Dependable Starbucks

As a foodie, I’m always looking for something new, and I tend to gravitate towards local, small businesses first, but realistically, there are some large corporations I can’t do without. Starbucks is one of them.

My first taste of Starbucks occurred during high school when I’d meet friends at Barnes & Noble. We’d sip on our coffees while studying, schmoozing, and comparing books. I think we felt sophisticated. But this routine continued throughout college. Sometimes, we’d meet up at one of the few Starbucks in the area.

When I moved back to New Jersey for grad school, the same thing ended up happening. Starbucks seemed to be the regular place to meet up when we had a group project, a date, or just needed to get out of our apartments. A lot of good memories came out of those Starbucks visits.

But it’s not just about the sentiment. I travel a lot, up and down the east coast, sometimes domestically, once to Canada. (I’m not a traveler – it’s just not me.) If I can find a Starbucks, and I almost always can, I know I’m good. I can use a clean bathroom if needed. I can choose from a large variety of coffee and tea – regular or decaf. I can get a bottle of water. And I can get a healthy snack for the road, or something more filling.

Whenever I come across a Starbucks, I feel relieved. I know exactly what to expect every time, at every store, and for someone who doesn’t love traveling to begin with, having that one less stressor is a real godsend.

I love supporting local, small business, and I think I do a pretty good job, but I’m thankful that Starbucks exists, and I will always be a loyal customer for as long as they do.

Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew

Discovering new wineries

Summer is still kicking in Northern Virginia, and I’m not taking it for granted. Labor Day, the unofficial “last day of summer,” provided us with perfect weather to remain outside. 

I don’t remember how, but I stumbled upon this hidden gem in Leesburg – Fleetwood Farm Winery. It feels secluded enough, but guess what?! There’s none of those winding roads or hills that I can’t stand!

They weren’t offering their standard food menu because of the holiday, but Paella Deliciosa was there to keep us satisfied, and believe me, it was truly deliciosa!

We tasted several reds and whites, and ended up choosing a glass of Riesling to sip on the patio with our paella. The scenery was beautiful, but not too far from the road, which is a definite perk for this city girl. 

After two bowls of paella, we left the back patio and headed to the front patio, which contained a fire pit (obviously not yet in use) and a couple corn hole boards. We played one round, and I lost by a point.

As easy as this place is to get to, I’m already sure this will be a regular hangout for us throughout the fall.

(Note: This is an adults only winery, so you will need to make other plans for the under 21 crowd beforehand!)

But the beautiful weather didn’t stop there. 

Last weekend, I visited another new winery for a team building event with some coworkers – Arterra Winery in Fauquier County. This winery was far and took a while to get to from Fairfax, but we had an amazing time. 

It’s definitely secluded, but there are a lot of pick-your-own fruit farms right nearby. The owners also sell their beautiful art there. They don’t have food, but they sell a nice variety of cheese and chips to munch on while you sip.

Three of us ordered a bottle of sweet apple wine to share on the patio with our snacks. While I generally choose a red wine, I noticed that all summer I’ve been picking a white. I guess I associate a crisp, fresh white with summer, whereas I prefer to pair a spicier red with autumn. 

Despite Arterra being a little further out than my liking, I have a feeling I’ll be back to visit regardless.