March 28, 2013

Special Birthday Shoutout!

This guy...
...has the best sense of humour.
...has an extreme tolerance for my craziness.
...randomly brings home little gifts for no reason.
...helps me let loose when I'm being uptight.
...doesn't mind that I suck at video games [and has to bring my character back to life every 2 minutes].
...enjoys watching mindless TV as much as I do (or more!). great at mixing drinks ;)
...helps out around the house all the time!
...makes my lunch when I'm feeling tired & lazy on occasion. the sweetest & most caring guy I've ever met.
...pretty much just makes me a better person...

I Love You!

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March 26, 2013

Starbucks - Clever Branding

Last week I posted about what gives Starbucks their competitive edge, besides the consistently flawless foam that I love so much.

As broad as this is going to sound, it's their marketing and clever branding that highly distinguish Starbucks from any of their competitors.

By some incredible coincidence, I received this yesterday:
I just ran out of money on my card too...awesome coincidence!

Discount coupons in the mail. It's the first time they've done a promo like this (that I've heard of). Plus the surprise Rewards they put on my Gold card. They are full of surprises and keep you on your toes!

Just when I thought they couldn't get any more awesome, they came up with the plain reusable cup:
Obviously I own one
How amazing is that? Environmentally and budget friendly. It costs only $1 and saves you 10 cents each time you use it. Plus, you don't have to give up that coveted status of carrying a Starbucks cup while being green! Don't lie, you like the status.

Many people lay off the Starbucks visits after the Holiday drinks end & once the New Years resolutions start. But Starbucks gave all those less committed a reason to keep coming back in January with their Vanilla promo to highlight their Vanilla Latte, and promote the new Vanilla Blonde & Vanilla Spice Latte. All delicious.

New concepts? Not really. Brilliant re-dress is more like it! I ran back too but I didn't really have a New Year's resolution so whatever.

A few weeks ago, they came out with the Hazelnut Macchiato. Lovely. But really almost the same as the latte with a pump of hazelnut that I have 99% of the time. Re-dressing. Brilliance.

Don't even try to tell me you don't have a few Pumpkin Spice Lattes when it comes back each fall. Because it's exclusive and delicious and they make you want it.

So if you know you're going to be visiting Starbucks, why not register your Rewards care and earn stars for a free drink?

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All opinions are my own. I was not compensated in any way.

March 25, 2013

Hello, Target!

I have been in love with Target for over 6 years and one of the roughest things about moving away from the border was no more weekly Target trips. It's the truth. Yeah you're right - #firstworldproblems.

Shortly after I moved Target announced their move to Canada. Two excruciating years later, it's finally here!
Naturally I went shopping this past weekend and amongst other things, picked up these fantastic pieces.
[The links below will take you to the US website]

Mossimo® Women's Long Sleeve Tunic Blouse

Bad lighting - this is actually a dark coral red

Merona® Women's Colorblocked Twist Waist Dress - Mangrove Green

 Not available on website

This last dress I'm particularly excited about because I bought it with our summer vacation in mind. So. Excited.

Archer Farms snacks and some Up&Up toiletries were also big highlights. This is the beginning of a very beautiful relationship. With weekly dates. Maybe more ;)

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March 22, 2013

Book Club Friday - 3.22

It's time for Book Club with Heather!

This week I'm reviewing:
Pat Peoples has a theory that his life is actually a movie produced by God, and that his God-given mission in life is to become emotionally literate, whereupon God will ensure a happy ending – which, for Pat, means the return of his estranged wife Nikki, from whom he's currently having some 'apart time.' It might not come as any surprise to learn that Pat has spent several years in a mental health facility. When Pat leaves hospital and goes to live with his parents, however, everything seems changed: no one will talk to him about Nikki; his old friends now have families; his beloved football team keep losing; his new therapist seems to be recommending adultery as a form of therapy. And he's being haunted by Kenny G. There is a silver lining, however, in the form of tragically widowed, physically fit and clinically depressed Tiffany, who offers to act as a go-between for Pat and his wife, if Pat will just agree to perform in this year’s Dance Away Depression competition...


Amazing. That's probably one of the most overused words to describe this book but it must be said. The storyline was so unique, not to mention believable, and sucks you right in. Despite the seriousness of the subject, the book is surprisingly light because the author does such a great job telling it from Pat's [slightly delusional] point of view. Just read this book. Go right now.

Movie-wise, I held out until I had finished reading the book and [as usual] I'm glad that I did. I don't want to say  it was disappointing but I was nowhere near as excited after watching the movie as I was before. I get it  - they're never the same. But this way too different and just took away from some of the story. Like the song choice  - c'mon, that was the epitomy of what they were going through! So yeah; watch it for the excellent acting but not for the story.

March 19, 2013

Starbucks - The Competitive Edge

A couple of weeks ago, I reviewed the non-fiction book Starbucked but noted there was more about Starbucks that I wanted to discuss.

As if we don't already know how crazy successful Starbucks is, this book just highlighted the phenomenon even more for me and really made me think about what a well-run business it is.

Let's face it - you can't get away from the ever-evolving 'Green Mermaid'.
Sometimes you can literally find them on every corner. In my old work area, I had five shops within a 5 minute walking distance, or less. Crazy. No other establishment of any kind has, or can afford to have, that many stores in such close proximity to one another.

But convenience is necessarily why Starbucks is successful. If you hated the product (or even the brand), you wouldn't care how many locations they have. You would go to any competitor, chain or not, but you don't. You go to Starbucks and here's why...

• Consistent Quality •
Besides one or two unsatisfying experiences (not coincidentally at the same store) my latte tastes the same regardless of which store I get it at. You know what you want and you know that no matter how complicated of an order you put in, it will be exactly what you expect 99.9% of the time. Those are great odds. That's why you pay $5 for them.

• Customer Service/Experience •
Customer service is on every retailer's mind these days but few live up to it. "Can I get a name for your cup? Ok, is that one L or two?" Puh-leeze. The doctor's office doesn't even ask me how to spell my name & they have to prescribe me drugs. Just wait until you become BFFs with your regular barista. 

• Customer Rewards •
I know that rewards are another way to get you to spend more, but if I'm already going to spend that much on a coffee I'm going to spend it where I get a gold star. With minimal effort from the customer - simply registering a Starbucks gift card - you collect stars, earn Gold status & rake in the perks. It doesn't get better than this...
Coincidentally in time for this post, today I noticed that I had two special rewards on my Gold card. It pays to be Gold! 
• Ambiance •
In the past few years, there's been increasing focus on the 'convenience' of Starbucks as a stop-and-go coffee shop so many have forgotten they started off as a sit-down coffee shop. Their atmosphere is still just as amazing so whenever I get the chance I like to meet up with a friend or just chill & do a crossword to soak it in. The coziness really cannot be beat by any other coffee house I've been to.

• The Foam •

I love foam. It is the reason I spend double on a latte over a regular cup of coffee, so do me a favour and get it right!. It's actually the foam that appears to be the most difficult for competitors to replicate. Shocking, because I've been able to replicate it with the steamer of my espresso machine at home.
So yeah, just don't fuck up my foam, ok?

March 18, 2013

Still a Boy

With a minor tweak.

On Friday morning I dropped baby Koko off at the vet for his neutering. I was so upset to leave him all alone but it had to be done.

Even though he's barely 6 months old, he was already developing some less-than-stellar marking habits that needed to be cut short.

Now the poor muffin has to wear this for nearly two weeks:

He seems to be taking it pretty well though despite the discomfort while eating and sleeping.

Don't worry though, he's getting spoiled with plenty of treats and cuddles to make up for all the discomfort.

March 15, 2013

Book Club Friday - 3.15

It's time for Book Club with Heather!

This week I'm reviewing:
This time Stephanie, Morelli, Ranger. Lula, Valerie, and Grandma Mazur are strapped in for the ride of their lives. Stephanie is hired to find a missing child. But things aren't always as they seem and Stephanie must determine if she's working for the right side of the law. Plus, there's the Morelli question: can a Jersey girl keep her head on straight when more than just bullets are aimed for her heart? And with the Plum and Morelli relationship looking rocky, is it time for Ranger to move in for the kill? Janet Evanovich's latest thriller proves that Hard Eight will never be enough.

This one was a woozy and awesomely so! Not going to lie, I read it a little bit ago and thought I had already reviewed it (oops!) but I do remember being on the edge of my seat. Evanovich did not disappoint, yet again. Then again, it may be because I couldn't stop daydreaming about Ranger...*yum*

March 12, 2013

Out of Commission

So all those blog posts I have planned and/or semi-completed will be posted a bit slower than anticipated. In the meantime, keep up with my tweets & instagram because that only needs one hand and I've trained the left hand pretty well :)

FYI for those curious...I get tendinitis in my wrist on occasion, which is probably eventually going to lead to full blown carpal tunnel syndrome. I try not to think about it. I just hope this episode goes away soon!

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March 8, 2013

Book Club Friday - 3.08

It's time for Book Club with Heather!

This week I'm reviewing:
STARBUCKED will be the first book to explore the incredible rise of the Starbucks Corporation and the caffeine-crazy culture that fueled its success. Part Fast Food Nation, part Bobos in Paradise, STARBUCKED combines investigative heft with witty cultural observation in telling the story of how the coffeehouse movement changed our everyday lives, from our evolving neighborhoods and workplaces to the ways we shop, socialize, and self-medicate.

In STARBUCKED, Taylor Clark provides an objective, meticulously reported look at the volatile issues like gentrification and fair trade that distress activists and coffee zealots alike. Through a cast of characters that includes coffee-wild hippies, business sharks, slackers, Hollywood trendsetters and more, STARBUCKED explores how America transformed into a nation of coffee gourmets in only a few years, how Starbucks manipulates psyches and social habits to snare loyal customers, and why many of the things we think we know about the coffee commodity chain are false.


This is the first non-fiction I've read since...probably ever. I thought I'd give non-fiction a try so I combined two of my favourite things  - business (best major ever!) and Starbucks (latte, what?!). Good decision self. The book was split up into two parts  - the rise of Starbucks Co. and the various social issues surrounding its rise. I'm so glad I went with this book instead of the one written by the (one-time) CEO Howard Schultz ; I feel it provided me with a far more objective perspective.

In short, the rise of Starbucks is extraordinary. What's funny is that they became big in the US in the mid-90s and my first exposure to its existence wasn't until the mid-2000s when I started university, and there was one on campus. Since then, I've grown to respect the brand both professionally  - one hell of a successful business story  - and personally  - yummy lattes in cozy shops with perks for the regulars!

I have a lot to say on the Starbucks topic so I'm going to be doing a couple of more posts on to discuss some things in more detail. Like the 'death' of mom-and-pop coffee shops. Like their re-usable mug. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, read the book if you like the combo of business & Starbucks as much as I do!

March 7, 2013

It's OK - 3.07

Time to link up with Neely & Amber to let you know what's OK today!

It's OK...

- that I've shopped at H&M every week since I've started my new job...not my fault it's so close
- that Koko is just now going to his first vet appointment...I'm old-school about going to the doctor's
- that tonight is the last time I'm going to dance for the rest of March due to a crazy busy Thursday schedule
- to love Friday Junior this much...aka Thursday
- to be extremely gung ho about bringing a lunch instead of buying lunch (except in special/extreme cases)...and be irritated when people just don't get it
- to treat Starbucks like a 'treat' instead of a daily's also easier on the budget
- to be extremely behind on actually typing up all the blog posts I've planned and listed out...including at least three book reviews :(
- to have several bottles of unused nail polish (including 2 brand new ones) and zero time to paint my nails...actually, I'm not even sure that's ok
- to be so happy that this link up exists :)

March 6, 2013

InstaLately - 3.06

I haven't had a chance to post the usual weekend and life updates as much but my instagram should bring you up to date!

The Bon Jovi concert was followed up with my first day at my new job, where I got rookie cookies for my first day. Awesome sauce.

Koko just sleeps everywhere. All the time. The usual.

I still feel guilty but we came across the Cupcake Girls' only cupcake store  in Toronto & had to try them! I'll be honest, not my favourite gourmet cupcakes to date.

For whatever reason, we decided that becoming members of Costco was a good idea - now we can overspend on large quantities of food we can't possibly finish & have nowhere to store. That and Post Its obviously.

Best of all, I recently picked up some new beauty finds & I can't wait to try them!!

Linking up with Jenn for this InstaLately!

March 5, 2013

Rough Week

Yesterday was rough. So much so that it definitely required italicization. In fact, the past week has been pretty rough; some days more than others. But they all involved some level of "Seriously, this too?!" Best represented though this image.

I'm nor here to whine about my first world problems; just venting so I can get back on my 2013 Train of Positivity. Best train ever I tell ya! It's just hard to focus on it when little shit things keep popping up.

Here's to not letting this Monday define the rest of the week & month!

March 4, 2013

#MusicMonday - 3.04

I haven't done a Music Monday in a while which means I haven't heard anything decent in a while. Or at least not anything memorable.

Get a load of this awesomeness though, especially if you haven't listened to any Macklemore...

Thoughts please.

Happy Monday!