Is toast the new cupcake?

I continue to see articles about toast. Yes, that is what I said… toast! It is turning into the newest fad. $3, $5, $7 slices of thick toast. Some with cinnamon and sugar, others with jelly, or other savory toppings. It is locally made, and sliced thickly, and toasted to perfection. Much of my research shows that this new toast trend first popped up in the San Francisco area, but is starting to make its way across the country.

It is a funny thing when you think about it. Of all the crazes, cupcakes and cronuts, even locally made ice cream with crazy ingredients are all things that are a bit more complicated to make at home. Yet, toast, one of the easiest items to make in your kitchen is now a luxury item in bakeries, cafes, and restaurants. Maybe it is just a current fad and will not last.

An article on ABC states:

“The Mill’s offerings change often, but selections, priced up to $3.75 per slice, can be country bread with butter, maple syrup, powdered sugar and sea salt, or whole wheat bread with house made pumpkin butter. The trend has spread to Los Angeles, where Sqirl charges $7 for thick-cut local “burnt” brioche bread topped with house made ricotta and seasonal jam, and New York City, where The Smile offers buttered multigrain toast with local honey, raspberry jam or almond butter for $3.75.”

A group in San Francisco is even petitioning the mayor to get the cost of living under control, blaming the tech community for having the ability to purchase luxury items such as a piece of $7 toast. Wow, what is the world coming to these days? I am not saying I am against $7 toast, I think we should each decide for ourselves what we purchase. I am not one that would want to purchase a piece of $7 if I could purchase a whole loaf for that price. Call me cheap, or thrifty, I just think a bit more about the economy of things. If I did fork over $7 it better be a damn good piece of toast.

What do you think about the new toast craze?

Moment-by-Moment Choices

We always have this moment, and the next, and the next. We always have the option to decide how to respond and react. We can lash out or respond with poise. We always have a choice. Last week after writing about how Marianne Williamson was running for Congress in California, I continued to research and read about what she has been doing. This led me to finding her blog, and one comment in particular resonated with me:

“We make moment-by-moment decisions what kind of people to be — whether to be someone who blesses, or who blames; someone who obsesses about past and future, or who dwells fully in the present; someone who whines about problems, or who creates solutions. It’s always our choice what attitudinal ground to stand on: the emotional quicksand of negative thinking, or the airstrip of spiritual flight.”

I want to be someone who blesses, dwells in the present, and creates solutions. I can tell you that I sometimes get sucked into the emotional quicksand of negative thinking. Yet, if we make moment-by-moment decisions, then we can fix that negative thinking in the next moment. I saw that last week when I was angry with someone. I really do not like feeling angry. I do not like how it makes my body or my mind feel. It makes me feel off. However, I have a hard time saying I was wrong, or forgiving.

Last week however, I leveraged that moment-by-moment decision-making. I allowed myself to be angry for a few hours, and then I thought, “What a waste!” Sure I am still bummed by what happened, but does it do me any good to be angry? No. So I told this individual that I had forgiven them (well almost). I did it in a way that made me feel like the bigger person (I was not completely ready to let them off the hook).

It was progress though. That is all we have to do each day is make progress in becoming the individual we want to be, to unearth the individual we already are.

Kick Ass Author for Congress

One of my all time favorite authors and lecturers, Marianne Williamson, is running for Congress for California’s Congressional District 33. Hell yeah! While I have no desire to move to LA, and politics and party lines aside, it would be so fun to vote and fill in that box by her name on my ballot. What an inspiration her words have brought to my life. It brings me joy and inspires me, and hopefully it will inspire women to vote, and to get off their ass and open their mouth and speak up.

The very first Marianne Williamson book I read was in high school, called “Return to Love.” I still have my copy of that book, with all the tabs and highlighted quotes and notes. The pages have become worn with age because it is not a book I read once or twice, it was a book that sustained me during some tough times in my life. I can remember being a sophomore in high school, away at boarding school, and that book would go with me everywhere. Return to Love is her take on “A Course in Miracles” which I never got into, but her explanation and personal experience was just the right story I needed to hear at a time when what I needed most was a showering of love in my life. Here is a quote that resonated with me and was very marked up in my copy of Return to Love:

“People who have the most to teach us are often the ones who reflect back to us the limits to our own capacity to love, those who consciously or unconsciously challenge our fearful position. They show us our walls. Our walls are our wounds–the places where we feel we can’t love any more, can’t connect any more deeply, can’t forgive past a certain point. We are in each other’s lives in order to help us see where we most need healing, and in order to help us heal.” page 107

Over the years I read quite a few of her books. The two that I remember and stand out to me the most (if you were interested and wanted to crack one open) are “A Woman’s Worth” and “The Gift of Change.” Of course the feminist in me found solace in A Woman’s Worth. It is a book that looks at women’s issues from a lens of healing, rather than lacking. The Gift of Change really looks at our lives and how we can shift and change our world, this one has a very spiritual twist.

I encourage you to read her announcement and why she is running for Congress on the home page of her website. If you live in the 33rd Congressional District, vote, vote, vote!

#Inspiredbymarianne

Don’t give up.

Over the weekend, Chris and I were in LA. We rented a car, and after driving it for an hour or so, we realized it sounded horrible. It was a 2013 Prius, and was making the most annoying rattling noise. Knowing that we had an hour + drive ahead of us later that night, we both felt we needed to get a different car to ensure that we were not stranded with a broken down car late at night. (Not my idea of a good time).

First we called the closest Hertz location. No answer. We called the 800 number for Hertz Roadside Assistance. They said we would have to go back to the LAX location where we rented the car. Not an option, we would have sat in LA traffic both ways and never would have made it to our dinner plans. We drove to the Hertz location listed as closest (the one that did not answer the phone). It was not at the specified address. An hour has now passed.

We called Roadside Assistance again, and were transferred to another area within Hertz and got hung up on. We called another location in the vicinity, and they said they had no cars and that we should go back to LAX or call the Hertz 800 number. We called the 800 number, they said they would transfer us to the Venice Hertz. The man who answered that phone call said he would call a few different locations, took my number, and said he would call back. He never called back. We called Roadside Assistance again, and they said they would transfer us to Customer Care. We were disconnected.

By this time, I was livid, frustrated, and quite a bit nasty with Hertz. During my final call to Roadside Assistance, the agent tells me there is nothing they can do for me, the only people who can help me is the LAX location, but that I would need to go there to have them swap out cars. They let me know that Hertz Roadside Assistance can do nothing for all the frustration, hang-ups, my only resolution is at the LAX location (they supposedly have cars). By this time we are in Sherman Oaks, and a few hours have passed.

I call the LAX location at least 10 times, and each time I get a voicemail. I do not want to leave a voicemail, because who knows when anyone will return it. The agent tells me they cannot help me, after I get very irritated with her, and ask her what she would want done if she was in my situation, she agrees, but says she can no do anything to help me. I firmly ask to speak with her manager, (who I find out is Fred). Fred and I will spend the next few hours trading phone calls and voicemails. Hertz must not teach or empower their managers to think for themselves. He tells me there is nothing he can do for us, the only thing we can do is drive back to LAX and trade out for a new car. I knew that was not going to happen. So we had to decide to push further with Hertz, or give up all the hours we already wasted in our day and just drive north with the potential that our car will break down.

I am not one to give up. I press on. I tell him I am in Sherman Oaks, and will be for the next few hours. Could he find a location near me that can bring us a new car? He finds one at Burbank and tells me I have to drive there. I tell him that is not going to happen. We have plans and I have already wasted 5 hours of my afternoon being hung up on and trying to deal with his company. The least they could do is bring a car to us. He finds a Nissan Altima and says a tow truck will come to meet us, but it will be a few hours. I ask what he is going to do with my rental rate after giving us a car that was not 100%, having such horrible help and customer service issues, and that I lost half my day due to Hertz. He said there was nothing he could do. Eventually he says he will pay for our gas when we returned the Altima.

Ha. Our gas. Part of the reason for renting the Prius in California was the miles we were going to drive. I knew we would not have to pay much for gas, so his comping our gas was nothing. I asked him if he could comp a day, since we did not get to do all we wanted due to the car. He said he could not do that, but would comp me the gas. After I yell at him, and he yells at me, I hand the phone off to Chris. I am livid and sweating, and not going to give up. I used to be in customer service and I am appalled that someone who manages an entire Hertz location does not have the authority to fix these types of issues.

In the end, Chris told them if he did not fix this, and make it right, that I would end up taking it up the line at Hertz (and yes, I will be writing them a letter, and will be happy to share this blog post with them). He mentioned that I have a blog, and I will be sure to make my experience known so that others do not have a similar situation in the future. Fred said, “well we do not want that, let me call my manager.” He called us back and offered a day off our rental and to pay for our gas. In the end:

  1. Hertz delivered the car to us in Sherman Oaks.
  2. It was another Prius… new, with only 1,300 miles.
  3. Our gas was only $10.17 to fill it back up… we paid for it.
  4. We got one day comped on our rental.

Customer service representatives should always ask for phone numbers and call customers back if they get disconnected. My health insurance provider does that, and I appreciate it. Companies should also empower customer service agents and managers to be able to offer their customers some type of compensation when issues arise.

I wanted to share this in hopes that others will not give up if in a similar situation. What do you think?

Have you heard of “City Target?”

On Sunday we were driving in downtown Portland and I saw a sign for a “City Target.” Have you heard of them? Upon researching further, it looks like there are City Targets in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle, that opened in 2012. The store in Portland is set to open in July 2013. At the moment the windows are wrapped with “City” and the Target bullseye logo.

I know many people have mixed opinions when big box stores come into urban areas (even if it is with a smaller footprint). I am not a huge fan of Walmart, so I am part of that mixed bag of differing ideas. I do, however, have a spot in my heart for Target. Maybe it was because I grew up going to Target. I try not to go often because it is too easy for me to leave with too many items. Their specifically designed furniture, housewares, and sometimes even clothes are more my taste than a comparable item at Walmart.

I do not live in downtown Portland, so going to City Target will not be a big deal to me, but when I lived near downtown Portland, I would have been thrilled to see it open up. It means for so many that they do not have to find transportation, use their gas and drive out to the suburbs just to stock up on items. Take a peek online and see if one is opening up in your area.

#excitedforurbanPDXers