Friday, March 30, 2012

When good recipes don’t come out as we expect it

Pin It
Checking out my Kind Diet cook book, I got a hunger for this recipe:

I don’t think words are necessary to explain why I thought this would be yummy. However, I did not have the ingredients I  needed. Instead of azuki beans, I used normal Brazilian beans (‘carioca’) and used my pressure cooker because we know how to cook beans down here.

My recipe did not come out as expected. It softened the beans too much and it came out as a soup (sorry, I don’t have a picture of it). Needless to say, I was quite upset about getting it wrong. I always do this- my recipes never come out as they should. Bummed.

And then, my hubby tried it (I was quite unwilling, it didn’t look nearly as appetizing!) and was blown away. He said it was the best bean soup he ever had- HA!

So I have learned three recipes so far, but I finally learned that there are times we need to let it go, and adapt to what we can have for dinner. As long as its yummy, who cares whether it looks like the book?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Play dough recipe

Pin It

I work in an early education school, and if I had to pick one item that is sure to be a crowd pleaser ages 2 through 5, I would have to say PLAY DOUGH! It never ceases to amaze me how the younger ones are fascinated by its tactile quality, while the older ones can get into some quite elaborate narrative over it.

To make it even more fun, you can make play dough at home. Online, one can search and find tons of recipes which involve elaborate items or some cooking time, but I prefer the simpler version. Here is what most schools I know use as a play dough recipe:

1 cup of flour
1 cup of boiling water
2 tablespoons of cream of tartar
1/2 cup of salt
1 tablespoon of oil

Just mix all ingredients. To make it more fun, add some food colouring! Make sure you are careful if a child is helping you, as the boiling water makes the mixture very hot!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

People's basic needs

Pin It

Yesterday I mentioned some of dogs’ basic needs, so I figured it would be suiting to mention people’s needs when they live with dogs. Because it’s fun and games, but its not all happy smiles at times.

If you are like me, when you’ve watched The Dog Whisperer you’ve noticed dogs have very little part of the blame, and poor Cesar Millan is stuck dealing with people’s issues that affects dogs. So here are some ideas to help if you have dogs around the house and is about to go insane.

Know what your dog needs. If you have a puppy, he will have tons of energy. If your dog is alone at home all day, he will be quite bored. If your dog is old, he’ll need to exercise but won’t want to. It’s not smart to leave your dog unattended all day, avoid walking him in the evening and still get mad if he chews through your shoes.


Be prepared. When my husband and I adopted our first dog, Jack, we figured we could do it. We both had had dogs in the past, and it would be easy-peasy. Not so much. We had  a major potty training issue. People told us to use a rolled up newspaper to threaten him, put his nose right up to the pee and say a firm ‘NO’, and even hit him, which we weren’t willing to do. Nothing worked. In fact, it made it worse! Jack started going out of his way to hide where he peed. Finally we broke down and hired an online dog trainer, and in two days (I’m not joking!) he had learned where to go.

Dog-proof your house. Whether you buy a doggie gate, place sheets on your furniture or get all your knick-knacks out of their reach, do what you need to adapt it to your dog. I know many Americans who leave their dogs in cages the whole day and claim they love it. I’m not judging, but I don’t find it cool at all. So my couch has a permanent bed sheet on top, which only comes out when visitors come to our house.

It’s a dog, not a baby. I’m guilty of this one. I want to cuddle, hug and pet my dogs all the time. But I restrain myself. When they tried to climb onto the couch or my lap uninvited, I made a point of moving them down, even if I wanted them there. I saw through the puppy eyes at the dinner table and now they don’t even care for our meals. The firmer you are, the easier it will be latter on.  

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dog’s basic needs

Pin It

Having a dog is fun and lightens the mood around the house. A dog, however, is no toy and has lots of physical, financial and emotional needs. Here are some things to consider before getting a dog, or to reconsider whether your current dog’s needs are being met:

Dogs need fresh water and shade. Always. It is also good to have some cool flooring for the summer time, as well as fans or AC available for your pup. Certain breeds feel the heat more than others, so if you live in a hot climate, make sure you check before you buy or adopt. The water should be clean and fresh, which means washing the water bowl daily and replacing the water often.

Dogs need a shelter. They are like us, and don’t dig the cold or rain. Your dog should have a space to stay in either of these situations. My puppies have blankets that they love to cuddle with during the winter, and it’s not a bad idea to have a doggie house, since they usually love the  feeling of their own space.


Dogs pee and poop, and sometimes, even throw up. Sounds ridiculous, but amazingly some people get frustrated with having to pick up after their dogs, as if their natural necessities were their faults. If you don’t have enough space for them to ‘go’ when you are not in the house, consider potty training them onto ‘doggie diapers’ so you don’t find unwelcomed surprises around the house.

Dogs need walks. Depending on the breed, age and dog, they can be very active. Some are not active at all, but need  the exercise. Having a dog means walking every day, ideally twice a day. If your dog is hyper around the house, consider longer walks to burn off some energy.

Pet stores+ vet visits = expensive! In our house, our dogs are our babies. Therefore, we don’t think twice about their needs. However, if the idea of dishing some hard earned cash whenever your pooch needs some special care makes you cringe….get some fish. No, your dog does not need clothes and designer carriers, but basic needs add up!

Dogs need love. If none of the other items made you change your mind, think about how much time you have to devote to your dogs. Dogs are needy animals. If you cannot be bothered, look for another pet. This does not mean you can’t have a dog if you have a full-time job, but it does mean your puppy will be expecting some well-earned attention when you get home.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Kind Diet’s Summer Succotash

Pin It
You might have read around here that I have been attempting to cook. Today I would like to share with you a vegan recipe that pleased my husband, who is not into veggies: The Kind Diet’s Summer Succotash:

I love lima beans, but they are not well known in Brazil. Maybe it’s because we are serious about our beans and have quite a few of them. When I saw the canned imported lima beans on the grocery store shelf, I couldn’t care less about conservatives and the other stuff they put in cans to make it last long, I just craved for some lima loving that would remind me of good ol’ Georgia.

As always, I gave my own twist onto the recipe. First, because we don’t have vegan butter around. But also because I am just picky like that:

Julie’s Summer Succotash


-lima beans



-red onions

-garlic, olive oil, salt and black pepper to taste


-chopped parsley

Heat the olive oil and garlic, add the onions until soft. Add the lima beans first, the corn after a while and the tomatoes last. Sprinkle some chopped parsley and vinegar when you are done.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Project Simplify closet

Pin It

This week’s hotspot for Project Simplify was the closet (and such, but that's about all I could tackle!). When move into our new house five months ago I went through all my clothes, sorting them. My first thought was that means I am done with the project.  But to be honest, I couldn’t post a picture of my closet here because I was so embarrassed.

You see, it’s not that I have too many clothes. I could actually use some more. But my closet is small. Really small. So it looks cramped, really cramped. Furthermore, I often take trips on the weekends to my mom’s and my in-laws. I’ve been doing it for years, and yet, every time, I pack a suitcase because I was always too afraid I’d want a pair of pants that was left at their house or something crazy like that. For this week’s project I decided to figure out which ones to pack and send away:

People say you need to try on every single piece of clothing you have in order to check it out, but I think that’s a bit too much. There are clothes I wear every single week, and I know they fit me.

As my closet is small, I figured the best way to work thought my clothes was putting everything on my bed, except the blouses and jackets that are on hangers:

I sorted through them sharing them into three places: the closet, apile for mom’s and a pile for the in-law’s. No one really needs five winter pjs at home anyway. Here is my new clutter-free closet:

I also went through my shoes:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

My not-so-perfect life

Pin It
I have been getting mixed feelings when talking to some friends who keep up with my blog. Some of them feel I am so honest in showing pictures of the naked truth, whether the bed is made or not. Some of them feel I embarrass them over how organized my home is.

Everything is relative. That’s all I can say. If you are nit-picky, you will see chaos when you go through my posts. If you have little time/attention/patience for organization, you will think I am borderline OCD. That’s ok too.

My life, my house, my job and my marriage are not perfect. If I had more money/time/effort/patience, I could have a calmer life/neater house/ more productive job output/ better marriage. But I do what I can.

Some people focus on being a care giver and stay at home parent. I think that is awesome, and pray that one day I will be able to do that as well. Some people dedicate themselves to their career, so they can provide the best of everything to their spouses and kids. Rock on. Some people focus on the needy and end up neglecting a bit of their closest relatives. It’s all good.

I’ve learned I can’t compare myself to others. I especially can’t compare myself to that gorgeous, rich, intelligent and successful friend- we all have one of those, and would hate her, if only she wasn’t so nice. But the truth is, God, my family, friends and husband love me for who I am. That’s perfect enough for me.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Why I choose to wake up earlier than I have to

Pin It

I read a post on Yes teacher that truly inspired me. The woman wakes up at 5.45 everyday, including weekends! That is just crazy! But craziness aside, I like the idea of having a set time to wake up (Monday to Friday only!) and being calm, cool and collected before rushing to the day’s madness.

Somethings you can only do early in the day. Ballooning is one of them.
I used to wake up at 5 am to go to work. It was insane. I had to go to bed by 9 and my husband was usually getting home around 8.30, which meant by the time he arrived I was cranky, hungry and in my flannel pjs. Sexy, I know.

Now, I technically have to get up at 7. I could push it and wake up at 7.15 if I wanted to, because I only leave my house at 7.45. Needless to say, the first couple of weeks on the new job meant sleeping until the last possible minute, until I realized I was often flustered in the morning.

So I made a deal with myself, waking up each day 15 minutes earlier than the previous. I started my routine with quick shower+ quick dress up +quick walk with the dogs+ frantic drive to work. Within the last week I increased my mornings in a whole hour. Now I have a nice shower, figure out what I want to dress, don’t rush my dogs, make and have breakfast (actually sitting down at the table, no more of that eating while leaning on the counter shenanigans).

There is only one thing that changed: I start my days happier. Calmer. At ease. And although I run like mad during school hours, I know it’s ok because I’ve had a nice calm morning to start the day.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

My self-imposed cooking challenge

Pin It

I can’t remember the last time I posted about food. That just goes to show how little thought I tend to give to my meals. I have struggled with my weight for decades now, and as a vegetarian, have learned that mindless munching adds up pretty quickly.

There is a combination of factors for my lack of enthusiasm over the stove. Working out all day surrounded by young children means I am tired by the time dinner rolls around. My husband is a true Ready, Set, Cook chef, being able to throw any two things in the pantry together and make it work. Truth be told, I am a horrible cook. One of those capable of burning and yet undercooking something at the same time.

Every time I decide to give cooking a go, I get all excited, plan a whole week’s worth of exquisite meals and give up by Wednesday. So this time, to make it work, I decided to start slowly. Really slowly.

I will make one meal a week from scratch. That’s not to say I won’t cook any more, but I will devote myself to learn and dedicate myself to one meal a week. I chose my two favorite veggie books as guides: The Kind Diet, by Alicia Silverstone, and Mark’s and Spencer’s Vegetarian Book.

I have mentioned The Kind Diet several times, and I must say it has become my veggie bible. I’ve read it three times in the last year, each time learning something new. The recipes all sound delicious and exotic, and since I’ve had a bit of trouble finding products in the past I’ve put it on the back burner. Not anymore.

 Mark’s and Spencer’s Vegetarian Book is an indulgent guilty pleasure. There are some very healthy meals, but they are mainly luscious pizzas, pastas and the such. All yummy, and I am sure I will use it more and more once winter comes upon us here in Brazil.

Without further a-do, I’d like to share with you my first recipe: Mark’s and Spencer’s Vegetarian Book’s Country Salad with Horseradish dressing. Here is a picture of the book version:

I must be honest and admit I copped out of the fancy dressing. One, because I was a bit iffy about the horseradish exotic-ness. Two, because as I have been on a new healthy feeding scheme (a.k.a a diet),I promised my nutritionist I would always season my salads with olive oil, which I did.

Here is my version and recipe. As you can see, I don’t set quantities simply because I don’t believe in them unless the dish won’t work without specific measurements (such as in a cake).

Julie’s M&S Inspired Country Salad


-cooked and chopped beetroot

-split peas

-boiled egg

- onion

-cherry tomatoes

-lettuce or arugula

Stir fry the onion with olive oil and garlic to taste. Once they are soft, add peas. After they get soft, add the beetroot and cherry tomatoes, just to heat them lightly. On a dish, add the boiled egg, and serve over a bed of lettuce.

Monday, March 19, 2012


Pin It

Last Friday I experienced something I didn’t know I lacking, but needed: closure. You probably read me rambling about some decisions I made in the past year. The truth is, although I told myself to accept my own decisions and not look back, I couldn’t help but do it. All the time.

To be a bit more specific, I left a job I loved. A community I love, because schools are more than just work environments. You meet fantastic people, big and small (literally) and they can’t help but touch your life.

My main issue was that I never thought I would actually leave. I was well adapted, confident in how well I was doing and very much dreaming about staying until retirement rolled around. And then, through several events and circumstances, I had to make the decision to leave. It didn’t feel much like a choice, it felt like an obligation.

I cannot express the support I got from my coworkers and supervisors. You see, I didn’t only leave; I left in the middle of the school year. I felt like a traitor. A deserter.  And they showed me love that made me see they thought nothing of the like about me.

Last week I got to go back. I secretly wanted to, but felt awkward about it. Thankfully, I got an invitation from my former boss to come, because my kids needed closure. So I went, loaded with home baked sugar cookies made with love.

I left home at 5.45am and took an hour and a half to get there. Nice reminder of why it just didn’t work. But as soon as I turned onto the main street that leads to the school, the waterworks began. I met my former coworkers outside and again, couldn’t help it. Went inside and saw some more teachers and my former boss, and again the tears flowed.

I managed to hold it when I was with the kids. All smiles. All about happiness. And they blew me away. Some were so much bigger after three months. Some were more mature. And they blew me away with their enthusiasm, love and behavior.

Their new teacher is fantastic, and the only reason why I considered leaving was because I knew she could step in. She told the kids to ask me questions, and I froze. Why did you leave us? Do you not love us? was going through my mind. None of that. They wanted to know about my new school, new students, and got a huge laugh to know that I am now surrounded by little kids and being called Miss Julie instead of Mrs. Jordão.
The best gift a teacher could ever get: a box full of lovely cards, which I'll treasure forever!

I am not sure they needed closure. Kids are resilient. Grownups, not so much. That’s why I was so thankful, because this half an hour truly allowed me to see that life goes on. And that although all kids are special, these will forever have a special place in my heart. Every single one of them.  

Friday, March 16, 2012

Project Simplify Kitchen reveal

Pin It
This week Project Simplify's focus was the kitchen. I must admit I jumped the gun and did it all on Sunday, even though I promised myself I wouldn't. I belive in Sunday rest. I was more than happy with the thought of lounging in front of the TV or curling up with a good book.

But I thought of last week's hotspot, and how I had to get home, walk the dogs, tackle my craft room, cook dinner, bathe and then relax. It drained me too much. Don't get me wrong, it was fantastic and I am so thankful I did it. But it was quite tiring. So Sunday it was.

I started out early with two different objectives in mind: de-clutter, assessing how much I really use and need of each item, as well as focusing on my paths in the kitchen. You see, when I moved, I thought about where each thing should go based on the size of each cupboard. I needed a big cupboard for the pantry, so food was stored away from my prep area. I figured serving dishes should be stored low, so they are across the kitchen from the sink.

Therefore, my kitchen made no sense. Now, it flows much better. My dishes go from the sink, to the drainer on top of it, to the cupboard right next door. The food is under the food prepping area. I love it!

Here are some before and after pictures:

Thursday, March 15, 2012

DIY Project: Wallpaper and glass board

Pin It
I had seen some creative use of wallpaper on Pinterest lately, so I got inspired to make a to-do board with an old picture frame. I think it turned out quite cute! Here is a sideways shot, as the glare of the glass would not let me picture it up front:

First, I got rid of the old print I had on the frame, and my lovely hubby hung the frame where I wanted.

I cut the wallpaper to size:

Then I got the backing for it and lathered it with Wallpaper & Fabric glue.

Next, I glued the wallpaper down very carefully. This wallpaper is over ten years old and quite hard to keep unrolled, therefore I had no extra hands for pictures!

The glass went on top, and voila. I LOVE it. It added a pretty splash of color to this corner of the room. Now I just need to figure out how to make my magnet board prettier.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wall of Inspiration

Pin It
Since I moved to my new house in September I have had this issue in my craft room:

At first, I wasn’t quite sure of what I wanted to do with it. Then I decided, but due to noise restrictions, we had to hang these babies during a Saturday, which just wasn’t happening because of our busy lives. To make sure it got done, I ambushed my husband early Saturday morning to ask for help.

I had read in some home décor blogs that y0u should lay all your frames on the floor to decide where each piece would go. For the overall effect, that was a good hint. However, I actually changed it as I went, because there was no way I was going to keep measuring distances between frames to make sure they were right. And as we started, I actually changed my opinion a few times (typical). So it was a good stepping stone, but I did not tie myself down to the previously set design.

Here is my end result:

I knew I wanted it all funky and mis-matchy. I also knew I wanted tons of space to grow (I actually have more stuff to put up, just need to frame it first). All these pieces are very important to me, and I love the idea of having a wall of inspiration in my craft room, to keep me going.

All I can say is a a huge 'Thank You' to my hubby, who so patiently helped me!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Pin It
I’ve been thinking a lot about my life lately. Purging seems to do that to me. When I go through boxes of photographs (some sepia tone loving- sorry, couldn’t resist it, BIG Jack Johnson fan over here) and things I made twenty years ago, I can’t help but think about where I am and how long I’ve come from.

Circa 1981
If you are like me, you think a lot about the other paths. Those you turned down. The ones you were sure you didn’t want, and how happy you are not there right now. But also, about the ones you were in doubt, and whether you’d been happier if you had taken it.

Circa 1984

I think I might just be having an overly emotional year. 2010 and 2011 brought some huge changes in my life. I’m thankful for them, the good and the bad. But it’s now starting to sink in. Some of it was just something fun, fresh and new, but now it really feels real. And I can’t help but question myself.

Circa 1988

Deep down, I believe God protects me and that I am always where his will places me. But sometimes I just get carried away thinking about my ‘mistakes’. If there is such a thing as a ‘mistake’ in life. Maybe there isn’t.

Circa 1992

I work with small children and am always amazed about how their problems are so little, but so big to them. Someone took my crayon. She won’t say she is sorry. He showed me his tongue. Grownups tend to dismiss them, but all you need to do is look at a three year old crying to see how much it hurt.

Circa 1996

Maybe deep down we are all a bunch of three year olds running around. At least, I certainly feel like that from time to time. Sometimes I think ‘if only my biggest problem was having to share the play dough and tidying up the dress-up trunk’. My problems seem much bigger. But they are not. When I look at what was nagging at me two years ago…I simply cannot remember. So here is to living in the moment like a three year old, but being grown up enough to know that no matter what, its only small potatoes.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Project Simplify Week 2

Pin It
Last week I was quite excited about Project Simplify, just because I knew I had to get in the groove. But now, I am thrilled. Let me explain: Hotspot #1 was the kids room, and while I think 100% of the kids rooms I’ve been in are in desperate need of purging, and I am happy for all the mommies out there, I am NOT a mother. Yet. So I had to make my own hotspot, which suited me, but felt a bit lame. I crave to fit in. We all do.

 This week we are tackling the kitchen, and I cannot wait. My kitchen is small and crammed. I am always complaining I need more Tupperware or a bigger counter space. But I also know I am guilty of hoarding useless stuff that I might use once a year. Not cool.

Although last week I was too in-deep with Project Simplicity and I had a big task which took literaly all my free time, I decided my daily posts wont all focus on that. That’d be a month of Project Simplify, and not even Tsh is doing that. So if you want to see my before and after kitchen, tune in on Friday.

Until then, I have two words for you: Go declutter. Ok, the second is not a real word. But you know what I mean. Free up some space, and free yourself from all that stuff. You know you want to!

Friday, March 9, 2012

PS Craft room reveal

Pin It
After a lot of physical work and emotional dettachement, my craft room is finally done. This is what it started out as:

And this is what it looks like now. There are so many reasons why I love it:

First of all, I have a cozy space right next to the window. I kept all the books I love, but no longer have piles of books I couldn't care less for.

With the extra space on the floor, I can now keep our mini-fridge (a must for the top floor on a two story house!) and our document boxes in accessible, yet out-of-the-way places. Pus, did I mention I have now room for my shoes?

My table is organized and to make sure I am not going back to cluttering, I gave half of its space to my husband (therefore the desktop computer). I also love that I have a 'project box' right next to the table, where I can centralize everything that needs my attention. I made a deal with myself that by July, whatever is still in that box gets binned.

Here is all the clutter that no longer has room in my life. Plus, I'm sure my kids at school and cleaning lady will be very happy with the donations!
If you took part on Project Simplify, please post your link so I can check it out! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

PS My photography debacle

Pin It
Yesterday I focused my attention once again on my craft room for Project Simplify. I actually set out decided to finish this mess you saw yesterday. I figured I could do it.

And then, I hit a road block. A good one, mind you, but still, an emotional-can’t-let-go-I-must-be-going-crazy road block. I decided to purge my photo boxes.

The first thing I realized is that I had never done this before. I’m a child of the 80’s, so was brought up to cherish pictures. 35mm film was expensive back then, and we did not waste it. And when we got our prints back, we kept them, even if they were blurry or had evidence of the photographer’s fingers. A picture had to be unrecognizable to be thrown away. Or maybe my obsession is actually founded in the fact that I chose Photography as my major in college.

That mindset was highlighted by my hundreds of snapshots of landscape, some of which I can’t quite recognize. There is also a whole section on Walt Disney World parades, and some snapshots of friends from summer camp whose faces I cannot name.

So I decided to tackle them as I do most of my things. If I had to think about it for more than a second, it’s gone. If it’s blurry or badly taken, it’s gone. If it’s of a friend I can’t remember, it’s gone. If it’s from the digital age and I have the prints, it’s gone. And for those portfolios on Disney and the Scottish landscape, they were narrowed down to three shots.

My two boxes quickly became a third of a box. And now I can honestly say that I love all the pictures I have.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

PS Craft room day 2

Pin It
I must be honest. When I got home on Monday, the last thing I wanted to do was organize. And that is saying something. You see, I L-O-V-E organizing. I find it therapeutic, and actually look forward to it. But I had a rough week, in all sense of the word. And I had a fantastic weekend, which recharged me. But I did no lounging around, and all I wanted was to get home and plop in front of the TV.

I figured if I didn’t get the ball rolling, it just wouldn’t get done at all. So I mustered my courage and tackled the worst cupboardin the room. And boy, did I feel good about it!

So last night it was day 2 and I was pumped. Since I had some empty space on my bookshelves, I figured they should go next. Which made me scared. Here is a picture of what they looked like.

You see, I was brought up to worship books. My mamma taught me you don’t donate, sell or throw away books. They are a legacy. I think that sounds nice. Until they become a burden.

I did some long and hard thinking during the day, and came to the conclusion that I tend to:

1-      Not want to get rid of books I got as a present. Even if I never ever read it and never will. Which is ridiculous, I know. Part of me wants to please. The other part doesn’t want to offend anyone. Not a good combo.

2-     I get attached to the physical item instead of treasuring the memory. I have books I read fifteen years ago and found them ‘ok’. But I remember the summer holidays I read them as if it were yesterday. I have books about random topics, such as ‘women and contemporary art’ which mean little to me. But the professor who required that book was awesome. So I tend to clutter.

3-     I love the look of a bookshelf. And that means that if I have any empty space, I will fill it up with books. Which needs to stop.

Buying a kindle was step one. Getting rid of useless books should be step two. So here is my pile of use-less books:

And after a lot of practice in getting detached from the ghost of the books past, here is what my shelves look like now.

Yes, shoes! For several reasons:

1-      It encouraged me to purge more books.

2-     I had no place to put these shoes in my bedroom, so they were out on the floor.

3-     They are not the best smelling things in the world, I’ll be the first to admit. So leaving them out of my room if the best thing I can think of right now.

I also moved my chair around to be closer to the window, and had to move the art cupboard to the other wall because it was too tight.

Now here is what I have to tackle for the next three evenings: