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...
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