Vanilla Isn’t Always Bad

va·nil·la /vəˈnilə/

adjective INFORMAL

having no special or extra features; ordinary or standard.
“choosing plain vanilla technology wherever you can will save you money”

While being called vanilla is most commonly viewed as something bad or boring or lacking in some way, I think that being called vanilla is a compliment.

Vanilla ice cream
Image by Ulrike Mai from Pixabay

Think about what is in your favorite milkshake or frozen concoction. Your favorite milkshake might be strawberry, but strawberry began as vanilla and had strawberry flavoring added to it. The same goes for chocolate. Start with vanilla and then add some sort of cocoa powder mixture. Cookies and cream? Yep. Vanilla with cookies in it. All of these delicious sugary medleys begin with one common ingredient: vanilla ice cream.

Vanilla is the foundation upon which some of the most amazing creations have been assembled.

One of my favorite ice cream treats is vanilla ice cream with pineapple bits in it. Sometimes I drizzle chocolate syrup on top if I’m feeling extra. Or maybe the occasion calls for a banana split. It all depends on the level of creative genius flowing at the time. And the reason why I love vanilla is that I can add almost anything to it and it still turns out great.

Banana split
Image by Mogens Petersen from Pixabay

As a creative person, think of yourself as vanilla ice cream. While you may think that your ideas are bland and boring, your creative vision and unique eye adds the sprinkles and the pizazz that turns plain old vanilla into something magical. The stories we are telling through creation and art, expression and experimentation may each differ from experience to experience, but the basis is the same. Our foundation–what we stand for, how we believe the world works and how we see things, and how we interpret what’s to come–works to enhance the creative apin that we put on things. The new glaze tried on a tried-and-true bowl, the touch of shimmer added to the soap, the interesting back story for the last character development exercise… it’s all an experiment that starts with that vanilla foundation.

Being vanilla isn’t bad. Vanilla is versatile, able to adapt to the occasion. No matter what is thrown their way, a creative vanilla personality can transform something bland into something bodacious simply by providing a strong foundation for the grandiose ideas. The creative toppings in no way detract from the vanilla foundation, but instead enhance it. Vanilla is an unobtrusive asset that should be embraced.

And remember, if the creative experiment should go awry, going back to the drawing board is less daunting once you realize that you’ll always have that classic foundation from which to begin anew.

What will you create today that can be enhanced by your vanilla foundation?


Why Paperback Books are Better

I get it. Hardcover books look great on the bookshelf. Their shiny dust jackets and towering spines lend a regal quality to a collection of books. They look great in photos and make the owner feel important in some way, as if a part of some exclusive group of book lovers.

But take one of those books off the shelf and flip through it. Start reading it. Cradle it in your lap and hold it above your head. Fold the cover back to get a closer look at the words. Pin the cover back with your fingertips to hold your place as you’re lying in bed at night, struggling to finish reading the final chapter through one half-lidded, tired eye. Carry one around in your bag at all times so that you’ll never be caught without something to read.

Not so easy, right?

Now take up the paperback. Bend it, fold it, and hold it open above your head as you futilely attempt to find a comfortable reading position in which you can stay for more than five minutes at a time. Pin the edges back with your fingertips, holding your place as you fumble onto the table beside you for your coffee cup without taking your eyes from the page, because this part is SO GOOD.

Definitely easier with the paperback.

If you’re the lying-down type of reader, you know the constant state of terror that you’ll drift off to sleep and lose the grip on your hardcover book, this made ever more terrifying if you’re holding the book aloft. You DO NOT want that beast of a novel cracking your nose. Drop a paperback and there’s less damage. It still hurts, sure, but a red spot on your cheek beats a black eye any day.

Paperbacks are cheaper, too. This is a huge benefit for book nerds with shallow pockets, and those who prefer to own copies of all of their favorite (and potentially favorite) books.

Paperbacks are lighter, meaning that more of them can be stuffed into your favorite beach tote, making it easier to heft and carry across the sand. You’re probably less persnickety about your paperback books, too, aren’t you? Getting a bit of sand in the spine of your beach read is less of a freak out moment than if you had brought along your expensive, clothbound copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (which also deserves a spot on any book lover’s shelf. There’s no doubt about that!).

There are infinite reasons why paperbacks are better. How many can you think up?

Don’t be afraid to build an amazing paperback library! They’re more portable, less restrictive, and more conducive to reading at a moment’s notice.

Are you ready to build your paperback bookshelf? Join in on the Paperback Bookshelf experience to receive a new paperback book, a warm beverage, a snack, and a handmade scented item, plus a bonus item each month, because there’s no such thing as too many books.

There's no such thing as too many books.

Regular Joe Coffee Reviews

I’m a coffee lover. I drink it every morning, and sometimes several times throughout the day. I don’t drink coffee black. I add cream and sugar, and sometimes I’ll add flavored creamer or a teaspoon of cocoa mix if I’m feeling fancy.

When I describe coffee, I don’t use the language of baristas and professional roasters. It’s not because I’m trying to be some rebel, it’s because I don’t have the knowledge (yet) to back up the language. So, when coffee is good, it’s good. And when coffee is bad, that’s usually when I can find more words to describe it. Funny how that works.

So, I’m on a quest to learn the language of the coffee cupping masters. If I experience a cup of coffee that has a bright flavor with hints of chocolate and orange, I want to be able to discern those flavors for myself and actually know that that’s what I’m tasting. Then I can accurately describe the flavors and character of the coffee without feeling like I’m grasping at straws.

Describing coffee doesn’t have to be some pretentious event.

Voyage Coffee Roasters, Zambia Kateshi beans

Featured beans: Voyage Coffee Roasters, Zambia Kateshi

So, if coffee is good, should I say things like the roast is dark and smoky and feels full? If I said that, would anyone understand? Perhaps I’ll need to develop my own language, describe coffee in terms of emotion, how the coffee makes me feel as I drink it.

At the core, I feel like the culture surrounding coffee can be a daunting one, especially to someone who lacks the language, but I’d prefer to experience coffee in my own way. Yes, I’m curious of the language of coffee and I’d like to understand it so that I can relate what I’m tasting to the appropriate description for it, but I’m not interested in the haughtiness that’s associated with all of that.

Now to find some great resources to begin my understanding…