Pumpkin Spice Latte

Today the infamous Starbucks drink Pumpkin Spice Latte comes out. In the past, it has always come out in late September. I’m not surprised by this because I saw Halloween outfits in the stores back in July. Our world is changing and holidays are being celebrated earlier and earlier due to our lack of patience and stores capitalizing on early profits. Black Friday is now on Thursday. Christmas is being celebrated before Thanksgiving. Even though Fall is my favorite time of year, I personally want to enjoy my last month of summer before I settle into Autumn season (pus it’s still too hot!).

PSL has become so popular that it even has its own Twitter page. But what has been interesting this year is this posting below by the Food Babe. Starbucks has always been hesitant to post the ingredients to PSL because it has no actual real pumpkin in it. This will probably bode well for smaller independent coffee houses that use real ingredients in their pumpkin drinks if word continues to spread about this. I’m curious to how Starbucks responds to this. What do you think or do you care?

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First Friday

Tonight I went down to downtown Phoenix for the First Friday Artwalk. Now the weather is cooling off, it’s the perfect time to go. I stopped at the Phoenix Art Museum first to check out a photo exhibit. Then I stopped at one of my favorite Starbucks locations to get a hot Pumpkin Spice Latte – one of my favorite Fall drinks. With my hot drink in hand, I headed down to Roosevelt Row to look at some art. Then it was on to New City Studio with my friends Juliana and Marco to see some artwork by Isaac Caruso and Noelle Martinez. I also ran into some old friends of mine – Kenisa, Amy and Jenna and spent time catching up with them. But the real treat was seeing my good buddy Mat Weddle play some of his folk tunes. I had a blast chatting with him and listening to his sweet tunes.

Phoenix Art Museum

One of my favorite Starbucks!

Phoenix ArtWalk

Roosevelt Row

Food Trucks!!!

Mat Weddle at New City Studio

Cool video about downtown Phoenix!

Coffee Rush

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Coffee Rush has been a regular hangout for me for years!

My Urbanspoon review:

Great atmosphere but too many unwritten rules. Best thing about this location is the view of the lake and the regulars that come to hang out. This place is also a great place to study. I don’t mind the smoke too much because the people that hang out here are pretty down-to-earth and fun to get to know (unlike the annoying Starbucks crowd). The coffee is pretty good too!

Some things that you should know if you aren’t a regular:
– Cash only on orders less than $4
– Wi-fi time is limited and I believe you have to spend a certain amount to get a code.
– You can’t bring in a drink from another coffeeshop (and don’t even think about saying the name Starbucks or ordering a ‘venti’ size).
– You have to hand your money to the barista. If you lay it down, he/she won’t pick it up.
– If you hang around without ordering something, you will be asked to leave

Do any of these and the coffee nazis will come after you – no joke!

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Iced Caramel Macchiato

Coffee Rush Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Aperture/Space

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l am really enjoying my photography class at Chandler-Gilbert Community College. For our next project, we are learning about aperture. A wider aperture causes the background to be more out of focus, and a smaller aperture yields a photo with more areas of the image in focus. A small f number is used for a larger apreture while a large f number is for a smaller one. Below are some side-by-side examples of photos I took experimenting with aperture.

Random photos experimenting with aperture

Coffee in Sausalito

While hanging out in Sausalito, we found a Starbucks nearby to satisfy our caffeine fix. The line was a little long, but they are located right next to the shore where you get great views of San Francisco. I order a coffee and a blueberry danish. We grabbed our order to go and went outside to enjoy the nice breeze.

Starbucks Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sedona & Snowboarding

Steve, Simon and I took a fun little 2 day guy trip up north. We spent the first day hanging out in Sedona sight-seeing and eating good food. The second day was spent in Flagstaff snowboarding. As I recap the trip, I thought I’d write a few reviews on some of the local eateries we dined at.

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Sed

Our first stop was a Starbucks overlooking the beautiful Sedona mountains. We made it to Sedona on good time and didn’t have much of an agenda, so we were able to take our time relaxing and walking over town.

Relics restaurant and lounge

Relics restaurant and lounge

Pretty night sky at Relics

Pretty night sky at Relics

Next to our hotel was a restaurant called Relics. It was built in the early 1900’s and established as a restaurant in the 1940’s. Once a general store, the hostess gave us a personal tour of all the different antique furnitures, fixtures and decorations that were displayed on the walls. There was some old stuff and it was fun to here some of the stories behind some of the collectables, Even though we opt to not eat there, Relics serves up USDA choice steaks and slow cooked prime rib.

Sally's BBQ

Sally’s BBQ

Ordering food at the window

Ordering food at the window

Beef brisket and steak sandwich

Beef brisket and steak sandwich

PInk Jeep with Christmas lights

Pink Jeep with Christmas lights

We spent the late evening walking around town looking for something to eat. We all had some recommendations of places that we have been to that were good and some not-so-great. We found this little hallway to a place called Sally’s BBQ. It was mainly an outdoor eating establishment with one little dining room. You order your food from a little window and the cook makes it on the spot and brings it out to you. Steve and I ordered the steak sandwich and Simon got the brisket. Our steak sandwiches were good, but not exactly how I envisioned it to look like. Simon seemed to enjoy his brisket. The fries were good as was their award-winning BBQ sauce. We took a walk afterwards to look at the Christmas lights. We stopped in at the Oak Creek Brewery Company for a finely crafted brew. It was pretty crowed, so we had to stand up most of the time at the bar. Simon and I enjoyed watching the cook staff prepare the meals as the bar is situated right next to the kitchen. We both observed some things that wouldn’t go well in a restaurant review.

Sally's BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Highlights from our trip

Here’s a short clip from my first time snowboarding

We had a fun day snowboarding and skiing at Snowbowl in Flagstaff. The weather was nice and the snow wasn’t too bad. I got pretty bang up and ended up fracturing a rib during a bad fall. We drove through the crowded traffic and found a restaurant that Steve’s wife Kim recommended. It was called Bun Huggers. It kind of reminded me of a Fuddruckers with decent prices. I got the chicken sandwich and fried zucchini and enjoyed my meal. Even though the place had a goofy name, it was a good last stop for us. I enjoyed this quick get-away and the fellowship with some good brothers in Christ.

Build your own burger at Bun Huggers

Build your own burger at Bun Huggers

Bun Huggers Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cranberry Bliss Bars

One of my favorite holiday foods that I like to eat is Starbucks’ cranberry bliss bars. This delicious holiday treat goes well with a hot cup of coffee and a good book in the late evening. Today, Starbucks was selling a box of these bars for half off as part of their 12 days of Christmas holiday promotion. I usually make these bars myself with a recipe I found, but this year I decided to just buy a couple of boxes and freeze them for Christmas day for dessert. Starbucks may not always be my favorite when it comes to coffee, but they do run good promotions. Thumbs up on this one.

My own version of Starbuck’s cranberry bliss bars