Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Starbucks Instant Coffee - A Review

Coffee is my drug of choice; the only other beverages I drink are water, milk and an occasional beer. I drink coffee before bed, when I wake up and throughout the day. I don't like instant or decaf and yes I can tell the difference. You could say I am a coffee snob.

A while back Starbucks was offering free samples of their new instant coffee and because it was Starbucks I requested a sample. It arrived yesterday one packet of Colombian Roast and one packet of Italian Roast. For this review I am using the Colombian. If anyone can make a good instant coffee it is Starbucks.

It smells good, more like real coffee than instant. However it still has that "instant coffee foam" on the top, but it dissipated after a few moments. The color is deep and dark and looks like real coffee in the mug.

A teaspoon of coffee sans cream, sugar and it tastes more like real coffee than instant, but I need sugar and cream.. The color looks good with cream, the taste is good, but not as good as home brewed.

This is a great instant coffee for those that drink instant. It would also be good to have on hand for coffee emergencies or if going backpacking or camping.

Overall I give this coffee 4 stars out of 5.

Starbucks did a good job, but it is still instant coffee.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Blogging or Writing?

Today I received a DM from one of my twitter friends and she commented that she liked that I was a blogger who took my writing serious.   I never considered myself a blogger who writes, I am a writer who blogs.  Blogging is extention of my writings and not the purpose.  

In truth I find blogging difficult at times.  To spend time writing about about my opinions of the day or insights learned seems to me anyway a waste of time.   Mostly I post things I've written already. Not that there is anything with blogging opinons, insights in fact I enjoying reading blogs of that type.  

However, currently I am editing and rewriting my first novel, working on a biography, and several shorter pieces for different magazines.   There is also  the weekly news column I write. Every extra moment is devoted to writing or activities around writing, like online and in person critique groups and of course reading.    

Being a writer is more than putting words on paper and arranging them to make a interesting story.  It is keeping up with the trends, meeting fellow writers, discipline, reading, brainstorming, research, and submitting. You can't be published if you don't submit. :)        

When blogging, you write your piece and hopefully edit it.  When you write you edit it, show it to your crit group, rewrite, edit, show it to your crit group again and then look for places to submit it. Not that it always works that way, but you get the idea.

Is the art of writing becoming obsolete in this fast paced world?   Do you think there is a difference between blogging and writing?  Or are they one and the same?

Am interested to hear your feelings on blogging and writing.. or writing and blogging..  

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Queen of Say So

Looking back over my childhood, I realize I had the perfect mother for the fifties. There was no way of her or I knowing that the following decade would bring the sexual revolution, women’s liberation, and the culture of doing your own thing. Not that my mother was perfect, no mother is except the TV moms of that era, Donna Reed, Jane Wyatt, and June Cleaver.

My mom had nothing in common with them, except she wore spiked heels like June Cleaver. June. Cleaver wore the high heels daily, to appear taller as Wally and the Beaver grew. My mother wore spiked heels because she had great legs and she was not shy about them. Mom also had a different air about her than other women of the era. She carried herself as if she had the Crown and Title to “Queen of Say So.” It was only later in life I discovered she had skipped two grades in school and graduated at age 16.

She was born Frances Marie Knizikiewicz and possessed a strong identity to her Lithuanian roots. She spoke the language and followed the traditions, though she was born in New York. On Shrove Tuesday aka Fat Tuesday, she would spend the day making homemade jelly donuts for our family to enjoy before Lent. On Easter Saturday, she would take baskets containing homemade, coffee cakes, pickled beets, picked eggs, ham, and a stick of butter molded into the shape of a lamb adorned with a red ribbon on its neck and peppercorn for eyes to the church to for the blessing of the food.

Mom was home with me the first seven years of my life. She cooked, cleaned, and took care of her children. She was not the doting mom that TV portrayed. If any of my siblings or I fell and suffered an injury, my mom would comfort us with “It will be better by the time you get married.” If any of us went to her with a compliant, she would always tell us to “Look on the bright side.” When we like most kids were unable to find a bright side, she found one. Even if it was, “Well you’re not dead.” There was no excuse for complaining about anything.

I was the fifth child in a family of six. My eldest brother Richard died of cancer at the age of three, exactly one month before my sister Judy was born. As an adult, I try to imagine the various feelings mom had at that time. Was it possible to feel the joy of new baby while mourning another child’s death? She commented once that she lost so much weight the month before my sister was born that Judy’s skin sagged over her body.

My mother mourned Richard’s passing throughout her life. We were always encouraged to pray to him if we needed anything. I never knew Richard but I was forever asking him for things. When the anniversary of his death came around, she was saddened for a time, and she was not timid about telling us the reason for the change in her manner. Richard died in the spring, and by the time summer arrived, Frances returned to normal.

In the summer, she gathered an abundance of "Jersey Tomatoes" from our small but efficient city garden and spent days canning. We had plenty of stewed tomatoes, whole tomatoes, and ketchup to last us until the next harvest. After the tomatoes, she moved on to peaches bought by the bushel for homemade jams and jellies. The smells from our kitchen rivaled those of Stokely's the local cannery.

My father came home from work each day about 7 p.m. Each night mom served dinner twice. Often making my father, an entire different meal then we had earlier. Frances hoped my father’s special meal would keep his blood pressure and weight down. It never did.

Many women in the fifties did not have a driver’s license and those who did, had their husband drive them. Frances could never understand why women wanted to be so dependent on their husband, “What if he dies, or gets sick? What will they do?” Although my father took the car to work, my mother would get up early and drive him to work if she needed to do shopping or errands.

When I was seven, my mom returned to work. It was a temporary position that lasted twenty-five years. I remember feeling abandoned. During the fifties like most children, I came home from school to eat lunch. Now I went to the neighbor’s, it was not the same. No more boats made from oranges or having my sandwiches in pretty designs, the neighbor made me substantial food, but it was not the same.

Besides lunch, not much in my life changed but France's life did. Like most fifties families, we had but one car. My mother would wake up every morning; slip her full-length beaver coat over a sheer silky nightgown and drive my father to work. It was a 30-mile trek. My father asked several time for her to put real clothes on. He feared the cops would pull her over and find her wearing the flimsy nightwear. My mother continued driving in the nightgown and beaver coat for years.

After her daring drive she came home made breakfast, dressed and then drove another 20 miles to her job at Trenton State Hospital where she an executive medical secretary. When her workday was finished, she came home, made dinner, feed us kids, and then pick up my father. Upon returning home, she made his dinner. She continued this routine for the next eight years, until our family bought a second car.

My mother was not timid with anyone. She always told us “Might does not make right.” One time at my brother’s Little League’s game my mother approached the Mayor and gave him her not so high opinion him. The Mayor kept smiling while she listed all her complaints and offered her some insight into his reasoning. Although my mother never cared for the Mayor, she did respect him because he addressed the issue.

Mom was no one of the mother’s that made the monthly PTA meetings but that does not mean she was not interested in our education. It was not uncommon for her to march into the principal’s office and expound a complaint against a teacher, or policy. She stated with pride “They don’t want to see me coming into the school.” More than once, we would be afraid to go to school after one of her numerous visits.

When I was in the sixth grade my teacher molested me, and I told my mother. After making certain I was not fibbing, she went to visit all the other mother’s of the girls in my class and urged them to come forward to make a compliant. She was disappointed that none of the mothers wanted to come forward even though their daughter’s also experienced advances by the teacher.

She was appalled at their fear and weakness, but it fueled her mission. Mom went to school and in no uncertain terms told the principle what would physically happen to him and the teacher if the teacher ever laid a hand on me again. Incidences like this did not get the attention in the fifties they do today, but the teacher did not touch me for the rest of the year.

My mother was a role model for me entering womanhood in the late sixties. She taught me to; Question authority, be independent, fight for what you believe in, do not be afraid of your sexuality, and not to care what others think. The most important thing she taught me though her words and her actions was to be a strong woman for that I am eternally grateful.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Getting Twitter

I joined twitter in September and I “ didn't get it“. It seemed moronic to me. Someone was tweeting (what is twitter's word for posting) "Eating a snack" or something else just as mundane. At the time, I was writing for Buzz Prevention and we were required to promote our blogs in 26 places every two weeks. Twitter was one of the places I used for promotion. I would go on and tweet my latest Buzz Prevention Blog.

It wasn’t until Buzz Prevention put the Blog project on hold in December that I really started to enjoyed and understood twitter. The first thing I did that helped was using twitter grader http://twitter.grader.com it was there I discovered I had a very low ranking. Of course I wanted to improve my ranking, but how to go about it?

One feature that grader has is a search function where I entered various subjects I was interested in and it showed me all the twitter elite that were interested in the same subject. I looked for writers, pug lovers, swimmers, etc. I would then click on the person’s @theirname and read their bio. If they sounded like a person I would like to meet in person, I followed them.

I did this whenever I could and looked for chances to have conversations when they were tweeting. I concentrated on building relationship with fellow twitters, stopped the tweet, and run routine.

Since that time, I found a great writing group, found a writing class via twitter and met some fabulous people. Twitter is full of opportunities, but as with most everything in life it requires some work. The rewards are fabulous.

If you joined twitter and are not getting it, try-visiting it an hour a day and try Mr. Tweet http://www.mrtweet.net as well as grader. Oh yeah add me as a friend and I’ll follow you back @jerzegurl