Daily Archives: December 23, 2009

An Early Christmas Present!!

Life works in mysterious ways. That’s the only way I can sum it up. I got some surprising and welcome news today, and turns out the next few months won’t be what I had planned at all!! If you follow me on Twitter, you may already know what I’m talking about. But let me first show you how this otherwise seemingly normal day started…

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Some mornings all I want is oatmeal, others I want nothing to do with it. Today was the latter. Everything bagel with laughing cow cheese and a couple boiled eggs.

Then I went through my usual routine of checking and answering e-mails, blog comments, Twitter, Facebook, and Google Reader. I got that done pretty quickly and found myself wandering around the internet. I ended up checking my old student e-mail that I never use but still have access to. Sometimes I get e-mails about events or lectures on campus, so I haven’t completely ditched it yet. Today was the first time I checked it in at least a couple weeks.

Oddly, there was an e-mail sent yesterday from an old professor, also the communications director of the university (I majored in journalism and communications). It was just a one-liner asking me to call his cell. He’d asked me to do some freelance communications work in the past, but I never could because I worked in the media at the time. I figured he wanted me to do some over the holidays or something, so I thought I’d just call back to politely decline.

Except, that wasn’t it at all!!

The communications department there is small, made up of the director, recruiting officer, and one other person who does most of the “extra work.” Behind the scenes type stuff, mostly writing for the university’s various print and online publications. Normally, this job is offered to a recent communications graduate, and is a contract that lasts for the length of the school year.

The girl who was given the job in September ended up leaving a couple weeks ago for a permanent position in another department, leaving this other one open. Last week, this girl saw me working at Starbucks and told the communications director. Hoping it meant I was no longer working at the radio station, he sent me the e-mail to touch base about the available job.

Totally random, totally out of the blue, totally right timing. I can’t believe it. I’ve said in the past that I’d be open to working in communications if I found the right company. Well, I love my alma matter. I can’t think of a better institution to represent.

The more I talked to my future boss, the more excited I got about it. I accepted the job after our second phone conversation today and can say this is a decision I feel good about!

  1. It’s temporary. I’m not getting locked into another permanent job.
  2. It pays well. My billz (and speeding tickets) be gettin’ paid.
  3. The work will consist of mostly writing, which I obviously love to do.
  4. It’s for an institution I have absolutely no qualms about supporting.

And yes, I plan on finishing my personal trainer certification on time. And yes, that is still something I plan to pursue!! I wouldn’t have been allowed to work as a PT until at least March, so being in this job until the end of April works perfectly. Realistically, I could really use the good paycheck for a while, and it will look great on my resume for any future writing endeavours :D

I’ll say it again – life works in mysterious ways. I can’t wait to see where this takes me! Goes to show that sometimes all it takes is the courage to take the first step, and the rest will follow. I left my job as a reporter way before I planned to, but I knew if I wanted change in my life, I had to incite that change. Of course, a little luck and good timing never hurts ;)

Oh yes, and did I mention? I start Jan 4th!! Don’t ask me where Starbucks fits into this, because I don’t know yet. Obviously, I hope I can get out in less than two weeks. But my boss is totally gonna hate me for leaving so soon :\ Hopefully he’ll understand.

 

Phew! That was alotta words. Here’s some more boring food pics as I try to clear out my fridge:

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Melty hummus + jarlsberg pita with cucumbers, tomatoes and more hummus. Polished that sucker off ;)

In all the excitement, I haven’t yet mentioned that I didn’t get to go home today :(

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We got quite the dumping of snow and the roads are just awful. I decided to play it safe and wait till tomorrow to go. My sister driving from Quebec couldn’t make it today either, so I don’t feel so bad!

I did at least try a new Vega Vibrancy flavour! This time in “Green Synergy.”

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vega bar

ingredients

Again, my expectations were low with this bar. Especially after it got a not-so-stellar review from Heather. (P.S. how come all the American bloggers got fancy bags and giveaways with their bars??)

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Okay, so here’s the deal. It tastes like grass. What else do you expect when a bar includes a “green food blend?” It was definitely not as yummy as the Wholesome Original flavour. But I still found it edible. I dare say these bars have the best texture of any date-based bar I’ve tried. I however think I rather eat a yummy spinach salad than spend big $$$ on this flavour. So I can’t give it an enthusiastic thumbs up. 

 

Chris braved the weather home in his man-truck and we were able to get together for a spin class date! It was fun, I love having a boyfriend who’ll participate in my hobbies with me :D

We also gave each other very appropriate gifts for Christmas. I gave him ten day-passes to my gym chain for when he’s here visiting or has spare time between his crazy 14-hour shifts in his work city. And he gave me something I’ve been wanting forever:

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A cycling jersey!!!! Eeee!!! Not just any jersey, but a quality Pearl Izumi one. Isn’t it pretty? Simple black and white with just a slight girly embellishment (not to mention, lilies are my fave flower).

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The reason why I didn’t buy one before is because I wanted a sleeveless jersey to minimize the inevitable cyclist tan lines. But they’re really hard to find! Or, at least ones that aren’t hideous colours and patterns anyways.

Check it out, big pockets to put my shizz in while on Scottie.

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Will come in handy while training for my metric century this summer ;)

 

So there ya go! Two early Christmas presents!! Hopefully when I see you next I’ll be at my mom’s place. And if you don’t stop in again till after the big day – have a wonderful Christmas!!! xoxoxo

Starbucks For Dummies – The Tutorial

Eeee!!!! I am officially on vacation!!! Just finished working the world’s loooongest closing shift. Now I don’t work again till next Tuesday!!! I’m leaving for my hometown tomorrow afternoon. It’s only a 90 minute drive, but I’m praying the snow lets up so the roads are clear by then!

Anyways, despite my excitement, I am seriously sleep deprived. I was up way too early this morning to fill my empty tummy.

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Pecan protein pancakes!

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup egg whites
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp ground flax
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice
  • 2-3 tbsp roasted pecan pieces

All blended up and cooked to deliciousness. Seriously, this was an awesome batch.

I was feeling kinda “meh” about the gym today, but it was just pure laziness. I dragged my butt over there and got my weight workout in. Trying to beef up the weight lifting – gotta look the part of a personal trainer too! ;)

Warm-up:
10 minutes on the stairmill
10 minutes on the rowing machine

A1 – Squat w/ heels raised on plates:
3 sets @ 30 lbs x 10

A2 – Dumbbell shoulder press:
3 sets @ 15 lbs ea x 10

B1 – Step-up:
3 sets @ 40 lbs x 10

B2 – Underhand grip lat pulldown:
3 sets @ 50 lbs x 12

C1 – Horizontal woodchop:
3 sets @ 35 lbs x 10

C2 – Back extension:
3 sets @ 4kg x 10

C3 – Hanging leg raises:
3 sets @ bw x 10

HIIT:
15 minutes on elliptical, 1 minute sprints, 2 minutes recovery

I went down in weights a little so I could focus on my form today. I like doing this from time to time, keeps me in check ;)

Was a hungry hungry hippo, and running late for work by the time I made it home. Whipped up a quick lunch.

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Two scrambled eggs, onion, red pepper, spinach, laughing cow and Franks hot sauce on a Lavash wrap. Couple small tangerines on the side. Clementines are better.

Then it was off to work, which was surprisingly not that busy tonight!! Even though I was running late, I still threw together a packed supper before leaving. No five-buck sub for me tonight.

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Obviously, as simple as it gets. Hummus + tuna sandwich and a pear. There were obviously snacks in there too. Including a short nonfat sugar-free hazelnut steamed milk and an unsweetened black iced tea lemonade.

 

Ever since returning to work at Starbucks, I’ve been fielding a few questions about what kind of drinks I would suggest. Both Lara and Averie suggested I do a “Starbucks Tutorial” of sorts to clear things up!

First, I published a list of Starbucks How-To’s a while back with tips to order smart. But today I’ll get a little more detailed so you reeeeally know what you’re doing ;)

First, lets start with the basics – espresso.

espresso.jpg (440×586)

Sources for images can be accessed by clicking on the picture.

Espresso is essentially condensed coffee. A little bit of water run through densely-packed coffee grinds. It actually doesn’t contain as much caffeine as most people think. One shot, or 1 oz, has about the same caffeine as 6 oz regular brewed coffee. However, drinking it straight can mean you’re consuming your caffeine more quickly – so you may get a bit of a head rush!

Next up is the latte. The latte is the heart of every Starbucks drink. They may sound fancy and complicated, but they are really just different flavoured lattes.

A latte is just espresso + steamed milk and a lovely dollop of milk foam on top. That’s it!

Starbucks uses flavoured syrups in all their drinks. Anything like a pepermint mocha, gingerbread latte or caramel macchiato are just lattes with said syrups added for flavouring.

Every store is different, but here are the syrups my store is currently offering:

  • Vanilla, Sugar-Free Vanilla
  • Caramel, Sugar-Free Caramel
  • Hazelnut, Sugar-Free Hazelnut
  • Cinnamon Dolce, Sugar-Free Cinnamon Dolce
  • Toffee Nut
  • Raspberry
  • Classic (an unflavoured simple sugar syrup)
  • Peppermint
  • Caramel Brule
  • Pumpkin
  • Mocha (a rich chocolate sauce)
  • White mocha (another “sauce”)
  • Chai

Now, one thing that confuses people the most about Starbucks are our weird cup sizes. There are four, although the smallest isn’t usually advertised.

How much syrup, coffee and milk goes into these cups depends on size. I’ve made a handy-dandy chart for you to understand it. It must be known that 1 pump of syrup = 0.25 oz and 1 shot of espresso = 1 oz.

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So if it’s the caffeine you’re after, you can get away with a short instead of a tall, or a grande instead of a venti.

The iced sizes are almost the same, but the iced venti cups are 24 oz, 6 pumps and 3 shots.  It’s a beast of a size.

There are three more drinks worth mentioning. A cappuccino.

Ha, not all of them are pink!!! I chose this picture because you can clearly see the distinction between the milk and foam. While a latte is espresso and milk with just a dollop of foam, a cappuccino is espresso + half milk + half foam. Usually, you just “free pour” the milk into the cup (i.e. don’t hold foam back with spoon) and the milk and foam will naturally separate like this. They’re a little stronger tasting because there’s less milk to dilute the espresso.

There’s also an Americano.

caffè americano

This is just espresso + hot water. Almost like a stronger tasting coffee (except so much better!)

Finally, the Misto.

Café Au Lait

This is half brewed coffee + half steamed milk. Sort of like a weaker version of the latte, but also lower cal because it has less milk.

 

Okay, so how can you take all this info to order yourself a drink? You can…

  • Ask for different milk – skim, soy, lactaid or eggnog
  • Ask for a sugar-free syrup
  • Ask for less or more pumps of syrup
  • Add a syrup flavour to a plain drink, or try combining flavours
  • Ask for one less or one extra shot of espresso
  • Turn your coffee or tea into a misto
  • Ask for more foam or extra foam (extra foam will cut the cals a little too)
  • Ask for no whipped cream (or extra!)
  • Ask for it in decaf, or just get it without the espresso

So hopefully that helps!! I know there is a lot of “lingo” involved at Starbucks, but that’s really designed to help the baristas, not scare away customers. With this information, I can decide I want a latte with a mix of SF Vanilla and Caramel syrup, skim milk, an extra shot of espresso and extra foam (yes, that’s one of my fave drinks!). It doesn’t matter if I can call that out as a “double-tall-sugar-free-vanilla-caramel-nonfat-extra-foam-latte.” All you need to do is double check with your cashier and barista to make sure they got all your requests!

 

Question of the Day: What is/would be your Starbucks drink?

 

P.S. I will be maintaining a somewhat regular posting schedule while home for the holidays. I’m bringing my laptop and my mom has wireless internet. It might not be at the usual time, but short updates will be going up! It will give me an excuse to take a small break from the family craziness everyday ;)

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