Thursday, October 10, 2013

Scavenging for state secrets, aka grocery shopping in the FSU

Georgia has spent the last decade or so trying to shrug off the vestiges of its Soviet past, with significant  success.  Little bits of it remain, however, and you run into them when you least expect it.  Like at the grocery store.  There are two quite large stores near the Embassy.  One, Goodwill, specializes in German imports.  The other is Carrefour, a French store.  Both stores employ an army of security guards, whose main job is to prevent people from walking in with reusable grocery bags or cameras.  Taking photos in the grocery store is strictly prohibited.  That is perhaps a vestige from the days when the Soviet government didn't want anyone in the outside world to know the the store shelves were empty and people waited in line all day for a loaf of bread.

This is not, however, a problem in Georgia today.  Carrefour has half an aisle dedicated to crap chocolate ball cereal.
Illicit photo captured surreptitiously with my phone.
Reusable bags are dangerous, too, because you know, you might put stuff in them and then walk out without paying.

Except Carrefour actually sells reusable bags.  There is a big display of them within 15 feet of the security guard stand where you walk in.  It tells you to buy these bags because they will save the environment and also Carrefour offers a lifetime guarantee!  I would take a picture with my cellphone, but it is too close to the guard stand and I would certainly get caught.  Yesterday, however, when I walked in with a large Carrefour bag filled with several smaller, empty reusable bags, the guard stopped me and asked me to leave my bags in one of the lockers designated for that purpose.  I pointed to the reusable bag display.  He explained that one can only bring empty bags into the store.  I pointed out that while my bag was not empty, it only contained more reusable bags, all of which were empty.  He was staunch in his point that the bag was not empty.  "It is forbidden," he said.  I took all the bags out of the Carrefour bag so that I was carrying four bag handles in one hand.  That, apparently, was not forbidden, and I was allowed in.

Until next time.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Dye for your cake, the natural way

I'm over at Hardship Homemaking today with a tutorial on making naturally dyed marshmallow fondant.  Hardship Homemaking is an expat-run blog with tips and tricks on how to move a family around the world and make do when you can't find the things you need at your post.  There's a wealth of information over there, so check it out!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The great birthday triathlon

We are two events into the great birthday triathlon.  The girls' birthdays are less than three weeks apart, and this year we had a joint friend birthday party in between.  Natasha celebrated her 4th birthday while her Nana and Pop were visiting, and then she also had a celebration at preschool.  Yesterday we had the girls' big princess party, and Zoia's 3rd birthday is next week.  I have made (and eaten) a lot of cake.  I was down 28 pounds since Gabriel's birth as of last week, but I am afraid to get on the scale this week ...
Princesses Cinderella and Tiana in the party room.
Their dresses were their birthday gifts sewn by Mama.
We made the dresses this summer as a craft, then used
them as party decor.
Rice Krispy Treat wands.  Each kid got one and then we
played a freeze dance game to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo.
The girls' castle cake.  Homemade marshmallow fondant.  I
dyed it with India Tree natural food colors, berry juices and
cocoa powder.  The turrets are made of rice krispy treats and
ice cream cones.  Cupcake topiaries are gluten-free for our
gf guests.  Princesses are made of fondant.
Vanilla cake dyed with berry juices, and vanilla buttercream.
The fierce dragon who ravaged the castle and stole the treasure.
Somehow he looks more Angry Bird than dragon.
The kids still enjoyed hurling fireballs at his head to slay him
and reclaim  the treasure (gummi bears and bejeweled rings).
Cake time!
Zoia was so excited to blow out the candles.
Preparing to decapitate a princess.                          
Immediately after cake, Z retired to the armchair with her
favorite book and stayed there for the rest of the party.
Me and my girls.  You can't see so well, but I was the
fairy godmother, complete with wings and a wand.