domingo, 6 de janeiro de 2013

week 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16

It’s been a while, but I’m back.
During the last few weeks I’ve learned (finally) how to cook Pudim de Leite, one of my favorite desserts growing up and one of my mom’s specialties. I also wanted to learn how to make a unique soup for the chilly evenings and I made an absolutely delicious, flavorful and unexpected corn soup.
I decorated room number 4, the last room of the house. It is our current guest room and one day will be used by baby #3 (who hasn’t been conceived yet). I also finished composing 3 songs.
My husband and I managed to set some Christmas Traditions for our family. Holidays can be tough for a young family. The traditions we grew up with were extremely different from each others’ but we were able to decide what fits us. Our favorite new tradition is to make a Christmas movie with our kids and we hope to do that every year. (clique here to see it)
I also came to a realization of something I’ve been fighting to overcome for a couple of years: Liking what a see in the mirror. Before I get into that, let me give you some background.
Growing up I wasn’t a good looking kid. I looked at the mirror and I saw neither a pretty or ugly girl, I just saw myself. I had no concept of beauty or ugliness, all I knew was that I had bronze skin, big cheeks, very black hair, big eyes and arched eyebrows.
By the time I started school some people described me as ugly. I wasn’t bullied or made fun of, but I often heard people saying things like, “Which one is Juliana? The ugly little one on the right?”
Around that same time my brother and I were going to a private school and they were planning to make a TV commercial to portray the students at the school. The principal invited students individually to participate in the commercial that would be recorded that Saturday. When the week of the commercial came, the principal announced that the students who would participate didn’t need to wear their uniforms on Friday and that their parents should make sure to wash and iron the uniforms for the commercial Saturday. When Friday came, the only two students wearing uniforms were my brother and I. As we later deduced, we were the only ones not invited to participate.
We still laugh about that day. We didn’t feel hurt or humiliated. It wasn’t a surprise that we weren’t invited to participate. Commercials were for good looking kids and we knew we didn’t fit in that category.
My brained got the information that my features and my measurements wouldn’t qualify me as beautiful. We live in a society where to be considered beautiful you have to look a certain way. You have to have the right size, the right weight and the right measurements. Beauty is about numbers.
Since I took my first steps music was my passion. I took my first music lessons at age 4 and never stopped. Growing up I didn’t have a piano so I often practiced at a church building and many times during a youth activity. And every time at started playing people would come and ask me to play their favorite songs. I felt loved and appreciated, and I also have to say, I felt like I had the prettiest hands in the world, not for what they looked, but for what they were capable of doing. I believe the reason I learned how to accept my looks was because I grew up being appreciated for my talents.
I felt lucky to have friends that would tell me that my presence in their party made a difference, or that talking to them on the phone made their day. Numbers and measurements would never give me that.
Although throughout my life I’ve been confident being me, now I see that seeing myself as ugly may not be beneficial. Every time my husband calls me beautiful it bothers me. I do know he finds me attractive, that man had to really fight for this Brazilian and I know he wouldn’t have done all of that for someone he wasn’t attracted to, but it just doesn’t sound right. Because, again, I don’t have the right numbers.
Another reason I’ve been trying to change the way I see myself is because my beautiful daughter was also born in a difficult era, and if she hears me saying I’m ugly, she will believe she’s ugly too. I don’t want her to EVER question her worth.
So what should I strive to see in myself what I look in the mirror? After months of trying to figure it out, I finally found the word. When I look at myself in the mirror I want to see someone FASCINATING!
Have you ever met someone that didn’t have the right measurements, but something about her or him was simply fascinating? Someone that was so unique looking that you couldn’t get your eyes off that person, or had such a great personality that you just wanted to be around him or her?
 I have met so many fascinating people and I want to become one. I want to become a fascinating wife. I don’t want my daughter to try to be pretty. I want her to strive to be fascinating!
What should I do to become fascinating? I want to find the best of ME, because nothing in this world is more unique and fascinating than our “ME”. To become fascinating I will have to improve what is good in me and eliminate what is bad.
And who wants to be pretty if you can be fascinating.

domingo, 2 de dezembro de 2012

Week 11

Great Week.

First: My Husband has been converted my health eating habits. He also realized he was eating double the calories he was supposed to. We are doing so well!

Second: We now have started what will probably be our favorite Christmas Tradition. We made a Christmas Video with the kids, and we loved doing it so much we decided to do it every year. Click here to check itout

Third: I cooked MY FIRST LOBSTER!!!

I was about to quite. The cooking part is actually quite easy, but having to cook an animal that still looks like a living animal almost gave me a heart attack. I was seriously having a panic attack the whole time.
I look into those lobsters’ little eyes and my heart started racing, my hands started shaking and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I told my husband: “This is hard, I mean, I’m having an anxiety attack”.
He’s answer was: “That might be a great blog post”.
But in the end it was all worth it. The Lobster was DELICIOUS! My husband even said it was way better than Red Lobster’s Lobster.
I only have 3 more things to cook to finish my goal, but the best part of it is that now I became a real food enthusiast! I just want to learn how to cook everything! And now I’m very confident it will taste good. Before doing this goal I never felt like a bad cook but I had a very limited list of dishes in my personal menu. The goal might be over soon, but I don’t think I can stop getting excited to cook more and more, and better and better.

segunda-feira, 26 de novembro de 2012

Week 8, 9 and 10

After 3 weeks of sick babies in the house I’m finally able to seat down and write
I have so much to report so let’s go straight to it.

I’m healthier

When I started my project I wanted to be a healthier person and running a 5K seemed to be the perfect thing for me to get in shape. I have always seen myself as a healthy person. I eat a lot of vegetables, I cook everything from scratch and I rarely eat fried food, but my body feels tired after running upstairs to get my kids from their nap, so I knew something wasn’t right.

I’ve been working out 20 minutes every day and it makes me feel good. Last week I was watching a TV show about how some people that look healthy actually aren’t. One of the things they mentioned was the amount of calories a person should eat daily. I then checked how many calories I should eat every day according to my age and height. I was shocked! The amount suggested was about half of what I consume every day!

It’s no news to anyone that knows me I eat a lot! Portion control is a foreign concept to me, so it’s a real miracle I’m not over weight.

I tried to spend an entire week eating the recommended calorie limit. Calorie counting is the most annoying thing I have ever done, but after 4 days it felt really normal. I didn’t feel hungry and I did have more energy, and 7 days later I’ve lost 5 pounds. My husband noticed and even my scale looked surprised.

I’m more musical

Remember my goal to send some original songs to record labels? I did some intense homework about the subject and this is what a learned.

·         My chances to even get someone to listen to my song are “Zero”, unless I personally know an music artist or producer, but I can have great chances to have someone listen to my songs being part of a songwriters club membership

·         The membership cost $400 annually plus a fee for every song sent, and they let you know they only accept songs professionally recorded in studio

·         The artists and producers know exactly what they want. There’s an Industry Listing where they let you know what kind of song they are looking for, here is an example of one song listing:

“CONTEMPORARY POP R&B SONGS in the style of Beyonce, Chris Brown, Rihanna, Omarion, etc., needed by a very well-established Music Licensing Company with successful placements in both Film and TV. They're looking for songs that have a CONTEMPORARY production aesthetic with MEMORABLE lyric and melodic hooks. SOULFUL and SASSY vocal performances similar to the referenced artists are essential for this listing! MID to UPTEMPO needed for this pitch, NO ballads. UNIVERSAL lyrics are needed - avoid featuring specific names, places or storylines that might conflict with a scene. MALE and FEMALE vocals OK. Vocal and instrumental demo presentation must be top-notch! Broadcast quality is needed (excellent home recordings are fine). Please submit one to three songs online or per CD, include lyrics. All submissions will be screened and critiqued and must be received no later than Friday, November 16, 2012.  “

There was a time when a musician could get a piece a paper and put all their feelings in a song, record it in a cassette tape and send it to a producer. Not anymore, but that doesn’t get me down – it makes things more exciting. I’m not quitting this goal. I don’t want to get old and ask myself “What if?”

The problem is that recording in a studio takes time, money and even more time, unless I have a home studio where I can work for free whenever I have time. So I’ll be building a small recording studio in my house! But not now, I have plenty on my plate right now. I already have the studio planned out and the plans of the work, and I’ve been working on songs since I started the project.

I didn’t make this goal just because it would be fun. I wanted to feel passionate about music again! I wanted it to feel part of me again! I wanted to get excited about it again! And let me tell you, the musical me is back! I can’t wait to have my little studio ready! My brain is thinking in tempos and notes again.

I’m more Hablante
Since I started the project I’ve been speaking Spanish with everyone that has started a conversación.
I definitely feel more comfortable speaking Spanish again

I’m more appreciative
Even my husband noticed.

I’m rocking in the Kitchen
Here is some of the things I learned how to cook in the past 3 weeks

Passion Fruit Ice Cream in a Chocolate Cup (Yes I made the cup too. Tasted like heaven)

"Camarao na mini moranga" - Shrimp and pumpkin cream in the Mini Pumpkin (A very popular dish in Brazil that i always wanted to try. They do it in the Big Pumpkin and i made it with the mini for extra cuteness)

Mussels In Butter and Garlic Sauce - Delicious

Five Cheeses Stuffed Mushroom

domingo, 4 de novembro de 2012

T30P week 7

Month 2 is coming to an end and I will only have 10 months to go, and I’m starting to realize that the journey to change myself it’s much more delicate and difficult than I was expecting. I’m realizing that my project has to turn into something more than a “Doing-Something” Project, and it has to be a “Becoming-Something” Project. But guess what? I’m motivated to rock it on!
The ‘doing’ part is an essential, not only because the cooking and painting and sewing are fun but they help my busy-mom-self spend some quality time with me. I believe we are mutant beings; we get older, become wiser, learn new things, develop opinions, meet people, and since we do it so naturally and slowly a moment will come and we may ask ourselves: Who the heck am I now?
The ‘becoming’ part of the project is what frustrates me often and the reason is not lack of motivation or effort, but it’s because changing and becoming takes time and being able to wait is not one of my qualities (not yet, anyway).
One thing I have to say. Since I started the project I feel a change within myself. I feel happier! My eyes are able to see more: more of the happy moments, more of what I did wrong, more of what I can do better, more of when I do something better.
I thought at first that this change was very subtle, but my husband mentioned that he also noticed this change, and that means: SCORE!
I still feel overwhelmed when I think of my to do list, so I often remind myself that perfection is not part of the project – I simply want to start a new decade of my life achieving a better version of myself.
This week I took my kids on dates, twice! Every second of it was deliciousness. I also decided on the colors I’ll use for baby #3’s room (not trying to get pregnant yet, but we’ll get the room ready before I do because I get REALLY SICK during pregnancies)
I’m happy to say my kids are watching little or no TV daily, but I won’t quit watching George Stephanopoulos on my morning news every day.
I’m sad to say I started sleeping with my phone again and as a result I’m not sleeping as well, and I blame Steve Jobs for that.
T30P week 7 Conclusion: Every caterpillar can turn into a butterfly, but it takes work and time.

domingo, 28 de outubro de 2012

T30P week 6

Have you ever wished you were a kid again? Playful, sincere, fearless in opening your heart, loving and ready to forgive? I do. As far as I can recall there is nothing huge that requires my forgiveness, but I still wish I had the pure little heart of when I was little.

When I was 9 years old my family moved to another city. A lady I will call Lola came over to our house to welcome us. She was and still is one of the nicest people I have ever met. As soon as she looked at me she asked: “How old are you?” “Nine” – I answered in a very shy voice. “Really? I have a daughter with your age! You guys should get together to play sometime.”I will call her daughter Halle.

Later she said her daughter Halle had a friend that lived close to our house, Kate, and for a nine years old girl that has moved to a new city and hadn’t met any friends yet, I was very excited to meet them.
My mom decided to go to Kate’s house and bring me with her, so I could meet a new friend and my mom could meet more people in our neighborhood.

Once we got there Leah (Kate’s mom), opened her door: “Can I help you?” – She asked.
My mom explained she has just met Lola and was out and about meeting some new people. Leah let us in. The conversation felt awkward and I didn’t want to be there anymore and Leah seemed preoccupied in going back to do whatever she was doing before we got there.

My mom tried to cut short the conversation and said: Lola mentioned you have a daughter, I was hoping my daughter could get to know her so they could become friends.
Leah’s answered loud and clear: “My daughter already has a friend, they get along really well.”
My mom replied: “But, you know, they could get together to play one of these days”
“No, that’s ok, my daughter already has a friend” – was Leah’s final answer.

A couple days later Lola showed up in my house with Halle asking if I wanted to come over to play, I ran to my bedroom to get unmatching socks and my tennis shoes. Halle and I had a lot of things in common and she was also just as nice as her mother, and that after that we got together to play daily.

A couple weeks passed and I again going to Halle’s house to play. This time Kate was there. I could tell she was a little uncomfortable in the beginning to have a third person playing with them in the yard, but it didn’t last long. For many consecutive days we played to together, danced together, attempted to cook together and created some of my greatest childhood memories.

One day, Kate and I did a little prank to Halle, it was as silly as 9 year old can be, but we fell on the floor laughing hysterically. Once we were able to breathe again and the loud sound of laughter turned into happy silence Kate said one of the most painful phrases I have heard in my life: “Juliana, my mom told me I have to stop being your friend  because your are breaking my friendship with Halle. But I don’t want to”.  For the rest of the evening I tried really hard to have fun. I walked home while was getting dark, looking down on my feet, questioning why her mom did not like me. I didn’t feel anger. I didn’t feel mad. All I could think was: Why?

From that day on every time I saw Leah I brought her flowers from my garden and cards I had made myself, and every single time she politely received them, which made me believe that now she liked me.

When mother’s day was coming up a group of girls were getting ready to do a special dance for a talent show. It was supposed to be a big surprise. They told us to bring a white dress and get ready in one of the rooms. The room had about 12 girls and the only mom present was Leah. I couldn’t wait for the talent show to start. I had my dress on and had brushed my curls for the big performance. While I was doing a last minute practice with another friend Leah came towards me with the hair brush: “Please brush this hair of yours”, and as she continued to fluff her daughter’s dress she continued: “Juliana’s hair always looks like a mess”.

I slowly stopped dancing and with the hair brush in my hands and trying to make myself invisible I hid myself in the back of the door and brushed my hair incessantly wishing my mom was there to help me. But she wasn’t, and I wanted my hair to be a surprise for her. 

A few minutes later it was time to perform and I was happy, giggly and did not care for what has just happened. I kept picking flowers and making cards for Leah, this time I wasn’t trying to make her like me, I just had learned I really liked making cards and giving people flowers and also did it for Lola and many other people. My heart simply had no room in it to dislike Leah or be mad at her.

This week something similar happened to my daughter. We invited a little friend to play with her and a couple hours later I hear the little girl screaming: “I don’t want to be your friend!” That phrase hurt me like a knife. My daughter’s friend is a sweetheart and I know she doesn’t really understand what she said, but what moved me was to see how happy my daughter was to see her a couple days later.

The decision and effort I want to make is to have a heart so full of love and happiness that there’s no room for heartache or sorrow, just like a child’s heart.

I believe is important to stand for ourselves, I think we human beings learn how to do that with time, but we also forget how to forget and forgive quickly. Holding a grudge turns into poison that isn’t worth having.

This week I also I read for the 2nd time the book “Men are from March and Women are from Venus”. The first time I read it I was 16 years old and now that I’m a wife the book is even funnier.

 I also worked on making our “engagement cake”. On our engagement party we ordered a Passion Fruit and Chocolate Mousse Cake that was simply divine. My husband has been asking me to learn how to make it since that day. And Today I was the day I made his dream come true

Week 6 Conclusion: Our heart is too little to fill up with anything that doesn’t make us giggle.

domingo, 21 de outubro de 2012

T30P week 5

T30P week 5
The week started and my mind was completely empty. I had no plans or ideas of things to do this week and that concerned me a little. I’ve been excited and motivated and I’m making an effort to keep up with that feeling.
While my neurons were fighting to find a goal I could accomplish, a hip pain showed up to make my day a little different. “Yes, dear body. I know I’m getting older, you don’t have to remind me every week”.
I gave a little look at my goals and realized I still haven’t read a book this month. As soon as I realized that I saw this book across my room that my dad gave to my husband. It’s written by a Brazilian business man and it’s named “Problemas? Oba!” (the translations is “Problems? Woohoo!”). I read it in a couple of days, even though is a business related book I could totally apply those principles in my life now. It talks about how we shouldn’t run away from problems but get excited to face them and learn from them.
 I also thought I should try a new recipe, but I wasn’t sure what to try. Finally, I came across with a recipe from Portugal called Bacalhau Nunca Chega (translation for “Never Enough Cod”). It was the first time in my life I prepared a dish I had never tasted before and had no idea what it would be like.  The result was glorious! My husband, the kids and I really couldn’t have enough of it; it was delicious in capital letters!
It was also time for a one on one time with my husband. The kids went to bed earlier; we got some Japanese food and locked ourselves in our media room, eating, snuggling and watching Hunger Games. Time with my loves is always the best
This week I was still feeling the excitement of sending that picture to my first photo contest. I also took some time to check out prices of different photography equipment online. A lady on craigslist posted some free photography books for anyone interested. I showed up in her house and she showered me with all her photography equipment. She is moving to Paris and decided to not take it with her. I’m as surprised with her generosity as I’m ecstatic to start practicing my new hobby!
Week 5 conclusions: If hips hurt or if my neurons fight I still have to stay positive. Because my week may just end up being the luckiest I have ever had.

terça-feira, 16 de outubro de 2012

T30P week 4

It’s been a month. One down, eleven to go.
Mr. Week 4 started out trying to convince me that this week would be bad, really bad. First I got sick. And then my 10 month old baby-love got sick too. My two year old refused to take her naps and my holy routine (also known as my source of sanity) was a mess.
“Don’t stress Juliana” – I whispered to myself constantly – “Just enjoy the little moments”. And  those days were full of happy little moments, but throughout the week I realized I probably wouldn’t have time to accomplish some goals I had planned and that was a bit frustrating. As the weekend approached I had many ideas bubbling inside my head and the biggest one was to decorate my half bath. On Friday my husband came home from work and watched the kids while I started my half bath makeover.
A couple hours later I looked at the work I was doing and I wanted to cry! It looked awful! My husband seeing how frustrated I was gave a look at my “art” and said: “Well, it could have been worse, right?”
Now I wanted more than anything to fix that mess. My week hadn’t been easy and I didn’t want to finish it off with a horrifying bathroom. It was so ugly I was afraid the kids would see it and have nightmares. The next day I went to home depot to buy some paint. The “paint guy” was flirting with a lady for about 20 minutes and ignoring that I was next in line. I was in a hurry because the kids were napping and I wanted to be home and fix that poopy paint job before they wake up (don’t worry people, my husband was home while they napped).
After the longest trip to Home Depot I was home and very afraid of making things even worse. But the result was great! We loved it! And I got so inspired that I started decorating my laundry room. I had just bought a new organizer because the last should have been called “The Disorganizer”.
I wish I wish I wish I had remembered to take the before-and-after pictures. It looks so much better now. Once I was done I sat down in my living room and saw my husband running toward the bathroom and laundry room to quench his curiosity and then I heard him saying: “Wooooow!”
I still want to put some art in both rooms and I’ll do that once I work on my paintings again. I’m very happy with the results. I feel like every time I put a personal touch in the house, my house thanks me becoming more peaceful, calmer and even giggly.
And as a bonus I also received a few hours of thinking and pondering. This time of reflection helps me to get to know myself in a deeper level and helps me see clearer the changes that need to happen in my heart. There’re a many changes to be made, but I will get there… one day at a time.

BTW our habit jar is still empty, yay!
Week 4 Conclusion
Having an organized and beautified home is amazing, but it would be even more amazing if Dyson created a vacuum cleaner I could ride on.