No major updates — just a few random photos from the past month or so!
Generally, I’m a pretty positive person. And I’m going to go ahead and pat myself on the back for having been pretty cool about this whole moving to Brazil thing. I think I’ve handled it really well. And for the most part – for the first 7 months – it wasn’t THAT tough because I was genuinely happy and super excited to be here. It was a decision that Michael and I made together, after careful thought and much prayer. It was an opportunity that Michael worked many long hours to make happen. And it was an adventure. For us. Together. And I love a good adventure!
Then came 7 months. The 7 Month Slump. Suddenly – and it was literally overnight – I started getting frustrated so easily by the big and the little things about life in Brazil. The streets are dirty, people are always smoking, the air is terribly polluted, it smells bad, everything is extremely overpriced, our apartment layout is weird, I don’t have a real job, things never work right, everything is ten times more difficult and more bureaucratic than it should be, the internet is always kicking me offline, I’m living permanently without a microwave, a dryer & a disposal, my oven is too small to fit a regular cookie sheet and my dishwasher, well, you can see what I am working with here, I miss my friends and family from home and sometimes Portuguese really gets on my nerves. UGH.
Poor Michael — for a couple of weeks every little thing about Brazil and our life here was getting to me. I just didn’t feel relaxed — it was almost like I was waiting for something to happen (like for us to MOVE) but there was nothing to wait for. We were not moving and this country was not changing.
Throughout life we are called, over and over, to make the choice to persevere in love through difficulty and challenges. Just because something is hard – be it a job, a marriage, children, friendships, pursuing a dream – it doesn’t mean that you’re doing it wrong or even that you necessarily need to change anything. Sometimes things are hard because you’re doing them RIGHT. I mean, some things are just tough. So although it was a challenge, it was also an opportunity to practice choosing joy and making the best of something that I wasn’t FEELING that great about.
We have now been in Brazil for over 8 months and I can confidently say that I am the happiest here yet and there is nowhere else I would rather be. I know that it’s not always this quick and easy to “bounce back” from something and I know that this challenge was small compared to all of the problems out there – and for that I am truly thankful! – but for me it was a good reminder that love and joy are not always feelings but are often choices made in opposition to our feelings. The hope is that these choices eventually do lead to a change of heart and renewed feelings, but that is not the goal. The goal is to be obedient to God’s call on our lives.
Anyway, I know that all of this is a normal part of adjusting to life in a new country, and somehow, after coming out of it, I feel much more settled here. More content. More permanent. More at home.
Call for desperate measures.
Not sure if you’re aware, but last night was kiiiind of a major night in television for the Harpers. First, we had the Giants playing, at home, in Game 7 of the National League Championship (where our old apartment building was frequently featured on TV!) AND the final presidential debate. Currently, Brazil is 2 hours ahead of EST which meant that the debate was on from 11-12:30. Although our preferred bedtime is more like… 10:30 (don’t judge) we persevered.
Just as the Giants locked up the win to head to the WORLD SERIES! (woop woop) and we turned our attention 100% to the debate, our TV and internet inexplicably stopped working. We freaked out. We were frantically unplugging, replugging, pressing buttons… to no avail. Foiled again by this crazy country!!
Thankfully we have friends down here – Trent & Paige – who we knew were also watching the debate. They actually don’t even own a TV (which is totally ridiculous but not totally relevant at this point) but they were watching it through YouTube. So, we called them and listened to the last 40 minutes of the debate through speakerphone. People. THIS is how dedicated we are.
Last weekend there was yet another glorious Brazilian holiday. I’m not exactly sure what this holiday is for but I have heard rumblings that it is in celebration of the Virgin Mary as the Patron Saint of Brazil, whatever that means. Regardless, for me, it was a sweet escape from the city to spend a weekend laying in hammocks, eating amazing food, snuggling with puppies and hanging out with friends.
One of our friends down here has been working tirelessly updating, renovating, furnishing and building on an incredible property in the countryside of São Paulo. His family purchased a gorgeous estate and he has been working hard to make it absolutely out-of-this-world. Because it is a personal property I don’t want to overshare photos of every single room, but trust me…it was unreal. Michael and I both said that we had never been anywhere like it.
Here are some snapshots of the weekend that included 14 friends, lots of incredible home-cooking, a boys’ golfing trip, silly pool-games, little hikes around the property, and lots of lazy fun.
And tell me. What could possibly be better than ending the weekend with a bunch of brand new, cuddly PUPPIES?!?!
**Photo credits to Divya & Paige! Thanks girls!**
Michael moved from Washington DC to San Francisco during the fall of 2009. He shipped the little amount of furniture that he had in DC, and then drove a U-Haul from Phoenix to SF, bringing some new items from home. One of the new items was actually not new at all, just new for him. Michael’s mom had a great set of bookshelves that originally belonged to his great aunt that she gave him to bring. We thoroughly enjoyed the bookshelves while living in SF, however it felt like it was time to give them a little facelift before we hauled them all the way to Brazil. So… before we left San Francisco, while Michael was traveling for work, I attempted my very first-ever DIY project and painted them! (Of course we agreed on this before he left.)
Some people are naturally artistic, crafty, and love doing projects like this. I, however, was terrified. I had never done anything like this before and was scared to death of ruining this antique, family heirloom. That being said, I was inspired by photos online and especially by my dear friend, Emily Penn, and all of her DIY furniture makeover successes. Emily introduced me to Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint which allows you to paint directly on literally any surface without having to sand, prep or prime the area first. This was MAJOR for me as I never could have managed all of those additional steps. This chalk paint is only sold in select locations so I drove an hour South to San Jose and picked up my supplies at Magpie! The ladies there were very helpful and gave me some pointers before I headed out. One more stop at Lowe’s to get a couple of brushes, tape and a painter’s tarp for the floor, and I was ready!
That evening I started the preparation process and moved everything off the shelves. I pulled them away from the walls and laid down my tarp on the floor. I got it alllllll ready but I was too scared to open the paint, so I decided I to wait until the next day.
The next morning I woke up feeling super nervous. I made coffee and tried to procrastinate, but since the place was such a disaster, I knew I had to just start the painting! Here is how it went…
At the point of the photos above, I was absolutely petrified that I was effectively ruining this furniture beyond repair. The first coat went on streaky and uneven and the wood was showing through quite a bit. I was crossing my fingers that the second coat would be the difference, and it was huge! I actually could have used some more in certain areas, but I ran out of the white (which says a lot for the size of these shelves — I had been told that this paint “goes on and on forever.”) I debated going back to the store for more, and had it been just down the street, I probably would have, but at this point I just wanted the shelves to be DONE as soon as possible! (And in reality, I will probably re-paint these in a few years something totally different.) Anyway, after the white I wanted to paint the backs black to give it a little more of a modern look / some visual interest.
After the painting you rub on some wax and then buff it to finish it off (which, to be honest, I didn’t really do because I am lazy). In the end, I am SO glad that I went for it. I think they look great (enough) and are a much better fit with our furniture — especially given our apartment layout in Brazil. I learned a lot and am excited about doing more projects in the future. 🙂 Side Note: Still trying to figure out the hardware situation. I painted all of the original hardware black but one of the knobs broke (hence the missing knob above) so… still a work in progress. 🙂
What do you think?!?!
In our San Francisco apartment, Michael and I didn’t have space for a full dining table so we just had a bar-height 4 top. Although it was the right thing for our space, we were constantly wishing that we were able to seat more people. Furthermore, since it was bar-height, it was impossible to pull additional chairs up to the table. I hosted a girl’s Bible study group every week (MISS YOU ALL SO MUCH!!) and it was like musical chairs – people constantly trading places depending on who was eating dinner or standing up eating in the kitchen…
Knowing that we wanted to be able to host people better in São Paulo, prior to leaving San Francisco, we sold our dining set on Craigslist and went hunting for something else. Since we didn’t know what kind of space we would have in Brazil, it was a little challenging to know what to get, so we thought that an extendable table would be ideal. That being said, both of us have had experiences with extendable tables that were clunky, difficult, heavy, etc. so we were kind of nervous about the idea. However, we got lucky when we wandered into a random furniture store in Emeryville one day and described what we were looking for. Right away, the owner of the shop took us to our table. It has a really simple, attached, pull-out leaf that easily just pops into place. Michael was fascinated / immediately sold so we went for it.
Obviously though, we needed chairs to go with it. I really like upholstered dining chairs and think they are super comfortable, but we learned with our previous set that we cannot be trusted with food & light fabrics so I decided to go for charcoal gray to disguise any/all stains. What I like about this too is that – while we normally have 6 chairs around the table – if we want to extend it to seat 8, we can always pull up the two gray side chairs that are in the living room.
More of the dining area:
Although I do think the table could really use some fresh flowers to brighten things up, it’s really not as dark as it looks in these photos since the space is all open and the walls are bright white.
So…when are you coming for dinner?!
Table & Chairs: Decorium Furniture & Rugs
Buffet: Crate & Barrel
Vintage Tin Tiles: Pottery Barn
Mini Wine Fridge: Wedding gift from our dear friend, Bradley Walbridge
Crystal Decanter & Cocktail Glasses: Wedding gift from Tiffany & Co (hence the boxes…)
So, I think it’s pretty clear why “office” is in quotation marks. It’s obviously not a real office. It’s a wall in between the door into our apartment and our living room with a desk and mini filing cabinet. And while I dream about having an office like this one day, this is my office for now. 🙂
a little OCD… does anyone else do this or am I the only crazy one???Some credits:
Stationary: Gadabout (displayed in an antique toast holder!)
Monogrammed Mug: Gift from my sweet friend, Christie Bienemann, from Anthropology
Desk: Pottery Barn
Cow Hide Rug: Wedding gift from Eric Chamberlin – purchased in Argentina!
Things I still want to do in here:
1) Since this is connected to the living room, I would love to paint the entire room a pale gray to give it a little more character / definition.
2) Originally I thought I would make the space above the desk a little gallery-wall of sorts but since the space is generally so small I have tended towards less-is-more. Sometimes I think it looks too plain but I think that painting the walls might be just what it needs…
*** Any Ideas or Suggestions are Welcome! ***