Baby preparations are well under way. We’ve been slowly acquiring baby stuff, mostly hand-me-downs from friends, family, and neighbours. Emily has put her sewing skills to work creating a stuffed elephant and a wrap to carry the baby in. For big ticket items, we bought an Ikea crib, but we’ve been struggling to find a stroller and a car seat.
Considering we’re a car-free family and plan on staying that way after the baby arrives, a car seat may seem like a weird purchase, but it’s the only mandatory item we need before the baby arrives. The hospital won’t let you leave unless you have a car seat to put the baby in. Plus, we’ll need it whenever we use car-sharing vehicles and rental cars.
Our main criteria for a car seat:
- light and easy to transport
- can be installed quickly and safely without a base (we found European belt routing while researching the options)
- can be integrated with a stroller for those times when we need to walk a few blocks to get to a Car2Go or Modo vehicle
- not ridiculously expensive (since it will hopefully be used infrequently)
A few weeks ago we bought a Baby Trend City Clicker LX Travel System from Babies R Us. It was on sale and we liked the minimalist stroller frame when the car seat was attached. After hauling it home (in an Evo car sharing vehicle), we set it up and were dismayed to find two problems -a defective wheel lock and a broken plastic clip. We contacted customer support at Baby Trend and after a several phone calls and emails that went nowhere, I gave up and returned it for a refund. The car seat seemed decent, but the stroller was flimsy and cheap, with crappy wheels.
After that disappointment, we did a bit more research and agreed to invest in a better system. We decided on getting a Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 car seat (which we’ll pick up soon). The car seat might be a bit more expensive than we wanted, but we’re convinced European belt routing is essential for a car-sharing family and there aren’t many car seats sold in North America with that feature. We found a used Peg Perego Book Plus stroller on Craigslist and picked that up last weekend. It’s really well designed and I think we’ll be happy with it. The real test comes when the baby arrives next month.
The Roomba I bought 2 years ago is one of the best luxury purchases I’ve ever made. It does such a great job keeping our floors clean and picking up cat hair. But I was concerned with how much power it uses, so I plugged it into a power meter for a week.
Turns out, it uses hardly any energy. After a week of daily cleaning, it only used 0.65 kWh (which works out to less than $3/year). I plugged in our old Hoover and did some vacuuming for comparison, and it uses a lot more power. One hour of vacuuming with the Hoover used more energy than the Roomba did in a week. Although there’s no way I would be vacuuming for an hour a week, especially since we only have carpet in the bedrooms. I guess sweeping is still the most energy efficient option, but I’m more than happy to pay a few dollars a year in energy bills for the robot to do the sweeping and vacuuming for me.
|0.65 kWh per week
||0.78 kwh per hour
|28 W max demand
||857 W max demand
1. Using BC Hydro’s residential rate of 8.3 cents / kWh (which is very cheap)
2. Assuming 30 minutes of vacuuming a week.
A few pictures from our Easter weekend in Kamloops with my sister’s family.
We had fun making Ukrainian Easter Eggs (pysanky).
And of course there was a hunt for eggs filled with chocolates, candies, and cryptogram clues.
My nephew was the big winner.
Last week my lovely wife surprised me with a Okanagan birthday adventure. We spent the day hiking in Kelowna and then retired to the luxurious Sparkling Hill Resort in Vernon.
I knew it was going to be a good day when a rainbow lit up the mountainside as we drove through Abbotsford. I was a bit slow snapping a picture, but it was perfectly formed on both sides.
In Kelowna, we hiked along the Myra Canyon trail, formerly part of the Kettle Valley Railway. Half of the trail was still covered in snow, but it was still an easy hike with some epic scenery. The trail has some huge trestle bridges, most of them rebuilt after the devastating forest fire in 2003.
After our hike, we checked in at the luxurious Sparkling Hill Resort. I never knew this place existed before, but it’s damn fancy. Designed by the Swarovski family, the resort is packed with crystals everywhere, including the washroom signs.
The spa was the highlight, with so many little touches elevating it above the usual. The outdoor pool had fabulous views of the mountains and Okanagan Lake. The indoor pool played classical music underwater. There was a walking path with knee deep water that alternated between hot and cold to help improve circulation (it felt like torture). The steam/sauna area had a number of unique rooms, including the experience showers that simulated thunderstorms and tropical downpours, a rose scented steam room, a sauna with a bucket of rocks that were repeatedly heated and then dunked into cold water, and the igloo with ice to rub on your body. There were also some quiet areas to relax and enjoy the view.
It was a decadent birthday experience and a step beyond anywhere we’ve stayed before.
We spent the first weekend of March visiting San Francisco. We didn’t have much planned, except reconnecting with friends and eating good vegan food. It’s probably our last chance at child-free travel for a long time.
We didn’t do anything overly touristy, just explored some of the funkier neighbourhoods (like Castro and Mission), walked around Golden Gate Park, and hung out.
It was one of San Francisco’s rainiest weekends in the past few years, which was unfortunate for us but good for the drought-stricken state.
When the sun did come out, it was glorious. Perfect weather for running around the park.
Or hiking in Berkeley.
We got a tour of Google’s San Francisco office, which is a nerd fantasyland. I left with a serious case of office envy.
All-in-all, a very good weekend.
Before we even booked our flights to San Francisco we were planning where to eat. Our vegetarian friends have raved about the deliciousness the city has to offer. By the time we arrived we had 4 reservations booked for our 4 days in San Francisco. Three of the restaurants were totally vegan and one was vegetarian.
Here are our favourites:
Millennium Oakland – 5/5
We were really impressed by the inventive vegan food in this nice, cozy restaurant. It was easy to get to on the BART with an interesting looking neighbourhood around it (which we didn’t have time to explore). Everything was good, although the main courses outshone the appetizer and desserts.
Greens – 5/5
The first thing you notice about Greens is the beautiful dining room with giant wood sculptures and a stunning view of the Golden Gate Bridge. But the food alone makes it worth the visit. Everything has so many elements to it and yet somehow it was simple and delicious. We had to trudge through the rain and dark to get there. I’d recommend trying to go when it’s lighter out and you can see the bridge better.
Citizen Fox – 4.5/5
Currently only in a temporary location in the Mission with limited hours, it seemed like a fully-formed restaurant with great food, nice decor, and professional staff. We went for brunch and got to enjoy many breakfast classics that vegans usually don’t get to eat like eggs benedict, a reuben sandwich, and waffles with fried ‘chicken’. They even had a live band playing quietly in the corner.
Vik’s Chaat Corner – 4/5
This one wasn’t planned. Our Berkeley friend brought us here knowing we were nostalgic for our time in India. It was the most authentic Indian chaat house we’ve been to since being back. There was a simple menu with all the classic Indian snack options (like cholle bhature, bhel puri, and dosas) cooked up at different stations where you picked up your food. It’s located off-the-beaten path in an industrial part of Berkeley, but worth the visit at lunch if you’re nearby.
Gracias Madre – 3.5/5
We cook a lot of vegan Mexican food at home, so we were excited to try somewhere that actually served up cashew cream and vegan tamales. The food was good, but none of the flavours or dishes really stood out. It was the only place we went where none of us finished our meals (because of the quantity not the quality).