Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Traveling to Beijing and Bangkok with Kids

The last thing that was going to happen to me was to be stuck at the Beijing International in the dead of winter breathing potential bird flu strains with no ride in the middle of the night.  Long gone are the backpacking days of my 20's.  Researching, planning and confirming are my new norms.

So when I was planning this trip I asked myself, "how am I going to deal on a 24 hour plane ride with 2 kids and a sleeping husband and not freak out?" My first answer was simple. Don't go.  But I wasn't willing to let parenthood rob me of an adventure so I got us there slowly by not flying directly to Bangkok, but somewhere closer first, Beijing.  A 12 hour flight, instead of the 20+ hour ordeal with layovers and plane changes to Bangkok.

We stayed at the Peninsula Hotel in comfort for 5 nights while we got through jet lag. The mall lobby is lame, but throw in the fact that no one speaks English and getting a cab is impossible (take this seriously and plan for it) made the Peninsula concierge an absolute must for us.

The shorter plane ride, a car from the airport, two hotel rooms, major big time breakfast and a gym made what could have been a nightmare in jet lag hell into a relatively easy transition to Asian culture.

We went to the Wall and shared it with maybe 10 people.  Unreal and Unforgettable.

 Walked to and through The Forbidden City
 Shopped and ate in the Hutang

 and discovered that when your face goes numb you aren't getting avian death just eating regular ole numbing spices.  Who knew!?  No one mentions it, but it's cool, you're cool, just keep eating it because it will pass.
We found handmade dolls and shoes.

Then off to Thailand on a 5 hour flight - aka a breeze.

Here we were spoiled with family members everyday, so I lack much travel advice except: 
1. The best food is on the street
2. Never get in a car during rush hour- skip it, take the boat ferries, or a motorcycle  (not with the kids though) 
3. Ship your clothes home and pack your souvenirs in your suitcases
4. Get a Thai massage early on you'll want another one
5. Don't be afraid to walk.  Pack the umbrella stroller and use it.  Thai's couldn't be more opposite to a New Yorker when it comes to walking.  They'd rather sit in a cab for hours than get out and walk 30 minutes. If the cab ride has been 2 hours and your iphone says you're a mile away, then I suggest you get out and walk or it will be another 2 before you get there.  

In general, I ate the best food of my life there and watched my girls subsist on white rice and peanut butter off of plastic spoons.  sigh.  Despite midnight thoughts of malnutrition we had an amazing trip of: 

Tuk Tuk rides
 Late Bangkok nights
 floating markets

 and a side trip to Cambodia
Then home via Beijing for a night - another planned rest instead of a layover - a doable feat.

Travel with the kids, because soon they will go whether you do or not.

Some fun Traveling with Kids blogs:
Mother of all Trips
Travel Savvy mom
National Geographic - Jenss Family Travels

Friday, August 3, 2012

Quick Rainbow Cake Tips

Hers:
Whisk Kid's Fantastic College Age Cake
Mine:
Crush Widow's Thirty Something 2 kids and No Time Cake
If you barely have time to watch the Martha Stewart Rainbow Cake video, but still believe you have time to bake a 6 layer cake, then these tips are for you.

1. Be prepared to chant, "it'll be fine."
2. Use boxed mix for Pete's sake. 
3. Pour 1 cup into properly prepared (butter, flour, parchment paper bottom) 8" or 9" rounds ( takes 2 boxes)
4. Bake for 14 minutes at 350.
4. Cool completely, wrap them in plastic and freeze them. I made mine the day before.
5. When you are ready to assemble you'll think your layers seem small and lame, but just tell yourself, "it'll be fine."

I used too much batter, 1 1/2 cup per 8"round, so I recommend 1 cup in a 9" round.  I also didn't trim enough so ended up with a leaner. A glorious, outrageous, homemade, rainbow, leaner surrounded with gumballs and sprinkled with rainbow love, but still - a leaner.  What saved this cake from complete disaster at a 90 degree pool party and my sanity with how quick, easy, and ummy it was to make?... Almost - Homemade Vanilla Buttercream.  Again if you don't have time to be Swiss Miss with the buttercream, this will hold even the meanest of leaners together and with only 1/2 cup of powered sugar and a pinch of salt is suprisingly good.   I used 2 batches to frost this cake. Here it is from:


Almost -Homemade Vanilla Buttercream ( adapted from Karen Tack and Alan Richardson)
1 1/2 Cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
16 oz of marshmallow creme
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 salt (optional but not really if you want a salt sweet combo -yes thank you)

Beat butter with mixer on medium until light and fluffy.
Add marshmallow creme and beat until smooth, scraping sides
Add powdered sugar and vanilla
Beat until light and fluffy
Store in refrigerated for 3 days or freeze up to a month,  Bring to room temperature before frosting cake
Makes 3 cups

Then all you need is a clown 
and free airplane rides 

and all is well.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

subway double stroller blues

What is it with vacations that wreck you?  We all set off on our 5 week business/vaca trip very ready to hit the road.  I returned worn out and on day 7 of antibiotic wonderment.  Maybe it was the goopy eye syndrome on day 10, or my 2 week meglo flu sinus face head nose throat ear body infection, or wait maybe it was the Strep diagnosis, or the hives that hitched a ride on the histamine roller coaster that was my sweet baby's insides, or it really could have been looking down at 3 cases of subway stairs with a double stroller sola one too many times.
unattractive picture of me stressing to find kid food in crowded adult foodie event - a typical nyc happening 
Whatever the case, thank West Texas apple cake it all concluded at my childhood playground; Granny's house. We celebrated her 90th, in style with frozen punch,white cake and 200+ friends.
my awesome 90 year old Granny and crazed me happy to be well 
I am home now almost done with the poison oak that took over my arm and trying to figure out ways to stay put.  It is more difficult than it sounds.  There are trips to LA in the wings to sell wine and the swimming lessons mom and tennis and gymnastics and yoga and fitness and the issue of running out of frozen pizzas. But the garden is planted and maybe we can soak enough beans to last awhile and when I finally start to call my friends again maybe they will be kind enough to visit me.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Paris Baby Quilt

I could have called this post, "Up Shit Creek Without a Walking Foot," but thanks to the kindness of Parkside Sewing, he gave me his, I managed to finish this quilt for my dear friend mere minutes before the party.
and while it is a far cry from perfect it is serious progress for me.  

She loved it and I loved giving it.  I used the book Quilts Baby by Linda Kopp and Dorie Blaisdell Schwarz take on the basic stair step.  I had mega ultra puckering.  I only used spray adhesive, because I was in such a hurry, but apparently not enough.  That and sewing on a tiny table probably added to it's super duper homemade appeal.  Still, it is loved.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

process the process

I was sitting around in our 70 degree weather wondering where winter had gone and if my inspiration went with it, when I slowly started to weed the neglected winter bed.  I decided to check on these carrots who have taken their sweet time to grow.  Image my surprise when I pluck out that big red daddy in the back.  "Heck yeah!" I thought, "I am running this through my brand new juicer this instant." 

That's right, I got a juicer baby and some wacky free video called, "Fat and miserable and feeling like death," or some such combination or words, "...until I discovered Breville Juice Fountain PLUS!"  
This is what I am of course looking for as well. And with Kenny living it up in Paris and then Vini Sud for 10 days while I process the process I feel obligated to make the most of this time.  

I envision expansive reorganizing, quilt making, serger starting, aquarium going, and mega ultra floods of creative doing.  So far however, I did the dishes and folded the stale sheets in the dyer. I did also juice those carrots and I reckon that is only the beginning.

Friday, January 20, 2012

the Januaries, Jellyrolls, and onions

I definitely have The Januraries.  A term my mom refers to yearly which includes all things drab and slow and restless and stuck.  In an effort to free myself from my self and day 2 of pajamas, I do have 2 sick kiddos but still, I am forcing  my hand and posting to my dear blog. 

Before Edi came down with the crud, another momism, we planted onions and garlic in the corn bed. Check out the real effort.

...and here are my December efforts....A not messed up quilt I made for my mom! I used The Easiest Thing to Do with a Jelly Roll. Quick, easy, fun, and then boring but now done plus she loves it.

Turns out too that The Januaries are a band.  They will help the situation.
Check out their song Chocolate and Strawberries.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

hanging out over fork lift rides

The process of making wine in an artisan way demands so much physically that at a certain point you just want it to be over, and even though the last grapes came off the truck 2 days ago the work load continues to hold steady.

But driving though the mist that hangs over the yellowing vines, cold, coffee in hand, seat heater cranking, hot air balloons hanging overhead, listening to Ola Podrida or your indie rock/lo fi band of choice, down Eastside to Grant and through the gate to quiet makes my Sundays.  

Tasting the rose, the Riesling, this Pinot then that one, the free run and the Qvevri, thanks Alice, reminds me why we do what we do and why I haven't seen Kenny in 2 months.  Taking the t&t's, doing the punch downs, the pump overs, pressing, digging, filling, scrubbing, rinsing, so our tried and true cellar master gets one day off, is a minor contribution to the production but one I am grateful to offer.

So tomorrow I 'll leave my den and hang out with Kenny over thermometers, barrels, fork lift rides, sheets, press loads, and tasting the fruit of our labors evolve on their own into an expression of where they came from.  

Before Sunday happens I did make or contribute to the production of: 
Making my first pillow
I followed the basic pillow tutorial on Sew Mama Sew here. 

Do note that dangle balls really are the key to pillow success.  That, and glitter skelton fabric.  Get those two together and you can't go wrong.
Creating eclectic soup mixes
 otherwise known as, destroy moms spices and bulk items.  Do this thinking you are as neat as a cat and a grand chef with a master plan while standing on the counter with 2 dresses on, smiling.
 Decorating shelves out of everyones reach
Baking banana chocolate chip muffins with nearly a cup of wheat germ in them so you don't have to cook all day. Fills them right up. 
 and beading necklaces with center pieces just happen