Author: Blinkie

The Reboot

Okay folks, here we go again. Blinkie’s making another “I’m gonna blog again no honest for reals this time omg wtf should I dooooo” post on her honest for-reals blog. Look, I know I’ve done this before. Like half a dozen times. But this time I’ve got a more compelling reason than usual: I need to get some of my voice away from Twitter. I know why. You know why. It’s still the fastest way for me to share a random thought or cat picture but there’s a whole lot of NOPE swirling around that I don’t want to be part of. The problem is, it’s been my connection to so many of my friends for so long that it’s going to be hard for me to switch gears and keep any momentum at all. So now we turn to the part of the post where I plaintively beg my readers for input. I’ve got two vital questions on the table and I’m open to opinions on them however you want to give them — comments here, Twitter, IM, carrier pigeon, alterations to the gravitational constant of the universe, whatevs. The first question is what it always is: What kinds of things would you like me to write about? For a long time I barely maintained this blog by just posting coffee stuff, but I know that’s not everyone’s...

Read More

Recipe: Fuck You, It’s Chili

Because of actually stewing the tomatoes like some kind of hippy, this recipe takes too much effort to be an actual “Fuck It” recipe*. However, since its key ingredients are two things that purists — or as everyone else calls them, joyless dicks — insist should never be in chili, namely beans and tomatoes, I’m calling this Fuck You, It’s Chili, because fuck you, it’s chili. Fuck You, It’s Chili Ingredients: 5ish fresh tomatoes. If you have some in the fridge that are about to go weird, this is a good way to use em up. Spices for stewing the tomatoes. I don’t know, oregano or some shit? I use Penzeys Frozen Pizza blend and maybe some Cajun seasoning. 1 15-ounce can black beans. Or whatever that is in metric. 1 15-ounce can chili. That’s right, we’re putting chili in chili. Because I cook for vegetarians I use Trader Joe’s vegetarian chili. Use whatever floats your boat. Hell, throw in a can of Dinty Moore beef stew if you want to. Because fuck you, it’s chili. Chili spices. Whatever chili spices you have lying around. I recommend Penzey’s Chili 9000 because if you don’t like that you fail at taste buds. Directions: 1. Boil water in a big ol’ pot. While you’re waiting for it to heat up, cuz that shit takes forever, prepare a bowl of ice water. This...

Read More

Review: Starbucks Flat White

The holiday season is over, and that means the post-holiday winter season has begun at Starbucks. This is the time of year when the beloved holiday-themed drinks like the Gingerbread Latte fade away, so there’s always a new drink or two introduced to try to keep peoples’ interest. Usually the new winter drinks are sugary, often some variation on the mocha or a new flavoring for lattes. But this year Starbucks is trying something different: the Flat White. Not gonna lie, I had to refresh my memory on what exactly a flat white is. You can check Wikipedia or Starbucks, but the gist of it is that a flat white is a drink popularized in Australia that’s like a latte or cappuccino, but with ristretto (shorter) shots and carefully steamed milk that’s a finer, more “velvety” foam. See what’s missing there? No flavoring, no syrups, no toppings, no fancy froufrou stuff. The key flavor in a flat white is the espresso itself. With a menu increasingly reliant on sugary sweet drinks, it’s nice to see Starbucks coming back to a drink where it’s the actual coffee in the spotlight. I’ve mentioned before that I usually get my lattes and Clover coffees sweetened, but for the purposes of this review I ordered a flat white with nothing extra — just the drink as it’s normally made. And you know what?...

Read More

Chestnut Praline Latte (Starbucks)

The winter holiday season is back, and that means Starbucks’s red cups and holiday drinks have returned. This year, along with the classic Gingerbread Latte and Eggnog Latte, plus new yearly staple Caramel Brulée Latte, comes a new holiday drink: the Chestnut Praline Latte. I’m a sucker for nutty pralines, so I was pretty excited to try this drink. And I can say right away — I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a sweet drink, like all their holiday specials, and the taste is definitely nutty and praliney. It reminds me of the Toffee Nut Latte, another favorite of mine. Or as my wife said when she tried it, “it tastes like a cookie.” I’m gonna have a tough choice every time I go into Starbucks this season, choosing between the Chestnut Praline and the Gingerbread for my latte fix. This drink is made with the usual latte fixings (espresso and steamed milk) plus chestnut flavoring syrup, whipped cream (if you want it), and “spiced praline crumbs”. Like all lattes, you can get it iced, decaf, and with your choice of milk. You can probably also get it in Frappuccino form, if you’re in the mood. Unfortunately it’s quite sugary, so diabetics, carb-avoiders, and calorie counters may be out of luck. All in all, this new winter offering is a pretty dang tasty drink. If you like the Toffee Nut or...

Read More

Personal Thursday: Retail Horror

I asked on the Twitternets, as you do, what I should write about for this week’s Personal Thursday entry. And I got a request for retail horror stories. So here is an entry about that. After I got that request, I started thinking about horror stories from my retail days, at Borders and then Starbucks. Let me tell you, I had many unpleasant interactions with customers, despite my efforts to give good or at least adequate customer service at all times. I’m too much of a Boy Scout to actually be a dick to a customer no matter how tired or angry I might be. I used to type up long, angry screeds full of expletives at whatever the lastest customer idiocy was. But as I mentally chewed on those, trying to decide which ones to write about, I realized I’ve cooled off on them. I may retain some bitterness about some of the common threads of retail work, but the individual stories have faded enough that I can’t muster up the energy to fill them with “colorful metaphors”. Mostly they serve to remind me to be kind to the retail workers (and everyone else) I meet in my day to day existence. Some people dismiss retail work as “trivial”, “not real work”, or — in the current debate on raising the minimum wage — “not worth real money”....

Read More

Personal Thursday Oops It’s Friday Edition: Things I Recommend

Okay, okay, so I missed a Personal Thursday. But it’s always Thursday somewhere, right? Instead of some kind of long, well-composed entry on something personal today, you’re getting a bullet-pointed list of things that I’m really digging right now. If any of them seem like they’re up your alley, give em a try! Book: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. I read this book after a recommendation I read on a blog and man it was good. You can read the blurb on the cover or on the book-purchasing website of your choice, so I’ll skip that and instead tell you that it has some excellent SF world-building, well-executed use of flashbacks, linguistic details that warmed the cockles of my ex-ling-grad-student heart, and an interesting use of Ursula K. LeGuin-style gender ambiguity. The sequel, Ancillary Sword, just came out and I can’t wait till I have time to read it. Music: Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix Vol. 1. Okay look, I haven’t seen this movie because I don’t go out to movies but I know the basic details behind this mix. It’s a fun listen, and great upbeat music to work to. Also, it has the Baby Seal of Approval (seriously, my fourteen-month-old loves it). Video Game: Elder Scrolls Online. This is an MMORPG entry in the Elder Scrolls series (of which Skyrim of “arrow in the knee” fame...

Read More

Personal Thursday: Chromebook Blather

Since it’s come up a few times on Twitter and people ask: Yep, I have a Chromebook. A bright teal HP Chromebook with a 16GB SSD and a Rapunzel sticker covering up the HP logo. In fact, my first non-rectangular sewing project was to make a nice slim bag to put it in. It’s not my primary machine. As a lifelong computer addict who lives with a professional programmer/sysadmin, I have a tendency to collect and hoard electronics. My main machine is still my trusty Macbook Pro, followed by my homebuilt Windows 7 gaming box and my Windows 7 work laptop. So with all that stuff lying around, why did I get the Chromebook? Well, my other machines were bought for power. But sometimes, you don’t want power. Sometimes you just want something to eff around on the internet with and maybe get some simple writing done. Sometimes you want a laptop where, if you break it or lose it or it gets stolen, you just go “damn” and deactivate it from accessing your Google account, instead of having a Very Bad Day. I snagged it for about two hundred on a Woot deal, and (like all HP Chromebooks) it comes with a moderate amount of free T-Mobile internets for life. I spend most of my laptop time in places with wifi, but knowing I have backup internets in...

Read More

Review: Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice Coffee

When I spotted Pumpkin Spice coffee at Trader Joe’s, I knew I had to give it a try. The ingredients included orange peel, and orange is a big favorite of mine, so I had high hopes. Now, a warning about flavored coffee beans: adding flavor to ground beans is often a way to try to mask substandard coffee. And coffee that’s sold pre-ground, as this is, may not be at the peak of its freshness. I don’t grind my beans fresh at home like I should, but at least I have an idea how long ago they were ground. When you buy a canister of ground beans, all bets are off. When I opened the canister, the smell was quite striking. Unfortunately, I don’t mean that in a good way. I expected to smell pumpkin pie spices, or possibly orange peel. What I actually smelled was … honestly, I don’t know. It seemed almost chemical. It certainly didn’t smell like any ingredient I would expect in pumpkin spice coffee. I brewed this coffee the same way I brew my regular morning coffee — as a cold brew. It’s too fine a grind for a French press filter, so I had to strain the grounds out manually, but that’s no big deal. I tried brewing it with and without the brown sugar included in my usual cold brew, so I’d...

Read More

Personal Thursday: Personal Coffee

I feel like it’s cheating, doing my Personal Thursday entry on something coffee-related this week. But here I go anyway. There’s a reason my website is mostly about coffee, and it’s not just for Google clicks. It’s because, as weird as it sounds, cofee and tea occupy a important spot in my life. Before I got a job wearing a green apron, that wasn’t the case. My caffeination needs (and voracious non-alcoholic drinking habits) were fulfilled by soda, in mass quantities when possible. But as I began to pick up a coffee habit, and a decade later, a tea habit, I realized just how useful it was to me. It means I can make myself comfortable almost anywhere with a nice warm drink. I’m a habitually early person, so I often find myself with some time to fill in a random location. All I have to do is locate the nearest coffee/tea joint — not always a Starbucks — order myself a drink, and sit there sipping it for a while. Usually while checking Twitter or writing. Wherever I go, there’s always a drink somewhere, even if it’s mediocre coffee in a lobby. It also gives me something to help focus while I work on things. Not just because of the caffeine, but because the act of stopping to take a sip helps regulate my thought process and give...

Read More

Review: Starbucks VIA Pumpkin Spice Latte

It’s that time of year again — the time for pumpkin spice everything. Starbucks, the traditional harbinger of fall with its Pumpkin Spice Latte, has taken the opportunity to also expand their VIA instant latte line with a pumpkin spice variety. Since I’ve already reviewed the real PSL, today I’m reviewing the instant version. First of all, a standard reminder: pumpkin spice does not mean there’s pumpkin in it. Pumpkin spice means the spices you’d put in a pumpkin pie. We’re just too lazy to say pumpkin pie spice. Like other VIA instant lattes, this one comes in a large single-serving packet, sold in packs of four. The ingredients include the dreaded, vague “natural flavors”, but since it’s instant coffee I don’t really expect any different. You pour the powder into a mug, add boiling water (the instructions say 8 ounces but I say however much it takes to fill your mug) and stir. Bam! Instant pumpkin spice latte. Like the VIA vanilla latte, this is not as good as the “real thing”, made with actual espresso, non-powdered steamed milk, and syrup from a bottle. The pumpkin spice flavor is similar, and if you’re jonesing for pumpkin spice Starbucks and can’t leave the house it would probably tide you over. Also like the VIA vanilla latte, however, the overall taste is still reminiscent of the kind of instant flavored...

Read More