Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Boom ! Boom ! Boom ! (with a new underwear)

Never thought that a Katy Perry video would bring tears to my eyes...
My kids love this hit, especially the part when she sings
Boom, boom, boom,
even brighter than the moon, moon, moon.

... they love singing along !
Hot chic Katy wears a long romantic dress and her makeup is a composition of whites, blues and silver. She also has a hairdo/walks like a goddess. Class ! So different from her usual tacky funky outfits/makeup/wigs.

Above: fireworks in Copacabana, Rio, 2009-2010.

Foto above: New Year's Eve in Rio, 3 million people celebrate with fireworks and music in Copa. During 15-20 minutes the sky become so clear as during the day. That's a thing you should witness before you die.

And some priestesses offer food and gifts to Yemanja, a sea godess and a mother divinity of the Afro-Brazilian culture (especially woshipped in Rio and Salvador da Bahia). Below, a Brazilian girl devout of Yemanja.  Her colours are blue, white and silver. More about her you can find reading this beautiful text.
No, that's not Aphrodite or any oriental goddess- that's Yemanja.

And in Rio, everybody dresses on white for the New Year, wishing peace and good vibes. Once my then Dutch boyfriend (and actual husband) spent New Years' Eve in a condo in Rio with me and a couple of friends. I had told him in advance to pack white clothes - which he didn't do (or simply didn't have any). He had instead a yellow bermuda and a colourful shirt. In solidarity to him I also dropped my white dress and picked something colourful. A girl friend of mine also opted for light yellow clothes in order to give us some support and do not let him feeling like a clueless gringo.
Photo: The

Below, a video from 1975  with Clara Nunes (1943-1983), one of the best Brazilian singers and artists ever. On the video she has a (natural) straight hair and light skin. Later on her life she converted into African tradition, used an afro hair and her skin was always tanned. She also wore typical African costumes and accesssories.
Because my childhood was spent in Rio Northern zone during the 70's, I used to listen to A LOT of Clara Nunes. Cariocas were then obsessed about her voice, smile and charms. And why am I talking about Clara Nunes ? Well, when I think of New Year's Eve, I think of Clara's hits - and samba songs in general.

Clara Nunes toured Europe in the late 70's and became famous in Japan as well, during a time that there was no MTV and video clips were rare.

"O mar serenou quando ela pisou
Na areia
Quem dança na beira do mar
É sereia"

(The sea became calm whe she stepped
on the sand
That who dances on the shores
she is a mermaid)

Even 27 years after her death Clara Nunes keeps inspiring new artists, such as Ivete Sangalo and Vanessa da Mata, as shown above during New Year's Eve 2009/2010 in Salvador, Brazil. They sing some of Clara's old hits. I think both do not get even close to Clara Nunes' charms, talent and charisma. (**sight** ). Ivete is quite popular in Brazil - but I personally find her rustic (and this is maybe a marketing strategy?). I guess Ivete will be one the stars during the opening of the World Cup 2014 in Brazil. And Vanessa... well, her voice is pretty but it saddens me she wants to help herself a bit into fame & fortune being a cheaper copy of Clara Nunes (*sight, sight *).

Now, a bit of Brazilian fab New Year's Eve superstition. Would you like to have some good luck, improve your $$$ and meet the love of your life in 2011 ? Buy some new underwear for New Year's Eve ! Depending on the colour you are going to wear, you can give a little hand to your destiny into the right direction. Ladies and gents, just try it - it doesn't hurt !

Yellow: "prosperity and optimism"
Light pink:  "compassion, softness and a bit of romance".
Dark pink: "beauty, passion and romance".
Green: "youth, freshness, calm and hope".
Blue: "loyalty, idealism and dreams".
Beige: "calm, passiveness, melancholy" (bleargh !).
Orange: "movement, changes and spontaneity"
White: "innocence and purity". (translation: 0 chances of improving your sexual life in 2011)
Silver: "brings modernity, new technologies and innovations" (and sex toys ?).
Gray: "stability, success and quality"
Red: "elegance, class & leadership" (translation: free the dominatrix in yourself).
Black: "mistery, fantasy, sophistication and luxe" (wow !).
Animal prints (zebra, panther, turtles, cow, insects): "a more playful life".

Photo author: unknown.
Model: unknown.
Underwear brand: unknown

The ideal and most fashionable underwear colour pattern in my opinion according to superstition:
an animal print and a dark pink background, hahahaha !!

I wish you all a Happy 2011 !!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Happy Sweet Year (Feliz Ano Doce)

Bilingual Post
Post bilíngue. Texto em português após as fotos.

Appelflappen, appelbeignets, appelbollen, kaas (cheese) or saucijs (sausage) broodjes...

My faves ? Oliebollen ! With raisins, please. But you can try "naturel" - without raisins - too.

Very caloric everything - but then we have the excuse it is so cold and you need more food (ha ! There is warming on everywhere: cars, buses, trains, buildings, houses...)

E’ tradição na Holanda comer diversos itens de pastelaria assim que as temperaturas caem e a festa de Sinterklaas no início de dezembro acaba. São produtos especiais, vendidos em grandes lojas de departamentos, lojas de tortas e pastelaria (as chamadas “banket bakkerij” ) e quiosques pelas praças das cidades e vilas.

Os mais importantes são:

Kaasbroodjes: pãezinhos de massa folhada com queijo derretido. Servidos quentes. Uma variação e’ o saucijzenbroodjes, cujo recheio e’ de uma lingüiça de carne moída.

Ananasbeignets e appelbeignet: almofadinhas de massa recheada com uma fatia grossa de abacaxi ou maçã.

Appelflappen: triângulos de massa de ovos e trigo recheados de cubinhos de maçã e canela. Tanto o appelflap quando os beignets são fritos em óleo quente e polvilhados de açúcar cristal.

Oliebollen: bolinhos de óleo. Parecem intermediários entre uma massa de bisnaga e uma rabanada. Podem ser sabor “natural” ou com uvas-passas. Polvilhados com açúcar em pó - são os meus favoritos para acompanhar um chá ou café.

Appelbollen: uma bola de massa recheada com pedaços de maçã, amêndoas e canela.

Todas essas delícias devem ter um milhão de calorias - e ainda bem que só são vendidas durante um mês por ano. Mas debaixo do frio e neve não há nada melhor do que se abrigar em um quiosque e comer unzinho. Ou então em casa diante do aquecedor ou da lareira. Com gluhwein (uma espécie de quentão) nem se fala...

Um doce e feliz Ano Novo a todos os leitores. Gelukkig Nieuwjaar !

Monday, December 27, 2010

Brigadeiros (Brazilian chocolate truffles)

Why not enjoying some brigadeiros during the 1st of January ? It is so easy to prepare that even a eight year old kid can do it (ooops, and I have to start teaching it to my son asap). Three ingredients: cocoa powder, 1 can of condensed milk and chocolate sprinkles. Maybe some butter too, depending on the quality and consistency of the condensed milk you are going to employ. Believe me: the Dutch love this. I regularly make brigadeiros for birthday parties at home. I will do some for the New Year's Eve as well. I think they are very yummy and look fab & festive - but unfortuanltely are very understimated. Here I am with my humble blog telling the world to try it ! I am helping to spread some Brazilian gastronomy knowledge.   

Above, I hold one brigadeiro between my fingers, so that you can see how big they are. They should be firm and round - and stay firm and round even after a couple of hours. If you make them and they get flat after a while then you need more practice and cook them longer.
Here you see them placed in mini cups, ready to be served. I have bought such mini cups in Brazil, but you can serve them directly on plates, like on my first photo. Or maybe on pretty spoons, such as amuse bouche and hors d'oeuvres served at cocktail parties.

I have found this video on youtube in English. The teachers Luciana, Bethania and Vanessa from Street Smart Brazil course will tell you on a humorous way how to prepare them. Boa sorte e bom apetite !

I have so many years of practice doing brigadeiros that I arrived to the point I do not need unsalted butter, a non-stick pan or wodden spoon. I use a regular pan and spoon. But if you are preparing it for the first time just follow all Bethania's advices. For a larger image double click on the video quickly. This trick will lead you to the youtube page where you can enjoy a wider screen.

The "Christmas Hotel"

For the third time I have spent with my whole Dutch family Chistmast the Holiday Inn Leiden. My in-laws and my husband claim "it is good for the kids" and who am I to say the opposite ? The kids call it "The Christmas hotel", btw...
Christmas in Holland is celebrated on the evening of 25th December and not on the 24th as I was used to. On the photo above you see an angle of the immense Garden restaurant, where we enjoyed lunch. It was a buffet with lots of cold cuts, breads, muffins and doughnuts, two soups (tomato and pea soup) and meat balls.

There is a pond located in the Garden restaurant area with some tropical plants and golden fish. Indeed, kids loooove it !
My lunch for the third year at the HI Leiden: I will always have a Shrek's soup and two meat balls.

Small pets are allowed, provided they can behave and show some style.

What's that ? An elephant ?
After lunch we could check in the rooms - and the kids went immediately to the kids club.

I loved the opportunity of being alone in my room with my laptop organizing some photo albums and reading mags. Hubby and the kids went to the pool. But because lunch was served late (at 15h) and the Dutch like to start eating at 18h, before you could realize it one was again eating from the cold buffet. Lots and lots of fish, terrines, salads with mayo, two soups and bread. The Dutch will always eat bread. Always.

I didn't feel like taking pics of the buffet or the dishes. Come on, a girl has to eat too - and talk and dance and have some fun !  

Proost ! Tin-tin !

The band played American and Dutch hits. Thanks God no La Bamba, New York New York, My Way, Hey Jude, Macarena or Living la Vida Loca. Believe me, I have had enough of that.

And then after the warm buffet and before the desserts, there was Santa Claus with some firework, smoke and loud music. I suspect it was a woman, just like two years ago. And this time his aparition was quicker and much less spectacular than the other years. The Dutch do not care much about Santa Claus, they call it by the neutral name "De Kerst Man" (The Christmas Man) and the Santa Claus itself doesn't know exactly what to do or say or where to lok at. The Dutch are just mad about their Sinterklaas and the Black Peters helpers. Period.

 Each kid had a voucher that could be exchanged by a little present.

Soon after the dessert my little girl wanted to go to bed and demanded that I should be next to her "the whole time, up to the following morning, mommy !" - which of course I did. The rooms are a real sauna, I woke up twice feeling like a dried plum and missing some oxygen. My in-laws complained too. It has been always like that during our stays at this hotel, thus I think the ventilation is poor and the rooms warming is really an issue.
 Anyway, I had a great time there, cause the kids can enjoy freedom (there is the kids club and another salon with big and small toys kids up to 12 years old) and the buffets are excellent. But I do not like queueuing for food and I prefer to select my own background music. The Dutch like to have wild meats for a Christmas dinner (rendeer, rabbit, lamb...) and I miss a roast (turkey or pork) - Brazilian style. I also miss cod dishes and Brazilian desserts such as pineapples and passion-fruit mousse. And old-fashioned punch ! I firmly believe "Christmas at home is good for kids too" and want to inaugurate a new tradition with my family. We are moving to a bigger house next year, one with a chimney, a really big oven and space enough for the whole extended cloggie family.     

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Feliz Natal [Merry Christmas]

Bilingual post Portuguese / English
Encontrei panettone no supermercado Dirk van den Broek hoje por apenas 3 euros a unidade, de uma marca italiana chamada GranDuCale. O Bauducco chega na loja Xenos e acaba, virou lenda urbana pra mim. Estava mesmo pensando em preparar panettone eu mesma quando felizmente encontrei no supermercado Dirk, urruuuu ! 
E aqui termino minha mini postagem desejando a todos os leitores um Feliz Natal !

I have heard that Xenos shop in Holland is selling panettone, Bauducco brand. I have been there twice and didn't find it - so it has become an urban legend for me. I did found another brand of panettone at Dirk van den Broek supermarket today for only 3euros. Nothing can go wrong now...
This mini post is to wish all the readers who celebrate Christmas a gezellig celebration !

Saturday, December 18, 2010

It is Angels Time !

I guess every mother has heard a couple of stories from her kids which are related to "invisible little friends". I do too - and that was much before my kids start attending a Christian basic school. Once I was in my bed playing with my girl - who was holding my hands and jumping and laughing. I said: "We two are having a lot of fun !" And she said: "Yes, we three !" And looked to her side and didn't want to add anything else. Another time I was wearing a gold medal with a cherubim on it. My son asked: "Who is this ?", "A little angel" I replied. He kept asking: "Ahn ? A child ? With wings ?". I said: "Yes. They fly !". To what he answered "Oooh, now I see ! Those who come from the roof down us via the ceiling, right ?". I fainted a bit. Anyway, let's have some fun with angels stories - from a different perspective, shall we ?   I have always been a huge fan of Erich von Daniken (my father had some of his books) and it is a joy to see how enthusisastic he still is about all ancient astronauts theories.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Preparations

My parents-in-law have a huuuuge pinus tree at their front garden. It is so big, that it partially occupy an area of their neighbour's garden as well. Ever year they decorate it for Christmas - and the neighbour provides the electricity.  A couple years ago it was elected by a local supermarket the most beautiful Christmas tree in the village, and my in-laws received a basket with liquor and Chritmas goodies (pate', chocolates, cheese, cookies, etc.) as a prize. Oh yes, they shared the basket content with their neighbours.

Work in progress: the star was placed on the top of the three last weekend. During this whole week my f.i.l. shall be busy with the decoration.
There he is, my father-in-law. Wondering how he reaches the top of the tree ? No, he doesn't use a ladder. He climbs it up from inside, like a squirrel: jumping from branch to branch, higher and higher !

Presentinhos do Brasil

Hoje eu passei o dia inteiro pensando nas comidas brasileiras natalinas. A textura e o aroma de um panettone, os bolinhos de bacalhau do meu pai, um peruzão amigo ou um pernil bem grande, farofa, rabanada (que eu nem gosto tanto assim). Hummm… Cheguei a decisão que ano que vem quero um panetone na mesa holandesa ! Vou pedir para meus pais já me enviarem um no inicio de dezembro 2011 pelos correios.

Pois bem, estou eu preparando hoje o banho das crianças quando um entregador toca a campanhia com uma caixa grande nas mãos. Reconheci logo como tendo sido enviado pelos meus pais – e pelo formato não podia ser panetone (e meus pais não lêem meus pensamentos). Não tive como esconder a entrega das crianças e mostrar de surpresa durante o Natal. Três livros do Tintim e quatro de atividades e adesivos. Fiquei comovida com o exagero (o peso total foi de 2 kilos) e os gastos. Liguei logo para minha mãe para agradecer e botei as crianças treinadinhas para dizer “Obrigado vovó / Obrigada pelos presentes”.

Acho que o lado mais duro de constituir uma família fora do Brasil é o fato dos meus pais não curtirem meus filhos numa base mais freqüente...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Wat Is Dromen ?

On the video above from Sep. 2010, the 3 Js (Jan Dulles, Jaap Kwakman and Jaap de Witte) from Volendam and Ellen ten Damme.
Ellen (1967) is a Dutch singer, musician and actress and even performs some acrobacies while on the stage. It seems she is famous in Germany, due to her several roles on films for the television - and she speaks German almost without an accent. The Dutch market is so small that it is not so unusual for Dutch artists also pursusing a career in other countries singing in French (Dave), English (Anouk, Ilse de Lange, The Cats) or German (Ellen ten Damme and others). I find Ellen quite special for being succesful in different artistic areas and having such an innovative and entrepreneurial approach to her career/band. A female artist with balls - and the maestro of her own life.

Below, my free translation of the refrain from Dutch into English:

What is the meaning of dreaming ?
Is it hoping, aiming, wishing to know or forgetting to live ?
Is it just a thought, or the waiting between giving and taking ?
Is it good, is it harmful, a betrayal for a moment ?
A sign ? Or has no meaning ?

The Lyrics in Dutch:

Wordt wakker schat.
Je hebt een nare droom gehad.
Rustig maar.
Rust nog wat.
Je kussen is zelfs nat.

Was het dan toch maar verbeelding?
En niet iets wat me zeggen wil?
Wat ik moet weten?
Weet ik veel?
De angst is vast een deel.

Wat is dromen?
Is het hopen, streven, willen weten of vergeten te leven?
Is het maar een gedachte, het wachten tussen nemen en geven?
Is het goed, is het schadelijk, verraderlijk of jou om het even?
Of het een teken is of van geen betekenis?

Ik vloog boven de stad.
Had maling aan de zwaartekracht.
En als ik val, dan land ik zacht.
Terug op mijn matras.
Dat was vannacht.

Toen laatst een zanger werd begraven.
Ik stond erbij en keek ernaar.
Mijn vrienden liepen snikkend af en aan.
En noemden steeds mijn naam.
Dat is toch raar?

Wat is dromen?
Is het hopen, streven, willen weten of vergeten te leven?
Is het maar een gedachte, het wachten tussen nemen en geven?
Is het goed, is het schadelijk, verraderlijk of jou om het even?
Of het een teken is of van geen betekenis?

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Mix with Everything

Go here. More Brazilian related news here.
(thanks for your tips gringa)

I think Brazil has missed a HUGE opportunity to make an unforgettable World Cup in 2014. Where are the new roads ? Airports ? Metro lines ? Hotels ? New stadia ?
The second video is an interview with Eike Batista, the richest man in Brazil and 8th in the world, according to Forbes magazine. Let's pay attention to his advices, because he knows everything.

GFH most visited posts.

Ever wondered... which are my most viewed posts ?

- Texel
- Container Houses
- Zaanse Schans
- Diploma ABC
- French Markets
- Sail 2010 - II part
- How to Irritate a Brazilian ?
- NT 2 -II
- This weekend
- A Brazilian Wedding Party
- Brazil, Facts & Oddities
- Samba Kitchen

They are not my most commented posts, they are the most viewed post & with long visits. (There are other posts that were/are very viewed such as recipes and videos and that I didn't include on the list above. And my most read post I didn't include on the list above, it is called "Brazil 2014".). I guess all the links the posts above contain are still working. Please have a look and enjoy !

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Dutch Restroom

For a long time I have considered writing about the differences of Dutch restrooms and a Brazilian ones.

This is the restroom (powder room) at my Dutch house, located on the ground floor. It has some particularities that serve as a rule for most Dutch restrooms:

* The sink is always tiny and there is no warm water. You might think it is like those we see at the dentist's office. Usually when I have kids visiting us and they wash their hands, a good area of the floor becomes wet. I mean, if kids with little hands have problems using such a tiny sink, you can imagine how much practice it demands. I have been in bigger homes than mine and the sinks at the restroom remain always very small.

* No windows in the Dutch restrooms. Some have a ventilation system activated when you turn the light on. No windows in a restroom is unthinkable for Brazilians. But when you consider the fact that Holland is a cold land - it starts to make some sense, doesn't it ?

* Decoration. There is always at least one of the following items:
- a candle;
- a sachet with dry flowers/lavender/ or scents such as "caramel", "vanille", "the sea" (!);
- a calender (ugh!) with the birthdays and holidays marked on it. This is actually a mandatory item in a Dutch restroom, once the Dutch are especially obsessed with birthdays. Two mothers at my kids school were shocked to know about my aversion to calenders in the restroom.
- shells or a an artificial plant;
- photos from the kids, family and friends;
- artwork from the kids.

* The mirror - if there is one - is tiny. I prefer it big, and I have at the moment two in the restroom.
A tiny sink, a tiny mirror, a tiny candle, a tiny soap and a tiny towel.
This is what makes a Dutch atmosphere.

* There are always toilet brushes in the Dutch restrooms. You do not use it when it is cleaning day, it stays permanently parked there. It can be quite a special design thing. Have a look at the one I have in my bathroom:
* Now... something you will NEVER find in a Dutch restroom: a butt hose. I have bought mine in Brazil and had it installed near my Dutch toilet downstairs. (Yes, some relatives/friends raised one eyebrow - or two - when they spotted it for the first time). Great to wash the kids after they use the toilet but also useful if you have to clean sand off their feet before they enter the house. The downside is... it is neglected during the winter months. There is no possibility around here of having warm water in the restroom downstairs (only in the bathrooms upstairs). Have a look below:

Check what I mean with the wonders of a butt hose reading this hilarious post.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Sinterklaas OR Santa Claus ?

The modern Santa Claus is a combination of a number of stories from a variety of countries.

Santa Claus... a typical American thing, isn't it ? Santa - that's how the name Sint Nikolaas spoken by the Dutch sounded to Americans. The Dutch brag that their Sinterklaas is the original (a-hem, cough, cough, cough!) one, and that the Santa Claus celebrated in the western world is just an invention of  North Americans, vaguely based on their  belief on Sinterklaas. The image of a Santa Claus we see today was indeed invented by Coca-Cola company. From 1931 to 1964 Coca-Cola advertised him delivering toys and/or enjoying a Coke with children who stayed up to greet him.

Santa Claus is basically a summing up of all different legends that used to run around in the Christian Medieval world vaguely based on actual events and a person called Nicholas as viewed by the Dutch - with some touches of paganism too (Northern god Odin has some parallels to Saint Nicholas as well). Whole story in details here.

No... The Dutch Sinterklaas  THE ORIGINAL ONE ? No way ! The Dutch Sinterklaas is a basically a Dutch invention, based on the life of a bishop from Myrna, in Anatolia (central part of Turkey) called Nicholas. He was a benevolent man especially for kids. It is said he fred an Ethiopian slave in a market, who in return started to follow the bishop. End of the story.

It should be the end. But then the Dutch added to it that Sinter comes every year around the end of November (why so early???)  from Madrid (?) in Spain (wasn't him Turkish???) in a steam boat (Are there canals in Spain???) with lots (it was ONE slave in the legend, right ???) of helpers called "the black Peters" (racist???) and that Sint also has a white horse (albino???) called "Amerigo" (amigo spelled wrong???). Argh ! There was a moment that I despised this whole odd story, lying to kids and all the comsummerism behind it. Now I decided to relax and let the kids believe in what they want to believe collectively. Conclusion: the Dutch celebrate the ORIGINAL (their word) Sinterklaas on the 5th of December and then they have a dinner on the 25th (why not the night of 24th ?) of December WITHOUT PRESENTS - just because the rest of the Christian world is celebrating it too. Pffff !

S is for Sint.
Sint and Piet... not to be taken seriously.

I have already blogged about Sinterklaas also here and here.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Valencia, Adiós

Above: a posh restaurant nearby Hotel Bristol called Nederland 1814. Not for our budget. Rather a poep sjiek plek voor stinkende rijke mensen.
Above: Central Station. Below: window detail of a building at Plaza de la Virgen. In Valencia you always have to look up in order to admire the sculptures and angels adorning the top of the buildings and appreciate all the iron work on balconies. So much rococo and baroque, oh boy !
Tile tableaux are everywhere...  it is almost an obsession.

Above: fountain, Plaza de la Virgen. The place to be with family and kids on Sunday mornings. Pigeons, pigeons, pigeons ! Las palomitas ! The flying rats !
... Tiles are indeed everywhere, even in the restrooms. Above and below: ladies's restroom, La Vida Sin Dormir restaurant, harbour area.
Orange trees are everywhere. Not so many as in Sevilla, but still... lots of them. Everywhere.
We have also visited a Museum near Plaza del Toro. The entrance is free on Sundays. I spent one week without eating red meat after visiting this museum and staring at the photos on the wall.
Another small museum that was also open on a Sunday was the Fallas (Fallero Museum), with giant dolls and carriages and altars...

Everytime I visit Spain I get a better perspective of South America. Yes, they have stollen and robbed a whole continent, leaving so many scars behind. But still - they have left a huge architectocnical legacy behind. Many times in Valencia I had a sense of deja vu and thought for some seconds that I could be in Recoleta or Palermo, Buenos Aires (that's in Argentina, South America, folks).  

After the Sunday breakfast we have heard sounds and screams when we were at the hotel lobby making plans for the day. It happened to be a marathon. A man stopped running in order to kiss this woman below (while another marathonist remarked: "Es un pegador !") and then ran away while the child was screaming "Papaaaaaa ! Come back! ". The woman explained: "Esta todo bien ! No pasa nada. Papa must run away with the others. Lets wave to all of them ! "

... And in Valencia I also enjoyed the company of a guy with and incredible sense of direction, an unbeatable good humour and always open for exploring new things. Obrigada meu amor for sharing one more adventure with me !