Daily Prompts: From the Gut: Belly-Laughing with a Boy

Daily Prompts: From the Gut: Belly-Laughing with a Boy

The last time I belly laughed was today. And it was about fear. In a way.

gem and keef

The time before that was… so long ago I can’t actually remember when it was.

If you had asked me before today I would say I belly laughed with my friends, several  times, all recently, all with genuine gusto and enthusiasm. But.

This was a different kind of laugh. There is laughing, elation, embarrassed and nervous laughter. Then gut-grinding, ab-aching, cramp your tummy til you can’t breath and you feel like your head is no longer attached to your body it’s been so long since you breathed, but that’s ok because everything is hilarious – that kind of laughing. That’s what I had today.

It’s rare you find someone who can do that to you; make you laugh so hard your forgot you could, or ever did. The best part was, it was over something SO ironic it made me laugh even harder just thinking about how ironic it is! 6 months ago the topic at hand would have made me cry or scream or rage like cat in a corner, probably, but this time, I was causing so much noise in the tiny cafe that I was getting disturbed looks from… well the only other couple in the cafe, but still!

Keef and I

Keef and I

Then again, the topic we were laughing about might have seemed funny as hell to us, but to them… well, I’m surprised the Wacky Wagon wasn’t rolling out as we asked for the cheque.

Laughing, they say, is the best medicine, but I’m calling shennanigans on that one. I think laughing at something you once couldn’t is more therapeutic.

I don’t want to say exactly what it was we were mocking; that part is a little too RATED R for polite blogging; but put it this way – parts of the convo involved explicitly large German sausages, Scottish competitors for said sausages, and drunken visits equipped with chocolate sauce and… miniature rolling pins 😉 oh yeah, and Christmas. Dirty stuff 😛

What has this to do with fear, you ask? Well, if you could see inside my head…

We all need to laugh at something, for the sake of your  sanity you’ve got to. And apparently the moment for me to heal a bit, is over some dirty jokes, a dose of sarcastic irony and a diet Irn-Bru. 🙂

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(For those you you who don’t know about Irn-Bru, it’s a Scottish thing, Google it – the National non-alcoholic beverage, actually.)

SSDD

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Should I Be This Excited By A Cafetiere?

So, exciting week for me.

Guess who only went and got a cafetiere!?

My new fave thing in the world

My new fave thing in the world

 

I say “went and got”, it was actually a little gift from my lovely mum. 🙂 As a self professed coffee connoisseur, one might expect me to already have one of these wonderful creations. Well, you would have thought wrong. Shameful, I know, I hang my head with the travesty of it. But it’s all ok now, because finally, at long last, I can indulge in my fancy Whittards coffee!! 😀

My partner in crime got it for me in February and we hadn’t realised it was not instant til it was, y’know, in my house already.

This particular box of lovelies contains six flavours; Smooth Vanilla, Rich Hazelnut, Traditional Irish Cream, Chocolate Truffle, Intensely Amaretto and Creamy Intense Caramel.

I’ve only sampled the Creamy Intense Caramel but let me tell you, if you have a sweet tooth, it is the perfect delectable treat. Smelling much sweeter than it actually tastes, it is suitable for even those who prefer a more bitter brew. Silky to drink, two spoonfuls of that in your cafetiere and supper is served!

Tonight, I venture forth into Truffle territory…

Whittard of Chelsea

Whittard of Chelsea

To purchase the above box, click HERE

SSDD

A Tempting Tradition Twist on Pumpkin Perfection

The oversees caffeine giant strikes again with an American twist on a festive tradition.

Ahhh STARBUCKS™, you are sometimes so wonderful…

For weeks now my blog reader has been full of Americans bombarding me with pumpkins. Treats of all kinds have been appearing because of Thanksgiving and Halloween (links at the bottom to some of them!) but mainy they’ve been boasting about the latest PUMPKIN flavoured creation to be adapted to coffee or iced treat and, I can officially announce… that splendour has officially been shared with the UK as of 29th!! Yaaaaay!!

But that’s not all!

So curious was I and impatient to experience this bizarre wonder for myself, I took it as a personal challenge to acquire it the day the offer appeared in my Facebook feed – Friday 28th. On this mission I recruited one enthusiastic compatriot, one reluctant companion and two students with nothing better to do. One of whom was lost on the way there. A fleet of four it was to be.

And I succeeded! 😀 Though the offer was technically not due to start til Saturday 29th September, I took the initiative and… just asked nicely, actually. ^.^ The guy behind the counter looked impressed I even knew about it so…

I give you, one of the UK’s first ever STARBUCKS™ served PUMPKIN SPICED LATTE‘s!

they spelt my name wrong on the personalised cup… 😦

Should be ‘Gemma’ not ‘Jemma’ but I’ll let it slide… this time… 😛

This thing was so exclusive in the UK when I asked for it that their website hasn’t even updated to include it on their menu yet! (link at the top of the page!)

The offer is exclusive to lattes, which is a bit disappointing as I know the pumpkin flavour  is available across the full range of coffees in America. The only variation seems to be if you want whipped cream or not, as well as only being available for a month. That would be because it’s a Halloween promotion and all that…

Onto the taste test.

I’m not an expert on pumpkins, to the point where I actually have no idea what they taste like . 😀 But I can tell you this. It. Is. TASTY. It’s so good! So good, in fact, that far from tolerating the addition of milk in my coffee to experience this phenomenon, I actually enjoyed it. So good, I almost bought another one! Usually I hate milky coffee as it gives me headaches. Specialty lattes are often bearable because there is another flavour to dominate, but damn this was so good!

The flavouring was a little bit spicy, not like chili, more like ginger or cinnamon, and when added to the light, whipped cream it gave the coffee a sweetness I really never thought it would. I expected something heavier and something either very bitter, more akin to a headily scented, dense tasting coffee you might be served from a questionable looking, festive vendor, in a styrofoam cup, or something very mild and savoury; like a non-citrus cheesecake in coffee form with an almost tea-like consistency… if that’s even possible 😀 That thought might have been the product of having seen pumpkin flavoured goodies in the plastic, clear cups chilled drinks are served in. Never did I expect just how sweet it would be! The foam was light, the texture smooth, the aroma light and wafting. Delicious.

I would say that, taste wise, this is something of a girly drink, but I would highly recommend this particular speciality drink to everyone. Even if it doesn’t get you in a Halloween mood (something this sweet and scrumptious could never incite fear into anyone bar the lactose intolerant… nor can it celebrate the dead…) it will certainly give you a festive buzz. I personally hate Christmas, (see here!) but that’s what it tastes like!

I recently purchased a candied ginger body butter from The Body Shop and it was a good thing I hadn’t been wearing it when I drained that mug – I’d have morphed into a little Christmas elf, perhaps sporting a jaunty witches hat, right there on the spot! 😀

some pumpkin treats for you all!! STARBUCKS America full pumpkin range!! nutella swirled pumpkin pie, mini cinnamon sugar pumpkin muffins (no i’m not joking, that’s what they’re called) fudge brownie cupcakes with pumpkin cream cheese frosting (phew, what a title!) skinny pumpkin cheesecake brownie  SIMPLE pumpkin cake  a PSL,  a modified PSL  a “top 10 list”

credits have to go to: Sally’s Baking Addiction, (who I have a mild bakers crush on!! :D) Caffeinated and Random, (whose loving rants about her other half make me LOL), Sweet Little Thang

Follow me on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/gemc200 , I hang out there occasionally 🙂

SSDD

I Brought My Own Coffee, Thanks

There is a major problem with office workers.

How the hell they expect someone to survive in an office environment with crap instant coffee is utterly beyond me.

This was the predicament I found myself in recently, when I had two days work experience at my local paper. Now this post is in no way to be considered poor reflection on those fine wordsmiths at the Greenock Telegraph – which, in case you hadn’t heard, is in fact the finest local newspaper in the West Coast of Scotland – no, in the whole of Scotland! (and if that isn’t a claim worthy of the Sun then I don’t know what is) It is merely meant to reflect my utter admiration for people who work under stressful conditions – without super quality caffeine on an IV.

When I began my two days I knew roughly what to expect since I had spent some time there before. I felt prepared.

So this time, when I walked through those double doors at 9:30, I did not feel such an amateur. I slid in front of my very own computer booth, tapped in my personal log-in and snapped on my secretary-come-secret agent headset. Reporters notepad on desk, pen in front pocket and handbag stocked with reporter-like things tucked at my side, ready to be grabbed at the click of my editors fingers.

Everything was going well as I spent the morning fashioning nibs from local ads (what we in the industry call those little fillers at the side of the page that tell you of local events and whatnot). It was only when my trust-me-I’m-a-journalist shirt began to feel just a little chilly, that I noticed the other warning signs. The thirst. The headache. The tightening around the eyes that seemed to spread to my jaw. Eventually using a slightly shaking hand to straighten my short-in-a-sexy-yet-sensible-way skirt I had to admit it – it was coffee time!

10:30am. Damn it. I had hoped to make it til at least 11 before I let the caffeine get the better of me but hey, strong coffee is a mark of a true journalist, right?

But when I get to the tea room, I was a little… disheartened. Not so much disappointed, that would be too much. But my heart swelled a little at the sight before me, and not in that joyful way it sometimes does, more in that way that tells you something awful has happened but that your too pumped with adrenaline to appreciate it.

There was coffee, sure. And it was instant, which is fine, more than fine, it’s great. But it was the second most intolerable instant coffee known to man. It was that dreaded fiend, Tescos own brand. Not even one of the decent ones that tasted just like the good stuff but a slightly more aerated colour in a different jar. It was that rubbish that takes two spoonfuls to have a taste, two more to just about bear some morose resemblance to coffee. And the worst part – it was decaf! I know, I felt it too; the horror. I mean for goodness sake, why even bother drinking something characterised by its potentially heart disease creating key ingredient in favour of a version which might boost you concentration a tiny bit more but has only been so far proven to do in mice!? I can think of other kinds of murky water that could well have the same effect and probably taste about the same!

This sad scene put something of a dampener on my morning, but I was not prepared to let it beat me; so I had three more before noon and by then, things began to look significantly brighter.

I have nothing against the humble instant coffee; I drink cups of the sweet brown nectar everyday (black, two sugars, if you’re interested), and I did feel so suave and journalisty sitting in front of my pile of half read dailys, shorthand notes and copy print-outs. The steaming mug to my right was the perfect addition to my completed look; keen young reporter at work, disturb and face her cutting wit. Even the glasses perched half way off the end of my nose since I wouldn’t see the computer screen from the ridiculous distance it was stationed away from me made me appear somehow like I fitted my situation. (whoever sat at that desk before me must have been the most long-sighted fellow ever to have lived, by the way, and I think they superglued that tower to the flippin’ desk because for all my efforts, it would not move closer)

But be serious. I am only 19 years old and while yes, I may have acquired an unhealthy addiction to strong coffee at a young age, the rest of the people in that office were there every dayDrinking that stuff.

I knew I would be flagging after two days of that. My means of remedying a potentially embarrassing situation?

I brought my coffee, thank-you very much.

That’s right, in a sandwich bag. I brought enough of my favourite from home to last me the day and low and behold, my two days ended marvelously. I had a couple of pieces submitted for the paper for the rest of the week and went on my merry way, even with the promise of future days work to come.

So, ladies and gentlemen of the press, I would like to take this opportunity to impart these words of simple wisdom to you: If you work in an environment where concentration is key, make sure you are well stocked in whatever you need. Be that cigarettes for the nicotine addicts out there; biscuits and bananas for the diabetics, as I can only assume Eric, who had the desk next to me must have been since for all the time I was there the man never stopped snacking yet was not fat; or in my case, decent coffee. Make sure you have what you need and it will give you the confidence and the focus to enjoy the experience more.

See you in the headlines!!

SSDD

Lent (4)

All has been well so far, this being the 23rd day of the Lentathon de-caffeination experimentation.

 

All except for the slight wavering of my resolve when I had an accidental whiff of Starbucks Christmas Special Coffee. What are the chances that work decides to whip put the fancy coffee maker that’s been gather dust in a cupboard, unlooked at and unloved for many moons, right when I cannot give it the care and attention it deserves?

It was the super special Christmas coffee they brought out this year, covered in a cute little design which, of course, had absolutely nothing to do with coffee or even beverages of any sort. But still, it looked cute even in March.

It was the warm red of Santa with a white snow base and little wintry figures dancing about on it, like snowmen who had made friends with scarf clad red breasted robins and such (because that’s so obviously the way life happens).

I saw at work that the kitchen has acquired a fancy new coffee maker (a curious purchase, considering there is only two, perhaps three people in the whole building who actually drink the stuff) and so I inspected further. Beside it lay the packet of joy!

I took a tiny sniff that turned into a deep inhalation after I had established it was granulated. Mmmmmmmn… ground coffee beans have a far stronger scent than regular instant coffee, and Starbucks especially has a lovely rich smell, so much so that it feels like you are tasting it! It’s the next best thing to actually drinking the stuff.

I’m terrible, I know. I don’t allow myself such improper contemplations anywhere other than right here; this is my little piece of self indulgence.

I’ve wondered about getting a job at Starbucks actually. The coffee shops in the area already seem over staffed as it is, though of course I would never wish for them to become less so because anybody with a job is doing something right or being smiled at by luck. It beats being smirked at by that fickle bitch and being without one for no reason – other than the less than gracious disposition of something out-with your control.

Anyway, I would like to get a job in a café or a coffee distribution centre of some kind. I think even just learning about the different drinks and how to make and serve them to a customer satisfactory level would be interesting.

Because, it is one thing to make one for yourself and quite another to charge someone £3.80 for the pleasure of having it made for them. I feel that if I had the know-how myself, maybe I would be less reluctant to hand over my (fairly) hard earned cash for it. Coffee is over-prices in café’s especially the ones that are, or feign to be chic.

Sure it tastes a lot better coming from someone whose job title is Barista and it’s somehow thicker and more luxurious to drink – but that’s because they use what we call cream, and nothing so pedestrian as regular old fridge milk, but I won’t tell if you won’t.

And there is something quite continental and cozy feeling about having coffee that’s not made from home. But essentially, a lot of coffee shops, especially the cheaper ones, are just in it for the money. So you are most likely to be drinking the same old thing you would normally be if you were to drink it in the house.

Other than long hours, there doesn’t immediately appear to be anything particularly challenging about pressing a couple of buttons on a sophisticated, shiny machine, pre-programmed to make a perfect cuppa every time. The only real skill seems to be remembering to whip the cup away at the right time before it overflows, yet still filling it half way up with froth so that the customer doesn’t realise you’ve conned them until they are half way through their Partially Filled Tall De-Café Latte with Unexpectedly Extra Froth. By then, it’s too late to take it back and it’s Cheeky Barista – 1, You – 0.

These were my thoughts until I watched Singaporean blogger Xia Xue, also know as Wendy, trying her hand as a barista in a coffee shop in aSingaporeshopping mall for her YouTube channel.

She was taught only one full order, a specialised coffee and a pasta dish, all to be made and served quickly, professionally and entirely from scratch. I was truly surprised at how complex the whole thing was. A bit of a rigmarole to be honest. If it’s going to be that much of a mission, I don’t think I’ll be ordering what she was making any time soon!

Despite this, I just really like the atmosphere you get in a good coffee shop or café. How you can feel like you’re in a lively city when you’re surrounded by the scent of hot drinks and accompanying treats, the sounds of clinking dishes and chattering people of all ages, how the sound of tables and chairs always seems muffled, regardless of the surface they’re on or the material they’re made from. All of this, and you could be sitting in your tiny little town, in your local tea room or just the caf doon the front. You could be chilling with your Small Low Fat Super Skinny Latte, a Large Hot Chocolate with Whipped Cream, Mini Marshmallows and a shot of Syrup, an Expresso or a cup of Tea, and yet, a good coffee shop will always leave you with that same feeling of contentment.