Obrigada, Brasil!

My flight didn't leave until 8 p.m., so I still had an open morning on my last day in Brazil! Another place on my short list was Parque Lage, so that's where we went.

Have I mentioned graffiti? It is EVERYWHERE!!

The mansion now houses an art school and there's a little cafe; beautiful views from everywhere, and there are a lot of trails and paths, little bridges and stairways, and cave-like areas (with aquariums & fish!).

Still in awe of nature and the things that grow "wild."

So lovely.

Also one of the locations featured in Snoop Dogg's video, "Beautiful." This might possibly be the first Snoop song I've listened to in its entirety, and it was mostly for the pictures. Haha. There are some other familiar sites, as well!

Oh, I do hope I can go back someday.

It was Friday and it's Rio, so one wants to leave plenty of time for traffic tangles on the way to the airport, plus it was an international flight and I didn't speak much of the language, so a friend of Ann's & Brian's came to pick me up at 1:00!

I snapped one more shot of my favorite view -- misty and smudgy, for some reason, but my eyes were welling up a bit so it's perfect.

And one last hug with my boys.

Traffic. It was still "summer vacation" when I was there, so they tell me that traffic wasn't as heavy or congested as usual, but it was pretty crazy! Crazy like there's the constant "beep beep" of motorcycles, alerting drivers to the fact that they're there... between lanes, riding the lines, basically, and it's OK! There's a lot of jostling and wiggling and weaving -- cars, motorcycles, trucks, busses, they all do it! If that's not crazy enough, as we neared the airport and traffic was heavy and a bit more stop-and-go, kids from the favelas would walk the lines between lanes and sell snacks and water and whatnot.

You'd think there'd be hot tempers and lots of fender benders, but there's not. No one raises their voice in Brasil unless it's in song or at a soccer game! Surprised that my brother-in-law still had side mirrors on his car, I really only saw a few cars with scrapes or little dents. There's just a weird etiquette and flow to it all; everyone knows what they're in for and it's just the way it is.

So not like big-city American traffic! Those motorcyclists are some kind of something, though; serious daredevils.

I arrived in DC for re-entry to the U.S. and the climate change was immediately evident in my hair... it was dry and full of static and pulled back into a ponytail before I even made it through Customs! That tropical air really was wonderful for my skin and hair, even with only a week!

There's No Place Like Home! Hm.  ;)

And that, my friends, is it!


Cook In Rio!

On Thursday morning, I watched the boys while Ann & Brian went to renew some government paperwork stuff -- which they weren't actually able to do because "the computers were down" and so, you know, as people do in Brazil, it was on to Plan B! (In this case, Annie went back to work and Brian tried for the umpteenth time to get their international banking figured out.) (FYI: It didn't get figured out until I'd already been home for days!)

Addison had some fun with my camera phone.

Self-portrait: Addison

Later that day, Annie and I got to do the thing that we'd been trying to do ever since I arrived: COOK IN RIO! Originally planned for Friday, my first full day in Rio, it didn't happen. We rescheduled for another day but were late (as is often the case in Rio), so it didn't happen then, either. After many phone calls, several missed connections and problems with email, and changes of venue, some people were doubting that it would ever even happen.

But it did and, WOW! So worth it! The venue was amazing, though if you go there's a good chance it will be elsewhere, as our instructor, Chef Simone, was planning to open her own nearby restaurant within weeks (which means it should be open now)!

We all had little tasks to do. Annie made caipirinha, I sliced and cooked peppers for moqueca. We made fried cheese sticks (Brazilians love cheese, but it is a little different there) and farofa, too. Talking with my hands, I also flung the farofa off the stove but, luckily, much of it landed on the table rather than the floor and could be salvaged. I didn't care for farofa the first time I had it, but by this time I rather did... and this time it was made with onions and bananas, which sounds VERY weird, but was so good!



We learned so much about the history and culture of Brazil from Chef Simone, and all of the influences on Brazilian cuisine. It was simply fantastic and so worth our never giving up!

* * * * *

A word about food; here and there.

I wasn't terribly concerned about food while I was in Brazil because, hey, I was in Brazil! I didn't throw the book out the window, but I never said "No" to anything before me because of "diet." While I've started on this path to improve my health, I have no medical issues preventing me from eating anything I'd like.

That said, my feet, ankles, and legs did swell up quite a bit, but I can't say that it was all (or even mostly) due to diet -- travel does that to me, the weather was VASTLY different, I over-did it in the sun, etc., etc., etc.

Given my pattern over the last several weeks, I was reminded that I am definitely an emotional eater and stress plays a big part. There were a few days when I just wanted to crawl inside a bag of potato chips and forget the world for a while... but I didn't. I had a few indulgences, but even my indulgences are ridiculously controlled or just healthier than I'd have had before. It helps when there aren't bags of cookies or chips in the cupboard!

And, as of yesterday, I hit a new low in the weight department, registering 42+ pounds less on the scale than this time last year. It feels so great!

* * * * *

That's not all!

My next post will wrap up this ridiculously long travelogue. (Thank you for indulging me, it's been kind of fun to draw out and re-live my week-long tropical vacation over the past month and a half.) And, believe it or not, KNITTING is set to return! There is an FO on the blocking board, as we speak... an actual SWEATER.. for me, even! It's ne of the 8 +/- sweaters-for-me-in-progress that I have had aging around here (and one or two of them for about as many years).

Care to take a guess as to which one? In alphabetical order, is it:

  • Cromarty
  • Going To The UK
  • Habu For Me
  • Hand-to-Hand Aran
  • Highland Tempest
  • Low Tide
  • Oblique
  • Wisconsin Tunic


On Wednesday: Here comes the sun!

Perfect morning to head to the beach!

This time, São Conrado. I don't think I'd ever been to the beach so early in the morning.

There were quite a few hang gliders jumping off that mountain and, eventually, sometimes landing on the beach. Lots of joggers on the beach, too.


I think that's Dois Irmãos at just about dead-center, above; the gorgeous mountain that serves as a backdrop for all the pool photos taken at Annie's house (the photo at the top of this post). Let's say that this view is from the west, whereas the view from home is more from the north.

After lunch, we hit the road again.

Can't express the love I have for this "junk" sculpture!

Of course. You can see Cristo Redentor from just about anywhere in Rio and he, of course, sees it all, but one must actually go up Corcovado! Amazing: the bus ride up there, tip-toeing around all the people lying on the ground to take pictures, watching out for arms flung wide "Cristo-style"!

The view from here:


Wednesday was also Annie's birthday!! We had a lovely dinner at Porcao, a sort of churrascaria.

This amazing plate was from my trip through the "salad bar." It was all so good! Each person at the table had a little paper disk that read "YES PLEASE" on one side and, of course, "NO THANKS" on the other. When we were ready, we flipped over to YES and servers came around table-side with skewers of meat -- chicken hearts, pork sausages, many cuts of beef -- and sliced or served a portion directly onto our plates. It was basically an all-you-can-eat buffet, but with service, linens and nice tablesettings, a beautiful view...

...and of a quality that I've never experienced here. There are a few Brazililan steakhouse/churrascaria in Chicago and I'd love to check one out sometime now that I know what to expect.

The original vacation plan was to fly out on Wednesday/arriving Rio on Thursday, with departure the following Wednesday/arriving home on Thursday... and back to work on Monday. (Next time? Longer than one week.) Because of the decidedly unfabulous start to my trip, spending my first night in Houston rather than a plane and delaying arrival by 24 hours, I took a cue from some younger but obviously more savvy fellow travelers to see if I could extend my trip. I explained what happened and they were fairly quick in granting a 24-hour extension... but I lobbied for an extra day, besides, now that arrival back home would be on the weekend and I didn't have to be at work until Monday. That would give me an extra day both in Rio and at home. Happily, that request was granted, as well!

Even though I now had extra time in Rio, by Wednesday we were still feeling "the end" looming. On Tuesday we might have been quite satisfied with a day that included the beach, Corcovado, Christ the Redeemer, and an amazing dinner; on Wednesday we weren't.

A place that had been on my Do Not Miss List ever since Annie shared pictures of their first visit was Escadaria Selarón.

It was a bittersweet visit, having read about the death of artist Jorge Selarón less than a week before I left for Brazil. The boys had met him on their earlier visit, and there was a great photo of Brian and Jorge sitting on the stairs and talking -- I'd just devoted a whole page in their 2013 family photo calendar to that visit. It was heartbreaking.

Suicide? Homicide? It might never be known for sure. Not exactly the best neighborhood, there was police presence... though there is constant police presence in a lot of places in Rio.

By the time we arrived, it was already getting dark. We almost didn't make it at all -- it was on the long journey between Porcao and Selaron that Annie, frustrated by map reading and our inability to read street signs 'til we were on top of them, said, "I give up!" And the boys chimed, "No! You can't give up." Addison adding, "You can never give up on your birthday!"

So we didn't.

From top to bottom, and even ON top, simply amazing. A person could spend days there. I know there's at least one Wisconsin tile, because Selarón himself had shown it to the boys, but they didn't remember and I didn't find it. I did find a few other fun tiles, though.

Those look like knitters to me. What do you think?

Overall, it was a spectacular day!!

Art on Tuesday

No two ways about it, on Tuesday it rained quite a bit.

Brian and The Boys and I ended up at Instituto Moreira Salles. We passed this place everyday on our travels, but no one had had a chance to stop before. It was a beautiful place, inside and out!

The exhibition was by William Kentridge called FORTUNA. It was a bit distracting with the boys, and there was the language barrier in print, but the art itself was... really pretty fascinating.

The rain let up by afternoon and while the boys played in the pool, I had my nails done! Both a mani- and a pedicure, pool-side, as I'd dreamed ever since Skyping one time with Annie while she was having hers done that very same way!

I enjoyed my first (and only) Guarana!

And, later, an Itaipava beer! (Woman does not live on caipirinha alone.)

The rain let up. The kids had swimming lessons. We had pizza for dinner again, but this time from Sasso, and at a co-worker's house. It was a lovely visit with our hostess, a long-time employee of the school, and her Brazilian husband, as well as another newly arrived teacher from America. Even sitting amongst them, with my own sister who is one of "them," it's hard to imagine picking up and moving to another continent. Obviously, at least in current company, that's just me!


Monday, Monday, so good to me

Monday, Monday, it was all I hoped it would be.

Annie had to go back to work on Monday; my brother-in-law would return the following Monday, and the boys (and other students) would go back the Monday after that.

The boys and I spent a relaxed morning at home. It was a little rainy, but they did a lot of swimming anyway. I might have done a little laundry. Or that might have been another day. I did do laundry one day... the washing machine is outside, under a little roof but basically outside. If there was live-in help, the laundry area is located right outside their rooms, and fairly close to the kitchen. Even if they don't live-in, a lot of people have daily help; Annie and Brian have someone that comes weekly and works harder and longer than anyone I've ever seen.

We had lunch at the school and the boys gave me a little tour -- showing me where their rooms were, even if they weren't open. (Heh, these photos are not taken at school.)

Annie was able to spend the afternoon with me and we grabbed our umbrellas to head to Jardim Botanico -- the botanical garden.

One might think that two would wait for a sunny day to visit the garden, but a "less than perfect" day is actually THE perfect day!

We lucked out and never had to open our umbrellas, but had the benefit of lovely light filtered by clouds.

People, the plants are different in Brazil.


Or, maybe you recognize them but they're SUPER-sized and growing WILD! I noticed the tiny red flowers on the hedge, above, while I was taking photos of the priest, below... and they were so familiar! Where had I seen those flowers before? And then I noticed the structure of plant itself (thorns!) and remembered the tropical potted plant we call "Crown of Thorns" in the greenhouse window at work. But this was HUGE, a whole HEDGE, planted IN THE GROUND! There were a lot of other familiar plants, too, though the type that I'd never dream of planting outside. "Wandering Jew" was basically used as a ground-cover plant in many areas. Craziness!
It was just lovely.

And then there was the Orchideario.

The Orchid House. Photos don't do justice. It was amazing!

Our first choice for a dinner spot wasn't open that day, so as usual, it was on to Plan B! We had to stop and get our bearings, ask directions... it's really weird listening to your sister speak a language so completely foreign to you... and eventually we made our way to BRAZ!

I was offered an English menu, but our waiter didn't speak a word of it... I still managed to order wine. We were able to order three different types on one pie -- I know we had Funghi and Alcachofrinha, but I don't remember the third.

It was all delicious (with leftovers for breakfast!) and we had a fun Brigadeiro (on a spoon) dessert.

Ann told me that I had to go to the restroom before we left.

The photos are awful -- I had nothing but my cell phone and it was dark. It was up a flight of stairs and when I entered I noticed an open doorway on the opposite wall. It opened to a little rooftop patio -- so wonderful!!

Not bad for a Monday, really.



This week, because of Carnival, there is no school and the boys have been spending hours upon hours in the pool.

Annie updated her Facebook status on Saturday, writing:

Ok, it's Carnaval in Rio. Hotels are at capacity and every bed in my house will be occupied by people I don't know. Guess what I'll be doing?

Guesses amongst friends included sleeping, camping out, getting one of any number of Brazilian "treatments," dancing in the street, going to the beach, doing taxes, and *DING*DING*DING* LEARNING SAMBA!


So I lucked into a ticket to be one of the people behind the Imperatriz Samba School when they compete Monday night (1:00 a.m.)! I am learning the song and if I can't dance at least I might be able to move!


Yes, those are dolphins on my shoulders. And I get to keep the costume forever (gasp!).

There was some chatter on Annie's wall about the possibility of live-streaming telecasts and the timing for CST viewing was quite favorable, so I thought I'd check it out. I found a few choices for live viewing, including a channel on YouTube. I ended up watched on Globo.

Here are the Imperatriz (Empress) highlights. There's a general wrap-up in The Rio Times, and for good measure here's some embedded footage:

There are plenty of Carnival-related videos to watch!

I actually watched all of the Grande Rio performance, thinking it was Imperatriz Leopoldinense -- it was hard to know for sure since I couldn't understand more than three words of the broadcast! By the time I realized that I was watching their predecessors and that the schedule was off (as usual, it's Brazil!), I'd already had so much invested... I had to stay up and watch! Double your fun! It made for a later night than I'd intended, but it was very exciting to watch when I saw those dolphins samba across my screen.

When in Rio...

(I really can't wait to see the boy's Halloween costumes this year!!)


Two Brothers

Dois Irmãos. Two brothers. This is Rio to me, and always will be. These mountains, this view, those sounds, Rocinha.

Day 3. That would be Sunday, January 20th. (Happy 28th Anniversary to Us!)

We climbed Morro da Urca and caught the tram from there to Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf). It's an easy hike, even for someone like me who isn't really a hiker, but overnight rain and a light morning shower or two affected the condition of the trail and made it a bit more challenging.

We snacked on pao de queijo (what else?) while waiting for the tram and the ride to Sugarloaf. The view from the top:





We took the tram all the way down, and then made our way to Feira Hippie de Ipanema...

The Hippie Fair! That was a lot of fun and I found some treasures, both to keep and to give away.

There was a pretty good downpour while we were there, too, and we waited it out (i.e., shopped) in a stall with lovely jewelry!

There were quite a few artists displaying their work. I loved these "field" pieces!

After all that, we were hungry for more than a snack. Mack is a bit of a soccer nut these days, and was drawn in by soccer on TV at Torre do Barao, which was right next to the Gringo Cafe where an NFL play-off game was being televised (and we were ever-so-mildly interested in the outcome).


I had fish. It was delicious! It didn't even occur to Ann until after I left that we never ate a meal at home. I had a small yogurt every morning there for breakfast, and Brian made pao de queijo one day for the boys (it is their favorite thing!) and I had one or two, but otherwise we ate out -- at restaurants or as guests at other people's houses!


Still peeling

Day 2: Prainha (a beautiful little beach) and Churrasco (a great little BBQ)!

See that unshaded shoulder? Other than my forehead, that spot was probably the worst of my sunburn. Three things: 1) make sure the sunscreen is evenly applied everywhere, 2) re-apply, and 3) it's probably not best for a northern girl to go bobbing in south-of-the-equator waves when the mid-summer sun is near its strongest on a sunshiny day.

I was driven into the sandy beach by waves a few times, nicely exfoliating my legs. Um, yeah. That only happened a few times before I figured it out!

I wore my new bathing suit and I was not the only woman wearing a one-piece on the beach! (Close, but there were a few others.) I listened when the saleswoman told me that people tend to buy suits a size larger, when really they should buy a size smaller because they stretch when they're wet; so I bought the smaller of the two I'd tried on, and should have gone down even one more (this may not hold true for a two-piece -- I'll never know -- but a one-piece really does get weighed down by water!).

I brought two cover-ups with me and never wore either one, opting instead for the the canga with the Copacabana design that I bought at the beach! I love that thing. It's what everyone wears/uses at the beach and they come in a zillion different designs. I even bought a dress made from a canga. I can't wait for summer so I can wear it!


We rented an umbrella and a couple of chairs, and settled in (or got wet, or dug a hole in the sand). The woman visible just left of center, above the large rock, was carrying a large selection of bikinis for sale; she found willing customers in the folks just behind the rocks on the right!

I really can't think of a better way to spend the better part of Day 2.

After a few hours at the beach, we made our way over the mountain to a co-worker's house where we'd been invited for churrasco. It was a lovely house with a beautiful outdoor kitchen/BBQ, fully plumbed, and a sauna. Who knew? The house that Annie lives in has a sauna room, also. Saunas are quite popular in Brazil!

The sauna might have actually helped my sunburn, which was quite fresh at the time, by super-hydrating my skin. I don't know. It was never really painful, except for my shoulder and that was because of irritation from various straps.

The food! The drinks! Our hosts & new friends! So many delectably grilled meats, I lost count; farofa, salads, and other beautiful side dishes. I managed only to photograph that lovely lime dessert, of which I indulged in two pieces (and that was really one too many but it was so good). Caipirinha with lychee and lime and other citrus. Our hosts were a co-worker of Annie & Brian's, his wife, and another couple who are very good friends; the co-worker and the wife of the other couple spoke English (he very well, she learning). It was all very fun, with lots of kisses and hugs.

Impressions: Not everyone in Brazil looks like a model. Not even close. Most looked a lot like me. Wearing a bikini. (I did not, would not, will not wear a bikini.) MORE CRAZY DRIVING! Beach. Sand. Even more relaxed. Vacation. Food. Laughter. Friends.



I quickly passed through all of the airport security lines without problem, retrieved my luggage and peeled off the last little bit of "Wisconsin winter" clothing along in the process (except for the leggings and compression knee-highs, which, you can be assured, I took care of ASAP), looking for familiar faces... which I did not see! I stepped outside and realized that I didn't know what make or color of car to even look for, but stood out there for a while anyway. Then went back inside. Then outside. Inside. Outside. Inside. Every time I went out, I'd be approached by one of many a nice young man wanting to hail a taxi for me. We didn't speak the same language, but the message was crystal clear. Also, how damn friendly they all were, and cute.

Finally! I heard my name and saw Annie, Brian, and the boys. Turns out they were looking for me in the right place, generally, but a level above!

We stopped for a bite to eat, at Casa da Tata, where I had my first pao de queijo -- the boys' favorite thing to eat!

Afterwards, we went to their house and that spectacular view I've seen over the past six months is, well, truly spectacular. The mountain formation is the Dois Irmãos (Two Brothers) Peaks, with a portion of the largest favela in Rio, Rocinha (ho-seen-ya), visible at its foot, and the Zuzu Angel Tunnel running through it.


That's the view from the pool-side doorway to my bedroom.

We dropped off my luggage, I took a quick tour of the house (the 3rd floor porch view, above), and then we headed off for Cook In Rio!

And that did not happen.

Long story short: My first lesson in Plan B, which we basically made up as we went along.

Coffee break at Cafeina.


A walk on Copacabana beach (where I may have gotten a little wet).


Copa sidewalk design.

Dinner at Zaza Bistro Tropical. This was actually on Annie's list of places for us to go, so when we found ourselves in the neighborhood -- early enough that we were able to sneak in ahead of reservations -- it was just moved up on the list!

The line was too long at Garota de Ipanema, so we had after-dinner drinks across the street instead. Garota de Ipanema means "The Girl From Ipanema," and that bar is supposedly where the girl from Ipanema walked by and voila, a song was born. The lyrics (in Portuguese) are written on the sign on the side of the building (barely visible in the photo above).

I thought Herb Alpert sang the version that's been running through my head, but it must only have been his instrumental (he didn't sing much) version of this wildly popular mid-60s song. Those were my formative years, musically speaking, and I'm pretty sure I somehow mashed up the rare Herb Alpert vocal on This Guy's In Love With You + The Girl From Ipanema.

We stopped at the grocery store for a few things before hailing a taxi for home.

Rocinha was simply amazing. I never tired of looking and listening, day or night. In the week that I was there, it was never ever dark. It was quite loud, all night long -- music, voices, life -- on the first few nights I was there, but eerily quiet on the last few. Except for the dogs. A chorus of barking would rise up and move 'round at regular intervals throughout the night, every night. And the roosters. I smiled to myself the first morning and thought, Hm, they must not have those rules about not having roosters in the urban chicken coop here. Heh.


Ann and her family are very lucky to be able to live in such a fantastic house during their first year here. It's quite close to school/work, very roomy, and quite comfortable. It would be pretty near perfect if the neighbor's/landlord's gigantic dogs didn't keep eating their car's windshield wipers for lunch!

That's my room from the outside looking in.

First impressions: Hot. Humid. Tropical. Big City. Urban Graffiti. Damp. CRAZY DRIVING! WHAT? Dare-devil Motorcyclists. Beach. Sand. Relaxed. Vacation.


Never Give Up!

Bags packed.


24 Hours in Houston!

In retrospect, the missed connection in Houston was the PERFECT start to my vacation, an appropriate set up and learning opportunity for "the way things are in Brazil." It was definitely not the last "missed connection" and I quickly learned from my little sis to "Always have a Plan B!"

Late on Wednesday we were driving around, trying to find the Escadaria de Selaron before it got too dark, my brother-in-law Brian at the wheel (traffic is CRAY-CRAY in Rio!!) and Annie wedged between car seats in the back with the map. The street names are all enormous but on teeny-tiny little signs that you can't see 'til you're right on top of them... and that's too late! Annie was frustrated, at the end of her rope, and declared, "I can't do this. I give up!" To which Addison replied, "Noooooo, Mom! You can't give up! NEVER GIVE UP! You can never give up on your birthday!" (Which it was.) (And she/we didn't.) And that instantly became the theme of my vacation, neatly summing it up in three little words.

Never Give Up. (Great things await!)

* * * * * *

I will certainly be back with much more about my week in Rio, but am a little stressed with so many little things needing attention right now! I am thankful for an unexpected "snow day" today and the opportunity to get caught up on some things at home.

In the meantime, here's a little item I recently found being talked about on the Storey Publishing Facebook wall:


Keep Out!: Build Your Own Backyard Clubhouse: A Step-by-Step Guide

Haha! It's my hubby's book, a labor of love that he's been working on in one form or another for a very long time. It won't be released until April, but is getting some great reviews, and is available for pre-order on Amazon -- in both print and Kindle editions! I'm hoping to snag a copy, at some point, for a give-away or something. Looks like we have another little (book) baby to celebrate in April!

* * * * *

Back soon.  :)

Pao de Acucar (Sugarloaf)

We climbed Morro da Urca and caught the cable car from there to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain.
"Cook in Rio" remains elusive... still on the To Do List.
Originally set to depart on Wednesday, it will instead be Friday!
It's nearly impossible to comprehend that schools are closing early at home because of frigid temps.


Another "rainy day" in Rio

This morning's photo:

Two sleeps to Rio -- one in my own bed, one on an aeroplane -- and then I'll be sleeping pool-side, behind the two doors on the right!

The airline just called to tell me that it's time to check in online!

Of course I've known that English isn't spoken much in Brazil, but I realized yesterday that I've actually never been to a non-English speaking country before -- not even Mexico. That prompted me to make doubly sure that I have contact info and back-up contact info, and a Plan C!

I have LOTS to do! I continue to update my lists and reminders, striving to streamline everything, but even so I may start bouncing off the walls soon!

* * * * *

Ten on Tuesday: 10 Tips for Sticking With Your Fitness Routine

1. I don't have 10 tips for this.

2. I don't even have one.

3. Fitness routine?

4. It's the missing component.

5. I've been very satisfied with the results that have occurred in my body over the past 4-5 months by just changing how and what I eat.

6. Last Saturday I was back down to pre-Christmas weight and then some, marking my lowest weight so far on this journey.

7. There's been a lot happening in my life and the lives of people around me, so I'm quite happy right now to limit my focus to the food aspect.

8. I have a gym membership and I know how to use it.

9. I just haven't used it in quite some time.

10. I'm looking forward to spring and hopping back on my bike -- the 30+ pounds I've lost will make that even more fun, I think!


Three sleeps to the wind

Humor me.

It's "3 sleeps to Rio," but mashing it up with "3 sheets to the wind" makes me laugh. I'm not staggering (yet), but may be getting a little punch-drunk!

The extended forecast in Rio, for as far as I can see, is for temps in the 80s (F) and scattered or PM thunderstorms every single day! I was bummed about that for a bit, but the partial sun peeking out from behind the clouds and raindrops made me feel a little better, and I also realized that it also means dramatic weather. I do so love dramatic weather!

Dramatic weather in the mid-Atlantic rainforest? I'll try it!

Annie sent me this morning's photo of the boys in the pool, above, and said that the forecast for today was also rain; it was over by 9 a.m., though, and had been mostly sunny since!

I know the weather can change in an instant, and I'm counting on a little bit of everything -- and trying to prepare.

Meanwhile, after last week's "January thaw," the temp plunged over the weekend and it was cold outside!

I had an outdoor photo shoot tentatively scheduled for Saturday afternoon. It was iffy in the morning, but was better by afternoon and it was a "go." The young woman has been Ali's BFF since high school and she works part-time at the coffee shop. I've taken photos of her family a few times over the past couple of years. Her boyfriend called me to schedule a couple's session - at least that's what he told her - for her birthday. In reality, he was going to propose and I was in on it (and in possession of a HUGE secret)!

I don't think I have to tell you that she said YES!

Or that they're both ridiculously happy.

And also adorable.

LOVE! Ain't it grand?


"I am not the landlord."

Five little words every traveler should know, don't you think? That interesting phrase was among the first I came upon in the free Brazilian Portuguese flashcard app I downloaded the other day. "I am not single." "I am an extrovert." "I am extremely generous." "Is your house far?" "We are joyful and creative." "I am ready."

There are some more useful ones: "I am on vacation in Brazil." "I am at the beach with friends." "I am thirsty."

"The party is in the backyard" is probably the most useful, so far, since I'll actually be going to a Churrasco a week from Saturday!

winter flowers are life-savers, aren't they?

I made a great dinner last night (if I may say so*) and we bid farewell to my niece Jena, who had been visiting for a couple of days, and my sister Ann and her family after their unplanned visit this holiday from Rio de Janeiro. The sweetest part of that, for me, was saying, "See you next week!" when I gave my good-bye kisses. Hello. I cannot wait!! It was fun to show Annie my swim suit -- more fun to actually be OK with the idea of wearing it! I am VERY far from LOVING how I'll look in a swim suit, and I'm sure I'll be the only woman on any beach in Brazil wearing a one-piece (unless you count those possibly wearing one piece) (ha!). The last time I bought swimwear, I successfully avoided the water and returned it to the store on the way home! Anyway, there are certain things/places that Annie's been wanting to do/go that her husband isn't interested in, so it was fun talking about all the things we're going to DO next week! In Brazil!

I love "doing" vacations."

Oh, and that reminds me: Whatever's available and listed in the Make.Do Shop will be up over the weekend, but it'll all come down and the shop will close for a little while. I'll ship any orders on Monday/Tuesday. Things being what they are, priorities have conspired to put dyeing in the back seat of late, but don't worry (or do, it's up to you), I'll be back!

*Roasted Broccoli, Cauliflower & Shrimp

Riffing notes on a favorite recipe from MyRecipes.com
This quantity will feed a crowd (8-10 adults)

4 lbs. shrimp, raw/thawed & peeled
8 c. (roughly) broccoli & cauliflower florets
Fresh lemon juice
Salt & pepper

Heat oven to 425F. Normally I'd maybe use 3-4 Tablespoons of lemon juice; Mom's not tolerating the acidity of citrus very well, so I used barely a Tablespoon. About a teaspoon each of salt and pepper were combined with the lemon juice, then added to the shrimp and it was all tossed very well.

The original recipe calls for blanching the broccoli, but boiling a huge pot of water for one minute of cooking time seems idiotic to me, so I just loaded up my Pampered Chef 2-Qt. Classic Batter Bowl with veggies (do not add water) and put it in the microwave for about 3 minutes on high. When I do this combo again in the future, I'll cook the broccoli alone for 2-3 minutes and then add the cauliflower for 2-3 more -- the broc needs just a bit more time than the cauli; it was good, but could be better.

Combine the veggies and the shrimp in a large baking pan (I used the 12x15 +/- that I use for roasting tomatoes). The shrimp were larger than I usually use, so I roasted for about 8-10 minutes, removed the pan and stirred it all around, then roasted for another 8-10, until the shrimp are done!

SO easy. There's lots of room for playing around, too, which I love in a recipe. I've been much more adventurous in the seasoning of foods lately, but some things -- like shrimp -- are perfect with nothing but salt and pepper. Yum.

I served it with a bowl of simple mashed sweet potatoes and it all made a very pretty plate.