For us coffee lovers, the java bean can be a highly debatable topic. So, what’s all the bumble about? Well, some are dedicated to a certain type of roast and dare not stray from their ultimate brand/love, whereas others are experimental in their tastes and always willing to try the latest and greatest on the market, including brewing machines themselves. Then, there is the general umbrella of caffeinated or decaffeinated–the latter category of drinkers leaving the first to question, ‘Why even waste your money?’. Add in the topic of whole bean vs. already ground, the type of grind, etc. and a once simple subject suddenly gets very complicated and opinionated.
I’ve always loved coffee and as a child, I can remember taste-testing my mom’s cup many a time—the smell of the brew intoxicating even back then. I’ve also been a longtime fan of anything coffee-flavoured, which not all people are even if they consume the real deal; most often because the imitation stuff tastes nothing like the original. It just so happens that I am an impartial subject on the matter and enjoy both. Like myself, avid coffee drinkers tend to have fond memories of it from an early age, it seems.
Once I began University and hit the working world, coffee and its stimulating effects were quite simply a necessity, as is the case for many folks. I never went overboard though, as some are known to do (i.e. the energy drinks of today) and at the time, I drank the run-of-the-mill caffeinated brand, adding in cream and sugar to my liking–nothing extravagant by any means, nor could I have afforded anything different. When I started suffering from panic attacks, however, my whole java routine had to change drastically since indulging in caffeine was a big no-no, as is the case with others who suffer various afflictions. If not borne out of need, some people’s take on the great debate between caffeine vs. not comes about as a result of the ever-changing research, which seems to support one over the other, depending on the day. Then, there is the majority of the population who will simply decide for themselves what their morning cup of joe will be based on taste. With me, for the longest time after being diagnosed with anxiety, I had to leave my favourite bean drink behind and switch to herbal teas–not exactly the same, but a decent fill-in. If you’ve ever had to shift gears like me, it can be quite difficult (especially at first), but the ensuing result is usually reason enough to keep up with the change. In my case specifically, restricting caffeine also meant having to limit my other favourite drink of choice –sweetened iced tea–and lo and behold, chocolate was a problem too:-(. Now, for us women, that is a pure travesty and probably the most difficult addiction to break, even above coffee. Luckily, over time, when I learned how to control my anxious tendencies, I was slowly able to add some of my favourites back into my daily life and so came the switch to decaf. Since it still contains some traces of caffeine, I definitely had to limit myself, but at least it was doable and more importantly, I recognized the signs of when to back off, such as periods of high stress, etc. As a side note, I also incorporated exercise which was a huge help in every way, separate from monitoring my intake of things, including sugar—another major culprit.
Today, I still try to stick to more decaf products than not, leaving some hard-core leaded drinkers to wonder why myself and people like me even bother in the first place. I guess in my mind, decaf or not, I am still part of ‘the club’ that I so enjoy being a member of, and that counts for something since psychology definitely plays into it all. After all, I think java connoisseurs, regardless of the sort, would agree that they simply look forward to having something tasty in their morning mug–a ritual that seems to helps them get their day started off on the right foot, if you will. Without it, one can feel lost and even out of sorts.
As an addition to this subject, I will also say that thanks to our trips to Hawaii in recent years, I’ve been introduced to 100% pure Kona beans, which tend to be some of the least acidic, less potent ones out there. Pure delight, really. I mean, once you’ve tried them, there really is no going back when you are reaching for the fully-leaded drink in particular, though the cost of up to $90+ US a pound can be a bit of a deterant. As a treat, however, I can assure you that the beans are worth every penny and something that I very much look forward to sneaking it into my repertoire on weekends, especially. Maybe you have found a similar gem? The good news is that between my Kona coffee and my homemade mocha indulgences (thanks to my husband’s gift of a Breville espresso maker a few years back), the two seem to balance out in that I don’t have to pay $5.00 a cup at Starbucks/Second Cup, which would likely add up way more quickly than my favourite Hawaiian export. The very best part about my espresso machine is that I can purchase decaf beans to brew, and yes, there is such a thing! If you haven’t tried a decaf espresso drink, namely a mocha, you really ought to—it’s simply delectable and you might just surprise yourself in not being able to tell the difference.
On that note, I will leave you with a little joke that my husband made this morning related to the whole java discussion. It’s one of those grit-your-teeth kinda jokes that only we may find funny, but I feel compelled to share it anyway. As we were brewing our morning pot of decaf, our pint-sized coffee maker let out some very loud snorts of air toward the end of its cycle. He kidded that the machine must have been snoring at the thought of having to serve up something decaffeinated. Hopefully, I have not left you snoring at the end of this blogpost:-). If so, just reach for a double espresso–that should wake you up!
This is me at the start of the day….
This is me at the end of the same day….
Though both are Skechers brand shoes, do you notice the difference?
Earlier today, I was watching a taped episode of the Marilyn Denis show (a Canadian talk show). It was one of her Fashion Friday programs, in which makeovers are often one of the highlights. I always like to see the before and after shots. Some turn out fantastic and others make me question what the designer/stylist had in mind, not that I am a fashionista of any kind, nor do I mean anything ill toward the ladies who are brave enough to undergo such a public transformation. Instead, I am speaking about the hair/clothing/shoe styles that are chosen for their final reveal. On today’s show, I noticed that one of the ladies in particular was given a three-inch pair of heels with a super tight ankle band. Yikes! Fashionable? Maybe. Wearable? I am not sure. Comfortable? Not even close! Poor lady!! Just in posing for the camera, she seemed pained and I swear I was having sympathetic foot spasms as a result. Why, oh why do we women go through the pure torture that heels elicit?! (And, if you disagree in that you love them and wear them faithfully regardless of your age, you are my hero!) For the rest of us, however, we all know why we endure such hardship–it’s to look cute/sexy/hip, of course, but is it really worth it? Here’s how my answer to that question has gone over the past three decades, and maybe you can help to fill in the blanks with respect to the others:
In my 20’s, my answer was, ‘Yes! Without question.’ Though truthfully I never mastered anything more than a couple of inches and as for spikes?! NOT on your life–too Savage for me!
In my 30’s, my answer was, ‘It depends on the occasion.’ And that type of occasion didn’t come up very often.
In my 40’s, my answer is, ‘If I must, but I’m bringing my back-up pair.’ Sometimes, my back-up pair comes out within minutes of kicking off the first unmanageable pair. My husband is not even sure why I bother in the first place, though he already knows my steadfast answer, “But they match my outfit, and they look cute!”.
As someone who spends 90% of her working day on her feet, with bunions to boot, I just cannot brave the front of heels anymore, though sometimes I still try. What can I say? I do like the cutesy shoes, they just don’t like me. Not anymore, anyway. And, here’s what I have learned about ‘cute’ shoes over the years. They do your feet no favours, especially over time. Take it from one who knows. If I knew back when what I know now, I would NOT have squeezed my extra wide feet into the narrow, cheap shoes that I did, let alone sport heels of sorts all day long. Kudos to those who can! I’m paying for my choices from younger years in that my feet are always tired and sore by the day’s end, no matter how much I spend and how ‘comfortable’ the brand is purported to be. My husband says I should just give in, wave my white flag and go with runners, but the problem is that my purple New Brooks don’t match a single thing!
So, what’s the point to all of this Ladies and Gents, who love their ladies?
“While heels are neat, love your feet. Treat them right, don’t settle for tight!”
Everyone has a dirty little secret or secrets, don’t they? And, no I am not speaking about anything X-rated here, in case you are wondering. Instead, I am referring to the innocent things that we do that others might not know or guess about us, which can sometimes be a good thing. We’ve all heard of those who clean their house in the nude, those who sing a cappella in the shower, those who hide candy for sole/soul indulgences later on, and the list goes on. While I may be guilty of the latter two, I’ll leave you guessing on the first.
It just so happens for me that I am thoroughly addicted to the ’70’s/’80’s sitcom, Three’s Company. I own all of the seasons’ DVD’s and have even subscribed to the channel which houses all of the oldie, but goodie comedies from those decades. I remember watching the half-hour shows with my family back in the day, and once the series re-aired when I was in my late teens/early 20’s, I was hooked all over again. I think what I like most about the episodes is its most predictable plot of misunderstandings and the innocent portrayal of its characters, who are young and relatable. In particular, I adore John Ritter’s role as Jack Tripper. He’s sweet, funny, scheming (in a good way), and genuine. In playing off of the girls’ characters, namely Chrissy and Janet, Jack is like the big brother you would want to have, while possessing the characteristics that one would likely look for in a loyal boyfriend/husband–the perfect mix! His brilliant physical comedy set him apart from other actors at the time, and still does in my mind. Add in Don Knotts, who played Mr. Furley, the threesome’s landlord for a while, and you’ve got a simple, entertaining show sans the drama, violence, and crudeness that many of today’s programs rely on for kicks.
When I learned that John Ritter passed away due to a pre-existing heart condition at the young age of 54, I was shocked and saddened. The world had lost one of the good guys! Though he went on after Three’s Company to do other shows and had acted previously, I will always think of him as the lovable Jack Tripper, whose memorable lines and actions still make me laugh to this day. When all else fails on TV, as is often the case in finding something decent to watch, I turn to my favourite character who always leaves me with a smile. Unfortunately, my poor husband, who cares not as much as I about the show, gets stuck watching the re-runs over and over again, so much so that he is now quoting lines without even realizing it. (He! he!) Thankfully, he goes along with it, and will sometimes even PVR the episodes for me, so that I can watch them later in the evening when I am looking to unwind after a long day. Come to think of it, I guess I have lucked out in finding my own real-life Jack Tripper of sorts–thoughtful, funny and oh so lovable:-).
I have included the episode below for your viewing pleasure, should you so desire, because it was the first thing that I thought of when presented with today’s word prompt, ‘jangle’. Partway through the show named, Double Trouble, Jack pretends to have a twin brother named Austin, so that he can date Mr. Furley’s niece. Furley thinks that Jack is gay, and so in order not to blow his cover, he invents a Texan twin. Excited to date the gorgeous blonde, he dons his cowboy hat and begins singing, “I got spurs that jingle, jangle, jingle”, as he heads down to Ralph Furley’s apartment to meet up with her. It is a classic, along with all of the other eight seasons’ worth, and certainly one of my guilty pleasures to watch. In them, the spirit of John Ritter lives on, which in turn brightens my own spirit. Maybe not so much of a dirty little sercret after all…
Are you Tethered to old habits or a usual way of doing things? I would venture to say that most of us have certain routines that we covet, especially on work/school days. That predictable sense of doing often provides comfort and likely helps us to keep our infamous ‘to-do’ lists in check. If we go about our business in the same order, we are less likely to forget things, which at middle-age, seems to be more of a problem than in our younger years. Speaking for myself at present, I know that if my morning work routine gets changed up (i.e. my husband is at home vs. gone to work) it really seems to throw me off of my game because it’s not what I am used to. I think it would be fair to say that on average the older we get, the more set in our ways we become (partly out of necessity, as I am learning.). However, it’s important to remember that changing things up every now and again can keep us on our toes and expose us to new, even better ways that we might not have otherwise considered.
The other day, when I was reading a blogpost on a fellow bloggers’ site, he was talking about his retirement years (20+ now) and how he and his wife wake up each day and say, “What can we do that is interesting today?”. Irwin, my WordPress friend, attributes their willingness to try new things and keep active to their seven plus decades of happiness. What a great way to start out each day and certainly food for thought if you find yourself stuck in a rut, as he alludes to in his post.
While routines serve their purpose and we tend to rely on them in our daily lives (i.e. taking medication, catching the train, lunchtime, brushing our teeth, etc.), it is also good to keep things fresh and exciting by trying different ideas. Sometimes, changing the smallest of things can elicit a new-found, unexpected appreciation for a once mundane habit. For example, taking a different route to/from work might lead you to discover a more scenic landscape or less traffic lights to have to stop at, thereby making the trip faster.
So today/tonight, I would like to challenge myself and others to follow Irwin’s advice, and ask what it is that WE can do to make each day special/unique/different. Here is how my challenge has gone over the past two days (I got a bit of a headstart):
Day one, yesterday, I bought supplies and tried painting a beach scene. Now, that is something very new for me, as I have only ever completed one painting as an adult and it was an easy step-by-step one for our bedroom wall. While the palm tree that I included on my blue-hued canvas is a little Charlie Brown-like, it surely resembles one (perhaps a meager one, but a coconut palm nonetheless). Personally, I think the tree trunk turned out the best.
Today, day two, I jogged one minute and walked for three during my morning exercise routine. While I have taken to jogging before now, I haven’t done so in quite some time. I must say that it felt good to break free from my boring winter treadmill routine and hit the gravel roads outside at a decent pace! I automatically felt lighter. Then again, it could have been the sheer humidity in today’s air that helped melt off an eighth of a pound.
Tomorrow, I am thinking about trying an apple pancake recipe that I’ve wanted to try for a while now, but haven’t had the time to make. After all, who can go wrong with apples and cinnamon for breakfast, or any given time, for that matter?!
So, what is it that you plan to do to tomorrow to create some added variety in your life? Or, maybe your daily motto has always been to delve into something different? Either way, enjoy! I’ll let you know how the pancakes turn out:-).
The term ‘unplugged’ has taken on a whole new meaning in this day and age, but what does it really mean? Most people, nowadays, interpret it as a ‘proverbial break’ from the wiles of technology that seem to beckon more and more of our time, personal and otherwise. But, can it really be done? We all know that we should spend less time ‘plugged in’, especially children, and there is loads of new research reinforcing that notion, citing the not-so-great physical, social and emotional effects. The question is, can one in the western world really be tuned OUT from their phones, internet, cable, etc.? And, if so, for how long exactly? Mere minutes, hours, days? Or maybe for some, quelling the need to answer Pavlov’s bell (in a matter of speaking) every few seconds might actually be considered triumphant.
I will say that prior to owning my first and only iPhone purchased about five years ago (thanks to my husband who was in disbelief that I knew not one iota about texting), I didn’t have much to do with the internet other than that which was necessary for work, the odd emails sent back and forth, and a bit of surfing deemed necessary to research travel information, etc. I was quite content with my little world, which included the traditional cordless phone (don’t worry, I wasn’t in the rotary stages still, though those phones did make a come back a short while ago;-) and of course, good old cable TV, even though there wasn’t much worth watching then either, hence the creation of Netflix, Crave TV, and Amazon Prime, I guess. Anyway, my point is that until I got hooked up with my Phone, I’d say very little of my personal time was taken up by techno gadgets. It just wasn’t important to me. I was one of “those” people who saw ‘no use‘ for texting when you could simply pick up the phone and talk, if you needed or wanted something (NB, here I am speaking of ‘for real’ talking–not the pseudo kind.). Fast forward to today. The window into my existence is vastly different and I am not sure I feel super good about it, but I will reluctantly admit that it has brought about some interesting prospects in life, such as WordPress and creating my own blog:-).
And so, here I sit during one of my typical blogging sessions with my I-Pad in my lap, a Bluetooth keyboard at my fingertips, my I-Phone beside me on our end table along with our cordless home phone, our Smart TV on (mostly as white noise), and a stand-alone PC just a few steps away in our den with a Wi-fi hub beside it. Indeed, I have become EXACTLY what I said I would not become and it didn’t take long to get here either. Eeks! A few sessions of instantaneous messaging with others, at times even simultaneously, and I was hooked! Just. Like. That. Not proud to say so, but it is true. I mean, why make a call when you can send a few measly words in a text, while not even having to be grammatically correct (though, I must say that that is one formality I cannot forsake and I’m still getting used to the apparent ‘trail off’, wherein one just decides to ‘disappear’ from the ‘conversation’.). Suddenly, with the art of texting mastered, all the fuss that people were talking about made sense to me. Then there were all of the other conveniences that my Phone provided–Outlook, Safari, Facebook, Apps, an instant camera, Photo albums, You-Tube, Maps, Notes, a Calendar, a Calculator, Skype and, and, and!!!, which is precisely where I am going with this…
The other week, my husband and I tuned into a 60-Minutes episode and one of the clips featured tech insiders, (some present, some former) who admitted that the sole purpose of coders is to keep us as engaged as possible because the more time we spend on our devices, the more money that is made off of our screen time. Just think of all of the advertisements that we are constantly bombarded with and how convenient it is that our likes/hits/searches provide the big wigs with even more ammunition to program with. It is/was no surprise to hear what the insiders had to say, and yes, media lends its own slant on things, but I will admit that it was more than disturbing to think of how much we are being manipulated and molded, without even realizing so and/or maybe we do, but we are too far gone?! I’m inclined to think that it is a little bit of both. So, where do we go from here? Where is the fine line between convenience and entertainment vs. addiction and far-reaching complications, most of which are yet to be determined? I don’t know, but it does provide food for thought. I surely don’t want to be taken for an experimental dog, whose mere existence relies on pings and dings. Hmm…
Until I figure out just how I am going to respond to this issue, you’ll have to excuse me as I Pluck myself out of my rocker recliner to grab a second charger for my Phone since the I-Pad one is already occupied:-). Oh dear…