joseph michelli: the starbucks experience

Starbucks is not only my favorite caffeine delivery system, it is also my ideal global business. Its stock has risen 5,000% since 1992, and has hundreds of stores around the world.

In The Starbucks Experience, Dr. Joseph Michelli gives his take on the reasons for Starbucks’ phenomenal success. He interviewed “partners” (employees) on how they deliver their brand of customer delight that makes people come back for more and more.

My sister-in-law Dr. Mitas Alcasid got me this copy for $14 (regular price was $22) at Walmart (fantastic place for bargains) in Oswego, when we visited them in February 2007.

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joan de jean: the essence of style

Here’s an interesting read I picked up at Fully Booked last May 2007 along with Victoria Finlay’s Colour: Travels Through the Paintbox.

The Essence of Style is by Joan de Jean, who has written seven other books on French literature, history, and culture. She is a professor of French at the University of Pennsylvania, and also holds positions at Princeton and Yale.

De Jean traces the reasons why Paris is the fashionista center of the world, and why Hermes, Vuitton, and Creme de la Mer are must-haves despite their exhorbitant prices.

Apparently it was all Louis XIV’s fault. This maitre of style ruled the French court with his highly original and decorative ideas on dress, etiquette, and urban planning, which to this day have repercussions on the monde of haute couture.

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victoria finlay: colour

Victoria Finlay’s first book Colour: Travels Through the Paintbox explores the origins of color, or where people obtain the paints, pigments, and dyes used throughout history. I loved her second book, Jewels: A Secret History, and this book is just as fascinating.

I had to learn the color wheel and the lingo associated with it for my quilting. As a visual person, I enjoy reading books that are highly descriptive; it makes the story come to life for me. Apart from being a history of paints, it is also a travelogue, with Finlay travelling all over the world to visit the places where paint is made and talk to the people that make them.

From the blurb:

On her quest to uncover the secrets of colour, Victoria Finlay visited remote Central American villages where women still wear skirts dyed with the purple tears of sea snails; learned how George Washington obsessed about his green dining room while he should have been busy with matters of state; and investigated the mystery of Indian yellow paint, said to have been made from the urine of cows force-fed with mango leaves.

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teresa wentzler’s “english cottage garden”

Counted cross-stitch was one of my favorite hobbies. I still have all my supplies and most of my patterns from the early 1990s when I was first hooked on the craft.

I still have several WIPs (works in progress) stashed away. The one I want most to finish is a linen sampler “English Cottage Garden” (below), designed by artist and cross-stitch pattern designer Teresa Wentzler. Her designs are “inspired by things mystical, mythical, and magical.”

My mom sent this from the US as a kit, complete with beads. Beautiful. I jazzed it up with Kreinik gold and pearl thread. I hope to finish it before the decade ends!

Cross-stitch (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia):

Cross-stitch is a popular form of counted-thread embroidery  in which X-shaped stitches are used to form a picture. Other stitches are also commonly used in cross-stitch, among them ¼, ½, and ¾ stitches and backstitches. Cross-stitch is usually executed on easily countable evenweave fabric, or more rarely on non-countable fabric, on which a countable fabric is applied that is removed later, by drawing out every thread of it under the embroidery. This fabric is called waste canvas. The stitcher counts the threads in each direction so that the stitches are of uniform size and appearance.

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market coffee

In 30 Oct 2007, some friends and I visited Garing’s (a coffee grower for generations) in Lipa City, Batangas, where they display roasted Excelsa and Liberica (barako) beans in glass cases. You select and buy the beans you want, which are then ground right then and there. Fresh! The aroma is heady and heavenly.

Prices are cheaper in the market – around P170 per kilo of ground barako – compared to manufacturers like Figaro, Siete Baracos, and Merlo. However, the manufacturers offer blends and flavors not available in the market.

To brew coffee the “farm” way: in a saucepan, boil fresh ground coffee and brown sugar to taste.

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coffee and me

I confess – I was once a coffee Philistine, but after a change in circumstances, converted to the Church of Caffeine.

I grew up believing that coffee was bad for you. Being petite, as a child I was told not to drink coffee or I’d never grow tall. When I was nine, I endured an entire year of weekly growth hormone shots. At 21, I reached my full height of 4 feet 10 inches never having touched a drop of coffee. The old childhood conditioning stuck, though it obviously failed to add to my height.

Once, in college, I did take a cup of coffee at a student political meeting (I didn’t want to look out of place) – but there was more milk than coffee in my cup, into which I emptied half the contents of the sugar bowl. The waiters were snickering. “Para kang bata,” they said. (“You take your coffee like a child.”)

At 34 I had to go back to work after ten years of being a domestic goddess. As a horseracing sportscaster on cable TV, I had to stay up until midnight four days a week, every other week. I wasn’t used to burning the midnight oil. In the studio, simply everyone was sucking down that brown fluid like it was water. I figured, I’m not going to get any taller. So I took my first sip in years – and was hooked.

Now I can’t work without a java jolt. The more caffeine in my cup, the better. I got over the palpitations and jitters. Now it’s pure mental alertness. Hallelujah!

Composite image from here.

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