Friday, June 27, 2014

No Makeup

This is not a sponsored post.

While we were living in Brazil, my skin started getting really icky.  I had breakouts like I never used to get, the texture became uneven and patchy, and I had discoloration.  I have no idea why.  Maybe it was the ridiculously hard water (our white tiles were stained brown and my skin itched after every shower), the questionable drinking water, stress, or just the polluted atmosphere...

Since being back in the States for one week, I've adopted a new skincare routine.  I've used MaryKay Timewise for many years (my mom and sister are both consultants), but since coming back I switched to MaryKay's new Botanical Effects, and my sensitive skin likes it a lot better.  I also started using the night solution every night.  My skin cleared up in a few days!  I'm so impressed and happy.

Here is a photo I took with my iPhone... no makeup, just me in my mom's living room:

I wish I had a "before" picture to show you, but alas, I don't.  You'll just have to trust me that it was really bad... My mom even told me, while Skyping one day, "Whoa what happened to your face?  You always had such great skin and now it looks horrible!"  Uh... thanks, Mom!

So that's my story... all that to say... I'm glad to be back!  And if I ever move overseas again, I'm stocking up on my skincare essentials!


This is not a sponsored post, but if you are interested in MaryKay for yourself or a friend, contact my mom or sister.  My mom's website is and my sister's is (she is just starting to build her business and would love to help you).  They ship products anywhere, and they're always available by phone or email.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Back in the U.S. of A.

Sorry for the blog silence in the last week.  We did make it back to the U.S. with no problems, all of our luggage made it, and our three (!) flights were smooth and easy.  If you follow on Instagram you'll have already seen the only "issue" we had was at the San Salvador International Airport...  We had a very short layover and we got stuck in the International Customs (which was set up right inside the gate lobby) as they very thoroughly searched Peter's carryon, while we heard announcements for our flight's boarding just two gates down...

The high-tech security system at San Salvador's International Airport is just staggering. <--- p="" sarcasm="">

It was just sooo funny.  Here we were just steps away from our gate, being held by cloth line dividers, while tiny women searched our luggage...

(No x-rays? No body scanners? Nothing?)

I caught a cold on our flight and have been just resting up this past week.  We leave in two days for a mini-vacation, which we're really excited about.  In the next two days we have to get some cell phones, apply for some credit cards, and repack some of our stuff.

Thanks for reading.  See you again soon!



Thursday, June 19, 2014

A year of Rio de Janeiro

We are moving back to the U.S. tomorrow at 5am, so I thought I'd write up a recap of the past almost-a-year in Rio de Janeiro.  It's going to be a long post full of my favorite posts, so get ready!!! :)

We got married and 8 days later we moved to Rio.  (P.S. they never fixed anything...)

We started settling in and loved our ocean view.

We were so excited to live a mere 10 minute walk from the beach.

We didn't have a dryer and since we moved here during winter, it was too windy and rainy to hang our clothes outside...

We learned some interesting things about our new city and bairro.

We brought our wedding-present-juicer and immediately started having fun with it.

I figured out a way to fend off the loneliness.

We went on a birthday hike that left me sore for a week!

I posted this funny video and freaked out my family members.

We had a special guest for dinner.

I became obsessed with this trashcan.

We realized the true extent of Brazilian soccer obsession.

We loved having dinner at the beach, even if it was overcast.

We finally went to the hippie fair.

I found Portuguese to be really funny.

We went to Parque Lage - one of the most beautiful places in Rio, in my opinion.

We could spend hours just watching the kite surfers.  It's weirdly mesmerizing.


I noticed how many things grow on other things here in this urban rainforest.

I posted "life around here" with pictures from my instagram.

Spring in Rio was beautiful.

We fed some monkeys (which we really weren't supposed to do... what can I say... we live on the wild side).

I performed with the school choir for an after-school care program in one of the most famous favelas.

We went to Lapa and saw the aqueduct and the famous Lapa steps.

We captured a truly magical sunset.

Our Australian friends taught us a Norwegian game called "klop."

We explored a beautiful beach.

I had to walk by this every day.

We explored a very old church at the top of the Lapa steps.

We spent 3 1/2 wonderful days in Paraty.  We took a lot of pictures.  More pictures.  And some more.  And then we took some more pictures.

We loved the wild hydrangeas and water lilies in Campos do Jordao.

We loved vacationing in the beautiful mountains of Brazil.

I made a video of our time in Campos do Jordao.

I posted a series of "daily life" posts, as requested by my sister.  Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7.

I wrote about how to get a permanent visa in Brazil (if married to a Brazilian citizen).  Hint: Don't do it.

I finally posted more pictures of Parque Lage (6 months after visiting).

I never got bored of finding monkeys to photograph.

We had to visit the epic statue that Rio's famous for!

We had fun with our waterproof camera that we bought the day before we moved here.

We got searched by armed policemen...

We finally got a picture of the capybara that are supposed to be everywhere in our neighborhood, yet are very hard to find.

I wrote down some Brazilian "quirks" I've noticed.

Even though I'm scared of my balcony (long story), I braved it to get these cool pictures.

I got really used to kissing strangers.

I posted more pictures of our trip to Campos do Jordao (only a few months late - I'm on Brazilian time...).

I just loved driving through the Brazilian mountains.

The most adorable old man lived in our complex.

We visited a beautiful cathedral in Petropolis.

We captured another beautiful sunset, this one with pastel colors rather than fiery colors.

I realized that living abroad has made me more patriotic.

We went back to Paraty and got this pretty watercolor.

We splurged on some amethysts.

I became obsessed with these salad tongs.

Peter forced me to buy this necklace.

I almost got hit by a motorcycle.

I finally posted pictures of the bus terminal in Petropolis (a couple months late, as is my habit)...

I had several interesting conversations with my taxi drivers.

Don't worry, I have many more Brazil-themed posts planned for after we get back.  I still need to upload photos of our last beach trip, our time at Sugar Loaf, reflections on the year, and some other random stuff.  In the meantime, we leave in a few hours and I'm frantically trying to pack the rest of our stuff.  I'm hoping for a hassle-free trip, and I can't wait to eat real Mexican food soon!  



And since we moved here 8 days after our wedding, I had to post all of our wedding pictures...

 guest book (diy)

Monday, June 16, 2014


In order to get a driver's license in Brazil, you have to pass a "psychological test."  The running joke is that the bus drivers are the ones that failed the psychological test.

Follow me on Instagram

I really don't doubt it.

Tip:  Always pee before getting on a bus in Rio.



P.S. I had planned on showing you pictures and videos that Peter took of the opening game at the FIFA Fan Fest at Copacabana last week, but I'm still waiting for him to give me them.  Just like I'm still waiting for him to give me the pictures of our second trip to Paraty, our fun beach day over the weekend, and some "model shots" (not really) he took at the beach the other night.  I can't wait to show you guys the fun last days we've had in Brazil!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

My YOLO Moment

The other day I was on my way to Starbucks to meet up with a friend and I had a conversation with myself.  It went like this:

Me:  Maybe I'll get a frappuccino.  I haven't had one in ages.

Me:  No, no, no.  They have waaay too much sugar and are filled with other junk.  You're trying to lose weight, remember?

Me:  But, ahhh it's so warm out here, a frappuccino sounds so refreshing.  Aw what the heck, just do it.

Me:  Welll, after all, you only live once.

Me:  Exactly.  You only live once, so live happily.  Like, how much time have I wasted thinking and worrying about not having the perfect body?  Too much.  It's not worth it.

Me:  And don't forget this is the first time you've hung out with a friend in a verrrry long time.  That's worth celebrating!

Me:  Yeah... Plus I don't want to end up being one of those people who spends their whole life obsessing about being healthy and doesn't take time to enjoy the moment, to savor the tasty things in life, to embrace happiness.  I don't want to end up being so obsessed with my body image that I can never be happy.

Me:  Well I don't think you'd ever become one of those people with how quickly you gave in to "the dark side."  It took a whole two seconds to convince yourself to get a frappuccino.

Me:  Haha I'm such a nerd.

In the end I did not order a frappuccino.  I arrived at Starbucks and I was starving.  I knew having that much sugar and caffeine on an empty stomach would make me feel sick.  So I ordered some pao de queijo and iced green tea.

HOWEVER, I've been having mini-yolo moments pretty frequently these days.  Just a few marshmallows, just a few [handfuls] M&Ms, just a bite of the milky way bar... you're only in Brazil for another week, just enjoy your time... you can exercise tomorrow...

It's really bad.

The end.

Soooo what are your YOLO moments these days???



Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Puppy Fever

Most girls get baby fever (I'm assuming?)... I get puppy fever.  I have a true case of puppy fever right now.  I've even picked out names for our future puppy/ies.  It's serious, you guys.

To be honest, I'm not a puppy racist.  Meaning, I don't care what kind of dog we eventually get.  Black, white, multicolored, brown, big, small, doesn't matter.  Although I would prefer that it be somewhat fluffy.  I'd love to adopt from a dog rescue, but I'd also love a cute maltese or golden retriever.  I'll just have to take what I can get whenever I can get it!!!

To tide me over:

This one's hair matches me!

I also really like bunnies...

Not gonna lie, sometimes Peter and I youtube cute puppy videos...

Do you currently suffer from baby or puppy fever?


All photos taken from Creative Commons "labeled for reuse with modification."

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Taxi Conversations #2

I've had so many interesting conversations with taxi drivers since I've been living in Rio.  Only now did I realize that I should have been writing them down so as not to forget!  So I'll attempt to remember the most interesting conversations and record them here.  These are not presented in chronological order.


Conversation #1 here.

Taxi Conversation #2

One day I had a long-ish ride from Barra (Barra da Tijuca) to Copa (Copacabana), and luckily my taxi driver was so nice!  

I asked him if he was excited about the World Cup coming to Brazil.  He said "No," but then again, so has every Brazilian I've asked, no surprise there...  

I asked him if he was going to learn any English before the World Cup and Olympics, since there will be so many tourists (almost all of my taxi drivers have had minimal English skills - "Where you go?" "Good evening" "Thank you").  

He surprised me by saying, "Nope - I'm fluent in Japanese!"  

What?! Of course I responded with, "What?! Wow, that's so awesome! How did you learn Japanese?"  

Turns out he lived in Japan for 25 years!  He has already partnered with the Olympic committee in Brazil to be an official taxi driver for the Japanese tourists, come 2016.

This story is short and sweet, but I thought it was interesting.  It's rare to find working-class Brazilians who speak another language, and most of them are trying to learn English, if any.  The fact that this man was fluent in Japanese was very impressive.


Travel Tuesday

I think the key to having a good conversation with someone in a language you're just learning, is to master the phrase, "I'm learning [language]."  Every time I get in a taxi I say, "Disculpa, estou aprendendo Portugu√™s."  They are instantly thrilled and excited that I'm taking the effort to learn their language and talk to them.  They almost always speak more slowly and clearly, too.

So tell me, am I a weirdo for talking to my taxi drivers?  Do you talk to people you don't know when overseas?


Monday, June 9, 2014

Life Update... We're moving to...

I was waiting to publish this post until I had signed and returned my contract.  Now it is official.  We are moving to... 


Alabama State Flag (yes, it's supposed to be square)

I was offered a job at a private, independent, college-prep school in Dothan, Alabama.  I will be teaching two choirs, another music class TBA, and directing the school musical.  I am hoping that in the next couple of years I will also be able to start a strings program.  The school has a great music program established already, with general music for elementary and a thriving band and choral department.  I am so excited to jump on board.

Peter and I are excited because this job pays well and the cost of living is very low in that area.  We are able to move out there without him already having a job.  He will look for jobs once we relocate, but we are relieved that we will be able to survive even if it takes him awhile to find one.

Obviously this is going to be a big change from Rio de Janeiro (and California), but we are excited.  I've always wanted to live in the South!  We are looking forward to exploring a new area of the U.S. and I will continue to blog as much as possible.  We plan on going to Disney World frequently (it will only be 5 hours away), as well as exploring the rest of the South (Atlanta, Nashville, etc.)

The next couple of weeks/months are going to be very busy.  We have to pack up, clean, buy more souvenirs, sell stuff, and fly back to California.  Once we reach California we will relax and visit with family for a week, go on vacation for a week or two, and then think about packing up all of our stuff and driving out to Alabama.  We're hoping to have a few weeks to settle in our new place before school starts (mid-August).  I do have some blog post ideas in mind for the next couple of weeks, but please forgive me if they don't all get published right away.

Exciting times are ahead and I hope you'll continue reading my blog and following along with our adventures.  Now that we'll have some financial stability, we are excited about saving up for some more overseas trips.  And, of course, if you have any recommendations for things we should see and do in the South, let me know!

Alabama's Great Seal



Thursday, June 5, 2014

Taxi Conversations #1

I've had so many interesting conversations with taxi drivers since I've been living in Rio.  Only now did I realize that I should have been writing them down so as not to forget!  So I'll attempt to remember the most interesting conversations and record them here.


Note:  I have been told so many times by a few different people how "brave" or "adventurous" or "outgoing" or "free-spirited" I am.  (I would agree with adventurous and outgoing, but not with brave or free-spirited.)  My friends have described me as such after I have told them about various conversations with taxi drivers.  Apparently it's unusual that I strike up conversation with people I don't know in a language that I'm just learning.  But, to be honest, my conversations with taxi drivers are pretty much the only time I get to practice Portuguese.  I don't really have the opportunity to talk to many Brazilians during the day (because all of my students are American or British).

Almost every taxi ride ends with me being extremely excited, rushing upstairs to tell Peter, "I just had the greatest conversation with my taxi driver!  He told me this this and that, etc."  Only once, in the past 10 months, did I have a taxi driver that was rude and "mean."


Photo used legally
Sorry that the only picture I could find via creative commons was of an NYC taxi... Just imagine that it says "Rio" on it haha

Taxi Conversations #1:

Last night I was taking a taxi home and we got stuck in really bad traffic.  Luckily, my taxi driver was super friendly.  He was an older man, married with at least one son, and we talked about everything from how he speaks fluent French to how I conducted a choir on stage with The Rolling Stones.  We were stuck coming out of a ritzy neighborhood, and the street we were stuck on has been called "the Gaza strip of Rio" by the people who live there, due in part to the fact that there are so many robberies that occur on that road.  (The very wealthy ex-pats who live there get stuck in traffic and are like sitting ducks.)  We talked about how teachers don't get paid enough for all the work they do, how Brazil's economy is in such a bad state, how he thinks it's crazy that my husband and I chose to live in Rio instead of the U.S., and much more.  He complimented my Portuguese and practiced the little English he knew.

Eventually my taxi driver told me to call my husband to tell him that I'm alright, since the traffic was making my usually 5-minute commute into a 45 minute ordeal.  I hung up with Peter and told my taxi driver that my husband told me to "stay in the car."  My taxi driver was so sweet and said, "Don't worry, you are safe.  I will take care of you."

After we finally got to my condominium, he looked at the fee (which had gotten pretty high by that point) and told me that I could pay him whatever I was able and not to worry about the amount if I didn't have enough!  I paid him the full amount and he wished me a great night and "blessings" for my life.

That might have been my final solo taxi ride in Rio, and it was a great way to end the taxi adventures I've had thus far.  

The End


Stay tuned for more taxi stories, some of which are funny, some are sweet, and one that left me incredibly annoyed.


I think the key to having a good conversation with someone in a language you're just learning, is to master the phrase, "I'm learning [language]."  Every time I get in a taxi I say, "Disculpa, estou aprendendo Portugu√™s."  They are instantly thrilled and excited that I'm taking the effort to learn their language and talk to them.  They almost always speak more slowly and clearly, too.

So tell me, am I a weirdo for talking to my taxi drivers?  Do you talk to people you don't know when overseas?



Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Random question

So... this is a random question...

We need to get a credit card as soon as we get back to the States (long story)... and neither of us have had one before.  I believe I've built up some credit through student loans and renting... so I think we'll be able to get one.

So here's my question:  Which credit card should we get?

I've heard so many things about the Amazon credit card, the Southwest Airlines credit card, etc..  There are so many perks and incentives.  Which one do you recommend and why?

Thanks for your input!


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Thoughts on Writing

Before I decided to be a musician, I wanted to be a writer.  I always hoped to someday publish a book or a collection of poems.

I have so many ideas for stories.

But I don't want to write them...

Most of my ideas come from real-life experiences... and in order to write them I will have to remember them.

Writing means to relive the pain... to relive the memories - memories I've spent so long bottling up and hiding away, trying to forget.

Many of the world's greatest writers drew inspiration from real-life.  No wonder most of them suffered from depression and alcoholism - their entire lives were spent with memories...

Memories are dangerous.

Writing scares me because memories scare me.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Bus terminal in Petropolis

The bus terminals in Brazil are very similar to airport terminals, especially the bus terminals in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.  Unfortunately I was only able to get pictures of the bus terminal in Petropolis, which is pretty small and doesn't have the same "airport" feel as the larger terminals.

There were several snack shops, a coffee shop, a drugstore, and a bunch of random shops.

We had an hour and a half to wait, so we had some coffee and snacks and then played a game.  For our game we decided that we had to find the most awesome thing we could get for R$5 and the most ridiculous thing we could get for R$5.  Unfortunately I seem to have lost both of the items.  They were a crocheted necklace with a pouch on the end that had the face of a bear on the front (most ridiculous) and some pyramid-shaped stones (most awesome).

What games do you play while traveling?