceThe end of summer has a natural melancholy about it, nostalgia seems to like the golden light of sunset and my pumpkin-spice-swilling-compadres seem always ready for the next consumer fix…ho-ho-hold off on the winter holidays please. I’m still trying to sip my September dream of October.

I missed day-one of the Pumpkin Spice season at Starbucks, but you can bet your syrupy sweet, sugary ass that I made it there on the second day.  We are an odd bunch, craving fall when it’s still peach season.

Does pumpkin spice belong here before the kids go back to school? Who’s to say. I mean, it was a marketing campaign that changed the face of how we end our summers, but maybe we can come up with some new ideas;

Peach tea lattes ( I know, it’s been done, but they are damn yummy), please don’t leave me plum lemonade, late summer boo-hoo berry or  harvest melancholy melon???

Perhaps is was Toronto’s above average rain fall and below average temperatures that fooled me into thinking our season had to be longer, or that September would bring with her some sunshine and dry heat.

For a gal who loves her some festive, pumpkin-spice lattes, I wasn’t prepared this year. Nor was I prepared to walk into a shop yesterday and find myself surrounded by Christmas decor, the  Thanksgiving and Hallowe’en stock already having been pushed to a corner.

Late summer is a mix of hanging on to the carefree days of summer, new beginnings and connecting to our ancient rituals around the harvest.

Every year, my middle-aged mom social media feed is awash with ladies celebrating the return of the syrupy-sweet-caffeine-laden coffee that is our generation’s valium. And every year, I contribute to the madness. I covet  no-whip-half-sweet-non-fat-pumpkin-spice-lattes. It’s like a small booby-prize for growing older but not up.

 

 

 

 

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Red Cup Christians and Other Garbage

starbucksventiwineHave you been reading about ‘Red Cup Christians’, and seen the conservative Christian memes about how terrible, evil, and abominable Starbucks is? You can hardly glance at a social media site without seeing some sort of preachy meme.

Normally I would link to some articles, etcetera, etcetera, but it’s been a long week,  and you can google it yourself if you wish. If you are wise though, you will simply trust my judgment and carry on reading darlings. Cheers to that!

The gist of this latest major brand attack is two-fold.

First of all, being a ‘Red-Cup Christian’ means that you’re Christian on the inside but not courageous enough in your faith to stand out from the crowd. Second of all, there is a Starbucks-customer shaming about how much people spend on their delicious and delightful-every-day-caffeine treats, versus how much we should be sharing with the homeless, the less fortunate….blah, blah, freaking blah.

Let me let you in on a little secret; the preachy red-cup hating, finger-pointing-wanna-be-self-righteous meme-making arseholes had better start putting their money where their mouth is.

In my vast experience, people who drink Starbucks are not ‘Red-Cup’ anything. They don’t necessarily hoard their money and spit in the face of the less fortunate. So, to all of those preachy-gotta-have-something-to-bitch-about whiners, just shut up.

I love, love, love my Starbucks. As a matter of fact, my squishy pink bits are getting warm thinking about my next praline-chestnut-eggnog-rum-santa-kissing-hot-and-whipped-cream-laden-over-priced-first-world beverage. My mouth is watering and I’m generally moist  all over just thinking about it.

And you know what? I’m the lady at the red light who rolls down the window for the homeless guy at the corner and gives whatever she can. I’m the lady who volunteers her time to charities, donates to the foodbank on a regular basis and also lives on a single income. You know what else? I don’t go around judging people based on the colour of their coffee cup.

….because life just ain’t that simple folks. If you think it is, you’ve been steered drastically wrong.

Just because someone buys a take-out coffee does not mean they are selfish, evil or satan-loving. It means they are treating themselves to a coffee beverage that they enjoy. Get over it you big, hypocritical Proctor and Gamble, big-pharma, Wal-Mart shopping twit.

Have you unconditionally opened the doors of your large, spacious and warm churches, temples and mosques? Have you gone out in the cold and handed out food, blankets and offered your time to clean toilets and counsel those very people you think just need the money we’re spending at the coffee shop? Likely not, because that is a heck of a lot more difficult than sitting comfortably at home and clicking on your social media sites.

A grande, non-fat no-whip eggnog latte please, and hold the hypocrisy.

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Dear Starbucks,

starbucks2015This letter has been coming for a long time. An event this weekend encouraged me to reach out to you, my beloved.

First of all, let me say that I adore you.

I love everything about you. I love your dark wooden décor, and your comfy leather chairs. I love your hipster music, and the red cups and aprons you’ve brought to us for  the winter holiday season.

I love that you are a relaxed place for dates, getting together with the girls, and allow writers like myself to occupy a table for an hour or two with just enough stimulation to feel like we’re not crazy, isolated artists.

As a self-proclaimed city girl, I am convinced that I could not survive winter without your eggnog lattes and cranberry bliss bars. Simply put, you are one of the simple pleasures in my life. I love you.

I love you so much that I must share with you a little suggestion regarding your tea. You see, as much as I live for your coffee, I also adore your tea. Youthberry is my favourite followed closely by Peach Tranquility. Your tea is often my most reliable counselor during times of self-doubt and rejection. It is however rather hazardous to drink. if I’m not enjoying the ambiance in-house, I’m likely enjoying your beverages and nummies on-the-go.

Which brings me to the tea. Yesterday, the cute, little, paper tab attached to the string on the bag was tucked directly under the little sippy hole. I’d gone through one of your drive-thrus prior to getting on a very busy highway for a roadtrip. Did you know that the cottons string wicks the moisture from the tea, soaks the little paper tab, causing it to drip down the side of the cup? Perhaps you didn’t. Well, it does, and it gets kinda messy.

Whilst trying very hard not to get wet from the drippy tab yesterday, the lid of the venti cup popped off as the paper cup folded, and splashed boiling hot tea all over my hand, my lap, and inadvertently, the steering wheel.  Fortunately I had a co-pilot with quick hands and a lovely sense of humour.

We managed with giggles no-less, (while still in 120 km+, four lane traffic) to wipe the steering wheel and wedge all of the serviettes I had prudently stashed in the glove box under my soaking wet derriere. I managed to drive to the nearest service centre, all the while holding my plump rump up off the seat, kind of like holding a 120 km an hour squat  for ten minutes.

My pinky finger was burned, as was my pride, but it could have been worse had I not been an old experienced driver. A precautionary word to drivers – you may wish to order two beverages instead of a venti.

My darling, precious, true-love coffee-house Starbucks, my suggestion to you is two-fold; please fix the tea bag wicking problem, and think of a way to make your venti cup design less tippy, less likely to collapse, and still hold all of the nummy-nom-nom goodness that your beverages are known for.

Please know that I relate my tale of warm-woe to you so that you can simply become more awesome.

Your most devoted fan,

Andshelaughs

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Amish On-Line & Other Absurdities

itsawildworldI do most of my socializing via phone while I’m driving. Hands-free of course.

More and more I’ve been doing less and less talking, and that suits me just fine.

Coming off of an energy-sucking few months, I find most people exhausting and barely tolerable. My overworked bullshit detector has become antiquated, and I’m left to depend on my quick wit and lack of patience. A deadly combination at best.

The conversation I had this morning with one of the few people I find tolerable began with our shared disdain for small-talk, and the necessity for sobriety.

We talked about my latest therapy session, and the ridiculous need to quantify the human experience for the sole requirement of doing business. What a tragedy of ignorance.

As it happens, this therapy session of which we were speaking, ended with the therapist saying a pat congratulations for being so resilient and the required, “Goals have been met”.

What? Goals have been met? Like not raising my own jugular vein and making a tidy incision? Like not overdosing on a sweet bedtime concoction of prescription pharmaceuticals, vintage wine  and over the counter cough syrup? If that’s the case, then, Yay me! Goals met indeed! Someone decant the wine and pass the Nyquil.

Our conversation veered to the more spiritually enlightened, something about taking an on-line course about Quakers. Which, struck me as something akin to Amish On-Line, or AshleyMennoniteMadison.com.

Our world, if you have the right sense of humour, can be wildly interesting and engaging. It can also be anxiety provoking and lonely. It seems that the more empathetic someone is, and the more spiritually engaged, that the more difficult it is to tolerate the thick curtain of bullshit that pervades our public lives.

Two men across from me at a café hold a business meeting so that their review of employee performance (including the employee names) is now public. An annoying bald-headed athlete-wanna-be in tear away pants has a phone conversation on highest volume speaker phone while he waits for what I can only imagine is a coffee beverage as pretentious as himself. A couple get up , leaving a pile of unpurchased and carelessly thumbed through books for someone else to clean up. Pages wrinkled and now wasted, as no one wants to pay full price for a dirty book.

In a world we all share so intimately, I am astounded at the variety of perspectives about what is acceptable, and what makes someone a complete social write-off.  For instance, the gentleman who just  tried unsuccessfully to attend the café washroom with a copy of the Globe & Mail tucked under his arm. He just made haste for the washroom at the back. Note to self: wait until you get home, do not touch the public copy of the newspaper.

As absurd as taking a course about Quaker spirituality on-line may sound, it is no more absurd than the life you can witness around you at any given time. Keep your eyes peeled, your phone on silent, and your sense of humour well-maintained.

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Eggnog Lattelessness

eggnogAvoid Starbucks if you’re looking for a Christmasy Egg-Nog Latte. Go straight to Second Cup. This, from a die-hard Starbucks customer.

What I got as my ‘Birthday Reward’ from Starbucks was not an eggnog latte. Not the sweet, foamy cup of christmasy-feel-good-caffeine that I’ve become accustomed to, and look forward to every winter.

This afternoon I knew that  the young gentleman barista behind the counter was thinking that I was just another mouth-breathing-too-much-money-and-not-enough-sense customer.

In my mind’s eye, I could see my smartly-suited self staring, open-mouthed at the festive white and red menu that was missing the option of the annually, much-anticipated egg-nog-latte. Even as the words came out of my mouth, I knew I sounded like an irritating twit but I just couldn’t stop myself, ” Is there any egg-nog-latte this year? I don’t see it on the board.”

The very polite barista explained that it was his understanding that the eggnog latte is only available in the west this year, and last year, it was our year in ‘the east’.  It sounded like a load of bologna, and I want you to promise me that you’ll tell me if you find a Starbuck’s Egg-Nog Latte in the GTA, so I ended up settling for the new chestnut praline latte. I was promised that it was delicious, but it was, in fact, just meh. 

I shall be actively seeking another noggy caffeine replacement at the Second Cup and other fine coffee establishments that remain faithful to the crack-like caffeine-nog addiction Starbucks has caused me to have.

And so my holiday began, my sweet little sugarplums, with an annoyingly first-world problem – eggnoglattelessness. Thank you Starbucks for making me feel like an annoying, privileged moron. Bah-Humbug!

 

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Christmas Top Ten

English: Christmas cookies Deutsch: Weihnachts...
English: Christmas cookies Deutsch: Weihnachtskekse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love the holidays.

Yes, even the displays in the stores that begin in October. Just because we live in a world where we are brainwashed into our consumer stupors, doesn’t mean we have to participate.

It’s ok, more than ok, just to enjoy the lights, the energy, and be quietly reflective.

Today I offer you my current Top Ten list of Christmasy things to help get your ‘Christmas On’

 

1) Eggnog, eggnot lattes (which, I must confess, comes a close second (gasp!) to the Starbucks Caramel Brulee Latte), Eggnog and rum, Eggnog shortbread, Eggnog snogs under the mistletoe…

2) Christmas Carols, and radio stations that are ‘All Christmas’ at this time of year. After all, you can always turn it off and on whenever the mood strikes.

3) Snuggling under a blanket and watching the snow fall.

4) A warm, roaring fireplace.

5) Cookies. There is always an abundance at Christmas time, and I can totally enjoy that!!!

6) Donating or volunteering for charities. It’s fun, it makes you feel good, and it helps other people – t’is the season after all!

7) Christmas parties – an excuse to buff and scrub and feel pretty…and dance!

8) Getting Christmas cards in the mail. Better than bills and junk mail by far. This includes the crazy, too-freaking-much-information letters that people send out. I love those.

9) Giving gifts. Whether it’s a cup of coffee or a coveted luxury item, it’s nice to light up someone’s day and let them know that you listen, and you like to make them happy.

10) Time with friends. This my number one favourite thing about Christmas. This is a gift you can’t return, or have stolen from  you. It’s the true meaning of the season, and I look so forward to these special coffee, dinner, party…and ‘whatever’ dates with my friends, family and colleagues.

I hope that this niggles your hum-bug and helps you see some of the simple joys that are available not just during Christmas time, but all year ’round.

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To the Loud Mouth at Starbucks

cell phoneHey Dickwad, keep it down over there.

Yah, you, you loudmouth douchebag.

Do you pay Starbucks for your rented office space?

If you do, then I suggest you buy a damn door so the rest of the world doesn’t have to listen to you try to close a real estate deal while we’re trying to un-fucking-wind.

Why don’t the other twelve of us who are here enjoying our beverages and reading, chatting, or surfing the web take a freaking vote on the April 1st closing date? 

Does privacy mean anything to you?! I now know your client’s name, address and the amount of his freaking mortgage. Pass me one of your business cards so I make sure all of my friends know not to do business with you, you ignorant prick.

….get a room.