Miss Woodhouse's Musings

…about life, the universe, and everything. Don't panic!

Fire and Ice

This week I wanted to show off a PhotoShop project I worked on all on my own! It’s nothing fancy or difficult, but it did involve layers, and I did do it without any aids- books, teacher, cheatsheet, nothing. Just me.

Glancing through a book a few weeks ago, my eye was caught by Robert Frost’s poems. I may not like much about American Literature, but I do enjoy his writings. Specifically, I love one of his shorter works, Fire and Ice. It just so happened that I had some awesome fire photos (pyromaniac for the win!), so I wanted to do something with both elements.

I think it turned out really well, but what do you all think?

As per usual, click on the picture if you’d like to see it BIGGER. Have a great weekend!


Mighty To Save

As I sat down to think over this week, I realized just how emotionally draining it had been. I didn’t realize it while it was happening, but I’ve dealt with friends breaking up, meeting new people, watching new relationships form, watching friendships fall apart, receiving bad news about people I care about, getting ready to go back to school, and the list drags on.

It’s overwhelming.

However, I take comfort in the fact that I don’t have to deal with all of this on my own; I have a Saviour Who can handle all of this. None of it surprises Him, and it’s all part of His perfect plan for the world and my life. So, it’s okay for me to feel overwhelmed for a while, and then I can just give everything to Him and start fresh.

It’s a great feeling.

Everyone needs compassion,
Love that’s never failing;
Let mercy fall on me.

Everyone needs forgiveness,
The kindness of a Saviour;
The Hope of nations.

Saviour, He can move the mountains,
My God is Mighty to save,
He is Mighty to save.

Forever, Author of salvation,
He rose and conquered the grave,
Jesus conquered the grave.

So take me as You find me,
All my fears and failures,
Fill my life again.

I give my life to follow
Everything I believe in,
Now I surrender.

My Saviour, He can move the mountains,
My God is Mighty to save,
He is Mighty to save.
Forever, Author of salvation,
He rose and conquered the grave,
Jesus conquered the grave.

Shine your light and let the whole world see,
We’re singing for the glory of the risen King…Jesus (x2)

My Saviour, He can move the mountains,
My God is Mighty to save,
He is Mighty to save.
Forever, Author of salvation,
He rose and conquered the grave,
Jesus conquered the grave.

My Saviour, you can move the mountains,
You are mighty to save,
You are mighty to save.
Forever, Author of Salvation,
You rose and conquered the grave,
Yes you conquered the grave


Peace and grace….


Advice For New Baristas

The hiring rush is in full swing at our store. I honestly can’t remember the last time I worked a shift where I didn’t have to deflect the question of if we were hiring, if we had applications, or if I could tell them how to get hired. I’ve even had people who haven’t been bothered to speak to me in years ask if I would put in a good word for them. Um, sorry, no. I only do that for people I like (you know who you are!).

However, it’s inevitable that we will be hiring new people soon. We’ve already had a new partner join us this month, and with two others leaving *sob* we’ll need another new person soon. Additionally, my two year anniversary with Starbucks was 3 weeks ago (yay me!), so I’m ready to impart some wisdom. So, if you’ve ever thought about working for Starbucks, or even if you do, here is some advice!

– First thing, learn the name of the company that supplies your store with the food and milk. Then, learn to say “[Name of company] messed up our order.” Trust me, you’ll use this more than you can imagine!

– Hold your breath anytime you are moving large quantities of matcha power. In this case, “large quantities” means anything more than a scoop!

– Wear black for your first few weeks. You’ll thank me later.

– Don’t open a bag of mocha powder under the air conditioning vent. Especially don’t do this if the air is on….

– Non-slip shoes. Invest.

–  ALWAYS empty out the used whipped cream canisters COMPLETELY into the trash before you take off the lid to wash them. Otherwise, they will spray EVERYWHERE when you take off the tops, because they are still pressurized. Of course, this is also an initiation joke that most partners love to play on newbies so you can pretend to not know this if you like being hazed!

– Speaking of whipped cream- only 16 ounces of liquid in there folks; don’t fill them all the way up. It will never “make more whipped cream”.

– It’s a good idea to keep your own personal sharpie in your apron pocket. Never be without one!

– Don’t ever let the customers rattle you; all you can do is all you can do. If you are on register, take a deep breath, make a joke, ask about their day, basically you can do anything to distract them while you gather your thoughts. On bar, just focus on one drink at a time. Multi-tasking comes with time, don’t try to be super-barista from day one. You will only frustrate yourself! Right now quality proceeds quantity. Repeat after me: “One drink at a time. One drink at a time.”

Moment of honesty here- we all have bad times on bar. I’m pretty good, but occasionally we have a night where we get slammed, people order the wrong thing, and everything generally goes wrong. When this happens, I still think to myself “One drink at a time” until I have everything under control again.

– Shake the soy!!!!!

– Make friends with the regulars. A good, moderate goal is to know 3 regulars by name AND drink from morning, afternoon, and evening by your 3rd month. Come on, I know you can do it; it’s just nine people and drinks! The regulars are what make this job amazing, so jump in and get to know them!

–  Just keep smiling. It makes all the difference.

– Don’t get dragged into store politics right off. Give everyone a fair chance before you start making assumptions about customers and coworkers.

– If you have trouble remembering something you are learning, go home and write it down! It sounds simplistic, but it makes all the difference. I have a little brown book of drink recipes, orders, and policies that I made by writing things down when I came home from a shift. That way, I had something to review before my next training session. You’ll move along faster if you do so, I promise you!

– Remember your Green Apron Values. Those will help you focus on what’s really important.

– Your fellow partners are your best resources! Don’t be afraid to ask them a question if you are unsure about something.

–  However, do keep in mind that shifts are shifts for a reason. If what they say disagrees with what a barista said, listen to the shift. Even if they are wrong, you’ll be better off. Trust me on this.

– Have fun!!!! It’s a great job; so sing, dance, and act crazy!

– Lastly, I’ll pass on the best piece of Starbucks advice that I’ve ever received. My manager told me on my very first day that if I ever started to dread coming to work, I needed to talk to her because something was wrong. That manager might be gone now, but it holds true. Whenever I dread work, I find a shift I trust to discuss my issues with. Usually they agree with me, are having the same problem, or they have a solution. So never suffer in complete silence; that’s not the Starbucks way. Now, don’t take this to mean that you should complain about every little thing that you don’t like, but don’t become bitter about the job. That doesn’t ever work out well.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, so if other baristas are reading this leave your advice in the comments and I’ll add them to the list! However, this does hit some of the most important things you will need to know to start out well. So, if any new baristas are reading this, good luck and happy brewing!

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Summer Time!

This is my last Friday before going back to school, which means it’s my last summer Friday until next May. Is that depressing or what?

So, in honour of my last weekend of (relative) freedom, I thought I would post a picture of that all-time, iconic, absolute summer food: WATERMELON!

Enjoy the rest of your summer, have lots of watermelon and ice cream, and stay cool!

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Birthday Live Blogging!

Today is Mum’s birthday, so a little live Blogging is in order!  :D

2:39– lunch at Abuelo’s for guacamole and sopapillas.

2:46– Lunch is here!!!

3:03– waiting for dessert….

3:06– erm, quetzecoatl???? Eh?

3:08– Sopapillas!!!!

3:34– We are having a discussion about golf course names. I’m not quite sure why….

3:50– Collapsed on the sofa. Partying is hard work!

We are now discussing the pros and cons of opening a restaurant. Would you all come if we opened one?

3:53– Mum is now singing the chorus to “Good Morning Starshine.” Look it up…it’s great stuff!  :D

Okay, okay, I’ll look it up for you! Sheesh. You all DO realise that I’m doing this from my little bitty phone, right? Okay then; just so you appreciate the effort….

5:11– Cake is baking, and we are getting ready to play Name Chase!

6:00– Mum and I killed in Name Chase. Now we are going for domination in TriBond!!! Of course, we have a little family drama going on. For instance:

Little brother: “Emma, get off your phone and be with the family.”

Me: “Don’t make me hurt you.”

In my defence, (lest you all think that I am a horrible, insensitive sister) he had just spent an hour upstairs alone, practising his putting. I, however, Am Blogging. Therefore, I Am Justified- note the emphatic use of capital letters!

8:10– We are now eating dinner; homemade eggrolls, rice, and steamed broccoli. Mum also chose to watch To Catch A Thief. First person to tell me where Hitchcock’s cameo is in the movie wins!

10:10– Cake and ice cream! Next movie up: Pillow Talk. No Hitchcock involved here.


The People You Meet At Starbucks- 3

So far we’ve had two installments in this series: you can read the first one here and the second one here.

In the first installment, we looked at one type of office drone, so today let’s look at a different type of office drone:

Poor little office slave! This drone knows that to mess up the coffee run will put their competence into question. Unfortunately for them, their experience with coffee culture is limited to little Mom and Pop coffee shops, and the range of options at Starbucks is a little confusing. However, they stave off a complete mental breakdown with meticulously orderly notes- if there’s any confusion about a drink, a quick call or text takes care of the problem in seconds.

This drone often is putting the order on their own debit card with hopes of reimbursement dancing in their head. All the same, they are in a hurry to get themselves and their drinks back to the office in as short a time as possible. The boss is waiting, a fact attested to by the three calls inquiring their location received from the office while they wait. It is not clear whether this drone should drink coffee (so as to keep up with the hectic pace of life), or whether they should avoid it all together (so as to stave off a heart attack as long as possible). All the same, my heart goes out to them.

We’ll continue our journey through stereotypes another time; until then, have a lovely weekend, readers!

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Midday Bay

I really love the ocean. I mean, really really love the ocean. There’s nothing like standing at the water’s edge staring out into the infinite horizon to realize just how insignificant you are in the scope of time. However, at the same time I love looking down at the minute grains of sand and remembering that God has them all numbered; so how much more does He care about us?

It’s an odd conflict of feelings- feeling both vastly significant and insignificant at the same time.

Then I tend to just stare out into the horizon. It’s so peaceful; there’s nothing there to distract your mind. My imagination is then free to imagine what lies beyond what I can see: more ocean, deep swells, and far-away lands.

I don’t know if I could ever live far away from the ocean. Even though I don’t go to the beach that often, it’s comforting to know that it is there. I love sitting in a restaurant looking over the bay and the ocean, driving over long bridges to get from one place to another, or even just driving by the oceanfront while running errands.

Enough pontificating, on to the picture! This is taken from the porch of one of our favourite local seafood restaurants. The food is amazing (she-crab soup with sherry especially!), but the view is really spectacular. The restaurant is set back into a bay, so this shot is taken from one end of the bay looking out to the other. The infinite ocean is to the left….

Enjoy your weekend! (Click on the picture to see it full size.)

The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand;
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the A gaean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

Matthew Arnold, Dover Beach


The Actor and the Housewife

An incandescently engrossing novel, this is a story that is as heartwarming as it is heart breaking. Hale sets up the plot with an unlikely heroine, Becky Jack, a Mormon stay-at-home mom with three children, one on the way, and the incredible luck to have randomly sold a movie script. As a result, she gets to spend one day in New York, and into this day walks the famous movie star Felix Callahan.

An innocent meeting, and exchange of witty remarks, an uncomfortable shared taxi ride, rooms in the same hotel, and a fun-filled dinner later, Becky is convinced that she has just lived a fantasy. It was nice while it lasted, but she is more than content to return home to her childhood sweetheart of a husband and her wonderful children. She never expects to see Felix again.

Except, he turns up a few months later at a writer’s lecture at which Becky is speaking.

And, just like that, Felix disappears again, only to reappear randomly again, setting a pattern that would continue for months and years.

Becky becomes Felix’s first female best friend. It’s not a truly easy road, and the book chronicles the funny and quirky journey of Felix learning to be a friend, Felix’s supermodel wife indulging his more plebian taste in friends, and Becky’s husband struggling to accept that Becky could continue to love him after experiencing the friendship of a famous movie star.

I was very impressed that, with a plotline ripe for using “tried and true” clichés, Hale manages to give the story fresh twists and an unusual road to the book’s conclusion. On the way to the final page, readers can expect to fall in love with this quirky cast of characters, and to be unwilling to put this book down! Excellent writing, wonderful story, and an enchanting read. (4 Stars)

This book was sent to me via LibraryThing’s “Early Reviewers” program. You may read my review there as well, and please take a few minutes to explore LibraryThing itself. It’s a wonderful site!


Walking Her Home….

Over the last month at our store, we’ve had two big events happen with two of our older couples. As a result (surprise, surprise!), I have a really neat song stuck in my head. But first, let me tell you about these events.

The first one was several weeks ago, and is amazingly cool. One of our regulars celebrated his 70th wedding anniversary with his wife! It’s really touching to see such a successful marriage as they have; we are very happy for them.

The other event is sadder. A couple that’s been coming in since we opened has struggled through the past few years. The husband suffered from a severe form of dementia, but through it all his wife stood by his side, brought him to see us when she could, and treated him with a touching amount of love and patience. He died a few weeks ago, but the eulogies at his funeral speak to the amazing impact his life had on others.

Two vastly different scenarios, but both showed the world the same thing: that marriage can be forever, it can be “’til death do us part.” They modeled faithfulness and fidelity, and the world needs more role models such as this.

Thank you, dear customers, for showing us an amazing picture of love through the example of your lives.


The Things We Say

Starbucks baristas are funny. Maybe not always “give me a microphone and I’ll do stand up” funny, but still pretty funny. What’s more important is that we crack each other up. So, I thought that I’d share a few of my favourite gems that stand the test of time!

Customer 1: (after giving a long and complicated order for other people from a post it note) “And I need a venti latte. Can you just throw a packet of artificial sweetener in there for me too?”

Barista 1: “Sure. Venti- one artificial sweetener- latte.”

Barista 2: “Would you like to ask the customer if they want pink, yellow, or blue?”

Barista 1: “Can’t it be barista’s choice?”

Barista 2: “No.”


Barista 1: (Excitedly) “Yay! I have time to restock merchandise before I have to clock off!”

Barista 2: (Rolls eyes) “Some little town in the Midwest is missing a cheerleader.”


Barista 1: “Sir, would you like room for cream in your croissant?”

Barista 2: “No, but I bet they’d like room for cream in their coffee.”


Barista 1: “I was so automated after years at the drive-through, that at Thanksgiving my Grandma asked me to pray and without thinking I started with, ‘Dear God, thank you for choosing Starbucks how can I help you today?’.”

Those are just some of the funniest that don’t need any explanation. One day I’ll post a few that need some extensive set-ups. Until then; happy weekend!

Vincent Via