Friday, January 31, 2014

Unpacked.....the official villa tour!

So the last of our belongings arrived last week, including our car, which happen to coincide with a lovely cold being passed between family members making unpacking take for ever. We are unpacked and the house is put together for the most part....there's still some things that need organizing here and there....but that's kind of the norm isn't it???

So I might as well start from where I am sitting right now. This room is officially a dining room but we deemed it more appropriately an office/play area. Given we can stream shows on the desktop, by putting the computer and TV in separate rooms we can watch 2 different things at once.


We placed a couch to provide a comfortable viewing area as well as somewhat separate the play area.


Clarissa now has an updated kitchen (much nicer than my old 1970s particle board one). I have the kids easel set up to the side.....I haven't dared opened the paint (I'm visualizing a paint outside studio so I don't have to worry about the floors).

Through the double doors to the right (you can't see them), is what we turned into our dining area.


Given I have a ton less cabinet storage space than I did in our old house, the china cabinet is packed full of beer, wine and champagne glasses; all my Pampered Chef simple additions serving plates; as well as all our our bottles of  alcohol......I see an amaretto sour in my future tonight! I am aware the table cloth needs ironing.....we had a yogurt drink incident at dinner last night...... 

So in keeping with our tour direction of movement, you see the edge of the couch to the right of the picture, this is our den.


Our fireplace had a draft problem and has been closed off, but it looks nice. In the far end is the giant but extremely light weight dual voltage, multi-region TV that Richard picked up at Carrefour. We had debated whether or not to buy a TV in the States or wait till we got here. On a tip from another State Dept family (thanks Rob & Wendy) we waited until we got to post. Once currency was switched to US$, we ended up saving about $200 by waiting till we arrive at post! 

Please keep in mind, we don't really have a choice on colors and what not. The official color of our couch is gold....it looks more tan to us....but I must say the "gold" couch goes "well" with the pinkish/creme colored walls.....


So another view of the den shows this nice bookshelf. We haven't really decided what to with it. We are in the process of making digital copies of our movies....so then the movies will disappear. I have heard about a frame shop downtown that does custom framing to get our MIDDLETON photos framed.....so at which point I'm not sure what will use these shelves for (and no Mason they can't store all your toys you are too lazy to take upstairs).

At the top of the photo, you can see the open area to upstairs, Mason has worked out a basket on a jump rope system for when he's forgotten his xyz on the couch and doesn't want to walk all the way downstairs to get it. I also like the little cut out into the kitchen. Its an easy place for the kids to eat breakfast/snacks.


So I definitely miss counter space, the small space between the sink and stove is the food prep area. Clarissa is in 'help mommy stage' and can not just help by standing on her stool, she insists on sitting on the counter, which then reduces the prep area even more. Our first week or so, she would use the bank of drawers by the stove has a step ladder onto the counter....we quickly stopped that, those handles are not meant to support people!

We put our little IKEA kitchen island over by an outlet. On the bottom shelf we have our transformer. We then have a small work area in front of the toaster oven to use all our 120V appliances (I forsee when appliances die we will probably replace with 220V).


This is the other side of the kitchen. We are using that cabinet as an in-kitchen pantry (I will show you the other one), just so we can try and regulate our consumable American food shipment. Clarissa is a major snacker (you can tell by her tiny frame can't you!) and I don't want our canned peaches and goldfish to be gone in a month, nor do I want to deal with a tantrum on why can't she have the peaches...out of sight out of mind! Our housekeeper mentioned we shouldn't put our food in there, we should leave it in the pantry like the other Americans....I made Richard the bad guy and said I would ask him.....


So here's a sneak peak into the other pantry. It is over by the utility room, so not insanely convenient to the kitchen any way. I made a good call on the black beans and spaghettio's. A few of the things I sent, we can get locally (like applesauce and pasta, but they don't have the barilla plus which I like to use to sneak some extra protein in). I can buy fresh almonds....so when my stock of almond milk runs out, I will be trying out making my own.


So we have a little half bath downstairs. I'm not sure if this is a European thing or just this house thing, but if you notice the light switch is on the wall outside of the bathroom. While for most, I see this as being an easy to way to see the light switch before going into a dark room and fumbling around on the wall to find the switch.....for those with small children....you get the light turned off/on regularly....lol. There is a second switch for the over mirror vanity light which can be used when the previously mentioned small child runs away leaving you in the dark......



So the last room downstairs in the utility room....love it! I have always had laundry closets (except for one apartment I had).....so a whole room....lovely!  But I rarely do laundry...given our housekeeper comes 3x a week and she won't leave any dirty clothes and you can only dirty so many clothes in 2 days. On the days she is here, I feel like this is her office and I feel bad coming in...


So the other side of the utility room has a storage shelf and a freezer. So far the freezer is pretty barren. It has Richard's Starbucks coffee stash (shhh, don't tell the neighbors). I also moved the flour and sugar in there (we have seen some ants that seem to dig the 1/2 bathroom. They come in and eat the awesome ant bait and keep coming back for more.....so given the big pantry is right next door and flour/sugar bags are not super sealed shut I'd rather be safe than sorry). For most cooking, I've been using local sugar and flour. I was told and then experienced it, for baking the local flour has less gluten and the sugar is beet sugar as opposed to cane sugar and doesn't quite bake the same as what I'm used to. I tried my hand at chocolate chip cookies before our stuff arrived and while tasty they were very flat/thin cookies, not the gooey cookies I normally make.


The entryway has a small cabinet that is a nice catch all (Mason likes to put his stuffed giraffe on it to greet him when he walks in....but then he freaks when Clarissa grabs it and runs off.....sigh). I put a little bench right by the door. It has be rainy/wet for a week or so now, so I like taking our shoes off right when we walk in to avoid having dirt everywhere and the bench gives you a place to put them on before leaving.

Now to the upstairs!


At the top of the stairs, is an open area. The banister overlooks the den and it seemed a nice place to put a bookshelf of games. The chair was a 'here is someplace we can stick this' idea. We put a CFL bulb in the lamp, so we just leave the lamp on the evening to light up the walkway while not feeling too guilty for not turning the light off when we aren't walking through.


So to the right at the top of the stairs is the master suite. We debated and I won this one.....we shipped our king size bed. Richard now concurs after a month on the very firm queen bed that this was a good decision! The back window looks directly up a hill. If you are friends with me on facebook, you also saw the picture of cows going by right outside that window!


Here is another the view of the master bedroom, Richard wanted to bring his red chair. I'm not sure when he got the chair, but it will quickly become a well travelled chair! It is next to our porch door.


The master bath is quite large. All the showers in the villa are these little corner showers. Clarissa likes to call them elevators and she will randomly go ride in her elevator somewhere. We have a whirlpool tub to the left, I think Mason has taken a relaxing bath in it nearly everyday since we've gotten here.....the sink is to the right....it is just a single bowl with a cabinet underneath it....


Clarissa's room. We choose this room for her because the bathroom with a tub is attached to it. The two closets work out nicely. Her clothes are in the one on the right and her dress up clothes are in the one to the left. I put in some closet doublers so that her clothes are within her reach. By her dress up clothes, we had GSO mount her mirror low to the ground and a make-up table her friend gave her is all in that little corner. She loves it (I gave her some chapstick and old pink eye shadow....she is now a little make up artist who thinks she knows it all!).


So here is Clarissa's bathroom (after sharing a room and bathroom at our Oakwood apartment, she is so happy to have her own bathroom with no boy stuff!). Due to her room having a window/door on 3 sides it tends to be pretty cool compared to other rooms upstairs. We leave the radiator on in her bathroom. So while she is in the bath, I hang her towel on the radiator.....she is getting so spoiled but she loves having a toasty towel after bathing!


Here is Mason's room, it does extend around the corner to the left some. He did choose a smaller room though. He was in what is now the guest room, but the gusty wind would rattle/blow through the balcony door making sounds you hear in an episode of Scooby Doo. He opted for a cozy but quiet room.  


This is Mason's boy bathroom (both kids are aware when we have guests they will have to share their bathrooms with the guest). I think he enjoys leaving the seat up most of the time....I apologize in advance to his future wife.....


Last but no least....the guest room.....it is ready for you! Have you booked your ticket yet? We did ship a memory foam topper that is on top of the firm mattress which made a big difference....so the bed is comfy. There is the windy balcony to the side as well as a hanging wardrobe to hold your clothes on your visit.

So that's pretty much it. The garage is not photo ready yet.....its been cold outside (snowing today in fact) and I haven't wanted to spend several hours in the cold organizing it yet. Lots of empty appliance boxes, holiday rubbermaid bins of decorations and the kids bikes and scooters. The garage is pretty tiny, even if we decided to park our tiny Prius in it we don't think everyone would be able to open their doors to get out of the car....so we will just use it for storage.

We brought our small patio chair and table that is on the front porch....a nice spot to watch the sun rise (once it gets a tad warmer).   

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Happiness.....according to a 3 year old.

Walking home from school with mommy after it rains.....



Seeing Sheep on the hill (that's those little white globs towards to the top....I didn't have my SLR)


Throwing nuts and watching them bounce down the hill


(Note: Other days we have seen horses and cows of all colors on our walks home)




Note: edited when I remembered I did have a picture of horses!


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Just had to share....

I love tomatoes.....especially those delicious ones you can typically only get during the summer....yum yum yum! In fact, during the height of tomato season, I will practically eat a tomato salad daily. This past summer was kind of blah for farmer's market tomatoes unfortunately. I think last winter was relatively mild but lingering and the summer didn't heat up quick enough. So you can imagine my surprise when the tomatoes I picked up this week from the grocery store were delicious. Red, flavorful, easy to slice pieces of heaven for my sandwich...in the middle of winter! I can only imagine what this summer's tomatoes will taste like. I only wish I had gotten more than 3 at the store.

My daily sandwich: croissant (it was a french grocery store I went to), fresh sliced mozzarella, lettuce and these heavenly tomatoes!

I also have had some surprising yummy, but new flavored Pringles with it....sour cream and dill flavor. Not sure if those are stateside yet, but if you like dill you should totally try them out.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Georgian Christmas...And a Reminder

Today is Georgian Christmas so to celebrate, Mason and I went to Carrefour to pick up a few things for Deb (and we also got a new tv for the family). While walking around the store, over the PA they played "Wind of Change" by the Scorpions. For those who don't know, the song is about Glasnost, the end of the Cold War and the fall of Soviet Union. Listening to the lyrics, I realized it was just over 20 years ago that Georgia declared her independence from the Soviet Union, and the people here began their path towards democracy.....




Friday, January 3, 2014

THIS is our new home!

"THIS is our new home!" is what Clarissa said the other day as we unpacked our UAB (air freight....limited to 700 lbs, we had 681). She had asked when we were going to go home a number of times the past few weeks when we only had the items we had put in our luggage. The magic of being re-united with her beloved toys (and other household items) made the lightbulb come on that we are in our new home.

So what beloved items made the cut while we wait for our HHE (household effects....they come via boat)....which are set to arrive tomorrow (yes, our UAB and HHE both arrive on Tuesday....because UAB was smaller it cleared customs and was delivered. Our HHE is waiting till Friday because New Years Day was a holiday as is Georgian New Years Day (today) so the embassy was closed. (BTW....UAB should take 2-3 weeks.....ours took 4....it relaxed in Germany for 3 weeks while we pined for it, but I digress). So back to the topic....what beloved items made the UAB cut.....I will make a quick generalized list so in 2 years when I go to pack out for our next post I can remind myself what really made a difference and making our house into our home.

1 - More clothes.....after 4 weeks of wearing the same 7 outfits or so in different combinations we have a little more variety.....Clothes were a last minute we have more space I'm throwing more stuff in....so I also have a few more pairs of shoes....so the brown dress pants that were in my luggage that do not go well with black heels or tennis shoes can now be worn! The kids now have snow pants, boots, and toboggans for when it snowed our 4th day here....oh wait.....

2 - Bedding! Glorious bedding! The pillows that were in our welcome kit are equivalent to a double sized airplane pillow....so not very supportive or comfy....but better than nothing. So we have new pillows we got during the college dorm sales.....so nice! Also, the kids now have twin size beds (a first for both) so they both got a new set of sheets/comforter/mattress pads. Their bedrooms look much less institutional white now! I got a foam mattress topper, mattress pad and sheets for us.....its amazing how much better we all sleep now (and when our king size bed arrives....ahhh, it's going to be heaven).

3 - Computer and such. We have an iMac that we used our original shipping packaging that went in the air freight box....it survived just fine. We also packed our printer and data back up device (we had a small USB drive that had a data copy in our suitcases but this device does regular back up and multiplicity stuff in case a drive fails (what I caught before my eyes glazed over from Richard's computer lingo). We also have some basic office supplies....like staplers and tape for my craft loving but been on withdrawal children to go to town with.

4 - Kitchen supplies.....aaah, grown-up toys (at least for me).....so I tended to pack mostly plastic things since they are lighter weight and better for the kids to use in case they drop something...we would rather not break the welcome kit plates. So a handful of kids plates, cups, our britta pitcher, Mason's lunchbox (1st day of school next week!), some plastic leftover storage containers, then my favorite Pampered Chef cooking gadgets (mandoline, cheese grater, batter bowls, measure-all cup, mini muffin tin, scrapers, tongs, garlic press, whisk, etc), some food items (goldfish and cosmic brownies for the kids, Starbucks coffee for Richard), some spices/baking supplies (we had homemade buttermilk biscuits for breakfast today.....so good!), some oven mitts (I have burnt myself so many times over the years just using those little square hot pads), some dish towels, our cloth napkins, dish drying mat/rack, my favorite recipes cookbook....you get the idea....a little bit of everything that makes things so much nicer till my beloved Kitchenaid mixer gets here!

5 - Toys and other kid things.....the most important probably being the WiiU! (those santa gifts can now be played....like Sing Party....oh Santa why do you torture us so!), larger variety of movies (more kid movies), a princess storage box for said movies, a trunk of dress up clothes, a doll stroller (the most desired object when boxes arrived and it was in the 2nd box I opened....yeah, I'm that good!), play food....decorated wooden cupcakes for all, kiddie table and chairs, legos, books, a few more dolls and stuffed animals, a handful of board games.....

6 - Some toiletries and such....our consumables shipment/some new HHE things we picked up in DC are set to arrive mid/late January.....so some more toothpaste, body wash, deodorant, etc were tucked in there to keep us from being the stinky family until then. I did forget to put in some laundry detergent....I brought some in my suitcase but there was leaking issue.....so while the plastic bag contained the spill, we have run out....luckily our housekeeper was able to direct me towards a decent sensitive skin brand.....while I have had some issues, Clarissa (the other sensitive skin person) seems to be doing fine....they do sell some recognized brands here (Pantene, Johnson & Johnson) the brand name is in English, the other information is in Georgian.....I don't want to buy the dry hair shampoo....I would be slicker than a 50s heartthrob.....not good. Plus cost-wise it is a little more expensive. I had thrown in a package of pull-ups for Clarissa at night time.....with all the moving I hadn't been pushing big girl undies at night, but most nights she is dry (the first night she slept through 3 am while getting over jet-lag she wasn't).....so now that her waterproof mattress pad is here....big girl panty time....she's doing great....now, what to do with 1.5 packages of pull-ups.....run them down and return them to Target....oh wait.....

I think that is it.....we will be reunited with things we packed up in July in the morning.....then the work of getting all that put away......I think besides the bed, I'm most excited for our kitchen island. We've decided to put the transformer on the bottom portion, then when we need to use a non 220 appliance, we can just roll the island to an outlet, plug in the transformer and then we have a workspace on top of the island to use.....we shall see if that works out okay.