Super Fabulous

A couple of weeks ago, I went back to the US (South Carolina) for the first time since moving to Brazil.  It was a wonderful trip full of family-time, eating shrimp & grits, and loading up on cheap goods from Bed Bath & Beyond, but the REASON I went home, was to be a bridesmaid in Cyrus and Cory’s wedding.  I have a ton of family photos that I want to share from my trip, but their wedding was so super-fabulous, it had to be its own post.

I first met Cyrus over 10 years ago when I was 14 years old.  He won me over immediately and soon sunk his claws into me and convinced me to do my first pageant.  Although the first one was a complete embarrassment, Cyrus ended up carrying me through Miss South Carolina and on to the top 15 at Miss USA.  For me, that was truly a once in a lifetime experience that I can absolutely say I never would have had without him.

Cyrus is such a special person.  I think that one of his greatest gifts (aside from pageant genius) is being able to celebrate people for exactly who they are.  He finds the best in you and makes it shine.  (And he finds the rough places and tells you to wear extra make-up or get a push-up bra.)  And whether the girls who he works with end up walking away with a crown or not, they certainly come away with a renewed sense of self-confidence and a lot of laughs.

Because I have known Cyrus for such a long time and care about him so much, I was a little nervous when he first told me about Cory, but all of my skepticism vanished as soon as I met him.  Cory has such a warm soul, contagious sense of humor and he is KILLER with makeup.  (In fact, he was kind enough to do my makeup on my wedding day and did all of our makeup on HIS wedding day!)  Bonus about Cory — his last name is KING!!  Soul mates?  I think so.  And most importantly, I have never seen Cyrus so happy.  The weekend of their wedding they were both GLOWING.  I am so blessed to know these wonderful men and was honored to share in their special day.   Now, onto the photos!!

The wedding was held at the South Carolina State Museum and the theme was 60’s, kind of MadMen-ish.  Their colors were black, white, silver and pink.  The bridal party was…beautiful.  🙂  And the rest…speaks for itself.

Some of the bridesmaids at the Rehearsal Dinner. L-R: Amanda – Miss SC USA ’04, Lacie – Miss SC USA ’06, Caitlin – Miss SC Teen USA ’07, Erika – Miss SC America ’05 AND Miss SC USA ’12, me – Miss SC USA ’07, Shannon – Miss SC Teen USA ’12. — Kind of hilarious??? And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Rehearsal Dinner Cake

Getting ready for the wedding — with Caitlin — my 2007 “little sister”

The wedding party in front of the “altar”

THE cake table

Cory & Cyrus dancing with their Matrons of Honor

Winners of the garter & bouquet toss


With my mom & dad (after changing clothes)

Lots of love to you two!!

It was wonderful getting to reunite with so many special friends.   XOXOXO!
**Thanks to April, Jill, and all others from whom I have borrowed photos for this post!**

Pack It Up, Pack It In

Let me begin
by saying Praise the Lord, I THINK that last Monday was the last time that Michael and I will have to pack up our stuff and move to a new location.  Although we have had our new apartment since April, we had been staying in our temporary, furnished apartment so that we could better host Michael’s family during their visit.   By 8pm on Monday, April 30th however, we had to be OUT of there, so we spent the days after his family left in a frenzy running around trying to buy appliances, rent furniture and move our stuff over to our new place.  (Thankfully we have some incredible friends here who pitched in and made the move a breeze!)

Buying appliances was kind of an interesting experience.  I searched all of the stores online (Extra, Casa Biaha, Ponto Frio, Carre Four…) and made a list of the ideal appliances and their lowest prices online.  It’s important to do your research, but it’s best to buy in person so that you can negotiate.  So, we took my list to our nearby Ponto Frio to try our luck.  The selection is more limited in stores but they had enough to work with, so we ended up buying our fridge, stove, dishwasher and washing machine there and I think we netted out getting about 15% off the lowest online prices!  Michael was a star negotiator, 100% in Portuguese.  At this point, all of our appliances have been delivered but the fridge is the only thing that’s functional since the manufacturers have to come actually install the other items.  We think we’ll have the stove and dishwasher running later today and the washing machine…sometime soon thereafter.  We hope.

Amazingly, the furniture rental turned out to be pretty simple.  We heard of two companies to rent from – John Richards and Interiors – and went with John Richards since Michael has a coworker who is renting with them and had a positive experience.  We selected the items we needed online and on Monday afternoon it was all delivered.  In an effort to be economical, we only rented dishes and cooking supplies, sheets, towels, a bed, sofa and a coffee table.  So, right now our apartment is pretty empty.  We have no TV, no chairs, no table, no dressers…and as of right now, we still have no Internet!  They were supposed to install it last Saturday but there was some strange issue with the cables and now the Internet company is in touch with our landlord and we’re hoping it gets solved by Monday.  Also, we still have a little more work to do to the apartment as we need to buy some kitchen cabinets, we’re having some closets redone, etc.

Although a little unusual, we are making the most of our current situation by eating lots of cereal, ice cream and PB&Js (your options are limited when you only have a fridge!), playing card games and speed boggle, and having contests to see who can slide the farthest in their socks across our floors.  If you have on the right socks you can get pretty far.  🙂  Of course we are looking forward to having a stove and furniture and TV and Internet…but for now we’re having fun.

Oh, and an update on our stuff: our sea shipment landed in Brazil April 26th and is going through the customs process – estimated to clear by June 1!  This is great news for us and means that we may only be renting furniture for the month of May and soon we’ll see our things again and get to really settle in here.  Oh to settle in…

The Harpers Hit Brazil

A couple of weeks ago, the Harpers descended on Brazil and in true Harper fashion, we packed a LOT in.  There is no way to do their visit justice in a blog post, but I’ll do my best to hit the highlights.

Pre-visit: Michael, Joe and I flew to Rio on Saturday, the 14th, the day before the Harpers started arriving to check everything out and be sure we got some solid beach-time in.  We had a great day and as we were leaving the beach we spotted some good ole’ Clemson Tiger fans so we grabbed them for a quick pic.  It turns out the family lives a couple of blocks from the beach and is there for a couple of years with Proctor and Gamble.  Sounds like a pretty sweet deal.

Ipanema beach with fellow TIGER FANS!! This one’s for you, Papa! 🙂

Days 1 – 3: Harpers arrived in Rio.  We stayed at the amazing Santa Teresa Hotel and enjoyed exploring the neighborhood of Santa Teresa as well as Ipanema and Copacabana.  Of course, we also toured the Christ the Redeemer statue and climbed to the top of Pão de Açúcar.  Well, we rode the gondola.  Incredible views.  While in Rio, Michael and I celebrated our 2 year anniversary over a fantastic dinner at Aprazivel – with the whole family, of course.  🙂

Hanging out in our favorite spot — the amazing Santa Teresa Hotel bar

View of Santa Teresa from the hotel

Walking around the cute little town — with Joe and his new buddy

The boys in front of the Dois Irmãos (Two Brothers) Mountains

View on our way up to the top of Pão de Açúcar

Sunset view from the top

Day 4 we headed to São Paulo and arrived just in time to tour our apartments, our neighborhood park and have an amazing Brazilian dinner at one of our favorite spots, Espírito Santo, just a few blocks from our new apartment.

Dinner at Espirito Santo! Our favorite neighborhood spot.

Day 5 included tours of both Joe’s and Michael’s offices, fabulous lunch at Dalva e Dito, shopping on Oscar Freire AND Sharon’s miraculous finding of her “mother-of-the-bride” dress for Christy’s wedding!  Christy & TJ – it made us feel like you guys were really with us in spirit.  We capped off the night with incredible views of the city and great caipirinhas at Hotel Unique.

Dalva e Dito

Lise, how many pairs did you take back with you?  🙂

Day 6 we walked around our neighborhoods, checked out a Brazilian art museum, and had an amazing sushi dinner at Nagayama followed by late night live Bossa Nova music and cocktails at the Fasano.
Day 7 was a Saturday so in the morning we checked out the Mercadão and sampled lots of exotic fruits.  Then we headed to Villa Madelena for a “street-art” / graffiti tour followed by live Samba music and great food at Bar Samba!  Then, the Harpers packed their bags and headed for the airport.

Vila Madalena

We hated saying, “Goodbye,” but the sadness was eased a little because Shannon stayed a few extra days with us!  So the next day Shannon, Michael, Joe and I took a little day trip to Embu Das Artes to check out the cute little artisan town.  Then, Shannon and I spent the next few days having lots of adventures around São Paulo from biking in Parque Ibirapuera to a crazy day in Liberdade (Sao Paulo’s “Japan Town”).

Street Fair – Embu Das Artes

Biking in the park. Sorry that I am super awkward with anything sports-related. I can’t help it!

Liberdade. Oh Shan, what a day this was…. 😉

Come back soon!!

Cafe Zim misses you guys! And so do we!