Monday, March 30, 2009

Busy. So Busy.

I'm swamped. Flat out. Crazed. Hair on fire.

Please amuse yourself with these three things until normal programming returns. "Normal."

Question This
Stepping Stones

Sunday, March 22, 2009

My Barista is Better than Yours (AKA Mary RULES!)

Through the wonder of Twitter connections, I read a great post on Lawain McNeil's Advisor Blog about 'Jake the Barista' at his local Starbucks. In the post, Lawain makes an excellent attention point for corporations; your goals, your mantra, your senior leadership - great things to have, but it is the execution-level personnel that make lasting impact on your consumers. They are the advocates. They are the face and they can make or break you. Especially in these economic times.

This is true of Mary in the Winchester Center store. (That's Mary below.) The Starbucks in Winchester Center is near the commuter rail station, so they get a lot of people with one eye nervously toward the train tracks and one eye toward the brewed coffee. Mary knows who those people are and has been known to put coffee on the counter as folks hit the door (with their correct change in hand) no discussion, no waiting. Mary seems to know who everyone is - calling many by their name and confirming if they'd like their usual. That would be a large bold for me (and my friend Beth, who I show up with most every morning) and yeah, I know that's not Starbucks ordering lingo, but my ability to keep sizes straight only works in English. With lines heading out the door, Mary will shout out "GOOD MORNING LORI AND BETH" and she rolls with it when I shake things up and order tea instead of coffee (I'm crazy like that sometimes.)

Mary is positive, she is pleasant and she is professional - but more than that, she is actually kind. She scans the crowd to reassure folks using the Mary Mindwave ("I see you, we're getting to you soon.") Mary is the rare embodiment of a great corporate face. We are willing to overlook giant coffee overlord behavior when the company is brought down to one smiling, understanding face (who remembers to ask if you like the espresso ground on 3 for the home machine.) In short, Mary IS Starbucks for me. She is the brand - and I recognize how fortunate I am every morning when I head to the office with a cup of liquid sanity. Thanks Mary.

Starbucks: take note - Mary should be doing the training for your people. Mary RULES.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Apple Thing & The Chocolate Thing

Tom, my Aunt Donna, Uncle Ben and I had dessert at the bar at The Harvest in Cambridge tonight. Brian, our med school student-bartender was excellent in all things barkeep. When I asked was was good for dessert his descriptions (albeit at the very end of service) were short and simple; The apple thing and the chocolate peanut crunchy thing. Nice!

Since I could see desserts waiting on the counter for delivery to another table I walked over to see if I could figure out what the apple thing was (it didn't really matter, I'd already ordered it.) Since it really was the very end of service, the kitchen peeps started coming to the front of the house as I was grilling the bartender for more info on "the apple thing" he pointed to a young woman and said "she'll know, she makes 'em." 

Indeed, pastry sous chef, Lindsey Mason, made the dessert and was able to explain that the proper name for the apple thing was "Roasted Apple Pain De GĂȘnes with Vanilla Cream and Apple Conserve" (which is on the Restaurant Week dinner menu only.) I can see where Brian might have struggled with the name (partial credit granted for the attempt!) 

My aunt and I chatted with Lindsey while our dessert was being prepared and she described the other dessert on the Restaurant Week menu the "Chocolate Peanut Crunch with Bourbon Cream, Sea salt & Cocoa Nibs" (aka the peanut crunchy.)

The "apple thing" cake (badly photographed below) was a blend of almond paste, flour, eggs and heaven with apples, a thin apple crisp, apple conserve and a dash of ice cream that was wee enough to be guilt free, but big enough to highlight each bite of the dessert. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
The "chocolate peanut crunchy" was completely unexpected; the layers were light (when I was expecting unpleasantly dense) and the peanuts were caramelized and subtle and perfect in every bite. Am I ashamed that I licked the plate? Not really. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

The Harvest is continuing the Restaurant Week menu through next week - so hop on the reservation line and ask for the awesome, informative and delightful Lindsey Mason when you go. You will not be disappointed!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

2000 is a lot.

Because I am utterly under water at the moment, I thought I'd just announce my 2000th tweet was a shout out to Bill Green of Make the Logo Bigger. Bill rules, big time. Doubt me? Riddle me this gentle reader: Do YOU have your own bobblehead? Yeah, I thought so.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Congratulations Brad & Rachel

Congratulations adorable fiancees! Nephew Brad and his wonderful girl Rachel are finally going to tie the knot. We have a wedding!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Greek Pendant - Awesome Edition!

Another version of the Greek Pendant (soon to be available on my Etsy shop!) What say you one, what say you all?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

You Want to Win This! (Seriously!)

The outrageously talented Cristina Hurley said "Hey! For my St. Patrick's Day birthday, let's have a treasure hunt and offer up some delicious goodies!" (Can you spot the words I would be attracted to? The only word left out was SHINY. Oooh, I love shiny...) I digress.

So here it is - a Metalsmiths In Action team Etsy shop treasure hunt where you could win some gorgeous, shiny, lovingly handmade (and totally delicious) items. Read Cristina's post - check out the gems up for grabs below (and at the very bottom, I'm giving you a hint.)


This is my special offering for the treasure hunt - the Magno shamrock. Super limited edition!

Small clover drops by birthday girl Cristina Hurley.

Gorgeous pearl earrings by Teresa Smith.

More loveliness from Teresa Smith.

A gorgeous ring by Sally Jewett-Brocado.

Stunning drops by Teresa Smith.

CLUE: You are looking for a shamrock, but not the one on my necklace. Visit the shops and go wild people! Scoot!

Giveway! (You should try to win this.)

The mad-talented Chocolate & Steel is giving this ring away in a cool social-media fueled frenzy.

Visit her post HERE and do as she says to enter. You totally want to win this. I do too...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Only One Available (Super Limited Edition!)

You want the Shamrock Pendant before St. Paddy's Day? GET IT HERE.

I made two, but only one is for sale - so get your super limited edition shamrock pendant today!

Monday, March 09, 2009

My Face Hurts (There is no appropriate response here)

Long story short - wear sunscreen.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Sold out - but he'll be back!

Thank you for visiting Frail Whale!

Frail Whale is temporarily sold out, but leave your comment below to be notified the moment Mr. Frail is back in stock!

Monday, March 02, 2009


After more than a foot of snow, hours and hours of shoveling - supper arrived, and with it this magical, gorgeous, awesome loaf of bread. The recipe is courtesy of the New York Times and Sullivan's bakery. It is the famous No-Knead bread recipe that takes little more than sloshing around 4 ingredients and time. (And a 450˚ oven.) Even awesomer - the YouTube video to get you over the "I don't bake" thing.

My friend Janet and I were discussing bread with co-worker John (at last Friday's bagel table...mmmm talking about carbs while eating carbs...) who pointed us to the recipe. Thanks John!

Here is Janet's loaf from yesterday - her first loaf ever! (I am jealous of her golden brown crust!)