Thursday, April 29, 2010
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
I often get asked by Brazilians to explain the difference between a cupcake and a muffin. I usually start by saying that it is more common to eat muffins at breakfast. But then I remember that Brazilians often eat cake for breakfast. And aren't cupcakes little cakes? So then I go the fruit and nuts route. Until I remember my strawberry and hazelnut cupcake recipes. So I have decided to sum it up by saying that I wouldn't frost a muffin. And I would never let a sprinkle touch one either. And I feel so much better...no matter the eggs, sugar, and flour in the recipe. A muffin is a muffin and a cupcake is a cupcake.
And a banana muffin made from the easiest one bowl recipe ever? Delicious. I never throw away my blackening bunch. Because this recipe is so fast. You can usually start and finish it before your toddler notices you aren't paying attention to her/him.
3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup melted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
Preheat your oven to 350F/180C. Pour the hot butter over your mashed bananas. Mash some more. Add the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Keep on mashing. Spread the baking soda and salt across the the mixture. Stir well. Add the flour. Pour the mixture into a greased cake pan or a muffin pan. Bake until your house starts to smell scrumptious. Today it was 35 minutes. But when you see they are golden around the edge and your knife comes clean, they are ready. If you want to get fancy put some dehydrated banana slices on top (before baking). And if you want and even lovelier smelling home, sprinkle some cinnamon on top (before baking).
And, by the way, mine are happily perched atop some new cupcake--err muffin--pedestals. These ceramic gems came out of the kiln yesterday. They are beautiful Heloisa!
Georgia put her school uniform on and pranced around the living room like a bird with new feathers. It seems she has already learned some new dance moves at school. And we headed to preschool in a burst of enthusiasm.
Again, I spied out of eyesight. And today Georgia participated more. She answered questions during story time. I had to laugh out loud when the teacher asked the class, "who is standing next to the little girl?" (Classes are in English.) And instead of saying a little boy, Georgia said a little guy. I think the class learned a new word today. And I realized how often I say cute little guy, nice little guy etc. She really shined during Rain, Rain, Go Away. How many cloud cookies and raindrop cookies have we decorated singing that tune at home?
Speaking of cookies...they baked soy chocolate chip ones today. It really is a school I'd like to attend. The teacher told me Georgia insisted on saving one for me. I think little G would like me to add something new to my cookie repertoire. And, by the way, they sent the recipe home in her little satchel.
It was a great day. Upon departure, I was told that my little girl is really well adjusted. They suggested I just drop her off tomorrow--no need to lurk in the corridors! And I happily strolled her home with the smile of a pleased parent. The smile was short lived. Unfortunately the minute we stepped inside our apartment, Georgia's well adjusted demeanor melted faster than an M&M in the sun. Another tantrum. A big one. It came out of nowhere. Georgia's dinner landed in my hair. I am certain the school would not recognize this little girl. And I am trying to understand that she must be going through a lot of emotions these days and is very overtired from the new routine. Naturally, (as a mother) she thinks it is all my fault. But didn't she want to save me a cookie? The storm subsided quicker than the previous night and bedtime was much smoother. But still, I was unnerved.
I suppose the most encouraging part of the tantrum was that she was extremely upset that the "spilled" dinner was all over her school uniform too. She didn't want to take it off. So I am hopeful. And we will be back at it tomorrow. And yes, I am just dropping her off--my well adjusted angel.
Monday, April 26, 2010
It isn't the beginning of the school year or even a new semester but Georgia started pre-school (afternoon session) today. I don't know if the impetus was her hugging other children at the Club during our morning outings and not letting them go or the fact that, on occasion, I let her eat too many sprinkles in the afternoon when I was trying to be a good mom and work from home. Anyway, something clicked and Felipe and I decided the time was right. Right now. Luckily, we found a flexible little school that emphasizes the Brazilian and American culture. It seems like an extension of our home (especially since it is a fifteen minute walk) and, most importantly, offers a loving environment and lots of good stimulus for an active little girl (music, capoeira, gardening, cooking--can i go?).
This week is "adaptation week." In other words, I am inside the school building spying on and an arms reach away from little G. Today went so well. She knew all the little songs, played a mean tambourine, and barely asked for me. The director of the school thought she might need just one more day of adaptation. Could it be true? But Is she adapted? Am I? (You knew that was coming.) Well we did have a little (big) melt down (tantrum) tonight at bedtime. But I think she was overtired.
So I am hopeful (and somewhat "adapted"). Tomorrow I am putting her in the school uniform.
Wish us luck!
Friday, April 23, 2010
I went to bed last night with my backpack sitting by the door and my Google map printed. First thing this morning I headed to São Paulo's infamous street 25 de Março (March 25th), an enormous commercial area in the center of town. Many Paulistanos (São Paulo natives) avoid this area. It used to be the commercial center of the city in the 30's and some of the historical buildings still remain (incredible architecture). But for the most part it is crowded, dirty, and confusing. I love it. You can find absolutely everything you need for crafting. Plus there is just tons of junk you don't and do need--costume jewelry, housewares, shoes, bootlegged designer wear, costumes. Just name something and, well, it is there. Best of all, it is at least half the price of the same product in a more upscale neighborhood. But you have to go with stamina and a discerning eye (BTW, don't dress nicely and keep your money close in a fanny pack). But it is worth it. For something you buy at vinte-cinco really takes on another value-added dimension when you get it out of vinte-cinco. (i.e. cheap can look expensive)
I went with a pretty strict list of items needed for an upcoming party--otherwise I know I'd lose my day wandering. On the list: grosgrain ribbon, fabrics, felt, paint, pillow stuffing, and colored steel buckets. And I also did something many Paulistanos avoid: I walked there. And I took the bus back home. I live in a town that does not have many pedestrians. Cars, cars, cars and traffic, traffic, traffic. Public transportation is pretty lousy. And, in third world countries (this will take a whole other post and will not sound politically correct) buses are the primary mode of transport for those who cannot afford a car. But I hate to drive. And I love to walk. I would have come back on foot if I didn't have so much loot to haul. Because, by the way, a huge traffic jam (a bomb threat downtown--don't ask) halted traffic. It took me 1 hour and 20 to get there on foot and 2 hours and 20 (sitting in a bus thinking about my time away from Georgia) to get home.
With the exception of a random costume shop (Snow White for little G), I stuck to my list and only visited three of the more than 1,500 shops:
Malhuy Tecidos - 100% cotton fabric prints
Rei do Armarinho - Ribbon, notions, and craft heaven
Aycrem - Felt
I'd love any other tips on 25/3. Do share.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
I asked for a freezer for my birthday. I chose one online and danced with joy over the internet purchase: holy cookie dough and meal planning, hurray.
But then I got depressed that I asked for a freezer (even if it is frost free). When Felipe and I got married I told him that I never wanted any presents that plugged in--not ever. But I used to store accessories in my kitchen cabinets, too.
So today when I was rushing to a meeting with my notes, menus, and swatches in a polka-dotted backpack, I created a luxury wish list. We'll start by replacing the rucksack with the leather satchel. I'll take the one above.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
I slowly counted out 39 candles this afternoon. I had to open two packages.
I haven't planned anything for the last year of my thirties. In fact, it has been a while since I celebrated my own birthday.
I simply prefer commemorating the birth date of others.
I'm happy that way.
But next year?
Could be a party...
Thank you to all the incredible people in my lives for the well wishes! xo
Monday, April 19, 2010
I'm hoping to host/create a baby shower with books as the theme. Forget bringing diapers, bring a book and build junior's library. I'm imagining the cookies I could build around the classics and Caldecott winners. The best illustrations are lovingly nestled inside children's books. I found Little Red Riding Hood in the Society of Illustrator's Competition. Sweet.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
When I am down, I usually bury myself in busy. I try not to think too much. And I am rather awful at commiserating with others. I hide. So this week, I have been throwing all my energy into Georgia and my work. It's been a great mental eraser--except the cutout cookie shapes of cats (urgh) and Georgia asking where her pet is every morning. (Haven't quite figured out how to deal with that yet--she is only two, after all.)
Anyway, I've frosted, baked, and sewn my brains out--and for a good reason. I am going to be participating in a little bazaar with friends. Mariana will be selling incredible hand painted (shibori technique) leggings and Joy has charming and hip little clothes for boys mostly (an under-tapped market, I'd say...). So if you are out and about on Friday or Saturday, you can find us at Rua Al. Lorena, 1986 from noon to seven.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
My keyboard is salty with tears and my heart hollow. Our Bogart is gone. He stuck with us through too many apartment changes in NYC and traveled across the ocean to learn Portuguese--a cultured cat...a gentle friend.
I cannot believe that tomorrow he won't roll around on his belly when he hears our key turn in the lock. I'd love the chance to shove him off my belly in frustration..."BOOOOOOGARRRRTTT" when I am sleeping at night. How will Georgia understand the loss of her companion? He never even got jealous when she arrived home from the hospital. And my husband? He lost his best friend today.
You won us all over Bogart. You were with me when Felipe entered my life. You forgave him when he slept with a spray bottle under his pillow to keep you from snuggling with him in bed. (Because, of course, he eventually made room for you, too.) You let us lift your arms above your head to cheer and carry you across our shoulders like a sack of potatoes. You never complained--so docile and sweet. Man's best friend, you could fetch like a dog. I'd give you all my elastic hairbands if I could just have you back. I'm certain all our friends (and my students) would be happy to let you search their bags and lay on their exercise mats while they tried to do push-ups. Because you won over everyone's hearts. Whomever had a cat aversion would say in the next breath--except Bogart.
There was really only one you. Born on the 11th of September 2001--a ball of purring love on a tragic day.
We'll miss you Bow-gie.
Monday, April 12, 2010
My kitchen nearing midnight:
2 loafs of sourdough
4 recipes of chocolate roll-out cookies
6 recipes of tinted shortbread dough
I had to breathe deeply when Felipe came home from work after his own long day (11pm). "What's for dinner?" Since we polished off yesterday's luncheon leftovers midday, I almost suggested microwave popcorn but made the famous refrigerator omelet (throw what is in the fridge together with eggs) instead. Being a good wife is hard sometimes.
How cranky was I when I discovered after that I was an egg short on my last recipe?
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Georgia is two. I cannot believe it. It is all going so fast. I wish I could freeze her at this age for just a little longer. I'm loving our big girl conversations. But I am loving that she still likes to be carried and wears those snuggle bug pajamas with feet. She's so innocent and happy--happy with a small party at home.
I felt guilty not having a little bash organized--especially considering I spend a good part of my time obsessing over every other kid's birthday party. But we just got back from the States (which was a present in itself). I still reserve the right for a possible gathering this month. But this is what we did today.
As of 10 am I still hadn't decided a thing. I did have a little cake baked and was contemplating Sunday night pizza with my in-laws and some cake...that's it. But around 11 am I decided to have lunch at home with them instead. I ran to the supermarket and prepared pecan-crusted chicken, asparagus risotto and salad. I figure next year Georgia will not like this menu...so I took advantage. I hunted around in my office for some decorations. A few streamers and flowers later: a garden party. Perfect. Georgia loved it. It didn't matter that the guest list was six. She partied like it was a packed kiddie buffet.
I think the presents and sprinkles on the cake helped. Grandpa and Grandma, after seeing the video, bought her a keyboard. (Rumor has it that Grandpa insisted Mozart didn't have some little toy piano.) And as the evening comes to an end and I lay out this evenings footed pj's pre-bath, I realize this little party may have just been just exactly what we needed.
Happy Birthday dear daughter. You brighten our lives. xo
Thank you to my family in the States. We missed you so much today....
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Today is a monumental day for me. And this is a heartfelt post--no cupcakes, no cookies. And if I divulge too much, forgive me for my lack of discretion.
Georgia was officially weaned today. Felipe just carried her off to bed for the first time in two years. She fell asleep "tear-free" and without me, snuggled up against her Daddy watching a princess DVD--my prince and my princess.
When G was a little over a year, Felipe asked me if I didn't think it was time to wean. In my heart, I didn't believe it was. So I printed everything I could find on the subject, including the World Health Organization's support of breastfeeding until two (I figured that would convince him.). And I asked him to read the material. If he still believed I should stop, I would support his decision. My dear husband read the materials and encouraged me to keep on going but only until two. Not only did he give me 100% of his support and all of his encouragement, I truly believe he was rather proud of me.
Georgia is going to be two tomorrow. As promised, we've met our goal. And, to be honest, I was worried our special bond would be threatened. But yesterday, at random, my daughter hugged me and declared, "I love you too much." Weaning a two year old was a challenge but probably easier than a one year old. My girl understands. She proudly declares that she is going to be two. And in the next breath says, "no more boo, Georgia big girl."
So for those of you struggling with breastfeeding. If you want to persevere, stick with it and be stubborn. For me the beginning was more difficult than labor but soon became my best ally--and one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. And, most importantly, this little essay isn't meant to only exalt those who breastfeed their babies or their toddlers. Each mother's situation is a unique one. It is a very personal choice.
So today, I exalt motherhood....my daughter and my supportive husband. xo
I was a bit worried while I was in the USA about the possibility of Andre's arrival and not being able to be there to bake the cookies and cakes. I do have capable assistants but I am a bit of a worry wart. So I checked my emails every day to see if Pity was going into labor...and nothing. Relief.
Well...no sooner did I step off the plane and into my own shower (with the hopes of a nap after an exhaustive journey) than my text message flashed..."I'm on my way to the hospital." It seems Andre wanted me to mix the cake batter!
I think this big little guy (3.8 kilos) is going to love a good celebration. Because it seems that 750 mini cookies and 50 cupcakes were just not enough! Another SMS this morning and 60 more cakes off to the maternity ward. Have I mentioned that Brazil is a social country?
Welcome Andre! Congratulations Pity!
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Perhaps the need for pretty stems from our week post germ-box (airplane). So far my daughter has had: hives (emergency room visit), diarrhea (sorry can't think of a better word), a hacking cough, and a very snotty nose. And I have had it all...all over me. And my nose is red and raw, too.
So I need some pretty. And when I look at my selection it all sort of well accessorizes itself in that romantic nook. Even though I can't really imagine myself all sprawled out, rosy-cheeked, and calm. But it is a nice thought.
We are back on the plane tomorrow, after all.
Monday, April 5, 2010
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Aside from the religious aspect, the Easter tradition in Brazil and the United States are quite different. The Bunny uses many of the same tools, namely chocolate and eggs. But the presentation is quite different. And since we are in the States at Easter time this year, G (with the help of Grandpa Bill and Grandma Kelly) is getting a lesson in the ways of the American Rabbit.
1. We colored a bunch of Easter Eggs and discovered if you write on them with a white crayon before dipping into the dyes, your name may magically appear. And, by the way, hard boiled eggs are not as tasty as chocolate ones.
2. Instead of a filled chocolate egg (Brazil) the American Bunny leaves a basket full of candy and even a toy or two. And if you wake up at 5 am to see your treats, your Grandpa will let you eat candy for breakfast.
3. The Easter Bunny likes to hide eggs around the yard. The morning dew didn't stop the hunt. And the bounty was plentiful this year--even if the dog interfered.
The morning is long when you get up at dawn and a nap is necessary before Easter Brunch. It's hard to imagine the whole rest of the day is still Easter.
Happy Easter! Feliz Pascoa!
Thanks Dad, Kelly, Trace, and Tessa. We are having a wonderful visit!
Miss you Daddy!