Wednesday, 28 December 2011

7 Ways to use One Vase

It all started back in 2009 when my sister-in-law, Grace, asked me to decorate for her wedding. After talking, discussing ideas, pouring through magazines and experimenting a little - we came up with a unique aisle treatment for the church. Hence, the vase. Since then I have found various ways to make use of the same vase for many different occasions. So here goes:

1. Grace and Andre's wedding. We bought a tall curvy glass vase, filled it with rocks and pink sand to give a lot of weight and placed several large (and very tall) white branches in and finished off the look with white lights. I remember Grace's grandma being quite unsure of the whole white branches thing, but with the lights on she was convinced.
Here are two shots down the aisle: 

 2. Lucas' First Birthday. This was a while ago (Jan 2010) and I have a vague recollection of this arrangement being a very last-minute affair. It is a simple deal using crepe paper things that are usually used to wrap candies for parties. We threw in a bunch, in a gradient fashion and, voila, a super simple table center-piece.
 Here's the party room, all decked out. 

3. Aline's Baby Shower. We threw a baby shower for Aline in April 2010. She wanted a teddy bear theme and I created this whimsical teddy bear and flower arrangement.
 I used a smaller dish which was cradled in the top of the vase to hold the flower arrangement. The little teddy bear is resting on a bed of cotton balls and I taped some curly ribbons underneath the dish to hang over the bear. A little brown and pink ribbon completed the ensemble.
 The cake table with two of the five arrangements I made for the party. 

4. Elena's First Birthday. The vases got a little bit of a break - only being used again in August of 2011 to celebrate my little girl's birthday. We had a purple/blue/teal butterfly theme and I planned and experimented quite a bit on this center-piece before settling on the one below. Again I used the crepe candy wrappers as a base, glued the number 1 foam circles onto a bamboo skewer, wrapped the butterflies around the skewer and added a few sprigs of fake flowers to create the butterfly garden look.
 Settled on the table with a simple purple napkin underneath. 
The party room. 

5. A dinner party to celebrate my mother-in-law's birthday, Dec 2011. My mother-in-law loves turquoise, so I started with that color and silver in my mind as I thought about the decorations. Her birthday is in December and even though we are in the southern hemisphere, the decor has a bit of the wintery, christmasy feel with the pine cones. I started with some fake tea lights in the bottom, covered with a glass and a few simple wintery sprigs in white and blue/turquoise (left over from a cousin's January wedding). The vase was then filled up with silver and natural pine cones and more of the sprigs. The arrangement was completed with three short cups filled with roses, a bunch of small white flowers and hydrangeas. 

 Here is a better shot of the tea light at the bottom. 

6. Dinner party. I made two different arrangements for the dinner party after seeing these white branches at the local market where I bought all the flowers. I used white rocks to anchor the vase (it is quite fragile and light) and added the pine cones and wintery sprigs to tie in with the other arrangement.
 Here is the dinner table - set for 18 with the two different arrangements. We didn't have enough place settings for 18 with one pattern so we set it up with two different kinds and switched the top plates to give a cohesive look. The white rocks also make another appearance as place cards - names written on the rock with permanent marker and placed in another flower-like candy holder. 

7. Christmas Dinner 2011. I had left the white branch arrangement from the earlier December dinner party and decided to give it a little twist for our family Christmas get-together. The white branches remain, this time wrapped in a funky black and white napkin and red ribbon. The white rocks remain with pine cones and bright red ornaments on top.
 The dinner table all set and ready for TURKEY! I used a red sari as a table runner and had to run out last minute to get the black and white napkins, which I think totally make the table setting. Maybe next time I would use the white set of dishes. 
So there you have it. Seven ways to use one vase. And I'm sure I will get more use out of it yet! Tell me which one is your favorite.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Christmas Crisis

I'm having a hard time with Christmas this year.

Maybe it's because this is the first time in three years that we are celebrating in our own home; maybe it's because we are in the middle of summer here; maybe it's because we now have kids who need to be taught about what Christmas really is; maybe it's because of all the consumerism and economics of the season; maybe it's because I'm trying to lose weight and save money. I'm not really sure, all I know is it's been weighing heavily on my heart these past few weeks. I don't even want to play Christmas music, decorate or bake "Christmas" cookies. It just doesn't feel like Christmas.

Here in Brazil, we don't really celebrate Thanksgiving or Halloween and so the Christmas season seems to be extra important. As early as October I noticed Christmas decorations going up in the shops. The malls here go all out with massive displays of green and red wreathes, strings of lights, giant trees, reindeer, snow(!?) and of course, Santa. There is a huge hype, this rush, this frenzied madness of parties and shopping all culminating in "Christmas Day" and while it is all very pretty and engaging and charming, it really misses the point entirely. This I think is what saddens me the most. I know that Christmas has all kinds of baggage; no doubt you will find someone who will explain away all the Christmas traditions by linking them to some pagan or secular custom from the world's often not-so-pretty history.

Despite the way "Christmas" originated and the many ways it has been changed and re-interpreted over the centuries, I think we have to admit that for the most part Christmas is no longer a "Christian" holiday (if it ever really was). So now what? It's not so much the "pagan" rituals or customs that were included in the celebration of Christmas that bothers me, it's the fact that now we seem to have put so much more emphasis on the decorations and the gifts and other "traditions" that we have lost sight of the simple, incredible fact that we are trying to remember and celebrate the most important life this world has ever known. The life that gives meaning to our lives.

As I've been mulling this over the past few weeks (this post was probably started at the beginning of December) a few thoughts have been forming...

1. Christmas is not a day, it is a season. It doesn't matter if we celebrate on the 24th, the 28th or even in January. What matters is what (or rather who) we are celebrating. As Christians we celebrate Christmas as the birth of Christ, but it doesn't stop there - throughout the year we have other seasons where we celebrate other seasons of His life - his ministry, death and resurrection. We celebrate not only that he lived, but that he died and lives again. Christmas is only the beginning...

2. A friend of mine posted this on his facebook status a while ago, "Christ did not incarnate to fight against culture, but to transform it. Why should His disciples do any differently?" (Flavio Silva). I'm not sure if he was referring to Christmas, but when I read it, I immediately thought of its application to our celebration of Christmas. We don't need to give up Christmas, but I think we need to be different in the way we celebrate, so that people can tell it's not just about the holidays, food, gifts and decorations. We need to transform the culture of Christmas.

3. As I thought more about how to celebrate Christmas I thought of this scripture, "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." (1 Peter 3:15). If we celebrate differently, we will have opportunities to share the hope we have.

So don't call me Scrooge (now that's a whole other ball of wax...) but we are definitely celebrating Christmas differently this year - no Santa, no huge pile of gifts, no Christmas tree, no "Christmas" songs about reindeer, snow, mistletoe and elves - just sincere acknowledgment, gratitude and thankfulness for the one simple life we celebrate at Christmas - Christ.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

A Children's Dozen

I'm sure you've all heard the expression, "A Baker's Dozen" - meaning 13 (or rarely 14) instead of the usual 12 we would count in a dozen.

Now I've come to discover that with kids, a dozen is more likely to be only 11 - thus, the "children's dozen".

Let me explain. We have lots of wonderful toys; cars, dolls, stuffed animals, balls, blocks and books. And then there are the toys that come in a set of 12; a set of 12 books, 12 flash cards, 12 stacking cups.

Here's where we run into trouble. These sets of 12 rarely stay that way. Here are three sets that have become a children's dozen:

Dr. Seuss Concept Cards
The fate of the 12th card was sealed when Elena learned she could fold it in half. It didn't last long after that. What color is missing?

The Stackable Cups
We love this set that Lucas got from Aunt Charissa. While we lost a cup, at least it was the top one so we can still make an awesome tower. I wonder if there is any way to replace the one missing cup?

The Set of Books

A lovely set of books (and our much-loved monitor nestled in between) with a set of colors and a set of shapes. It pains my perfectionist heart to have five on one side and six on the other. Since we got this as a used set, we have no idea where the lost circle book is. :(

Of course, the kids have no problem with a lost toy here and there, it's really just my problem.
Well, at least we've still got all 26 books from our Baby Einstein Alphabooks set! Let's see how long it lasts (Elena got it for her first birthday)

Thursday, 1 December 2011

What I love about our not-so-new apartment

I love that the kids room is right across the hall from ours,

I love that David and I have our own bathroom,

I love that there is a window between the kitchen and dining/living room,

I love that we have a varanda,

I love the quiet street and the bakery across the road,

I love the view and the gorgeous morning sun that streams in through the window,

I love that Lucas' preschool is right next door,

Lots to be thankful for!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Language and Personality

Talkative. Shy. Sarcastic. Witty. Timid. Smart. Awkward. Funny. Mean. Caring. Thoughtful. Genuine. Extroverted. Outgoing. You can tell a lot from what a person says and how they say it. The words they use and the way they communicate. Their body language and expressions. We infer a lot about someone's personality from their language. You form an impression based on what you hear and how you interact.

So what happens when you can't say much? Or anything at all? When I first visited Brazil it was "smile, nod and try to look interesting." The connections I made with people here were basically limited to those who could speak English. It is very easy to forget someone who doesn't say anything.

I wonder how I came across in my early trips to Brazil when my Portuguese was non-existent? Different personality traits can come across when you can't communicate. Proud. Dumb. Introverted. Insecure. When I first started at boarding school many people thought I was snobby because I was so quiet, while in reality I was extremely shy and often intimidated by others.

So as I find myself trying to integrate into a new culture with a new language, I sometimes feel like the Facebook icon - just a featureless face, a blank canvas. I am still learning the basics of Portuguese - the phrases that all newcomers learn, the standard questions and responses. While this is all very helpful and necessary, it also feels very robotic and cliché. It is hard to really express who I am in this new language. I am able to communicate, yes, but do I really come across? Because my language feels so limited, what people can understand and know about me is also limited.

I remember having a conversation with some Brazilian friends who speak both English and Portuguese and lamenting how the "formal" Portuguese I was learning in my classes seemed so far removed from the Portuguese I heard spoken all around me. I guess this is the case in all languages - what often distinguishes the native speakers is their use of idiom, those phrases that are used so often and are so hard to translate. I find it extremely humorous that the words idiom and idiot are so similar sounding; if you don't use an idiom right, you can sound like an idiot! Of course, most people are encouraging and helpful and appreciate your efforts to speak their language.

So I press on, making mistakes daily and slowly coming closer to feeling like speaking Portuguese will one day come naturally to me and people will be able to see the full picture of who I am.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Horário de verão

Alternate title: How I get daylight savings to work for me.

We just "lost" an hour. Sometime in the middle of the night a lot of our clocks (and other devices with clocks) skipped an hour so we can switch one of our daylight hours to the other end of the day. A lot of people are complaining about losing that hour, having to get up earlier and the general confusion regarding daylight savings.

I, however, feel like I've gained an hour. Sounds crazy but let me enlighten you. Last year when North America went off daylight savings (ie turning the clocks back an hour), a cousin of mine remarked that when you have small kids you don't feel like you've gained an hour; in reality it feels like you are losing an hour. Your kids still wake up at the same time but you've convinced yourself it is actually an hour earlier - so you have one more hour to fill entertaining and caring for your darling little ones. Plus sometimes they can be a wreck with changing bedtimes etc. And if you try putting them to bed an hour later the night before, they will either get up at the same time as usual or earlier just to spite your efforts.

So, this morning (quite oblivious to the time change) when my kids both woke up 5:30 - I was despairing over my lost sleep and contemplating what I could do to get a little more rest. It didn't help that we were sleeping over at my in-laws in the living room. Lucas went straight to the kitchen asking for a snack (thereby waking up Elena) and that was the end of sleep for me. I decided to turn on the TV for them a bit so I could doze a little. Imagine my surprise when the show that I expected to be on was over an hour ago! Then it clicked - and somehow that hour of "lost" sleep seemed to me to have been gained! It's the perfect motivation to get going in the morning and the best excuse to get the kids to bed an hour earlier! So even though right now it is 8:20pm - I know it's really only 7:20pm, the kids went to bed without a fuss and I can enjoy feeling not quite as tired as usual.

At least until tomorrow when they really do wake up at 5:30am...

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Don't forget to stop and smell the flowers

Ah, it's such a lovely sentiment, reminding one to take the time to notice the small beauties in our increasingly busy-paced and hectic lives. When walking with toddlers, however, it's not a suggestion, it's an imperative! You are forced to stop for many different kinds of "flowers"...

On our way to pick up Lucas from school, here's what Elena and I stopped for:

- pipes coming out of our building,
- a huge piece of rubber from a decimated tire,
- dried poo,
- cigarette butts,
- rocks and gravel (which went promptly to her mouth)
- discarded plastic packaging

It's quite amazing what children find interesting, and how long it can take to walk a short distance if we really let them stop and discover the world around them.

But soon enough they'll be running ahead of us and will have to wait for us to catch up. So for now I'm content to go slow, stop and smell the weeds and see the world through one-year-old eyes every once in a while.

After all, we were only two minutes late getting Lucas. ;)

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Catalyst for a clean kitchen

It's very simple really, just let your two year old "wash the dishes" and he'll make a big enough mess that you'll have to clean the floors. This is how it all went down this afternoon...

Lucas loves to wash the dishes in our tiny galley-style kitchen. Basically you can stand in front of the sink and reach the stove, fridge, microwave and almost all the cupboards. So I set Lucas up on a stool and give him a bunch of plastic dishes (of which we have plenty) to "wash". He usually stands there and fills up cups, pours water into bowls and just generally drenches the sink area with water. We are fortunate to have a lip around the sink area which usually contains most of the damage. I usually remember to put away the glass dishes, remove the knives and other dangerous things and keep them out of reach.

Today, however, I neglected to put away a most dangerous item, the dish detergent. Sure enough, it was too quiet for a little too long and when I went to check on Lucas, the floor was covered in detergent..

And thus, I cleaned. The floor got a most-needed mop and Lucas was banished from the kitchen until another day...

Friday, 23 September 2011

2 and a half minutes

That's what it takes to get my coffee to the perfect temp. Two and a half minutes in the microwave. Once for one and a half minutes, a quick stir and then another minute. Perfection.

Of course, I can not stand still while the microwave does it's thing. And I've discovered there are a lot of things you can get accomplished in two and a half minutes.


Such as:
- sweeping the floor after lunch
- hanging half a load of laundry
- putting away a rack of clean dishes
- washing most (if not all) of the breakfast/lunch/dinner dishes
- re-setting the coffee maker for the next pot
- writing this blog post (well, I could have if I didn't have several kiddo crises to avert)




- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Ginger Beef and an unexpected discovery

As I looked over my weekly menu on Friday morning, I saw that I'd planned to make ginger beef for dinner. To make sure I had everything, I glanced through the recipe. I had one of those "duh" moments when I realized that even after planning a week of meals, with a grocery list, I had forgotten to buy the most essential ingredient - ginger! So I got the kids all ready to go out - we'd walk down the road to a small grocery store at the end of the street. It's never easy to get out and about with two small kids and a stroller; but where we live we face some extra hurdles. We live in quite a hilly area and the sidewalks are terrible. Each property owner is responsible for their patch of sidewalk, which means the sidewalk is different in front of each building, there are ramps and bumps of differing heights, making space for driveways and entrances, and almost no ramps on the curbs. We also have several cobblestone roads to cross.

So as we left our building, I decided to explore a bit and see if we could find a better (albeit longer) route to the store. Turns out, the street that runs parallel to our main street has a much better sidewalk for a stroller. I also made another wonderful discovery; that street has a weekly market (feira) on Friday mornings! Imagine if we'd taken the usual path; we would've bypassed the whole thing. It just goes to show why my dad says, "why take the same road twice?" There is so much out there to explore. So we got to walk around the market, pick up fresh ginger and green onions from a vegetable stall and I couldn't resist getting a few flowers to adorn our table for a few days.

I think we may have found a new Friday morning activity!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, 19 May 2011

One man's trash...

One of my favorite things to do on a sunny, summer Saturday morning is to check out the local garage sales for hidden treasures. There is something so redemptive about being able to take something old, used and battered and find a new purpose for it. That's why I love shopping at used stores; there is always something just waiting to be discovered and given a new lease on life.

So it surprised me when I came to Brasil and couldn't easily find a used store. It was about a year and a half before my mother-in-law's hairdresser mentioned a used household store just down the road from their apartment. It is now almost a bi-weekly stop for me as I walk back from my Portuguese class. The name for this kind of store in Portuguese is "brechó" and now that I've learned that word, I've already seen two stores in our city.

We managed to furnish half our house with furniture found at used furniture stores, and considering that we're not planning to have it forever and we have kids, why bother investing in expensive stuff that will be "used" the minute you set it up at home? The "things" that make you happy are really not "things" at all. It's the experience of shopping with your hubby for your own house; it's the thrill of finding that "perfect" piece that you weren't even looking for; it's the story behind the wood and metal, it's teaching your kids that what really matters is people, relationships and connection and that happiness is not about having new things or filling your life with stuff.

Last weekend we went to a school's annual community sale, where teachers have an opportunity to sell things (we don't have garage sales here) and we had a great time as a family. We pushed through the crowds, enjoyed a snack, and came away with a few treasures.

As we were driving back home, I saw this graffiti on the street and it is just perfect for this post. It's the saying, "One man's trash is another man's treasure" in Portuguese.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, 5 May 2011

A perfect day

What would your "perfect day" look like? I'm not talking about a special occasion, romantic getaway or once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I'm talking about a day-by-day kind of thing. At this point in my life, it's pretty simple for me. I'd like to wake up and have my kids do everything I tell them to! Of course, that's just not going to happen, but let me dream a little...

I would wake up before the kids (who are sleeping peacefully in their own beds) to have some quiet time to myself to get ready, put on the tea or coffee and maybe start a load of laundry. The dishes from last night are of course washed and drying by the sink. While I get breakfast ready, Lucas wakes up and plays with his cars until breakfast is ready. Elena wakes up just in time to eat. We get through breakfast without crying, screaming, spilling, throwing or complaining.

After everything is cleaned up from breakfast, the kids let me take a shower and we go outside for a walk or to play at the playground. We come back to our apartment so I can get lunch ready, and my two babies are ready to sleep for a good two hour nap following lunch. During their naps, I get to savor a cup of tea and relax before actually getting some things done with no interruptions.

That's where I'm at right now, it's 1:15 and Lucas has gone down for his nap with no complaints. Elena isn't exactly sleepy, but playing on the floor next to me. I could go on about the rest of my perfect day, which includes going for a family walk in the afternoon, the kids managing to play together without hurting each other, having a nice dinner, hubby cleaning up the kitchen while the kids have their baths, and finishing off with them drifting off to sleep on time, so hubby and I can have some time alone, but you know, as I read this back, it's almost starting to sound boring...

So while I love it when my kids cooperate and play quietly and eat all their food and don't throw tantrums, I can accept that there probably won't be any "perfect days" in my near future. I can settle for some perfect moments in the midst of the chaos and choose to laugh at the imperfect events that make my days oh-so-very interesting.

But now, off to save Elena before she gets into the kitchen trash...

Friday, 29 April 2011

5 Years Ago Today...

I know you can't tell from the photo above, but that is me receiving my University Diploma on April 29th, 2006. The photo pretty much sums up my memories of the occasion, fuzzy and blurry on the edges. It was, of course, one of the milestones in my life, one I will never repeat. In thinking back to that weekend which seems so long ago, I went through my photos and some great memories popped back into my mind...

My whole family drove over from Calgary to Langley, BC and crashed in our tiny two bedroom basement suite. Hubby and I had been married only 10 months when we graduated together. My parents took the futon and the siblings all slept on the floor. (Can you tell we are a missionary family? ;))

This photo was taken at the annual Grad banquet which takes place a few weeks before Graduation. My two friends and I were all in the same dorm in our first year. The rest, as they say, is history...

Here you can actually tell it's me in the photo, walking down the aisle having received my "diploma" - actually a sheet of paper (inside a beautiful folder) that says "if you really managed to complete all your classes, we'll mail your diploma to you."

All the music majors with our professors.

So, given that momentous occasion, what have I done with my life since? Well, let's see...

I've lived on three continents,
Worked three official jobs and several unofficial ones,
Celebrated 5 years of marriage,
Given birth to two wonderful kids,
Traveled to 10 different countries on four continents
and still only know one language! (well, I'm working on changing that one.)

And I probably thought about Graduation day once or twice. 

In the next five years I hope to...

Finally finish paying off my student loans (!!!)
Travel around this new continent I find myself on,
Achieve a reasonable level of Portuguese,
Watch my kids grow up and start school.

Lots to look back on and lots to look forward to!

Friday, 1 April 2011


Before I start this post, let me just say I am a die-hard interior decorator nut. One of the reasons I love moving is that I get to re-arrange, re-organize and re-decorate! I have many more thoughts about this topic which I'll save for another post, but for now let's take a look at our little apartment in it's before stage:
Here is the view from the entrance, looking into the living room and onto the verandah.

Here is the kitchen in all it's bare-ness. Once you enter, the kitchen is directly on the right.

And my beloved window between the kitchen and dining area. This is something I was really hoping for as I know it will make it a lot easier to look after the kids and helps to make the place seem a little bigger. The "open plan" concept is not really wide-spread here, in fact when you do find it, it's called an "American kitchen".

A different view of the "living room".

The kids/guest bathroom. We were very fortunate to find a place with the shower head and doors already installed, as well as having a small cabinet under the sink. These things are often left up to the renter to install.

Our tiny bedroom. We decided to move a queen size bed in, even though there won't be much space around it!

The kids room. Thank goodness they are in a crib and toddler bed, or the room would seem really small!

The office/study/storage/everything else room. I imagine this room will be very full! This room also has access to the balcony which is nice.

Here's the basic layout.

So there you have it, our tiny apartment. Come back for more updates and the after shots!

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Thursday, 24 March 2011

The hunt is over!

It started in about October of last year, the hunt. Armed with my trusty iPad I scoured the Internet listings for apartments in Sao Paulo. I viewed hundreds of photos, learned a lot of Portuguese vocabulary as I read the apartment descriptions and discovered the best and worst neighborhoods in this massive city. Once we arrived back from Canada in February, we had appointments to check out several places. I was hoping to be able to move in by the first of March. How naive of me!

While we found a place we really liked in a good part of town, the owner decided in the end to rent it to a friend of hers, so we were back on the hunt again. After an innocent suggestion by my mother in law, we considered looking at a different city, one that is a lot closer to the ministry we are involved with. make a long story short, we are moving to a city called Mogi das Cruzes, east of Sao Paulo.

This long story of ours features lots of visits to different apartments, tossing back the pros and cons of renting a furnished place and many questions from me to David clarifying what the realtor had said (in Portuguese). In the end we settled on a small three bedroom place on the 14th (top) floor. We have an amazing view of the city.

I don't have a lot of experience in renting, the last time David and I had to rent was when we first got married. Living overseas we didn't really have a choice as to where we lived, but we also didn't have to do any of the legwork either! So there were a few things that stood out to me as we embarked on this search.

Getting everything settled with the contracts took a while as we had to scan documents, get a co-signer and witness to sign the contract, have the signatures notarized, send them off to the real estate company to have it forwarded to the owner who also has to go through the same signature process....All in all it felt like quite a long drawn-out process!

But, we finally got our keys and went to show the apartment to friends last Thursday. Imagine our surprise when none of the light bulbs we put in worked. Turns out there were several problems in the wiring that resulted in a short in the circuit for all the lights (and this is a new apartment!)

Another issue we face is switching voltage once again. Sao Paulo is mostly 110 volts, but everything in Mogi is 220. So we'll be calling in an electrician to come doctor up some of our wall sockets. We have to be super careful when plugging things in!

The only thing in our kitchen at the moment is a sink; a nice marble slab with a metal sink, oh, and a tap. It is very weird to me that the renters are responsible for "furnishing" the kitchen. Probably about 80% of the apartments I saw online were being rented this way. So now we are waiting for a few modular kitchen cabinets to be delivered and installed.

Did I mention our place is tiny? Here in Brasil we measure area in square meters and our apartment is about 67; that's about 720 square feet! But it is ours and we are excited about turning it into a home! More to come with photos as the adventure continues...

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Saturday, 12 March 2011

Just for fun: My ABC's

Unashamedly copied from my friend and fellow blogger, Dawne.

Age: 27
Bed Size: A small double, but upgrading to a queen when we move
Chore You Hate: Ironing
Dogs: Had five while I was growing up, but now that I have kids, no way!
Essential Start of Your Day: A good cup of tea
Favorite Color: blue
Gold or Silver: silver (or white gold)
Height: 5 foot 8
Instruments I Play: Piano, guitar, used to play cello, euphonium, trombone, and dabbled in most others.
Job Title: Full time momma
Kids: 2
Live: Sao Paulo, Brasil
Mom's Name: Ruth
Nicknames: Taz (high school days) Gambleitis (university days) Tati (my Brazilian name)
Overnight Hospital Stays: only to have babies
Pet Peeve: People who walk really slowly in the middle of the sidewalk.
Quote From a Movie: honestly can't even think of one worth writing down.
Right or Left Handed: right
Siblings: 2 brothers, 1 sister
Time You Wake Up: whenever my kiddos do, usually around 6:00-6:30
Underwear: cotton
Veggie You Dislike: Mushrooms - traumatic experiences with them at boarding school.
What Makes You Run Late: my husband!
X-Rays You Have Had: teeth, arm
Yummy Food You Make: Fettucine Alfredo from scratch
Zoo Animal You Like Best: Tigers

Location:Av. Angélica,Sao Paulo,Brazil

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Traffic in Sao Paulo

This just about sums up my experience of driving in Brazil! It is never simple to go anywhere. There are one way roads everywhere, you can't turn right on red and more often than not, you can't turn left across a main road. Which means you really need to know exactly where you're going! If you are not in the correct lane, who knows where you'll end up! We've done a lot of driving since we've been back, and I will illustrate a few interesting situations we've found ourselves in.

On our way to our prospective apartment, we were using David's iPhone's GPS to direct us when we noticed that to turn left, we first had to turn right, left and left again, thus allowing us to cross the road, rather than just turn left. In my diagram, the red shows where we wanted to go and the blue represents how we actually did it! Notice that the first right turn takes us onto a "one way" road that in effect has us driving on the left side of the road. And this is not the first road I've seen in Brazil like this!
As we were returning from the ministry center (about an hour and a half away), we were driving back on one of the main highways, which has been under heavy construction and development in the past year or so. Being away for three months, our usual exit strategy didn't work. We were in the process of changing lanes to get over to the right to take an exit, but instead found ourselves on an overpass taking us where we didn't want to go. Thankfully we had our handy GPS and used it to navigate through some back streets to avoid the increasingly heavy rush hour traffic on the main drags. The red shows where we wanted to go, the blue shows where we ended up!

And if this isn't enough, Sao Paulo has a weird system called Rodizio. It means cars with license plates starting with a certain number can't drive in the center of the city from 7:00 to 10:00am and 5:00 to 8:00pm (i.e rush hour) on a specific day. So on Wednesday our car is out of commission for those hours.
Of course, this just makes life that much more interesting, and I still love to drive! So if you ever find yourself behind the wheel in Sao Paulo, don't forget your GPS!
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, 18 February 2011

No excuses

So, my last attempt to blog from my iPad and include an image didn't really work; I was forced to spend $2.99 to purchase an app to be able to do what I want to. Now, let's see if the money spent will help me blog; after all, I've got to make it worth it, right? I've got no more excuses!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Experimental post

I've had a few blog posts running around in my head these past few days, and haven't exactly kept to my "just do it" plan! One of my big reasons (i.e excuses) is that I can't upload photos into my blog posts from my iPad. So, procrastinator extraordinaire that I am, I've been searching for an iPad app that gives me that option! So this is my test post from the Monarch app. Its a free app that I'm trying out. I always try to get away with using a freebie, but I wonder if I bought one, if that would help my inspiration?

Here is painting I found when searching in google for an image to add to this post. I only got a little distracted by reading the article that it came from! Hmmm, distraction is a good theme to blog about in relation to procrastination now, isn't it?

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Procrastinator extraordinaire!

Yup, that's me. After all, this post was supposed to happen sometime in January - actually close to the beginning of the month. You know, the one where you write about all the resolutions you're going to keep this year... Well, I wanted to blog more...but it hasn't really worked out so far, but here I go and really, it's only February!

I'm sitting in bed, the kids are asleep and I'm wondering why it has taken me so long to get down to blogging, I mean it's not that hard, right? In fact, it's taken me a good 10 minutes to convince myself that I should just start writing, with my brain coming up with all sorts of random excuses such as; it's getting late, it's hard to type on an iPad, I really need to cut my nails (yes, a super lame excuse) and so on.

This has made me think about other areas of my life and how we can get into habits of procrastinating that seem to build up until it really becomes a problem. You know the things I'm talking about - leaving the dishes overnight, not taking the extra 5 seconds to put your clothes away, checking facebook just once more before settling down to do a task. The more we allow ourselves to "get away with" putting something off, the more we are robbing ourselves of a productive and satisfying life. The days when I am busiest are usually the ones that are the most satisfying.

The other issue I think I have with blogging, for example, is that I think about it too much and build up a huge expectation in my mind - maybe I am a perfectionist too! So when I sit down to write and it doesn't come out the way I have imagined it, I just give up. And again am left with nothing! I see this in other areas of my life, but more on that later,...maybe.

So, procrastinator and perfectionist that I am, this year I will strive to embody the Nike slogan, "just do it" and stop thinking and planning so much.

And now I'm off to cut my nails, because it really is hard to type on an iPad with long nails!
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