Yes, I Have A Favorite Coffee Shop, and Yes, It Is Very Important To Me

Yes, I Have A Favorite Coffee Shop, and Yes, It Is Very Important To Me

Coffee's not a fad, Mom. It's a lifestyle.


So, my favorite coffee shop in Charlottesville isn't even a coffee shop... it's the Starbucks within Barnes and Noble. Coming from a small town that only recently got its first coffee shop, the number of coffee shops in Charlottesville (which, according to Google, is well over 15) is overwhelming, to say the least. While I haven't been to every coffee shop yet, here are some factors that were essential when I determined that Starbucks is my personal favorite.

1. Good coffee/tea/whatever you order

I mean, for the most part, this is the reason that one goes to the coffee shop in the first place. If it doesn't have a drink that you like, it probably isn't worthy of being your favorite.

2. Good prices

If you're like me, you frequent your favorite coffee shop A LOT (like, you are a regular, they know your name and order A LOT). Therefore, they're getting a lot of your moolah. It helps if they are relatively cheap or have a good deal system like getting a tenth drink free, Hooked deals, etc. Also, don't be afraid to ask about their refill policies... they are life (and money) savers!

3. Free Wifi

This day in age, every coffee shop should have Wifi. But like, if its during the school year, I'll be doing school work. If it's the summer time, I have other work to do (or online shopping) that requires Wifi.

4. Comfortable seating

When I go to coffee shops, I can be there for hours. It is an outing, let me tell you. I get to Starbucks at 9 and leave near 4 most summer days. I plop down on the benches next to my fellow regulars and I get down to work or reading or whatever tickles my fancy. And if I'm going to be at a place for 7 hours, it better be comfy.

5. Good atmosphere

For me, a coffee shop is more than just coffee... it is an experience. Am I relaxed? Am I productive? I need an environment conducive for working with decent music, reasonable noise levels, and a certain charm to it.

6. Nice employees

For the love of all things are good, employees are so important. I like having a conversation with the baristas. I like that they care enough to remember my name and order (For instance, today, I got a vanilla latte instead of my regular vanilla coffee because I had a coupon, and they literally commented on the change and I had to explain why I deviated). Nice, affable employees add a bit of social interaction to the otherwise singular outing for me.

7. Easy parking

Okay, this one may just be a me thing, but parking gives me anxiety, so I like finding places with ample parking. I don't want the enjoyment of the coffee shop to be tainted by driving around trying to find street parking... no thank you.

8. An understandable menu

I am by no means a coffee connoisseur... I don't know the differences in roasts. I don't know the difference between lattes and cappuccinos and americanos. I am a noob, and I don't like not knowing... so I freak out. I like menus that somewhat explain what the heck the differences are. I like places where I can make it froofy and not feel judged. Basically, when I do occasionally I don't want to stress out about what to get, but I also want to like what I get because coffee is expensive.

So, when looking at these important factors in a coffee shop, do you have a place that checks off all the boxes? You, my friend, have "your" coffee shop. It's a lovely thing. Embrace it.

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How To Play 'New Girl's' True American Drinking Game

"It's 75% drinking, 20% Candy Land, and the floor is molten lava."

I think it's fair to say that anyone who watches "New Girl" knows about True American. This crazy, nonsense drinking game which pops up every so often throughout the seasons and first introduced in season one, episode 20.

The game, as described by "New Girl" character and fan-favorite Schmidt, is 75% drinking game and 20% Candy Land with a floor of molten lava.

The point of the game is for players to navigate through the Candy Land-like spaces to the "castle," which is a table in the center of the room that holds beer "pawns" and the "king" bottle. The first person to reach and sip from the bottle wins.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things "New Girl" Fans Know to Be True

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Here's how to play:

Step #1: Prepare the "castle"

First, set up your "castle." The castle is made up of beer "pawns" and the "king," a bottle filled with the alcohol of your choice.

The bottle should be in the middle of the table, surrounded by four lines of beer pawns. There is no exact number of beers necessary for each line of beer pawns. Choose any amount of beers that seems appropriate for the amount of players.

Step #2: Set up spaces

Set up spaces using pillows, chairs or any other objects players will be able to stand on. Place an equal amount of spaces around the table. You'll want about 5-8 spaces on each side, depending on the size of the room you're playing in.

Only four of these spaces should reach the castle, lining up with the parade of beer "pawns" and allowing players to take a beer pawn from the castle. For example, in the photo above, each of the chairs touch a corner of the table at the end of the line of beer pawns. Therefore, these are two of the four special spaces that allow players to take a beer. Unlike the pillows pictured, which are just regular spaces that the players can use to move around.

Step #3: Pick teams

Teams are optional. To pick teams, all of the players will place a certain number (1 to 5) of fingers against their forehead on the count of three.

Any players who hold up the same number are a team. Unmatched players can team up as needed or simply pair up with the person standing closest to them.

Step #4: Begin

Begin with a shotgun "tip-off" to determine which player goes first.

The winner of this shotgunning contest will yell, "One, two, three...JFK!" to announce the official beginning of the game. All players will enthusiastically respond, "FDR!" then quickly grab a beer pawn from the castle and run to any space they wish to start at, excluding for the four special spaces that reach the castle.

Step #5: Make moves

The winner of the shotgunning contest has earned the first turn. From then on, the order of turns will move in a clockwise rotation. During each turn, the player will move one space toward the castle and choose to play one of the following mini-games.

Mini-game No. 1: The player whose turn it is will count to three then all players will place a certain number (1-5) of fingers on their forehead. Any player who selects a number no one else selected can move ONE space.

Mini-game No. 2: The player whose turn it is will recite the beginning of a famous American quote. The first player to complete the quote can move TWO spaces.

Mini-game No. 3: The player whose turn it is will name two famous American people, places, or things. The first player to identify what the two have in common can move THREE spaces.

For example, say it's your turn. You will move one space then choose one of the three mini-games. You and all of the players will participate in that game, and the winner will move accordingly. After this, your turn is over and it's the next player's turn (in the original clockwise rotation).

Step #6: "Play on, playa."

Continue playing by these rules until one lucky winner reaches the bottle and sips from its royal glass.

The bottle cannot be opened until every last pawn is removed from the castle. Any players who fail to keep at least one beer in hand, who accidentally end up with more than three beers in hand, or who touch the lava are immediately disqualified. Disqualified players can rejoin the game by shotgunning a beer.


You are now able to impress all of your "New Girl"-loving friends with knowledge of the workings of the epic True American drinking game. Know your limits, drink responsibly, and enjoy!

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The Year of the Pig

Happy Chinese New Year! My family has a few traditions that we do to celebrate the new year together, but this year my mom and I decided to start something new.


Do you remember the controversial maybe even disturbing short film before Incredibles 2? The one where the mom eats her son who is a small steamed bun? Even though it might have been disturbing, you have to admit that the buns the mother and her son made together looked delicious!

The food in the short film is called bao and it is a traditional Chinese steamed bun that typically contains pork as its filling. My mom and I were inspired to try to make our own and maybe after this article; you'll be inspired, too!

Here are the ingredients you will need:

1. Premix flour steamed bao (you can find this at the Asian market)

2. Steamer (we used bamboo steamers from the Asian market)

3. Ground chicken breast

4. Chopped Portabella mushrooms

5. Chopped green onions

The first thing we did was prepare the filling for the bun. Traditionally, pork is supposed to be in the bun, but we decided that we would do chicken instead.

1. Add grapeseed oil to a large, frying pan

2. Add minced ginger, onions, and mushrooms (measurements are optional)

3. Add the ground chicken breast

4. Add the seasoning as you continue to sauté all the ingredients.

5. Season with soy sauce, hoisin sauce and ginger (measurements are optional)

Make sure your center stays heated while you start to make the bun. The instructions for how to make the buns are on the packaging of the bun powder. Once you mix all the ingredients, you have to knead the dough for quite a while.

You can always make your buns from scratch. You can find a recipe for homemade steamed buns here.

Once the dough is kneaded, separate it into 18 strips. It is difficult to roll out the dough at first, but it becomes easier after a while. Once the dough is divided, roll them out into flat circular shapes and place the filling in the center of the dough. After you put the filling in the center of the bun, grab all of the edges of the dough together and twist them at the top, forming a swirling shape at the top of the bun.

We placed four bao on wax paper in one steamer and steamed them for 15 minutes. Each bao must be placed on separate sheets of wax paper. After 15 minutes, you have your bao!

This is a family-friendly activity that not only entertains your family, but it also feeds them! Celebrate the Year of the Pig by making bao with your friends and family! It's an experience that brings people together and gives them memories to cherish for a lifetime!

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