Lunch date in Ottawa 

I must confess, Kelvin and I do not always capitalize on the fact that we have lots of help with Andy (at least, not when it comes to evening dates). By the time we put Andy down for bed, rather than get ready to go out for dinner, it’s much more desirable to just kick back, have dinner together at home, and watch Casey Neistat vlogs. However, when the opportunity arises, we do find ourselves out of town for the day without Andy.

Last week, Kelvin and I took a drive up to Ottawa to hit IKEA and T&T. We bought about $150 worth of storage bins (ūüĎĆ) and another dual case of the specific Asian chicken broth that we like to use. For lunch in between, following an amuse bouche of IKEA Swedish meatballs, we headed to Whalesbone Oyster House on Bank Street.

The storefront isn’t huge, and the sign is somewhat dark, so it can be hard to spot. This might also have something to do with the fact that it was hailing as we drove up (what!). Anyways, we were arriving around 1 pm on a Thursday and we found a spot easily.


We got ourselves 12 oysters for $35. We tend to like sweeter, plumper oysters, and though all three varieties were different, we enjoyed them all. We also got an order of fish and chips, but I forgot to take a picture before we ate them. They were delicious and light.

We also got churros, because whenever Kelvin sees churros, he has to get them. This, unfortunately, was a disappointment. At $9 a plate, it definitely wasn’t worth it. The exterior was too crisp and the interior too soft, which makes me think they were from frozen. Which in hindsight probably makes sense, since oysters and churros aren’t often found together. That’s okay, lesson learned.

All in all, a really enjoyable experience. Next time, we’ll come back and try the lobster roll.

Whalesbone Oyster House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

47.

These weekly posts are getting later and later! Is this an omen for what is to come when I return to work?…

Anyways, things are buzzing around here as we prepare for our upcoming trip to Asia (!) and my subsequent return to work. Andy is doing more full days at my in-laws’ place in preparation and he is having a blast. Sometimes I think he has more fun there than he does at home. He also learns so much there. This week he learned to climb down the stairs backward. I would post a picture, but alas all I have are videos. 

Perhaps it’s the result of me taking an overload of pictures of Andy in his first few months, but I’m finding that I capture the little every day moments less and less. I did snap this one of Andy refusing to wear the hat I had just purchased for him. Kelvin was adamant that Andy get his own hat. This fitted Blue Jays cap seemed appropriate. Andy begs to differ. (Note the loaner stroller he’s in that they provided at the mall. It was honestly such an amazing service – I had left the stroller at home and was seriously contemplating driving home to get it)

  

On the food front, we’ve vowed to always have tortillas in the house. For peanut butter and banana roll ups. They are the bomb. For everyone. 

Good eats: toast + jam

I don’t know what you’re like when you go on vacation, but when Kelvin and I go away, we always want to make sure that we try at least a few highly regarded eateries. This often entails a fair amount of time asking for recommendations, reading blog posts, and perusing the Internet, Yelp, zomato, or whatever tools we have at our disposal. We recently went on a day date to Ottawa, and during our brunch, Kelvin mentioned how we often expect restaurants outside of our home city to be at this next level because they have lots of ratings and reviews. More and more, though, we are realizing just how great the food scene is here. Back in our dating days, we dipped our toes into the food blogging pool, but that ceased rather abruptly once we both graduated from university. So, in 2016, we are committing to doing a better job of showcasing some of the places we’re eating in town and around. 

In this first post, we’re featuring one of Kingston’s newest spots – toast + jam, right next door (and connected via an amazingly beautiful sliding barn door) to established bakery Bread & Butter. Kelvin and my mother-in-law have become regulars at the bakery, stopping in almost weekly for goods or soups or sandwiches or their delicious apple crumble pie. Imagine their excitement when toast + jam opened up. Anyways, we headed over for brunch on Sunday, and here are our thoughts!  

 Walking in, we loved the space instantly. They’ve got a really open layout, and a wide variety of seating – two long bar height tables, a cozy fireplace and lounge area, and a smattering of tables around. We probably waited for 15 minutes for our table. In the meantime, I snuck over to bread and butter to sample some lemon squares. 

 

I ordered the Grilled Wilton, which was absolutely delicious and surprisingly filling! I opted for a side of roast potatoes, but one of our friends got the soup and she said it was great. We also ordered a side kale Caesar, which was okay, but I probably wouldn’t get it again. 
 
Kelvin got the Scrambowl, which was tasty, but I think left him hankering for a little something extra. A sizeable portion of the scrambled eggs also found their way into Andy’s mouth, which probably didn’t help. He said that he would definitely get a sandwich next time. I agree with him – sandwiches are the way to go if you want something that fills you up. 

  
At the end of the meal, we got our bill on a plate with these two delicious ginger cookies. That was definitely a nice touch. One that made me want more baked goods. How convenient that Bread & Butter is right next door! I ended up buying a blueberry lemon something or other that I devoured on the car ride home. 

All in all, a nice addition to the west end Kingston food scene. A touch on the pricier side for what you get, but we would come again. 

Barcelona, Spain

Hola from Spain! So I’ve attempted to finish this post about Barcelona on a number of occasions, and alas here I am, writing it as I wait at the airport for our flight to London, which has been delayed. A post on the second half of our Spain leg will have to wait. 

First off, let me just put it out there. Whenever you tell someone that you’re going to Barcelona, the thing that most often comes up is a story about one pickpocket experience or another. Thankfully, the policia has ramped up their security around the city, especially in places like La Ramblas. We’ve been pretty vigilant and my parents let us borrow their pacsafe backpack, so all has been well!

All that aside, Barcelona is truly a beautiful city and we’ve really enjoyed getting to know it over the last two days. We took a red eye flight (such a good idea – Andy slept really well) and arrived into the airport around 12:30 on Sunday. After no more than two words with the customs officer, we were released into Spain and all its glory. 

  
On our first day, we were a little lacking in sleep (good movies on the plane get us every time…) so we didn’t stay out too late. However, we did manage to get in a pedicab tour of the old city (loved meandering through narrow streets and into the Parc de la Ciutadella), a quick pop in to see the ruins at El Born, and some dinner. It was also a Sunday, so pretty much everything was closed anyways. 

 

We stayed at Le Meridien right on Las Ramblas, which was a perfect home base for us as we explored the city. Its proximity to Placa de Catalunya was perfect, and though we’d never stayed there before, it had an SPG familiarity that we have come to look for whenever we travel. 

Andy is a huge hit everywhere we go. He is not shy at all and he smiles at everyone who engages him (and for those who don’t engage him, he takes the initiative). On the bus turistic, he made friends with the other passengers, and when he wasn’t doing that, he tried to eat all the handholds (gross). 

  
Undoubtedly, having spent only one full day in Barcelona, we were able to see but a little portion of the city, but here are a few of the highlights from our trip so far.

Eat

bacoa universitat – just a few steps from Placa de Catalunya, this burger bar has a very North American feel to it, but with the most delicious burgers ever. Highly recommend the one with manchego cheese and caramelised onions!

Carmelitas – best tapas ever. We ordered all these seafood tapas and every single one was delicious. So was their tiramisu. If we had discovered this place earlier we may have had all our subsequent meals here. 

  

See

On our one full day, we opted for the hop on hop off (also purchased ahead of time online for 10% off) to bring us around to the sights. It was a beautiful day and we thoroughly enjoyed that open-air, rooftop seating. Plus if we sat in the right spot, we could see our stroller which needed to be stored on the main floor. They give you headphones for the onboard audio guide, through which you get more info about each of the places you’re passing. 

Sagrada Familia – I’d been here in 2007, but they’ve done quite a bit more work since then! We booked our tickets ahead of time (highly recommended) and opted not to get the audio guide. The entire structure awes you, and the way light is reflected into the cathedral is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Gaudi truly was a master architect inspired by nature. 

  
Montjuic – We paid for the teleferic (even with a 2‚ā¨ discount it felt steep) and went for a walk at the top of the hill by the castle. We didn’t actually go into the castle, though one could for 5‚ā¨/3‚ā¨ (16-29 years. 

  
The best thing, really, is just walking around and enjoying the sights. There is so much to see and explore and so many little cafes that I wish I could while away my time in. Perhaps when we come to Spain next we will visit Port Vell and peruse some of the galleries and museums in the city. 

27.

Biggest news of the week – Andy is scooting! It all started with him refusing to be on his back while on the change table (which was a pain). Then he started tucking his knees under his body and inching forward like a worm. Clearly he was more interested in the Penaten container on the table than he was in being changed. I think it helps that the end of the change pad acts as a little ridge for him to pull himself forward. As troublesome as this is when I’m trying to put a clean diaper on him, we’re really excited that he’s transitioning with this¬†milestone.

With that came a realization that I am just over five months away from returning to work.
And with that came a panic that I’ve only put Andy on a waitlist at one daycare centre.
So to remedy that panic, I’ve put him on the wait list of quite a few more daycares, and I can only hope that he will get accepted to one in time for my return to work.

Until my return, though, I will stay home and enjoy time with Andy and his little quirks and precious moments. Quirks like how he holds onto the sides of his carseat when we are moving. And how he tends to sing to himself in the car. And times like Sunday night when our small group was over and he wouldn’t stop laughing.

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So this post is really late, but in all fairness, it was a really busy weekend. It was full of¬†moving and entertaining and other little things in between.¬†I’ve been reading Brit Morin’s Homemakers (really good for those of us who aspire to homemaking but have close to zero actual ability in the domestic arena), which contained a recipe for ombre cake.

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I thought to myself, “Oh, we are having people over on Friday for desserts. This recipe looks so easy. I should totally make this cake!” Terrible idea. A baker I am not.

The process began around 9:30 pm the night before. I was prepared with my 3 jars of frosting and 2 boxes of cake mix. The mix called for 3 egg whites, but I could use the whole egg if desired and just add a minute to the bake time. I decided to take the lazy way out. That was my first mistake. It not only gave the cake more of a greenish hue, but it made the cakes too moist. That moistness was my next problem. When I tried to take the cakes out of the pan, 2 of the 4 layers broke. I figured I could fix it with frosting…

At around 2 am, I figured the cakes had cooled enough. The tops were still sticky to the touch (yes, a cake CAN be too moist), but I needed to go to bed, so I decided it was time to frost the cakes. Now, there had already been moments in the past few hours that I thought “Hmm, maybe this was not such a good idea.” The frosting process confirmed this. I thought that maybe I could mask some of the problems of these cake layers with frosting. Surely I could make each layer look flat by building up the frosting on the sides? Nope.¬†My attempts at forming the cake into a perfectly cylindrical shape with frosting were futile. Tired and defeated, I put the bottom two layers, which I had frosted, in the microwave.

The next day, I decided to give the next two layers a whirl. Maybe this cake was salvageable? I put what was left of the third layer onto the rest of the cake. It essentially split on contact. I didn’t even bother icing it. Instead, I sat at the kitchen table and took a fork to cake. I probably ate more of it than I should have. It was a sad, sad sight.

As my belly filled with sugar and flour, I decided that eating away my sorrows  would probably just make me feel even worse. So I put what was left of my would-have-been ombre cake in the green bin. And there it sits, with 3 jars worth of coloured frosting.

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I may try this cake again in the future, but I think I will try it with the assistance of someone who actually knows what they’re doing. I have some people in mind…

But thankfully, there is a (somewhat-related) happy¬†ending to this story! Now that Andy sleeps through the night, I’m able to head to the gym after he goes to bed. Crucial, seeing as how daytime workouts have fallen to the wayside with a change in our babysitting arrangements. Today when I went, I found out that the long-awaited Fitness on Demand system was set up! I have all these fitness videos literally at my fingertips! I am hoping that the hour of power step that I got in made up for at least a portion of the¬†amount of cake that I ate.

Onwards and upwards!

25.

Happy Labour Day! 

It’s weird to think that I won’t be going back into the classroom tomorrow, but definitely excited for everyone (teachers and students like!) who will be. Maybe we will scope out the bussing situation in this neighbourhood. 

We did quite a bit of swimming this week. We went to family swim at Artillery Park and also met up with one of my friends from university and her two cutiepies while we were in Toronto for some backyard swimming. Andy is still not 100% comfortable in the pool, but he’s getting there!

  
While in town, we also went down to Ashbridges Bay for some beach time! There was such a nice breeze there and it made me realize why people love living downtown. Not having to drive back uptown after work and being able to just walk out to places like this might just make the insane house prices worth it. 

  

On the home front, our rug arrived, and we opted to put it in the living space rather than under the dining table. We need to get ourselves a nonslip mat to put underneath, though. 

  

I also learned a better way of storing my clothes thanks to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Now, we frequently order take out from this place in town called Little Kitchen, but we decided to try our hand at some Chinese home cooking. Made a few batches of Ma Po Tofu with the help of Lee Kum Kee and his many sauces. It was pretty tasty for our first go around. 

Also, the article I interviewed for came out this week. Now you can read all about Edcamp Kingston!

Kelvin and I are going out for lunch sans Andy. And then we may venture to Queen’s for some gear (because apparently Kelvin finds their t-shirts ideal for going to the gym). Is it a bad idea to do that when a few thousand frosh just descended on campus? Mm, we will see. 

Some links

It’s already August (what!), and the heat has all but swallowed me whole. It makes me really wish there was a giant Slip ‘n Slide down Princess. Um, this should totally happen.

Also, when we were in NYC last week, we went to this deceptively large Italian market called Eataly, and I really want to go on one of their tours. Maybe when Andy is older he will enjoy this.

I didn’t get a chance to go to Brooklyn on this past trip, but a friend and I are going to take part in the Sketchbook Project. I attempted a year or two ago, but alas never actually finished my sketchbook. Accountability for the win this time!!

16.

This has been a really busy week! And Andy has become a very busy baby. He has suddenly decided that rolling is his favourite thing (second only to putting anything and everything in his mouth) so I need to watch him pretty much all the time.

Early in the week, we headed to Lake Ontario Park for Mom&Tots with our some ladies from our church. The Queen’s Barefoot Players were there as well doing a rendition of Shakespeare’s¬†As You Like It. Probably over the heads of most of the toddlers we were with, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. So did Andy.

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This Wednesday was Canada Day, and so we continued our annual tradition of going to Fruition Berry Farm for some strawberry picking! The parking lot was muddier than the field, but we were very happy to have our rubber boots on nonetheless. Kelvin was wearing Andy so he had a bit of a harder time with the picking, but we are still enjoying our harvest!IMG_0892 IMG_0897

Andy is also getting much better at sitting up on his own! He lasted in this pose for almost 6 seconds (as opposed to the usual 1.5 seconds)!

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Then on Thursday we went to the Pan Am Torch Relay at Fort Henry! One of my coworkers actually ran a leg yesterday here in Kingston. What an honour!

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Now, remember those berries we picked on Wednesday? I found this recipe for Strawberry Basil ice cream (the only two fresh food things we have an abundance of in our home right now), and used this method to make it without an ice cream maker! I definitely used too much of our ice cream mix so the consistency is weird. Plus I forgot to put the rock salt in with the ice before had everything nestled in, so my ice melted…but still! i am really happy with how it ended up. And now I have an idea of what we can do to make it better. I enjoyed it this morning simultaneous with #nt2t. Andy was still sleeping.

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On a not so happy note, our little guy is starting to teeth. We need to get him more teething toys.

Two Years

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Tomorrow (June 2…it took me so long to write this post that tomorrow no longer applies) marks Kelvin and my two year anniversary. In the grand scheme of things, two years isn’t a whole lot of time, and yet so much has changed about who we are and how we exist together as a family.

Moving in together wasn’t as treacherous of an ordeal as many people made it out to be. We enjoyed not having to drive home at night after hanging out, and it was so nice to just be able to be in each other’s company more often. We were able to travel together more, and we got to see more of our city and our world.¬†We’ve really settled into life here in Kingston and have each found our own niche in terms of connecting with our community. We settled into a new church where we’ve been able to really lay down roots. The biggest change over the past two years, though, was probably the introduction of our little guy. Andy has brought a whole new level of joy and responsibility to our lives.

In a rather spontaneous turn of events this evening, Kelvin came home with a case of Steam Whistle beer (we got married at the brewery, so he’s attempting to make this an anniversary tradition) and a proclamation that we should go out for dinner. We dropped Andy off at his grandparents’ (with a mere¬†2 oz. of milk…frightening) and headed downtown to Casa Domenico for an anniversary dinner. Despite being in Kingston since 2006, I’ve never actually eaten at this restaurant. Perhaps I was turned off by the rumours of it being insanely expensive (not true, btw).

This evening happened to coincide with the B.Comm. convocation, so naturally we were surrounded by young, fresh-faced graduates¬†and their doting families.¬†Kelvin and I spent a¬†fair portion of our evening commenting on how people going into business just naturally ooze confidence. And is it just me, or do they tend to be better looking than the general populace? Maybe it’s just me…

I must admit, service was a bit slow. Even after the wave of grads dwindled. I mean, it took them a good 15 minutes to get a can of San Pellegrino. And they didn’t even have to open it until they got to our table.¬†We consumed more than our fair share of bread and olive oil in the meantime.

Anyways, what did we eat?¬†It’s always awkward ordering off a menu in a language with which you are unfamiliar, so I found myself referring to all the items by their English descriptions. I figured my chances of accurately pronouncing Salsiccia e Palate were slim to none.

To start, we had¬†Silvio’s Polpette, or veal meatballs. These were¬†delicious. They literally fell apart as my fork pierced them.

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While we were waiting for¬†these meatballs to arrive, we also saw a number of salads come out, and I guess the allure made its way to our stomachs. So we asked our server to put in an order of¬†Pera con Gorgonzola, which was a salad with pears and spiced cashews. In my haste to consume it, I forgot to take a picture of it. I like all things with pears in it, and the spiced cashews were a really nice touch. It made me want to make bar nuts. I should make sure to find a recipe for bar nuts to make sometime this month…

For our mains, Kelvin got the beef tenderloin (aka Manzo) and I got the Gnocchi with Pork Sausage.

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The beef was cooked well (medium rare is always the way to go), and Kelvin really liked this potato cake thing.

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There was a generous portion of gnocchi, though it was a touch spicier than I had anticipated. The flavour was mostly in the pork sausage and less in the sauce or gnocchi. Still, I enjoyed it. The little cubes of bacon were a nice touch. I did, however, finish my dish with a little pile of green onions on the side. I should have asked them to hold the onions.

For dessert, we had the tiramisu, because you have to have tiramisu when you eat at an Italian restaurant. Again, I neglected to take a picture before consuming the whole thing. It was homemade, light, with a good amount of espresso taste. The cold from the cappuccino gelato was a nice touch. Granted, I usually find desserts overpriced, and this was no exception, but at least it was very tasty.

Overall, the food was good. As we were heading back to our car, Kelvin mentioned that¬†he still prefers the ambiance of Le Chien Noir, where we celebrate most of our milestones. I’d have to agree. Nonetheless, it was a good dinner. And of course, no one can argue with $2 for parking. I love downtown Kingston.

Here’s to many, many more years of marital bliss :)

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Casa Domenico / 35 Brock Street, Kingston / website  Click to add a blog post for Casa Domenico on Zomato

10.

It has been a whirlwind since we returned from Houston, to say the least. Sunday night, shortly after we landed, Andy’s grandparents hosted a 2-month banquet for him (it’s a Chinese tradition that you hold either a 1-month banquet or a 100-day banquet, but I guess we just decided to aim for something kinda in the middle). The next morning, we drove back to Kingston, eagerly anticipating a return to our routine.

So much for that routine.

Maybe it was all the excitement, but Andy’s sleep was completely out of whack. The first night we were back wasn’t too bad, but that was followed by a night of him waking every 45 minutes, then a night of him waking every 15-20 minutes. I relented in the end and just had him sleep with me. Thankfully, he slept like a baby last night, returning to his 2 am and 5 am middle of the night feeds. Maybe the poor little guy just needed more sleep.

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Today for our family time we headed downtown to Chez Piggy for lunch. It’s been a while since Kelvin and I have been there together (though we frequent their sister restaurant, Pan Chancho, quite a lot), so we thought that that, coupled with them releasing a new spring/summer menu, would be reason enough to visit. As usual, it did not disappoint. I had the open-faced oxtail gravy burger (yes, the gravy really tasted like oxtail), and Kelvin had the Reuben, which he told our waitress was the best Reuben he had ever had.

Andy woke up near the end of¬†our meal, but he was calm enough (sorta) to give us a chance to head over to Minotaur. We’ve been hanging on to two gift certificates from the store (one dating back to 2011…) and we’ve had our eye on these Uncle Goose blocks for a while, so we picked them up.

(photo via pilot&capt.)

In other news, the May flies are now fully grown and an actual menace. They significantly decreased the enjoyment of our little stroll at Lemoine Point on Wednesday, and are causing us to move elsewhere for our walks, at least until the end of June. On the flip side, Kelvin was singlehandedly responsible for destroying at least a colony and a half of May flies on his way to Bath for his softball game last night. The front of our car looks atrocious covered with them.

Travel: Houston

I had never been to Texas¬†before this trip. To be honest, we never had any reason to go. But now that we have, let me tell you – we really like Houston. Not on the same level that we like San Francisco, mind you, but let’s say that I would have no problem recommending a visit. Yes, the city is incredibly large and spread out (with very strange zoning laws I might add), but it is full of great things to do, places to see, and eateries to satisfy the largest range of palates.

STAY

When Kelvin and I travel in North America, we generally stay at an SPG property. I will have my part-time travel agent license for a few more months (random, I know) and Starwood Pro always offers amazing rates for us to try different Starwood hotels, so we tend to stick with them. Growing up, my family opted for more Best Western/Sleep Inn-esque accommodations. You know, the ones you would look through the CAA book to find (all my sister and I cared about was whether or not there was a pool). Alas, that will not be the case for Andy.

This time around, we opted to stay at the Westin Houston Downtown, which is SPG’s only property within downtown Houston. It’s a classic Westin, complete with that SPG scent that we have come to know and love. We don’t frequent hotel lobby bars, but this hotel had a nice one, if you’re into that. The workout room is small, but¬†well-equipped, and despite being in the basement, I felt really comfortable spending some time there alone. Instead of packing our travel crib, we opted to use one of the hotel cribs. It was clean, safe, and Andy liked it. Kelvin had some trouble adjusting to Andy being in the same room, but by the second night he (Kelvin) was fine. We always look for¬†accessibility wherever we stay, and this hotel was within a very comfortable walking distance of public transit. (photo cred below to trip advisor)

Westin Houston Downtown / 1520 Texas Avenue, Houston / website

PLAY

Though we weren’t in Houston for a very long time, we jammed a heck of a lot of activities in. Not far from our hotel was¬†Discovery Green. This awesome 12-acre park downtown had a ton of programming, and we had a chance to check out¬†the Discovery Green Flea (which unfortunately had items not exactly to our taste) and the Parks and Rec Marathon. Armed with a s’more grilled cheese for me and a gouda jam grilled cheese for Kelvin from The Golden Grill, with¬†Andy asleep in our carrier, we lounged in the grass and watched one full episode. Perhaps if we weren’t staying at the airport hotel that night and didn’t have a 7:40 am flight the next day, we would have stayed for longer :)

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Another nearby attraction was¬†Minute Maid Park. We had no intention of watching a game here, but due to a series of fortunate events involving a Blue Jays cap and scalpers (don’t worry, we actually bought our tickets at the box office. our seats were legit), we found ourselves at the Astros vs. Jays game Thursday night. It was awesome.

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The rest of the things we saw were a short light rail ride away in the Museum District. Our first stop was the Houston Zoo, touted as one of the top 10 zoos in America. I must agree – it was pretty awesome. Highlights? The elephant complex and the area co-habitated by the giraffes, zebras, and ostriches. We opted to not bring the stroller with us, so Andy was in the carrier the whole time. Needless to say, he got hot real fast. Thank goodness for the “chill zones” – yes, they were actually designated as such¬†on the zoo map – throughout the zoo, which we sought out for much needed respite every 30 minutes or so. For $14 (general admission is $16, but we got $2 off with our metro cards), this attraction was well worth it. What’s better than $2 off? Free! If you happen to be in Houston on the first Tuesday of the month between September and May, admission is comped. Alas, we were not.

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But not to worry, we did get our share of free admissions. Thursdays seem to be a hot day for free admission. From 2-5, the Houston Museum of Natural Science opened its doors free of charge (to the permanent collection only), and we spent a few hours there, 45 minutes of which¬†was spent breastfeeding in a dimly lit corner by the washrooms. HMNS advertises itself as one of the most attended museums in the US, but I’m not sure I would necessarily pay to visit it. Their Ancient Egypt exhibit is extensive, their palaeontology collection is impressive, and they do have a funky chemistry section in the basement, but I think¬†I just don’t have the patience for that sort of museum.

What I DO have patience for are interactive museums. In that regard, the Children’s Museum of Houston¬†truly did not disappoint. I can totally see why it was voted the No. 1 Children’s Museum in America. There were so many exhibits there that even Kelvin and I were excited to participate in, and as a teacher, I really appreciate the way that each space was meant for children to really explore and learn. They have this section called Kidtropolis (very clearly sponsored by Bank of America) in which each kid gets an allowance to use in navigating¬†this little city complete with a bank, grocery store, stock exchange, clinic, and more! They also have a dedicated makerspace for tinkering, testing, and experimenting, as well as a whole area for tots on the second floor. At 2 months, Andy was still too young to really make good use of the space (save for this one section in which you could sit and listen to lullabies), but if he had been able to grasp things (and if he had been awake), I would have been very comfortable spending a good amount of time with him in the tot zone.

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Here’s a short clip of what Kelvin learned.

Last but not least, you can’t visit Houston without spending a bit of time in Hermann Park¬†(especially if you look at how many of the attractions below are actually around or in Hermann Park). We would have loved to catch an outdoor concert at the Miller Outdoor Theatre, but alas, our schedule did not allow for it. However, we did have¬†lunch there at Pinewood Cafe and rode the 20-minute long train ride ($3.25 pp). Good times.

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Children’s Museum of Houston / 1500 Binz Street, Houston / website
Discovery Green
 / 1500 McKinney Street, Houston / website
Hermann Park / 1700 Hermann Park Drive, Houston / website
Houston Museum of Natural Science
/ 5555 Hermann Park Drive, Houston / website
Houston Zoo
 / 6200 Hermann Park Drive, Houston / website
Minute Maid Park / 501 Crawford Street, Houston / website

DINE

Hands down one of¬†the most important thing of all when we travel – good food. Prior to any trip, I tend to spend (a long) time scouring websites and urbanspoon and yelp to figure out where we should eat. This trip was no exception. I’m happy to report that almost all of the places we visited were home runs.

The very first night, we¬†ate at Pondicheri in Upper Kirby. The thalis (their rendition of a sampling platter) were good to get a sense of what they offer, but nothing to write home about. What¬†was delicious were their goat samosas, though perhaps a bit steep in price, at $9 for 2. The filling was moist and everything was well-integrated. Also, they have a bake lab there (who doesn’t love baked goods?) and we had an absolutely delicious coconut mint cookie. Funny story – we actually just needed change for our bus fare back downtown, but we got this sweet surprise in return!

Breakfast was a real winner on this trip. The first day we ate at Honeymoon Cafe and Bar, an offshoot of Boomtown Coffee. Their breakfast menu¬†is limited to four selections, but that’s really all you need. Kelvin got the soft-scrambled eggs on rye and I got the breakfast BLT. Can you believe I had never had a BLT before this? What can I say? I don’t really like beefsteak tomatoes. Luckily, this BLT was amazing. The bacon was perfectly crispy, and the tomato was warm. I inhaled it¬†(as gracefully¬†as I could with a child strapped to me) and may or may not decide to leave that as my one and only BLT experience.

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The next morning, we ventured down to what seemed like an industrial area, to a surprisingly large restaurant called Weights + Measures. This place came as a recommendation from a blog that we follow, which had the coolest vibe. One section of the restaurant and bar looked like it was straight out of the 1950s, while the main seating area had a warm, but modern feel.

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I ordered¬†one of the most scrumptious breakfast sandwiches I have ever eaten¬†– with peanut butter, nutella, bacon, bananas and egg. I must say, I was skeptical of the restaurant’s decision to marry a classic nutella toast sandwich with regular savoury breakfast foods, but it totally worked. Plus it looked really pretty. Kelvin got the mushroom toast egg sandwich after reading in Houstonia that it was one of the best breakfast sandwiches in Houston. It was equally delicious as my sandwich, but much more savoury.

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At the end of the meal, our bill came in a cassette tape holder (is that what you call them?). So retro. What a great use for something that is virtually obsolete. Throwback to when I had cassette tapes. I still remember the track list on my Spice Girls tape. Third song was “Too much” – my favourite. Good times.

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Before heading out to catch our bus, we couldn’t help but stop in at their bake shop, Slow Dough, to try¬†a few things. Lately, I have developed a penchant for the¬†pain au chocolat at Pan Chancho back home, so¬†naturally that’s what I got. Even though I waited for a while to eat it, it was still heavenly. Flaky, chocolatey goodness and everything that a pain au chocolat should be.

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In the same vicinity is this little place called Tacos A Go Go. A half service little hole-in-the-wall, this place dished out the best chips and salsa we’ve had in a while. Our dinner cost us just over $20 and it was fully satisfying. We got a smattering of tacos so we could try a whole bunch. The carne guisada tacos were flavourful, but the winner for me hands down was pork guisada¬†taco. The spice and kick was on point, and the corn tortillas were as they should be. I also tried the grilled fish, but that was a no for me – I’ve definitely had much better fish tacos than the one I had there.

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Of course, you can’t travel to Texas and leave without having some good ‘ol BBQ. The evening before we left, we consumed¬†a delicious cornucopia of meats and sides at Goode Company on Kirby. Kelvin’s cousin (whose little guy is only 3 days older than ¬†Andy) and husband live in the Houston area, so it was really¬†nice to be able to share this meal with them. Following their lead, we ordered a two meat dinner (with sausage and ribs) as well as a stuffed potato with brisket. The food was delicious. Plus they have a sweet outdoor eating area with picnic tables that gave us a chance to experience¬†that Houston humidity one last time before returning to temperate Ontario :)

There are still numerous places that we would like to try in Houston, including the steakhouse that was right next door to the Westin, but that will have to wait for another trip!

Goode Co. BBQ / 5109 Kirby Drive, Houston / website / Goode Company Barbeque on Urbanspoon
Honeymoon Cafe and Bar / 300 Main Street, Houston / website /The Honeymoon Cafe & Bar on Urbanspoon
Pondicheri Cafe / 2800 Kirby Drive, Houston / website / Pondicheri on Urbanspoon
Tacos A Go Go / 3704 Main Street, Houston / website / Tacos a Go-Go on Urbanspoon
Weights + Measures / 2808 Caroline Street / website / Weights + Measures on Urbanspoon

We also spent a day or so out in Katy for Kelvin’s work conference which, coupled with terrible weather, was just a smidge above blas√©. We went and walked Katy Mills the first night we got in, and left feeling quite a bit more depressed than when we entered. It is in serious need of a facelift and some better stock in their clothing stores. Needless to say, we will not be returning to Katy in the future if we can avoid it. Thankfully, the trip to Katy didn’t end on a sour note. We had an awesome driver – Ernesto – who brought us from the Westin to Katy, and he returned to bring us to pick up our rental car. A pretty young guy, he is from Cancun and training to be a commercial pilot. Something about him made us feel completely comfortable. If you’re ever in Houston and need a taxi, let us know and we can point you his way :)

Final tip for those of you travelling with kiddos – if you can manage it, bring your own car seat when you’re travelling and anticipate being in a car for more than just one or two trips. We had a bit of a hassle trying to get the one we rented with our car to feel secure, plus it tacked on another 30 minutes logistically because we had to wait of the personnel to get it, among other things. I think Andy would have much preferred his usual seat.

Anyways, our next planned trip is to Tennessee this July, so the itinerary planning has most definitely begun. Until next time!

5.

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Doing the laundry with a baby in a carrier is easier than doing the laundry with a baby in a sling. But man, loading the washing machine without a child strapped to me at all is the easiest of all.

My sister is back in town for the next few weeks, so we have a built-in babysitter when she’s home. It’s¬†great! On Thursday, we left Andy in the carrier with her while we went downtown to pick up pad thai for dinner from one of our go-to asian places. Even though it was only a 45-minute jaunt there and back (including our in-restaurant time), it was glorious. This morning, I got a load of laundry in while she held him. It will be harder come the beginning of May when she is back in Toronto for good. Not looking forward to that.

Looking back at the last few posts,¬†I realized I talk a lot about how Andy is such a good sleeper. And he is. Sometimes. Usually during the day…which is not when we need him to be a good sleeper. The past few nights have been pretty rough, with me not getting much more than 45-50 minutes of good solid sleep at a time. So, we have decided we are going to start introducing some semblance of a sleep routine. Right now, that consists of him being in the carrier with daddy from roughly 9:30-midnight while I nap, followed by an inconsistent few hours, then a big nap with daddy between 7 and 9 am and sometimes a continuation of said nap with mommy until 10. No more. We will attempt to start to wind him down around 9:30/10 (and by wind down, we mean wind down for the crib, not for the carrier), then have him up for a change (new diaper, and out of his PJs) at around 8/8:30. That will require that I am also up at 8/8:30. Hmm…that may prove difficult.

Now time for those random things around the internet that have piqued my attention this week.

I got domestic and made this pasta and these muffins.

I also follow an online magazine called GOOD and a few days ago, they made published this post about poetry. I wrote a poetry about parenthood. It’s an acrostic poem.

People told me that raising
A child would be both tough and
Rewarding. I’ve found this to be true.
Every day, my baby has
Needs that must be met;
There are times when he’s poopy,
Hungry, gassy, or fussy.
Other times, he just wants to be held.
One thing’s for sure, I’ve never known
Days as full of joy and love as these.

Last but not least, these illustrations about the life of a new mom made me laugh. I proceeded to share them with a number of other new moms around me.