Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Getting ready!

Seems like this adventure started so long ago, but in fact, it's just starting NOW.
The thoughts of making the first intro video, the anxiety to make the challenge video... they're nothing compared to what's coming now! And at first I thought it was probably just a trip to London with random blog posts... but it's a bit more complex than that.

So the first group of the Samsung Global Bloggers arrived TODAY in London, and they have already been briefed on some of the activities, teamed up and given names to each team...
All these things just help build up more and more anxiety - I'm so excited for them!!! I have NO IDEA what are the activities they'll do and HOW they'll do it... but I'm happy and counting the days until it is my turn to go there and have to run around to get all the juicy good stuff to people and blog about it!

So make sure you follow me on my London2012 Olympic Games blog!!! New updates coming real soon!!!

Some of us bloggers... see me??? 

Saturday, July 7, 2012


As I posted a while ago, I was running for a spot to be one of Samsung's Global Bloggers in London for the London 2012 Olympics.

The competition had two parts.
1. The auditions, where hundreds, maybe thousands of people from all over the world posted a 30-second video introducing themselves and saying why they should be picked as one of the #SGBloggers. Here's my entry:

2. Challenge videos. Twenty bloggers from each of the participating countries were chosen  to be in the finals, where they had to, again, record and edit with the best of their knowledge a video where they talked about a sporting event that took place in the city they lived. I guess the biggest challenge here was to do it all in 30 seconds. When I talked about it here on my blog I only posted the bloopers video, so here's the official challenge video:

Yes, I won!!!
Well, me and three other Brazilian girls. And four other people from the other participating countries. But still, YAAAAAAYYYYY!!!! 

I've already done this on social networks but it's never enough: I wanna thank everyone who supported me, voted on my video, cheered for me and sent me AWESOME positive vibrations! And I'd specially like to thank my sister, who was the one who pushed me into being part of this, and my two buddies Marco who is an awesome director and helped me filming my second video, and Japinha who besides being the best Brazilian drummer and RockGol's striker, is above all an amazing friend and a very charismatic person - he's a national heartthrob and has even won over a few international fans!!! hehehe :)

I already have so much more to write about this whole experience, but I will leave it for another post... coming very soon!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Samsung Global Blogger

Samsung is taking a few bloggers from all over the world to cover the Olympics in London this year. When I first submitted my video I must admit I wasn't very hopeful, I did it "just because", you know? Well, turns out the judges chose me to be one of the 20 finalists in my country and I have just submitted my challenge video, which will determine whether I'll win a spot to be their blogger or not.

It's "just" a contest, but it is kind of a big deal. I mean, it's a trip to London. With tickets to the Olympics. And a Samsung smartphone ;)
It's "just" a contest, but I've already lost a couple of nights sleep on this account, editing videos and getting feedback from friends - which by the way, helped me A LOT. From the first draft to the final official video there were SIX versions of the video, each of them adding something different, a little more color and spice.

I'm not overly confident for this because all 20 of us have great videos, but I am very happy with the result I got from mine. The challenge was to make a 30 second video about a sporting event in the area where I live. Instead of taking the obvious pick talking about any given sport, I took a chance and talked about a TV show on MTV Brazil - and that can go for or against my odds.

In this video I talk to a very sweet person who also happens to be a celebrity here in Brazil (won "Best Instrumentalist" award from MTV and Multishow for the past 3 years) and an awesome "athlete" for MTV's show.

Below is the "bloopers" video.

Also don't forget to go to Samsung Global Blogger's page and vote for me :)
Thank u!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The star curse

I remember being a kid and thinking "there's one thing I'll NEVER eat!" whenever I saw a starfruit. I don't know, they just looked so weird... and the skin looked like some sort of larvae... so a fruit that looks like a star-shaped larvae should not be trusted!

Until one day I tried carambola juice. Just one of those powder, artificially flavored juices, you know? It was so sweet and citric and aromatic... but I still wasn't convinced. It wasn't until I was around 27 years old that I tried my first bite of carambola, more commonly known as starfruit


It was love at first bite.
Ever since, whenever I get the chance I like to buy some and eat - I always eat by myself since my husband seems to have the same kind of prejudice I used to.
The past couple of months I had been consuming a bit more of it and as a connected citizen of the year 2012, I always took pictures of it. Then a friend from facebook sent me a message:

"Dear Elize,
I hate to kill the mood, but I should warn you - eating too much starfruit can be bad for your health. Apparently, the fruit has a toxin that is bad for your kidneys (my dad is a doctor and he corroborated  this fact). I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, I too love it and feel bad for not being able to eat it very often!"

Heartbroken! Obviously, the first thing I did was google it, and sure enough... here's what I found on wikipedia:

Carambola contains oxalic acid, which can be harmful to individuals suffering from kidney failure, kidney stones, or those under kidney dialysis treatment. Consumption by those with kidney failure can produce hiccups, vomiting, nausea, and mental confusion. Fatal outcomes have been documented in some patients.

So it pains me to say, but if you - just like me - are a starfruit lover and have a certain propensity to kidney problems... stay away from carambola. I don't intend to totally cut it off, but cut back for sure. One way I really enjoy eating my carambola is by cutting three to five slices of it and serving with flan - it's tasty and cuts off the excessive sweet of the flan, and goes really well with the caramel topping. Besides, it's a very cute ornament to the dish. Hope you try it and like it!

flan and starfruit :)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Happy 88

Today it is my grandpa's 88th birthday!!!

my cousins, my grandpa, me, my sister - his birthday last year

Talking about the old man makes me a little emotional - he is for sure one of the most important people in my life and, truth be told, if it wasn't for him and my grandma this family wouldn't exist.

You know how people say grandparents will spoil the grandchildren the way they never did with their own kids? Well this is absolutely true for my granps. I guess he was always working so hard and so stressed and worried to be a hands-on dad and also, those were different times. But as a grandpa, he's been the best.

I lived with my grandparents up until I was about 7 years old, and I remember leaving their house and going away with my parents being devastating. My grandpa would come back from work every day between 4-5pm, then we would hang out for a while and he'd give me a shower and get me ready for dinner. Then we'd sit side by side on the sofa watching the evening news before going to bed. He taught me how to ride a bike - and he bought my first, second, third bike... He'd take me for walks, take me to the fair, bring me beetles in a shoebox so I could play with them... Haha, yes - I collected beetles when I was a little kid.
He gave me a typewriter, and from that I developed my love for writing. He gave my brother his first guitar and payed for guitar lessons, and today my brother is an excellent musician. 

When I was 17 I moved back in with my grandparents. I guess those were our roughest times - I was a rebel teenager and he was feeling the weight of responsibility again. I had a boyfriend whom he loathed, and this sweet old man would actually walk up to my (at the time) boyfriend and say "F-you, you S-o-B!!!" hahaha. At the time it was terrible, but nowadays just makes me laugh.
And even in those rough days, he would still wake up at 5am to make me some tea before I left for work and walk me to the bus stop. He's always been by my side, even when he's not.

He's 88 today and I feel so fortunate that he's part of our lives. I'm so happy that he loves my husband and feels that he doesn't need to worry about this troubled girl anymore. I know he is sometimes a grumpy old man, but I doubt anyone who's 88 and is not grumpy - I just could not ask for a better and more loving grandpa.

Love you, granps!

grandpa, parents, sister, brother and I at the airport

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The smelly-feet-ghost and other short stories

As I've mentioned before, my in-laws are quite peculiar people. My father-in-law came to Brazil a little over 25 years ago, he's from Taiwan. And as any Taiwanese, he has his own way of seeing life and the world around him... his Portuguese is only a little better than his social conduct and mind you - he doesn't speak Portuguese that well.
My mother-in-law is an uneducated farm girl. And even though she tries to read sometimes and learn about different things (she is knowledgeable in many things), some things she thinks and says are beyond comprehension. She can be very skeptical sometimes and question things - as everyone should -, but she can also be very gullible.

They lived in a very old house for many years and, truth be told, the place was falling apart. Since I met my husband I had been telling them to move out of there and when I came back to Brazil, one year ago, they finally decided to leave that place (I guess because they hoped we would live with them).

Although we decided not to share a house with them, I still helped them find the house where they now live.
Long story short, they loved it, but one day we while were visiting, my mother-in-law said she was worried about something.

The house was wonderful and much better than the previous one, but there was *one* thing bothering her.

Mother-in-law: My computer desk is right underneath the stairway, and sometimes while I'm sitting here, I'll feel a very strong smelly feet scent.
Me: Oh. What's going on? Do you have any boxes there?
MIL: No! I took everything out, there's nothing there...
Me: So where do you think the smell is coming from?
MIL: I can only think of one explanation for this... I think this house is haunted and there's a smelly-feet-ghost who lives underneath the stairway!!!

Yes, this was the only logical explanation she could find... true story. More coming soon.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Meatless Monday pre-post

Saturday we went to my husband's parents' house again, and he made some Taiwanese green onion pancakes. I posted the picture on my Instagram account, and it was very popular. A lot of friends asked me for the recipe, so I decided to post it here.

I decided to do it as a pre-post for Meatless Monday, so maybe you can do it tomorrow for an appetizer or even breakfast. The first time I had it was back in California, we used to go to this Asian store called 99 Ranch Market and they sold frozen pancakes... my husband loved it and remembered having it back when he was a kid living in Taiwan. They're very plain (thus, easy to make) but also very tasty.

. 8oz/200gr of white flour
. 5oz/150ml of luke warm water
. 1/2 cup of chopped green onions
. cooking oil
. salt

Put the flour in a bowl and mix the luke warm water. Knead to form a smooth dough, then cover it and let the dough rest for 15 minutes. Take a pinch of the dough, spread flour on it and over the counter and rolling pin. Flatten the dough, put a little bit of oil and salt then add the green onions. Roll the dough and form a twirl, then flatten it again. At this point, be careful not to add too much oil, because it will make it harder for you to flatten it later (the dough may "pop".
Use a frying pan or wok, add some oil and fry it until golden brown on both sides.

I got this video on youtube so you can watch it and follow step by step how to make this delicious green onion pancake :) I do not own the rights to the video.


Enjoy! :)

Friday, April 20, 2012

The gift of silence

Anyone who knows me knows what a struggle it is for me to get through each day here in Brazil. Or at least they've heard me b•tch about it once or twice, in any given conversation.

One of the things I've been thinking about a lot lately (or ever since I moved here) is exactly this - the silence around my house, or lack thereof.
People think of their homes as a place to find solace from the stressful lives most of us lead - job, traffic, gossip, broken hearts... (and BELIEVE ME, whoever lives in Sao Paulo needs a place to find peace of mind and heart). Our home is supposed to be that private and quiet place where we can just be...

When I came back I told my husband that it would be hard getting used to sleeping with the street noise... cars and buses... but nothing compares to my neighbors.

Since I moved in, not a day goes by that I'm not disturbed by this. Don't people have any awareness??? I know we live in apartments, but I've lived in apartments before and have never had such noisy neighbors!!! It's like they have no respect or regard for anyone else.

It is 2.44am and they're playing loud music and hosting some friends. They're all laughing and screaming (yes, deliberately screaming "woohoo's" and "yippie's" and "OH YEAH's" for no reason at all, other than to be obnoxious to the 5 other apartments surrounding them) and they're dancing and jumping in the living room - which just so happens to be right above mine.

I've never made a complaint to the administration because I know all other neighbors do it and nothing happens. Every once in a while they circulate a memo saying "we've had complaints about the noise, please keep it down or we'll have to place a disturbance fee", and that's it.
I've thought of going up there and talking directly to them, but I don't wanna be the bitchy neighbor that knocks on their door to complain... besides I'm most afraid of retaliation. I don't doubt that they'd make it worse to piss me off.

I've called the police and they told me they couldn't do anything about it and that I should call the City Hall. Did that and they told me they couldn't do anything about it and that I could call the police. So I really don't know what else I can do to have some quiet and peace in my own home.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

My geographical biological clock

Biological clocks - we all have them and they're all different yet, the works of it is pretty much the same. Sometimes your body says you're getting old, sometimes it says "hey, let's have a baby!", sometimes it says "I'm done with procreation, let's not EVER have sex anymore!"... but your biological clock also works on a daily basis, telling you things like - "hey, let's go to sleep".

I've always been a bit of a night-bird, since I was a kid, actually. And man, am I cranky when I wake up early in the morning, even though I love it when I do. It feels so good to think about how much I've done before it's even 10am. I feel very productive, but that hasn't happened in a long, long time.

Turns out my biological clock is American, more precisely, from Orange County, California.

When I lived in California I worked as a nanny for a while. The dad used to live in NY, but he'd been back for the past 5 years or so... He'd come home from work, open a bottle of wine, work on his computer for a little bit, play with the kid and by 8pm he'd be asleep, if possible. Then he'd wake up at 3 or 4am and get his day started.
To me, that was nuts. He said it was because he was still on the NY schedule and I could never understand that - he'd been back for 5 years or so!!!

Well, joke's on me. I've been back for over a year now and it seems that my body has not been able to get off the California time zone. It is not 3.12am and I do not feel sleepy - at all! If I go by my biological clock, I will start getting tired in 1 hour or 2, which is about the time I used to go to bed back then.

I've tried getting back on track by waking up early and getting really really sleepy so I can go to bed early... never works. Doesn't matter how tired I've been all day, inevitably by 10pm I start getting hyper. If I go to sleep before 10pm, I'll be up by midnight and only fall back asleep at 6 or 7am.

I've been to a sleep doctor - he told me I should not go against my body's nature and go to sleep when I feel tired and wake up late if I can. Even though I do like that advice, I'd much rather have a normal schedule. Truth be told, I'd much rather be where my biological clock belongs...

San Clemente Beach, California

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Weekends in Brazil

I have an American friend living here in Sao Paulo, and a while after she moved here she told me it was hard hanging out with friends over here because most people just visit their families on weekends. I'm not sure if this happens exclusively in Brazil, but it is true in most cases here.
My husband and I are just really lazy so we don't do it every weekend, but we do try to balance weekends with friends / his family / my family. We could see his family a lot more (since they live relatively close by), but sometimes my husband is just not in the mood and, well... I'm certainly not going to insist.

This weekend and the one before were spent with my in-laws. They're not the most socially adequate people, and my father-in-law is Chinese. Oh yeah, here's some information on Chinese people: they usually have no awareness for Ocidental standards of politeness and they have no concerns to speak their mind, regardless of who it will offend or hurt. Add that to the fact that my father-in-law is not crazy about me... well, it's not a breeze to be around him.
I don't feel thrilled to go there, but in spite of all that, going there is also not as bad as it could be. They're such peculiar people, there's always a story after a day spent with the in-laws.

My husband's relationship with them is also peculiar. It seems like they depend on him A LOT (not financially, but in every other way), and he talks to them just like he would to any of his friends. His dad had a picture of a naked lady on his desktop background (don't get me started), so as a prank hubs decided to change it... to a naked tranny.
The more I talk about them, the more people think they are very bizarre. And they are, really. This was just another day at the Lee's residence.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Meatless Monday

I've been wanting to write about this for a while, and today I finally got the time and the timing right. Has anyone ever heard of "Meatless Monday"?
In a nutshell, it's a way of bringing the goods of vegetarianism to everyone. I am not a vegetarian myself, and it's a shame I don't work harder on that and my husband would never be able to pull it off either, but Meatless Monday does make a difference.

A lot of people I know say they could never be vegetarians (my husband included) because they just LOVE meat so much. And I understand that, we're raised in a carnivore world, it's like saying "can you live without chocolate the rest of your life?" - unless you have a personal distaste for it, you can't, and most people just so happens to love it. That's why Meatless Monday is so great - you get to be a vegetarian, only one day a week.

Refraining from eating meat has countless benefits. Health is one to begin with... a lot of heart problems are related to meat consumption, so this definitely helps. Environmentally, it also makes a huge difference. Anyways, I won't number them here because I'm not the most qualified person to do so, instead I will give you the links to read more about it.

Here are some links to it:

Meatless Monday (USA)
Segunda-Feira Sem Carne (Brazil)
Lunes Sin Carne (Spain)
Lundi Sans Viande (France)
Köttfri Måndag (Sweden)

My purpose in writing this is because eventually I want to post some recipes of vegetarian dishes I like to make. I'll do that whenever I post on Mondays.

Happy week everyone! :)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

I believe in a thing called love

I got back in touch with a dear old friend about a year ago. (facebook *is* wonderful sometimes.)
Since we last saw each other he got married and had 2 beautiful children, and was very happy and telling me how amazing his family was. A few weeks ago we talked again and he told me he's getting a divorce.

I love my husband and I make sure I tell him that at least 10 or 100 times every day. And he does the same. We're not at all one of those couples with all the PDA or always writing on each other's facebook wall how much we love each other and how great our love is etc etc, because we both think that's very unnecessary, and that does not - at all - mean we don't have a solid and loving relationship.
After a bit more than 3 years together we have all the intimacy a couple should have - and a lot more than what's acceptable, but what are you gonna do? -, we still have our romantic moments, we've sailed stormy seas and got past it together and what I personally think is the best... pretty much every night when we go to bed to sleep, we just lay there and talk for a while about everything and nothing. And we make each other laugh A LOT with the silliest things. Seriously, sometimes I wonder what would other people think of us.

So what I mean is, I'm sure about my feelings for my husband and I'm pretty sure he is too and we have no intention of ever not being the annoyingly perfect couple that we are.
But whenever I hear stuff like that, just makes me so sad and a bit angry because I *do* believe in such corny things as eternal love, but hey - maybe my friend did too, and now he's getting a divorce. It just makes me feel so cynical and skeptic.

I guess... no one gets married thinking "Hey, we can always get a divorce 5 years from now!",  so we just have to believe in this thing called love and try to power through all the rough patches together, for better or for worse... that's how our parents and their parents used to do, right?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Adventure ahead!

Today I left my house for the first time in 2 weeks.

It was the most stupid outing - I needed to go to the hospital and get x-rays of my back -, but I'm feeling so excited to get out of these walls, I actually decided to "get ready" for it. I got some of my makeup gear out (that hasn't been used in over 2 weeks) and pampered myself a little. My husband thought it was funny that I put on makeup to go to the hospital, but hey!, this is the most exciting thing that happened to me this month.

These past few days made me think of how many small, simple things we take for granted. Mobility is one of them. We're usually so bummed each morning that we have to get out of bed to go to work that we don't realize how lucky we are to be able to get out of bed.

Oh, yes. I was on the track to a steady recovery last week, planning on doing my outing on Saturday, but on Friday I choked over homemade Korean BBQ and coughed... that was enough to bring me back to square 1, couldn't move, couldn't sit, couldn't stand, walk... right after it happened, my husband laid me in bed and I started crying.
He thought I was crying from the pain, but it was actually mere frustration. I cried because I thought "Great. Is this what my life is gonna be like from now on? In bed, in pain, afraid to cough or sneeze?"

Two more days in constant need of help to get out of bed, to walk, to go to the bathroom... I couldn't even sit, he had to hold me up when I went to the bathroom. It's a frustrating situation and belittling to say the least... and the moment I managed to sit up on the bed by myself... triumph. It was such a small thing, that we instinctively do every day... and we don't realize that it can be a struggle for other people.

Friday, March 9, 2012

I cracked my back.

Yes, and that's the reason I haven't checked on my blog - or any other blog - for the past week.

I've had this problem for a while now, but last Saturday my bad back finally decided to make a strong statement by leaving me immobile.

It was quite a pathetic accident, I must say - I was baking a chocolate cake, which didn't even turn out to be *that* awesome. As I was putting the cake into the oven I felt it. And then I fell on the floor and couldn't move anymore.
I managed to crawl to the living room to get my phone and call my husband, who came home to a wife, in the middle of the living room floor on her hands and knees. But then again, I think this might be every man's dream.
Only after he saw me there was no fun... he had to help me get up, lay me down in bed and luckily I have an acupuncturist for a father-in-law. I gotta say this. My in-laws are not very helpful or very nice people, but I have to be thankful for this, him being the one person who was able to get me to move again was a life saver. I guess, of all the flaws I can accuse him of, this one thing should make up for all the rest.

Anyways, coming back from NOT MOVING AT ALL is a slow recovery, but now I'm already able to get out of bed on my own, walk on my own, go to the bathroom... hell I even lifted a chair today!!!

I never thought I'd see the day this would actually happen to me, but I guess it serves me to open my eyes and get it in my head for once and for all that I do need to take better care of myself, my diet, lose weight, exercise... ugh. Recovery is just beginning and it will be a long and hard way.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Symptoms of old age

A friend of my parents once told me "Being old is just a matter of point of view. In my opinion, old is someone who is 30 years older than me."

That makes a lot of sense, doesn't it? When we're kids, teenagers even... a person who is 30-something or 40 is OLD. We think they're just so old they should be in a museum. And they're so old-fashioned and narrow-minded, and their taste in music is so yuck, and - hello??? How can they not like the music I listen to, it's just so kewl!

And when you're that young, you also think it's never gonna happen to you - you're never getting old, your body will never ache, your health and eyesight are always gonna be super, you're going to be a very hip and tolerant person, and life will be the same, party every day! Well... that's not at all how it goes.

I remember when I was 25 years old, life was a bliss. And I had a friend - who was 27 at the time - who used to take multi-vitamins  on a daily basis. One day I called her out on that, I thought it was unnecessary and exaggerated of hers to do that. She said she was just being cautious and that, with age, you start feeling the need to take extra care of yourself.
I thought that was just ridiculous that she would treat herself as an old lady. Until I turned 27.

It was around that time that I started getting joint pains, back pain, gaining weight... my body shape changed completely, I went from a size 4 to a size 12 (no kidding), and just didn't have the energy I used to.
I tried going on diets, many diets, the diet pills I took a couple of years earlier did not have the same effect anymore, it was just too hard.  Then I joined the gym.
Exercising is the best thing you can do for your body - really. Much easier said than done, I paid 6 months at my local gym, only went there 4 times. But back in California I used to go 3-4 times a week, I joined the 24h Fitness closest to my house and hired a personal trainer for the first month and it made me feel really good about myself and sure made a difference in my life.

I went down to being a size 8 now, although I weight exactly the same, but I'm not bloated anymore and have more muscle mass and a little less fat in me. Still have a long way to go though.

Yeah... we do get old, whether we like it or not, and it sucks. But I still believe we're never too old to make a change :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Men's brains

 Any married woman will come across a number of episodes in which she will ask herself "what was he thinking???"

Yes, we all know men are from Mars and women are from Venus, and we all know we think very differently.  But how can it be *so* different, and what is the logic that rules their brains?

I know I will be able to tell hundreds of stories about this, any wife reading this is welcome to share their stories as well. Here's one that happened just a few hours ago:

I got out of the shower rushing, listening to my skype ringing, while the husband was on his computer playing his nerdy game, as is his ritual everyday after work. It was my dad calling a video-conference.
As I said, I was fresh out of the shower with nothing but a towel wrapped around my head and underwear. So I quickly asked the husband "Hand me something to wear so I can take my dad's call!!!"
As I'm hitting the "YES" button, he throws me some clothing. A skirt. YES, A SKIRT. Really??? Why didn't you throw me a kitchen towel instead?

Seriously, my husband is awesome in many many ways. But there are some things, practical things mainly, that I just don't understand his logic. Some of them, I've learned to live with, but he still strikes me with surprise every now and then.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Chestnut season out of season

My mom has this childhood friend who is an orchid researcher, and has the biggest collection of micro-orchids in the world. I went there a few weeks ago and fell in love with the place. But today we went back there on a different mission: chestnut picking!

Twenty-five years ago, when his elder son was born, he decided to plant a couple of chestnut trees. The result: 2 giant trees that produce more chestnuts than they can eat. And also, out of season, so they can't sell.

chestnut trees

When my mom told me we'd go picking chestnuts I thought, "great, and since it's so hot, I'll wear my yoga pants, a tank top and flip-flops!" But when we were going there, my mom, my grandma and my aunts were all gearing up with gloves, boots, hats and tools - I thought "How the hell are they gonna do it??? Where do they think they're going???"

In my head, we would get to this place with a beautiful tree and the chestnuts - as we know them, how they sell them in the supermarkets - would just be hanging on the tree, and I'd gently pull on them and they would come loose.

The thing is, chestnuts are a bit more complex than that. They actually come inside a very spiky cocoon, and you can't touch them with your bare hands - they're really sharp. So after they fall on the ground, most of them are already half open, we get two metal rods or screwdrivers or whatever tool you have at hand and crack them open so you can retrieve the chestnuts inside the cocoon. Wasn't I so glad I decided to wear flip-flops!...

inside the cocoon

For obvious reasons, I couldn't get my "hands dirty", so I decided to register the moment instead by taking pictures and climbing trees!

And at the end of the picking, a family of 8 monkeys decided to dazzle us with their presence... they were prancing around from branch to branch, 2 of them carrying their babies on their back, and making funny noises.

It was an awesome experience, as my aunt said - living and learning. I've eaten chestnuts my whole life and never had I imagined this is where they came from.
In the end, we had 30kg (66lb) of chestnuts to bring home, and the longing for the trip next year :)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Survival - part two

I await, with much anticipation, the day my housekeeper is coming. That day is tomorrow. To me, it feels much like Christmas, and I receive the gift of a magically clean home.
The downside is that next week is Carnival week, and nobody works during Carnival in Brazil (as you all must know). Hubby is staying home, which means the house will get messy and dirty faster, and also... I'll have to cook.

I used to cook pretty much everyday up until a year ago, when he decided to go on a diet. Since he gets home kinda late, he decided not to eat dinner at home anymore, and he always has lunch at work as well. In the beginning it was frustrating going through the trouble of cooking a full meal and then it would just go bad for days in the refrigerator, so I just stopped cooking. And when I'm hungry I'll eat bread, scrambled eggs, fruits or sometimes - popcorn. Easy is good!

I don't usually do this, but today I just couldn't resist the temptation and I stocked up on frozen food. Two boxes of chicken nuggets, 2 boxes of veggie nuggets, french fries and polenta. I'm pretty sure we'll eat it up in 1 day but oh well. It's one day I won't need to cook.

So a couple of weeks ago hubby started watching a new show. It's pretty entertaining, but I wonder if I should take a hint from that...

Has anyone ever seen this? It's about this world-class chef that leads 12 aspiring cooks into becoming a top chef and managing their own restaurant. Pretty much the kitchen version of "The Apprentice", only more fun.
I recommend it, sometimes when I watch it I actually get some new ideas and inspiration for cooking. But only sometimes.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Need milk for babies

It is known all around the world that Brazil is kind of a poor country. If you go out on the street you're likely to bump into a few beggars every day.

Beggars annoy me (I guess they annoy everyone, actually), but I get specially annoyed with lying beggars, and today I came across one which has just gone up to the top of my list of ingenious beggars in second place, just behind another one I had an encounter with some years ago. I thought I'd share the stories with you.

As I said, ingenious beggar #2 happened today.
I was in the subway on my way home, and this girl, who seems to be 18-19 years old, walks in pushing an old stroller all covered up, no one can see inside it. She's wearing jeans, sandals and a black Ecko t-shirt, that seemed to be brand new (you know how black washes away). In one hand she had a bunch of slips of paper, the other, a Quicksilver bag.
She starts handing out these slips of paper to everyone in the carriage, and I'm thinking "She might be selling something" and looked away so she wouldn't come bother me... even so, she left a slip of paper on my lap and poked me to look at it. I did. The paper read:
I really need money to buy milk and food for my little brothers, so anything you give me will help.

Really??? How about I give you some advice??? Go to school, get a job and stop spending money with branded clothes!!!

[ just for reference, here in Brazil an Ecko t-shirt costs around R$80-100BRL (≈$50-60usd), which I think is pretty expensive for a t-shirt; quicksilver is also a pretty expensive brand, since it's imported. ]

Okey, ingenious beggar #1 is ingenious!
T'is the year 2001, and Brazil is broadcasting a soup opera that made a lot of success and touched a lot of people's heart, since it talked about a girl who had leukemia. (the plot of the soup opera is very much like "My Sister's Keeper")
It was kinda "trendy" to talk about leukemia, and bone marrow transplant, and there was a scene where the girl is shaving her head that was very emotional, so everyone talked about it.

One more time, there I was taking the train home, this was just a couple of days after the episode where the doctor told the mom her daughter would need a bone marrow transplant aired, and this woman in rags walks in carrying a chubby 2 year old baby. She stands in the middle of the carriage and starts her speech, at the top of her lungs:

Guys, I'm here today, because I need your help. You see, my daughter, that I'm carrying in my arms, is sick. She lost her bone marrow! When I noticed it, I took her to the doctor, and he said it costs a lot of money to get her a new one, so GUYS, I NEED YOUR HELP. HELP ME BUY A NEW BONE MARROW FOR MY SICK DAUGHTER.

Again, may I help with some advice? Try selling your tv, maybe that should cover the cost of all new bones she will ever lose in her life.

Here's a video of the so famous scene when the girl gets her head shaved.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Where's the "i" in "will"?

I guess there are few people in this world who are over 25 years old and have never gone on a diet. Even when we're thin, we insist we should go on a diet to lose those disturbing extra ounces.

For me particularly, going on a diet is just evil. I've never been able to find enough will to pull it through.
I can go a week eating super healthy, salads and fruits... maybe a grilled chicken breast one day... but then there's this ONE day that I go "ohhh I've been so good about the diet, I think I deserve this break" - and then I eat THE WORLD.

And you can work out all you want (although I actually NEVER want to work out, so...), but bottomline, the key to losing weight is to just stop eating.

Girls always tell me "the hardest part of diets for me is to stay off chocolates". Now there's a chocolate diet for all those girls! Seriously!!! There actually *IS* a diet where you're supposed to eat a piece of chocolate every 2 hours, and then BAM, you lose weight. My friend lost about 15kg on that.
Now, my food sin is just snacks and junk food. I don't care for chocolate at all, in fact - in 30 years, I've never been able to eat a whole chocolate bar in one take. I eat one row, 2 at the most, and I'm sick of it, it's just too sweet.

So I guess today's message is: please, nutritionists of the world, invent a junk food diet and I will happily follow it!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Survival - part one

When we're kids living at mom and dad's we take so many things for granted. Paying bills is the main one, I'd say. It's pretty amazing how we think money just floats in and out of our lives, no effort needed - and of course, the bank account is bottomless.

But parents should also take credit for every other little things. I've been on my own for a while now, and been in and out of places, living with different people... and when you're single, you *really* are on your own. You have to pay for your own bills, make your own food or starve, clean up after yourself or live in a dirt hole. But married life brings things to a whole other level and - pardon my insensitivity - especially if you're a woman.

I'm not on my own anymore, I don't have to worry about cooking for myself, or cleaning up after my own mess... I actually have to cook for two, do 3 times as many laundry loads (yes, he gets more clothes dirty than I ever did!), collect all 5 half-empty glasses sitting on his desk, among other things.

I'm not complaining, even because there are so many bright sides to it (otherwise we wouldn't be in it, right?), but it's just hard sometimes. It's hard to keep up, it's hard to please, it's hard to cope... (how did my mom keep our house spotless for all those years???)
I do get help once a week, hired a housekeeper and so my house is clean ONE day each week. I usually try to plan guests to come over on that day.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


This should be my middle name. I'm the queen of procrastination, for just about EVERYTHING. I've been putting off starting a new blog for months, for a number of reasons... time, inspiration, design, a title... my blog doesn't even have a title.

Not going through with things is another one of my flaws, but I figured this was the perfect year to do these sorts of things... rumor has it that the world will end soon.

Anyways, just thought I'd throw in a little something, then gradually add more to it. Adding a title might be the next step.