Sunday, March 30, 2014

Another Day in Paradise.....part dois

I woke up this morning kind of in a funk. It was the first day that I felt a little bit of the "post vacation blues".

All I had to do was start looking through everyone's pictures and it perked me right back up again. Between all of the people in my life that will allow me to gush about my trip, pouring over pictures over and over again and stopping by a Dunkin Donut that is ran by Brazilian's where I used my fifteen Portuguese words to order my morning coffee I still have that slight tinge of vacation left in me.

*almost EVERY time I was in the water (ocean or pool) this was the permanent look on my face. Why you might ask??!! Because I was CAKED in sunscreen and it kept dripping down into my eyes. Never got a sun burn but may be going slightly blind. 

I won't bore you with all the vacation details but I do want to say this. It was truly (as I mentioned many times before) the most unique vacation I have ever been on. Only because I was able to really experience this area of Brazil and not by tour group or by water down version of a country. It was full on VIVA La Brazil!

Was it totally relaxing? YES! There were times when I felt slightly more on guard or a little frustrated because I had a hard time communicating with people but even in those uncomfortable times I was still relaxed and learning about life. There was no resort with all the plush over the top amenities like a swim up bar but  who really needs a swim up bar when you have water this blue as your back yard?!

The most utterly surprising fun facts about where we were staying in Brazil....

1. No water heaters in the homes only in the showers which you need to figure out how to light the pilot lights each time if you feel like taking a hot shower. This means that when you turn on the kitchen sink to wash the dishes or maybe clean up a cutting board after prepping raw fish there is no hot water at all to work with. After day one of this all I could think was "a little soap and a little hope" that none of us get sick. This fun fact is brought to you by Hepatitis A, the number 7 and the letter C! GET THE SHOTS BEFORE YOU GO!

2. This one really took me off guard. You can't flush toilet paper down the toilets! Nope not at all. Can't flush a square or KABOOM! And as my brother's girlfriend said, "Plumber No aque" Awesome. It wasn't as bad as it sounds. Our house keepers came and cleaned out the small trash cans by the toilets every day and they all had small lids too. I do have to say it felt REALLY good to wad up a big handful of TP and flush it in the airport on our layover when we got back to the states! (little things in life) 

3. Every time you go out to eat it will take (if you go to a bar or restaurant) at a MINIMUM an hour and half. This country likes to take their time and has no real concept of a schedule. If for example your boat/booze cruise is going to leave the docks at MOST LIKELY will take off closer to 11:30ish but you never know it could leave on time!! So be ready to bring your patience to every situation. 

*they are such a good looking couple!!! And would have VERY cute kids! 

4. It takes a LONG time to explain things in the Portuguese language. You think I talk a lot....I don't hold a candle next to ANYONE who speaks Portuguese. Their language just doesn't seem to work with the "one word" type answers. We would ask my brother and his girlfriend a question (like a pretty straight forward yes or no question). They would then turn to each other and go back and forth for a solid 2 minutes (I know I exaggerate at times....this is not one of those times) and then Andy would turn back over to us and go, "Awwwww....she said maybe" UH?! 

5. This is how you will look after every lunch....Lunch is your biggest meal. Get use to filling up at lunch because dinner is going to be a yogurt. I actually didn't mind this at all. I almost liked it better. It doesn't work with my current schedule at work but it was a nice change.

*Small spanish artist's town about 2 hours south of Angra with some very beautiful and color homes. 

Brazil is a beautiful, large and very interesting country. I couldn't recommend it more to people looking to really dive into a new culture and have a very relaxing vacation. I am so grateful I was able to share these experience with members of my family as everyone brought something fabulous to the table and made every moment that much better. 

Get out of your comfort zone and see the world. It makes you appreciate what we have here but makes you a better person in the end. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014


So we are back from Brazil! I am little tanner, wiser and tired. We are slowly trying to get back into the swing of things in real life but I am not ready to let go of the vacation yet. I plan to load up on self tanner to hold on to this glow as long as I can as well as get back on the weight watchers...all the cheese and bread is starting to catch up to yours truly. With all that said....drum roll please.....

So I give you our trip to BRAZIL!!!!! (as a disclaimer I promise this won't be as boring as looking at someone's slides from their Hawaiian vacation in the 1970's but it's not nearly as interesting as if you were there with us! So if you need to take a break from said blog posts I do understand)

Alex got a little excited about his vacation before we even took off from hour later and this is how I found him after I got back from buying plane snacks.....

 Day 1: Grab your coconut people and join in on the fun!!

And now I give you....the plane ride from hell! We got on the long leg of the flight from Charlotte to Rio at 10pm and sat on the plane for almost 2 hours while they said they had an "issue"....SHOT ME NOW! I took the little blue pills a little too early and was delirious by 11:30pm. That brown doughnut of a pillow was ZERO help at all. I should've taken better drugs!

Holy shit we just flew for 13 hours in a tin can and now we're in Brazil!!!!

First's hot. I mean like instantly need a shower after you walk outside kind hot but god damn it's beautiful!

Top four things that people in Rio and Brazilians in general embrace....

1. Carbs and cheese...they eat them for breakfast lunch and dinner.  The sprinkle bread crumbs on bread for christ sake. They LOVE the pao (bread in portuguese...I am going to teach you as you read)!

2. "I'm too sexy for my shirt" should be their theme song! Americans cover up and Brazilians take it off! All off and they have no issues at all with self imagine. Regardless what you look like the rule of thumb here is the smaller the item of clothing the better. Large women and men wearing next to nothing with fat rolls for days with not a care in the world eating bread and cheese and wearing tennie tiny bikini's and banana hammocks!

3. Drink em if you got em! You can stand and drink any where. On the weekends every where you look people are standing up against a wall drinking beer out of small glasses. It's their thing. Viva la booze!

*you can't see it in this picture but those guys have tall beers in their's 8:30am on a Sunday morning. Viva Viva la booze!!! This is the view from our posada on the first night in Rio. It felt like we could be any where in Europe. It was adorable!!!

4. are no one in Rio without a pair of havianana's. Super comfy flip flops that come in all shapes and colors. The expensive ones are about $18 US totally worth getting and for that money who cares if you loose them, rip them or ruin them in anyway. Go to the havaianas store in Leblon in Rio. Hands down the best selection and cheapest prices.

Within in the first 10 hours in Rio we walked, we saw and we ate. My brother led us on a fabulous death march around the city where we saw the gardens, climb a mountain, walked on Copacabana beach and had two very different but very fabulous meals all in the matter of what felt like 15 mins but luckily was stretched out over half the day and walking 8 1/2 miles. I wouldn't have traded a single moment of it in for the world.

*the public gardens in Brazil....BEAUTIFUL and LOTS OF SHADE!!!!! Which is KEY in this city if you are here in the summer time. The fountain shoots water straight at you when you step on the little peddle. Sneaky sneaky Brazil...sneaky sneaky!

*Next up....Cristo from the top of Sugar Loaf while the sun is setting. It's a total tourist trap but worth the $30 USD to go to the top and see the views of the city at sun set. If you have to do one thing that is super touristy in Rio, I would say this is it. 

*more shots from the top of sugar loaf...again worth the $$....screw going to see Cristo you can see him from every where in the city. Sugar Loaf people...Sugar Loaf. 

 Now this is hands down one of the BEST bars in all of Rio, it's in Leblon and it's a party. Great bar food, great Chopp (their version of tap beer) and just a really authentic, fun atmosphere. It was totally by accident we found this spot and I am so glad we did. 

*these are views from the roof top deck and dining space of our posada in Rio and a traditional Brazilian breakfast. If you take one thing away from a trip to Brazil it's how amazing the coffee and fruit are. You haven't tasted a mango until you get one there. They are so sweet, ripe and fresh you feel like you are really induleding in something but it's just ultra fresh fruit! 

Day 2:
And the adventure continues....we left Rio and drove about three hours south to Angra dos Reis.

It's a large sea side town that is surrounded by 365 mountainous islands.

On the way we stopped at the most fabulous cheese shop where they made sweets, cookies and a few different kinds of cheeses that are just amazing. Made from the cows milk that is on their small farm. Still wish I bought more of the homemade cookies with guava in the middle of them. Holy shit were those good. Sorry there are no picture of any of this. We were all a little "hangry" at this point in the three hour car ride.

I am going to leave you with this....We stayed at what looks like the Swiss family Robinson house on the ocean. It's this massive tree house that is multi level and built into the side of a hill on the ocean with a pool, sauna, wrap around double deck and dock where you can safely just dive into a blue green ocean that is like bath water, 80 + degrees!!!

*view from the top deck off the main house which has 4 bedrooms and two a suites.

*down the steps to the second level 

*tv/living room/ extra sleeping space

*view from the deck 

*spa room with steam room and sauna

Back side of the house, yet another horrible picture. The water in the ocean is warmer that the water in the pool! Pinch me I'm dreaming!

More to come.....

Friday, March 7, 2014

Holy shit we are going to South America

Yes you read that right! We (as in my crazy, wacky, loud and possibly the greatest people on this planet, family) are packing up and heading south to the continent below us NEXT WEEK! Brazil will never be the same. The poor people of the little town we are staying in will never be the same. I can promise you we will be the loudest people there and I will come back with MANY stories to tell. 

I have traveled a little bit in my short life time here on this blue green marble we all call home but not to too many different continents and definitely not south of the equator. (* I already know that the toilets do not flush in the opposite direction even though I wish they did!) Do I speak Portuguese, you ask? (Fair question)....absolutely not. Does anyone there speak English?? NOPE..... And let's see what's behind door number two...drum roll please..... Hablas Espanol?! Nada Mucho! So what's power of charades and acting skills!!!What a trip it's going to be!!

I think we all feel the same way about this... vacations and time off go by waaaaaaaaaay too fast. No matter how much you try focusing on the present or being in the moment you just blink and it feels like you are heading back home to the shit show that is your daily life. I think one of my favorite parts of a vacation is anticipation leading up to it. There is NO better feeling than putting on your out of office and walking out the door. Those moments are almost a vacation in itself.

I have no idea what the internet situation will be down there. I don't believe we are living under a rock so I have faith that there will be some good WiFi but you never know. Either way I hope to get some writing done.

 So last night I took myself on a little culinary adventure to a place called Stir, My mom gave me a gift card about 1 1/2 years ago and I finally cashed it in. It took FOREVER to pick the "class" because a. it's hard to decide what you want to eat and learn about and b. they ALWAYS sell out in a matter of hours after they are released which is only two or three times a year.

The "classes" are basically a chef who cooks for you and 9 other people around a table, explains the dishes, ingredients and ties in stories of their experiences. You interact with everyone like a fancy supper club/dinner party type atmosphere. It's usually about 5 - 6 courses all paired with BEAUTIFUL wines. It was a REALLY special experience but holy shit am I full!

The other thing is I went alone, not a big deal at all but out of the 10 of us 6 people were regulars. Which means that these people go more than once a week to this place for dinner which is $165 - $210 per person without blinking an eye. They knew each other, they knew the chef's, they knew everyone's story which was fine but added some pretentiousness to the whole experience if you know what I mean.

At the end of the night (it was a 4 hour long meal...again HOLY SHIT!) we got to go around the table and vote on our favorite entree, our favorite wine and our favorite pairing. We also got to take home a cookbook (which was the theme of the night). It's an asian fusion cookbook from a couple based out of San Francisco. The food was amazing and the wine was perfectly paired so overall a totally special experience but listening to these people go on and on about where they go to eat and trying to out do one another with it made my head spin. One couple said how they went out to dinner on Saturday night at this place in Boston called O Ya (it's a VERY high end sushi place, voted one of the top 10 places to eat in the country)...did the tasting menu with Sake pairings there....she said it was $1,000.00 FOR DINNER!!!! These were the kinds of people I was having dinner with last night. Even if I made six figures a year there is NO WAY IN HELL I would spend that kind of money on a dinner for 2 people. I would rather fly to Japan and eat some where there than a place in Boston.

Before the dinner I had a little time to kill so I decided to wander around the South End in Boston and pop in an out of some of the little artisan shops. It's such a cute neighborhood with TONS of little restaurants, bars, shops, gay men and little dogs. I think it's a prerequisite that in order to move into the hood you MUST have a dog...size does not matter but you MUST have a dog. 

Towards the end of my window shopping adventure I stumbled upon this hidden little gem called, Olives and Grace,, and got a chance to meet and chat with the owner, Sophi. She was thoughtful, funny, kind, refreshing and had this magnetic energy about her. I felt like I was talking to an old friend. When I left her shop (which is just down right adorable and sells all these fabulous local items. It's the kind of shop you could walk in and create the most thoughtful hostess gift for anyone) I left with a huge smile on my face and felt so relaxed. (No I had not had a glass of wine yet, valid question though) It was her. She was just such a fabulous person. I hope our paths cross again soon. I love meeting people like that.

 Anyway....I digress. Hope you all had/have a FABULOUS week and weekend...I need to do a salad detox for the next few days and spend some time working out to work off the meal I had last night for sure. :) Wish me luck! I will leave you with this...I saw this today and thought to myself, "So so true"

Monday, March 3, 2014

Things I am in love with right now....

Talk about slacking on writing lately!!! I have been so into my knitting that with every free moment I've had I have been working on a knitting project. I thought it would be fun to do a list on here of some things I am in currently in love with right now.

1. Knitting with very expensive, beautiful, bright hand dyed yarns....I am head over heels in love with yarn. I can't get enough of it. My 23 year old self is hanging their head in shame and disbelief....But I think she'll get over it though. :)

The past three weeks I have been spending EVERY free moment I have finishing a knitting project...aka The Tennis Ball Cardigan.....and drum roll please....IT IS DONE!!!! Blocked and Everything!! I just adore it! I came out way better than I ever thought it would and to be honest I just can't believe I made it. These two little hands!

Next up....the three pattern (very expensive) COWL!!!! It's soft, warm and cozy. I nicknamed it the "hate cowl" but half way through I slowly started falling love with it and now that it's done it makes me so happy to put it on. 

My obsession continues of course with a new knitting projects. Currently I have these two going on

- The hedge hog
- The cardigan with Zen Garden Yarn (need to start)

2. Fresh Berries to snack on. I am CRAVING summer. I need sunshine, flip flops and warm weather. This winter has been BRUTAL up here in the Boston area and it doesn't look like there is an immediate end insight. So yours truly has been buying organic, expensive raspberries and strawberries to snack on during the week. It's like $10 or so for two little packs but it is SO WORTH IT. Every time I take a bite of one of them it tastes like summer to me. Organic berries are well worth the money because they are packed with flavor. The other ones seems to lack that ripe berry flavor. Trust me pick some up at Whole Foods and you will taste the difference. It's a total guilty pleasure but one that is well worth it in my book.

3. Biena Chickpea Snacks (Current Flavor I am in love with...Cinnamon Maple). They taste like cinnamon toast crunch cereal. 1/2 a bag is 3 weight watchers points and totally kills a sweet tooth craving or just a crunchy snack craving. It's a super roasted chickpea that is coated with maple syrup and cinnamon. DELISH! I would try and make these myself but I can never get the chickpeas roasty toasty enough like they do so I figure why waste my time and chickpeas when I can just get them already done for me. Some things I know I should leave to the experts, roasting chickpeas happens to be one of them.

4. My, Isa Does It...cookbook. Everything we have made from here (3 recipes thus far) have been HUGE winners. The cookbook is easy to follow, beautifully laid out and I actually love the paper it's printed on. If you are interested in healthy vegan recipes and don't want to have to buy an entire new pantry worth of crap to cook with than this is a good book for you. As most of you know we (alex and myself) are not 100% vegan but I cook that way for us a few times a week.

5. Last but not least....DRUM ROLL PLEASE.....(Yes, I too can't believe I am admitting this to all of you) I finally broke down and bought the Complete Will and Grace box set...Woooooo Hoooooo!!!!!!!!!!

I have only made it through the first two dvd's of SEASON 1!!!! And there were 8 seasons's going to take me a lifetime to watch it all but who the hell cares. It was/is a total guilty pleasure tv that I have seen a hundred times and even now still makes me giggle...Jack and Karen I will love you always!