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February 2013

Never Give Up!

Bags packed.


24 Hours in Houston!

In retrospect, the missed connection in Houston was the PERFECT start to my vacation, an appropriate set up and learning opportunity for "the way things are in Brazil." It was definitely not the last "missed connection" and I quickly learned from my little sis to "Always have a Plan B!"

Late on Wednesday we were driving around, trying to find the Escadaria de Selaron before it got too dark, my brother-in-law Brian at the wheel (traffic is CRAY-CRAY in Rio!!) and Annie wedged between car seats in the back with the map. The street names are all enormous but on teeny-tiny little signs that you can't see 'til you're right on top of them... and that's too late! Annie was frustrated, at the end of her rope, and declared, "I can't do this. I give up!" To which Addison replied, "Noooooo, Mom! You can't give up! NEVER GIVE UP! You can never give up on your birthday!" (Which it was.) (And she/we didn't.) And that instantly became the theme of my vacation, neatly summing it up in three little words.

Never Give Up. (Great things await!)

* * * * * *

I will certainly be back with much more about my week in Rio, but am a little stressed with so many little things needing attention right now! I am thankful for an unexpected "snow day" today and the opportunity to get caught up on some things at home.

In the meantime, here's a little item I recently found being talked about on the Storey Publishing Facebook wall:


Keep Out!: Build Your Own Backyard Clubhouse: A Step-by-Step Guide

Haha! It's my hubby's book, a labor of love that he's been working on in one form or another for a very long time. It won't be released until April, but is getting some great reviews, and is available for pre-order on Amazon -- in both print and Kindle editions! I'm hoping to snag a copy, at some point, for a give-away or something. Looks like we have another little (book) baby to celebrate in April!

* * * * *

Back soon.  :)

Pao de Acucar (Sugarloaf)

We climbed Morro da Urca and caught the cable car from there to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain.
"Cook in Rio" remains elusive... still on the To Do List.
Originally set to depart on Wednesday, it will instead be Friday!
It's nearly impossible to comprehend that schools are closing early at home because of frigid temps.



Made it!! Internet is spotty (currently posting from the boys' bathroom during mid-night potty break - I'll take it when & where) but I've got it! Almost nothing has gone according to plan. Having an amazingly great time!



Not Rio

Delayed flights and missed connection (by only :15... so frustrating).

One daily flight to Rio.

24 Hours in Houston.

The view from here.

Next up: 9 hours at the airport.

Untitled copy

Another "rainy day" in Rio

This morning's photo:

Two sleeps to Rio -- one in my own bed, one on an aeroplane -- and then I'll be sleeping pool-side, behind the two doors on the right!

The airline just called to tell me that it's time to check in online!

Of course I've known that English isn't spoken much in Brazil, but I realized yesterday that I've actually never been to a non-English speaking country before -- not even Mexico. That prompted me to make doubly sure that I have contact info and back-up contact info, and a Plan C!

I have LOTS to do! I continue to update my lists and reminders, striving to streamline everything, but even so I may start bouncing off the walls soon!

* * * * *

Ten on Tuesday: 10 Tips for Sticking With Your Fitness Routine

1. I don't have 10 tips for this.

2. I don't even have one.

3. Fitness routine?

4. It's the missing component.

5. I've been very satisfied with the results that have occurred in my body over the past 4-5 months by just changing how and what I eat.

6. Last Saturday I was back down to pre-Christmas weight and then some, marking my lowest weight so far on this journey.

7. There's been a lot happening in my life and the lives of people around me, so I'm quite happy right now to limit my focus to the food aspect.

8. I have a gym membership and I know how to use it.

9. I just haven't used it in quite some time.

10. I'm looking forward to spring and hopping back on my bike -- the 30+ pounds I've lost will make that even more fun, I think!


Three sleeps to the wind

Humor me.

It's "3 sleeps to Rio," but mashing it up with "3 sheets to the wind" makes me laugh. I'm not staggering (yet), but may be getting a little punch-drunk!

The extended forecast in Rio, for as far as I can see, is for temps in the 80s (F) and scattered or PM thunderstorms every single day! I was bummed about that for a bit, but the partial sun peeking out from behind the clouds and raindrops made me feel a little better, and I also realized that it also means dramatic weather. I do so love dramatic weather!

Dramatic weather in the mid-Atlantic rainforest? I'll try it!

Annie sent me this morning's photo of the boys in the pool, above, and said that the forecast for today was also rain; it was over by 9 a.m., though, and had been mostly sunny since!

I know the weather can change in an instant, and I'm counting on a little bit of everything -- and trying to prepare.

Meanwhile, after last week's "January thaw," the temp plunged over the weekend and it was cold outside!

I had an outdoor photo shoot tentatively scheduled for Saturday afternoon. It was iffy in the morning, but was better by afternoon and it was a "go." The young woman has been Ali's BFF since high school and she works part-time at the coffee shop. I've taken photos of her family a few times over the past couple of years. Her boyfriend called me to schedule a couple's session - at least that's what he told her - for her birthday. In reality, he was going to propose and I was in on it (and in possession of a HUGE secret)!

I don't think I have to tell you that she said YES!

Or that they're both ridiculously happy.

And also adorable.

LOVE! Ain't it grand?


"I am not the landlord."

Five little words every traveler should know, don't you think? That interesting phrase was among the first I came upon in the free Brazilian Portuguese flashcard app I downloaded the other day. "I am not single." "I am an extrovert." "I am extremely generous." "Is your house far?" "We are joyful and creative." "I am ready."

There are some more useful ones: "I am on vacation in Brazil." "I am at the beach with friends." "I am thirsty."

"The party is in the backyard" is probably the most useful, so far, since I'll actually be going to a Churrasco a week from Saturday!

winter flowers are life-savers, aren't they?

I made a great dinner last night (if I may say so*) and we bid farewell to my niece Jena, who had been visiting for a couple of days, and my sister Ann and her family after their unplanned visit this holiday from Rio de Janeiro. The sweetest part of that, for me, was saying, "See you next week!" when I gave my good-bye kisses. Hello. I cannot wait!! It was fun to show Annie my swim suit -- more fun to actually be OK with the idea of wearing it! I am VERY far from LOVING how I'll look in a swim suit, and I'm sure I'll be the only woman on any beach in Brazil wearing a one-piece (unless you count those possibly wearing one piece) (ha!). The last time I bought swimwear, I successfully avoided the water and returned it to the store on the way home! Anyway, there are certain things/places that Annie's been wanting to do/go that her husband isn't interested in, so it was fun talking about all the things we're going to DO next week! In Brazil!

I love "doing" vacations."

Oh, and that reminds me: Whatever's available and listed in the Make.Do Shop will be up over the weekend, but it'll all come down and the shop will close for a little while. I'll ship any orders on Monday/Tuesday. Things being what they are, priorities have conspired to put dyeing in the back seat of late, but don't worry (or do, it's up to you), I'll be back!

*Roasted Broccoli, Cauliflower & Shrimp

Riffing notes on a favorite recipe from
This quantity will feed a crowd (8-10 adults)

4 lbs. shrimp, raw/thawed & peeled
8 c. (roughly) broccoli & cauliflower florets
Fresh lemon juice
Salt & pepper

Heat oven to 425F. Normally I'd maybe use 3-4 Tablespoons of lemon juice; Mom's not tolerating the acidity of citrus very well, so I used barely a Tablespoon. About a teaspoon each of salt and pepper were combined with the lemon juice, then added to the shrimp and it was all tossed very well.

The original recipe calls for blanching the broccoli, but boiling a huge pot of water for one minute of cooking time seems idiotic to me, so I just loaded up my Pampered Chef 2-Qt. Classic Batter Bowl with veggies (do not add water) and put it in the microwave for about 3 minutes on high. When I do this combo again in the future, I'll cook the broccoli alone for 2-3 minutes and then add the cauliflower for 2-3 more -- the broc needs just a bit more time than the cauli; it was good, but could be better.

Combine the veggies and the shrimp in a large baking pan (I used the 12x15 +/- that I use for roasting tomatoes). The shrimp were larger than I usually use, so I roasted for about 8-10 minutes, removed the pan and stirred it all around, then roasted for another 8-10, until the shrimp are done!

SO easy. There's lots of room for playing around, too, which I love in a recipe. I've been much more adventurous in the seasoning of foods lately, but some things -- like shrimp -- are perfect with nothing but salt and pepper. Yum.

I served it with a bowl of simple mashed sweet potatoes and it all made a very pretty plate.


Ten on Tuesday: Goal!

Ten on Tuesday: 10 Goals for 2013

1. Taking a cue from my sister Sharon, my #1 goal for 2013 is simply TO KEEP IT TOGETHER. I already know that it is going to be an epic, challenging year, full of ups and downs.

2. I will continue TO EXPLORE DIET & NUTRITION. I am gobsmacked at the results I've seen from the changes I made late last year -- from weight loss to the reduction/elimination of pesky physical ailments and problems. Also, the quick bounce-back following my holiday indulgence has been a pleasant surprise. Continuing on this path is a no-brainer for me.

3. I will expand my knowledge TO HELP OTHERS, particularly in terms of their needs, which may or may not be in complete alignment with my own. Everyone is different.

4. One thing that I need to work on for the improvement of my overall health is exercise/fitness, so I vow to RIDE MY BIKE MORE. Due to wedding bells, I will miss the Ride For Nature in Door County this year, but there are more and more bike events, if that's what I want -- I really just want to ride more -- it was fun riding my bike to Knit Night last summer. I found myself, out of the blue, wishing for spring the other day specifically so I could ride my bike!

5. I will also use my fitness center membership more, particularly in the areas of STRENGTH/POWER & YOGA. I believe they'll be opening/moving the yoga studio in a new-to-them historic, wonderful, and more convenient location, and I'll be all over that.

6. I WILL CLEAN OUT & SIMPLIFY. Again. Some more. Ongoing...

7. I will GO TO RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL! I wasn't expecting to see my sister and her family here during the holidays, and certainly wasn't expecting to leave to visit them in Brazil less than a week after their departure, but there you are and here I go. Come what may (and when).

8. With any luck, I will set foot on three continents in 2013, and CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS IN SCOTLAND. Truth be told, I'll be more than happy to celebrate New Year's or any other holiday -- or no holiday -- any time at all -- in Scotland. I just want to go again! Since Kate will be there in school next fall, it makes sense to shoot for then.

9. I will KNIT FINGERLESS GLOVES FOR BRIDESMAIDS & THE BRIDE, AND A WEDDING SHAWL FOR THE BRIDE. And I will not wait until the last minute. In fact, I think I'll go home and wind yarn today!!

10. I will SEE THE FIRST OF MY DAUGHTERS GET MARRIED! Ali's friend Kristin gave her the most adorable wedding-planner binder for Christmas, on the cover it said: Keep Calm and Marry Rod! Crazy, fun, exciting!

* * * * *

Ali and I returned to Al Immig's in Sheboygan last Wednesday to see how my mother's wedding dress turned out after cleaning. It turned out white as snow -- I don't think anyone was expecting that result! The little paint splotch came away without a trace, and there are only a few minor rips and tears to be repaired; the dress has stays in the bodice, which took on a life of their own and will definitely be replaced; the dress will be shortened just a bit. The tailor undid some of my mother's earlier sewing, resulting in "finding" extra fabric here and there, so the fit is much better and it's really not going to be altered all that much. We'll be going back at the end of March!

June's going to come up really fast, isn't it?


As we begin

The last knitting I did in 2012 was a hexagon.

As was the first knitting of 2013, which didn't even occur until a few days in! It's been crazy-busy 'round here.

We had a family get-together at my house on New Year's Eve, and I made my favorite meatballs! I even used the white bread and parmesan cheese called for in the recipe. That little bit of "indulgence," on top of Katie's tortilla wraps, the Wilmar's chocolates, the homemade fudge, and my sister's sugar cookies, not to mention the self-proclaimed caipirinha holidays, was not going to make much of a difference in the grand scheme.

I served the meatballs with some of my Roasted Tomato Sauce and some large specialty pasta (which was easy to avoid), and we also had smoked salmon, various cheeses, sausage, and crackers, along with all of the above and then some.

The scale reflected my indulgent attitude when I stepped on last Saturday morning, as is my custom. I was okay with that, being the holidays. I was mindful of the meals I made, and savored every indulgence without guilt. I also paid the price, once or twice, waking with awful sugar heartburn in the middle of the night -- a little physical reminder of why I'm on this path and, oh my, I haven't missed that particular thing AT ALL.

Today, I'm back on track, losing most of what I'd gained during my holiday week, and feeling great. I'm continuing to explore resources, gather recipes, and am looking forward to doing some cooking.

We had so much fun playing Bananagrams!


I love this "thinking" pose of Mack's. I've seen it a few other times since they've been here.

Is "FECK" a word? It is, according to the Scrabble dictionary, along with FECKLY and FECKLESS!

When we tired of Bananagrams, we started making up our own games, like Jengagrams!



Mike and Judy brought me the little plant in the foreground. It is from a houseplant that was Sharon's and it's been reproducing, so as new plants appear they distribute them throughout the family. I was going to replace my deader-than-a-doornail amaryllis in the Garden Room -- I've coddled it for weeks with NO sign of life -- but WAIT!! Can it be? It's ALIVE!!

(I just ran in and watered them both.)