Friday, November 28, 2008

Brazil pics - part 2

Another amazing thing about Brazil - that I failed to capture on film - was the fruit. It was ambrosia. The mangoes, the passionfruit, the pineapple, the papaya, and some artichoke looking fruit that was white in the center was absolutely delicious. Everyday for breakfast we would go to the roof of the hotel where they had an amazing breakfast bar and you looked out over the beach while eating the best fruit you have ever had in your life.

Another amazing thing - also sans photo - the coffee. They had little espresso machines with whole beans everywhere. I am not normally an espresso fan - it is just too much. But to Brazilians, it is just coffee and it was seriously amazing. The had a little coffee dish called cafe com chantilly - coffee with whipped cream that was absolutely the best coffee in the world.

Back to things i did get pictures of...

The Christ statue. On the way up to the top of the mountain, you take a little train where if you stick a limb out the half-windows you are likely to lose it. It was seriously chiseled into the side of the mountain, through a rain forest with occasional train stops for people who actually lived there.

The first picture is something growing on the trees along the train route, my botany background got the better of me and I took several pics. If there are any phytologically minded people out there who know what they are, please share. I would love to know too.

The second pic is also from the train, it doesn't really show you how steep the mountain is, but you can see that you are getting pretty high up.

Once you get to the end of the train ride, you have to hike up several flights of stairs, maybe 6 floors worth to get to the top, but then the top - wow. This statue is huge and it overlooks the city from several different views. Everyone, was trying to get a good pic of themselves with their arms outstretched juxtapositioned in front of Christ. I refrained, but just barely. It was a holiday in Rio on the day we went up, so it was crazy crowded up there and really hot (especially after all the stairs).

Brazil pics - part 1

This if from the coffee run in a mad dash (hurry up and wait style) across Dulles airport to get the delicious Mayorga coffee (speaking of, they are at my Costco this weekend - yay!).
The view from the front of my hotel room. One thing I wish I would have captured on film is the sidewalks. They were amazing. You can see the sixties era pattern on the Ipanema beach sidewalks and it was all with small stones. All of the sidewalks were basically mosaics - talk about a laborious way to create a walkway. The result is really beautiful. It is amazing. And if you head down the beach for a while you reach Copacobana beach and the sidewalk pattern there is a wave of black and white.

The view from the side of the hotel room (I had the front corner - which gave me awesome ocean breezes). One funny thing about Brazil, this beautiful mountain in the distance is highly populated as you see, but it is a favela or squatter village. Can you imagine a group of squatters just taking over prime real estate like that anywhere else.

I only wish I were a better photographer and that I hadn't been so chicken to take my camera out of my bag that I was desperately gripping the entire time I was in Brazil.

Okay, getting these pics in the right places is a trick with blogger, so I am starting another post - all apologies.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Traveling, welcome home and sick

I went to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for work last week (tough job, but somebody's got to do it) and while the trip itself was lovely, I was worried about my little family (for good reason) while I was gone.

As luck would have it, Audrey started to get sick Saturday night and neither she nor her parents slept much as a result. Having an overnight flight on Sunday night was both a blessing and a curse, I hated to leave poor Ryan with a sick kid all by himself, but I desperately needed the sleep - and you know you are desperate for sleep if sleeping overnight in coach on an international flight sounds like a welcome blessing. That however, did not happen, my flight was delayed/canceled until the next morning, so I had another mediocre/bad night of sleep (trying to let Ryan get a little sleep since he would be handling a sick 3 yr old alone for a week) at home. So, after fighting some good ole DC traffic on the way out, I hit the airport in time to have my ticket changed (and upgraded for free to Economy plus :) - no laughing William). I got to the airport really early, because lets face it, I wasn't sleeping much at home and I really needed to get a little rest on the plane so I was hoping to get a window or an aisle seat.

DC airports have fabulous coffee - Mayorga - so I went, via very slow tram, from one end of Dulles airport to the other to get a delicious cup of heaven and savored every drop of it. As I headed back to the terminal printed on my ticket, I just glanced at the departures screen to make sure my flight was still on schedule.

As an aside, it is never a good sign when there are NO flights to your destination on the departure screens. So I stopped at an information/help booth and they were baffled and seriously looked at me like I was the crazy one just because I was holding a ticket for a flight that left the night before and they had no information on any flights to Rio leaving that day. I went back to my terminal a little bit skeptical which quickly turned to a quick moment of panic when none of the other 12 people I was traveling with were at the gate. However when I heard several small groups of disgruntled travelers mumbling/shouting in Portuguese, I decided to use the ladies room and just sit down and wait - I was at least close to the correct gate.

Then my group came back from the fancy lounge (you million miler fliers know what I am talking about) and all my worries were assuaged for the moment. Then we all sat down to wait. Then they boarded the willing and eager, I was not among them, and so I was one of the lucky people with leg room when they stopped boarding and shut down the gate for a couple of hours. Finally they deboarded the plane, gave us lunch vouchers and told us to come back in 5 hours.

As another aside, I am really fortunate to work with great people. Hanging out at an airport for basically an entire day before heading on a super long flight is taxing on everyone, but I was fortunate enough to be with a very pleasant and, by the end of our wait, jovially tipsy group.

So we eventually made it into the air a day late, which put us into Rio at 6 am about 2 hours before our meetings were scheduled to begin. We postponed the meetings for a few hours to let us check in, shower, rest and eat. The meetings went well, and the next day we finished them up and got to do tours of their submarines and ships, which was really cool.

Thursday, was a holiday in Rio, and the weather cooperated beautifully. It was sunny with a slight breeze and in the mid 70s - perfect really! We went to see the Christ statue in the morning and then we came back to the hotel. I was determined to at least stick my feet in the ocean and feel the sand between my toes, since we were staying right on the Ipanema beach front at the Caesar Park hotel.

As yet another aside, I had the most geourgous view from my room ever!! The first room they gave me was awful. Smoking is alive and well in Brazil and my first room was a cigar box, but that I would have dealt with. However, my one pet peeve in hotels is showers that don't drain. So I got to my room at 6 am on Tuesday morning and hopped right in the shower, a gorgeous marble shower, that did not drain at all and I had to cut my shower short because I was afraid I was going to flood the entire bathroom as the water kept rising. So I ran down to the front desk and asked for a new room, and eventually I got one, a great one, ocean front and side view with windows that opened, so I got the most amazing ocean breezes through my room.

Wow this post is getting long and the point was supposed to be my return.

To sum up the week, I started traveling to Brazil on Sunday night and finally arrived Tuesday morning. Tuesday we had our meetings. Wednesday we had meetings and ship tours. Thursday was a holiday so we saw the famous christ statue and hung out on the beach and eventually left for the airport. Friday morning I arrived home at 8:01 am.

Friday morning at 8:03 Ryan went to a long and well-deserved sleep (being a single parent taking care of a sick 3 yo who won't sleep when she is sick is exhausting). And I began to take care of poor sick Audrey, luckily grandma took her to the doctor the day before (so Ryan could attend a pre-finals study group) and she had her meds working a little by the time I got home. Audrey was thrilled to see me, but, oh so exhausted and sick with double ear infections. Friday afternoon Ryan went to the doctor and got antibiotics too. So it should come as no surprise to anyone that our house is a disaster and now *I* am sick too.

Luckily, I had preplanned to spend the week of Thanksgiving at home to give Ryan some extra study time and Audrey some mama time. I was hoping it would be a little more fun, but sick is sick and there's nothing you can do about it, so I am off to bed...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

AnnieAmelia's sweetcase

An old acquaintance from high-school just started her own on-line yarn store - AnnieAmelia.

It is awesome - she carries really nice yarn. The one thing she does that sets her apart from other yarn stores is her "sweetcase". She show cases a special yarn and provides a pattern that really shows it off. Then she includes something "bodyish", a charm, ribbon and sends it off in a beautiful fabric bag. It is a really cool idea, especially if, like me, you are a little intimidated by all the varieties of fancy yarn on the market today.

So seeing this fancy idea, I volunteered to be a "tester". Lucky me, because she sent this amazing little skein of fancy Australian merino wool yarn with glass beads scattered throughout (tilli tomas), it is so beautiful!!. This is so much fancier than anything I normally buy that I feel totally spoiled.

The pattern she sent is for a headband. I am definitely making a fancy headband with this yarn, but I am really hoping there is enough left over for a coffee cup cozy - how handmade glam would that be (on second thought, i think i may order some "chocolate cherry" and make mug cozies for Xmas - yay another project :))?!

I think this idea would be an awesome gift for any knitter on your list (hint hint).

Oh and also the bag is just as cute on the inside (I turned it inside out for the 2nd photo) and the lip gloss is awesome!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I <3 Etsy

Today I made my first Etsy purchase. I have been a big fan of the site for sometime. I love to just see what other people are creating and selling, but I haven't jumped in until today.

What was it that finally prompted me to buy....

Owls! A cute green owl ornament and an owl crewel picture (to be honest, I don't even know what that is, but I know I really want to try it out). I am going to refrain until after the PMP and after Audrey's Xmas is crafted, but then, watch out world.

Also, I love this person's blog. She has all kinds of neat tutorials. I think Audrey and I may try making some Xmas ornaments with the sunshine clay tutorial. Thanks Nikki.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Picnic blanket

So I have been wishing we had a good hearty picnic blanket/car blanket for a long time. And coincidentally, I found a denim quilt pattern that I really want to try.

I rarely go to fabric stores, as knitting is really my crafty hobby of choice, but I just happened to be in one the other day for material to make Audrey's present. I also happened to see some amazing picnic fabric - so I have yet one more project on the back burner now. :)

Audrey's Xmas present

I know that I said a couple of posts ago that I was not taking on any new projects for xmas. Well, I am making much better progress on my PMP exam prep than expected, so I went ahead and bought the pattern to make this doll for Audrey.

I also went to the fabric store while she was at Gymboree and bought the fabric to make the doll. Now I just need to find a great yarn for the hair and I will have most of what I need to make the project. I am so excited.

I keep looking at this flickr group and getting so excited for the possibilities.

Back to yogurt

This morning, I finally decided to take the time to make some yogurt again. It has been a while (a long while) since I last made yogurt, but I really love it, and it really doesn't take long at all. In fact, when I finished I wondered why I have not done it for so long.

Here is my method: I take ~4 cups of milk and boil them (when I am more vigilant, I try not to quite let it boil, but almost). Then I let the milk cool to 115 degree (F). At which point I pour it through a strainer into a pyrex pitcher. You don't have to strain it if you watch the milk and don't let it curdle, but I rarely watch it that closely. Then I mix in ~1/2 c. of powdered milk. I take about 1/2 c. of the strained mixture into another bowl that I whisk with the starter (this time I used a powdered starter, but most of the time I use 2-4 T of plain yogurt that I let come to room temperature). After the starter is completely dissolved, I add it back to the main mixture and stir some more. Then I pour it into little glass jars in my yogurt maker, put the lid on and wait 6 hours.

When I make it often, I already know the correct spot on my pan that is one quart and I use frozen plain yogurt starter, which is so easy, because my ice cube tray is exactly 1 T, so I just pop a couple of cubes into a bowl to thaw when I start boiling the milk. When I make it often, I also make flavored batches by adding a couple of spoonfuls of fruit and/or powdered sugar and/or brown sugar and/or maple syrup. But today, it is just plain, because that is how I like it best.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Dishcloth set

I cannot for the life of me figure out why blogspot keeps turning this picture from landscape to portrait, but so it is.. the black is bats, the purple is a frankenstein, the orange is a pumpkin, the green is a witch, the brown is a tombstone and the cream is a ghost.For the dishcloth swap that I was a part of, I found this great set of "mini" dishcloth patterns on Ravelry and this blog.

So I decided since they were minis, and since they looked so cute as a set that I would do the whole set for my partner. However, they are only really minis if you do them with the recommended size 3 needles. I did that for one of them (the pumpkin) and then accidentally did the rest in size 5 - which made them slightly smaller than normal dishcloths, but not quite "mini". I really like this set and my spoilee had a great idea of starting an afgan with them. I may actually do that myself at some point with another set. We shall see...