Just a thought....
Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

Friday, 31 December 2010

Anyone got parsley?

.... for my ears, that is (ref: Asterix the Gladiator)

Text is a little fuzzy, so this is what it says:
Right! I've thought of a way to counter the bard's secret weapon... we all stuff our ears.
With what?
Parsley. There's plenty of it around.
Parsley in my ears? I don't fancy that. I'll feel like something out of a butcher shop.
Now back into ambush! When I give the signal we all attack the bard!
Not up your nose, idiot!
Soon afterwards...
Now.... what shall I sing next?

The neighbours came over earlier to "We hope you don't mind, but we're having a party." Now if we did mind, would that change it? Their speakers are no more than 3 metres away from my chair and they're LOUD. Jurgis and I have given up all hope of conversation. The music is varying between Gaga, rave, rap, some foreign-language stuff that I can't place and punctuated with the other neighbours' fire crackers. It's going to be a Loooong night.

It's a few minutes before midnight here. I managed to clean house somewhat today... at least cleaner than it's been in a while, but there's so much else I wanted to do. I have a couple of blogs in draft. They get started and something more important comes along. Perhaps I'll finish them yet, but I'll be spending the weekend in lesson prep. Yep... back to the grindstone on Monday morning.

Ah... I need a hermitage... and chocolate! They're now singing along very loudly and very badly (they don't remotely know the words) to Everybody's been kung fu fighting. At least the actual song is better than some of the dronk verdriet we've been listening to. Dronk verdriet, by the way, is the kind of music you listen to when drunk and end up crying over your shoelaces.

Eight minutes to go... wonder when the party will wind down...

Happy New Year, my friends!! 2011 is going to be AWESOME!!! Just believe it!

Thursday, 30 December 2010

How to make a caipirinha

I wanted to put the subtitles on the video, but it's proving too complicated. It took me ages just to 'translate' the video.

So... here's what he says:

Hi! How're you? I'm Souza de Veloso here in Vila Mariana, São Paulo. I have an important tip for you, a recipe for caipirinha.

A medium-sized lemon is essential for a good caipirinha. If your lemon is large, use half the lemon. You can use either the galego lime or pink lemon, whichever is better known in your region.

Come along and let's see how to prepare this lovely caipirinha. If you have three people preparing a caipirinha, one will always come out better. I'm going to try that.

Let's go! Here, you can cut off these end parts of the lemon. Then, we can remove this centre part, the famous core of the lemon. Many people say the skin of the lemon is the bitter part of the lemon, but that isn't the case. And here I'm going to slice the lemon thinly, ok?

If your lemon is large, only use half the lemon. If the lemon is medium-sized, use the whole one. Here I will use the whole lemon. Here, in this region, some use the 'longi drinki' glasses or even a juice glass. Or if you don't have one, you can use a medium glass or the glass you most associate with caipirinha - the more traditional glasses used in bars.

And here, two dessert spoons of sugar. Here you crush the sugar and lemon and you don't have to fight with the lemon. It's practically ready. The secret here is the ice - the main thing.

After this, the cane spirit. Many people don't like the aged cane spirit, but I assure you, it will be wonderful. Here we're using a premium cane spirit. It's not that golden, but to drink it neat is very good. So let's stir it like this. As you see, while I'm stirring, you will be able to fit in more ice or more cane spirit. I'm just going to add a touch more cane spirits. Look.

And more ice. With this heat, ice is the main thing. Just look at it! And that's the traditional one... and it's for you, so you're going to have to come here to drink it.


The 'lemon' he is talking about is actually a lime, but here they call them all lemons. It has a different taste, but a lemon can be used if you have no limes on hand. It tastes good with other fruit too.

At the start of the video, you can see the caipirinhas made with various types of fruit. Adjust sugar accordingly, of course. Cachaça is cane spirit. Vodka can be used too - it then becomes a caipiroska.

I had to laugh at his "longi drinki", a corruption of the English 'long drink', obviously. Here they put an 'i' sound at the end of most English words, where the word ends in a consonant. It's just something that amuses me when I'm not teaching it, at which point it becomes frustrating.

For your entertainment, education and edification

Taken from the Sun (the newspaper that seldom posts any real news).

Every loves a bit of trivia - and thanks to hit new Twitter feed OMG Facts, info addicts get a thoroughly researched fix direct to their mobile. Here, Dave Masters has chosen the best... and that's a fact.

The total weight of all the ants on earth is about the same as the weight of all the humans on earth.

Racecar is spelt the same forwards and backwards.

Anatidaephobia is the fear that somewhere in the world, there is a duck watching you.

You can't hum while holding your nose closed.

Typewriter is the longest English word that can be made by using only one row of a keyboard.

Your funny bone is not a bone - it's a really sensitive nerve.

Taurine, an ingredient in the drink Red Bull, originally came from bulls.

Cracking knuckles does not hurt bones or cause arthritis. The sound is gas bubbles bursting.
If you touch your tongue while yawning it can stop the yawn.

Newborn babies cry but have no tears - tear ducts aren't formed until they are a month old.

There are 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 possible configurations to Rubik's Cube.

Dysania is the state of finding it hard to get out of bed in the morning.

The only place you can tickle yourself is the top of your mouth. Try it.

The sound of ET walking was made by someone squishing their hands in jelly.

The longest Monopoly game in history lasted 70 days.

The average person has between 1,460 and 2,190 dreams a year.

Sixty five per cent of people tilt their heads to the right when kissing instead of the left.

On a clear night a burning candle can be seen from 30 miles away.

The most viewed video on YouTube, Justin Bieber-Baby ft Ludacris, has more "dislikes" than "likes".

Pigs can become alcoholics.

Go on.... add your own : )

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Christmas cookies

Not my photo!

1. If you eat a Christmas cookie fresh out of the oven, it has no calories because everyone knows that the first cookie is the test and thus calorie free.
2. If you drink a diet soda after eating your second cookie, it also has no calories because the diet soda cancels out the cookie calories.
3. If a friend comes over while you're making your Christmas cookies and needs to sample, you must sample with your friend. Because your friend's first cookie is calories free, (rule #1) yours is also. It would be rude to let your friend sample alone and, being the friend that you are, that makes your cookie calorie free.
4. Any cookie calories consumed while walking around will fall to your feet and eventually fall off as you move. This is due to gravity and the density of the caloric mass.
5. Any calories consumed during the frosting of the Christmas cookies will be used up because it takes many calories to lick excess frosting from a knife without cutting your tongue.
6. Cookies coloured red or green have very few calories. Red ones have three and green ones have five - one calorie for each letter. Make more red ones!
7. Cookies eaten while watching "Miracle on 34th Street " have no calories because they are part of the entertainment package and not part of one's personal fuel.
8. As always, cookie pieces contain no calories because the process of breaking causes calorie leakage.
9. Any cookies consumed from someone else's plate have no calories since the calories rightfully belong to the other person and will cling to their plate. We all know how calories like to CLING!
10. Any cookies consumed while feeling stressed have no calories because cookies used for medicinal purposes NEVER have calories. It's a rule!

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Christmas and ghosts of the past

The ghost of Christmas present...

I woke up this morning to a call from Hamish. It was lovely hearing his voice and hearing of his plans for next year. Coming through, I was greeted by kisses and hugs from Jurgis and Romany (it's beneath Specs' dignity to show affection when no offerings have been proffered)... and a surprise at my desk!

Jurgis had snuck out early when all of Brazil was still fast asleep (including myself) after fireworks had continued into the wee hours of the morning to Steal my Christmas present. Yes... the ultimate romantic thief! Isn't it pretty? He swore blind that the blooms he cut (they would have been carefully cut to enhance further growth on the bushes - he's fussy that way) were outside the property.

The last time he did that, we were still dating. He'd stolen a rose from the neighbours for my birthday. That brought back memories : )

While looking for this photo, I found other photos, which had me thinking of people loved so much and long gone. My almost-Christmas baby - the reason we stopped celebrating... a photo of Hamish holding her. Ouma and Jurgis' dad, both laughing in the same photo - a very rare occurrence.

A little later, I called Tat and we switched to Skype. I met the family she is staying with. What nice people. They've included her beautifully in their entire Christmas tradition. It was fun meeting the gran in her red sequinned dress, looking very glam, I might add... and the dad who enjoyed sharing child-torment stories with Jurgis... and mom who was bustling in the background with dinner preparations. The girls were a joy too. Tat showed me the gifts she got. She's been spoiled. I'm glad : )

In the excitement of calling Tat, I forgot to put the turkey in the oven, so that went in later.... a good thing really. We had a light lunch of quiche while we waited. Of course, the day would not be complete without a kitchen disaster. I managed to scorch the cauliflower and marrows. Luckily, I could cut off the burnt bits and drown them in cheese sauce. Aside from the newly-named dish of 'smoky cauliflower and marrows', I made our usual green beans, roast potato, roast onion and, of course, the turkey. The green beans are interesting. I found a recipe many years ago for "American green beans". I have since learned that these are not exactly American per se. The beans are lightly cooked in garlic and salt. They're then tossed with bacon and olives - I use olive oil, as I have no olives on hand. Very scrummy!

The ghost of Christmas present...

I have absolutely no photos of my childhood Christmases, probably because they were such.. uh... interesting times. Ouma was, and still is, known for her dinners. It's one of the few things the entire family has always agreed on. She was an exceptional cook. Any meal with her was a time to fill up to overflowing with all things good and delicious. Christmas consisted of cold ham, tongue, carrot salad, potato salad, rice salad, asparagus salad, a leafy green salad. For dessert, there was always trifle... ooooooh for some trifle! Christmas cake too and usually ice cream. Oh and always a granadilla fridge tart!

The day is fading now, replete with good feelings and general post-turkey laziness. It's hot... really hot. Even Romany didn't want to get up to take a bone. We're lying draped over our chairs. Jurgis is busy reinstalling his drive. Luckily, he actually enjoys that. The fan is working hard at circulating the hot air. I think we may go to bed early tonight. Looking at this photo, I see Romany is starting to show his age. For the first time, he actually looks like an ageing dog. His black 'n tan Rottie muzzle is showing substantial white now. Jurgis' foot makes a good pillow ; )

Hope your Christmas day was good - or whatever you celebrated today, even if that was just life : )

Friday, 24 December 2010


I went to take the tuna quiche out of the oven and decided I was invincible.... no oven gloves. Go me. Both hands... full finger burn. Blast! It's feeling better now, but I'm sooo annoyed with myself!

I'm being eaten alive by blood-sucking helicopters. My 'measles' matches my red nails. The look is just so 'in', you know.

Jurgis' pc died. Yep. Just like that. He couldn't boot up at all, even with a different boot up drive. Then it resuscitated, so he's formatting now. I'm just grateful there's life there.

I think Eet-sum-mors need to be dunked into Ricoffy. It doesn't taste the same with Nescafé.

Omg omg omg!

I went into the village this morning. First stop.... Post office. A 5kg package was waiting! Hamish, thank you!!! Thank you!! We're overwhelmed! A box of SAn goodies (for those who don't know, it is impossible to get any South African goodies here in Brazil). The miracle here is that customs sent the package through without opening. This box would have been nailed by them. We wouldn't have smelt it at all. Why? Biltong!!! Oh those customs guys don't know what they missed out on!!! Biltong is the one thing they Always stop! We got, not one, but TWO packets of biltong... and one packet was kudu biltong! One expat family in the throws of biltong ecstasy! *grins*

And Romany Creams... and Eet-sum-mors and marshmallows (for those who missed the post, we can get them here now, at a mortgage-the-house rate of $8 per bag). Wine! A shiraz from Perdeberg winery... the Perdeberg has a special significance for Hamish. And Simba peanuts and no less than two humungous slabs of Cadburys chocolate! *droool* I'm making no dessert tomorrow *laugh*

The supermarkets were an ant's nest today. No room to move. The queues went down the isle with the usual people keeping places while others did the shopping. I put on my ipod with Christmas music and stood grinning at everyone. What else can you do? I felt so sorry for the cashiers and packers... and the shop floor packers and cleaners. It's a tough day's work for them.

A police helicopter has been flying low over our road for the past hour or so. Wonder who or what they're looking for.

They've been letting off those big bang crackers for two days now.... tomorrow will be worse... then the buildup to New Year. Eh. I have a few creative suggestions for the use of those crackers. The poor animals are jittery.

Uh yes... and I painted my nails last night... a rare event (especially in fire-engine red) and therefore photo worthy =Þ

I'm missing Tat *sigh*

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Merry Christmas

I know many of you are travelling or going offline at this point, so...

Joy is our theme for Christmas this year,
a joy you can find deep inside you regardless of your circumstances.
As a family, we want to wish you and your family a season of Joy,
a time filled with love and much laughter.

Merry Christmas! May your 2011 be a year of Happiness.
Jurgis, Corrianne & Tatiana

A beautiful story of giving, snowflakes and angels

By the Chobani family - apparently yoghurt : )

A much better high quality version of this vid can be seen on their site:

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Apologies for not visiting pages. Our internet has come to a grinding halt. This page is half-loaded, the inbox won't load at all and I can't load my blog page =(

I think it might be Christmas

I say "it might be" because, if you look around here, there are very few signs of Christmas. So few people have decorated.

And we got two Christmas cards... one more than last year *laugh* Henrique sent us a lovely card with a freshly-taken photo inside. Wonderful! We keep nagging them for photos. The American cousins sent a fancy gilt-laden card with something written inside that is going to need an interpreter. Oh and we got a postcard from Tat from her Lithuanian jaunt. That means that if Christmas stuff is headed our way, we may well get it in time for St Patrick's Day. I hope folk get our cards before then!

And this from Jurgis... I'd seen it before, but it's worth a chuckle.

Christmas Eating Tips

1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Holiday spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. It's rare. You cannot find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Holiday party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the centre of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple, Pumpkin, Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labour Day?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards. (What?? Avoid fruitcake?? *cries*)

10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Re-read tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner.

And now for something truly silly...

So... there's my randomness for the day. My student cancelled. Actually, no, she didn't cancel. I called to confirm, only to find that she was travelling. Nice of her to tell me. I'm not in the least disappointed though, as our temperature is 32ºC (90ºF or thereabouts) and thunder-stormy. My little world has become a sauna... just for a change. Not nice bus weather.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Foggy and damp

The coffee's broken... out of order... not working. It is Not Working!! I can't think or see straight. Yes, I completed a sentence, but my inability to count right now stops me telling you how many times I had to backspace.

Last night, I started an awesomely profound blog. I looked at it this morning and went, "Huh?" I may complete it later.

I have 3 classes tomorrow. I have absolutely no idea what to do with them, other than sit there going, "Huh?"  I think I'm one level above needing to be spoonfed. My siren... I mean... bed is calling.

I was looking for an image for this blog. Did you know there's a condition called Brain Fog?  I think I have it. In fact, I think that if I had the ability to know something, I'd know I had it. The dog agrees, but then, I think he agrees with everything as long as there's a treat following.

I think it says something when I was looking up 'brain fog', I read 'brain frog'. The I idly wondered what a 'brain frog' would look like. Lordy help me.... Google even has that!!

Uh... so where was I? Trying to find a vital thought I simply know I had. *reads blog* Oh yes... I need to prepare lessons. HELP!!

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Who is your friend?

Totally not my photography, just in case you needed to ask ; )

Really. Who do you call a friend? Is it the person who chats to you every day? Is it the one who always comments on your blogs? Or perhaps sends you a Christmas card? Is it the one you pop out for coffee with? Perhaps it's the one you share your deepest secrets with... or uncontrollable laughs. Is your friend the one you can call when things are looking dark? Do you call your friend when things are looking good? What about when you think the friend needs you? Do you call? Or wait to be called. I could go on a long time here : ) 

Thing is, friendships shift and change and brighten and fade.... kaleidoscopic colours adding prisms of beauty to our lives.

Have you ever looked into a kaleidoscope and watched the colours change, seemingly in endless layers? It doesn't take much movement to create new prisms of colour, shifting, changing... constantly changing. When friendships fade, it hurts... very much, but I'm grateful for the richness of colour they gave my life. New friendships are fun to explore, discovering their depth and getting comfortable with their hues.

When I was a young girl, I dreamt of having a 'best friend forever'. As a teen, that longing just intensified with the usual teen angst. By the time I grew up and looked around at all my friends and their respective 'best friends', I had missed that particular boat - regular moving around saw to that. Well, I wasn't really alone. I found myself married and creating a new and very special friendship with my daughters... and husband, of course. In later years, my daughter was to become that elusive 'bff'. That will never change. It's the one friendship that strikes a very deep chord in me for a thousand reasons. It's also colourful, shifting and changing as we each grow. Luckily our bond is tighter than a regular friendship.

The friendships I wanted to mention here are somewhat more intangible, something we don't see very often and can often wait a whole lifetime to experience. They don't usually stick around for a long time either, though sometimes they do.

The top image was so perfect to illustrate what I wanted to say in a most unusual way. A little while back, I reached out to a number of friends, asking for help. Help came, but in a very unexpected way. It came through friends, yes... then it came through friends of friends... and the net widened to include friends of those friends. A chain was formed. I had people writing to me who were referred by a friend who knew a friend who received an email or call from a friend I wrote to. I heard from friends I hadn't heard from in a long time. I heard from total strangers who are now friends. For those dying to know, Tat will be staying with people who I already know are wonderful people (just the fact that they're opening their home to a total stranger), are South African and even come from the same neighbourhood we did!! Yes, Katey... they're from Hillcrest! ♫ It's a small world after all... ♫

Anyway, the point I was trying to make with this is that we never know where friendship will come from, be it made of the sturdy day-to-day stuff of sharing life's moments or a previously unimagined distant connection that fits so well. I want to thank all of you who responded... from the bottom of my heart. It meant the world to me!

Ps. Katey, while I was looking for a kaleidoscopic image, I found something you can use with your kidlets that looks like huge fun! Kaleidoscopic milk!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

I'm dreaming of a wet Christmas

 Our river here broke its banks between yesterday and the night before. Things are a little soggy. I'm thoroughly enjoying the cooler weather though. I even baked some cookies! Shortbread over-browned - blegh - but the spice biscuits came out beautifully. It was less than fun making them though, as my co-baker isn't here. Most are being bagged to gift, though I'm quite sure HRM will do damage to them all if I left him to it.

I had some Santa success yesterday!! Last week, I did a lesson around Santa with MF, but she was unimpressed. She knew her parents delivered her gifts to her grandparents' home where they always opened them. I got her to write her letter to Santa anyway, which she did with much sulking and very begrudgingly. The only way to keep her going was to Google her 'wishes'. Now that got her excited.

I found an awesome site online where you can print and 'send' a reply to the kid from Santa. The trouble is, the letter mentions Santa going on to a 'friend' and names the friend. Now I'm useless with names and couldn't remember her friends, so I asked Tat, who happily obliged (she taught MF before I got her - that girl has a prodigious memory!). We just had to hope that the kids were still friends. I took my chances.

When I arrived at MF's home, she had a picture she had drawn of 3 girls with names next to them. I looked and said, with bated breath, "Are these your friends?" No, was the answer. They were just characters from a TV series. Whew! "Who are your friends then?" Counting off on her fingers, she started, "Gabrielle, João.... and others," she said with a shrug. "Others?" I wanted to know. Yes... others. She obviously has too many to mention. A grin spread over her face though. "Look what I got!" and she stuck her letter from Santa under my nose (I had left it with the security guard with instructions to put it in among their mail). Then she told me all about her letter and what was inside. She's convinced Santa must be real and all-seeing, as he knew her friend! I hoaxed a kid, so sue me - to quote Marty. Apparently dad said it must be Corrianne who sent the letter, but the whole friend thing threw her, as she knew I didn't know her friend. I'm happy : )

I made myself a Christmas present... a notebook for the new year. Some of you may recognise the photos on the front and back cover. The paper was scrap I had lying around.

Jurgis' Christmas present will doubtless be the baking of another batch of biscuits. He doesn't use notebooks. What else does one make for a guy anyway?

Sunday, 05 December 2010

This stunning photography can be yours!

This is the photography of my very dear friend and positively spectacular photographer, Kippy. If you're in Nevada, she's the go-to person for portraits too! These photos are wonderful for your own wall or as gifts. She's a perfectionist, so trust me when I say what you get will be well worth it.

If you're not into ordering any of the photos, do browse through them anyway. Stunning!

PS. She'll ship internationally.