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! :)