Tag Archives: Coffee

How To Enjoy The Perfect Latte’: Part II

Alternate Title: How To Actually Make a Latte’

Knowing your way around an espresso machine, take the double shot espresso handle out, empty it with a few bangs if it’s full, scrape any excess grinds out and then fill with extra fine ground espresso grinds.

Fresh Espresso

Tamp and twist firmly with a tamper until it’s packed perfectly then attach it to the espresso machine with a quarter turn to the right. Place the desired coffee holding vessel underneath and begin to pour the shot.

Gorgeous Crema

While the shot is pouring, steam your milk, whole milk for a flat white, 2% if for a regular latte and skim for those strange people who like them skinny. Soy or Almond Milk steams slightly differently, we’ll just pretend no one asked for that today. Fill the steaming cup with a bit more very cold milk than you will need, add a thermometer, then put the steam nozzle all the way to the bottom and turn on the steam by turning the nob to the left.

A barista steams milk for the 'Barista Throwdown' competition.

Open it nearly all the way and slowly raise the nozzle to the surface of the milk, and tilt the cup to get a swirling motion going in the milk, as the volume increases hold your position until the temperature of the milk reaches 140 degrees F, be particularly careful not to exceed 160, it’ll burn the milk. Remove nozzle once the correct temperature is reached and there is evidence of the microfoam you’re looking for, the soft tiny bubbles that leave the top looking like thick wet paint. Skim milk will naturally look less creamy, and if you’re doing a cappuccino feel free to steam with harder foam, bigger bubbles by lifting the nozzle slightly out of the milk while steaming for quick bursts.

The owner of the cafe foams milk for waiting customers.

Once the shot is done pouring, grab your milk and a spoon if desired and pour the milk over the shot. Use a spoon to separate the milk from the foam as you pour, or just pour more quickly and wait as it separates in the cup. There will be a bit more foam this way.

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To achieve the latte art design, tilt the mug and pour onto the side of the mug then in strategic motions, breaking through the espresso crema (or film ontop), wavering and wobbling the milk rhythmically then cutting across the top of the circles made will produce the iconic heart or rosette shape in your latte. Garnish with cinnamon or cocoa if desired, now sit back and enjoy your home made perfect latte!

Now repeat 100 times a day and curse the uselessness of your joint major Honours Science Degree in Psychology and Anthropology.

Latte’ Art Tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NItrlTwbvAU

.NOM
-Hailey Jane


There’s Nothing Worse Than Getting What You Want

Life lesson time…

(Because I don’t have kids to instil this valuable knowledge into…and my dog doesn’t really seem interested.)

Noting my credentials as your friendly local Blogger, I would seriously ask you to reconsider making a living (or a small fraction of one in my case) off of what you like doing most. Your hobbies, your favourite things to escape into. Don’t, I repeat, DO NOT aspire to make it your day job.

Some arbitrary examples that in no way refer to things I’ve done in the past:

Say you’re around twenty one years old, and you really REALLY love books. Like…not just reading them, but searching them out, smelling them, particularly the old yellowing pages of volumes once loved by someone else for years. Your heart flutters at the feel of fraying bindings, and the rough texture of a hardcover that’s lived an exciting life. You think, “Gosh, I’d be infinitely happy if only I could be surrounded by these ageing bodies of wisdom and knowledge all day every day…My dream job would be to work in that there local used bookstore.”


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All sounds fine and dandy as you dream about blowing the dust off of boxes of linguistic treasure, finding a new home for these magical collections of life stories, scientific texts and fiction that challenges the literary genius of Nabokov or Tolstoy. Then one day, you are made aware of an opening at said local used bookstore for part time work. This news makes your day. The friend of yours who worked there was moving on, which left a vacancy that you are tickled pink to have the chance to fill. She puts in a good word for you. Because why wouldn’t they want to hire you, you are vastly overqualified in both formal education and general knowledge of worldly things. And of course…you “Absolutely adore books” which is said at least twice during the interview that you are over the moon to receive. Regardless of the terrible hours and lack of government approved pay rate, you are happy to start your life as a clever purveyor of books, and  feel also like you are preforming an important social service, helping those in need find the words they are looking for that will change their life.

You start by shelving the ‘new intakes’, and a quick look at the box reveals that they are all absolute fluff. One hundred percent old lady porn. Romance novels all bent along the spine where the dirty bits are. You quickly learn that this particular shop specializes in a lending library sort of system where old books are bought and sold back to the store by old ladies who get their kicks reading about unrealistic love affairs between knights and princesses, long haired Fabio types and fragile female characters who can’t think for themselves. Hundreds come in and out every day. The other half of business is divided up between mystery novels, Sci-Fi, Grisham and Patterson type Fiction and whatever new releases you manage to get in. Which is approximately ten. Because no one sells their brand new books right away. There is a respite in the depressing Non-Fiction section in the back, but it unfortunately looks like a bomb went off and the dust only just settled. Stacks of DIY and irrelevant biographies lay everywhere and you better have a winning lottery ticket in your pocket if you’re looking for a specific book back there.

You learn your boss lives in the back room with his cat, and is not exactly the friendly, eccentric old bookstore owner that you imagined. But an angry easily perturbed man in the crisis point of his life, who takes groups fishing for too much money when the weather is nice. After being in charge of the store when a customer accidentally broke a lamp, and to then have a strip torn off you by the boss for it, you feel like maybe this five dollar an hour business isn’t exactly worth it.

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Say you’re around twenty four years old, after months of applying for jobs in this new city you moved to nearly a year ago, and after a terrible bout working as a cashier at a grocery superstore which made you want to choke people with different kinds of produce, you get a chance to work at the Holy Grail of National book companies. The holder of the literary monopoly from Sea to shining Sea, the keeper of all that is new and exciting in the world of the precious book! Of course you’re going to say yes to a position at the helm of this (arguably, sinking) industry! Or at least you figure close to the helm, as who interviews you seems like they’re in charge (Spoiler: You are wrong). You agree to a minimum wage start, because it sounds like there is lots of opportunity for raise and promotion.

new bookstore

What they don’t tell you, is, you will get all of the worst shifts, be called in last minute nearly weekly and be criticized and humiliated if ‘heaven forbid’ you have plans on your day off. The person in charge is a megalomaniac from the BIG city who apparently only knows Business 101 Buzzwords like ” Our Process” and “Streamline” or “Zeitgeist”, “Paradigm Shift”, “Bundling”, “Synergy” and “Efficiency” which translate to “We will work you like a mule for hardly any pay,  until your soul pours out your nostrils and we can keep it in a jar in the office until you don’t recall you ever had one”.

They “forget” your six month review and hold off your first precious ten cent raise for months, they neglect to define your role so they can make anything “your job” on a whim and criticize you for not doing it. You get reamed out daily for not “Collecting (Re: Begging) enough cash Donations” which the company uses to a) look like a charitable organization and b) bestow as gift certificates that sell product at the regular horrifyingly marked up price. You eventually stop trying to get as many unsuspecting customers as possible to sign up for the loyalty program that tracks their purchases and encourages more thoughtless buying through annoying daily emails.

You stop believing that this was once a good place, where people could enjoy life and find a book to escape into, and you only see it as a place where someone can come up to beg you for a discount on a softcover you saw them deliberately rip the cover off of, they throw a fit and get the deal from a manager anyway, who made you look like a fool in front of them for talking a stand. You start to dread the day they might eventually ask you to sneak up behind unsuspecting customers and steal their wallets or car keys. You decide you need out. You need freed from the corporate mentality where you are just a number, a peon, 100% replaceable, which you are. Once your enthusiasm for useless products is gone, once you’ve been thoroughly disillusioned and realize it’s not a bookstore anymore and just a sanctuary for brightly coloured, cheap, useless crap, they the pick a fresh crop of smiling faces, ready and eager to have their soul extracted in the name of “A love for books”. They didn’t care if you knew a thing about books, as long as you could sell them. No measly 30% discount is worth that kind of mental torture. And you’re not even mentioning the Special HELL that is Christmas at the Mall.

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Say you’re around twenty five years old, and after the spirit crushing experience with corporate Canada, you are offered a part time gig at a local independent cafe’ downtown. Hallelujah! You say! Finally the quaint and cozy job serving people hot cups of caffienated love day in and out. Happy people who are glad you drew a face in their latte’, couldn’t be happier you added an extra carrot on their sandwich plate, working for a person who’s face you see on a daily basis. That’s the life! And by god! Tips! You’ll make extra money! What a concept… It all looks like it will work out just fine!

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You are trained on a gruelling schedule requiring memorizing more than you needed to in your four year University Science program. The assistant manager is an anal French perfectionist who is surprisingly terrible with customers, harbouring a strangely successful hate-hate relationship with them. You only see the Owner when you’re getting reprimanded for putting the napkins in upside-down and opening your mouth and talking to someone who wasn’t a customer, or when getting paid in cash which feels more like a drug deal then an exchange of services for fair wages. The latter event seems to happen less and less often, getting pushed weeks behind because he neglects to show up while you’re working. Your hours are cut back to less than the legal shift length, or cancelled all together an hour or two before you’re supposed to start. You’re not paid for the last half hour of your night shift because you only get paid half an hour after close, but there is still more work that needs done and it better be done the next morning or there will be a big scary French Cafe’-Nazi on your ass.

You exhaust yourself daily trying to find things to do to look busy when it’s slow or they will send you home and you won’t make enough to justify the travel costs to work. Free coffee doesn’t pay the rent, and the latte’ you get per shift is starting to lose it’s lustre’.  Getting to work with espresso eventually doesn’t make up for all of the foul smelling tuna and egg salad sandwiches you have to make for the daily regulars who somehow manage to have less of a social life than you. Regulars that are not happy about the extra carrot on their plate, and violently complain when it is no longer there. You go home smelling like pickles, coffee and sweat and the tips you made didn’t pay for the bus ride home, which you waited 45 minutes for in minus thirty degree weather, on a dodgy city street at midnight. You stepped over a puddle of human blood to get here…is this what you really want?

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The fantastical idea of all of these different positions is in theory wonderful. All are appealing and have a way of attracting themselves to you by including something you love already, old books, new books, coffee. But now and forever these aspects of life will tainted by the experience of doing it for a living. Going for a hot drink at a local cafe’ will always come with a cringe and feeling of empathy towards the poor barista getting scolded for too much foam on a latte. A trip to the bookstore will be a horror or horrors, completely unenjoyable, watching mindless moneybags shop like toddlers throwing tantrums for things they really don’t need. And the used bookstore becomes a pit of old books no one wants anymore. A hole where the unwanted fall and rot for years collecting dust, and anything worth buying is lost on a shelf behind thousands of other volumes by no-name authors from the eighties.

I’m not saying you should stay away from being employed at these types of places, because everyone extracts what they want and need from each kind of situation. What I’m saying is try to avoid taking a job that has little merit other than it being something you enjoy doing in your free time. The niceties and pleasure you get from that activity will be changed forever, and if that job has no other merits, such as pay or pleasant people to work with, you may be in for a bumpy and uncomfortable ride.

Thanks for stopping by!

-Hailey Jane


And I’m Back!

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After a fortnight in old Blighty, I successfully made it back to Canada and have been running around like a directionally challenged chicken with its’ head cut off, ever since.

Crossing half the country twice and a bit can really take it out of you.

A Quick list of things I learned while on Holiday:

-I am allergic to relaxing for more than three seconds when in a different country.

-If I’m going to misplace something, it’s going to be REALLY important and too expensive to replace. (I.e. my Railcard)

-After years of mocking and scoffing, I now secretly like the Twilight films and One Direction.

-I can eat broccoli without vomiting!

-Nutella is AMAZING!

-Famous people just walk around the streets like they live there or something, instead of that magical place in the sky that I believe all TV creatures go to when they call it a day.

-Suitcases can fall out of a bus at top speed on the highway and survive with ‘but a scratch’.

-British plumbing is my arch nemesis.

-I don’t know how we survive at home without pick and mix, and Jammie Dodgers.

-You can buy someone’s old glass eyeballs in Lewes if you want to.

-Airplanes now interior decorate in the fashion of nightclubs.

-Heels and cobblestones don’t mix well

-I’m still super good at sneaking around places I’m not supposed to be.

-I wish I went to school at Oxford….Sorry Trent, we can still be friends though.

-I look a bit too comfortable in a peasant costume, which has weakened my belief in my ultimate destiny of world domination.

-You can be 11 kilometres up in the air and still wave at someone out the window.

-Dogs can go to pubs? What madness is this?

-Canadian bookstores have A LOT to learn about being awesome…

-Vegemite tastes like Marmite, but worse 😛

 

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-Miss Hailey Jane


Taking This Show On The Road!

Hey wonderful people who like coming here to read what I say! I’ve got a bit of news that’s rather exciting, and I thought I would share it with you. I have commissioned a design for cards to help the non-internet world, and lead them towards the goodness that is here. The cards are soon to be printed, and I wanted to give you all a sneak peak at what they will look like. Fee free to provide feedback in the comments.

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These will also become VERY handy while I’m….wait for it….back in ENGLAND! That’s right folks, I’m taking this show on the road! I’ve got another excursion planned, booked (but not quite yet paid for), for the end of March of this year. So if you’re from that part of the world (South East England-ish) and want to do a meet and greet, see the sights and have adventures shoot me an email and I’ll set something up.

xx

-Miss Hailey Jane


The Coffee Break

Life, one of the worst things to try and talk about because everyone has their own opinion on the matter. Their own thoughts, their own feelings and their own experiences, which more often than not will be different than yours. Supposedly this is what makes it interesting.

My apologies, as I have been off the map a bit as of late due to a new endeavour that seems to be swallowing up all my time like a pelican at a fish farm. Ideally this is a good thing, because in the long run it ought to provide the means to obtain new and exciting material for all of you wonderful readers whom I love truly and deeply. But no one likes the short run.

One thing I want to express though, is that I desperately miss the time for inner reflection that I used to have in droves. I miss my coffee breaks. Sitting in a cafe with a hot drink, a pen and paper, and time.  Time to dig deep through my current thoughts into my memories and then deeper into my nature, finally to mix them all together to create something beautiful, entertaining and unique.

Each day I see this world as a shallower place than the prior, and know I could lift at least a few of these lost souls from their comfortable mundane corporate consumerist world, if only I took the time to share what I thought. I can feel the buds of their future regret forming, for not living life with a purpose past the next purchase and pay check. Individual history is dying before my eyes. What am I going to do about it?

What can you do about it?

I choose to write, what do you choose?

-Miss Hailey Jane


My First London

After experiencing the tilt-a-whorl of emotions that was A Considerably More Pleasant Moment in Time, smelling the smells and feeling the feels, and then drinking one of the most necessary coffee’s of my life, I and my companion hopped on a train from Gatwick and headed straight for the heart of London. Being my first time, naturally I sucked up every little new feeling I could, including being wobbled around on a train and track that may or may not have been built before there were strict safety guidelines. It was overcast when we arrived, and as I stepped out of the train station onto the London streets I was engrossed with how different every little thing was, yet fundamentally the same.

The people all had the same basic destinations, the office, work, calling on family or friends, buying groceries and other necessities. It was just they all did it in a rather different way, in much smaller cars, on much bigger buses and on windy-er more complicated streets.  The buildings were significantly shorter but were squished together and arranged with more talent, and everything seemed so much older. There were shiny buildings, but they were not the dominant feature of this iconic city. I was thankful for this.  We walked along the South bank of the Thames, past London Bridge, the new one, and then on towards Tower Bridge, the massive and beautifully designed crossing that defines the beginning of east London. The first thing I thought as I looked at it, was ‘Who the hell decided to paint it that awful blue?’.  Cool bridge, terrible colour, it’s a shame really. And just so you know, I totally felt like Bridget Jones as I  crossed it.

Tower Bridge in London

About crossing it…I had been carrying my luggage along behind me thus far, heading toward Fenchurch Station to continue the rest of our journey to Southend on Sea, and it was at this point when I encountered the most terrifying set of stairs I had ever seen in my life, that led up towards the bridge. OK, maybe they’re not THAT bad, but let’s keep in mind I am thoroughly exhausted. After an 8 hour night flight without sleep, five hour time difference, customs, endless queues, a train ride and then walking across London lugging approximately 20 kilos plus a carry-on full of books, plus a purse, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. After slight motivation, I came around, and thought ‘I’m in London, dammit, I should be able to fly up these stairs!’. Well I didn’t quite fly, but after lots of very unfeminine grunts lots of laughter and a lot of “Sorry, pardon me”s I made it to the top, and crossed the Thames for the first time.

On the other side there was another terrifying set of stairs, very much exactly similar to the set I had just conquered. Of course there was, why wouldn’t there be. All of my pride and self praise for making it up the other stairs vanished instantly.  I eventually conjured some extra gumption after huffing and puffing a bit, and made the decent, only slipping and nearly falling to my death once….maybe twice. I swore to myself to pack lighter next time, but we all know that was a big lie.

We stopped for a well deserved break in front of the Tower of London. We had a quick drink and cigarette and talked a bit more in depth about what the two of us had been up to over the past four years. It felt like we hadn’t been apart that long, but the amount of things we needed to tell each other was a good indication that there was a lot of time between us. It would take nearly the entire two weeks to relay all the necessary information. It would have taken less if several existential life altering crisis’ hadn’t occurred in the meantime. But more on those later.

The November air was crisp and cool, and we loaded up again and trudged along in front of the Tower, snapped a few photos and then wandered around to the train station. On the train, after very embarrassingly fumbling with my change for fare, because I had never seen any of it before, there were more “I can’t believe you’re really here”s and “I can’t believe I’m really here either”s. Even though I was completely exhausted I was perfectly happy, and knew I was going to really like it here.

The Tower

As we arrived at Chalkwell station, the cabby was just about the most upfront and personal stranger I’d ever met in my life. I was a little nervous about how nice he was being, and when I say nice, I don’t mean polite and courteous like the average Canadian, I mean complimentary and in your face about it. The first thing he did was grab my bags and say “A beautiful girl like you shouldn’t have to carry your own bags” loaded them, and then when we got in (as I quickly got over the steering wheel being on the wrong side) he asked where we “lovely ladies” would like to go. When he found out I was visiting from Canada, he was full of praise for us Canadians, and continued being just as friendly all the way to the house. He unloaded my bags for me and walked them to the door. I could really get used to this!  My friend told me that was perfectly normal behaviour and that I really should get used to it, and also learn to take a bloody compliment without turning beet red.

Once inside I explored the tiny kitchen, funny light switches (that to this day make me happy), the funny faced outlets and the strange toilets. Everything was completely recognizable, just a little different. It was like I was in some strange parallel Universe, but I liked it. I then half unpacked my suitcase and had the most fantastic shower pretty much ever. It was absolutely glorious to be able to wash the ‘airplane’ and ‘streets of London’ grime off of me, I swear that stuff is like a film on your skin. After I was done and had dressed in a clean set of clothes, we sat down and had a delicious cup of coffee, and for the first time in about 24 hours, I relaxed, and it felt like home.

-Miss Hailey Jane


Richard Curtis Fan Fiction: Notting Hill and Back Again

Wandering the busy streets of London on an overcast yet warm spring day, a woman carrying a cloth bag of free used books looks up and smiles at the world. She was an interesting looking woman, but pretty nonetheless.  Her wide green eyes were captivating as well as wise and reflective, and her simple loose brown curls ensured her more striking features took the credit. She thought her head too big for her body and her arms too long, but she loved the way a patterned wrap dress fit across her flattened chest and floated down around her sharp hips. On this particular day she was wrapped in an off-white variant of the aforementioned dress type that tied at the neck, which had the daintiest green leafy embellishments along the hem.  It’s slight glint offset her gold sandals perfectly and she felt completely put together.

Years of the most enjoyable work and research left her more than comfortable at her current point in life, one might almost say she was well off. This fact did not matter to her so much as the fact that she absolutely loved every second of what she was paid to do. Because of this people were drawn to her magnetic personality, resulting in an even more successful career.

She was in London on what felt more like a vacation than work, promoting her latest book. It was a selection of mostly true short stories from her travels around the world, a guide book with an entertaining and occasionally dramatic twist thrown in for good measure. She was proud of this book, more so than any of her others, and she was thrilled that Travel Book Co. in London was putting her up to come in and do a meet and greet, slash book signing. It was a long way from her home in America, and she never imagined her works would reach so many people abroad, but she did have a rather terminal case of humility.

As she floated down the street, having just come from the event with her bag of complementary travel literature, she found herself in need of a hot drink to calm her slightly jostled nerves. It had been a surprisingly popular event, more so than she had anticipated. A line out the door and around the corner to come and meet her. She had met some very interesting and strange people, as well as a few local authors, whom she was honoured were interested in her work. The woman rolled the course of this morning’s events over in her head, while subconsciously searching for a Costa or Cafe Nero, otherwise, she was more or less completely oblivious to the rest of her surroundings.

And suddenly, like a cold brisk wave smashing against the boulders along the edge of the sea, she obliviously collided with a Demi-God. Their shoulders clashed and they both spun in the direction of the other, resulting in a fiercely locked gaze. At first glance she saw a tall, dark, high cheek-boned Adonis, and then, to her euphoric horror, she recognized him immediately. Memories of an early Disney film and the tune of “Once Upon a Dream” rang in her ears.

“Pardon me” He said, reaching out and gently touching her recently struck shoulder with his hand.

She could have died right there and then, being perfectly and completely satisfied with what life had presented her…but something deep inside her took hold of the situation, and what followed felt like a dream beyond her control.

“Uhm, Coffee…” was all that came out of her mouth.

He responded with a completely justified confused look. His proximity and long dark coat made her feel so much smaller than him. She was easily overwhelmed.

She closed her eyes and quickly shock her head to bring some sense back to her brain. “I could use some coffee, would you like to join me? There is a fantastic Cafe just around that corner I understand, my treat?”  It was a complete long shot, she knew that, but a part of her was determined to avoid regretting not taking the chance.

He looked her over, in a tactless manner but he was a man after all, all she could blame for that was nature. He pulled out his phone, thought for a moment while scrolling through what she assumed was his calendar, and then he looked up and laid a cheeky, confident grin all over her.

“Alright”

The Universe seemed to have decided to convince two complete strangers to go out on a limb, take a chance and make the leap. The rest was entirely in their hands. They walked side by side around the corner of the next street, she didn’t dare say anything from fear of fouling up the whole situation right off the bat and having him rum away faster than a chicken about to loose his head. She just wanted a cup of coffee in her hands and knew she would relax and come around.

They reached the door to the Cafe, and he held it open for her, she brushed past him, inhaling his intoxicating aroma that incidentally made her knees weaken. They stepped inside and she scraped up the remains of her confidence and turned to face him.

“What would you like?” She asked in a slightly too loud a voice. Damn those nerves again… “I’ll grab our drinks if you want to find a seat?” she followed up with, hopefully compensating for the embarrassing volume influx previously. He glanced up at the drinks board.

“I’d like a Irish Cream with sugar please.” Seemingly pleased at the selection.

“Mmm, good choice.” They parted and went about their prescribed tasks. She saw that he chose a seat for two by the window, which she thoroughly approved of, as she loved people watching, particularly in this wonderful city. This was quickly becoming her favourite place in the whole world, and that is saying quite a bit, as she had been just about everywhere one could think of because of her work.

She ordered the drinks, an Irish Cream with sugar for him, and Cappuccino for herself with a double shot of espresso. ‘That oughta keep me from a state of complete and utter panic’ she thought to herself. When they were ready, she carried them to the table, praying to any deity in the general vicinity, so she didn’t trip and spill them everywhere. The drinks made it to the table safely, and she sat down across from him and tried to make herself comfortable. ‘That is one damn good looking man’ she thought loudly as she looked at him, hoping no one could hear her. He was looking down at his coffee, stirring the dark liquid in the glass mug with a shiny spoon, making rhythmic clinking noises as the spoon went around. She tried desperately not to get too turned on, but at this point it was nearly impossible. she had been squeezing her legs together essentially since the moment they met. Couldn’t be helped.

“So, do you have a name my dear, or are you just a pretty face?”

She did her best not to turn to mush right there, trying to keep her composure, remembering the eternal words of Bridget Jones, ‘ “I will not get upset [flustered] over men, but instead be poised and cool icequeen.” Yes, that mantra would do just nicely. I’m a professional woman for fuck sakes…’ She realized she had been thinking too long and quickly snapped out of it and tried to think of something clever to say.

“Nope, just a face… made for getting a passport rather difficult though”… ‘Oh God, please laugh, please think it was at least slightly humorous’

“I have the exact same problem, yeah.” he laughed, then took a sip of his coffee that was too hot, and tried to look like he wasn’t flinching in pain.

“I’m sorry, I hope you didn’t have to be anywhere at the moment, I’m sure you’re up to your ears in press related whatnots and that sort of thing.”

“Naaa, sort of a day off. Seems you know who I am though. Doesn’t seem fair really, as I don’t know anything about you, not even a name. What is it you do for fun Miss Mystery Woman?”

“I am a writer actually…”

“I said for fun..”

“Oh I don’t think you can get much more fun than flying around the world, causing shenanigans and getting paid to write about them.”

“I guess so” he paused “So are your and shenanigans worth reading about?”

“No it’s all Crap,” she grinned widely wile narrowing her focus, waiting for an amusing reaction. When she got one she finished with    “Naw, It’s funny, amusing and all that but people love reading about misadventures, and if I can throw in a bit of helpful tourist hints and educate my audience even a little bit the end product is worth it.”

“Sounds fantastic, so what are you doing in London, you’ve got that sound about you that hints you’re from America”

“I am, actually, I’ve just come from a book signing at that Travel Book Shop in Notting Hill….you know, the one from the movie, actually come to think of it, it’s a wonder I didn’t spill orange juice all over you.”

“What?” He looked rather concerned, thus clearly hasn’t seen said film…

“I wouldn’t worry, you’re safe. Anyhow, they’re putting me up to do a bit of customer relations stuff, so to speak. I’m here till Tuesday then I fly to New Zealand to do another event.” She took a long sip of her Cappuccino, trying not to get foam all over her face.

“Well it’s terribly unfortunate that you’ve got to leave again so soon.”

“I know, this is just so surreal”  ‘Can’t believe I just said that’ she thought. ‘Thank goodness he won’t catch the quote, whatever you do, don’t say “surreal, but nice” and offer him honeyed apricots’.  She grinned to herself, yet felt slightly ashamed. ”

“At least tell me your name so I can find your book.”

“Here.” She reached into her bag and pulled out the copy she had on hand. She grabbed her pen and scribbled something on the inside cover for him and handed it over. “It’s all yours, with any luck it’ll be worth a fortune when I’m dead, 1st edition and all.” She rolled her eyes sarcastically and giggled. He grinned through his coffee mug, tilting it up finishing the last few drops.

“I’m very glad I bumped into you, Miss…” He paused and looked down to read the cover. “O’Brian, but I’ve got to get going, I’m so sorry. Thank you for the coffee, I’ll have to remember this place.”

“Yes, it is very lovely. As are you, and I’m so happy I got to meet you.” They got up and collected their things. A sharp feeling of sadness washed over her, thinking she may never see him…well…in person, ever again. But she will be eternally grateful for this opportunity. They cleared the doors of the shop, and stood on the sidewalk outside for a moment, facing each other.  Something was drawing her to him, and he couldn’t help but reach out and put his hand on the waist of her white dress. She stepped closer to him, so he could feel her breathing. With his other hand he clasped hers and pulled it to his lips for a sensual yet innocent kiss.  He held it to his lips for a moment longer, looking into her eyes, feeling like he had missed something important. He raised an eyebrow and lowered then released her hand. She stepped away from him, her heart beating  as if it were ready to explode.

“Goodbye” She said with unimaginable confidence, and turned to leave up the street.

“Wait!” He called after her. “How do I know this isn’t your pen name?”

She turned her head in his direction and smiled a cheeky and devious smile.

“It’s just a chance you’re going to have to take.”

As he walked away he opened the cover of the book to read what she had wrote, assuming it would just be a signature. As he did so he stopped mid-stride, turned in her direction, his mouth agape. his heart both floating and sinking simultaneously. She was gone. Lost in the sea of people on the street. He needed to find her again, no matter what it took.

‘Well, if anything this little adventure has made it’s way into my next volume, that’s for sure.’ she thought to herself as she skipped down the London streets, beaming with perfect happiness.”

The End

Miss Hailey Jane


A Considerably More Pleasant, Moment in Time

It was not my first time across the Atlantic, but it was my first important trip out into the world all on my own. I had been through University, supposedly gained a new understanding of life the universe and all that, but as it turns out I really felt just as vulnerable and alone as I had stepping out the doors of my High School the last time. I tried the “working for a living” thing, and nothing stuck for longer than a few months, so with the small wad of cash I had collected, I made the most brilliant and irrational decision I could think of.

I was in the shower one day, where all the best decisions happen, and it came to me alongside an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction. It felt like this was the right thing to do, and the only possible thing I could do at the particular juncture in my life. I would buy a ticket to England with the money I had made digging holes over the past few months, and I would visit my friends whom I hadn’t seen for over four years. I was free to do as I chose, and freedom was what I wanted. So away I went!

When my Mother left me all alone in the airport (or plane station as I have come to call it) in Toronto after check-in to fend for myself it finally hit me. I was going to cross the ocean all by myself and the feeling was exhilarating. The last time I crossed the sea I was escorted by several teachers as well as 12 of my fellow classmates, which changes the feeling of it altogether. This was a whole different world, and I couldn’t wait for it. As my Mother retreated towards the door and headed back to her life, I thought about how the next person I would see that I knew or could recognize would be my best friend who I hadn’t seen for four years. Then, obviously, I panicked worried what I would do if she wasn’t there at the terminal on the other end to pick me up. I quickly got over this rather unpleasant thought and moved on.

I wandered around the main area of the airport for a while, having a look at some of the shops that sold overpriced Canadian garb like maple syrup and soapstone carvings, and then headed through security into the heart of the terminal. Passport clenched tightly to me, I was mentally going over anything that was in my bags hoping I hadn’t forgot any offensive materials, like hand cream or nail clippers. Heaven forbid I upset an airport security guard…

I made it through with ease and was free to explore the inner bustling confines of  this strange place. People were absolutely everywhere, like ants in a freshly smooshed ant hill. I stop and look at as many of them as I could, and wonder intently where they’re all going and if it was anywhere near as exciting as my current adventure. Like that man hidden underneath his backpack, is he off to India? South America? To live in the jungles for a few months? I hope he doesn’t get malaria…Oh, or one of the many families from what appears to be the Middle East, are they going back home for fun or moving somewhere else because Canada just didn’t cut it for them? There is also that old woman over there that keeps glancing at me. She and her husband are apparently moving back home to England on the same flight as me, which I learn after a brief chat.  His accent makes me happy. They miss it terribly, which makes me even more excited.

I then wonder where it is I should be going. I glance up at the monitor and see that they haven’t assigned a gate to my flight yet, so I make myself comfortable with a hot cup of caffeine and get used to my new and overstimulating surroundings. With nearly two hours to kill I start to get terribly antsy. Thinking what it could possibly be like over there, in England. A whole country full of people living their lives in a completely different way than I do. Coming from a small country town out in the boons, this will be the most novelty I would have had to deal with all at once. I hope I can handle it.

It’s time to head to my gate, number 39. Ughhh why is it so far away, I feel like I’m speed walking a gauntlet. I eventually reach it with the help of super-fast floors, and settle in to wait for my plane to be ready. After far too long they announce boarding and away I go, heart in mouth, ticket and passport in hand, feet on plane, butt in window seat.

As the plane takes off I’m smiling so big I’m nearly giggling, and with no one around to giggle at I’m sure the others on the plane thought I was a bit off.  The clouds fall below me and the sky opens up to a highway with absolutely no traffic. Nothing is stopping me now! Wahoo!

The tiny food on the flight makes me smile even more, and the courteous attendants are well received. Especially when they bring me a tiny ice cream cone that looks to be the right size for a cat. It’s precious!  Not to mention delicious. After lots of hours, lots of bad music I will not admit to, and the novelty nearly wearing off, we begin to descend on London. My sleepy eyes become fully alert, I am sitting straight up, sucking on that mint like it’s the last mint on earth. As I see the patchwork land below me, I feel a strange feeling of relief wash over me, like I am back where I am supposed to be, yet have never been here before.

The tiny wheels touch down and we skid to a halt. No one claps…this is good. I hate it when people clap on planes…way to not have confidence in your pilot…

Anyway…I sit and wait until most people have de-planed and take my time collecting all of my things and then mentally prepare myself for setting foot on a new continent once again. The first thing I notice is how it smells different. Not different enough to really notice, but it’s a new and exciting smell and it seems to be everywhere. After a bit of analysis, I decide it’s a warm, old and comforting smell that I assume comes from a place that has been populated for many centuries longer than…say…my ‘native land’.

I wander along another long hallway of windows and find myself in another long line at customs. The nerves come back, and I fear that if they don’t like the look of me they have the power to turn me right around and send me packing on another flight in the direction of home again, just after I’ve come all this way to get here. Turns out it was not that difficult and before I knew it was free to collect my luggage and meet my friend on…the other side…dum dum dum..

I was worried I wouldn’t recognize her after not seeing her for so long, but again I overanalysed it and in reality had noticed her instantly as I walked through the doors and gave her the biggest hug I could muster. I was finally here, in England, free to lark about as I thought fit, for two whole weeks. It was right then, from that moment of arrival and onwards, that my life would begin and I would have meaning and purpose back again. It was sensational.

-Miss Hailey Jane


A Moment in Time

On a day in the past, in some far away place, I sat down and recorded one of the strangest feeling’s I’ve ever experienced. Here is what came of it. 

~Well, this is it. My luggage is checked, my croissant is eaten and my coffee, drunk. I’m getting on that plane and I feel absolutely terrible about it. To add insult to injury my luggage was overweight by four kilos as well. I feel as if this moment, here and now, outside this coffee shop, is one I’m going to be  thinking about for the rest of my life.

If the Universe had’ve wanted me to stay then something life altering would have happened, wouldn’t it? Thus the reality of the impending life hangover is slowly being realized. I’m like the grasshopper that sang all summer, there is music to be faced and who the hell knows how it’s going to turn out. I promise you it’s not going to be pretty.

The goodbye-texts have all been sent, you feel empty and alone, and when you heard that strong Canadian accent at the check-in desk it shocked you, it upset you, you don’t want to go home.

The third time’s the charm they say…Ughh this feeling is awful and it’s only going to get worse. It’s an intense sick feeling, my stomach turns, my head throbs, the sadness has penetrated my every extremity. And the worst part of the truth of the matter is that it’s going to be me walking myself onto that plane, it’s all my doing…all me…only me.  GUILT. I’m the only person letting myself feel so much like shit. Forever the eternal masochist.

But you see, if you’re miserable your whole life you’ve got nothing to compare it to so you essentially become exceedingly content. But when you punctuate your life with intense bursts of extreme happiness it makes the majority of the rest of it seem meaningless and excruciatingly terrible. Once you’ve been blinded by the light you can no longer live in the dark.

These happenings reveal to me who I really am, what I really want. Here I am real, elsewhere is all a mirage that I’m forever blundering about in, waiting to see the desert hiding underneath it.

Phooey, I should really go through security sometime soon, I don’t really want to, have no urge to get up out of my seat whatsoever at the moment, I feel drawn to this here (rather uncomfortable) seat, as if there is a heavy weight pulling me towards the centre of the earth from the pit of my stomach. But I figure it’s best to do it, and do it like a bandaid…quick and painless, except it’s going to be eight and a half hours of pulling at tiny hairs before it’s all over, so maybe not so painless after all.

Man Up!….GOOOOO!….DO IT!

Maybe I’ll just buy a book first… I like to pretend I have willpower sometimes….~

-Miss Hailey Jane


Masochistic Deipnosophist Experiment: Wrap Up

Well, it’s been a long 40 some-odd days, but I survived.  My days of abstaining from foods that begin with the letter ‘C’ have ended, and will never, ever start up again.

Ideally, the goal was a better sense of self, increased level of health and just feeling better overall. So, did I achieve this far-flung goal?

On the SFU Wellness Quiz that I started my quest with and re-took again today, I seem to have slightly improved in the emotional department, resulting in a passing grade! Woohoo! (I hate failure…).  Though I fear the spiritual section of my life isn’t getting any better anytime soon, the minor improvements in the career area, including two job interviews and some time spent working for the family boosted my overall score a little.

My Final Wellness Score: 38/70 (Units of wellness??)

Everything else remained the same. The test itself isn’t detailed enough to measure the effects of a diet including a drastic reduction of caffeine, but I am spending significantly less money at Starbucks which can’t be a bad thing!  (Needless to say that first French vanilla coffee with whipped cream after however many days was etheral bliss).

I did miss out on a lot of chances to win a car, or television, or camping supplies, or assorted confectioneries from Timmies…but when I think about it…I don’t really need any of those things…Tim Hortons just makes me think I need them so I buy more of their burnt bitter, water soaked in coffee grounds (Yes I’m a coffee snob…get over it).

As for the food factor…Things I found I missed most of all were: Chilli, Crackers, Cookies and all those other snack foods that start with C.  Snacking on nuts really doesn’t cut it some days.  I also missed out on doing a lot of my own baking. Making my homemade cookies, cakes, crisps and so on… turns out to be a bigger part of what I do for fun than I thought. A certian someone and a slew of his coworkers also missed this significantly.

I gave up on avoiding cheese early on, because I am not a god.  And chocolate was deemed a necessity by my gentleman, because with out it “I’m intolerable”… Which worked for me.

So overall, I survived. I feel pretty much the same, weigh the same, and do pretty much the same things. But I may try to keep some of the good habits I established, and not just throw them out with the bathwater.

My next quest for self-betterment will hopefully begin again soon, and will definitely involve world travel, because it’s been almost a year since I’ve been anywhere and I’m in need of a new adventure! Suggestions on a destination will always be greatly appreciated and taken sincerely into consideration. 🙂

Thanks for coming along!

-Miss Hailey Jane