Thursday, 19 June 2014

Carte Noire Coffee Pods for Nespresso

Ok you guys. This is it. The last one. (Unless someone else wants to send us free coffee...)

A while ago (actually an embarrassingly long time ago- Sorry Carte Noire people), the people at Carte Noire asked if I'd be interested in trying their Nespresso-compatible pods. And of course, I said yes. You know how we feel about free coffee in the Ameringlish household. When I told Ross about this development he was super-jazzed. He told me that, back when he used to drink instant coffee, Carte Noire was his go-to.

I'd received coffee from other companies before, but I was not prepared for what arrived on our doorstep a few days later.

A gorgeous box with a golden ribbon containing 4 boxes of Carte Noire pods (Nos. 3, 5, 7, 9) and two little espresso glasses. Ross was so excited he ran out to meet me to tell me about it when I got home.

The pods were really nice. We felt like the quality and taste were excellent. I most enjoyed No. 5- the Delicat. The Carte Noire pods are sealed in individual sachets, so they have that amazing coffee smell when you open the packet. Mmmmm, coffee.
The fact that these pods are available in stores, fits the way we use non-Nespresso pods. We tend to only buy them when we are low and won't be near the Trafford Centre (where the Nespresso store is) soon. The price is right what you'd actually want to pay. Of all the pods I've reviewed, these are the ones that we've actually gone out and bought ourselves after our free ones were gone (two boxes in Tesco for £4- deal!). I think they'll replace other pods that we used for this purpose in the past- namely Whittard's. The Carte Noire ones are just way better.

The Carte Noire pods fit our machine perfectly and never stuck or slipped through. You should double check compatibility if you have a newer machine, as some aren't a good match.

As for the little glasses that were included in our box, Ross is in love. Sadly, one broke in the dishwasher on second washing- a fact that Boden said was nearly impossible when we contacted them about a replacement. So now that we are down to one, Ross jealously guards it. The glass is made with a vacuum seal and double walls. They look pretty and are able to regulate temperature of both cold and hot drinks. We'll seriously consider buying some more of these in larger sizes, so thanks for introducing us Carte Noire.

I shall leave you with these coffee* buddies:

*ok, so they're actually drinking tea. But it's really cute and fits with the post better if you pretend it's coffee. So go with it.

(Like I said, Carte Noire sent me a beautiful box with 4 boxes of pods and 2 espresso glasses, but all the opinions in the post are mine, all mine.)

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Pardon me

As I've lived in the UK for quite some time now, I'm pretty thoroughly fluent in Ameringlish. That doesn't mean that I am a convert and use the British word. I've transitioned on some, but there are many language changes that I can't bring myself to make.

I call is a diaper and not a nappy 99.9% of the time.
I still say ZEE-bra and not ZEB-ra (which starts with a letter ZEE not a ZED).
I say garbage can, rather than rubbish bin most of the time.
I will always say "y'all".
I ride the elevator not the lift.
Sometimes I queue, but usually I get in line.

Consequently, I worry that Linus will end up confused about how things should be said and what things are called. As he gets older and starts school, I know that he'll be inundated with the British way of saying things and will probably defect. (Except for using y'all. I'll insist on that.) I'm mostly ok with using different words and figure that Linus will work it out for himself. He's a smart kid. He doesn't get confused when Ross and I say things differently. After all, they say it's good for kids to learn different languages at a young age. That surely applied to two versions of the same language, right?

There is one area, so far, that I've consciously made the effort to switch to a British way of saying something. It is only in making the switch that I've realized how very often I used to say "huh?" or "what?" or even "excuse me?".  In England, the accepted polite way of asking for clarification or repetition of something you haven't quite heard is "Pardon?"

Initially this felt and sounded super-awkward to my ears. All I could think about was this old commercial.

I decided to make the switch because, though I don't object to Linus being considered weird for using a different word- I do object to him being viewed as rude. So that's where I've drawn my personal line in the verbal sand.

If I can use the word that feels most authentic and natural to me, I will. If it's a question of manners or being offensive, I'll make the change.

How do you decide what words to adopt?

Monday, 21 April 2014

Fine Coffee Club Nespresso Pods

Well, it's that time... time for another coffee pod review. I never imagined that when I wrote a post about our Nespresso machine, I'd get so many offers of free coffee! But I did. So there. Mmmmm... free coffee...

One of the super-nice companies that got in touch to let us try their product was the Fine Coffee Club. The folks at the Fine Coffee Club were nice enough to send me 5 different varieties to try.

These pods range in price from 19p to 23p each and come in packs of 10. (They guarantee at least 20% off the prices listed on the official Nespresso site!) As you can see, they come in the long tubes like actual Nespresso branded pods. I love this. Not because tubes are my thing, but because that means that the pods are not in the annoying and bulky foil pods that every other alternative pod comes in. The Fine Coffee Club pods are so much nicer to throw in the bowl by my Nespresso machine. I especially love that the colors are bright and fun. It sounds silly, but Nespresso branded pods all tend to be a bit samey in the color- they're all very classy looking jewel tones in shiny metal. Sometimes, I don't want to be classy. I want hot pink and purple and electric blue! It's the little things.

The pods are recyclable plastic- though you do have to open them up and dump the grounds. If we had a garden, I'd love to be able to use them for compost! The other added bonus of the tube packaging is that the pods will fit in our postbox when delivered. No bulky box means no postman ringing our buzzer while Linus is napping. Hurrah!

Ross really loved the Rwandan Single Source and the Lungo. I liked all of them- though I never tried the Lungo, as I always have a latte. Ross is a rebel and makes them mostly as lungos regardless of the designation of any given pod. Even with this devil-may-care lack of adherence to the rules of coffee, he still really enjoyed the Fine Coffee Club pods. 

In the interest of honesty, we did notice that these pods weren't a perfect fit for the Nespresso machine. Sometimes the pod would fall through, rather than sit in the proper position while we closed the lever thingie. (Lever thingie is the technical term.) When that happened, it was easy enough to retrieve the pod from the clear drawer thingie (also a technical term) and put it back in. So not a major problem, but you do have to use a careful technique for insertion. 

All in all, we really liked the coffee that Fine Coffee Club sent us. And I also enjoyed the interactions I had with their team. I get the feeling that you'd be on the receiving end of attentive and personable customer service if you placed an order. So far, this brand is our number one choice for Nespresso-compatible coffee pods.

And in closing, I'll share this adorable video of Ross and Linus performing their nightly ritual. (It has nothing to do with coffee, but it's too cute not to share.)

*Like I said, Fine Coffee Club provided me with 50 pods of their coffee. All opinion are my own (and my interpretation of Ross') and I wouldn't lie to you!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014


To the sweetest chicken in the whole world,

I'm aware that my baby is quickly disappearing. Don't get me wrong, you'll always be my baby, but you are becoming more and more a little boy. There are so many toddler-isms that are falling by the wayside. I don't want to forget them.

What a difference a year makes!

You say "bup" for up.
You can't say L's yet, so they sound like Y's. This means your name comes out "Ya-sss". That also means that lip balm (which you LOVE) is called "yips". So adorable.
That you used to say "sha-sha" if we asked "Are you ok?" This makes us very sad. Sometimes we still say it. Now you say a very adorable, well-enunciated "yes".
A blanket is a "bing", though it's morphing now into "bint". A cracker is a "crap". Your father and I disagree about which of these is super-adorable.

Two word combinations abound, but I can't get you to go to three. If you wants to go up, I can get all combinations of Mama, bup, and please. But only in twos.
Your favorite and most-random pastime is pretending to sleep. You love to climb into Mama and Dadda's bed and play possum. You frequently order us to play along and lay in bed with you. The fake snoring is the cutest.

Not really sleeping

Most mornings when I go in to your room to pick you up you happily declare "Yay Mama!" This is wonderful and makes my heart sing. Some mornings you are mad that I have come to get you and ask for your Dadda. I can eventually get you to agree that I'm an acceptable substitute.

It blows my mind to see how well you move. You climb and run and jump like an old pro. The best way to get you going is to suggest that you go "fast". You are so good at figuring things out and love to be independent. You are eager to try things on your own, but still ask for help (by saying and signing- you also do this for "more") willingly. That is something I love because your Mama isn't always good at asking for help and it's a valuable skill!

You are a happy chappy most of the time. Your smile and giggle are so wonderful to hear. You are starting to demonstrate your sense of humour and are finding things funny on your own, rather than just laughing when we laugh. You love to chuckle to The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo's Child- both book and movie formats.

You are sweet and loving. When you give me a hug you say "aaaaah Mama" and you will usually happily give kisses. You sometimes pretend that you don't want kisses, but then will ask for more until I cover you in them as you giggle.

You love our weekly Skype chats with Grandma and Grandpa. You get very excited when I set the computer up and you hear the skype sound. You haven't quite figured out that they are separate people and refer to them collectively as "Bapa". They adore you and can't wait to see you in May when they come visit.

our happy family

We love you so much, sweet boy. You are the most amazing thing in the world to us. There have certainly been hard times since you've been born, but I want you to know that the love that Dadda and I have for each other and you has only grown in the last two years. You bring us joy and happiness and we hope that we are able to return the favour over the next 100 years. No matter what else happens in the world, our little family is my happy place- and that is a wonderful thing.

You are my best, best boy. I love you so, so, so much.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

99p worth of home

Every Expat knows that there are little things from back home that you really miss. Those things that you took for granted, but now can't find.

I'm talking to you Target Long & Lean Tank Tops*.

There are alternatives, sure, but the known item that fits/works just how you like it isn't available. 

Well- Hark, Expats, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy. One of those can't-get-them-here items can come off your list.

What am I talking about?

Well, not exactly. After years of trying various imposters (I'm looking at you Doktor Power Magic Eraser) that were found severely lacking and asking my mom to bring some when she visits, I stumbled upon this little item at the grocery store last week.

My breath caught. Could it really be? It looked promising. I bought my single eraser for 99p (a fine price, but it was market 1/2 off and 1.99 seems a bit steep) and rushed home to try it. And, Hallelujah! This is it! 99p worth of home to clean my bathroom and kitchen!

What little things do you miss from back home?
Have you found any acceptable substitutes for your favorites?

*Let's be honest, I pretty much miss everything about Target. Y'all know I'm slightly obsessed.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Gourmesso Coffee Pods

I've already talked about one company's Nespresso-compatible pods, and while I hadn't intended to become an official reviewer of alternatives for Nespresso machine pods, several companies have contacted me. And, well, free coffee is not to be denied.

The nice people at Gourmesso offered us some coffee to review and we said "Heck yes!" I was pleasantly surprised that the Gourmesso capsules addressed one of the problems that I'd expressed about another pod. Namely, the packets that the pods come sealed in are color-coded and labelled.

Copper Packet of Caramel Coffee

I can dump the pods (in their cheerfully coloured foil packets) into the bowl next to my Nespresso machine and am still able to tell which kind is which!

The other thing that I loved about Gourmesso is that they offer flavoured coffee. While I was pregnant with Linus, I really went of sweets. To say that I made up for that once he was born is an understatement. I realized that my sugar intake had gotten out of control and decided to make an effort to cut down on sugar in my diet. (In our house, that does NOT equal switching to artificial sweeteners.) I started by cutting down on sugar in my coffee. I used to have 2 sugars and milk. I very quickly weaned myself down and now enjoy my morning coffee with no sugar. I realized that my brain had become programmed to expect sweetness. I think if I had sugar in my coffee now, I'd be disgusted. 

I do like a flavoured coffee from time to time, but the only option is generally to add a syrup. That syrup is either laden with sugar or laced with artificial sweeteners. The flavoured Gourmesso coffee pods for the Nespresso machine let me have a nice treat without the added sugar. We tried both the caramel and vanilla and they were both excellent. As far as I know, Gourmesso is the only alternative pod that offers flavoured options. A definite win for Gourmesso.

Gourmesso capsules are compatible with all Nespresso machines and are available starting at just £0.21 per pod. They offer free shipping on orders over £40.

*I was provided with 2 boxes of Gourmesso coffee pods at no charge. All opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014


Prior to having Linus, I self-righteously declared:
I don't understand those women that are obsessed with their son's curls and won't cut their hair.
I'll never do that. I hate long hair on boys.
Linus was nearly 23 months old before he had his first haircut. When it was wet, his hair reached his shoulder blades. Now, it is curly, so it never looked nearly that long when dry. But still. Some days it looked like the hair of a ridiculous ragamuffin.

But some days... oh the perfection.

Angelic, beautiful, gorgeous, perfect. Colour me obsessed. And I dithered for months over what to do. I knew the time for a haircut was imminent, if not well-passed. I decided that I should cut it myself as I didn't trust anyone else to do it. I figured that I would be more angry if I let someone else ruin it than if I ruined it myself.
At any rate, I bought some nice hair-cutting scissors. Then I didn't do anything for another week or two. Then one lunch time- I did it.
I nearly cried. But I did it. A few snips across the back, made trickier by a massive cowlick across the nape of his neck and a teensy bit of trimming on the sides. I decided that keeping the curls in a bowl was crazy. So I put them in a ziplock bag. 

I've been pleased with how it turned out, but I'm still fearing future haircuts. I know I can't do it forever. Or can I? Are there any YouTube-based hair-cutting curricula?
Oh, and the day after I cut it, a woman referred to him as a "she". So much for the hair making him look like a girl.