Surviving Chaos, Travel, When in

Taipei, Taiwan and the Flu

Recently, my husband visited his team in the beautiful city of Taipei, the capital of Taiwan. He typically travels to Taiwan twice a year but he managed to squeeze in 1 more trip before the end of the year. He really enjoys the mild weather in Taipei (especially since its always hot where we live) and doesn’t mind the rain that occurs a couple of times per day. He has learned the hard way to keep his umbrella close by. While there, he got the opportunity to visit the Golden Waterfall in Golden Ecological Park. Hmmm, this sounds too good to be true. Due to the regular rainfall in the mining area (there’s that consistent rain again) and abundant heavy metals, the water has a golden hue when it leaves the waterfall. If only there were REAL gold in the water…..wishful thinking! Its also a popular spot for newly weds and photographers so it can definitely get crowded (pun intended). He also visited the Chiufen Shengping Theater, he oldest existing theater in Taiwan, which shows old school movies a specific times of day during the week. If your a movie buff and like movies shown from an old school project, this place will definitely give you some nostalgia and trip down memory lane. In addition to movies, there’s a tour about the theater history, the gold rush and the Baroque architecture of the cinema.

A Foodies Paradise

Taipei features beautiful architecture throughout the city and is a foodie’s paradise. With food shops lining the streets, its easy for tasting a variety of different foods. Jiufen Old Street is the perfect place for foodies with so many vendors to choose from. Its lively, busy and features excellent views of the mountains and the sea. The cuisine ranges from traditional to exotic but worth a taste. My husband recently had his first experience with fresh squid; an experience he will never forget. Thankfully he was able to end it on a positive note with some Dragon Fruit, a delicious and sweet fruit.

On the home front

Meanwhile back at home, I was in true survival mode. The week started out great but things started going downhill and fast. During the week, the school kept sending messages about the flu outbreak at school and to keep your children home if they were sick. I kept breezing by the messages because I was for sure my kids were wearing their jackets/gloves/hats and washing their hands thoroughly….multiple times a day…with soap. Wishful thinking….our son lost his gloves, at some point earlier in the month (he never told me he lost them), and he was SORTA washing his hands. So low and behold…..he got the flu! Then our daughter got the combination of flu/strep/cold. How is that even possible??? Fun fact…..did you know that you can spread the flu BEFORE you are showing any symptoms? Did you know that your kids will tell you that their desk partner in class was sick with the flu AFTER they are sick AND while they are sitting in the doctor’s office?? Nothing like a doctor’s office confession!!

So there we were, sick and shut in. We couldn’t really leave the house and couldn’t have anyone over for fear of spreading their illnesses. This also meant I had to disinfect our ENTIRE house. Lysol, Whirlpool and I are now best friends: 10+ loads of laundry (maybe more as the loads started to blend together in my mind…..) and lots of wiping down light switches, door knobs, staircase rails, remote controls, etc. By the time it was all over (6 days later), we had a serious case of cabin fever; you’d be surprised by the type and how many games and songs get invented out of severe cases of boredom.

And without further a due, here are your tips for surviving chaos:

  • Stock up: I luckily had purchased a some bottles of fever reducing medicine, soup, crackers, elderberry syrup and ginger-ale. My husband laughed at me because he thought we wouldn’t need all that stuff….whose laughing now!
  • Delivery service: If you can have ANYTHING delivered-just. do. it. You don’t want have to pack up your kids and go to the store when they are feverish, fatigued, and cranky.
  • Keep learning: Believe it or not, our kids actually got bored of TV. School workbooks came in handy (thanks Barnes and Noble)
  • Morning Mantra: Have a positive saying that you can repeat to yourself; its heartbreaking when your little ones are sick and miserable.
  • Patience: Patience is a virtue. You’ll need lots of it.
  • Self care: Don’t forget to eat. Don’t forget your vitamins. Remember take a nap when they nap. You’ll thank me later!
  • Wine: Self explanatory-you earned it!!!!!!!

Until next time, safe travels…..

Food

3 Bean Turkey Chili

3 Bean Turkey Chili

This is our favorite fall and winter Crock-pot meal but with a twist! I barely had time to take the after photos….they had already started digging in! This turkey chili is not only healthy but so easy to make-perfect for weeknight dinners. With all my recipes, you can customize this chili to suit your needs; increase the heat by adding a teaspoon of red pepper flakes or throw in some extra colorful veggies like bell pepper. Make it your own. Enjoy!!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 – 1 lb of ground turkey
  • 1 jar (28oz) thick and chunky salsa
  • 1 can (15oz) black beans, rinsed
  • 1 can (15oz) kidney beans, rinsed
  • 1 can (15oz) great Northern beans, rinsed
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 pkg (7oz) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 40 crackers

Instructions

  1. Cook turkey in large saucepan on medium-high heat for 10 minutes or until no longer pink, stirring occasionally
  2. Add cooked turkey meat to Crock-pot with all remaining ingredients except cheese and crackers. Stir.
  3. Cover Crock-pot with lid and cook on HIGH 3 to 4 hours or LOW 5-6 hours.
  4. Serve topped with cheese and with crackers.

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conquest maps, Family

Conquest Maps

Conquest Maps

Calling all travelers!!!! I’ve finally found a good quality map to document all the countries we’ve traveled to…..Conquest Maps! Conquest Maps specializes in pin board and poster wall maps to document all your travel adventures. Ordering is so simple…

  1. Choose your map region: US, World, Caribbean, State, etc
  2. Choose your map style: they have 7 different styles (they are all gorgeous!)
  3. Customize: customize the legend including text, push pin colors and push pin style

For ours, we chose the World map in Rustic Vintage style….since my husband has LITERALLY been all over the world. We also decided to change the push pins to green – for places already traveled and blue – for future travel. We then decided to customize the legend and change the text; this was the hardest for me since the text possibilities are endless! But Conquest Maps saved the day with some really great quote inspiration (check out their Pinterest page). I had to stay true to my brand, of course, so we decided on “There and back again…..a globally inspired life.”

Once we placed our order, Conquest Maps customer service sent a proof of our customized legend and once we approved it, out map shipped and arrived a couple of days later. Talk about fast service! Our kids loved the new map and loved putting all the push pins on. Of course this led to lots of questions about each city and/or country my husband had visited. What a great conversation starter about different cultures! We had so much fun with this project and I plan on ordering more from Conquest Maps. It makes the perfect gift!

Fun fact….did you know they also sell travel decor, wall decals, vehicle decals, etc….

Travel, When in

Yerevan, Armenia and the little A/C that could

One of the newest countries my husband has added to his travel portfolio is Yerevan, Armenia. Neither of us knew what to expect so we were excited for his upcoming trip. My husband really enjoyed experiencing all Yerevan had to offer from the friendly culture to the awesome food….barbecue. Armenia is known for its BBQ around the world; they literally grill everything! The grill naturally brought everyone together and prompted lots of talk about site seeing, world issues, and work-of course! This was perfect for my husband as he is definitely a people person. Additionally, Yerevan was celebrating its 2800th year as the capital of Armenia. To commemorate this tremendous occasion, an inauguration of the Yerevan 2800 Anniversary Park occurred in May. The park includes 250 new trees, 5 bronze statues, and Urartu style bull and lion statues and is currently maintained by the same family for the past 99 years.

Armenia is known for its art, innovation and sculptures and my husband found the perfect example; a giant spider made from discarded metal outside the Moscow Cinema. This sculpture is so big that husband can stand almost upright underneath it. As for me (who has a fears of spiders) I was not nearly as enthused. After visiting the spider (of my nightmares), he had the opportunity to visit Republic Square and see the Singing and Dancing fountains. A water feature with a light show set to classical, pop or jazz music; it is definitely a must see and favorite tourist attraction.

Spider sculpture made from discarded metal

Meanwhile back at home, we were burning up!! Throughout the week, I began to notice that the house was getting hotter. I assumed it was nothing as the temperature outside had been steadily increasing from 100 to 108 with heat indexes between 110 and 115. These are normal temperatures where we leave and are typical for August. But there was something about this heat that just didn’t feel right. Little did I know, the attic unit of our A/C was struggling to keep up and finally….it gave up. The A/C repair man showed up with lightening speed to see if he could fix it but it couldn’t be fixed….we needed an entirely new attic unit. In the words of my son, “Fun Fact….Did you know that when a motor blower goes out, the cool air from the coil doesn’t go anywhere? And if the cool air doesn’t go anywhere, the coil will freeze and become a large block of ice? And if the coil is left like that too long it will slowly start to thaw and cause a massive leak in your attic? Ours didn’t do that but that’s the story the A/C man painted for me in my mind. After paying $$$$ and waiting a week for parts and then the install of the brand new coil, blower wheel and blower motor we were finally cooling down….or so we thought. The A/C went out again!! The A/C repair man came back and stated the A/C drain was clogged which caused the drain pan to fill up which flipped the safety switch which causes the A/C to turn off. Thank goodness for safety switches, right? After this second round of A/C failures, I was for sure we were back in business. Wrong again….the A/C went out again!

At this point, I was so frustrated I was ready to sell the whole house! It’s too HOT to deal with these issues. The A/C repair man came back out…..at this point he had memorized my address and phone number since he had been out so many times. Go figure. He even brought the district manger with him to help! After an hour of going in and out of the attic and in and out of the house to the outside unit they determined it was the zone control board. Fun fact…..the zone control board is basically the “brain” of the A/C and it stopped working. It didn’t know if it needed to be cooling and when it should cool. After all those repairs, no wondered it was confused-if it was me, I would be. Sheesh! Needless to say, I have learned more about A/C units than I care to. Does this qualify me as an HVAC specialist?

Here are your tips for surviving chaos when your A/C goes out:

  • Popsicles: they’ll keep the kids cool in the hot house (and somewhat sane)
  • Food delivery: this way you don’t have to turn on the stove or oven (its already hot in the house)
  • Emergency fund: you never know when you are going to need it
  • A tribe: friends and family who will let you hang out at their house….all. day. long.
  • Kindness: remember…..the repairman has been in hot attics all day…..including yours
  • Wine: this should be self explanatory

Until the next adventure, safe travels….