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30 Days of Thanks – Day 8 – The Super Starbucks Lady

I may have mentioned a passing fondness for Starbucks.  Once or twice.

When we came back to Seattle after our Alaska cruise last summer, we took our “every time we’re in Seattle, we must….” visit to Pike Place Market, which includes a trip to the very first ever Starbucks store.  The Mecca.

We built up the excitement by putting off the stop at Starbucks.  We strolled through the market, bought things that we had no idea how we’d get on the plane and home, and when the anticipation was too much to stand, we headed over for our drinks.


We bought a souvenir for my friend Sandi, a Starbucks manager who was watching our dogs for us.  It was the first time I think we’ve ever purchased anything but coffee, but since our last visit, we have become more frequent users of our registered Starbucks gift card, which gets us points to get free drinks.  Jim saw this card, depicting the original store, and we decided we loved it (okay, I decided I loved it) and bought it.

The card became quite a conversation piece whenever we went to a Starbucks store.  The baristas always made a comment on how neat it was, and none of them had seen one like it.  I loved that card.

Then it got lost.  I say it got lost so as not to point the finger of blame in any particular direction, especially not the one with the adorable balding, dimpled man standing in it.

We called Starbucks, who cancelled the card and called the store.  They spoke with a manager, and she offered to send one to us to replace the one we lost.  We waited weeks and weeks.  It never arrived.  Then we took the car to be detailed.  Lo and behold, there was the missing card!!

Oh, snap.

The card is cancelled.  Why no, they can’t activate it again, it’s been reported lost or stolen. No, they don’t know where the replacement one is that we never received.  We got quite a run around.

Until we finally got Nica Tovey on the phone.  She is the Super Starbucks lady who saved the day.  Faster than a speeding bullet, she got a replacement card in the mail to us, and I am now in possession of my favorite Starbucks gift card, ever.

And I am so thankful for Nica Tovey today!  I have no future trips planned to the west coast, didn’t know when I’d be able to personally pick up another one, and she was so kind and so helpful, she got one right out to me.

That is what real customer service is all about; that’s what Starbucks is all about.  And I’m thankful.

Mother’s Day, Keurig Style – A Single Cup Coffee Brewer Review

Yes, I know Mother’s Day is still a week away.  But if you know me, you will be well aware of my Starbucks addiction.  We’ve been considering making this purchase for months, and have browsed the coffee maker aisles of every store in South Jersey.  I almost bought one this morning at Target, but, as I have every other time, I walked out without one.

Then we went to Costco.  And there it was – the Keurig deal too great to walk away from.  So we took the plunge!  And tonight, for the first time, I made coffee!

Now, even if you know me, you may not know that despite  my frequent (sometimes twice daily) trips to Starbucks, I do not like coffee.  My drink always has extra pumps of coffee flavor killing syrup.  That was my biggest concern with the Keurig.

I have seen the light!

With the enormous variety of flavors, I was bound to find some that I liked, and in the variety packs that came with my purchase, I found a French Vanilla that was tasty.  I didn’t want to have to figure out the coffee maker and the milk foamer with company here, so I just added cold milk and some Splenda, and it was a reasonable facsimile of my beloved latte.  With a little practice, it will be perfect!

The machine was super easy to use, and I had coffee in a matter of seconds.  Costco had a great deal – the Keurig Platinum B70, 60 K – Cups, and a personal K – Cup reusable filter (for brewing your own coffee) for $149.99.  It was a great deal compared to the ones we looked at elsewhere.

I’ll probably post another review in a few weeks, just to let you know if I’ve been avoiding Starbucks in favor of my Keurig, but I can’t imagine needing to hit up the ‘Bucks once I become a pro at this Keurig stuff.

I’ll be saving so much money – it may mean more trips to Walt Disney World!


So long $4 lattes – or not ?

Is it really possible to stop buying $4 lattes at my local Starbucks and make them at home? And do it cheaper and easier?  And would I miss my favorite baristas?

I stopped by this display at my local Target, and none of these machines seems to do what the sign implies – which is allow me to quit my Starbucks habit. One requires me to buy K cups of coffee, decide what kind, strength, aroma, and flavor I want, then heat my milk on the stove, froth the milk in my blender, and mix in my own syrup.  I don’t know how much energy you have in the morning, but this almost requires me to drink a cup of coffee just to have the energy to make my morning coffee!!   If we are taking things this far, why bother with the K cup?  While I am definitely not a professional barista, I think I could figure out how to use a regular espresso/cappuccino machine on a daily basis.  I have used them in the past, and even at 2 AM, which is when my husband notoriously gets espresso cravings and starts putzing around my kitchen, making all sorts of noises that make me fear what I might find when I wake up.

My current vote is that I just don’t get it – these $99 and up machines just don’t have the features, compartments, or my favorite barista Sandi, to get me to replace my daily morning ritual.

Jolly Holidays 2007 – Our Christmas Trip to Disney Day 1, getting there

In true Skamarakas fashion, the details of this trip take on a life of their own. I am getting better at not planning things, because you just don’t know what’s going to happen. The semi, not set in stone plan is to leave at oh dark thirty Sunday morning and drive straight through to our 2 bedroom villa at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Then we start planning our summer trip – a 3 week trip to Europe, which includes a 13 day cruise to England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. It is during this planning that Jim realizes we have oh so many frequent flyer miles, none of which can be used on British Airways for our trip to Europe next summer, so we might as well use them to fly to Florida for our Christmas trip. Alrighty then.

Jim works in Milwaukee all week long, and flies home to Jersey on the weekend. His plan is to just fly from Milwaukee to Orlando and I’ll fly with Eilis and Granuaile from Philly to Orlando, and I’ll try to coordinate our flight times so that neither of us has to wait too long for the other one when we arrive in Florida, and we can all ride to Jim’s mother’s together in a rental car. As it turns out, I have to go to Eilis’ mid-year conference at school, and we have tickets to see A Christmas Carol at the Walnut Street theater, so I can’t leave until late in the day. When I start looking to coordinate flights, I see that there is one from Milwaukee that arrives in Orlando at 11:30, and one from Philly that arrives at 11:30 – oh my goodness – the Milwaukee flight connects in Philly!! How cool that this is going to make it possible for Jim to get to fly with the baby on her first airplane ride! I know they will both be excited!! We book the flights – and for $15, me and the two youngest children will be in Orlando in 2 hours instead of 20 hours! I’m so excited!

So, Jim goes to Milwaukee for work a week before the trip, and I send with him a huge suitcase of all of our clothes so that it’s easier for me to take myself and the two kids. The day of, I am still frantically throwing things into a suitcase to take with me that I forgot to pack in Jim’s, and then I realize I have Christmas presents to take with me, too. I bring out another suitcase and fill that one with holiday gifts and some sugar free snacks I picked up for my MIL, who was recently diagnosed with diabetes. I go to the conference, we go to the show, and we come home and start putting stuff in order for Brighid to stay here with Nannie for the week. The window on my Navigator broke yesterday – in 18 degree, snowy weather – and my stepfather has offered to come early and take me to pick it up. We agree that he’ll come at 4 to avoid the traffic down to the car dealer, and we’ll leave for the airport at 6, so I’ll be there in plenty of time for my 8:45 flight.

Okay, so at 3, my stepfather shows up. We go down to get the car, and when we get back, he’s anxious to do something, so he loads the bags in the trunk. Then he starts asking what time I want to leave. Then it starts snowing. I figure he’s getting nervous about driving in the dark and in the snow, so I tell him whenever they want to go is fine with me. We are on our way to the airport at about 5 o’clock. Oh man, I’m going to be early.