Friday, January 31, 2014

Crazy Art Teacher Lady?

This is a strange post, but it's something I've been thinking about recently.  My hair has always been my biggest pain.  It's curly, thick, coarse, and frizzy.  (Don't get me wrong, I've come to love it... once I realized that the males thought my hair was sexy... haha)  I've spent my whole life trying to control it, but recently, I just gave up.  Don't worry, I still style it, love my favorite Paul Mitchell Mousse, and usually try to look presentable.  But lately I've just been saying, "Ah what the heck" and letting it do its own thing.  

I can't be bothered to wash my hair every day, as it is such a cumbersome and long process.  Detangling alone takes about 15 minutes in the shower, with about five handfuls of conditioner...  So, today, two days after getting second degree burns on my hand, and not in the mood to try to deal with my hair with only one hand, and after three days of not washing it, I grabbed half of it and threw it up.  And, I'm not going to lie, I kind of like the result.

My sister-in-law, Annie, always told me that I should wear my hair like some crazy art teacher lady, piled up messily, ringlets spilling out everywhere...  But I always felt myself much too "sophisticated" for such a style.  Well, today I'm rethinking that opinion.  Maybe Annie was on to something.

I feel like I'm missing pencils and paintbrushes sticking out from all sides.  Or maybe I should throw in some flowers, twigs, and leaves, for good measure.

So that is my story.  Sorry if it wasn't very interesting.  I actually do have some curly-hair-tutorials planned for the near future.  Once my hand heals, I'll be able to get back to it.

What are you up to these days?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Paleo Update - 2 Weeks

Here is an update on my Paleo progress.  You can read about why I'm doing Paleo here.

I did two weeks with minor cheating.  I had a couple bites of chocolate here and there, I had a yogurt one day, and I had a pão de queijo one day.   But other than that it has been strictly meat, vegetables, fruit, and nuts.  

Please forgive the horrible lighting in these pictures.

NOTE: I have not exercised at all in the past 2 weeks because my asthma has been sooo bad (also because it's a million degrees outside and something in the air is giving me asthma).  And, contrary to what some people believe, exercise does not improve asthma.  Trust me.

The front doesn't look better, but the backside does.  I can't tell if it's just the lighting or my posture, though.  I don't have a scale, so I have no idea if I've lost any weight.  I love living without a scale because then I can focus on how my body feels and how my clothes fit, rather than being fixated on a number.

So I have decided that I will continue with Paleo the best that I can.  The main benefit is that I feel satisfied for longer after meals.  I don't feel hungry all the time like I used to.  And I eat smaller portions now.  I have no desire for sugar or rice, though I do miss potatoes.  My asthma has improved a lot, so I am going to start exercising as best as I can, starting with yoga, and eventually swimming "laps" in our tiny pool.  I'll post more pictures in another two weeks.

I am not going to beat myself up if I cheat on the diet a tiny bit.  I have friends coming to visit from the States, and I will enjoy a glass of wine and a cappuccino or two while they're here.

I'd like to encourage others to try the Paleo diet.  It really isn't as hard as it might seem.  Cook your food fresh, don't rely on any packaged food, and it's easy peasy!

Have you tried Paleo yet?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Brazil and the World Cup

The World Cup is coming to Brazil this year.  And it's kind of a big deal.  Everyone is talking about it.  Everyone has opinions about it.  I've seen so many things posted on Facebook about it - about how you should NOT come to Brazil to see the World Cup.  My English student thinks it's the worst idea ever.  So, what's the big deal?  

This article seems to be the most clearly written explanation of why Brazil should not host the World Cup.  Give it a read.  Even if you don't care one iota about soccer, it's still an informative piece about the political and economic state of Brazil (about which many Americans are drastically misinformed).

"Never has the government collected so many taxes and done so little with it. Brazilians work five months out of the year to pay their taxes. Brazilian companies waste 3 months in preparing their tax documents. And what do Brazilians get out of this? Nothing. Sub-standard schools (Brazilian recently ranked second-last in the PISA test, behind only Indonesia), terrible health clinics where people suffer abhorrent mistakes like having the wrong limb amputated, and absolutely no safety or security."

"The biggest tragedy in Brazil is the murder rate. There are 300 million people in the US, and there are 15,000 gun-related murders per year here. There are 200 million people in Brazil, and there are 50,000 gun-related murders/year there."  (Take note, America, that Brazil has strict gun-control policies, which essentially means only the criminals have the guns...)

Brazilians are such friendly, hospitable, and generous people.  Brazil is a beautiful country, with many things to be proud of, but the government corruption is unbearable.   

Did you read the article?  Do you have any thoughts to add?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

How to get a permanent (residential) visa in Brazil

How to get a residential visa in Brazil (if you're married to a Brazilian citizen):

#1 - DON'T DO IT.   Save yourself some headaches and lots of money.  Just don't do it.

#2 - If you absolutely must do it, find an employer that will pay for it and help you take care of it.

#3 - If your employer will not help you, pay a third-party service to do it for you.  This will cost a little bit more, but it will be worth your time and frustrations!

#4 - If none of the above apply to you, keep reading... (it will really help if you have a car)

Items needed to apply for a permanent visa, on the grounds of being married to a Brazilian citizen (you will not find this list on any government website.  I had to make a trip to the Federal Police just to get this list):


1.  Authenticated copy of the transcription of your marriage license.
- If you were married outside of Brazil, you will need to do the following:
A.  Have your marriage license "legalized" in the Brazilian consulate of the region in the country in which you were married (In California, it costs $20 plus shipping/handling)
B.  Have your marriage license translated by a legal translator in Brazil (ours cost about $R240)
C.  Have the translator's signature "recognized" ($R depends on the cartorio)
D.  Get authenticated copies of all pages (license and translation) ($R depends on the cartorio)
E.  Register your legalized certificate and translations at the Registro de Titulos e Documentos (you will turn in your authenticated copies and your originals) ($R375)
F.  When you receive your documents back, you will need to get more authenticated copies (because they will now have more stamps and signatures on them) ($R depends on the cartorio)
G.  Get authenticated copies of your Brazilian Spouse's birth certificate ($R depends on the cartorio)
H.  Get authenticated copies of your proof of address (a bill, bank statement, etc.) ($R depends on the cartorio)
I.  Apply for a transcription (in Rio it is at the Primero Cartorio, there is one in Centro and one on the Ilha do Governador) ($R324)
J.  To request the transcription, you will need to fill out a form and have your signature recognized (as well as turn in the authenticated copies of all your papers).  
K.  After 10 days you may pick up your transcription.  
L.  Get authenticated copies of your transcription - THIS IS WHAT YOU WILL TURN IN TO THE FEDERAL POLICE.  You will keep all the original documents.

2.  Authenticated copy of the ID of the Brazilian spouse ($R depends on the cartorio)

3.  Authenticated copy of your arrival ticket (the form you filled out when you entered the country) ($R depends on the cartorio)

4.  Authenticated copy of your passport, including all blank pages.  -I had my visitor visa in my old passport, because I received a new passport when I changed my name.  If this happens to you, you will need authenticated copies of both passports. ($R depends on the cartorio)

5.  Declaration, with recognized signature, that you are not a criminal, either in Brazil or abroad.  You must pick this form up at the Federal Police.  
- To recognize your signature, you must do the following:
A.  Go to a Correios and apply for a CPF (it's similar to a SSN in the States).  They will fill out a form and you will pay them. ($R30? probably more, but I forget)
B.  The people at the Correios will tell you where to pick up your CPF (it is some government building and I forget what it is called)
C.  Take copies of your CPF and copies of your passport to the Cartorio.  If you are in a two-passport situation like I was, you will need to bring copies of both
D.  Register your signature at the Cartorio ($R depends on the cartorio)
E.  Sign the Declaration that you are not a criminal, and have your signature "recognized" ($R depends on the cartorio)

6.  Declaration, with recognized signatures, that you are not separated or divorced.  You must pick this form up at the Federal Police.  Both spouses will sign, and both signatures need to be recognized. ($R depends on the cartorio)

7.  Pay a tax of R$102 (the form is found online via - If you are in Rio, the code is GRU CODIGO: 140066).  
-  You will print out the form and take it to an approved place (listed on the form) to pay.  You will take the receipt to the Federal Police.

8.  You will need two photos of the non-Brazilian spouse and one photo of the Brazilian spouse, 3cm X 4cm ($R depends on the photo printing place)

NOTE:  Both spouses must be present when you turn these items in at the Federal Police.  You will be asked to sign additional statements in the presence of the Federal Police officer.

The 8 steps above took us six months to prepare ("Send this document here, now take it to this other place, now wait 10 days, now go some place that doesn't exist, now blah blah blah")

When you turn in all of these forms, you will be given a protocol number in your passport.  This is what you use instead of your visitor visa.  This can also be used to get a work book.  You MUST apply for a "certificate" to prove that you have a protocol.  You will need the certificate to apply for a work book.  It takes 8 days for processing, and you must pick it up in person (it will not be mailed).  

After you receive your protocol, you will wait for a "home visit," to make sure you are truly married and not just faking it to get a visa.  This can happen any time in the next 6 months.

 Now, here are just a few of the hiccups we faced along the way...  
-  I had to get a new passport to show proof of my new name... To get my new passport, I had to go to the American Embassy in Rio.  They got it done super fast, but it cost a LOT of money.  Now I have to make copies of both passports all the time (because the old one has my visitor visa).

-  We were assured by the Federal Police that I would not need a CPF to apply for residency.  They neglected to tell me that a CPF was necessary for registering a signature.  When I went to the Correios to register for a CPF, the told us that they only do it in the mornings.  So we had to come back the next day.  Then we went to the other location to pick it up, and they said it was too late, they had already given out all their "senhas" (appointment numbers that are first come-first served).  So we had to come back the next day...

-  We went to the Federal Police to turn in paperwork, only to find out that they were on strike (the Federal Police is located in the airport, which is about an hour away with no traffic, two to three hours with traffic)...

-  We don't have a car, so we are taking taxis or buses everywhere.  Taxis are expensive, but buses take too long, especially when you're dealing with time-sensitive paperwork...  

-  Several times we were told to go to one place to get something, and when we get there they told us it was the wrong place.  We wasted so much time going to the wrong places!

Ok, I hope this post was helpful to someone.  Ask me if you have any questions.  I will update when necessary!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Daily Life - Part 3

(The other day I asked my sister what she thought about my blog.  She said she wished I would post more pictures of "daily life in Brazil."  I immediately thought, "I post tons of pictures like that!"  And then I realized that most of the "daily life" pictures are on Instagram.  So, in case any readers out there don't have Instagram, I'm going to post a serious of reviews.  If you already follow me on Instagram, these photos will be a repeat.  Also, some of these may have already been featured in previous blog posts, but I'm too lazy to figure out which ones, so they might also be repeats.)

Part 1
Part 2

Tea while teaching my British violin student

A common sight - coconut tree

View from our hike to Pico da Tijuca

Another view from Pico da Tijuca

A very bumpy bus ride

Pretty flower in my hair

School cafeteria food


Friday, January 24, 2014

Daily Life - Part 2

(The other day I asked my sister what she thought about my blog.  She said she wished I would post more pictures of "daily life in Brazil."  I immediately thought, "I post tons of pictures like that!"  And then I realized that most of the "daily life" pictures are on Instagram.  So, in case any readers out there don't have Instagram, I'm going to post a serious of reviews.  If you already follow me on Instagram, these photos will be a repeat.  Also, some of these may have already been featured in previous blog posts, but I'm too lazy to figure out which ones, so they might also be repeats.)

Part 1

From a friend's birthday party

At the hippie fair in Ipanema

A very strange shirt we saw in the mall

A mid-day snack (before Paleo, obvs)

The "cheap" soap here is so pretty!

At my favorite cafe in Centro - Cafe Columbo

A trashcan at the school

Thursday, January 23, 2014

5 Tips for Online Dating

Many of you know that I met my husband online.  I was 23 and he was 21.  We were asked so many times, "Why would such young people need to look for love online?"  Well, to be honest, I wasn't meeting anyone anywhere else!  I could (and probably will) write another blog post about the benefits of online dating, but I'll save that for later.  In the meantime, here are my 5 tips for online dating.  

1.  Take your time, but don't overthink
Filling out profiles can be daunting.  Companies like eHarmony ask you a ton of detailed questions in order to create your personality profile and select your best matches.  I think it took me two hours to complete my eHarmony profile.  It's very important that your answers be your "gut" response.  You want to make sure that you're not skimming the questions and going through them too quickly, but if you take too long analyzing the question, you might give an answer that isn't true to yourself.  

2.  Be authentic
Don't give answers that you think will attract a certain type of person.  Don't give answers that you wish were true.  Don't describe yourself how you wish you could be.  Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, wants and desires.  Otherwise you run the risk of matches that aren't the best for you.  

3.  Use pictures to show multiple sides of your personality and interests
"A picture is worth a thousand words."  Not all of your photos have to be glamour shots.  Take this opportunity to show your personality and things that you are interested in.  I included pictures of me with my family, me on various overseas trips (including one where I was holding a boa constrictor around my shoulders), me with a baby goat, and me wearing a "Lilo and Stitch" hat.  I wanted my matches to see that I loved my family, travel, adventure, and silliness. 

4.  Don't be afraid to ask tough questions
Online dating is unique in that it kind of speeds up the process.  You have the opportunity to find out these people's core beliefs and values, which, under "normal" dating circumstances might take weeks or months to discover.  I also used this as an opportunity to filter the pool, if you will.  I asked questions about gender roles, financial planning, sexual history, and, just for fun, global warming.  Anyone who was too uncomfortable talking about these subjects was not for me!

5.  Keep an open mind
Online dating opens your dating pool to people all around your city, state, country, or world!  You have the opportunity to connect with people from every background imaginable.  Don't be afraid to start a conversation with someone who isn't your "type."  I met the most interesting, genuinely nice people that I might not have considered dating otherwise.  

Bonus tip: Don't lead people on
If you aren't interested in someone, let them know and close the match!  Don't keep talking to them if you truly aren't interested.  You don't want to waste their (or your) time.  Most of the guys I was corresponding with were very gracious and sweet when I told them, "I found someone else and we are going to correspond exclusively."  Just as you're filtering through many matches, so are they!  

Now, go have fun with online dating!  Your "Happily Ever After" awaits you!  I already got mine. ;)

So what do you think?  Any more advice you'd like to add?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Daily Life - Part 1

The other day I asked my sister what she thought about my blog.  She said she wished I would post more pictures of "daily life in Brazil."  I immediately thought, "I post tons of pictures like that!"  And then I realized that most of the "daily life" pictures are on Instagram.  So, in case any readers out there don't have Instagram, I'm going to post a serious of reviews.  If you already follow me on Instagram, these photos will be a repeat.  Also, some of these may have already been featured in previous blog posts, but I'm too lazy to figure out which ones, so they might also be repeats.

Here we go, from the beginning, when we first moved here back in July!

View of the ocean, from our balcony

Homemade Brazilian cheese bread, or pão de queijo

Orchids growing on a tree

One of our favorite places to hang out - Cafe do Ponto

Another view from our balcony

Our teeny tiny bed

How they spell my name at Starbucks here

A cute lion on my tea bag

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

How do you deal with stress?

Stress has been a hot topic around our apartment these past few weeks.  We've had plenty of it thrown our way.  From hating disliking our job, to asthma attacks, to thinking worrying about the future, to trying to get my visa stuff done, we've been stressing out way too much!  We've been talking about what we should do to eliminate or relieve our stress.

In a perfect world, my stress reliever would be this:

From DustJacket

Or this:

From PlumPrettySugar

Ah, but where am I going to get such pretty, fancy things?  

In reality, my favorite way to relieve stress is so hang out with friends, talking about our lives, confiding, complaining, giving advice, laughing, and eating good food!

Somewhere like this would be ideal:

From DustJacket

Or La Lune Sucre with my SJSU besties:

From my Instagram

So what I've come to realize is that, sometimes, being "alone with my tea" isn't so fun.

(Maybe I should rename my blog, "Alone with my tea but wishing I had company."  Or, "Brazil is cool and all but I'm really starting to get homesick and miss my friends.")

So... what do you do to relieve your stress?  Comment below!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Adjusting to Paleo

Read why I decided to go Paleo here.

A week in and I'm feeling good.  

Here are some things I've made this week

Paleo Pancakes (Sooo good, even Peter loves them!)

Banana Bacon Frittata (The recipe was a little bland... next time I will add vanilla and cinnamon and will post the altered recipe here - also, it really needs some maple syrup, which, sadly, we don't have in Brazil)

Apple Paleo Muffins - I used almond meal instead of almond flour, but they still turned out good.  You can't really taste the apple, though.

Banana/Peach Smoothie - Ingredients: One frozen banana (I used two small ones), frozen peaches or peach puree, almond milk.  I just eyeballed the almond milk and kept adding more until it was a consistency I wanted.  Mix in a food processor or blender.

Roasted Chicken

Beet salad: Cooked beet root, cooked corn (not sure if corn is allowed or not, but we've been eating it), drizzle of olive oil, drizzle of lemon juice, sprinkle of salt

Fresh salads of various kinds

Zucchini Spaghetti - slice the zucchini into "noodles" (would help if I had this vegetable "spiralizer"), throw the "zoodles" into the simmering sauce for a few minutes to cook a little bit, then eat!

Here are some things I'm looking forward to making this coming week

Paleo Lemon Bars

Chocolate Avocado Mousse

Asian Cauliflower "Fried Rice"

Carrot "Fries" - Cut carrots into sticks, drizzle with olive oil and salt, bake until browned

Some Observations

- I need to be careful about how many almonds I'm consuming.  I think I might be developing an allergy to them... :( :( :(

- It's going to be difficult to do Paleo while avoiding nuts (my body can not tolerate pecans, walnuts, macadamia nuts, brazil nuts, or peanuts).  I have been doing ok with pistachios, but now that I'm starting to react to almonds, I might cut out all nuts just to be safe.

- Peter says, "Wow, you're baking a lot, making a lot of good food, I should have agreed to this sooner!"

- I feel like I am spending all my time in the kitchen - prepping, baking, cooking, cleaning up...  I DON'T have a mixer of any kind, NOR a blender, so I am using my one, small food processor for everything.  I find myself cleaning that thing at least 2 times for every meal I prepare.

- Our kitchen is HOT.  When it's in the 90s outside, the kitchen does not have air conditioning, and the stove and oven on all the time... I'm sweating all day!

- I will post pictures once I feel like I've made progress (on losing weight).  I haven't been able to exercise much because my asthma has been so bad.  :(


- This is doable, especially since I'm not working full time.  If I were working full time, it would be a lot more difficult!

- I'm excited to see what happens!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Sighing with half a lung

My asthma is so bad that I don't want to workout... (because exercising induces the asthma and makes it worse...)


What's a girl to do???

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Campos do Jordao, Brazil, Nature Vignettes

I made this from video clips of our time at the state park in Campos do Jordão, Brazil.  Sometimes pictures just aren't enough to capture the true feeling of the moment.  

I hope you enjoy this video!

The song, Resta Qui, by Andrea Bocelli is very sad, but so beautiful.  Here are the lyrics, translated, via

Stay here

To lose you like that
As in a moment
When everything is
Going beyond
My wildest dreams
You, who used to be mine!
Flights and chills
Great dreams that
I may accomplish one day
What are they for
If you're not here
Here with me
Even if I was wrong….
Stay here with me
I’ll be yours
A true angel who dreams, who knows
How to hold your hand
And give you his soul
Stay here
Stay here
You who are mine
Stay just for a moment and
We will fly up there
Where everything is heaven,
If we, if we are there
We will be alone, but together.
I'll bring him back, believe me
(I'll bring back) the man I was, the one you used to love.
Stay here with me
I’ll be yours
A true angel who dreams, who knows
How to slow down the time
And how to make it stop
Stay here, stay here
You, who are mine.
Stay just for a moment and
We will fly up there
Each and every day
We will be together.

Previous posts about Campos do Jordao - (jungle mountain), (water lilies), (wild hydrangeas)

Previous video attempts - (parque lage), (alone with my tea)

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Snapshots from within the mountains of Brazil

Brazil's mountains are unique in the fact that they still maintain their "jungley" nature.  The weather remains tropical, even thousands of feet up, although it is significantly cooler than the coastal jungle we are accustomed to in Rio.  The area receives lots of rain and is luscious and green.

Photo taken by Peter Arthur

See also: Water Lilies and Wild Hydrangeas

Now for a question... most of my posts are heavily photography based.  I don't consider myself to be a great photographer, but I enjoy capturing memories of fun places that way.  As a blog reader, do you enjoy these types of posts, or would you rather I have more posts of writing - stories, life updates, poems, etc?  I'm always afraid of writing too much because I don't think people will actually read it all... What do you think?