Monday, September 17, 2018

happy things: trader joe's pumpkin spice coffee

Having flown back from Massachusetts to Seattle a few weeks ago after spending the summer back home, I just missed the seasonal launch of Dunkin' Donuts pumpkin coffee which to me, heralds the beginning of fall as much as red maple leaves and top down drives to Vermont. I'm a New England girl and my love for fall and Dunkin' Donuts pumpkin spice coffee runs deep.

(If you're thinking "Um, you know Starbucks has Pumpkin Lattes now, right?" I know but for me it's simply Dunkin'. Here's an interesting article from the Seattle Times explaining the love New Englander's have for their Dunkin' Donuts versus Seattlites and Starbucks.)

This weekend I was in Trader Joe's and I saw that the flood of TJ's pumpkin and pumpkin spice flavored products had begun. I picked up a few, including Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spice Coffee. Yesterday (Sunday) as I made brunch, I brewed some of the pumpkin spice coffee in my French press. As the coffee brewed, the kitchen filled with the scent of fall. With just a splash of Trader Joe's vanilla creamer, the coffee had a strong creamy vanilla pumpkin spice flavor. It was similar to the Dunkin' Donuts version and reminded me of all of the reasons that I love fall. This morning, I made an iced coffee with the remainder of the coffee from yesterday but it missed the mark. (I also don't like DD iced pumpkin spice coffee. I think pumpkin spice coffee needs to be enjoyed warm.)

If you're pulling out your fall sweaters and dreaming of crisp days, Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spice Coffee is a true pumpkin spice flavor and a happy way to start your morning.

Note: Be sure to read the labels well when choosing a pumpkin flavored product. Some are pumpkin flavored, tasting like pumpkin pie but some are pumpkin spice flavored and tastes more like the spices (typically cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice among other flavors) and not at all like pumpkin itself.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The lesson from actor, Geoffrey Owens

The recent situation with former "Cosby Show" actor, Geoffrey Owens touched a nerve.  What gives someone the right to shame someone by taking a picture of the person at their job? I was incensed and all I could think about was how Owens was feeling. Did he see his picture plastered on social media and feel shamed that he was caught working at Trader Joe's?

While I liked him as Elvin on TV, I admired him even more after seeing his talk show appearances and hearing his explanation of how he felt when the pictures came out.  He's owning his own story. He explained that while he was initially upset that he was being shamed about his job, he was doing what he needed to do to support himself when the residuals stopped coming after Bill Cosby's legal issues caused networks to pull Cosby's show from syndication.

Whatever the reason was for the original poster to take Owens photo (even if it was "Guess who I saw working at Trader Joe's!"), I'm happy to see that it has become something greater than shaming someone. It launched a discussion of being proud of doing whatever it is that you need to do to take care of yourself.  You are not your job. You are what DRIVES you.

I get it. The first question when you meet someone is almost always "What do you do?" When I worked at Microsoft, people treated me differently.  "Oh, you're at Microsoft" meant to them"Oh! You're making bank!' and there was implied respect for that. Later, after the Cinco de Mayo layoff, I started writing this blog that I was excited about but it was different. "Oh. You have a blog. Good for you!" as if that wasn't a respectable enough thing to do. The thing is, whether I was at Microsoft, or writing a blog or working at my old high school,  I respected what I did. I had to learn that it didn't matter what anyone else thought of me. It was about self-respect.  (After I was laid off at Microsoft, I realized how the "What do you do?" question can cause angst so I changed that question to "So, what makes you happy?")

When I was growing up, my mom was a NICU nurse. She was divorced and did what she needed to do to own her own home and keep me in Catholic school. I remember that there were times that she tried to make extra money, from working extra shifts at the hospital to piercing ears and making pillows. I admire that.  Before her, my grandparents worked in factories after the war and later when they retired, they cleaned homes and businesses. I remember going with them as they cleaned a local bank after hours. At the time, I was about six years-old. I would sit on the carpet in the bank with a pen and some blank deposit slips as they cleaned. I remember being very proud that my Meme and Pepe were so trustworthy that a bank would trust them with all their money when the bank was closed. (I was little and clearly didn't know much about banking.) My grandparents, my mom, Owens, millions of people do what they need to do and they did it proudly.

It's been an extraordinary lesson watching how Geoffrey Owens is managing this situation in which he has found himself.  Because of the notoriety of his role at Trader Joe's, he's had to quit his job but he has new opportunities. Tyler Perry has offered him a role on "The Haves and the  Have Nots."  He recently landed a role on "NCIS: New Orleans." That's great. Owens is booking TV roles again. However, I think the greatest role he has played is in teaching us a lesson in how to handle a less than ideal situation with pride and respect for yourself.  And if someday, he's back at Trader Joe's, I hope the question he's asked isn't "What are you doing working here?" but rather "So, how's your day?"

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

be the reason

I love that moment when you get a text message from someone exactly when you need it the most. This happened to me yesterday. One of my girlfriends sent me a text that reminded me of a hilarious drive we had when we got lost and almost ended up crossing the border by mistake. I was having a stressful moment, trying to make a tough call and that giggle was exactly what I needed to clear the moment and give my brain a break. It seems a laugh was all I really needed to get the clarity that had eluded me.

I am grateful that I have friends who had good ESP. They know just what to send at just the perfect time. I think of moments like this as gifts from the universe.  This text was a good reminder that it doesn't take much to have a positive effect on someone else's day. Making someone else feel happy or light is a great way to make yourself feel happy too.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Happygirl Essentials: Organic Ocean Vodka

Last month L, Waverly and I took our first family vacation to Maui. It was heaven. Sunshine, tropical breezes and L and I getting time together with our baby girl was a perfect combination for happiness. We spent several weeks just being a family together, swimming, eating pineapple, napping, stopping at fish taco food trucks and enjoying the fact that Wave lived up to her name. She loved the water, ocean or pool, it made her happy. We called her a little mermaid, her chubby little legs instinctively swimming underwater. Each day after breakfast, we swam and napped contentedly under the umbrella by the pool. And each evening, we sighed happily as we watched the sun set beyond the palm trees. One afternoon I tried a cocktail of locally made Organic Ocean Vodka mixed with fresh squeezed pineapple juice. It tasted like Hawaii, clean and happy. It became my favorite drink on the island.

When we got back to Seattle, we started to miss our family life in Maui. So, we did little things like make our morning espresso with coffee beans we brought back from Hawaii. I wore a locally made perfume that I bought on the island and wore every day of our vacation and at a store in Seattle, I bought a bottle of 80 proof Organic Ocean Vodka along with pineapple juice from Trader Joe's.  One afternoon when the temperature had reached 80, I replicated my favorite drink from Hawaii. As I soaked up the afternoon Seattle sun, I closed my eyes and I remembered our perfect holiday. Some things just bring you back.

Truth be told, I am a tequila girl. My favorite drink is a Paloma. I had never found a vodka that didn't taste bitter to me. However, Organic Ocean Vodka changed that.  Made from organic sugar cane and deep ocean mineral water, it is gluten-free and contains no GMO's, pesticides or herbicides. Through a special process, the ocean water is desalinated and what's left is water that tastes smooth and contains calcium, magnesium and potassium.

Other than the clean taste, I love what Organic Ocean Vodka embodies. Made by the Smith family on Maui since 2005, the Hawaii Sea Spirits Organic Farm and Distillery is socially and environmentally conscious. They practice eco-friendly production and sustainability throughout the process and the feeling of positive energy and harmonious living is pervasive throughout the brand.

This makes me happy.

One other thing, the blue bottle set on its axis is meant to resemble an antique glass fishing float. Not only does it look beautiful but it feels organic in your hand as you pour. When we finished the bottle, I just couldn't recycle it. Instead, I rinsed it out and poured in some beach sand. I have displayed on my desk in my studio as a reminder of a happy family in a happy place.

Organic Ocean Vodka is sold in all 50 states. If you find yourself on Maui, arrange to take a tour of Hawaii Sea Spirits Farm and Distillery, in the foothills of Haleakala. It's a great way to spend an afternoon, as you walk around the farm and distillery. Book here online.

Click here to find an Organic Ocean Vodka retailer near you. Please enjoy responsibly!

*I realize this is a very effusive post. This is not sponsored. I just love Organic Ocean Vodka and it's now a Happygirl Essential
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