CAUTION: Hot!

I worked at Starbucks from age 16 to 22. These were primary caffeine-dependency development years. These were the years that make a coffee addict. These were the years that separate the boys (8-A.M-coffee-drinkers) from the men (8-P.M.-coffee-drinkers). These were the years of all-night study sessions, all-night 24 marathons and 5 A.M. opens (which inevitably always followed all-night bar crawls). These were the years when eight hours of sleep was easily replaced with a iced quad espresso.

When you work at Starbucks during these defining years, you’re given the tools and products to coddle your relationship with coffee, and things can get out of hand really quickly. During these building years, I was given high-quality coffee, for free, on a daily basis.

Then I quit. It was a very sad day, half because I left the job that paid for everything from prom tickets to college loans and half because I now had to actually pay for coffee. This was mind-blowing to me. I quickly realized that I had an addiction that I (figuratively) couldn’t afford to quit and (literally) couldn’t afford to uphold.

I was officially a coffee snob who still needed her fix but couldn’t afford a daily triple  grande nonfat no whip mocha. So I swallowed my pride, bought a $10 coffee maker, a Black-Friday-special coffee grinder and started splitting a $13 pound of Starbucks whole bean coffee with the boyfriend every week. In the way that having to buy your own food is a shock after moving away from home, having to pay for a pound of Starbucks coffee that you got for free for 6 yeas was just as rough. It was just what I needed, though, to balance my need for good coffee with the thickness of my pocketbook.

This all leads me to the purpose of this post, which is to share something with you that I really enjoy. Today, I wanted to tell you about the best coffee tumbler that I have ever owned. In case you forgot, I worked at Starbucks for 6 years and have owned a LOT of tumblers! I am kind of an expert on the topic. I’d also like to point out that Starbucks stopped sending me paychecks eight months ago and no part of this is a paid endorsement.

This is the Starbucks double wall, stainless steal coffee tumbler in red. It keeps coffee hot like nobody’s business. I take my coffee to work in the morning, but sometimes I get caught up doing this, that and the other thing. Somedays I even forget I have coffee until after lunch, and guess what? My coffee is STILL hot! Not only does it keep coffee hot for almost ever, but it seals like a dream! I carry it to work in my lunch bag, which gets knocked all around on a crowded bus, and it never spills in transit.

Kenny has the same one silver. He’s actually the reason I picked this one in the first place. I was at a Starbucks yesterday and they still had the silver and red version of this cup. You can also order the blue version online here.

I just wanted to pass this recommendation along to anyone in the to-go coffee cup market! I just love it so much and would highly recommend it.

Good Tip, Bad Tip

Today, we’re going to play a fun little game called Good Tip or Bad Tip. Why? Because I had a really busy week and feel like I learned a lot of things! I thought this would be a fun way to pass it along!

On Crafting

Crocheting a baby blanket will take about 11 hours. (Source: About.com)
— Bad Tip. That made me think that since I started it on Sunday, I could finish it by the following Saturday. I was not even close.

A good size for a crocheted baby blanket is about 100 chains. (Source: Steph from Pumpkin Loves)
Good Tip. If I actually finished the banket, it would have been perfect dimensions!

On Showers …

Buying a present on the gift registry shouldn’t take much time at all. (Source: me)
— Bad Tip. Printing out the registry is easy once you start searching the baby registry instead of the bridal registry, but finding anything on it in the other world that is the baby section is a whole different story.

When buying a present for a shower, always buy off the registry. (Source: my recently married friend, Bri)
— Good Tip. I don’t know this first hand because I’ve never been on the receiving end of any sort of shower, but it seems to be a recurring sentiment. Apparently when people  give you a list of exactly what they want, they would like to receive those things over whatever you randomly pick out. If they wanted those random things, it would have been on the registry. (Or so I hear).

On ordering drinks …

Get the Golden Goose Noble Pils! (Source: Goose Island bartender)
— Bad Tip. It was hardly better than a Bud Light.

Ordering a PBR at iO sounds like a good idea. (Source: me)
— Bad Tip. Turns out it comes in a Mason jar. I am no where near hip enough to be drinking PBR out of a Mason jar.

On life …

YOLO: You Only Live Once! (Source: my friend Chrissy)
— Good Tip. Her wise words were the reason behind my Shamrock Shake today, my pen wrist tattoo and at least five other things on a daily basis.

When at work, always try to be a filler not a spiller of your TRY Courage bucket, your TRUST Courage bucket and your TELL Courage bucket. (Source: Courage Goes to Work)
— Good Tip. I’m only 48% through the book, but I think I’m to believe that with full buckets, I can run the world.

On buying Courage Goes to Work

Buy the Kindle version! (Source: me)
— Bad Tip. The Kindle version is written entirely in italics!

On families …

Go home and your dad will grill you dinner and your mom will make you the best breakfast on the planet. (Source: me)
— Good Tip. I don’t care if my mom is only bribing me to come home so I can clean out my own room, it’s totally worth it.

On Movies … 

Go see 21 Jump Street! (Source: me)
— Good Tip. This movie is absolutely hilarious!

Buy tickets to The Hunger Games twice in a 3-day period. (Source: me)
— Good Tip. I haven’t even seen it yet, but I just know it’s going to be the best movie ever! So much so that I have already piad to see the movie twice. It’s gonna be great! Read the book first, though!!

*   *   *

Do you have any good tips or bad tips?!

Kony 2012

As a this-is-how-we-do-cute-things blog, I typically try to stay away from politics, headline news or current events. It’s not that I don’t I care, it’s that I don’t like controversy. This is why I was not cut out for news journalism! Sometimes, though, the world needs more than cupcakes and glitter.

Thursdays are for inspiration. Thursdays are my day to share with you the things that make me the person I am, whether that’s a really great website, a closer look at TOMS shoes or a tribute to Steve Jobs. Today, I want to inspire you to take a stand. It’s not a political agenda or a plea for money (although that would help), it’s a stand for humanity. It’s about saving the lives of children. It’s about giving thousands of children the gift of sleeping through the night free from fear of abduction and murder.

I highly recommend you watch this film. It’s about the power of people coming together to make a difference in the world. It’s about people standing together to ignite change. I know the video is long, but if you haven’t seen it, it’s worth it.

In short, it’s about Invisible Children and their mission to stop Joseph Kony from his reign of terror in Africa. The goal is to make Kony famous, not to celebrate him, but to raise awareness. The only way that we can stop Kony, is if people know who he is. So take a few minutes, watch this video and pass the message along. Because together, we can make a difference!

The Hunger Games: The Book

I can’t decide if the churning feeling in the pit of my stomach lately is due to an uptick of work responsibilities or the fact that I’m halfway through the third book in the hunger games. I’m starting to think it’s probably the latter. I started reading The Hunger Games about a month ago. Since then, I’ve repeatedly stayed up too late on week nights, almost missed bus stops and appeared completely anti-social during my lunch break because of my complete obsession with this series! I don’t know what I would have done if my Kindle wasn’t equipped with 3G because I had to buy the second and third books immediately after finishing the previous book halfway through my bus ride home.

I know I’m not alone in this sentiment. When the New York Times reviewed the first book back in 2008, it only took up the bottom half of the article. They couldn’t have known that the books would catch fire (pun totally intended!). The New York Times has reviewed it since then, but I was totally bummed by the level of spoilers in some of them, so I’m not going to link here (I’m sure you can find it yourself if you’re interested). The book has received numerous awards and praise, including one of Publisher Weekly‘s “Best Books of the Year” in 2008 and the “2008 Cybil Winner” for fantasy and science-fiction books. More importantly, all my really awesome friends loved it to!

As (hopefully!) you all know, Lions Gate Entertainment has adapted the book into a feature length film that premiers on March 23.

I could not be more excited! I have never read a book before it was made into a movie! I have read books after the movie based upon them comes out, but never the other way around.  This is really huge for me. I always hear people say how the movie is never as good as the book, which might be true in this case, but I’m staying optimistic! I’m sure that people say this about most books before the movie comes out, but due to the nature of this book, I highly recommend you read the book first! Plus, it’s written for 13-year-olds, so you could totally knock it out in a day if you really tried.

Let me give you a brief summary …

The book takes place in Panem, which is the nation that formed in the remains of a post-apocalyptic North America. Panem comprises 12 fenced districts, which are home to the poor working class who provide food and other resources to the wealthy and eccentric capitol residents. Before what is known as the Dark Days, there was a 13th district, which was destroyed when the districts unsuccessfully tried to rebel against the Capitol’s tyranny. Since then, the Capitol punishes the districts for the rebellion in a variety of fear-inducing ways, the most horrifying being the Hunger Games. Each year, the Games begin with a Reaping, at which the capital draws the name of one boy and one girl, between the ages of 12 – 18, from each district to be Tributes. They are briefly trained by the Capitol in the art of survival and then thrown into an arena to fight to the death, until only one Tribute remains and is crowned Victor. The story is told through the eyes of the strong, yet lovable, lead character from the deprived District 12, Katniss Everdeen. Katniss is complex in all the right ways; she is tough and wicked smart, but frosted with a soft side of gentleness and wit. When her little sister Prim’s name is drawn during the District 12 Reaping, Katniss volunteers to take her place. Along with the male District 12 Tribute, Peeta Mellark, she is whisked away into the Capitol’s whimsical, yet disturbing world where she prepares to enter the Games. Told through first-person point of view, the reader is whisked away with Katniss and Peeta into a new world where strength, brains and loyalties are tested to the max.

So go read it! Please and thank you.

You can buy The Hunger Games:

Hard Copy on Amazon for $9.46

Digital  Copy for Kindle for $7.49

Digital Copy for Nook for $7.49

 

 

A Major Award

I am super excited about this post!! For a lot of reasons, but largely because I feel like I’m starting to form a blogging community of sorts, which is very exciting! In short? I won an award!

Thanks so much to my friend Steph from one of my FAVORITE blogs, Pumpkin Love, for this award! She is by far the craftiest girl I’ve ever met and has SO many cute ideas! She is also the best crocheter … probably ever. She is certainly my inspiration in all my crocheting endeavors. She’s just another example of how you meet the best people working at Starbucks.

So, the rules for this award are:
1. Thank the person that nominated you with a link back to them (see above).
2. Tell 7 things about yourself (see below).
3. Pass this award on to 15 newly discovered blogs and let them know that they’ve received an award. (I have to cheat on this part … because I don’t follow that many blogs! I know I should start! But I’ve modified it to my top 10. Please forgive me!)
7 things about me:

1. My best friend is 4 inches tall and green — my little birdie named, Aiko!
2. I am currently addicted to the Hunger Games.
3. I seriously love candy … like a ridiculous amount. Favorites include Sour Skittles, Sour Patch Kids and gummy Life Savers
4. I cannot stand rude people or people who ignore basic social conventions.
5. Despite my lofty adventures in baking, basic sugar cookies remain my favorite thing in the world to make.
6. I worked at Starbucks for exactly 6 years … I’m still not sure there’s a better job on the planet. (My favorite drink is either an iced grande nonfat caramel macchiato or a tripple grande nonfat no whip 3 pump peppermint mocha, in case you were wondering. I feel like people always do!)
7. I’m an advertiser’s dream … as in if I see people in an ad having fun using/doing/buying X, I always want to use/do/buy X so I can have fun too!

10 of my fave blogs…ready, go!

1. Alex from HRH Collection has taught me everything I know about fashion….which unfortunately still is not that much. She’s just adorable!

2. My brother Adam and his girlfriend Kayiu built Ourchived which other than having a genius name, is a collection of beautiful photos and text about their adventures together! I LOVE it!

3. Kayiu also has her own Tumblr, KHOXXXXX, with her cooking endeavors, which all look incredible! She is such an ambitious and creative cook! Just another reason to wish I lived in NYC with them!

4. Ellen and Aileen from Love & Lavender have taken my premature wedding planning to a riduclous obsession! I can’t wait until I try to get my cozy, DIY and slightly hipster wedding featured on their blog!

5. My friend Emily from Embo has a darling Tumblr that is just lovely! She is SUCH a good writer! I really enjoy her style and the way her personality and humor shines through. I really feel like she reading her posts to me. Props, Emily!

6. Denise from SUPERWOWOMG is a friend of Adam & Kayiu’s, and they got me hooked on her blog. She’s a classic NYC fashionista who is everything that I’m not. She has stunning photos in beautiful outfits that I wish I could rock.

7. Steph actually got me hooked on Molly from Urban Nester, and she is just so refreshing! She’s just adorable and optimistic and she hangs out at coffee shops, and I just really enjoy her blog!

8. Talk about pretty things … I really enjoy Grosgrain, which is a crafting blog that has some really great inspiration for home decor crafts.

9. Staci from Crafty Staci has some great tutorials!

10. I just love the girl from Pretty Girls Cook, who is giving a great name to pretty cooks everywhere! (Don’t know her name though =/ eek!)
*   *   *

Thanks again Steph for the award and for all my favorite bloggers who inspire me everyday!

Cheers!

Punxsutawney Phil

What inspired me this week? That’s an easy one: Punxsutawney Phil, obviously! This little trooper has a tough job, but someone has to do it. This marmot is responsible for telling the whole world (at least the whole country) whether or not there will be six more weeks of winter! No one wants to be the bearer of that news, but when you’re the most reliable weather forecaster of all time (that may or may not be true), you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. 

I learned a lot a bout Phil today. Phil lore clearly states that there has only been one Punxsutawney Phil in the past 122+ years, despite the average 14 year lifespan of a groundhog, due to a magical Groundhog Elixir. Phil and the current president of the Inner Circle are also the only living things who are fluent in Groundhogese. It’s all very exciting!

Today at work, my friend and I were thinking very seriously about Phil’s emotional state. Having all those eyes on him has to really take a toll on a normally very subdued animal. Then, he gets carried around by a bunch guys in suits and top-hats, and you just know he’s feeling incredibly underdressed! On top of that, when was the last time you woke up early, saw a bright light and didn’t want to crawl back into your cozy bed? The point here is that not only is Phil incredible at at his job, but he does it with such style and grace despite the difficulties! He really is inspiring!

If Groundhog Day came with resolutions, I would suggest that everyone’s resolution be to try to do their job with as much pride as Phil every single day! Well, it doesn’t, but I’m going to suggest that anyway.

Happy Groundhog Day!

Get After It

The closest I’ve ever gotten to making a bucket list was a list I made in 7th grade of dream dates I wanted to go on with cute boys one day — 90% of which I’m sure were pulled directly from “A Walk to Remember.” I’m not sure where that list is now, but I would say there’s a pretty good chance I did most of them (knowing me and my continued efforts to do as many cute things as physically possible). 

Anyway, a few weeks ago, my friend Chrissy told me she made a bucket list. I’m not sure if it was the fact that she had a bucket list at all or the fact that one of the things on the list was to see a NFL game at every stadium in the country, but by the time she was done reading, I had decided that I wanted one too. 

It’s not that I need a list to do awesome things in my life, but the list just helps me remember all the awesome things that I want to do so that I can plan accordingly. Plus, once I commit to something, I have a really hard time quitting it. (I’d like to draw your attention to my days in the school band, which lasted four years longer than I actually enjoyed playing the clarinet.) So if I write down that I will do something, there’s a good (at least much better) chance that I will do it.

I haven’t actually made my bucket list yet, and for a few reasons. The first is that I want it to be on a pretty, preferably sparkly, sheet of scrapbook paper, and I don’t have that yet. The second is that I don’t want my list to be too extreme that I’ll never accomplish it, but I don’t want it to be so easy that I’ll finish it next year. That’s a hard balance! 

What I do have right now is an InnerVision file. What is my InnerVision file? It’s a plain manilla folder that sits in my floral file holder box under my desk.

Inside though, it’s my dreams, ambitions and passions. Some are written nicely on colorful notecards, some are magazine articles, pictures or other memorabilia, but each thing is a reminder of what I want my life to be. Everything in my folder is something I want to do with my life or something I want to keep doing. I have everything from “Start a blog” (check!) to a book I got from Bloomberg (my ultimate career goal).

This idea was brought to me by a very incredible family. A family that values life, love and the pursuit of happiness. This family is not my own, but for several defining years of my life, they easily could have been. 

I would like to thank Mr. Melgreen for this inspiration, and his daughter/my friend Ms. Melgreen (since she’s an elementary school teacher now!) for passing it on to me. I just re-read the original email that inspired me to start my InnerVersion folder several years ago. My folder is a little different than the original inspiration, but I think the spirit of it holds strong. I took a lot away from that one email, but this part really explains why I wanted and needed an InnerVision file.

Life has a way of getting in the way of our dreams … You are just living, but you’re not living the life you dreamed of. So every now and then you pull out your InnerVision file and glance through it and you realize …. I always intended to add cute little pictures of children at play on the hallway wall, but I haven’t yet. I haven’t had coffee on a Saturday morning for months anywhere but home. You will also be reminded of things you are doing that were a part of the dream.

The thing that is amazing is how thoughts and dreams you have when your younger stay valid almost your whole life — even if you dont always do them.

Every once in a while, I go through my folder. Looking at the contents reminds me of what I want out of life. It’s a little different than a bucket list, in that a lot of the things can’t be checked off. I use it as a life guide, to be sure that I keep making time for the things I love no matter how crazy life gets. It helps remind me why I love the things I love, and every time I open it, it re-inspires me to accomplish my goals.

[I hope I got it right, Mr. Melgreen! =) Thanks, again!]

So whether it’s a bucket list, an InnerVision folder, a notebook or a Word doc., I hope that you keep a list of your hopes and dreams so you can always remember where your heart lies. 

So get after it!