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I miss Sephora

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I stopped by a Cosmetics store the other day, a larger one as I needed to pick up some blue hair dye for some highlights.  They had a lot of hair products, but one thing that I have consistently found lacking is makeup here.  I’ve seen the MAC store, but to be honest I’ve never bought into the whole MAC cosmetics world.  I do however miss Sephora, walking in and looking at the various beautiful brands just makes me happy inside.   I’m more of a Laura Mercier and Tarte girl, and I don’t get that option here so I have to buy makeup whenever I go back to the US.  Well that was until I remembered a little site I had run across a very very long time ago.   I remembered they did free international shipping (from China), and they said if you got charged customs they would reimburse it.

Yes ladies, that’s right in English and in Portuguese.  They have it all on the site, and they usually have deals as well, not as sweet as Sephora, but close enough.  I did read their FAQ, and all I remembered was right, they do reimburse and shipping is free.


**Update! Looks like we won’t be missing Sephora anymore.


Buying expat stuff in Brasil

I’m not dead (well I’m sick and super tired, but not dead).  I’m just in the US, and have been for like a month now, letting our monkey visit the grandparents and great grand parents (and well doing a lot of flying for work).

And after a month, I realize while it’s nice to see the family I miss Brasil.  It’s grown on me.  I miss being able to walk to the stores, and buying fresh veggies and bread.  I miss the “Brasil” of it.  Of course while in Brasil, all I could dream about was all of the things from the US I missed.

It’s funny, I never bought sparkling pomegranate juice in the US, but now that I can’t find it for $3.50 in every store, I want it! I rarely ate cheddar, because I’m a havarti, muenster, jack fan, but now I want it, and I want to eat mac n’ cheese!  I also want havarti, muenster and jack, but they don’t have that in Brasil.  It reminds you of home, when the flavor hits your tongue you remember more than just food, you remember the place.  Cherry Caprisun reminds me of sitting on the edge of a hotel bed in Germany as a 7 year old… not that I like it, or drink it EVER, but every now and again I want to be taken back to Germany. Kind of like feijoada for my husband.  Even though my nanny swears she loves my black beans, my husband complains because it’s too American, not feijoada!  And now that I’m in the US, I want my morning Pão, and cooking everything with loads of garlic.  I miss food and baked goods made from scratch not a mix (gasp! I know, but I’ve really gained an appreciation for REAL cooking).

With that being said, here’s my list of the foods expats (American) miss the most:

Cheddar cheese: I’ve seen it at Pao de Acucar in Brooklin Paulista, and bought it (R$88 a kilo!) because I wanted mac n; cheese. I have also found it at the CEAGSP cheese stands.  Neither consistently.

Chocolate chips: They do have them here. Chocorob in Brooklin has it for R$5 for 250 grams.  It’s a bit waxy and not creamy like the good stuff in the US.  But I just buy the bars of Garoto chocolate they sell and chop it up, white, dark, semi-sweet, milk, it’s all really good.  If you get Crocante, you get the nice little toffee with the chocolate, and it’s better than a Hershey bar any day.

Corn syrup: My Pao de Acucar doesn’t have it, but my friend in Morumbi says Karo is in the same section as the honey.  I buy it for a tiny jar at Chocorob because I don’t cook with it that often ever.

Agave Syrup: They sell it and it’s expensive as is Maple Syrup.  I bring both of this in from the US, as a bottle usually lasts me about a year, so Merry Christmas to me… and I do buy the BIG bottles 🙂

Mexican Spices: I’ve found them, although they’re not cheap.  Same thing with Lemon Pepper.  It’s just a matter of learning what they call things. Like Nutmeg, it doesn’t come ground, but I’ve learned to love the freshness of grating my own nutmeg!

Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake: R$65 at Sam’s Club. I’d rather just make Cheesecake from scratch, and never really ate it anyways.

They do sell small avocados here, and they’re not sweet, they’re perfect for making guacamole.  The big ones are too sweet for my liking. It did piss me off to find Avocados for .44 at Walmart here…. in the snow… when they’re like R$5 a kilo back in the tropics of Brasil.

Everything else you want, you’ve got to make yourself.  Brasil isn’t like the US where you can buy everything pre-made. If you want black beans, you cook it from scratch. You want diced tomatoes with spices, you can buy a can of whole tomatoes (though most boil the tomatoes themselves) dice it and add your spices. That goes for rotel tomatoes. You want them, then boil the diced tomatoes, chop up some hot peppers, and add a bit of salt, boil, and you’ve got something pretty close. There are not huge sections of canned veggies and fruit, or ready made dinners.  Which is good as canned food is bad for you anyway right?

Tortillas are pretty much Wrap 10s, and they’re not that great if you like REAL tortillas… and if you do, well learn to make them yourself.. and give up on corn tortillas all together.

You want chicken broth, substitute their bouillon cubes, or boil yourself a chicken! I usually buy Swanson flavor packets, as they’ve got a great brothy flavor, but are just packets so easy to bring a bunch in the suitcase.  I’m too lazy to boil a whole chicken to get that yummy broth.

Things I have yet to find:

Clorox Wipes: I’ve seen a “how to make your own” online, but they don’t have the same super sturdy paper towels here.

Cheap Toys: Well you can buy them in Centro, but they’re “cheap” as well; you know ala China. Cool toys are more expensive here. So I’m loading up during the holidays for future birthdays.

Bath and Body Works: If you’re into room sprays, I would bring them over from Bath & Body Works, as they are super cheap during their sales. And all the smelly stuff is either lavender or something else yucky, or super expensive fancy stuff.  Like hand soap, if you want nice you go to L’Octainne (which I like) but would rather put out some froofy B&BW pump soap.

I’m fashion behind

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So I do surf the net, but I’m a dork so it’s usually looking at the new tech coming out, not the new fashion trends.  I could tell you about some amazing gadgets coming out in the future (or already out in Asia right?).  That being said, if you were to ask me what was in fashion in the US, I couldn’t tell you as I’m not following that online.  So when I walked into C&A today while shopping at Ibirapuera with the spouse for a Santos jersey (anyone know where we can find a cool one??)  and saw this….

I have to ask, is this just a fashion back in Brasil or has this already hit the US?? If not, girls be warned theeeyyy’rrree baaaack!

No these were not the only set of body suits I saw, they were everywhere!  Have we forgotten the constant wedgie these things caused?  Do we really have to revisit ALL of the styles from the 80’s and 90’s? We skipped the scrunchie, can we skip this?  Because honestly, I’m not seeing a big difference from the early 90’s version and the ones in this photo.. no 2010 spin, just same old uncomfortable bodysuit.

But then again, this is Brasil and not all fashions from Brasil make it to the US.

Shopping & Shoes!!!

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Ahhh, I have the best husband in the whole wide world.  Last weekend we had no plans to go anywhere as I just got back from going somewhere, so my husband thought it would be good to go explore downtown São Paulo.  We jumped on a bus.  He had previously instructed me to only take the train (he thought there would be a better chance of me not getting lost… see post here to see why that logic was flawed), so it was nice to just hop on the bus and head straight up.

We had two plans

Rua Direta and Rua Vinte e Cinco de Março. We wandered around in a big circle, most of the stores had cheaply made clothing, toys, and cheaper household goods.  There was Hering, which it turns out is also in my neighborhood. Hering isn’t too expensive, and is pretty GAP like in appearance.  Random boutiques…then we found it… the WHOLE reason this trip was worth it… Mundial Calçados.  The top was Munidal, the bottom floor was the Mundial outlet. And the shoes, ahh the shoes were wonderful. I am pretty picky on my shoes, and find more often than not I settle for a pair of shoes as I need them, but rarely truly love shoes (well sometimes I love them, but don’t love the price). I loved the price, and I loved the shoes. I bought three pairs… aren’t they all cute??  With winter coming on, I’ll probably not get much use out of the first two, but they are nice classics, so I think will work next summer just fine.

I wanted to buy this pair, but with a 10 month old, wearing heels like this just didn’t make sense. But aren’t they ADORABLE? Sporty and sexy all in one.  Tennis shoe high heels. AND one thing I found with the shoes, unlike American shoes that look good, these actually were comfortable too. Usually you need to pay for cute and comfortable.  No wonder Brasilian women walk around in heels, the shoes don’t hurt!

I picked this shot since you can see the wee one sleeping

After my little shopping pitstop, we learned that Rua Vinte e Cinco de Março was closed at noon on Saturdays, so we began to head back, when my husband saw his mother ship. The Brasilian Stock Exchange – BOVESPA It was kind of funny just happening upon it while we were discount shopping downtown.  That’s the thing, in Brasi, you never know what you’ll happen upon from one neighborhood to the next.

Nearby there were some street performers.  A very talented singer who’s generator powered mic kept dying on him, and one of those guys who pretends to be a statue.  This guy stands still until he sees a good target, then bends down and blows a little “peep” whistle, startling them.  Most kids are kinda freaked out by this.  As you can see from the photo ours was more curious than scared. I tell you, he’s 2 minutes away from taking some strangers hand and disapearing into the sunset.


Funny Stories from that day


The bus stop is right across from a large cathedral.  My Uncle is Catholic, but I am very much not, so haven’t ever actually been in a Catholic church… so we decided to pop in and see it as our last stop for the day.  It was a bit odd, as it was a tourist attraction, with signs everywhere, but it was also a working cathedral with confessionals and people buying candles and other paraphernalia at the “catholic items stand” in the church. The mixing of sacred and tourist was a new one for me… seriously people were walking around taking pictures (even though signs clearly stated otherwise).  It was beautiful inside… unfortunately my son wasn’t well behaved. See he’s very musically inclined, and at a young age recognized that certain environments are very conducive to echoes.  Yes, anytime we enter a parking garage he starts “echoing”… well I guess he figured out with the high ceilings and all of that concrete he could get a good echo… he was right of course.  We quickly headed out the back door with my husband’s hand clasped firmly over little screamer.


As we exited the back door two little urchins were trying to get into the Cathedral.  The security guard wouldn’t let them in to the building. My husband said one was telling the other to go in and “confess all of his sins” and the other yelled back, “I’m not confessin’ my sins to anyone!”.  They’re probably 8 or 9… and I’m certain they had more sins to confess than I did at that age.


More of an observation really. We stopped some Federal police, and by that we mean went up to the Federal Police that were just standing there… with all of the “Activity” going on downtown, there are Federal Police stands where they just kind of stand around and watch (in fact everywhere we go there are usually Federal Police just standing around…but that’s for another blog). We asked the group of Federal Police where the bus to get home was.  They looked at us, and then said, “Zona Sul?”  My husband is pretty certain it is because we were white, obviously out of place, and pretty nicely dressed.  Because see that’s where all of us expat folk live… Zona Sul.. that and rich Brasilians 🙂