Last year, Starbucks teamed up with the site Gilt to offer limited edition metal gift cards and they’re doing the same thing again this year because the special cards were such a hit that they sold out in minutes. The designer gift cards are made of rose-colored metal and have gold status (they’re not made of gold, alas). They’re pre-loaded with $400 and cost $450 to buy. The $50 is only a little more than you would pay for the first dozen drinks that you need to get gold status and you get a very exclusive card that you can flash around your local Starbucks on top of that. It’s not a bad gift for a Starbucks lover – but it is a difficult one to get. Starbucks offered up 5,000 cards last year, and that number is being cut back to 1,000 this year. Since last year’s cards are selling on sites like eBay for more than they cost (and without the $400 already loaded!), you can bet that people will be virtually camped out to try to buy one when they are released.
I always seem to end up with a few of those chocolate oranges in my stocking at Christmas. You probably know the chocolates I’m talking about – they’re shaped like oranges and break into individual slices with a light rap on the counter. Orange and chocolate is a classic combination that never goes out of style. These chocolates are great for sharing, but I find that the orange can be a little overwhelming if you sit down to try and eat the whole orange alone. So, I am always looking for something that could use a little orange and a little chocolate so that none of those slices go to waste.
My Dark Chocolate Orange came from Trader Joe’s this time around. They only have a dark chocolate version, but I’ve seen both dark and milk from other brands before. The orange is about the size of a real orange and comes with 20 orange slices. One firm rap and those slices break apart easily. The Trader Joe’s orange is made with natural orange flavor and has a crisp dark chocolate flavor. It isn’t too sweet and you can really taste the orange.
When I wake up in the morning, one of the first things I want is a cup of coffee. At home, this usually isn’t a problem because my kitchen contains several different coffee-making options to satisfy my cravings. When I travel, getting coffee isn’t always so easy. Most hotel rooms still have small travel size coffee makers as a convenience for groggy travelers who don’t want to get fully dressed and head out in search of a cup of coffee moments after they wake up. The more expensive hotels tend not to have this convenience, forcing you to traipse down to the lobby, call room service or head out to a coffee shop to pick up a cup.
At Forbes, the question of if we should give up in-room hotel coffee is raised. They say yes for a number of reasons, the biggest of which is that in-room hotel coffee isn’t usually very good. Does this mean that we should encourage hotels to dump the in-room coffee? Continue reading »
What spices come to mind when you think of the fall? I tend to think about cinnamon, ginger and cloves – things that you find in pumpkin pie – as well as apples, oranges and cranberries, even though those are fruits and not spices. I love mixing and matching these flavors in my fall baking, and Trader Joe’s managed to put most of them together in their seasonal Harvest Blend Herbal Tea. The caffeine free tea really captures the spice and flavor of fall, which means it might very well be the perfect thing to warm up with on a fall night. I confess that I say that about a lot of seasonally spiced teas and coffees, but you can tell this one fits the season perfectly with just one whiff of a fresh cup. The base of this tea is chamomile, and it also has cinnamon, ginger, hibiscus, chicory, orange peel and apples in the mix. The cinnamon is probably the strongest flavor, but no one single element dominates the tea. They all blend together surprisingly well – and the combination is so addictive that you’ll find you’ve gone through a few cups without even knowing it.
This tea is also a great base for spiced tea lattes, but if you are going to add milk, be sure to brew the tea at double or triple strength so it keeps its potency!