Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Measuring life by the small successes

Now that we're back in Brazil, we use bottled water for everything but brushing our teeth. We have a water delivery service that drops off 20-liter bottles of water as needed. 

For the record, 20 liters of water equals about 44 pounds. 

Also for the record, it is intimidating to me to have to lift and flip an open 44-pound jug of water FAST so that water doesn't gush out before you fit the top of the bottle (now open and upside down) into the water dispenser. 

I know from personal experience when we were last in Brazil that there is a lot that can go wrong in this process. Namely that you can end up with about 27 liters of water spilling out of the bottle when you accidentally drop it on the floor while trying to flip it. 

But desperate times call for desperate measures. The water ran out today and Mac wanted to drink water. I couldn't put him off all day until Jimmy got home tonight. So I cleaned the bottle, opened the top, dumped a little out just for cover, said a little prayer and flipped that 44-pound sucker. 

We now have about 19 liters to go before we rinse and repeat. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Santa Teresa

Today Jimmy, Mac and I visited the bairro of Santa Teresa. Santa Teresa is up a mountain with sweeping views (in some locations) and makes me think this is what Rio used to look like when there were still houses and not multistory apartment buildings everywhere. 

Santa Teresa is also the bohemian, artsy neighborhood of Rio with lots of trendy bars and restaurants, which brings me to the two reasons we went:  art and food. 

Pool noodles painted and carved at the tips to look like colored pencils!

A lady made with recycled goods (feet are laundry bottles, head and bottom are a big water bottle cut in half, etc.)

This weekend, Santa Teresa hosted the 25th edition of Arte de Portas Abertas (Art of Open Doors) where artists open up their ateliers and workshops to the public. We shopped a bit and I bought two of the cutest little wraparound skirts ever.
Soda bottle planters

"Don't believe everything you read."  

After we shopped, we ate at Bar do Mineiro where we enjoyed a traditional weekend feijoada, which is this delicious stew-like yummy dish of black beans, sausage, hamhock, and beef served with rice, sautéed collard greens, orange wedges and farofa (manioc flour cooked with butter, onions and bacon). 

After shopping and all that food, the only thing left to do on a Sunday afternoon was take a nice, long nap!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Sun Protection

I hate sunscreen. 

I hate applying it and re-applying it. I hate how expensive good sunscreen is. I hate how it feels once you get hot and sweaty and beach-sandy.

Last year I started using a Lands' End long-sleeved rash guard swim tee with UPF 50 protection. This tee totally eliminates the need to put sunscreen on your back, shoulders, chest and arms. And even though it's long-sleeved, it's no hotter really than wearing just a swimsuit.   The fabric is lightweight and breathes, all while protecting your skin. (And if you're vain, they have a great selection of fun colors and patterns.) 

Last week at the beach, I pulled the sleeves up a little for maybe 30 minutes. When I removed the shirt later, I was very surprised to see just how effective the tee's sun protection really is. 

(The top was covered, the bottom was not.)

Save your skin and cover up!!

Saturday, July 18, 2015




: luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for

On Tuesday morning, Mac, two of his cousins, and I walked down the street to one of the cousin's beach houses, in front of which we were going to play on the beach. 

On any other day, we would've walked down the beach to get there instead of walking down the street. The street is hot without the breeze that's been present everyday this week on the beach, and it's just nicer to be on the beach in general. 

But the boys wanted to walk down the street, so we did. 

We passed lots of morning runners and bikers and spoke or nodded to each as we passed. 

Somewhere along our walk, we passed a couple running, who by their later account, were out running later than normal. He had on a Washington Nationals shirt, which stood out to me, but I didn't pay too close attention as I was weighed down with chairs, a beach bag and a boogie board and was trying to keep three children from getting run over. 

I made eye contact with the couple long enough to say, "Good morning" and kept walking. 

The guy stopped after I'd passed, turned back, and asked, "Susan Story?"  

Turns out these runners weren't just anonymous Folly Beach vacationers. They were a couple we started the State Department with 17+ years ago!

Michael and Jen had come to Folly Beach with their three children for the week, on their first real trip ever to the Charleston area (besides just passing through). 

There were 4 couples that were my favorites from Jimmy's A-100 class. Last night I went to this couple's beach house to catch up and was reminded why these people were one of the four.  The last time we all got together was at our house in Baltimore. We haven't lived there in 11 years, which means entirely too much time has passed between visits. 

So thankful today for serendipitous moments that allowed me to reconnect most unexpectedly with dear people!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Family Beach Week

Mac and I are enjoying the week at Folly Beach for my family's "family beach week". Mac loves this week more than any other of the year because he gets to hang out with his first and second cousins whom he loves dearly. 

A few snapshots from an encounter with a smelly, dead horseshoe crab that they almost all had to touch:

And another series taken yesterday of some of the boy cousins, one of whom would not put the Cheezit bag down for anything:

Happy summer from Folly!

Camp Yoga

Last night my adorable and very talented pre-teen nieces invited the ladies in the family to a Yoga Party, which they later dubbed Camp Yoga. 

These girls found some yoga videos the day before and after practicing yoga for hours, decided we could all use a wellness retreat.

These girls don't do a wellness retreat halfway. They went all out (which required multiple trips to the store by their parents for supply purchases.)

I don't have photos of everything so you'll have to use your imagination. 

In the loft of their beach house, they had towels spread out for each of the 7 guests to practice yoga. They were streaming lovely, calming music from Pandora and they'd lit a battery-operated candle next to a fresh flower display they created. 

The seven guests, ranging in age from 4 to 69, practiced yoga according to the girls' instruction for about 30 minutes. Then we were served refreshing "detox water" that they'd infused with orange slices and ice cubes made with blueberries and strawberry chunks. They'd also set a lovely table of snacks so we all munched on cookies, pretzels, and cheese puffs. A final refreshment surprise were frozen Gatorade pops. 

At that point, some ladies went back to their house, but Mom and I stayed for facials downstairs. My sister-in-law kindly shared photos with me of this portion of the evening. 
In this photo, Hayley is administering the facial scrub while Blair eats a Gatorade pop to replenish his electrolytes. 

My mom enjoys a foot and shoulder massage before her facial. 

Such a lovely evening prepared and presented by these talented girls!!