Friday, January 21, 2011

Brazil land of beauty! Land of Twins :)

Embarking on the warm fuzzy feelings of our celebration of 14 years of love as a couple we would like to share with you the most beautiful pictures of Brazil I personally ever found anywhere anytime, Gil actually found it and emailed me the link.
You will be able to find the link below, it's from "Skyscraper City":


Some of these pictures made me teary eyed...Brazil is awesome.
Now, back in the US, we love it , we really, really do, the United States is part of every fiber in my being, it has been since I was 17 years old and lived in Oklahoma as an Exchange student and played American Football, broke a few bones doing it, learned how to drive a tractor and plow the land for wheat and peanuts, the same peanuts for the peanut butter that you find so expensive in Brazil and when I went to School in Berkeley, California and felt in love with this country and that beautiful place all over again, during 9/11 when we had to evacuate Boston downtown and feared for our lives, cried for days watching the news in disbelief and still cry quietly inside when I remember ... up to this day have a lump on my throat every time I drive into New York city and feel disoriented because I can't find the Twin Towers that used to be my reference while driving around Manhattan and living in a quiet, quaint, coastal New England town and walking Okie, our adopted dog from Oklahoma on the beach on a cool crispy morning with Gil. A couple of funerals, weddings, births, trips, happy and sad moments.
I love the US more than I can express in words...and if I had my family here we would never leave.
But today we got some news that drastically changed our perception of the world as we know it...
My sister Daniela is P R E G N A N T!!!! With TWINS! That is even more cool because she is a TWIN herself, Deborah, her twin, has been featured in a blog post from our summer trip to Oklahoma and back to New England, you can read that post:


This is dramatic for us because all 4 of us have been trying to have babies. Daniela lost a baby last year early into her pregnancy. Leandro and his wife have been trying to have a baby for the past 5 years with no success. Gil and I have gone thru 2 surrogates with no success yet. Deborah is getting married at the end of this year but my mother wants her to have the baby NOW! Why wait until you get married, that is nonsense, says my UBBER Conservative Catholic mother, she says there is no such thing as traditional weddings anymore. She thinks it would be cool if my sister Deborah had her baby at her weeding party, funny, times have changed so much, to think that 13 years ago I fled the country for peace of mind because my mother kept driving me nuts about coming out of the closet.
So, You see how this is HUGE news for our family.
Baby's are priority for my mother for more reasons than I could explain to you, maybe someday I can share more on that.
Back to my sisters Deborah and Daniela, who are twins and both are Dentists, how cool is that! They are the best Dentists in the world by the way. I am not saying that just because they are my sisters, but because they always give me as many doses of anesthesia as I want and I never feel any pain what-so-ever. I always say they have fairy hands for those instruments and they really do.
I love my sisters and my brother very much. I miss my family very too much to be this far from them and now that we found out Daniela is pregnant, there is a sense of urgency to get back home to Sao Paulo and be close to family.
Below is a picture of my sister Daniela ( who is pregnant with TWINS now) this was on her weeding a couple of years ago, my Brother Leandro, my sister Debora and me, the bold chubby one on the right...

My sister Daniela, my brother Leandro, my sister Debora and I at Daniela's weeding

You will probably notice, if you have been following our blog that this is the first picture of me on the entire blog so far.
I had some work related reasons to want to keep my identity discreet up to this point and these reasons no longer exist, so from now on I will feel free to post pictures of me without any concerns for my privacy, it is a relief, I will tell you. 
Gil has also been talking about wanting to be closer to his family as well...he has a nephew that is growing fast and we are missing out...
So, my dear blog friends, our time in beautiful New England is coming to a close, Rhode Island to be more specific.
We will always be connected to this region because of the life lasting friendships that we have formed here.
I will be actively looking for jobs in Sao Paulo and will be moving back home as soon as we find it, Gil works from home so no stress on the job front for him.
There really isn't any more reasons for us to be here. If you followed our blog from the beginning, you will know why we came here and if you haven't read that post yet, HERE is the link and it will help you understand why we are here and why it doesn't make any more sense to be away from family.
We don't have a set date yet, Gil is in a complete state of panic, he wants to go back as much as I do but there is a fear of the unknown in the air now, we have been away for too long.
Believe it or not, 13 and a half years away from Brazil, I do feel like a foreigner when I am in Sao Paulo and when we fly back to the US I always feel like I am coming "home" not the house home, but home as in the place where we feel we belong after any trip abroad.
We will probably feel like most of you folks when you arrived in Brazil.
Besides the fact that we speak the language fluently.
I don't have much daily life experience in Brazil anymore. Sometimes I read something some of you post and I have to call my family to help me remember how is this or that...etc...
I have never rented a place in Brazil, never bought insurance, never bought a car or hired a maid or faxineira...that would be really weird for me to have a stranger in our house, cleaning, cooking, whatever...
In the US, I have bought about 10 different cars, used and new, purchased two homes and sold one, know everything about car and house insurance. I have hired contractors, have had appliances repaired and replaced and renovated an entire home. I have no experience with real state in Brazil, say the least...
It is difficult to explain, even considering that we feel more like Americans than Brazilians, family is still in Sao Paulo and even with all the friends we have here, we still feel alone at times...and would love to have family near us, I have to say the Hospital incidents were also a wake up call and brought up the fears of being alone.
So, Sao Paulo my dear homeland, here we come, we will be foreigners in our own hometown!!!
We hope we can make it back before the TWINS are here :)
Happy times my dear blog readers, happy times!!!


Thursday, January 20, 2011

14 YEAR ANNIVERSARY 01-20-2011

On January 20th, 2011, today, Gil and I just completed 14 years together.

Gil and Ray's shadow on the beach near our house! Okie running in the distance :)

Instead of describing a fancy night in an expensive restaurant in Boston or tell you about a romantic drive down to Manhattan for a night in the town to celebrate our 14 years...I decided to describe how we met.
We are stay at home people. I mean we really enjoy staying at home. We love to cook our own dinners, open a bottle of wine and rent a movie from Redbox or Netflix...We love our home and love each other's company.
So, I decided to describe our first day together. This is how we met:

It was 1997, I was only 25 years old, it was a typical January afternoon in Sao Paulo, a nice drizzle, the air was nice and cool.
I had just graduated Law School and worked for a law firm in the Berrini Avenue area of Sao Paulo, if you are familiar with Sao Paulo, it is close to Morumbi Mall, Rede Globo and the new Hilton.
That specific afternoon my bipolar, OCD and ubber mean ( female ) boss sent me to a Federal Court on Paulista Avenue, right next door to MASP to discuss and argue an urgent case with a Federal Judge.
I was a Junior associate attorney and was responsible for going to court and talking to judges and solving complex situations, in other words, I had to do most of the political lobbying for the firm, I knew important people and was skilled in resolving complicated appeals and discussing the law firm's position or thesis as we called it.
The senior attorneys always stayed in the office developing strategies and writing the appeals and theories for the defense or next steps etc...
I have a cousin who had been working with a very important Federal Judge of the Supreme Court so in typical Brazilian "Who do you know" fashion I was the guy who did the lobbying for the law firm.
It wasn't so bad. I had to go to the courts and discuss how the courts were leaning on this subject or that subject.
I can tell you right now, there were no bribes involved what so ever. I heard of bribes in the clerical personnel who would take R$100,00 for changing the date of a stamp if you missed a deadline. We never missed a dead line and I never even knew who were the dirty public employees by the way.
I never heard of any dirty judges. I am sure they existed but they were extremely rare. The judges are very proud of their careers, they made great money and many of them had family legacies as judges and would not stain their families reputation with bribes or anything illegal.
Long story short, my job was to socialize with the judges and find out what they thought about this law or that law. I was a Tax attorney so we were talking about the most boring subjects in the whole wide world.
We basically discussed the constitutionality of this tax or that tax or when some company was unfairly double taxed for some special reason. You get the picture.
If we knew what the judges thought about each tax situation, we could better prepare strategies for appeals and what not...
Having a cousin in the Supreme Court, I had access to parties, dinners and other social events where I had the opportunity to get to know the judges and their assistants personally.
It was a very cool job. Even more cool because I was young, didn't have a lot of money and my Firm gave me all kinds of expensive gifts so I would always be well dressed, with the best Armani suits, Bulgary tie holder or pin, expensive watches and pens that job, appearing successfully was almost more important than actually being successfull.
So, back to how I go to meet Gil.
That afternoon, we had a "Mandato de Seguranca" "Security Mandate" against a certain government agency that was freezing one of our client's account to get their money for a certain tax that was supposedly already paid.
So, I had to physically go to the court, file the Mandate which the judge "has" to answer immediately while I waited, but judges are really busy, so immediately meant a whole afternoon.
I walked around the court house with my GIGANTIC BRICK SIZED MOTOROLA cell phone waiting for the judge to call me so I could call my boss and the firm would decide the next step depending on the judge's decision.
I got really bored and wondered across the street into the "Conjunto Nacional", a very traditional Sao Paulo Mall that has several large book stores. What better way to kill time!

CONJUNTO NACIONAL ( Where I first met Gil ):

This is the house that STUPID people decided to tear it down to build the Conjunto Nacional on the corner of Paulista  Avenue with Augusta Street

This is Conjunto Nacional Gallerias/Mall when it was first built.

This is "Conjunto Nacional" today on the corner of Paulista Avenue and Augusta Street in Sao Paulo

This is one of the book stores inside Conjunto Nacional where I first met the LOVE OF MY LIFE :)

I went into the Vienna near the book store, which was packed.
So I saw Gil reading a newspaper and sipping on his coffee at the counter and started enjoying a delicious Goiaba Cheesecake next to him.
I had the weirdest feeling that I already knew him...(He told me later that he had the same feeling ) I had no idea how or why, you know when you see someone or you are in a situation that you feel you have already seen before? That feeling...
It was crazy because I had a girlfriend of 7 years at the time. I wasn't then and have never been promiscuous, but I was feeling very attracted to this guy.
We started talking, he was very serious and as usual very masculine, we were an intant match at that point and I didn't know why we started talking, you know, small talk, about the weather, the city, stuff like that...I was in a relationship and so was him at the time.
We were having a very good time, the conversation was flowing naturaly.
Time actually flew by and I actually got a call from the judge's office about 3 hours later. They had a decision.
I invited him to come to the court house across the street with me so we could continue to talk after I spoke with the judge.
He agreed.
We won the case! I called my boss and Gil and I went out to dinner, it was raining cats and dogs by then and every Paulistano know you just don't try to drive around rush hour during a summer storm when the sky gets black, you find a Mall, a store a movie and kill time until the storm has passed along with any localized street flooding and traffic jam.
We had a great dinner while the rain pounded the city and it's stubborn commuters who fought inch by inch to see who got home first.
Not us, we were sitting back having a relaxed dinner and literally falling in love for each other with every passing minute.
We ended up staying until the restaurant closed, well, in Sao Paulo that means 2 am...
Sao Paulo never sleeps so we had other places to go, we ended up going from Bookstore to coffee shop to another restaurant, a fast food place this time because we were already hungry again...
All of a sudden it was morning and it was almost time for me to go back to work.
I didn't even want to go to work. I wanted to stay with him...
Talk about love at first site...
I was young and a night without any sleep didn't affect me at all, try to do that today and I will end up in a coma.
I still had to go home and face my girlfriend of 7 years and he had to do the same.
I tried to break up with my girlfriend because what I felt for Gil I had never felt for her in all of the 7 years we were together.
I really liked her. She was/is a wonderful girl. She actually still is my sister's best friend, they go to the gym together every day.
I have no doubt I did LOVE her, but in a completely different level, what I experienced with Gil was a first for me. I never knew you could feel like this for another person.
With Gil I had butterflies in my stomach every time I saw him. Hell, I still do!
It changed me beyond comprehension.
It was like before I met him life was in black and white and after I met him life was in neon bright colors with sparkles.
Not that my life was bad, not at all. I was happy, I was ok. I would have probably gotten married and had kids with her and would have had a calm, nice life.
However, with Gil I learned the real meaning of the word LOVE, passion at first and even better, today I look at our 14 years together and I realized that my life with him has tough me the true meaning of happiness.
I am happy. I am not kidding you. I am always happy, even when things are not well, if I am with him I am truly HAPPY.
I would like to offer today a cheers to LOVE and HAPPINESS!


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Free Cornea Transplant in Sorocaba-Sao Paulo

TELEFONE - (15) 3212-7009 - DE 2ª A 6ª FEIRA
I just received an email from Gil's mother today.
I copied and pasted the original below in case you want to copy and paste it on your facebook page to help spread the news.
Sorocaba is a middle sized city about 1 hour west of Sao Paulo Metropolitan area.
This is a Hospital managed by the Masons in that city. It is a non-profit Hospital.
They have an agreement with the Brazilian version of Medicaid/Medicare to cover the cost of the surgeries.
The Hospital has capacity for 300 hundred cornea transplants per month but it is only performing about 120 cornea transplants per month because not enough people know about it.
It is totally FREE, no charge what so ever, 1st world health care provided for anyone who needs it.
Please help spread the news, they are actually having to dispose of the donated corneas that are not used every month and we know there must be people out there in need of it who don't know about this precious opportunity.
Below is the text in Portuguese if you decide to post it somewhere or email some folks.
Thank you for your help.
TELEFONE - (15) 3212-7009 - DE 2ª A 6ª FEIRA

Hospital Visitation Regulations Go Into Effect Today

Directly from the White House, I would like to break to you some great news!
Despite the fact that this is a celebratory post I have to warn you it contains some very sad, gut wrenching facts I decided to share to help illustrate how important and personal this is to Gil and I.


Our country just became a little bit more civilized today, you know, like Canada, Denmark and Spain for example.
This new law means that starting today any hospital that participates in medicare or medicaid will have to allow patients to designate who will have visitation rights and make health decisions for them, regardless if they are a family member, regardless if they are gay, straight, transsexual or a just a get the picture, you know, what should have always been done.
This is very personal to me, to us, to Gil and I because in the last 13 years living in this country I have had to fight tooth and nail to make sure I was with Gil or he was with me at a bed side in the few unfortunate times we had to stay at a hospital.
See, we don't have any family members living near naturally when I had a serious case of strep throat in 2002, I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't breath, it felt like my throat had been cut hundreds of times with a razor...the pain was unbearable, I couldn't drive, Gil drove me to the closest hospital to our house at the time at around 2 am in a bitter cold New England night.
Arriving at the Hospital, we were stopped by a slutty vulgar looking receptionist with horrible bright red lipstick and strong extremely sweet perfume with a huge cleavage, chewing gum with her mouth open ( you get the picture).
Before asking my name or why I was there, insurance card etc... she stared at Gil from top to bottom, rolled her eyes and made a look of disgust before asking me...

Rude Triage Receptionist-Is HE your family member?
                                    ME-Yes, he is my partner of 5 years!
Rude Triage Receptionist- That is NOT FAMILY.
                                    ME- You are  NOT STOPPING HIM FROM COMING IN WITH ME, and if you think you can treat me like this I am CALLING 911, come on, it's 2002, there must be laws against this kind of unnecessary abuse!

It turns out WE ALL WOULD WAIT EXACT 9 years before those laws became a reality.
OK, You are probably laughing at me right now, but in my defense I wasn't thinking straight and I was trained to think the police is supposed to "serve and protect" right?
Gil was sweating and telling me he would go wait in the car while they admitted me into the emergency...
I got really mad because it was 15F outside and I shouldn't have to be by myself when I saw all kinds of people WITH someone next to them...
During my stand off with the Triage Witch a gay male nurse heard the commotion and came to our rescue, he grabbed Gil by the hand, pushed me in a gurney into the ER and told the Witch to shut the hell up.
I was really nervous and didn't know what was going on...the woman was threatening to call security and this angel nurse decided to buy this fight for us...
Do you see the picture by now?
What should have been a simple ER visit to treat a severe case of strep throat, some pain medication, some antibiotic or whatever they gave me to make me feel better turned into a dramatic, unnecessary event that marked me for life.
Now, every time I walk into a Hospital I am automatically waiting for someone to mistreat us, just because we are still considered 2nd class citizens.
Well, I wish I had paid discounted taxes all these years once I haven't enjoyed full citizenship because I am gay. I am only half a citizen.
White and non white trash straight people all over get married, have children, set up their meth labs, loose their children to the state and even those people have more rights than Gil and I.
We pay taxes like crazy and we still can't get married and we do not enjoy the same benefits straight couples do.
Back to our hospital subject.
My story was humiliating to say the least, it makes you feel less human, because of the simple fact that you DO NOT CHOOSE to be gay, you just are and people treat you poorly because of what you are.
However, our story is absolutely nothing compared to what happened to Lisa Pond and Janice Langbehn at the HORRIBLE cesspool that is Jackson Memorial in downtown Miami, Florida.


This story absolutely broke my heart, made me mad and made the episode personal to me.
What the link doesn't make clear is that Janice and Lisa are not from FLORIDA, they were just boarding a Cruise Ship at the Miami harbor with their children in what should have been a pleasant vacation thru the Caribbean when Lisa had a sort of aneurysm before the Ship left the harbor, they had the bad luck to be closer to Jackson Memorial in downtown Miami, please pray YOU never end up in such place, even being straight.
I actually did speak with Janice Langbehn on the phone a few months after Lisa and her had their encounter with Jackson Memorial because she wanted me to be a part of an interview with the Miami Herald on the subject.
They were looking for other gay couples who had suffered some kind of similar situation at Miami downtown's Jackson Memorial.
I ended up not being able to help Janice for the simple fact that after my episode with the Hospital in New England, this time in 2004 it was Gil that ended up in the ER in the middle of the night.
We couldn't help because I lied to the hospital.
Yes, I learned with the bad experience in New England and when I ended up with Gil at the triage of the Jackson Memorial I lied and said he didn't speak any English and I was his translator. IT WORKED!
They didn't have any Portuguese translator and didn't want to bother getting one when I told Gil to shut up and play dumb that I was going to "Act as his translator", he played along and Hospital personnel panicked with the possibility of having a Portuguese speaking patient who couldn't describe symptoms etc...
Our plan worked...
It wasn't a walk in the park, Jackson Memorial is a HORRIBLE HORRIBLE place, it is the only public Hospital in Florida.
Florida, due to the mild weather attracts homeless people from all over the US, seriously, they just grab onto cargo trains and slide down to the sunshine state. We lived in Tampa for a couple of years and found out there are close to 8000 (Eight Thousand) homeless people living under bridges in downtown Saint Petersburg alone, imagine Miami, Orlando and other large Florida cities.
Florida also attracts Haitians who wash on the shores of South Florida clinging to precarious rafts and small hopes of a better life.
Long story short, Florida has a lot of poor, desperate people that flock to Jackson Memorial when they need medical attention, they have no option, see, no Universal Health Care here, this is not Canada or Spain, no, we are not there yet, unfortunately.
I never saw anything like that, people bleeding on the side walks, broken arms, broken legs, stabbed with knife, you name it, waiting for hours and hours, the Hospital constantly operates over it's capacity.
I ended up staying with Gil for 36 hours. I was so afraid of that place I didn't leave his site for one second, I stood next to him for the entire 36 hours.
They placed Gil in a temporary ER triage area on a gurney waiting for a hospital bed. His gurney had a small curtain that you could get a little privacy but when the woman on the gurney next to us threw up blood on my feet I realized that the curtains where above the knee ... sorry to share this sad details with you but I need you to understand what we went thru those 36 hours.
It was a HORRIBLE nightmare that I don't wish on my worse enemy.
If you saw our most recent Hospital  EPISODE with Gil's kidney stone, just for the record, I had to lie again and tell Hospital personnel I was his translator, that trick has always worked for us.
So, it is a huge relief to see the new law going into effect.
I won't have to lie again. It's not fun, it is humiliating, it is nerve recking but I did it to protect my partner of 13 years, (my husband since July 2nd 2010 thanks to Canada) and THANK GOD I won't have to lie again.
And most importantly if your kids turn out to be gay, you can now be sure they won't go thru what Gil and I or much worse what Lisa Pond and Janice Langbehn went thru EVER AGAIN.
No more humiliation.
Thanks PRESIDENT OBAMA and DEMOCRATS, INDEPENDENTS and the few REPUBLICANS who voted OBAMA CARE into law, you just made our country a more civilized and fair place for me, my children and future generations of Americans.

President Obama signing Health Care Bill


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Discount Shopping in Brazil

We have a good friend who just bought an apartment in Sao Paulo a couple months ago and had to buy everything from furniture to appliances to electronics for her new place.
She got a good tip from a friend and bought almost her entire new house at this one store, it is called " "ARMAZEM 7" which means "WAREHOUSE 7".
ARMAZEM 7 is an discount warehouse that sells new stuff clients just returned to several different stores for no reason other than changing their minds about the purchase.
Traditional stores don't like to deal with trying to sell returned TVs or Refrigerators out of the original factory packaging so they sell it to ARMAZEM 7 which sells it at a good discount.
My friend saved R$500,00 on a brand new stove and over R$700,00 on a large screen LCD TV.
I haven't tried it personally but heard great things about it.
If someone knows them and want to share any impressions or feedback please let us know.
Another tip is "E-BIT" which is a website where you can compare prices of different products online, from Airline Tickets to Books, you can rate your consumer experience at a given store and also see what review other people have given such store or company, everything from TAM Airlines to your local grocery store or pharmacy. The site rates them according to price, customer service etc...


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bread and Milk in Rhode Island!

There is a mad dash for BREAD and MILK every time there is a snow storm in Rhode Island or Southern Massachusetts.

Mad dash for BREAD and MILK during every snow storm is a tradition in Rhode Island

I always do an inventory of fridge and pantry when we know there is a storm coming and make sure we are stocked up on certain items.
We saw a PROPANE GAS sale at Walmart a couple months ago and got 4 full tanks before the winter started, just in case we ran out of electricity and gas. We could cook at our outside Grill which has a side stove burner.
Bags of Salt, environmentally friendly so Okie doesn't get poisoned by it. Defrost spray in case doors get frozen and sealed in...
In 2003, the cold was so intense that our local Bay froze and ships delivering Natural Gas for heating had to be escorted by US Coast Guard Ice Breakers in and out of the Harbor. We had Natural Gas service cut off and moved to a Marriott for 2 days with Okie, our fish tank and our tropical plants...I know, you are thinking crazy Brazilians...we just really value any living thing very much :)
Here I go side tracking again, so, food is always what scares us the most, I can burn things in my fireplace and put on socks and blankets in case we loose power and heat, but we need food.
We lived briefly in Miami in 2004, just long enough to experience 2 horrible hurricanes. The experience was really bad because we watched life as we knew it fall apart piece by piece.
First Gas stations ran out of Gas and new trucks weren't allowed in Florida because the Hurricane was on the way.
Second, Grocery stores were completely and utterly wiped out, no, you don't understand, you know those weird looking cans of octopus, smoked pig feet, whatever, gone, sold out, shelves completely cleaned out, people panic in a way they buy things they would never ( and probably never did) eat.
Well, here is not too different, with one exception, BREAD AND MILK vanishes from stores EVERYWHERE. It is insane, I even went to the "Wonder Bread" factory outlet store nearby and THEY were cleaned out too.
I went to our favorite grocery store because we were going to cook a "Coq Au Vin" and I needed white mushrooms, Spanish onions and leak. I though I could grab some bread and milk while I was at it, but no such luck, there was no more milk or bread.
The store was so packed there were no shopping carts available and the parking lot was full, people were following shoppers to their cars and waiting for people to unload their groceries to get the shopping carts from them... you could cut the tension in the air with a knife. I started seeing empty shelves and that's when people start to get anxious.
The lines for the cashiers were going into the isles to the middle of the store...there was a fight near me, not a fist fight, but someone yelling at each other for cutting in front of the line...I will tell you, we were become a little less civilized than I am used to seeing around calm coastal New England.
The tradition for the BREAD AND MILK run is said to have started in the 1970's with the BLIZZARD OF 78 but we found out today that it started a little earlier than that HERE is an interesting video explaining how the tradition started in the region.
After leaving the craziness of the Grocery store I ventured into a large LIQUOR STORE for a hearty  California Burgundy, the main ingredient in our "Coq Au Vin".
Are you aware of the IRISH influence in New England...? Yes, besides Italians and Portuguese there was a HUGE immigration of IRISH in the Region. Well, let me just say the LIQUOR STORE had twice as many people as the GROCERY STORE.
Thank God I got my U$4,00 delicious California "Gallo" Hearty Burgundy and got the heck out there before the IRISH took it away from me :)
Just kidding, the IRISH don't necessary drink more than others...just the ones we know...  ;)
Long story short, no BREAD or WINE for us, but we got a DELICIOUS "Coq Au Vin" made and the house smelled great under our 2 feet or so or heavy wet snow!!!!
Our recipe is very simple and super authentic. Gil leaned to make it when he lived in France briefly when he was only 19 and very adventurous.
I will ask dear blogger friend Danielle to post the recipe on her Awesome Cooking blog.
Yesterday's snow storm was nasty, wet heavy snow, 2 whole feet of it...we have a broken basement window due to the weight of the snow but we are safe and sound, warm and stocked up.
Okie is having a lot of fun playing around, this freaking mut loves snow, I tell you, he is miserable in the summer but he absolutely has the time of his life every time it snows...he rolls around in the snow like he is having a sexual experience, it is really cool to see how much enjoyment he gets from it all.


We were a little down tonight, it is just too much tragedy on the news...
Queensland, Rio de Janeiro, Tucson...we are praying for all of them, I admit I have cried more than once, grown men cry too, trust me.
I have to say Sarah Palin has crossed the line, not only she is STUPID, but she DOES incite hate day after day, "blood libel", please google words your writers place on a speech if you are imbecil enough not to know what they meant to begin with...and this idiot still thinks America is stupid enough to vote her in for President. I am not even worrying anymore because I am confident Americans will know better when voting.
Back to the recent tragedies on the news tonight, we are specially worried about our dear fellow blogger Ginger.
We hope Ginger and her family are safe and sound in Rio and we are praying for their community to find strength in this tough time so they can rebuild and have their lives back to normal as soon as possible.


Friday, January 7, 2011

How to prepare a Lobstah !


Living on coastal New England has it's advantages besides the awesome people and the quiet laid back life style...L O B S T A H!!!!!
We absolutely LOVE it and we eat it like the locals do.
When we lived in Sao Paulo lobster was considered a splurge for us, my favorite was lobster Fondue. You can still find this awesome restaurant in Sao Paulo called GREEN GARDEN .
GREEN GARDEN is an awesome romantic place up on the HILLS right outside the city, but you can see the BEST view of Sao Paulo from up there, it is really high, at Serra da Cantareira, a place with fresh clean crisp cool air, a beautiful area to drive on a Saturday or Sunday. There are several awesome gated communities in the area and upscale homes on the side of the mountains all over the place.
GREEN GARDEN also has a huge fireplace right in the middle of the restaurant with lots of tables right around the fire and many more in romantic booths all around the place, each with a better view than the other.
They serve one of the best Lobsters in Sao Paulo, the city is only about 1 hour from the coast so they do get live Lobsters all the time.


They have a Fondue "Rodizio" going on right now, which is all you can eat, all types of fondue for a fixed price, that includes Filet Mignon, Cheese, Chocolate, fresh fruit etc...I am not sure if the Lobster is included, you should call and ask if you are driving out there just for their Lobster. It might not be a part of the "Rodizio" deal and will most likely cost you extra.
So, long story short! In Sao Paulo Lobster is an expensive treat, not your trivial daily staple.
My favorite all time Seafood restaurant in Sao Paulo is:

Rua Haddock Lobo, 807 (Flat Crillon Plaza)
Tel.: (11) 3061-9965

Amadeus is right across the street from the Renaissance Hotel in Sao Paulo on the corner, actually sort of behind the Hotel if you are facing the main entrance.

They DO SERVE an awesome Lobster and Oysters too.
NOOWWWW, in New England....It is and it has always been POOR people's FOOD, YES, a staple on blue collar lunch boxes, usually in the shape of a "Lobster Rolls", which is a very sloppy sandwich on a "Hot Dog Bun" looking bread cut on the top, not on the side, it always has Hellman's mayonnaise, celery and a few other ingredients.
You can find Lobster Rolls even at Mac Donald's restaurants in the summer around our area, they cost around U$7,00 but they are made with real Lobster meat and they are worth every bite.
Traditional delis around the area sell Lobster Rolls for anything between U$12,00 and U$16,00, but don't worry, Blue collar wages around New England hover well above U$30,00 per hour, going all the way to U$60,00 dollars per hour for construction workers.
Cost of living here is high.

Traditional New England style Lobster Roll

It is poor people's food here because anyone can catch it off the coast, it is and it has always been abundant in the region, so even if you don't have a Lobsters trap and can't catch one, your neighbor, your cousin, friend and a guy down the block will catch a bunch and either give away to family or sell for very little.
Off course the commercial fishing community around here sells Lobsters at a premium to distributors who then sell them all over the world.
But if you are a local like we are now and know were to go to get your fresh Lobsters right off the boat, you can eat them ALL the time, if you like Lobster off course.
We do like it, we actually LOVE IT and we even have a favorite fisherwoman, yes, fisherwoman called Joanne, she is very cool and always let Okie come up on the pier, he is freaked out of the Lobster traps filled with weird looking CATS, yes, for Okie, everything that it's not a dog, it's a CAT and he must chase it, deer, rabbit, squirrel, CAT, CAT, CAT.

Our local fish market sells them for a premium. But we always buy them at the pier directly from the boats.

Our local pier. The fishing boats come back from the Ocean between 2:30pm and 5:30pm filled with Lobsters, Crab and Fish
London 3335 Miles, Boston 80 Miles, Bathrooms: ACROSS THE STREET :)

Ok, enough talk, let's get down to business, HOW TO PREPARE LOBSTERS, or LOBSTAH for the locals, remove your R's from the alphabet people and you will talk almost like a New Englander, almost:

Joanna, our fisherwoman sells us Lobsters directly from the boat for 5 bucks a piece regardless of the size.

1-Gil and I always get 1 Lobster each, that is our U$10,00 dollar budget for Lobster :) 
Frugality is another strong and greatly admired characteristic of New Englanders.
We usually pick a pound and a half sized Lobster each, which is about 750gr, almost 1 kilo each.
That is because we like to eat other things besides the Lobster, like corn on the cob and a nice thick Sword  Fish Fillet that we make on the grill.

Live Lobsters ready for the big cooking POT!

Make sure to cut the rubber bands holding the Lobster's claws just before placing them in the pan. THEY WILL BITE! Grab them from the back.

Place a stainless steel strainer at the bottom of the POT with water. USE A LARGE POT that will fit both Lobsters.
2-You are not going to fill the POT with water, just have water at the bottom of the POT, you are going to STEAM the Lobsters, so make sure there is enough water in the bottom to create steam but not too much water to keep the Lobsters from being boiled in the water.

Place the Lobsters in headfirst so they can't try to climb out! Ouch! I know... :(

When they are both in the POT, cover it and time exact 12 minutes in the steam and remove them!

3-Now, Don't freak out, they DO SQUEAL! It is awful the first time you do it, kids might be impressed, but everyone should just get over it. They are food after all and we are not PETA  :)

After exact 12 minutes in the steam they should be RED and READY! :)

We place them on the counter for a few minutes to let it cool a little, remember we are eating them with our hands.
4-It is not a fancy dinner folks, this is a simple lunch, eat with your hands dripping down your elbows type of lunch. My mother would faint if she saw how much we lost our fork and knife good manners...but we get civilized again when we pass customs at Sao Paulo International Airport and no one would imagine the eat with our hands "Barbarians" we have become ;)

Lunch is served.

5-Lunch is served. One grilled LOCAL Sword Fish Fillet each, a bunch of corn on the cob and ONE pound and a half Lobster each.
We enjoyed our grilled fish drizzled with fresh lime juice, for the Lobster we have little cups with melted butter and crushed fresh garlic.

6-We use these little Lobster cracking devices and these little Lobster forks that are small enough to go into the claws and other parts, you can use a regular nutcracker and a regular small fork, it will work just the same.
We both like to crack and remove all the meat from the Lobster and then start eating it, you can find your own way of doing it.

Lobster meat removed with a little fork or a regular fork.

             In Sao Paulo we either drive 1 hour to Santos and go to the end of the beach where there is an awesome FISH MARKET right off the water and buy our Lobsters there or you can get your live Lobsters your local fish market, Pao de Acucar grocery stores, Extra, at Carrefour or even Walmart, they all sell LIVE LOBSTERS.
             I don't know where to get them in Rio but it's probably easier than in Sao Paulo. Lobsters are very popular and very affordable in all of the Northeast Region of Brazil.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Snow Blizzard 2010!

Another tradition our little family has started since we moved to New England is to get out of the house during snow blizzards and play in the snow while nobody is out yet.
Call us crazy! We are from Sao Paulo and snow blizzards are specially exciting for us. We usually get all bundled up during the storm, before the plows are even out cleaning the streets and prepare for a thrilling adventure out and about.
Camera in hand, we first take some pictures of our house and how the snow is accumulating around the house, on the plants, on the roof, driveway etc...
House pictures taken we hop on our mean 4X4 Ford Expedition and head for the streets of our neighborhood, Dunkin Donuts drive thru is our first stop, two large HOT Lattes, 5 splendas each, 1 bran muffin and 1 double chocolate chip muffin. We are ready for the adventure to begin.
This year the Blizzard came late on Christmas day so we could take pictures of snow covered homes decorated for Christmas near our home, which it was fun. I love driving the 4 Wheel Drive on streets filled with pristine snow.
I think the pictures will give you a better idea of our night out driving in the blizzard.

That's good, now save some room for Dunkin Donuts goodies :)

No! Oh! You are trying to cut back on your sugar intake, I get it...

Our Colorado Blue Spruce covered in snow
Our little Cape being hammered with wind and snow!
Yes, you need a snow brush if you want to pay with a card outside!
Snow covered streets, more like a ghost town! LOVE IT!
New England architecture is my absolute favorite!
The white snow increased the quality of our night pictures!

Snowy nights hold a magic that I can't describe in words!

Some homes are really cool with the snow covered Christmas decorations.

Ghost town with unpassable sidewalks

Awesome older homes, some are 300 hundred year old!

Believe it or not part of this wealth was created around 200 hundred years ago from Whale Fishing

One last stop at the Park so Okie can mark that pristine snow and show local dogs who is the Alpha dog ;)
Okie, that is a wrap! Let's get back to the bunker, the plows should be out anytime now!

The wind was brutal! Click on the picture to watch the side ways snow!