How Ugly Cupcakes Taught Me About Data Plans

Who knew that some ugly cupcakes would give me a lesson on cell phone data plans.

Cupcake MixIt all started with a box of cupcake mix.  I know, I hate to even admit I used a mix but for whatever reason, I had this box sitting in my cupboard so I decided to make them last night while Armando was in Veracruz, Mexico for a quick weekend trip to visit family.  My girlfriends were coming over for a girls-night-in on Saturday so it seemed like the perfect time to make them so I would have help eating them.

They turned out to be ugly cupcakes.  My ability to pipe the icing on the cupcakes was not at the same level as the contestants on the Food Network‘s Cupcake Wars (Love that channel!).  How do they make it look so easy?!  Mine looked like, well, a place where a dog came along and thought it was a perfect place to do his business.  I know, gross.  But that is truly what they looked like.  They tasted okay though.  I think I would get points lost for presentation but for taste…oh, who am I kidding…they tasted like cupcakes that came from a box. But, I must say that my homemade icing wasn’t half bad.

Anyways, I decided to share my Friday night activity with Armando.  Baking on a Friday night…living on the wild side!  *sigh*  I snapped a picture of the cupcakes and sent it in a text to him.

A while later, I received an emoticon of an angry red face and a red face of the devil.  Whoa Nelly!!  I thought Armando didn’t like cupcakes.  Was he actually mad that I made cupcakes while he was away?  Nope, it was worse.

Armando added a package to his cell phone plan this weekend so we could talk and text a bit more than we are normally able to on his regular plan when he is in Mexico.  Sweet gesture, I know.  But apparently sending a photo via text when one is not on wifi, will use up a lot of their data trying to download the photo.  We just have to ignore the simple question of why one had his data plan on in the first place.  First rule of travelling out-of-country, never have your data plan on unless needed for an emergency.  And we have to ignore the fact that one sent photos via text earlier which would have me assume that it was okay for me to send photos via text as well.  But assumptions never end well.

Long story short, the attempted download of the photo used up all the data plan Armando had and was starting to charge him $10 for every MB needed to download the picture of the ugly cupcakes.  Thankfully, the phone company stopped the transmission so it wouldn’t go over $90.

So, we are now $90 poorer and the photo never did completely download for Armando to see it.  And the plan is used up so we can’t talk nor text for the rest of the weekend, unless he’s on wifi.

Lesson learned from all of this?  Buy cupcakes from the professionals.

The picture of my ugly cupcakes that cost us $90.

The picture of my ugly cupcakes that cost us $90.

Top 10 Road Trip Tips

Road Trip

Travelling along the Interstate 5.

After having recently been in a car with three other people for 48 hours on a Road Trip from Vancouver to Los Angeles and back in just four days (that’s 4100km/2547miles!), I learned a few things along the way:

1.  Travel in a Large Vehicle – our options were limited: a Mini Cooper, 2 trucks or a Ford Focus.  Our next 4000km road trip, we’re going to rent a comfortable vehicle.

2.  Never Be Overconfident with your Inner GPS – we only had one highway to travel from Vancouver to Los Angeles and back..the Interstate 5.  Yet, we reluctantly had to turn on our phone data to have Google Maps help us find our way back to I5 when we somehow went astray.

3.  Games are Not Just for Kids – car games help make the time go by faster.  Riddle games are the best: “A guy walks into a restaurant, asks for a glass of water.  The bartender pulls out a gun and points it at him.  The guy says, “Thank you.” and walks out of the restaurant.”  This one took us through a good chunk of Washington.

4.  Have a Co-Pilot – here’s another riddle for you:  If you have 3 people asleep and one person awake, what does the one person want to do?  Answer:  sleep.  Having a co-pilot was a definite must for us.  Makes for safe travels, especially while travelling through the night.

4.  Audiobooks – Another great way to pass the time was having audiobooks and podcasts to listen to.  Thanks, Tina Fey, Ms. Bossypants!

5.  Your Secret Zip Code – if you’ve ever tried to fill-up on gas in the US, you may have had trouble when the pump asks you for your zip code.  A little secret learned:  Take your postal code (i.e. V2H 1P3), type in the 3 numbers from it and then add 2 zeros at the end. (i.e. 21300).  Ta-daa!!  Works!  Just make sure you’re using the postal code that is linked to the credit card you are using.

6.  Calorie Counting – This just can’t happen on a road trip.  Food = Convenience when you are driving that endless highway.  Fast Food.  Gas Station Munchies.  Embrace the excuse to eat with abandonment.  But set boundaries…when the cheese-in-a-can starts to  look good, you know that you’re going to the dark side.

7.  Pile Up The Fluff – travel with tons of pillows and blankets.  They are great for piling up in the middle of the backseat where you can just lean into them and snooze away.

8.  Bathroom Breaks – always make time for bathroom breaks, no matter how often you need to stop.  No explanation needed there.  But I did learn one thing:  if you can hold it until you come to a major gas station (and there are plenty along the I5), you will be welcomed with a sparkling clean restroom.  They are surprisingly well-kept.  But if you have to drive further than a side road to get to the gas station, you might end up in an outhouse.  I speak from experience.  Stupid bladder.

9.  Freshen Up – when you’re on a long road trip and choose to drive straight through the night until you reach a McDonald’s for breakfast, remember to grab your toothbrush and head to the washroom to brush those pearly whites.  Your car-mates will be glad you did!

10. Have Fun – enjoy the experience of being crammed in a car filled with junk food, people, pillows, garbage, smells, music, laughter.  It may not seem like fun for many but road trips are all what you make of them.  Enjoy the ride!

Winning the Game of…Marriage?

Armando left this morning for a two-day business trip.  He is the sweetest of husbands and left me these gifts to enjoy around the house:

Clothing tags on our couch.

Armando is infamous for leaving papers around the house. Receipts from his business trips live in our home wherever they may fall, be it on the kitchen table, the living room floor or even on our bed.  Clothing tags are no exception.  Even though there are four garbage cans in our condo, Armando still loves to leave them wherever he’s ripped them off his new clothes.  Today, it was on the living room couch.

Candy Wrapper on the kitchen table.

This candy wrapper has actually been siting on our kitchen table for over a week.  It was a gift Armando left me when he went on his last business trip.  I’ve been waiting to see how long it will take for Armando to put it in the garbage.  So far we are on Day 8.  I will probably crack before he notices and get rid of it myself.  Am I losing the game if I do?

Cell Phone Graveyard.

This was a situation where Armando was in complete panic when his iPhone died on him.  His phone is his lifeline and without it, he will spontaneously combust.  He frantically searched for all his old phones  and started charging them.  But when he got his iPhone working again, he just left the others in our dining area, two feet away from the candy wrapper, and they as well have been there for 8 days.  I’m standing my ground and making a point by leaving them there.  I will not give in…

Slippers in the Living Room.

You know, when slippers were being left all over the house and I would be constantly tripping over them, I got a basket to put them in.  The Slipper Basket.  Yet, this morning, I see these pair of slippers in our living room.  I do admit that they are so nicely lined up that it looks like he almost made an effort to be organized.  I’ll give him points for that.

Office light left on.

I look after the hydro bill so I am definitely the Light Police in our household and he’s lucky he’s on a flight out of the city now because his office light was nicely lit as I got up this morning and wandered past.  There’s no point in making a point with the light as he is gone for two days so I switch it off.

And I don’t want to trip over the slippers so I pick them up and put them in our Slipper Basket.  And I’m tired of looking at that candy wrapper and cell phone graveyard.  So into the trash the wrapper and clothes tags go and the electronics into my nicely labelled “Electronics” box in the closet.

I feel like I’ve lost the game.  But our house looks better.  So am I winning?  I guess a little compromise never hurt anyone in this game called Marriage.

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Pickpocketing in Paris

On our first trip to Paris, this was my travel purse:

On our first trip to Paris, this was Armando’s travel wallet:

Yes, a picture is missing of Armando’s wallet because it was pick-pocketed by a gang of gypsies.  I was standing right next to him as we rode the train.  I didn’t notice a thing.  In hindsight, Armando noticed a slew of people get on the train at once, as we all squished together and then the crowd left on the next stop as a young gypsy girl stood outside of the car looking in.  Armando noticed her, wondering what she was doing.  Was she getting on or off?  What was she waiting for?  She suddenly flung a wallet into the train, just as the doors were closing.  The woman next to us exclaimed that it was hers, as she looked in her purse and realized her wallet had been snatched.  In that moment Armando checked his back pocket and realized that his wallet was gone.  I didn’t see the cocky gypsy that had thrown the woman’s wallet back at her but Armando did and the story of a gypsy girl who pick-pocketed Armando’s wallet has morphed into his current version of a gang of gypsies “attacking” him for his money.

My purse was safe.  Our passports were safe.  But we made stupid mistakes.  We travel enough so we should have known better.  But we got too comfortable.  We had just returned from Nice, France where, for some reason, I had Armando carry my credit card and ID in his wallet one day while we were there.  On the flight back to Paris, I thought that I better get my cards back from him but decided to get them once we got to our hotel in Paris.  Well, between the airport and our hotel, his wallet was stolen.  So all his credit cards, my sole credit card, and all of our ID (except for our passports, thank Gawd!) were stolen.  And we normally separate and store our money in different places like good travellers do, but for some reason, all our money was in his wallet that day.  We sure made some gypsy family happy!

What a lesson learned.

So, as we head back to Paris this week, I am determined to win this time.  Next post, I will show you my DIY Anti-Theft Purse but in the meantime, check out this video and see how even watches can get swiped!

Talking in Circles, Mexican-Style

Beschreibung: Post Telefon Fe TAp 615 Quelle: ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay…it’s time for a more light-hearted post after my stint as an investigative couch reporter these past few days. This post is courtesy of my ever lovely husband, Armando.  He’s one of those people who has the gift-of-the-gab.  But at times, he doesn’t know when to stop talking.  It is perhaps a bit cultural.  I recently learned the Mexican phrase “¡estás cantinfleando!“, which means talking in circles but never really saying anything.

Perfect example was when we were planning our wedding in Mexico.  Armando took on the role of translator between myself and our Spanish-speaking wedding coordinator.  One day, he called to ask her a question that I had.  After talking for several minutes with her on the phone, I was sure that he was getting all the explicit details so he could reiterate the answer I was waiting for.  When he hung up I asked what she said and he replied, “She doesn’t know the answer yet.”  What?!  But they had been talking for several minutes, there must have been some useful information exchanged.  But no, there wasn’t.  The time spent on the phone was just the process of her talking around in circles, saying in every which way possible the same thing, that she didn’t have the answer yet.

Armando does this without even knowing.  It can be cute at times and at other times, I’ve just had to shake my head.  Last week, he was travelling out of town so we were talking on the phone one night.  He talked for probably 15 minutes without taking a breath to see if I had anything to add to the conversation or if I was still even on the phone.  When I pointed this out to him, he laughed, saying that there may have been a time or two where a call was dropped while he was talking and he didn’t even realize it.

Case in point…he has been patiently waiting for a document to arrive in the mail.  This week he called the department in charge to check the status of the parcel.  On hold for a long time, he had the speaker phone on.  When someone finally came on the line, he grabbed the receiver and started to talk and talk, explaining his situation.  Once he said everything he had to say, he waited for a response but none came.

“Hello?”  I heard him say.  “Hello?  Hello?”  Then I heard a loud growl from him followed by a few choice words in Spanish.

He forgot he had put the phone on mute.  And because he gave a lengthy explanation for his call without taking a breath for the other person to respond, which would have given him a chance to realize that they couldn’t hear him, the person had hung up on him.

I couldn’t help but laugh!  I think a bit cultural but maybe a bit of Armando thrown in there too.  His chattiness is one of the things that I love about him though. :)

The Next Mr. and Mrs. Smith

Coming soon to a TV near you…..Tamara and Armando!!

Well, that’s what we had envisioned when we saw postings all over our condo lobby and elevators, notifying us that for four days, Steven Seagal and the cast and crew from his TV show True Justice would be filming an episode around our condo building.  Our chance to finally be discovered!  We knew in our hearts that we were meant to be the next Angelina and Brad and we had been patiently waiting for this moment to come.  I know…you’re thinking maybe more Uma and George Lopez but keep those thoughts to yourself.  Don’t burst our little bubble.

We reviewed the itinerary posted… a scene at the steakhouse across the street, a street fight, a speeding car throwing someone out on the curb….ooohhh, how exciting!!

Our condo is in a pedestrian-friendly “village”, filled with condos, shops and restaurants. Filming was taking place throughout the village so we decided to loiter at the coffee shop first.

“Why are you all dressed up?   You never get dressed up like that to go to the coffee shop?” Armando asked.

“Who me?”  I coyly replied.  “I always dress like this.”

Armando rolled his eyes as I countered, “Well, I’m not the one who booked my business flight to leave later in the day just so I could try to catch the fight scene.”   We laughed at each other as we headed outside.

Lighting.  Large white trucks filled with gear.  Thick electrical cords running along the street.  People standing around with headphones.  We could see things set up that confirmed something exciting was about to happen.

We walked around the block.  No action.  We made our way to the coffee shop to waste some time then took a walk around the other block.  Still nothing.  Around noon, a scene was going to be shot at the steakhouse, according to the itinerary.  Perfect!  We were hungry so why don’t we just have lunch at oh, I don’t know where….maybe the steakhouse? :)  We walked up to the restaurant, looked at the hours of operation and realized that the restaurant never opens for lunch.  Drat!

The itinerary indicated that an outdoor fight scene would be filmed that afternoon.  With the lighting set up, it appeared that they were going to film the scene right outside our condo building.  I suggested to Armando that we linger in our condo lobby because we had a perfect view from there.  We sat on the lobby couch and Armando grabbed a newspaper to disguise our intent.

“Have you seen Steven yet?”  A woman asked us as she walked into our building.  We gave her a  confused look, pretending to have no idea what she was talking about.  Acting at its finest.  “I guess Steven Seagal is shooting a show here,” she explained.  We had her fooled.  Can anyone say Oscar?!

“Oh, is that what’s going on?” Armando smoothly asked. We were so rocking the “incognito” thing.  Truly, we were meant to be the next Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

The view from our condo lobby - lighting set up for the filming of a True Justice episode but not a lot happening on set.

Unfortunately, we have short attention spans.  The whole waiting around thing got old fast.  In four days, the only action I saw being filmed was a girl running and then jumping into the passenger side of a vehicle in our parkade.   But by then, Armando had already left on his business trip and what’s the point of being discovered if I don’t have my Mr. Smith next to me?

Valentine’s Day Disaster

I had good intentions.  But it all went terribly wrong.

After Armando gave me my amazing birthday surprise on Monday, I wanted to do a thoughtful gesture in return and what better way to do that than to make him a 5-course Valentine’s Day Dinner the next day.  He was travelling with work and would be home on the 14th around 8pm so it was perfect.

I did my research, found some recipes and went shopping for all the ingredients.  Then, for five non-stop hours, I cooked, cleaned and prepared all the dishes so they would be ready in time for his arrival.

He was excited for the meal and with each course, I could see him getting more full but was forcing himself to eat everything as he knew how much effort went into the meal.  He seemed to enjoy his Valentine’s Day surprise that is, until 2am that night.

I was awoken to him stirring in bed.  Restless.  I asked if he was okay and he said no, that he thinks he ate too much and that he wasn’t feeling well.  It couldn’t possibly be that he ate too much as the portions were small and I ate the same amount, if not more.  He described his symptoms and it sounded like heartburn.  I googled what to do because we had no medicine for that and it said to sleep with your head raised.  As soon as he did that, he felt better.  But only for a moment.  Within a couple of minutes, he was running to the bathroom, sick!  Maybe he did eat too much?  Did I over stuff him?

That was the conclusion that we arrived at until I got sick a few hours later.  No, I didn’t over stuff him.  I poisoned him!  All the symptoms we got all day pointed to food poisoning.  I felt like I was dying and I felt so sad and guilty that my surprise gift had not quite turned out as planned and that it was my fault that my hubby was sick too.  Worst gift ever!  The only positive spin I can see out of this is that I am sure to be guaranteed to be taken out for Valentine’s Day dinner next year!

Best Birthday Surprise Ever!

I had the best birthday morning surprise yesterday…but before I tell you about it, I need to give you a play-by-play of the night before so you can totally appreciate the surprise like I did.

Sunday Feb.12

11:00 PM  Armando and I are on our computers, studying and researching, respectively.  Armando looks exhausted from his schedule of working full-time and doing his MBA.  He’s had no break in the last while and it shows.

Monday Feb.13

12:01 AM – I walk over and hover over him and his computer.  He seems confused.  I give him a look.  He thinks it’s that look of, “You’re suppose to be studying so why do I see Facebook up on your screen?”  But before he goes into his full explanation of just being temporarily distracted, I shake my head to let him know that he misread my look and I point to the clock on his computer.  He jumps up with a huge “Happy Birthday!”, a big hug, tons of kisses and his excuse that he was going to surprise me at midnight with a big birthday cheer but had gotten temporarily distracted.

12:05 AM – We are back on our computers.

12:30 AM – Armando’s fever that he’s been trying to fight over the last couple of days returns so he jumps in the shower to get refreshed so he can continue studying Corporate Finance.  He asks if I’m going to bed and I reply, “Soon”.

12:45 AM – Armando questions why I’m still up.  I explain that I’m just trying to find a legit apartment for our Paris trip.  He tells me to give it a break as I have been researching all night.  I agree and close my laptop, start walking to the bedroom and then have a change of heart as I turn back and open up my computer to check out one more option.  Armando continues to tell me that I should get some sleep as I ignore him, googling away.

1:15 AM – I finally head to bed while my sick Armando continues to study.

3:00 AM – I am briefly awoken as Armando finally joins me in bed after he’s reached his breaking point of looking at numbers and equations.

8:00 AM – I am startled awake to a very loud version of “Happy Birthday” playing in the living room. I am confused. Armando’s not in bed?  Where is he?  At that moment, he walks in with a birthday bag in hand.  As I look inside I see a birthday cake.  But not just any birthday cake.  It was a birthday cake that Armando baked for me after I went to sleep last night.  My tired, overworked, sick husband baked me a birthday cake in the middle of the night while I was sleeping!!  And, because we are trying to eat healthy, he pointed out all the healthy considerations he made when creating my cake.  He made a carrot cake.  He added fresh sliced apples.  He omitted the icing.  We won’t mention though, the less than healthy aspects of a cake mix that you get from a box :)

And as we cut into the pie-shaped cake (he had to use a pie pan because we didn’t have a cake pan) and ate it for breakfast, it was the most delicious, sweetest gift he could have ever given me!

The Sweetest Liar

Armando is at it again…lying to me.

When I do a grocery store run, Armando often yells out to me as I’m walking out the door, “Buy me a treat!”.  And when I come back, I always have something for him.  So the other day when Armando was leaving to pick up some things we were needing for dinner, I thought I’d give it a try and yelled out, “Buy me a treat!”.

I was sitting in the living room when he got home and started unpacking the groceries.  I tried to be patient as he took each item out of the bag but my curiosity got the best of me and I finally asked, “What did you get me?”.  At that moment, he looked confused and started looking around and then stuck his hand in his jean pockets exclaiming, “My phone!  I must have left my phone there!”, as he flew out the door and ran back to the grocery store.

A few minutes later he returned, mumbling under his breath that it wasn’t there and then walked into our bedroom and announced, “Oh! Here it is.”  He then walked out of the room and handed me one of my favorite magazines, saying, “Oh, and here’s your treat.”  It doesn’t take much to excite me and I hugged him for my thoughtful gift.  But, the wheels never stop turning in my head and suddenly, things weren’t adding up.  Never have I known him to be so quick in deciphering exactly where his phone is.  And before concluding that he left it at the store, he would use our land line to call his cell to make sure it wasn’t in the house somewhere.  He never did that this time.  As the wheels started gaining momentum and every scenario zipped through my brain in a matter of seconds, I quickly realized what was going on and called him out on it.

“You forgot to buy me a treat and you faked the whole phone thing so you could run back to the store to get me something, didn’t you?!”  He started to do the whole Who-Me?-look and then threw in an “I don’t know what you’re talking about” comment. As I glanced down at his hand, I saw a receipt.  As I tried to grab it out of his hand, he pulled it away. I finally gained control of the receipt after a mini-wrestling match and as I opened the crumpled up piece of paper, my suspicion was correct.  Only the magazine was on the receipt.  He explained that they rang it through separately from the rest of the items and as we glanced down at the kitchen counter and saw the other receipt, my reflexes were quicker than his as I grabbed the other receipt.  The time difference on the receipts was about 15 minutes.  Exactly the same amount of time it takes for your man to come home, unpack a bag of groceries, realize that he forgot to buy you a treat, make an excuse to run back to the store to buy you something and then head back home and present it to you without you realizing what had just happened.

So yes, he’s lying to me again…but those good lies that make me laugh and love him that much more Smile

The Little Box of Tampons

What gift screams, “I LOVE YOU!”?

Is it diamonds?  Plane tickets to an exotic island?  A spa gift card? Nah….a guy truly loves you when he buys you tampons.  Yes, the dreaded T-word.  Most guys’ eyes pop out of their heads as they look at you in horror realizing that you had the audacity to ask them to pick up the dreaded little box.  Sometimes if it’s added to a long shopping list and the box can be hidden in the cart by a large bag of dog food, then maybe they’ll quickly grab it and add it to the cart while nobody is watching.  But in reality, many will just flat-out refuse to buy them.  Why? Do they think they are less of a man? Like how? That people are going to think that they are buying it for themselves?  Seriously. Or are they embarrassed?  They have no problem buying a Costco-sized bundle of toilet paper rolls, but a tiny box of tampons is out of the question?  Seriously guys!  You will score points not only with your gal but with all the women who see you walking down that drugstore aisle.  You will be seen as the sweetest guy, running this errand for your girl.  Nothing says “I love you” like a box of tampons.

One night around 11pm, I was getting ready for bed and realized that I was out of tampons.  It was a rainy BC night and Armando offered to drive to a nearby drugstore that was open until midnight.  No look of disgust, or whining or excuses to get out of the situation.  He actually offered so I wouldn’t have to get out of my pajamas.  How can I not love this guy? Upon returning home with the little bag in hand, he proceeded to tell me that two large, tattooed, muscle clad guys stood behind him in the line-up.  I guess when he offered to go to the drugstore, he thought nobody would be there at that time of night. It appeared that the experience was not a comfortable one and with that, he found a solution to avoid being in that situation again, a couple of months later.

After a business trip to New York, I greeted him at the door as he walked in.  After hugging and kissing our “hellos”, he turned and glanced at his carry-on luggage and then said that he had a surprise for me.  Well, my face must have lit up like the Rockefeller Centre Christmas tree. Ooooo, what did he buy me?  He was in New York so the possibilities are endless….  He realized what he had said and then suddenly pulled the Christmas tree plug on me saying, “Oh, no, no, no….so sorry.  I didn’t mean that kind of surprise.  No, no, I shouldn’t have used that word.  No, sorry, I didn’t buy you anything.”  And with that, he went to his bag and pulled out a handful of tampons.

He explained to me that while waiting in the airline’s executive lounge for his flight home, he went to the unisex washroom and noticed that the tampon machine was broken with tampons flowing out.  He thought he’d take some so I wouldn’t run out like last time.

Well, it’s not jewellery from Tiffany’s or a dress from Saks Fifth Avenue, but it’s probably one of the most considerate gifts ever.  Or, maybe it was a selfish gesture so he can avoid running into those two muscle men again.  Either way, how can I not love this guy?  And he must love me too because he got me tampons. :)