Travel times with Starbucks

Christmas, or the end of the year, is my favourite time of the year. The weather has typically been cooler around this period and marked with the dual Christmas and New Year holidays, the festive vibe just reverberates throughout the entire city. It also coincides with the time when most people would be on leave or travel for vacation, so most would be in a relaxed mood, winding down the year and perhaps gearing themselves up for the new year (if we ever can get ourselves to do that).

And as with all enjoyable times, they just pass way too fast and somehow it seems like in the blink of an eye, we are almost at the edge of it. The year will be over in just about 2 days and Christmas has come and gone. Although I had griped to those around me, incessantly (and I really send my heartfelt apologies for the constant whining), about some of my follies and their consequences, I am still thankful for several things that happened this year. We cannot bemoan the quick passage of time because it doesn’t recoup anything, lost time is irrecoverable and that is why we are always told to look forward.

Maybe the year-end also put me in a strong festive mood and in October I took a last minute decision to fly to Bangkok. It was supposed to be a planned trip somewhere else, but plans change when people’s minds change. Then in December, it was again another last minute trip to Hong Kong, which was supposed to something I wanted to do for a friend but ended up otherwise. It was then that I appreciate the spontaneity of one of my friends, someone whom stepped into my life unexpectedly.

So to get on with things proper, this is a Starbucks post after all! I am no ambassador of the coffee chain with the ubiquitous green mermaid logo, heck they don’t need ambassadors when they are almost everywhere, but I do indulge in their Christmas delights all too often, each year without fail. /home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/452/2193806/files/2014/12/img_1027.jpg

Last year we had the Cranberry Orange Loaf in Singapore which I really liked. Unfortunately, it did not make a reappearance this year, yet I was really excited when I saw that something similar was available in Starbucks Hong Kong! So of course I would order it and it was good! I think as compared to what we had locally last year, this felt more ‘bread’ than cake/loaf as it was a little drier and lighter. Only managed to have it once due to the limited stomach space and number of meals. Sigh./home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/452/2193806/files/2014/12/img_1028.jpg

In Hong Kong, they also had the Gingerbread Latte which is my best-loved Christmas drink after I discovered it last year in Manila and had it pretty often there and even Shanghai. Somehow I don’t know why Singapore doesn’t have this. Had it in a cute short-sized beverage to lessen the guilt, as I ordered a huge cranberry scone that morning. Haha. Was also surprised to see they were selling gingerbread man cookies so I bought one for my friend who was joining me for the trip. 🙂/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/452/2193806/files/2014/12/img_1029.jpg

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A couple of weeks after returning from Hong Kong, it was off to Bangkok to celebrate Christmas! It was another impromptu trip but not as last minute as the Hong Kong one. To say that I was celebrating Christmas in Bangkok is a little bit of an exaggeration as we didn’t really do much when we were there; it was more of a trip to chill out and eat, relax and do nothing in particular.

As fans of Starbucks, we won’t fail to check ourselves in once in a while for a cup of coffee and some sweet treats. So at Bangkok’s Starbucks, these were what we found.

There was no Gingerbread Latte here so the focus was more on food. Carrot, walnut and raisin muffin anyone? It’s almost like having a carrot cake sans the cream cheese frosting baked in a muffin cup, nice and moist and at just the right size for a muffin. Aside from that, the muffins here are baked a little different from the ones we typically see in Singapore. There isn’t the ‘muffin top’ that we often see, spilling out of the cup that has somehow caused the term to morph into a derogatory description of people who probably consumed too many muffins and ended up with fats hanging out over the waistbands of their jeans or skirts. And that made us wonder if that was the reason for the names of their muffin; the other one we ordered was a Skinny Banana muffin. Lol. /home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/452/2193806/files/2014/12/img_1032.jpg

And on another day, we had a Chocolate muffin, which surprisingly wasn’t as sweet as I expected. I had always steered away from ordering a similar version in Singapore whether in Starbucks or elsewhere but this perhaps will cause me to give it a try the next time. Notice the lack of that ‘over-hanging’ bit I mentioned before. /home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/452/2193806/files/2014/12/img_1031.jpgAnd the Cranberry Bliss bar, which is another Christmas item that we didn’t have this year. Actually I cannot recall if we had it last year but I remembered having it in Tokyo some time ago. This year I raised this question to my friends or rather mused rhetorically if the widespread use of dried cranberries in food products is a real Christmas tradition or just by virtue of the fact of it bearing the Christmas-y red colour. Most people felt it would be the latter but who knows right maybe there really is some link between Christmas and dried cranberries just like how log cakes, gingerbread cookies and Christmas stollens are always associated with this festive period?

make me smile again

I think I have some weird obsession with Christmas stuff, gingerbread cookies in the shape of a person in particular. I don’t obsess that much over Christmas tree-shaped items or even Santa Claus, snowmen etc., but it’s the Gingerbread man that always makes me go a little over the top. Some of my friends know this and so I was actually quite happy to receive this as a welcome gift when I visited my friend in Hong Kong last week!20131219-235049.jpgFunny thing was how the post-it note seemed like a blanket for Gingy. I have eaten half of it now and actually it’s a little too hard, but it’s always me enjoying having a Gingerbread cookie than the actual eating of it. Nevertheless, I did enjoy the gingerbread latte for a while, and the mini gingerbread men cookies I got from Marks & Spencer were pretty nice!

20131219-235101.jpgI can’t really remember what I’d wanted to post about when I uploaded these pictures in a draft entry, but now I am feeling pretty exhausted, at the end of a week. The weekend is here, and I am glad that there are these two days off from work, a short breather at least. I must learn, that not everyone’s opinions matter; there are always people around who are infused with so much negativity, that each time you say something they always have to refute with their two-cents worth that really is totally uncalled for and unsolicited. “Did I ask for your opinion?” I would think to myself. Whether or not they share my views or like what I like, shouldn’t matter, but I wish they would just keep their thoughts to themselves instead of blurting out every single disagreement. Or why does it even matter if they think I spend too much, it is my life and my money, how I control my cash flow, how I use my money, why does it even concern them and why do they have to pass a judgment that I spend too much on say, a dermatologist? And when it comes to me talking happily about spending Christmas with friends and family, why is it that a comment like “Oh, I don’t have time to celebrate Christmas” is even necessary??

Gingy (aka gingerbread man biscuit)

Christmas is coming soon! Although I have been seeing this at Marks & Spencer way before the spirit of Christmas even began to seep into the atmosphere. I think this is perhaps a permanent and not seasonal item?20131108-091118.jpgI just ate a couple of them earlier on, and although I was never a big fan of gingerbread, I never fail to have it during Christmas season each year. I like the whole Gingerbread Man story and in one of the Shrek movies, I recalled that the Gingerbread Man in it was called Gingy, and it had an almost perennial scowl on its face, haha. But then it was so cute!

The Starbucks in Hong Kong, and I think also Tokyo, serves gingerbread latte, but here in Singapore we only have the Toffee Nut Latte.

Back to the M&S gingerbread men, mini ones, which is such a great idea because they are so easy to just pop into the mouth, instead of those huge-ass ones (like the ones they sell at Coffee Bean) that will probably have to be divided amongst a few persons, one taking each limb and the last two taking the torso and head… which is so cruel. But when I eat a bigger gingerbread man that is how I go about it, limb by limb, with either the head or the torso being the last.

The M&S ones don’t have such a strong taste of the gingerbread in them, which is fine by me, and maybe because I had kept them in the fridge, they were a little tough. But after a couple, I’m a happy camper. 🙂

Gingerbread Man!

I am really not that fond of gingerbread, despite that the Indian Teh Halia (ginger tea) is one beverage that I like to a certain extent. I don’t dislike it but it isn’t something that ranks extremely high on my “like-to-eat” list yet each year I never fail to buy at least one gingerbread man. I bought a couple from Starbucks during the Christmas preview in Singapore, and gave them to two of my friends, since there were two in the pack. After that, I haven’t gotten anymore of them because I didn’t really want to eat them. It is always a weird thought that I have, thinking how masochistic it is, to break off the limbs one by one, devouring the bread that actually bears a smiling face. But I still decided to buy one when I walked into a Starbucks store in Moscow one afternoon. It was a rather large piece, and costly as well, hmm, well things in Moscow are generally pricey, and by far I think it is the most expensive Starbucks I have ever stepped foot into.

I didn’t eat it right away but popped it into my bag, and by the time I called it a day at work and went back to the hotel room, this was what happened to Gingy, the name given affectionately to all gingerbread men, after some movie I watched. This sight that greeted me truly made me upset. I don’t know why, but I have a propensity to get upset at really trivial things, and at the same time, very small things can lift my mood miraculously. I guess maybe this is what some people would term as extreme mood swings, but with external factors that can tip the balance so easily.

Monday is over. It passed alright, but just that inside I wasn’t feeling that great. Yet… it shall stay there. It is hard to find a confidante sometimes, not that I think I can’t find people to talk to who will keep what I tell them to themselves, but rather, talking requires chemistry too. Not everyone can be a good listener, or a good partner to talk to. This I should know, since I love talking so much and have talked my fair share all these years. Maybe it is time to stop. I am so tired.

small bursts of excitement

 

TGIF! And before the weekend officially starts and which is when I disappear into blog-oblivion due to too many things planned for Saturday and Sunday, I thought I’d put up this post that I have been meaning to write about.

After what felt like eternity, it is finally Friday and the weekly countdown to the weekend again! Actually time is passing really fast nowadays, because it is already November, or maybe at my age I feel the passage of time more as compared when I was much younger and felt like time was on my side. Sadly, not anymore.

Anyway, as we enter November we get that little bit closer to Christmas, my favourite time of the year! I always tend to get a little bit more excited each year towards the end when the festive decorations start going up in town and Christmas jingles start being played in cafes, restaurants and shopping malls. If only we have snow here. Sigh, we can always wish can’t we?

While I was still abroad, I got this email from Starbucks about their Christmas Preview event and registered for it. I don’t know what it was really going to be about but since it was going to happen on a Sunday when I am home, I thought it would be a great idea to head down. Unfortunately, that Sunday was an extremely busy one for me somewhat, or rather I had a lot of activities planned that day, but I did eventually manage to head down in the sweltering heat of the afternoon a couple of hours before they close.

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Maybe I was late but there wasn’t really that much about the event. We got a preview of their Christmas items for this year, and there were items from the previous years that were on sale at rather attractive prizes. Of course, if you have more time you could also already get to savour the Christmas drinks that are only available during this season. What’s your favourite, if you have?

I didn’t stay long because I was rushing for my yoga class after that, so I got myself a mug from this year’s collection and a couple of smaller mugs that I thought of gifting to a friend. Somehow, things like mugs should go in pairs, no? Maybe yes or not, but the small ones seem to look better in a pair, the larger ones, I think it looks ok standing alone. And while I was queueing to check out my items, I couldn’t resist putting this into my basket of items as well. Gingy! That’s the affectionate name of Mr. Gingerbread man, which I believe, came from a movie I watched before. This is a smiley gingerbread man, and comes in a pair that I gave to two of my friends the next day. Each year, I never fail to pick up some gingerbread man as gifts for some of my closer friends, and maybe keep one of two for myself. I don’t particularly like eating it or that usually an entire piece of gingerbread is too much, but I just love all things Christmas that if I could, I think I’d buy a Christmas tree and put it up at home.

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Then during the week when the colleagues decided to head out for lunch, we were at this place where there was a Starbucks outlet, and I got my first Toffee Nut latte for the season! It felt nice to be sipping on a hot and sweet latte (which is probably the only time I drink latte that is this sweet) because that day, it was pouring buckets during lunch time. And pictured in the backgroun is one of the Starbucks Halloween tumbler that I got from Tokyo in 2009 when I visited during October!

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Last year’s Christmas was probably quite special for me because that was the first time I celebrated it as a Christian. I haven’t been baptised or anything, and I am not going to preach on Christianity or the likes, but it just feels a little different. I am also looking forward to this year’s Christmas, and I really hope I could be vacationing somewhere during that time but so far no plans as yet, so probably it will be just another meet-up with friends!