Wow… its been a while…

Oh wow…. we’ve been busy beavers for the last month and a half!! When I last posted, we had a friend from Australia visiting for 2 weeks, then the next week we travelled to California USA for 3 weeks, then the day after we got back from our holiday, my parents and sister came to visit… then Bubba and I got a stomach bug for a week, and here we are. Too busy enjoying time with family to write a blog post!!!

So basically for the last month and a half we have been playing tourist overseas and at home. I think things have finally settled down…

On the Tbilisi front, when we left in mid April, we were still wearing jumpers and jeans…. we came back after only 3 weeks away and it was like visiting a different city – the city is now lush and green, flowers lining all the streets… and its HOT!

In any case, I have made a decision to focus a bit more on my sewing & crochet projects, and so have just started a new blog to help me to stay motivated and learn new skills.

The link to that blog is http://gingerjac.wordpress.com so pop on over there and Follow my progress!

Thanks,

Jacki

Upside Down Apple Tea cake

We had some friends over on Sunday for afternoon tea & I was trying to think of something yummy yet not ridiculously unhealthy to bake…. I decided to upside down an apple tea cake! And…yummmmm! We ate almost the entire cake between the four of us adults (& the 2 toddlers assisted a bit too !)

Here is the recipe for this yummmmmm & so basic cake!

 

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Upside Down Apple Tea Cake

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored & sliced thinly

1 heaped tablespoon butter (I used margarine)

2 tablespoons sugar (*I used raw sugar, many recipes call for caster or brown for the topping but mine was great!)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Cake :

1/3 cup margarine (or butter)

1/2 cup caster sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

1 cup self raising flour (or 1 cup plain/all purpose flour+ 2 teaspoons baking powder)* no SR flour in Tbilisi!

1/3 cup milk

 

Preheat oven to 180c (170c fan forced). Grease 20cm round cake tin- I like to do this with baking paper as it’s easier to flip out cake when cooked.

Place 1 heaped tblspn butter in pan and pop in oven until it’s almost melted. Add in 2 tblspns sugar and 1 tspn cinnamon and spread evenly over bottom of pan. Arrange slices of Apple over this mixture and pop Back in oven while you are making cake mixture.

In mixing bowl or with electric mixer, combine butter/margarine & sugar together until light. Add in egg & vanilla and beat well. Add half the flour and half the milk and beat well. Add in the remaining flour & butter.

Add the cake mixture into the pan with the apples, gently so you don’t mess up the apple arrangement!

Put in oven for 25-30 minutes, test with a skewer after 25mins, if it comes out clean, it’s done.

Take out of oven & flip over onto cooling rack or plate. When cooled you can sprinkle with a little sugar & cinnamon or just leave as is… And serve!

 

enjoy.. I’m off to attempt to make Georgian bread “khachapuri” today so keep an eye out for a post on that!

 

Customs part Deux

Get ready to feel frustrated reading this!

As I mentioned in my post yesterday – I was heading off to customs / cargo terminal for the 2nd day in a row to hopefully, fingers crossed, pick up my boxes that had been sent from Australia via a Door to Airport service. I’ve picked up things from customs in other countries before so was expecting it to be an easy enough task…

Day 2, Tuesday: My lovely friend picked me up, this time bringing her iPad with books and magazines loaded on it in preparation… Thank goodness Bubba was home with the babysitter today!

Arrived at Lasare Cargo terminal at 10.45, as had been informed to come back to the specific office (Customs Clearance office on Lvl2) anytime after 10am to collect my paperwork. Weeelll it must’ve been coffee or smoko time, as there was not a soul in the office. A lady & man were chatting outside the office and just glanced at us as we looked around for someone, then stood in the office waiting. Then they walked inside and sat down and ignored us! Then another girl came in and sat at her desk and ignored us as well, so I asked her about my documents, which she then got up and found buried in a pile of folders. Ok! Step 1, Done… off to the Customs offices! I glanced at the few papers and there was a detailed list of our belongings on it (all in Georgian but my Janome sewing machine was listed in English so that clued me in) – and they had ‘valued’ everything somehow as well…

At Customs, I took a number and it thankfully was a lot quieter than the day before – was at the same operator (as the previous day) within a few minutes.  She then proceeded to open an excel spreadsheet and copy the list of items (and values) into excel…. then working between 3 different spreadsheets, had to find a specific code for each item on the list and enter that in as a new column. Obviously all in Georgian so I watched with fascination, but guessed a few… ie: “metalicus carco” – was guessing that was Bubba’s metal ride on car he got for his birthday…
Anyway… so this took quite a while. After she found all the different codes for every item in our baggage, then moved onto the Customs system and had to enter all our details and all the codes in to this system (along with the values for each item). This was with a few breaks to go out the back and ask a few questions, talk on the phone, check facebook .. etc etc.
Finallyyyyy this was all done (after 1.5hrs), she printed out documents, I signed a few things, then was directed to go to the little bank teller, pay him the customs charges (which included 300 GEL just for their service fee!?), wait 10 minutes while he inputted that data into his bank computer…. sign 4 sets of the same paperwork (3 of my signatures on each page?)…. then back again to the customs lady’s desk.
Back at the customs desk she then entered something (I’m guessing) to say I’d paid the charges, gave me documents to release my boxes, and DONE with customs after almost 2 hours.

So happy as larry, (and soooo over it…) off we trotted to the Cargo building again. Gave in my paperwork to the Incoming Cargo desk,  then had to go to their cash desk to pay the Lasare Cargo charges (as they’d stored my cargo for 2 days – which I did know about in advance!) then back to the Incoming Cargo desk to give the stamped (PAID!) paper, and after this, she told me to go to the dock with car so we could FINALLY pick up our boxes!
So easiest part of the day was getting boxes loaded into the car (all ripped and taped back up from their very thorough search!) and driving off home.

Honestly. What an experience. I recommend a door to door service or sending someone who you don’t like very much to go pick up your cargo from Tbilisi Customs.

But….. now we have our nespresso machine, I have my sewing machines and Bubba has all his toys! He won’t let his toy mower out of his sight 🙂

A gypsy life

One thing  you can’t help but notice when walking or driving around Tbilisi, is the amount of people begging for money on the streets. Many of these are elderly or disabled people, who just sit quietly with a hand out or little cup nearby for you to drop a few coins in – and from what I’ve learned, many of the older women are widows with no children to support them, and have no other way to earn money.

Then there are the gypsies, of whom you will see the women and children on the streets, and they have a much more confronting approach to begging for money. According to some taxi drivers, some of the gypsies are from Armenia, and they come to Georgia because the Georgians are more generous. (**I don’t know if this is true, just what the taxi drivers say!!!***) For example, our taxi driver – who on a good day may earn 100 – 150 Lari (working from 9am til 10pm or midnight, living 45mins from Tbilisi and having to buy fuel as well) will keep “gypsy money” in his door pocket so that he can easily roll down the window and give a gypsy begging from car to car a few coins. When I was thinking about writing this, I had a quick google about gypsies in Tbilisi, and found a few articles  – one here which noted that because many gypsies didn’t have citizenship or any sort of identification papers (including birth certificates), they weren’t able to get any state funding here in Tbilisi, including health care, and the children aren’t able to attend school.

Therefore, they beg on the street. And it can be very confronting if you haven’t seen it before – for example, there is always the same lady in front of the Goodwill supermarket in Vake, sitting down cradling her baby daughter,  sometimes pushing the baby in your face, pleading for money. Then there is the small girl (probably around 4 years old) that lies on a blanket in the middle of the sidewalk on Rustaveli- usually asleep at any time of the day- but during the cold snap when it was minus 6 degrees during the day, she lay there with her eyes open, with a blank stare on her face.  There are often little kids running after you yelling and begging – one little girl was following me the other day, saying something over and over again to me, then started trying to grab my shopping bag while I had Bubba in the baby carrier – lucky she didn’t understand English although I’m sure she has heard worse swear words in her life.

Today, as usual, I had a few encounters with gypsys. One girl stood waiting as I got some money out of an ATM, then started at it, asking for money – I just said “ara (no)” a few times, and on my way. Walked past the little 4 year old sleeping on the ground, then Bubba and I had a lovely walk up Rustaveli and back (lovely as he was in the pram today…). Bubba was getting a bit wriggly and we still had a good half hour walk home, so as I passed a lady selling popcorn I got a small bag for 10 Tetri (less than 10c!!). And let me tell you… trying to grab popcorn out of the drink-cup section on his pram tray & shoving it in his mouth kept him entertained the whole walk home! Winner!

When we reached Rustaveli Metro station, I noticed a little girl sitting on a blanket, with a bowl next to her for money. She couldn’t have been more than 3 years old. Seriously, she did not look anywhere as old as my little nephew and he’s just turned 3. I also do not know any 2 or 3 year olds that will just sit on a blanket for hours on end and not run off and play somewhere. Her mum needs to come teach that trick to my child. Seriously. What do they put in these kid’s water bottles? In any case, she was so dirty and I felt so sorry for her being put in that situation by her parents or siblings, that I gave her the half a bag of popcorn that I still had.

And let me tell you – the look on her face MADE MY DAY.  The popcorn was just for her… and when I looked back a few seconds later, she was scoffing it down, and kicking her legs around like it was the best thing in the world. She couldn’t care less about money, but I knew that popcorn would make her day 🙂

Sorry no photos lately, my camera is dead and I keep forgetting to get the adaptor out of husband’s bag so I can charge it up (also really need it to straighten my hair, it’s so horrible…). City is so beautiful at the moment so I’ll have to take a few pics and post stat!!

x

Toddler sleeping… anywhere, everywhere…

…just not in our bed.

My 15 month old and I have just made the 30hour, 14,432km trek from Brisbane (Australia) to Tbilisi (Georgia). In that time, he slept for 10 out of 14 hours on the first flight, a total of 9 hours sleep on our friends couch in Dubai, and then fell asleep in the transit bus to the second plane, sleeping almost the entire 3.5hour trip from Dubai – Tbilisi.

Since then, in Tbilisi, he has fallen asleep riding on Daddy’s shoulders, on a bench seat in a cafe, on a mini-bus around town, in numerous cabs sitting on my lap, in the baby carrier walking around town… but trying to get him to have a nap during the day in our bed? Impossible!

As we are in a temporary apartment until ours is ready, we are all sleeping in the one bed. I am amazed at people that co-sleep as our baby is the most annoying person to sleep with- how such a small person can take up so much room in the bed is incredible.

In any case, first post done, now to attempt to get toddler to sleep in bed. Wish me luck!

J x