Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Mele Kaliki-Starbucks

I love my friends. This morning I woke up to find a wonderful email from our dear friend and sorority sister, Ronda, in Montgomery, Alabama. She and her beautiful family visited a Starbucks on Christmas Eve and thought of us, so they shared some pictures of everyone enjoying our favorite treat! A White Chocolate Mocha for Jason, an Eggnog Latte for Ronda, and a couple of Peppermint Hot Cocoas for Hugh and Grant. I'm craving a cup just thinking about it. Awww...nothing on the menu for Eli :-( I get this face when I can't have Starbucks either, but it's not nearly as cute. It's okay Little Man. You'll be joining us for "coffee" in no time. We are so looking forward to Ronda's return to Hawaii in January and plan to have her join us for at least one Starbucks stop during her visit. (Love ya Ronda and thanks for the Starbucks gift card!)

We opened presents at home. Woohoo! A Starbucks gift card from Jayme! (See why I love my friends?) Jayme is another dear friend and sorority sister that will be visiting us next year. (We'll see you at Starbucks Girl!) Then we opened more presents with my mother-in-law. Oooooo! A Tucson Starbucks mug from my brother-in-law, Mike! Larisa and Malia don't know about this new acquisition yet. Well okay, they'll know now, so sorry girls. Mike's not on the web, so he doesn't know about the blog or the mission. He remembered my desperate search for Tucson mugs (for all three of us) when we visited him in October 2006. After stops to every Starbucks in our path, a barista finally told me Tucson didn't have a mug. Guess they do now, so I'll be sure to pick you each one up the next time we go see him. Mahalo Mike for mine!

On our way to my mothers for lunch and more presents, I got a call from Malia asking if I want to break away from the family for a quick Christmas Starbucks break. We'd talked about possibly doing a Christmas Starbucks visit, but with all of the hustle and bustle that comes with the holidays combined with the need (and for some a requirement) to visit with family, I wasn't sure this was going to happen. An opportunity to ditch...er... I mean sacrifice time spent with my family for Starbucks? Tell me where and when. I'm there.

Most Starbucks locations were only open until noon or 2 p.m. today if at all. The Aloha Tower Starbucks would be open until 4 p.m. depending upon the flow of business. If it got too slow, they'd close shop early. QUICK!!! TO ALOHA TOWER!!!


For this visit:

Our baristas: Wise, Amy, and Ricardo

Our drinks:
  • Malia: Venti, Decaf, Nonfat, Sugarfree, Foam, No Whip Gingerbread Latte
  • Larisa: 2 Grande, Iced, Stirred Caramel Macchiattos (one for Isom)
  • Mai: Grande, Whole Milk, No Whip, Toffee Nut Latte

Sunday, December 23, 2007

A Starbucking Discovery

Well wonders never cease. Yesterday, I was finally ready with my Christmas gifts for Malia and Larisa THREE WHOLE DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS!

Malia was exhausted from having volunteered at the Foster Families Holiday Party all day, and Arwen and I had just about reached the end of our rope having spent the day shopping, wrapping, delivering gifts, and getting Arwen's face painted at Isabella's 1st Birthday party. But we decided to get together anyway last night for a last minute latte at the Waimalu Starbucks, giving me an opportunity to deliver my gifts to the rest of the I Heart Starbucks crew.

I went with a Starbucks theme again this year (seriously?) with some more ornaments for their trees and a Christmas music CD. By the way, the best version of Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer performed by Jack Johnson is on this one. If you don't have it, go get it. It's probably part of the After Christmas clearance sale now. Most of the ornaments didn't come as a surprise because I gave them the heads up that they were coming...didn't want them to go shopping for themselves. Though, like the mugs, can you really have too many Starbucks ornaments? The surprise was actually on me that they even got to see them before Christmas this year. Last year, I had to recruit mainland help to get their gifts because I knew the ornaments existed, but none of the stores here had them. This year, I scooped them up the day they hit the shelves, but the baristas kept restocking them. So much for getting them first. Now you can get them on sale. Anyway, their gift bags still came stocked with at least one surprise - a DVD titled, Starbucking. I have to credit my husband, Rob, with the great find. He came across it while shopping for me and just had to tell me about it. It came with the promise that this is the ONLY time he's going to contribute to this Starbucks madness. (We'll see about that.) Of course, I had a heck of a time finding two more copies. At the time, Amazon.com was out, and most stores here didn't carry it. Fortunately, I was able to find one copy at each of two Barnes and Noble stores I visited. Yay!

It turns out our mission to visit every Starbucks on the island of Oahu is not only not original it is minoot compared to that of Winter, the star of Starbucking, a documentary about a guy whose goal is to visit every Starbucks store (only the real ones) in the world. This guy has travelled to thousands of Starbucks all over the world since 1997 and has a website http://www.starbuckseverywhere.net/ to tell about it. This guy is CRAZY.

Will this stop us? No way. With the exception of the occasional drink order screw up and Malia's continued foam issues, we still love going to Starbucks, and there are many differences between what Winter is doing and what we're doing. First, Winter's goal is to visit every REAL Starbucks in the world, and he requires himself to drink at least a sample at each of these locations. (Rent or buy the DVD to watch him attempt to break his record of visiting 28 locations in one day. I repeat. He is CRAZY.) Winter only drinks the drip coffee (and think I remember him mentioning an occasional espresso in the film.) He doesn't order the other drinks and says he has no desire to. He's a man on a mission.

We're keeping our mission local (for now), but of course the three of us will welcome the opportunity to visit a Starbucks out of state (or even country) together. We have not set any requirements...food, drink, gifts, even nothing... it's all good. The point is that the three of us are at the location together, enjoying Starbucks. Doing this Winter-style, we'd have been done in a few days, but we're enjoying this adventure at a much more kicked back and relaxed pace.

Keep doing what you're doing Winter! You're crazy, but we love it! Be sure to let us know when you come back to Hawaii.

For this visit:

Our baristas: Joe & Jamie

Our drinks:

  • Malia: Venti, Decaf, Foam (though they didn't put much), No Whip Gingerbread Latte
  • Larisa: Tall, Iced, Stirred Caramel Macchiatto
  • Mai: Grande Chai Latte
  • Isom: Grande, Iced, Stirred Caramel Macchiatto
  • Gabe: Ice Water
  • Arwen: Kid's Cocoa

Other:

  • Larisa: Chicken Club with Bacon Sandwich
  • Malia: Subway Sandwich she brought in from across the street (guess outside food is allowed here?)
  • Gabe: Turkey Pesto Sandwich
  • Mai: Costco Chocolate Cupcake that Larisa saved for me from yesterday's Christmas party and a Police CD as a Christmas gift for my mother-in-law
  • Arwen: Crispy Square Bar

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Starbucks Christmas Tree

Malia invited us over for a little get together to celebrate her 39th birthday. (Woohoo! Happy Birthday Malia!) A while back, Malia shared that she and her twin sister, Malisa, plan to run the Honolulu Marathon next year, which will fall right on their 40th. So Larisa and I figured we'd kick off the beginning of her training with these cute little marathon runner cookie favors from Hokulani Bakeshop. (If you haven't tried the cookies or cupcakes from this place, you NEED to...immediately. Yum!) Malia reluctantly admits that it took a while to figure out why they all had the number 39 on them. (It's okay Malia. These things come with age.)

The cookies were pretty much the only thing that worked out in the way of birthday plans Larisa and I had for Malia. We thought about putting together a surprise party, which was quickly foiled when we realized she really didn't want one. Then our back up plan to take her on a Kaneohe Starbucks tour with a stop at her fave dim sum place disintegrated upon the news that she would be participating in a holiday potluck at her office building that day. Oh well. An intimate gathering of good friends for dinner and a delicious spread of food prepared by Malia (I need to get that dip recipe) is all the birthday girl wanted, so we granted her wish and had a fun time. We weren't allowed to bring food, so of course, we all came bearing gifts, which included a Starbucks Hannukah Activitiy Menorah that Larisa went back to Schofield to get. You may remember this rare Hawaii find spotted during the Central Oahu coffee crawl. Nevermind that Hannukah was last week. Oh, or that Malia's not Jewish. It was a cool Starbucks gift that she was sure Malia didn't already have.

The bonus to this visit was that we all finally had a chance to see Malia's Starbucks Christmas Tree. Originally Malia was going to create a Starbucks Mug Tree, but unfortunately her poor tree's branches couldn't possibly support the weight of her collection. As cool an idea as it was, I shudder at the thought of the mug tree toppling over at the slightest bump or breath - a true Nightmare Before Christmas. Would her two Starbucks buddies sacrifice a portion of their own collections to help her rebuild? Ehhhhhh.... probably not. (That's friendship for you. What's mine is yours, except for my Starbucks mugs.) No matter. Her mug collection is safely put away in the cubbard, and her Plan B tree with a Starbucks Christmas To Go cup for a topper and the green and blue holiday cup sleeves, gift cards collected over the years (empty of course), and this year's mitten gift card holders as ornaments and even a few REAL Starbucks Christmas ornaments in the mix, it is quite the sight! Hopefully, we'll get Malia back on here to post more about the birth and development of her spectacular Starbucks Christmas tree, but I thought I'd take a moment to at least mention it and share some pictures of her beautiful Christmas creation. I'm so glad that there was at least a little Starbucks involved in Malia's special day this year. I think the only way Larisa and I will be able to work Starbucks into her birthday next year will be by standing at the marathon thirst aid stations holding a couple of lattes instead of Gatorade. Malia, do you want those iced or hot?

Friday, December 7, 2007

Pancakes, Presents, and Paris

After Larisa sprang our Christmas gifts on us early last night, Malia was inspired to get her gifts wrapped and ready early as well. I say early because I assure you there is no way ANYONE will ever receive a Christmas gift from me before the 15th of December. Usually they come later. Often they come after Christmas. So if you haven't received your Christmas gift from me yet, don't worry... it's coming... later.

Malia invited the Starbucks team complete with spouses and offspring to the windward side for some dinner and presents...and, of course, to take in a little more Starbucks. What holiday would be complete without this little treat? Windmard Mall is home to one of the few IHOPs on the island, and being about as family-friendly a restaurant as they come, this is where we ate. As Larisa's husband, Isom, quickly discovers that IHOP coffee and caesar salad are not a good mix, my husband shakes his head in defeat as the Starbucks craze continues with Larisa's bringing mini Starbucks espresso mugs filled with chocolate covered espresso beans for us (so cute!) and Malia's gifts... Starbucks ornaments, gift certificates for CUSTOM Starbucks cards, and City Mugs from PARIS (compliments of her older sister, Liza!)


Malia told us about these beauties when our friends from Orlando arrived, so they were included in our inventory posted earlier. This was the first time Larisa and I were able to lay our hands on them. Belle!!!! I believe I speak for all three of us when I say thank you Liza for these beautiful mugs. We truly appreciate both the thought and baggage space sacrifice it took to get these to us. Even moreso because now we'll have that much more room for other mugs when we make the Europe trek ourselves!!!

Off to the Windward Mall Starbucks for dessert! Good times!


For this visit:

Our baristas: Sunshine (who was nice enough to give Larisa a sticker) & Stephen

Our drinks:

  • Malia: Grande, Nonfat, Decaf, Foam, No Whip, Toffee Nut Latte
  • Larisa: Tall Vanilla Cream with Whip
  • Mai: Grande Chai Latte

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Crying a Thousand Pearls Over Starbucks

Thanks to Larisa, we had the privilege of attending an advanced screening of Kite Runner, a movie based on a book that was featured at Starbucks a few months ago. I'd looked at the book many times while waiting in line for my latte and added it to my mental checklist of "Books I Must Read If I Ever Find The Time." All I can really say about the movie is that we "cried a thousand pearls." It was both heartwarming and tragic. It filled you with both hope and sadness. Click here to view the full review of this movie that Larisa wrote for Hawaiimoms.com. Great job Larisa! This book is now being moved up on the mental checklist to be read as soon as I finish Eat, Pray, Love, an early Christmas gift from Larisa and an absolutely FABULOUS book.

After such a heavy movie, we left the theater in need of some uplifting. STARBUCKS! That'll do the trick. It was pretty late, and we were in an industrial part of town where, amazingly enough, you don't find a Starbucks on every corner. Hard to believe. Malia heard there was a new location open on Sand Island Access Road, but we quickly detoured and continued on to the next nearest location when Malia phoned ahead to let us know that it had already closed for the evening. She did, however, stop to take a camera phone pic of the new location to prove it does exist. Larisa and I raced (not literally...okay maybe Larisa did) to the Airport Trade Center location down the street. Still open, but it was 9:57 p.m., and the sign said it closes at 10 p.m. We made it!!!! Along with 8 other people that barged in at the same time. The baristas looked thrilled. They were actually much better sports than I think I would've been if almost a dozen people walked in just as we were about to close. Sorry guys, but mahalo!


We quickly ordered our drinks (Malia's by cell phone because she was still on her way from Sand Island) and then proceeded to hang out in the parking lot to chat about the movie and enjoy our drinks. Mission to uplift our spirits accomplished. Mahalo to Wayne for taking a break from closing to take our picture.

For this visit:

Our baristas: Maria, Dan, & Wayne

Our drinks:

  • Malia: Tall, Chai Latte
  • Larisa: Tall, Peppermint Mocha
  • Mai: Grande, Toffee Nut Latte

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Aloha Orlando

Some very dear friends of mine recently returned from a family vacation on the mainland, which included a stop in Orlando, Florida to visit Disney World. Kimberly and her 2 year old daughter, Griffin, met up with Rob and me for lunch to catch up on all they've missed the past couple of weeks, share the tales of their trip to the Magical Kingdom, and to bring us gifts!!!!!


Kimberly had called during her vacation to give me a hint as to what she was bringing back, so as Griffin handed over the bag, I quickly dug in. Amidst the adorable assortment of princess and Minnie items for Arwen were three very HEAVY items which had my name written all over them. Okay...they said Orlando, but they were mine! Okay... one for me and two extras to share with my Starbucks addict friends, but I have a new mug! Okay... Rob was there, so, "Look Honey, WE have a new mug!" Rob sarcastically asks Kimberly, "Why do you encourage her?" To which Kimberly replies, "With such a cute blog, how can I not?" Yay for friends who GET it, and many mahalos to Kimberly and family for trucking these buggers back across the country for us. Malia and I have both had a taste of what it's like trying to find enough precious luggage space to store these very large (but oh so beautiful) Starbucks souvenirs. It's not easy, but don't our big glowing smiles make it all worth the effort?

Now in talking Starbucks to a friend because, hey, that's what I do best, Kimberly asked what mugs we already have, so I figured this is as appropriate a time as any to share our inventory and explain a little about how the Starbucks craze (at least among the three of us) began.

Last year, Malia went sailing through Spain, and she struggled with what she could bring back as gifts for her friends. She was funny because I think she thought her decision was lame because at one point she contacted me before coming home and said something along the lines of, "You're probably going to laugh at what I brought back for you, but I thought they were cool." She returns from her trip and presents the gift. Are you kidding?!?! A Starbucks mug from Madrid!!!!! How cool is that? Malia and I had a long time Starbucks connection since the day the Kaneohe Drive Thru location opened. Every coordinated effort to meet from that point ended with a call for "Starbucks?" "I'm heading over to campus for EC. Starbucks?" "Come over to my house and stamp. Starbucks?" So OF COURSE, I was tickled to get my gift. Then we went to Larisa's house and delivered her gift together. Malia again opens with, "You're probably going to laugh..." and then presents the mug. Larisa calmly places it on her counter and says, "Oh you have no idea!" as she reaches into her kitchen cabinet and begins pulling out her collection of Starbucks mugs one by one. And so the Starbucks Trio was born. We were friends pre-Starbucks, but Malia's little memento from Madrid helped us unleash the passion we all had for our favorite LITTLE coffee spot.

As per your request, this is our mug inventory. All mugs were either received as gifts (giver in parenthesis) or we travelled to the state, country, or region to get it.

Mug Inventory:

Larisa:
  • Alaska (Pua)
  • Austin (Isom)
  • Canada (Mai Ly)
  • Chicago (Isom...the beginning of her collection)
  • Cincinnati (Kimberly)
  • Hawaii
  • Hiroshima (Malia)
  • Indianapolis (Mai Ly)
  • Kauai
  • Kona
  • Korea (Laura)
  • Las Vegas (the tallest Starbucks)
  • Los Angeles
  • Madrid (Malia)
  • Maui
  • Maui Stamp (Malia...see earlier post by Malia regarding this one)
  • Orange County (Malia)
  • Orlando (Kimberly)
  • Paris (Liza)
  • Philadelphia (Mai Ly)
  • Pike Place (Mai Ly...the first Starbucks)
  • Portland
  • Salt Lake City (visiting Isom's mom)
  • San Diego (visiting Jeannine)
  • San Francisco (Malia)
  • Seattle (Mai Ly)
  • Seoul (Laura)
  • Tokyo (Malia)
  • Waikiki
  • Yokohama (Malia)

She also has a Christmas mug (Ashley.)

Malia:

  • Canada (Mai Ly)
  • Cincinnati (Kimberly)
  • Cologne (Liza)
  • Hiroshima
  • Indianapolis (Mai Ly)
  • Kyoto
  • Madrid (the beginning)
  • Maui Stamp
  • Orange County (asked Larisa if she should get mugs from OC...surely we don't want THAT many!!! Little did she know...)
  • Orlando (Kimberly)
  • Paris (Liza)
  • Philadelphia (Mai Ly)
  • Pike Place (Mai Ly)
  • Portland (Malisa)
  • Roppongi Hills
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle (Mai Ly)
  • Tokyo
  • Yokohama

Mai Ly:

  • Canada
  • Cincinnati (Kimberly)
  • Hiroshima
  • Indianapolis
  • Madrid (Malia...where my collection started)
  • Maui Stamp (Malia)
  • Orange County (Malia)
  • Orlando (Kimberly)
  • Paris (Liza)
  • Philadelphia
  • Pike Place
  • Portland (Malia)
  • San Diego (Malia)
  • San Francisco (Malia)
  • Seattle
  • Tokyo (Malia)
  • Washington, D.C. (Phyl)
  • Yokohama (Malia)

Mai also has the 2007 Anniversary mug.

So there you have it. Got Starbucks mugs?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Walking Through Ward

Let me start by saying that not all preschool photographers are created equal. Maybe the reason is that she’s 6 months younger and about a foot shorter than her buddy Gabe whose beautiful pictures were shared in the Central Oahu post. Perhaps it’s that her petite little hands just can’t seem to get a good grip on the camera while she’s trying to aim for that perfect shot. There’s a good possibility that she’s been taking photography tips from her daddy whose handy work was observed in our first post about Kahala Mall. Whatever (or whomever) is to blame; the assortment of partial head shots, invading pinkies, or a combination of both like this one helped us quickly decide that, while Arwen was a welcome guest on this adventure down Auahi Street to 4 more Starbucks locations, she wouldn’t be taking anymore of our pictures. With a little help from Mommy to aim and keep the pinkies clear, she was able to successfully capture the three of us in front of the Ward Gateway Starbucks. The rest of her clever shots will go in her scrapbook. Arwen didn't really care anyway. Unlike her friend Gabe (aka "My Gabey") who thought we were totally nuts, this little latte lover actually likes going to Starbucks for "coffee" and was enjoying the drinks and treats right along with us. Okay...before you all scoff at the horrible parent who lets her 3 year old drink coffee, let me clarify that Arwen gets the Kids Cocoa, but as far as she's concerned, it comes in a Starbucks cup just like mine, so it's coffee.

For this visit:

Our Baristas:
Brandee (the cashier with an attitude) & Cathy

Our Drinks:

  • Larisa: Grande, Nonfat, No Whip, Peppermint Mocha in the beautiful Pike Place Starbucks tumbler Mai brought back from Seattle this summer -- saved her 10 cents! Woohoo!
  • Malia: Tall, Decaf, Nonfat, No Whip, Sugarfree, Gingerbread Latte
  • Mai: Grande No Whip Toffee Nut Latte
  • Arwen: Kids Cocoa (which was upgraded to a Tall because they were out of short cups.)

Other:

  • Larisa bought 3 Create Your Own Tumblers for us to enhance the journey. (Mahalo!)
We eventually made our way down Auahi Street to the Ward Entertainment Center and decided it was time for dinner. This is also where we realized that we needed to pick up the pace if Malia and I were going to make it home in time for Desperate Housewives and Larisa home for Nip/Tuck. I'm not sure if this is why we failed to get any other photos than this food shot (photo credit to Larisa) and also missed getting the names of the baristas or if it was because we were so excited to get free samples, but this'll have to do for now. If our mystery baristas happen to read this blog, please feel free to comment to let us know who you are! Of course, after forgetting the lemonade part of my order, they may wish to remain anonymous.

For this visit:

Our Baristas: ???

Our Drinks:
  • Larisa: will pass on a drink and just enjoy the food samples
  • Malia: also passing on a drink
  • Mai: Grande, Sweetened, Black Iced Tea Lemonade (but the barista forgot the Lemonade part)
  • Arwen: an Organic Apple Juice Box
Other:

  • Larisa: a Turkey Pesto Sandwich sample, a Ham and Cheese Croissant sample, and a $5 Gift Card with a cute Christmas Card Box of Chocolate. (Doing a little Christmas shopping?)
  • Malia: a Turkey Pesto Sandwich sample and an Egg Salad on Multigrain Sandwich
  • Mai: a Chinese-Style Chicken Sandwich with Side Salad to share with Arwen
  • Arwen: 2 pieces of chicken from Mai's dinner. Apparently she didn't agree with my dinner choice.

We hurry a little further down the street to the Hokua building, and as we approach this location, begin to get the sinking feeling that it's closed... there wasn't a soul in sight! What a relief to suddenly see movement behind the counter. Yes! We're not too late! This Starbucks does close earlier than its sister stores in the neighborhood, but it isn't closed yet. We hurry in to find Courtney and more samples! Another interesting discovery, this Starbucks location recycles. One more reason to heart Starbucks Hokua!

For this visit:

Our Baristas: Courtney

Our Drinks:
  • Larisa: sample of Unsweetened Black Iced Tea Lemonade
  • Malia: sample of Unsweetened Black Iced Tea Lemonade and a Tall, Unsweetened Black Iced Tea Lemonade
  • Mai: sample of Unsweetened Black Iced Tea Lemonade while still carrying the drink that was missing Lemonade from down the street.

Other:

  • Larisa: Dark Chocolate Graham Cracker Cookies
  • Mai: Holiday Gingerbread
  • Arwen: Rice Krispie Treat
Mahalo to Courtney for taking our picture with extra special thanks from Larisa for including her friend Louis in the shot ("the other brown one.")

Without much time left, we hustle across the street to the Ward Center Borders Starbucks. Aack! A Borders location and no time to browse?!?! The sacrifices we make for our Sunday night TV. As we climb the stairs to our last stop for the evening, we find a kind Borders guy to take our picture. Mahalo Mark.
Upstairs, Arwen quickly finds herself a table and sits down to enjoy her Crispy Treat that I painfully made her wait to open until now while the rest of us chat with our friendly cashier, Marcus. Larisa and I admired their Daily Offerings sign that included a drawing of the island chain and asked if one of their own baristas created it as some of the ones we'd seen in Central Oahu. Marcus explained that they have a partner that comes in to do their signs, but this one they almost had to erase because, though beautiful work, it didn't meet corporate specs. We learn something new with every Starbucks trip.

For this visit:

Our Baristas: Marcus & Nathan

Our Drinks:
  • Larisa & Malia pass.
  • Mai: Tall Java Chip Frapuccino
Other:
  • Larisa: Decorated Cookie Ornament
  • Malia: Rice Krispie Treat

Saturday, November 24, 2007

November 18, 2007: Lewers Waikiki Starbucks


Aha! I finally figured out how to make a post!

I am the least computer savy of the three of us so of course I am the last to post on the blog! I'm Larisa, the brown one in the photos. Mai Ly has done a fabulous job of keeping everyone informed of our Starbucks mini adventures. I say mini because the big adventure is when we hit the mainland in a green Starbucks car traveling from one Starbucks to another. Wouldn't that be a fun little summer vacation?

So for now, this photo of me, Malia, and Mufasa from "The Lion King" will have to do as my photo/post. Just goes to show you that Starbucks is truly universal. From the famous to not so famous to a stay at home mom like me---we all LOVE Starbucks. Til next time....

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Catch up with Central Oahu

What do you get when you take a 4 year old on a Central Oahu quest to 5 different Starbucks locations? Hours of seemingly endless entertainment, 3 trips to the potty, company for Malia in the backseat, someone to bus our empties to the trashcan, an assortment of interesting photographs, and confirmation that even a preschooler can shoot pictures better than my husband. (Sorry Rob.)

Meet Larisa's son, Gabriel - our special guest for today's tour of all Starbucks stores within 8 miles of Larisa's home. He's a whiz at designing architectural structures of Tinker Toys and Legos and can produce a masterpiece with paint on canvas like a pro, so naturally we decided this gifted little guy was the best choice to serve as official photographer for our caffeinated crew. The fact that he was willing to work for the bargain rate of one Penguin Cookie and a Sausage and Egg Breakfast Sandwich was a bonus.

Gabe thought we were crazy for taking in so many Starbucks stops in a day, but he was still such a good sport and did an excellent job with the photos. Take a look at this one taken by Gabe at the Mililani Shopping Center Starbucks. I'm not sure any of us could've taken a shot like this if we tried. (Good job Gabe!)

We decided that we had some serious catch up work to do because it'd been almost two weeks since the last time the three of us were able to get together for Starbucks. Make no mistake...we've all been frequenting our favorite java joint since the last post. We just haven't been able to get the three musketeers together at one location at the same time until now.

With Larisa as our driver, the adventure continues with a stop at Schofield Barracks. Our friends at the Main Street Expresso (store name on the receipt) were giving out coffee crumb cake samples. Yum! Larisa also made an interesting discovery we hadn't seen anywhere else yet - Hanukkah Starbucks merchandise. And to answer your question, yes, the 4 year old took this picture. Like I said, the kid's got talent.

For this visit:

Our Baristas: Sarah, Crystal, & Joanne

Our Drinks:

  • Malia: Tall, Nonfat, Decaf, Foam, No Whip, White Chocolate Mocha
  • Larisa: Tall Hot Cocoa
  • Mai: Tall Toffee Nut Latte
  • Gabe (our photographer): Water

Other:

  • Larisa: 2 Penguin Cookies to share
  • Mai: a Coffee Crumb Cake to share (but she didn't)
  • Gabe: some trail mix from Mom's purse (is outside food allowed?)

On to Mililani Shopping Center - site of Gabe's awesome photo shared earlier in this post. We realize at this point that we're going to have to pace ourselves if we want to actually enjoy each of these 5 visits. We'll stick to just drinks at this one. Gabe's getting hungry, so we'll have lunch at the next stop.

For this visit:

Our Baristas: Addison & Jen

Our Drinks:

  • Larisa: Tall, Sweetened Black Iced Tea Lemonade
  • Malia: Grande, Sweetened Black Iced Tea Lemonade
  • Mai: Venti, Sweetened Black Iced Tea Lemonade
  • Gabe: Nada, he's content playing with my camera

What seems like footsteps away, we're at Mililani Towne Center, where we discover that making delicious coffee drinks is not the only talent 0f a Starbucks barista. It turns out that the Daily Offerings and other special signs we admire each day are created by the staff. If there was a contest for this, my vote would be for this one by Kris.

For this visit:

Our Baristas: Cat with a C & Kris with a K

Our Drinks:

  • Larisa, Malia, & Gabe opted to pass on having any drinks here in order to have room for lunch.
  • Mai was still carrying her drink from the last Starbucks stop. (Is it still considered outside food or drink if it comes from another Starbucks?)

Other:

  • Larisa: Chicken Cheddar Club with Bacon Sandwich
  • Malia: Veggie Wrap
  • Mai: Chinese-Style Chicken Sandwich with Side Salad
  • Gabe: Nada, he's holding out for a Sausage and Egg Breakfast Sandwich, which were sold out here
Mahalo to Kris for coming out to take our photo!

Then we make our way over to Waikele. Our team bookworm, Larisa, loves the Borders locations. To complete this visit, we wandered in to find Malia additions to her Warren Kimble collection (something that probably deserves a blog of its own) and ended up finding Larisa a book she didn't already have (shock!) - How Starbucks Saved My Life by Michael Gates Gill. We'll have her share a review when she's done. A life without Starbucks is hard to imagine.

For this visit:

Our Baristas: Ke'ala, Leigh Ann, and Jason

Our Drinks:

  • Larisa: Ethos Bottled Water
  • Malia: None, she's just having dessert
  • Mai: Tall, Sweetened Black Iced Tea
  • Gabe: None, they've got his sandwich though
Other:

  • Larisa: Mint Chocolate Brownie
  • Malia: Fresh Banana and Strawberry Yogurt Parfait
  • Gabe: Sausage and Egg Breakfast Sandwich (finally!)
The final, and probably our favorite, stop for the Central Oahu Starbucks cluster was a trip through the Waipio Starbucks Drive Thru. Here we met the self proclaimed "best baristas" on the island of Oahu. These guys were the perfect way to end our excursion for the day, and they didn't have any problem with us taking their picture. They also shared a drink suggestion that we will be sure to try in the near future: Venti, Iced, White Chocolate Mocha with two pumps Almond. Thanks guys!


For this visit:

Our Baristas: Rubin & Josh

Our Drinks:

  • Larisa: Tall, Iced, Nonfat, Stirred Caramel Macchiato
  • Malia & Mai: Tall Java Chip Frappuccinos

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Maui Stamp Mugs

So there I was at the Manoa Starbucks on my way to a Stampin' Up! party. It was suppose to be a quick stop to pick me up a venti nonfat, decaf, white chocolate mocha with foam, no whip, and a Carmel Macchiato for Mai Ly. (Larisa wasn't joining us for the party or I would have picked her up one, too.) However, I caught myself doing something I shouldn't have done...I started to walk around and look at the shelves of Starbucks merchandise. Now, I can probably tell you the current inventory of merchandise in any Starbucks, so why I was walking around was unbeknown to me...okay, it was known...it was out of habit. Good thing (or bad, yeah right!) though, as I spotted the red label we all long for...the red label indicating a sale item. And what was it? A Maui stamped mug! Now, we have a deal that we won't buy a mug from a place other than its city...which is fair, right? I mean what fun would that be if you could buy all your "city" mugs from the same store? (Note to self, write about the "dilemma" while at the Starbucks in Narita, Japan.) But this was an exception, and I'm sure you'll agree with me as to why...they were $1.99! You would be an F-O-O-L not to make the purchase. And there was a sign (as if $1.99 needed to be justified), there were 3 of them! That's right...one for me, Mai and Larisa. I would have felt bad if there was only one, (because I would have to hide it from the other 2) or even two (because I would have to choose who to give it to without the other knowing)...but 3 meant we could each have one...hence, a sign. So, I did the only thing I could do, I bought all 3. What another great day at Starbucks!

Friday, November 9, 2007

The Journey Begins

There seems to be one every which way you turn and, just when you think they've got all corners covered, here comes another. This isn't a complaint. It's a celebratory statement. I heart Starbucks. I look forward to my daily cup of heaven and don't think twice about standing in a line that wraps around the shop to get it. The coffee, the pastries, the atmosphere...what's not to love?

So it's a good thing that two of my closest and dearest friends love Starbucks as much as I do. We drink Starbucks. We eat Starbucks. We shop Starbucks. And while we're hanging out enjoying our barista prepared beverage, what do we do? We talk Starbucks. "We should visit every Starbucks location on the island of Oahu." That's right. If we're going to be drinking Starbucks everyday (quite often more than once in a day), we might as well mix things up, be a little adventurous, and see what all Starbucks has to offer us here.

Now the original idea was to not only visit every Starbucks on the island, but to actually visit them in the order that they opened. A great idea until we got a hold of the list. With the amount of driving necessary to get all of them done in order and the current gas prices, we'd burn up our coffee budget - quickly, so we amended the plan to begin at the first Oahu Starbucks - Kahala Mall. The rest we'd take care of in geographical clusters.


And here we are at the beginning of our journey to check out every Starbucks on Oahu. Please excuse the photo taken by my husband who apparently had a difficult time figuring out how to get us and the sign in the shot. Despite the looks of frustration, we were having a good time. (Thanks for trying, Rob.)

With the Starbucks upstairs at Barnes and Noble not opening until 9 a.m. and the nearest alternate location at least 4 miles away (Kapahulu) in one direction and 7 miles away (Hawaii Kai) in the other, this location services a pretty big chunk of morning island coffee drinkers, so as usual the line stretched out of the store and into the mall. But the service was fast and the coffees well worth the wait.

Starbucks Kahala Mall is my home office. You'll find me there just about every morning after dropping Arwen off at preschool, and the only reason I may skip that fix is because I have plans to meet someone there later. Today, I returned for a 1 o'clock lunch meeting with a potential client. I wonder how many visits it'll take before they'll give me a reserved table.

For this visit:

Our Baristas: Matt & Claudine (we would've included photos, but apparently Starbucks has a policy regarding photographing their employees.)

Our Drinks:

  • Malia: Venti, Hot, Non-Fat, Decaf, No Whip, Toffee Nut Latte

  • Larisa: Tall, Hot, No Whip, Egg Nog Latte

  • Mai: Venti, Hot, Whole, No Whip, Toffee Nut Latte

  • Rob (our photographer): Venti Coffee
Other:
  • One Cranberry Bliss Bar and One Mint Chocolate Chip Brownie to share