Coffee, Starbucks and did I just fall for a marketing trick?

I drink Starbucks coffee at home because I buy the Kirkland version of their breakfast brew. I drink Starbucks coffee at their stores mostly because I have a loyalty card with dollars on it that, for some reason, I advance them money for. What a great marketing game!   

When we had the whole Year 2000 scare that life as we know it would end when the computers and clocks of the world came to a halt, my son said: “You need to stock up on guns and coffee. Coffee, because many people can’t live normally without it, and guns to protect your coffee.”

The marketing gimmick at Starbucks is a curious human behavior psychology though. There is other coffee. There is other coffee I like, and even prefer to Starbucks–Panera Bread’s coffee, for instance. 

Panera Bread doesn’t make me jump through hoops to get a free refill. They offer me as many free refills as I can drink on a visit. I don’t need to advance them money, or get stars, or any of that. And their coffee isn’t bitter. But there aren’t many Panera Bread’s at airports, which gets me back to the fact that the Starbucks loyalty card is really convenient.

I do like Starbucks’ new Refreshers, especially the lime one. These are the ones with green coffee, which I think don’t really have any nutritional benefits, as I understand it, because the green beans are roasted. *sigh*

Recently I read that Starbucks is granting a star for any Starbucks product purchase, whether in their stores, or somewhere else–like Costco–where their products are available, and that all you have to do is follow directions to get the credit.

I bought two pounds of coffee at Costco, and then discovered that I was five days too early for the launch of that program. No stars. Then I purchased a case of refreshers at the Costco near my daughter’s home in California, kept the receipt and tried to put in the receipt code on my Starbucks account. Nope. I need the code from some special STAR on the package–which, of course, I didn’t realize then, so it is back in Los Angeles, probably in some trash heap by now.

I tried to purchase another case of Starbuck’s Refreshers here in Connecticut, ‘cause I like ‘em, but guess what. Connecticut people didn’t buy enough for Costco to carry these here. So,  still no stars. That’s three starless Costco purchases so far. And, the other downside of the Starbucks retail store refreshers is that they don’t come in the two flavors offered at the Starbuck’s stores.

So really, why am I so hep to get more stars, to get from the Green to Gold Starbucks level? Ummm. they give you a free cup of coffee if you are gold. At least I think they do. Not totally sure. 

And, oh, and I had 24 stars toward the 30 I needed to get to gold, and somehow they all disappeared recently and I had to start over. Something about an expiration date.

This seems like a lot of work and complication just to get a free cup of coffee that I don’t even prefer. But, still I keep that card on automatic reload. 

Do you think I should just wait until I see a Panera Bread at the airport and chuck the whole Starbucks prepaid card thing?

Oh the power of marketing.


Soon every day will be a Monday

th  Once upon a time, I did consulting for a workers’ compensation (no it’s not workman’s anymore) insurance company on Wall Street. I was marketing safety services to the utility industry, who were the clients of this insurance company.
I learned that in terms of safety, Mondays were the days when most accidents happened, and during a crisis, where there was high alert, few accidents happened.  th-1
Of course, my plan of action was to make the workers aware that Mondays WERE the crisis days to be aware of.
Recently, one of my print ad sales people sent me an email, which I misread, so my reply was not making sense. He resent the email in large, bold, RED letters. This was on a Monday. That time I got it. More recently, I sent a question, which he thought should have had an attachment, but didn’t. His humor to ask for the attachment was: “Aren’t Mondays wonderful!”

There really wasn’t supposed to be an attachment, so it was Monday for him too.
th-2 That reminded me of a trip to Panera Bread where they employ a lot of seniors. Now, I like seniors–usually. After all, I ARE one.
But, this was beyond funny: The older female person at the counter was literally steering the patron to more healthful choices with, “You really want the turkey with….” just like your mom would.

An older gentleman cashier was taking an order for something another patron wanted “on the side,” which he heard as a “side” salad. When the patron received the wrong order, the order taker cheerfully corrected it. But I had to chuckle that this was all about hearing impairment, and I was imagining the collection of order humor we are about to experience as seniors (read Baby Boomers) multiply in the workforce and hearing diminishes.
So, just think. With the economy tanking, and retirement savings interest and dividends dwindling, these Baby Boomers who already resist aging and the term Senior, are all going to be staying in the work force for another 30 years or so.   th-3
Imagine those customer service phone calls you now make being answered by older, wiser folks, if not the off-shore folks; your sandwiches being prepared by good old Mom–now good old Grandma too; and your goods and services being made and provided by this older generation.
th-4 Add to that most commercials for almost everything are being written and produced by 20-somethings who do not really speak the same language as the Boomers. The Millenniums speak South Park and its ilk. So you can expect to experience a sense of the surreal when you try to match up the ads to the in-store, online or on-the-phone experience you get at the actual point of purchase.

Humorous as this sounds, I predict we will all be having a lot of Mondays.

Jane Jetson has come to life

After the initial euphoria of using a video phone on my computer, and now Skype, the reality of what this entails has begun to set in.  Unknown-1

Yes, I can call my grandchildren–which I still haven’t done. And, I can call clients, without the complication and expense of air travel, and yes, there is always the real advantage of free calls to Europe, Canada, and the U.S. among fellow Skypers.  Unknown

But, the actual usage of Skype comes with it the realization that: they can SEE me.

 Now that kind of crashes through the whole working at home in your lounging garb advantage, doesn’t it!  

I mean, there is a reason why Jane Jetson donned her mask for video calls prior to her donning her full face make-up. (This isn’t something I thought of. A friend pointed it out.) 

I don’t wear make-up at home. And, I usually don’t attire myself as though ready for public eye. Jane Jetson at least seemed fully clothed in all of the cartoons I remember. But that was the ‘60s, and the early ‘60s at that. (It re-aired in the ‘80s)   Unknown-2

So I have to get used to the idea that using my video phone means: getting dressed, putting on make-up, caring about how my hair looks, and checking the mirror, if not the camera to see what the final appearance will be. And, that is when I am “making” the call. I haven’t even addressed the horror of having to “answer” a video call I wasn’t expecting. That would mean being “ready” all the time!! 

That is a LOT of trouble to talk someone for ten minutes or less. Almost as much trouble as flying to Chicago from Hartford. Okay, Okay. Maybe a slight exaggeration. But, it is almost as stressful, for me.

I see the Jane Jetson video phone mask as the next great marketing idea. I know I will regret telling you this, because the enterprising among you will rush right out and start the assembly line. I mean, it should at least be as popular as the Pet Rock. Right? And, that made that marketing genius a millionaire. And, I don’t think we need any environmental permits or special regulatory compliance forms, so a few patterns, the right materials, and we should have the next cottage industry–hopefully here in the good old U.S. of A. Any partners out there who want to share this?

I am sure I will adjust to the idea that on certain days and times, I do have to get ready to talk via Skype. Maybe I can make phone calls on the days I am ready to go shopping, which isn’t most days. I keep wondering why my daughter can go through six lipsticks a year and I am still using ones that are ten years old. (I know, I’m going to get bacterial infections!) Now I realize that she uses hers daily, and I only about two times a week. That shouldn’t add up to ten years of life for the little sticks of goo, but they really do last a long time. And that translates also to lipstick removers, cleansing cremes, toners, moisturizers, etc. lasting a long, long time.
Am I giving you T.M.I. here?

Really, combined with my intention to exercise and get healthy, this new thought of being “ready” for a video call may become a plus. No more sitting at the computer, blinds closed, succumbing to the inertia of doing only what is necessary. Because when  you’re dressed, made up and presentable, you think differently. You’re less dour. That is a good thing.

Come to think of it, Skype may just change my life. Who knows? I may end up getting dressed and putting on make up more days than just going out ones. June Cleaver comes to mind. I had an aunt like that. Aunt Hilda was dressed, with modest make up, and had on her high heels every single day. 


So, if I do this it may mean being ready for a call any time, any day, any hour. I will become like my favorite Aunt Hilda.  

I will have to think about this. It may mean my life will take on a readiness I do not presently enjoy. It may mean my mind will engage more often than it does. It may mean a longer life. It may mean things I can’t even think of.

I am dying to know what you think!

Everybody has a story

In early 2000s, I finally found an editor who would allow me to try my idea for a column about people–ordinary people who have inspirational stories.

Frank was a little hesitant, but he wanted circulation for his paper up in my neck of the north of Rockford, Ill. woods, so he agreed to let me try “Lunches,” which is what I wanted to call it.

He put me on a probabationary basis until I showed him what it would look like by interviewing my editor, Brandon.

I did; they like it; and Lunch with Marjorie (they insisted) was born.

After ten years of publishing that column monthly, I had gathered a lot of very inspiring stories about very interesting, but not famous people.

My editor allowed me to continue publishing the column, even after I had moved to Conn. from Ill. I think it took a couple of years for Frank to realize I didn’t live in the Rockford area anymore, but eventually they had me stop doing the stories. Brandon had told me I could do some outside of the area interviews, but had to have 30% in the area. I did that.

So, now that newspapers are in the slow death process, I decided to republish my stories (I own them and only sold 1st rights to the newspaper), online. I am slowly getting them on my site at:

I hope you get a chance to visit. I think you will enjoy these stories. And if you know of someone who you think would make a good subject–please email me at and let me know. I plan to continue the column on the Lunch with Marjorie site.


Gourmet eating

Recently, my husband invited a visiting Polish co-worker to our home for dinner. He told this engineer that his wife was a gourmet cook. 

That’s a lot of pressure.

I am not a gourmet cook. I am a gourmet eater. I know good food when I have it. I was a food critic (which may be where this erroneous reputation started), but I get panic attacks if I am expected to do what I know a gourmet meal should be.

‘How local is this.’

I know food. I know nutrition, and I know what a great presentation looks like. I can do the first two, but the artistic element to serving food is not my baliwick. I am kind of like Salieri with his feelings of inferiority to Mozart. Well, truthfully, I am not even close to the talent of Salieri. Salieri’s frustration was centered on that he could totally appreciate genius, but couldn’t produce it like Mozart did, even though he was very talented.  

So when our guest arrived for his supposed gourmet meal, I made a pork roast with root vegetables, thinking that this would be similar to a meal for him back in Poland, and I made the mistake of using my oven, instead of doing the Dutch oven on the countertop range. The pork wasn’t done enough, the potatoes were OK, and the carrots never really roasted.

I had to inform our guest, who was appreciative, polite and kind, that I was not a gourmet cook–I was a gourmet eater. And later, I informed my dear hunkyhubby NEVER to tell anyone that again.

I know he was just being proud of me, but I can tell you, next time, we will invite them for hunkyhubby’s Spanish tortilla breakfast (a dish he learned to make while we were in Spain), which is waymore gourmet than my meals.   

Three local stores–two different experiences

I love shopping locally. I love raving about the good ones. But, when something is really wrong, I also have to say that. Here are three stores and two different experiences:

Highland Park Market in Suffield, 68 Bridge Street, Suffield, CT   

I so wanted to give this small grocery chain 5 stars. The Suffield store has been my go to for whole foods for the last 8 years.

However, after reading Mrs. M’s review, I also have to register a couple of alarming things they are doing, which make me wonder if they are truly the quality store they advertise themselves to be.

For starters, they use bromated bleached white flour in the bakery. Go look it up. This is poison. Other countries send people to prison for using this in foods and tack on a $500,000 fine. It is not okay to use, and certainly after my pointing it out to the manager it should be corrected. Instead he replies, “It is too hard to change. We will continue to use it.” Really! Poison? Too hard to change? How can this be.

Today, I came home with what I thought was a store made crab and lobster cake, hoping it didn’t have the bleached flour in breadcrumbs. No. It had HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP! ARE YOU KIDDING ME!

I will have to, with Mrs. M, rethink my patronage. These ingredients do not belong in an upscale grocery which porports itself the purveyor of quality foods.

Sorry, 5 stars? No can do. Clean up your act Highland Park. We deserve to know when you do.

Cold Harbor Seafood & Market in Enfield, 465 Taylor Road, Enfield, CT  

Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous. It isn’t often I, without hesitation, add tht 5th star, but Cold Harbor Seafood and Market has it! It’s not just their amazingly fresh seafood. It’s their whole attitude and service.

I asked LuAnn at the cash register which fish would be best for my fish tacos. She went right to Joseph (I think maybe the owner) and asked him. He quizzed me on my preferences and then recommended the frozen, breaded, fried and ready-to-bake haddock he had in the freezer. He gave me the cooking time–15 minutes at 425 and promised it would be crispy and good. It was wonderful.

Then I thought about getting some Marlin to avoid the 7 mile drive from home for the next time, telling them I would freeze it. they both made faces, frowned, and begged me to come back for fresh. They really care. I was grateful, and glad they weren’t looking at a sale instead of a very satisfied customer, which I now am.

Since my thrift store, for donations, is on the way, I think this will become a weekly trip for the best fish in the area. I believe they get their fish from Boston daily.

They have both fresh fish and prepared meals, and it changes daily, and they are open Wednesday – Saturday. Check for hours.

All you fish lovers in the Enfield 15 mile radius, hurry in. They actually run out, so I hear. And check for days open and hours. But it is worth every penny, and the prices are fair. Those reviewers who say outrageous aren’t used to fish markets. They are thinking cheap grocery store, who sell cheap, awful, even harmful fish like tilapia. Not here. This is the best. Thank you for being there. I am sold.

And last, but not least, our new favorite:

The Yarde House Tavern, 1658 King Street, Enfield, CT    

Our St. Paddy’s Day dinner, gets a big wow–do they do it right. The band was playing, our 30 minute wait dwindled to 10 minutes, our hostess was efficient and obeyed Jimmy’s (probably a manager) nudge to make sure she got us on the list before stepping away from her podium. We were seated with menus within 5 minutes of being called, and on a very, very busy night.

After my husband’s corned beef and cabbage with Guiness, and my delicious Mom’s meatloaf with a cucumber vodka splash, we were feelng pretty happy. That was topped off with the owner, Tom Parker stopping by our table to see if all was well. Wow. On one of their busiest evenings, that really is a classy touch. Tom told us my meatloaf really is his mother’s recipe, and she, herself, favors it, even at 98, every time she dines there. It tasted very homemade–not overly salty or fatty. Very good.

Tom does everything right. His staff is friendly, competent, and the place humms with both qualities.

We don’t patronize as often as we should–but will now, because they leave such a positive feeling, why wouldn’t we! I think this Sunday is an accountic band playing, rock, blues, pop and soul. And that’s coming up this weekend.

Speaking of weekends, The Yarde House has many event, so good you will want to follow them on FB or on their website and catch onto the good ones. They have many, many good ideas.

Check it out. It’s a best of in Enfield.

I can’t eat…changing to I can!

I can’t eat… In most areas of life, I think of myself as an “I can” person. I am an optimist. I think things will usually work out well, with a little patience, grace and faith. For some reason, when it comes to food and eating, I have developed a very negative attitude.

 For myself and those close to me, I probably even come across as the “food police,” vigilantly reading every label, throwing things out that were purchased before a latest research discovery, putting things back on the shelf that contain: canola oil, high fructose, trans fats, too many chemical additives, nitrates, nitrites, bromated bleached flour, and a host of other non-food poisons populating most processed foods. But, I am turning over a new attitude! I am going to start being a “can eat” person, in sync with the rest of my philosophy of life.

   This attitude transformation started with Ash Wednesday, when I “gave up” processed food for lent. Now, mind you, since I don’t eat a lot of processed foods anyway, I thought this would be more of a cleansing time than a new dietary plan.

But, really, I didn’t realize how often I reach for the little processed snacks I do allow myself. And, now, when I want some multigrain chips made with good oils, and good grains, I will stop myself. And, when I think maybe I will just have a few crackers with my olive spread, I will say no and try to think about what I will have in place of those things. I will find myself sauteing some portabellas with some balsamic vinegar, or making a salad of grapefruit and avocado, or having my new “soda” find of San Pellegrino with a little balsamic (yum), or making a tomato and bread salad with my real bread and more balsamic, or some kimchi or sauerkraut, a handful of nuts, a couple of dates, or maybe just a piece of cheese–which, yes, is processed, but I favor sheep or goat cheese, usually from Spain or Italy, where the processing is minimal. The point is, there is a lot of really good food I can, do and want to eat, and it is time I begin to enjoy and savor that fact, rather than thinking from an attitude of deprivation.  

So many things that I can’t eat, I don’t really want, if I can think of something better. It’s all habit. We eat the way we are used to eating. Changing those patterns is challenging, but entirely possible, and worth the effort. I am so thankful for all of the delicious real food I have available to me. So many starving, suffering people in the world. Too much to be thankful for to spend any moment of my life even imagining deprivation at the loss of a multigrain chip or two. Good grief, even writing this down makes me feel silly to have ever mourned that loss.

There is absolutely nothing I do not or should not eat that isn’t replaceable. Well–maybe bacon. Hmm. Is that a processed food? Oh, c’mon, let me have just a tad of fantasy life here, my little guilty pleasure. And the Costco version does not have nitrites and nitrates. I love bacon.  

But, in general, my new mantra is: “I can eat…and there is so much to be enjoyed there.


I am generally a very positive person. I try to see the bright side of everything. Maybe it was reading Pollyanna as a child. In any case, I am a glass half full person.  

That said, I do have some major complaints, which I do not just gripe about, but actually try to influence others and make a difference. That is not always received as I intend, as constructive, but, still, it is meant to be that way.

So what are these major gripes I have? Here is a partial list:

Grammar–Did everyone just not attend 7th Grade? Or, is the idea of a preposition being followed by an objective pronoun, especially when it is a compound pronoun, just something no one knows about; or is it that we no longer care? Example: Bring the cake to Jay and I is NOT correct!!!!!  I is a subjective pronoun, only used when it is a SUBJECT. A preposition (do you need the list) is ALWAYS requiring an OBJECTIVE PRONOUN–Bring the cake to Jay and ME. Would you say bring the cake to I?  NOOOOO. So why, when you have a compound phrase, do you feel okay about switching ME out for I?? Ick.

I have many, many more grammar tips, but I will be so happy if you all would just learn, teach, and use this tip.

Food–We are gaining some ground in our society to rid our food stuff of partially hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrups (although I am not sure I trust what the food industry is using to substitute for them).

But, now, we need to get rid of bromated bleached white flour, which Dr. Gaynor (The Gene Therapy) says you would go to prison for using in some countries with a hefty fine, but which we Americans feel fine about allowing our children to ingest, however poisonous it is, because we, for some unknown reason trust our government. Please do the research before you ingest this:(;

Bromine is a foaming agent used in making plastics. Ick again. It is also believed to disrupt the thyroid gland and interferes with the production of thyroid hormones.  And, we wonder why so many people have thyroid problems. Hello!

Secondly, we also need to really examine canola oil–which is Canada Oil, not American, but still very, very bad, thanks to Monsanto’s entrance into the recipe. I trust Dr. Axe’s take on this oil, because he seems to care about nutrition, more than profits–unlike our governement and its lobbyists. The government pretend to be banning partially hydrogenated oil, but in the case of Canola, which amazingly IS RECOMMENDED not just tolerated by the U.S. Government, and is a really, really bad choice. I believe they are trying to unload their surplus ingredients, so they nudge food manufacturers (and us consumers) to use it. The alarm is that this oil is used in almost everything. Again, probably a Monsanto lobby–which I cannot prove, but hey, they’re really active in strong-arming even farmers to use their GMO products. I put back about 90% of the packaged foods I pick up after reading labels and realizing that this bad oil is in everything from candy (even from my favorite Mexican grocery) to Costco snacks (in a store I usually trust to care about real nutrition). You may also want to read Joel Marion, CISSN, Co-Founder, BioTrust Nutrition’s take on Canola. It is a very, very bad oil. Here is some of what Marion has to say:

About 30% of canola oil is made up of polyunsaturated fats, very fragile fatty acids that are easily damaged by high heat processing, which is the processing method of virtually all “commercial” forms of canola oil.
Sure, it’s made up of a large portion of heat-resistant monounsaturates, but that still leaves 30% of the oil as denatured, processed junk. And you know what happens when fragile polyunsaturates are heated to high temperatures? That’s right, they get all flustered and turn to trans fats, the absolute WORST possible thing you can put in your body, period.

So if you want to line your arteries with trans fats, this would be your government-approved oil. If you don’t, stop buying it. Stop using it. Stop eating it. Stop feeding it to your children! If we stop purchasing this, they will stop selling it.

Good oils, like coconut,  grapeseed, avocado, and olive are so much better. Yes, they cost more. But if you factor in the health care costs we are all paying for increased heart ailments and cancers, the cost of good oil goes way down.

And, just so you know, Gaynor also says people who cook with coconut oil lose as much as 35 pounds a YEAR more than those who don’t. Is that motivating or what! It also may tell us why we are gaining so much weight using that awful oil the gov tells is good for us!

One word of caution: even good oils if heated above their smoke points become partially hydrogenated. So don’t cook at high temps with olive oil. Coconut and avocado oils have higher smoke points.

Okay, I will leave this post with these three gripes, and ask you to read up, care, and change your buying behaviors to reflect your educating yourselves on protecting your dear families.

Thanks. Marjorie

Surprising Southwest experience

We were on our puddle jump back to Las Vegas from Orange County, headed for our timeshare condo after a lovely Christmas visiting kids and grands.  

I really got the idea of flying instead of the 10 hour R/T car journey after reading Michael Connelley tell about Harry Bosch’s treks to see his daughter in Las Vegas from his Los Angeles base. (If you haven’t tried Connelley’s crime series with LAPD Bosch, you have to consider it if you like crime stories. This is the best of the best.)

Anyway, if Harry can puddle jump, so can we, I thought. And we did. What a good decision.

So on our way back, I was seated next to two lovely 20-something women, who had coupons for a drink–something I haven’t earned yet on Southwest–which is becoming my favorite airline.

We had been talking, laughing, generally having a good time getting to know each other when the flight attendant came by to ask about beverages.  

Window seat companion asked the female flight attendant for a white wine and handed her the coupon.  

“I think you would be happier with water,” said the SW person, unbelievably.

“But, I have this coupon, and would enjoy a glass of white wine, thank you,” my seat companion said politely.

“It’s my observation that you’d be better off with coffee or water,” she repeated.  

Is laughing now equated with drunkeness? We, none of the three of us, had been drinking at all. And, keep in mind we were headed for Las Vegas–not the dry county to be sure.

My companion didn’t get her wine, and she took it pretty well. But I thought I should let SW know how completely unacceptable that is, especially in the times in which we live, where disagreeing, even when right and rational, with an airline employee, comes with greater risks than losing beverage priveleges. And, rememeber, SW sent her a coupon.

In any case, just wanted to let that flight attendant and the SW PR people know, this is not OK.  



The continuing miracle of real bread

So I told you all about the why in Bread, lies, and videotapes (scroll back), but I am coming to appreciate my own discovery more than ever after returning from a 4-day weekend in Jamestown, RI.

img_0204   It was a celebration–our 35th, and who doesn’t splurge while on holiday?! Right?

So I did, I’m talking our favorite coffee shop, Slice of Heaven and a big omelete every day, with, of course, a little croissant on the side–and, okay, a bite of my hubby’s cinammon sticky roll. If it helps, I gave him a bite of mine too,   295585_519104211465096_1671549415_n

Then on to dinner of stuffed clams (bread stuffing), a clam roll (fried and served on a white bread hot dog roll–this is how they roll in New England, folks–except at Berkshire Mountain Bakery.

And once a scallop appetizer with a marvelous argulula salad, but served with warm, hommade wholegrain bread and butter at Jamestown Fish, which is a five-star dining place to die for.


What’s a girl to do? You guessed it–she didn’t abstain.

unknown-3    So on returning home to the River House, the shock of the scale was a gain of 4 pounds. Ugh. Holiday or not, very disappointing.

But, wait–here is the amazing truth. Two days of being back to Berkshire Mountain bread and 3 of the 4 pounds are gone.

We’re not counting a glass of wine, or tons of coffee with cream, or butter, or cheese, or even snacks (although I do notice that without a simple bedtime snack of even popcorn with coconut oil, there is no gain at all.

So how can just a change to real bread vs. unfermented pretend bread make such a difference?   stock-photo-bacteria-lactobacillus-gram-positive-rod-shaped-lactic-acid-bacteria-which-are-part-of-normal-389522521
The immunologist I talked to at the airport said, “We’re learning alot about gut flora and its effect.” She told me I wasn’t imagining that those good little microbes I am swallowing and feeding to my bellyfat are really eating up that bad stuff which has accumulated from this bad fake bread and even other processed foods.

IMG_0094 (1)  We need gut cleaning. Berkshire Mountain bread does that.   How easy it that for goodness which is good for you?