August 31, 2009

Beware of the Buzz Kill - a Coffee Saga

I’m having a love affair with coffee again and I’m not ashamed to proclaim it to the world - especially since certain health officials have finally extolled its beneficial virtues. There was a time when I’d sworn off the dark, steamy liquid heaven and switched to its lighter, less frenetic sister, tea. I blogged about it last year, convinced that the “buzz” I got from coffee ultimately wasn’t worth the rapid heart beats, withdrawal headaches and sleepless nights. And I still believe that to be true, kind of. Honestly, nothing beats the zing you get from that first cup in the morning, how it creeps through your bloodstream, awakening every single cell in its path. The rush you receive when your brain receives the dose, like bubbles of energy bursting in rhythm. But if it were just about the buzz, I’d end this post here.

Recently, I went to a fast food restaurant (that will remain nameless) to try what their advertising people have worked hard to portray as “café-quality” coffee, airing commercials that show hip people sitting in cool clubs listening to smooth Neo-soul music and crisp spoken word. I bought into the hype! I saw me and my girlfriends sipping these trendy beverages in cute little dresses, being exceedingly cosmopolitan. The buzz kill came when I bought one of these drinks and gagged at the unpleasant flavor and bitter aftertaste. Yes, my drug of choice must not only be stylish, it must also taste good.

In my town of Jersey City, NJ, we have Starbucks, Gloria Jean’s, Van Houtte, all national chains that do coffee well. It’s what they do. It’s their specialty. Even Dunkin’ Donuts gives good coffee because they don’t try to compete with a million other things on their menu. My town also boasts a few artisan coffee shops that are exceptional like Legal Grounds and AHYMN Espresso Bar & Café. The baristas must study the art of coffee and have found their niches from Italian press to grinding their own beans. I make my rounds through all of these establishments. I spend money, way too much. What is it about other people’s coffee that makes standing in long lines or waiting more than 10 minutes to get a fix acceptable? I figure while I’m there I should ask as many questions as I can about what makes a great cup of java in hopes of duplicating their efforts at home. Is it the grinds? Or do the beans have to come from Columbia or South Africa? Sometimes I get answers; most times I get blank stares. And while spending $3 - 4 everyday on my favorite beverage was fine in a better economy, it’s not a wise move now. Enter the greatest invention since the DVR – the Keurig machine and accompanying K-cups which solve everything: a consistently great tasting cup of coffee in a wide variety of roasts and blends right in your own home or office. And at what comes out to about $.25 - .50 a cup, you won’t ever have to worry about your buzz (or your wallet) being killed.

August 24, 2009

The Quest for Togetherness (or Tote Bag Envy)

You’ve seen them. Those women who look as if they rolled out of a bed of sheets and into a bed of roses, perfectly coiffed, not a speck of disarray. They walk with proud, perfect posture and jaunty steps usually with some kind of fashionable handbag clutched under their arm, in the crook of their elbow or slung over their well-toned shoulder. I envy their “togetherness”. It takes planning and dedication to pull off such fabulosity on a daily basis. I’ve reached this pinnacle of fashion savvy often but a consistent effort eludes me. After some careful observation, I'm starting to believe that the trick is the frequent touch-up – making the bathroom or ladies room wherever you are your frequent beauty sanctuary. Perhaps if I were able to carry all of the necessary touch-up essentials plus all of my daily life accoutrement in a bag that was beautiful and functional….

So, I’ve set out to find the perfect tote bag for Fall. Here you will find my Top 5 list of the most heavenly handbags:

Coach bags have been a perennial favorite of mine because of their exceptional styling and superior workmanship. I’m in deep love with the Studded Sabr
ina Bag (above left) right now.

Neiman Marcus has finally figured out that Emerging Designers have incredible ability and wonderfully unique things to offer. The Tano Speakeasy Hobo and the Max’s Kansas City Bucket Hobo by Alison Wood have both made my list of enviables.

The Smythson Nancy Quilted Zip Bag (right) is designer hot and chic. While in a color I would abuse and I’m sure in a price range that would make my heart fail, it will forever be on my wish list.

And if you d
on’t know about 1000 Markets, you’re missing out on a treasure chest handcrafted goods from talented artists. It was there that I found the classic Olivia Bag by Neiko Designs (left) that I’m REALLY excited about.

I’m completely overwhelmed by the wonderful choices at all price ranges at my disposal so my quest for the perfect fall tote bag continues. But once I find the bag for me, I’ll have one less excuse for not having that “together” look more often. Well, I’m sure I’ll find many other reasons.

Photos Courtesy of and for Neiko Designs

August 17, 2009

Stops, Starts & Other Random Delays

This is my first Style Baubles blog post in over 3 months. I could give you endless convoluted reasons why I haven’t been able to write a single word in that time but it would just go to show how incredibly chaotic I've allowed my life to become. I’ve never shied away from admitting my weaknesses but I guess I’ve done it so much lately, even I’m bored with the exercise. So instead of using this post as a sort of penance for my writing sins, I’m going to just say that I feel the blog juices returning. There are lots of exciting things taking place in the world and my personal universe is no exception. Fashion never takes a break, eating great food is more fun than it’s ever been and I continue to meet wonderfully talented artists, crafters and designers online and off. I’m going to try my hardest to prevent my history of stops, starts and other random delays from getting in the way of doing what’s right in this space. Hey, I’m so pumped up, I’ve taken to writing about my own jewelry on another blog. So on to writing the next piece! Hmmm…is that the sun shining again?


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