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I Like My Coffee


Like I like my men/women…

…usually in the same mug.

…with pastries.

…from a local independent coffee shop.

…with cream.

…with cinnamon.

…with eggnog.

…frequently bought at Starbucks.

…not too bitter.

…so good I wish I could savor it for hours.

…easy to acquire.

…made at home.

…in the middle of the afternoon, just because.

…with friends.

…earning me a stamp toward a free one.

___

Just a little bit of levity. Add your own in the comments!

 

Blaugust 19: I’m So Tired


Ever since I’ve come back from work today (retail work: I have been doing editing work in short bursts since then), aside from some brief stretches of alertness, I have barely been able to keep my eyes open. I’m sleepy as hell because I’ve been waking up earlier than usual but still staying up kind of late. My neck is stiff.

Now, being back in a space without air conditioning (sigh), I’m not sure how well I’m going to sleep. Since I have a lot I want to get done tomorrow before I head off for a fun night of debauchery, aka playing rock band, I will have to wake up early again. AND I don’t even know if I have any coffee…

I forgot to check.

I FORGOT TO CHECK FOR COFFEE.

What is my life?

Coffee is everything. Coffee is perfection. How could I not think of it? And now it’s going to be mad. What have I done? I’ve angered the coffee.

You can tell I’m tired, because clearly my filter is gone.

Blaugust 10: I’m Too Tired


Some days I’m too tired to think of anything to blog about. Sometimes those days are somewhat due to staying up too late watching Netflix. Sometimes I just happen to be tired.

Today it’s both of those things.

In terms of sleep, I haven’t been doing the best job. I’m not sure how to improve that except for going on vacation and not having any schedule at all. Since I can’t do that…

More coffee?

My Dream Hometown


Apparently, making a “list” of qualities of your ideal man is a thing people do. I haven’t ever done it, and I’ve never had a discussion relating to it with anyone in real life, so maybe it only happens in romantic comedies. In any case, I had the idea to make a similar list but instead of pertaining to a significant other, it’s about my ideal neighborhood. Here we go:

  1. There’s a reasonable greenery to pavement ratio. Nice trees and stuff. On a related note, the sidewalk is NOT strewn with trash.
  2. I live at least a few blocks away from any schools (there is an elementary school right next door to me right now, which is a lot more annoying than it sounds).
  3. Within a five minute walk there is a place where I can get really good coffee–both brewed coffee and lattes–and a delicious and reasonably priced breakfast sandwich. Also reasonably near is great pizza, sandwiches, burritos, and a nice but relatively inexpensive bar.
  4. My close friends live near me. Now, I realize it isn’t the case for most people after college, but we are talking ideal here.
  5. The sidewalks are consistently wide enough for two people to pass and adequately shoveled in the winter.
  6. There is a good bookstore, with the kind of seating available that makes you want to hang around.
  7. Clothing and shoe shops that are easy to get to. (Really good ones, that carry stuff I’d want to wear.)
  8. People take good care of their facades and front lawns. And they all have front lawns.

That’s all I’ve got for now. There are probably other things that would qualify as well. Near public transit, for instance–it’s important right now, but might not be sometime in the future…

We’ll just have to see what happens. Mostly, what I’m saying is that I’m going to want a great breakfast sandwich tomorrow, and I’m not sure where to get one.

Go to Cafenation, Now. I’m Serious.


I can make a pretty good breakfast–that is, good for me. I will not claim to be skilled at any sort of fancy breakfast creations. I can make plenty of things that are tasty, or, at least edible, and at this point I’m very close to completely mastering the egg sandwich (often eaten for lunch or dinner as well, because I CANNOT get enough of them, it seems). I am incapable of making pretty pancakes or omelets. I’m trying to remember a time when I made breakfast for someone else that would be worth mentioning. As far as I can tell, there aren’t any.

This is why many of my best breakfasts happen when I go out. I don’t often go out for breakfast with a buddy. It’s too hard to gather people in the morning, especially a weekday morning, when the only people who could go with me aren’t even awake. (Or are in a different zip code.)

So I go out to breakfast. Or grab something on the way to work.

More often than not, this breakfast comes from Cafenation. They are one of my very favorite independent cafes in Boston (and everywhere else, but I’ll admit there are many I haven’t tried in other cities. In fact, most cafes in other cities I haven’t tried. Totally beside the point), because everything they offer is delicious. Their coffee is really good. Their chai is delicious. All their espresso drinks are amazing (I’m sure there’s the off drink once in a while), generally speaking. They have a pretty wide selection of teas, which I’m sure are also good. I’ve only tried the iced ones.

And the food? Well, duh. Delicious. Always. This morning I had the spiced apple and brie crepes, which were generously stuffed and dusted with powdered sugar. I had them before, probably three years ago, and it seemed about time. They have the standard cafe breakfast fare of bagels with various options for fillings/toppings (depending on if you eat it open-faced or not), tasty muffins and scones, and the full espresso bar you’re most likely hoping for. Then they have their omelets and crepes, good portions, fair price. I’ve tried one of the omelets with salsa and black beans, a bit like huevos rancheros, I guess. They also have a weekly special cream cheese flavor, in addition to the permanent selection, and jalapeno bagels. Who else has jalapeno bagels? Ok, probably a lot of places, but still.

Then there’s the lunch options. They have a small sampling of salads and soup, the latter of which changes by the week or day (I don’t know, I don’t get soup very much), and a nice list of sandwiches on your choice of bread. A few of the sandwiches are vegetarian options. Many of the breakfast items are vegetarian, and you can order them for lunch as well. The sandwiches are served with a good portion of mixed greens–more than just a token side salad, but not so much that it takes your attention from the sandwich. They also give you their housemade balsamic dressing, which is sweet and different and even if you think you don’t like balsamic dressing, I’d recommend you try it.

Bonus: They have one of the best day-old bread selections I’ve ever seen. Very rarely is the stuff more than just a little bit stale, but most likely it will keep for several days. They portion it well, too. I can get a half-dozen bagels, two muffins, and a scone for $3. There are times when I don’t buy bread at the grocery store for two or three weeks because I can get better stuff for less money at Cafenation. However, it’s often gone by midway through the day, so if you really want a good selection, you should go in the morning. It varies from day to day, too, as you might imagine. Sometimes they have a nice big pile, others, just a few bags. It’s a bit of a hit-or-miss sometimes, but definitely worth it.

In addition, the staff are generally very friendly, and if it’s not busy will even have conversations with you about things like tea. Sometimes they even remember my name. I go there a lot.  You should go there, and tell them I sent you. It won’t get you anything special, and most of them probably won’t know what you’re talking about, but tell them anyway.

Cafenation, 380 Washington St., Brighton, MA

Look Around, Try Something New


Ever been to Clover? They’re a vegetarian,  fresh-fast food joint with a few locations and a food truck or two.  I’m not vegetarian myself, but I’ve enjoyed their offerings every time I’ve been there so far.  This morning makes number 3, and it was definitely delicious. [Click the link in this paragraph to go to their website if you’re interested in finding out stuff about the business. You should, they’re cool.]

Circumstances collided this morning to make me desperate to buy a breakfast sandwich. I was on my way to Starbucks and happened to look up as I walked, for once, and notice Clover across the street. As I was thinking to myself, “They’re so good,” I saw their breakfast menu written on the window. For some reason I had been under the impression that they only did lunch, so I was surprised and immediately thought to hell with Starbucks, I’m going to Clover!

I got the breakfast sandwich, which is a freshly cooked egg, tomato, and cheese on pita. It’s not the typical egg sandwich–the bread is unusual and the egg I think was soft-boiled (that’s the only method I’m aware of that would result in the eggy end product on my breakfast…)–and that’s ok. It was delicious. Of course, if you feel like you need bacon on your sandwiches, you’re going to have to go elsewhere,  but you’ll be passing up something great!

I also got a coffee, even though I’d already had coffee that morning, because I have a hard time resisting coffee. They use the pour-over method, which essentially guarantees you a good cup of coffee. I’m not a pour-over snob, I promise. I drink as much regular drip coffee as the next person who likes things that are simple and easy to prepare (but not instant–never instant! yuck!), but I like pour over places because it means that your coffee is freshly brewed, every time. It takes only a few minutes longer than the standard Starbucks coffee.

What it all boils down to is freshness. They use local ingredients, actually fresh ingredients (not frozen), and everything is made to order. I know some people don’t think that really matters, but believe me, you can taste the difference. However, they don’t jack the prices up like some places would–in fact, I find them very affordable. I am sure I’ll be going back there for breakfast in the future.

And they have popovers! I don’t always like popovers, but sometimes I’m in the mood for them. Maybe I’ll try the popover sandwich next time.

Iced Coffee in the (Half-)Dead of Winter


On the bus, as I’m waiting for blood to circulate back to my numbed ears, I look out the window and I see people carrying iced coffees. Large ones. Perhaps I should rethink my theory that I’m insane. But, you know, maybe these people are made of volcanoes.

Ok, maybe I’m still insane…

But at least I’m not crazy enough to drink iced coffee when it’s this cold out.

This morning was day 1 of my new project: being able to wake up like a normal person. Yesterday, after sleeping way too late yet again, I searched for articles about how to wake up more easily. Some of the tips were stupid, but some were helpful, and the most helpful-sounding ones were repeated over and over again.

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
  • Take some time to “wind down” before bed (I’m giving it at least half an hour). That means turn off electronics, don’t eat anything heavy, maybe meditate.
  • Turn lights on/open blinds right when you wake up. I’ve always noticed this definitely does help, but now that the internet has confirmed my observation, it’s officially true.

The articles actually suggest setting your alarm every single day, including weekends… I’m not going to do that this weekend (at least, not both days), and not on Christmas, but I will probably start to do it soon. My winter-induced urge to hibernate does not match up with my daily life. Supposedly, if you stick to the routine, after a little while you’ll fall asleep and wake up naturally at those times.

I’m also going to try, for a little while, to reduce my caffeine intake after 2 or 3 pm. I’ve been known to drink coffee right up until sometimes 9pm, although usually I stop closer to 6 or 7. However, I think that until I get used to falling asleep earlier, having unnecessary caffeine in my system probably won’t be helpful.

I’m not a decaf person. I’ve rarely ever had it in my life. Does it taste different? Is it worth even getting it? Because I feel like it would change the flavor. Maybe it’s just the idea of it–if I didn’t know it was decaf, it would taste exactly the same. I want to do this experiment. Someone, please give me decaf coffee, tell me it’s regular, and we’ll see if I can tell the difference.

Probably not. But I do like to think I would.

That also means less black tea in the evenings. I have no idea what I’m going to drink now. Probably water and green or herbal teas.

However, as I might have mentioned, my policy is not to deprive myself of foods (apparently, this is the European way?) or drinks, so if I really want chai or coffee after work, I’ll get it. I just might hold off for this week, to try to get myself used to actually falling asleep.

If you’re like me, and you’re not a morning person at all in terms of energy, you might like to hear how this project goes. I’ll update occasionally as my sleep patterns change or don’t change, so pop back in next Monday or so.

In the meantime, avoid iced coffee if you live in New England (or Canada, or somewhere else where it’s almost winter). For me.

Monday Madness: Really, it’s Egg Nog Season


It’s not Christmas season, it’s eggnog season! I swear, it’s one of the things I look forward to most. And I don’t mean cocktail style, with rum or whatever people put in it. Just plain old, ridiculously sweet, rich, freaking delicious eggnog. Last year I made pancakes with it. This year I’ve been thinking about making cupcakes. Spice cake with eggnog frosting. I’m pretty excited.

I keep thinking about the pumpkin saturation we’ve been seeing the last few years. every fall, or rather, late summer, pumpkin starts creeping in, and by the end of September you can barely take a step without colliding with something pumpkin-flavored. Maybe it’s that fact, or maybe I just don’t like them as much anymore, but I’m pretty much “over” pumpkin coffees. I’ll get a handful throughout the pumpkin spice season–somewhere between 5 and 10, I’d guess–but I don’t crave them every day and I don’t get that excited for them to come out.

I reserve that feeling for the delicious, probably not nutritious, eggnog latte. Starbucks started having it just before Thanksgiving, so I’ve already managed to have two. Cafenation is advertising one as well. I’m not sure if they have them yet or if I’m going to have to wait a bit longer, but I’m really looking forward to it. Cafenation does everything well, so I’m sure I’ll love it when they combine two of my favorite things, coffee and eggnog.

This should not be such a big deal. You can in fact get eggnog any time of the year, and I suppose I could get an espresso machine (although at this point I don’t really want one), but eggnog has always been seasonal for me. We had it every Christmas morning. And probably Christmas eve. Now I tend to drink it all through December, padding a little in November and January depending on availability. I don’t want it at other times of the year.

That’s probably a good thing. It’s not exactly the best everyday food. But it is THE BEST holiday drink.

Monday Madness Again


I haven’t even been awake (fully) for three hours and I want to go back to sleep. Such is my life.

And because I woke up so late, I had tea and cookies that I keep in my desk for breakfast. No omelet (see yesterday’s post about what the hell I should do with all the basil), no yogurt, NO COFFEE. I think that bears repeating: I had no coffee this morning. The truth is, I don’t need it for the caffeine. I can wake up ok without any coffee. (And, you know, this might be a thing that addicts say, but) It’s the feeling of sitting down with a cup of coffee, the flavor, the knowledge that I actually have time to sit and drink coffee, more than the effects of the caffeine, that make me so unhappy when I miss it.

And now that I’m sitting at my desk, I don’t want to go out in this below-freezing weather to get coffee.

On some occasions, I sort of wish I were a trophy wife. If that were the case, I would have time for coffee every morning, because I wouldn’t have to worry about being at work. And I’d have time to organize my home, which I have not managed to do. I think that no matter how long I live somewhere, I have to really feel that I want to be in that apartment (or house, but that would be a long way off) before I can make efforts to make it feel like home.  Like, I would really like to get some drawer organizers, and then I thought I could probably make some myself. And then I thought further, when the hell am I going to have time for that?

But I don’t really want to be a trophy wife. I want the perks without having to be showered in extreme sexism/chauvinism every day. I want time and space to do the things in life that really matter to me. When you feel like you have to squeeze in the things you really care about wherever you can find time, and otherwise devote your life to pursuits you’re not enjoying just so you can afford to live, the passions and hobbies can become strains–especially when you start to feel guilty whenever you don’t have time to do them.

I feel like I, and pretty much everyone else on the internet, complain about the same things all the time. We could all just shut up and go DO things instead. But it’s so hard.

Monday Madness: The Lamentation of the Blackcurrant Scone


Let’s not think about how much I could have done over the weekend and didn’t. How far behind I am on everything I want to have done already. How much my apartment needs a good cleaning… Let’s talk instead about my favorite independent cafe.

My favorite food to order at Cafenation, for as many years as I’ve known about its existence (about three), has been the blackcurrant scone. Its buttery flavor and dense, rich texture made it,  in my mind, the perfect scone. I would get one sometimes when I wasn’t even hungry, because they were so good and I knew I’d be hungry at some point.

In my memory (which has been wrong at times, but we’ll just go with it), the first time I got it was a morning when I was interviewing someone for a short biographical article. I got up early, walked down to the cafe, ordered a coffee and one of these scones, and brought them back home. I ate it as I set up my things for the phone interview, and it was probably the most satisfying breakfast I’d had for some time. The interview and article writing both went fairly well, but that’s not really relevant to this story.

Over the past three years–or, the parts of those years that have taken me near the cafe–I have bought one of these scones more often than any other food at this cafe. Suddenly, a few weeks ago, I stopped seeing it. Since I had only been a few times, always later in the afternoon, I assumed they had sold out… but then, they usually had a few left at that time. So I asked while I was ordering a coffee, whether they were just out of them momentarily, and I was informed that they had to switch to another bakery.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Ok, that’s out of my system now. I ordered a blueberry scone to try the new ones, and it was good. But not as good as my favorite, my love, the blackcurrant scone. I was disappointed. This is long ago enough now that I have moved on, but there will be times when I think of that one scone that I crave and I will regret that I can’t get it anymore. But hell, it’s just a scone, right? There are other things I would be much more devastated to lose.

Earlier this year, Cafenation had decided to close their kitchen at 3pm every day. I assumed they just weren’t selling enough kitchen-prepared orders in the later hours to keep the kitchen open, and since I rarely ordered from the kitchen anyway, it didn’t actually affect me very much. Still, I like having the option, so it always felt slightly disappointing. Now, they’re keeping the kitchen open later, but the cafe closes at 6 now, instead of 7 or 8, when they used to be open. Once again, this doesn’t really change anything for me, except that I don’t like going to restaurants or cafes in the last half hour before they close, which will have to happen from time to time, as I frequently leave work at 5:30.

I am the very first to admit that these are not real problems. The point is that people do not react well to change. I’m trying to get to a point where I can more quickly shake off that first disorientation of finding something to which I’m accustomed suddenly changing and move more quickly to filing away the new information and adjusting accordingly. Particularly when the change will have very little (if any) impact on my life.

Doesn’t that seem enlightened?

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