Category Archives: Life Journal

Where it all began – The Caramel Brulée Latte

2021 Starbucks Holiday Cup

Earlier this month, Starbucks sent me a notification for my free birthday drink. It had been a while since I was there. So long, that I couldn’t remember the last time I went. Well, I’m sure I could find out by looking at the purchase history in their app, but you get my point. I don’t spend a lot of time at Starbucks. But since they were offering, who am I to pass up a free drink?

For nostalgic purposes, I treated myself to a Caramel Brulée Latte. Why a Caramel Brulée Latte you ask? Good question, and one that doesn’t have a simple answer.

What follows is the story of my relationship with the Starbucks Caramel Brulée Latte, and how it led me into drinking and making my own coffee.

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Four Ingredients, Infinite Possibilities

artisan sourdough bread

I started baking bread about a year ago. At that time, I had pretty much cut bread out of my diet. I was convinced carbs were the enemy. But if that was indeed the case, carbs being the enemy, how come humans have been eating bread for thousands of years without adverse affects?

Then it hit me, maybe it had to do with the “modernization” of the process. If I could control the ingredients and the process, then maybe I could return to eating bread.

It’s amazing how simple the bread baking process is, yet how complex the outcomes are. A video I watched recently had a great quote about bread making that sums up the concept. A baker explained what captivated him about the process in four words:

Four ingredients, infinite possibilities.

Yes, that’s right, four simple ingredients – flour, water, salt, and yeast – can produce an endless number of results.

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Social media: Bringing us together or pulling us apart?

One of the great promises of social media is that it connects us with our friends and those closest to us. Using it, we can broadcast important events that take place in our lives, we can tell others what we’re doing at any and all times of the day, we can share pictures, we can re-establish friendships with those we’ve lost touch with, and we can stay in touch with those where distance separates us.

On the surface, it sounds great. By doing these things, social media should be bringing us together. It should be making us closer with our good friends, keeping us in touch with those far away, and reconnecting us with those we’ve lost touch with.

I would contend that the promise is not translating into reality. I would argue that social media isn’t having the effect of bringing us together but instead is pulling us apart.

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Putting Your Own Mask On First

If you’ve ever paid attention to the safety demonstration on an airplane, there is the part where they talk about what to do in case of a loss of cabin pressure. You are instructed to reach for the oxygen masks, to pull to extend the tubing, and to secure the mask over your nose and mouth. Then they give you a very important piece of advice, which is to put your own mask on first, BEFORE helping others.

That last piece of advice is important not only in case of an airline emergency. It is an important piece of advice that we can apply in our everyday lives. If we’re not taking care of and looking after ourselves, how can we expect to care for and help others?

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Ruthless efficiency

Efficiency, for lack of a better word, is good. Efficiency allows a business to optimize resources. Optimizing resources leads to lower costs and higher profits, which are the foundations of a market economy. Therefore, pursuing efficiency should be a goal of business.

Pursuing efficiency is all well and good until the drive to optimize crosses a line. That line where the benefits of efficiency are no longer distributed equally, resulting in higher levels of inequality between the have’s and have-not’s. At that point, we’ve entered the realm of ‘ruthless efficiency.’ The point where there is a lack of empathy and compassion regarding the effects optimizing has on others.

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On Diet: 8 Lessons I’ve Learned

After recently reading Tim Spector’s The Diet Myth, it occurred to me that I’ve read a number of informative books on diet and nutrition. They include such books as Wheat Belly, Grain Brain, and The Complete Guide to Fasting. I’ve experimented with the suggestions and advice in these books with varying degrees of success, and failure.

Based on what I’ve read and my personal experiences, I’m going to share 8 lessons I’ve learned about diet and nutrition. Bear in mind that these are general guidelines. This is not a set of diet rules or a list of what to eat, or what not to eat. These are the common diet and nutrition themes that appear in just about everything I read. They are also the themes that I’ve had the most success with in my personal diet experiments.

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Book review: The Diet Myth

Book cover for The Diet Myth by Tim Spector

One of my primary reading genres is books about health and nutrition. I feel it’s vitally important that we’re aware of what we’re feeding our bodies. I typically make it a point to read at least one book from this group every year, although I wouldn’t mind reading more. Unfortunately, I’d gotten away from reading in this area over the last year or two with the last good book I read about nutrition being The Complete Guide to Fasting by Dr. Jason Fung back in in 2019 (which I would highly recommend, by the way).

One of the challenges with reading health and nutrition books is identifying books based on solid science. There are so many books on the subject that it can be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. Depending on the quality of the book, suggestions can be life changing for the better, or, if not researched properly and supported by quality data, they can have negative effects on one’s health, potentially even hazardous outcomes in the extreme.

Fortunately, one of my favorite blogs, A Learning a Day, made a strong recommendation for a nutrition book, The Diet Myth by Tim Spector. Given the good experiences I’ve had with previous recommendations from the blog, I added it to my (lengthy) reading list and finally got around to reading it.

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The days are long, but the years are short

When you are in the arena, in the middle of the battle, in the thick of life, it seems as though time stands still. It feels like the day will never end, that tomorrow will never come. You fret. You worry. You waste precious time.

Yet, when you elevate and look at the big picture, you see just how small those past problems were in the bigger picture of life. Instead of living in the present and enjoying the moment, our human nature is to complain and wish for things to be different, whether it’s to be somewhere else, to be with someone else, or to just be someone else. Instead of embracing who we are, where we are, who we are with, and what we are doing, we ruin the moment by chasing that which isn’t real. We rob ourselves of making memories that will last a lifetime.

I can’t take credit for the title of this post, that goes to Gretchen Rubin. But no truer words have been written. I have seen them play out in my own life. I’ve seen them play out in Lisa’s, my children’s, my mother’s, and my friend’s lives. And if there is one thing I know for certain, I know they will continue to play out in all of our lives.

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Dining on the Northern California Coast: Stationaery and Nepenthe

I recently had the opportunity to spend some time golfing on the Monterey Peninsula. While most of the meals were included as part of the golf package, there were a couple of free nights available to explore the area.

Because it’s who I am and what I do, I did some research to decide where we should eat. Fortunately, the research paid off. I discovered two spots that I would certainly visit again the next time I’m in the area.

The view from the balcony at Nepenthe
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