Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Retro Babyccino

Recently I spent $5 on a cappuccino maker. I bought it used (obviously) and my only hope was that I could make a babyccino. 

The machine is retro and maybe not so cute but it works!  I managed to froth up some foamy babyccinos and I even found a couple of Hershey's Kissed to grate on the top!  I had to serve up in kids cups. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

When buying coffee becomes a racially-charged experience....

On Friday I had to make a very fast trip to the grocery store but I needed to buy a lot of items, many of them products that I have never purchased in the USA before.  This was not ideal, but I didn't have a choice.

I rushed over to the store and found nearly everything, but I got tripped up deciding which coffee to buy.  There were many choices but none of them were familiar.  In Canada, I love a particular President's Choice coffee and in Scotland I liked a Sainsbury's blend.  There were so many choices and most of them had brand names that were familiar from advertising but that I had never tried.  I didn't know how to pick so I did the most logical thing....I stood and stared at the wall of coffee choices and sighed.

I didn't notice that there was someone beside me, but there was, and she asked "what's wrong, can't see what you want?"  I thought she worked for the store, so I told her that wasn't it, I just didn't know what to pick.  She said that the best one was a particular coffee way up on the top shelf and reached it down for me.  Only then did I notice that she wasn't a store employee but another customer.

I decided to buy it, her recommendation became all I needed to make a decision (plus I was starting to run late).

When I got to the till, I put all of my groceries on the conveyor and the clerk started running them through.  She stopped when she got to the coffee and asked if I was sure I wanted that particular coffee.  I told her someone had recommended it so I picked it and asked why she was asking.  She said "Usually only black people buy this.  Do you still want it?"

Ha!  How do you answer that?  There is no politically correct way to deal with that question, so I just said, "of course" and bought it.  Can you imagine saying "no"??

I made the coffee on Saturday and it was good.  I had it again on Sunday morning with my breakfast and I have to say it is pretty spectacular!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Early Dismissal

Today Big Boy had Early Dismissal from school.  After taking care of some chores this morning, I packed up the other kids and we walked to pick up Big Boy from school.  The kids and I walked to a nearby playground and had a picnic.  We spent a couple of hours relaxing and playing with friends.

It was lovely!

Monday, February 17, 2014

I'm Coming Around to New Technology....

Last week I bought a very cheap Kindle used from a local trading website.  It is less than a year old and came with a case and a bunch of books that I think I will like.  It has wifi and a tiny little keyboard.

I have always resisted the Kindle.  I don't like reading off of the screen and I hate how you have to turn the pages with the buttons on the side.  I decided to buy this one to use for travelling.  It holds a month worth of charge and will be smaller than dragging a book or two with me onto the airplane.

The Houston Public Library is very modern and has a lot of books available online.  I registered the Kindle to my account with Amazon and then immediately tried to figure out how to use the Kindle with the library.  It took about ten minutes of fiddling and frustration but I can now easily borrow library books with the Kindle!  There are loads of titles available and it is a very simple process to find what I want.

I was disappointed in the quality of a non-fiction book that I downloaded.  It is a travel guide with text and pictures.  The pictures look terrible and it will be difficult to navigate the text in a useful manner for travel without being able to "thumb" through real paper pages.

I look forward to trying my new toy on our next flight.

Sunday, February 16, 2014


We are having a rough weekend.  It's a long weekend (President's Day) and everyone is sick.  Well...everyone but me.  It started with Baby Boy throwing up and having really gross diarrhoea.  Now the other two boys are throwing up and my husband is ill as well.

So I spent the last two days doing laundry and cleaning up various messes.  On top of this, our dishwasher is playing up so I have to re-rinse anything that comes out of the machine.  

This morning, my husband took the older boys out to get a breakfast treat for me.  They bought a sack of kolaches.  What an amazing breakfast treat!  A kolache is slightly sweet light bun or pastry loaded with a savoury filling.  Ours were filled with huevos rancheros and ham and egg.  I had huevos rancheros and it was delicious!  It was both light and filling and the eggs were nice and spicy.

I look forward to trying more flavours...but not too often, I think they could be fattening!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Appliance Love

My friend hooked me into a local trading site here in Houston.  I've never seen anything like it.  It's kind of like a giant garage sale online, but the goods are very high end.  

After some initial impulse purchases (designer handbags, toys for the kids, and a new set of kitchen knives), I quickly figured out that if I constantly watch the site I could waste a lot of time and money. I decided to make a list of things I really need and want and only buy those things on my targeted list. My list is a little wild, including:  "bike for Big Boy; a replacement wedding ring; bike trailer for Baby Boy; a reslly nice bundt pan; sleeping bags; and anything from Tiffany listed at a great price".

The one thing I was really hoping to buy was a very cheap Kitchenaid style mixer. I have wanted one for ages but I was worried that after spending all the money to buy one new I wouldn't use it. So I listed an advert searching for a "very cheap, used Kitchenaid or other brand mixer."  I could use it as a starter mixer and graduate up to a nice one from the store if I was interrsted still in a fee months.

A woman replied to my advert telling me that she had an old one and would be getting it from storage in a few weeks.  Time went by and she found the mixer but lost my contact info.  She put up an advert to find me and my friend saw it and helped me get in touch.  Then my friend also picked up and delivered the mixer to my home because she lived closer. So thoughtful!

Yesterday I finally had a chance to use my mixer...and now I'm in love!   It is an old school avacado green and I had a blast doing some retro baking!  

Monday, February 10, 2014

Licence Testing

What a day!  We have visitors right now (a.k.a. free babysitters) so this morning I decided we should head to the DMV to see if I could do my written drivers test. I checked online last night and road tests were being booked into March so I wanted to get one booked right away.  We are running out of time to get Texas licences because we have 90 days from our arrival to test (and pass).  You can't book a road test before you pass the written and vision tests so my visitors and I took Big Boy to school and then headed to the DMV nearest our house. 

We arrived at the DMV around 7:30 and it opened at 8:00. I joined the queue outside and read my manual while I waited.  The kids played and read stories with our guests. At 8:00 I went in and filled out the paperwork during my short wait. My application was processed when I showed all of the approapte documents and then it was time for the vision test. 

The vision test took no time any all and I passed. I moved on to the written test.  I passed the written test but I got a lot more questions wrong than I would have liked.  I skipped over a particular part of the handbook that I thought was unimportant and there were 5 questions from it!  I was worried about failing for a while. 

I was chatting with the clerk while my application was being processed and she told me she had just cancelled a road test for another customer.  She asked if I wanted the spot and I enthusiastically took it.  I ran out to my truck and told our guests that they had to take the kids out so I could use the truck.   Then I drove to the queue and waited a while.  When it was my turn I didn't have the correct insurance form.  The examiner offered to let me come back in the afternoon. 

I gathered everyone up and we went for a snack and to do some shopping. Then I arranged for the insurance form to be sent over and while the kids were napping I practiced my parallel parking for 1.5 hours with one of our guests (it probably brought back fond memories for him!). 

I checked the form right before I was about to leave and figured out that the insurance agent had sent the wrong one! It took 1/2 hour and a few phone calls but I finally got the right document. 

I drove over to the DMV and took my road test.  I was so nervous that I was shaking like a leaf!  My parallel parking wasn't pretty but it got the job done and I passed!

I am now the proud owner of a temporary Texas licence. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Moving In

I haven't posted in a while because our move happened. 

Last Monday the movers came to bring our things.  The first snafu was that the people came but our goods were an hour and a half late. The movers started to unload our shipment from Scotland when the radio made an announcement about the weather.  Tuesday was supposed to bring freezing rain so schools, and some workplaces would be closed.   

Our forward-thinking move coordinator set it up so that our second shipment (items we had stored in Canada) would also be delivered Monday so that no one would have to attempt to drive on Tuesday. All of the movers stayed late and left us with a house of chaos.  I think they got off somewhat easy because they stated for an extended day on Monday in lieu of returning on Tuesday and Wednesday.

On Tuesday we were trapped in our serviced apartment unable to drive anywhere.  It was great because the cable and Internet were both out.  I passed the day with the kids and it was not pleasant - I've all ready complained about this in a different post so I will leave it at that.  

From Wednesday until today most of my time has been spent unpacking and sorting items.  I put things away, noted damage from the poor packing job in Scotland, cleaned out and papered the nasty cupboards in this house, decided what to sell or give away, and tried to keep the kids entertained while also attending to my tasks.  Today the movers returned and took away an enormous load of rubbish....nearly our whole garage was filled!  Now we are starting to settle in. 

Unfortunately while we had all of this moving stress we also had car buying stress.  Last week we went to the dealership to pick up my used (enormous) truck. We drove over 1/2 hour to the dealership and then they decided to tell us that my husbands passport was required for pickup. It was not required to pick up our other car a couple of weeks ago so we could not have predicted it.  We drove for over an hour to get the passport and then return to the dealership where they informed us we would have to wait for the person to process our payment.  My husband spent the wait time looking over the truck and deciding that the detailing was not good enough.

We left the dealership without the truck and we had to return our rental car.  My husband then had the fun job of moving our things out of the rental apartment with his sports car.  The truck was delivered the next day and so far I like driving it.

Also last week I took the older boys to a pediatrician and had them vaccinated.  

We have a Wee Walker!

Last night Baby Boy took his first steps!  He is such a proud little boy and wants to practice his new skills - there will be plenty of bumps and bruises ahead!

Another amazing thing is that I managed to video record those important little shuffles. I saw that he was trying to step and got out my phone and aimed the video camera at him.  He got right up and walked!