Making Home…Home.

Hello everyone! Hope all is well? I have so many blog ideas. This one will be about shopping, per se (and decorating on a budget). I actually loathe shopping. Weird for a woman, I know. I’m not sure why, but it’s how I am. If I HAD to choose something even a tiny bit enjoyable to shop for, I guess it’d be stuff for my home. With that said, you’d think I’d be in heaven considering we moved over here and had to start over and… shop for things for our home? Nah! It’s one thing to go shopping where you know where the good deals are, where the currency is in your native language, and the options are plentiful.

This is not the case in Brazil. I had envisioned a Brazilian store full of cheap options for my soon-to-be lovely eclectic Brazilian home. Options so plentiful I just couldn’t settle on what color scheme to choose. This idea is hilarious to me now that I’m here and trying to make our little apartment feel like home. I actually think I did a good job of that so far; BUT, it was work and took a lot of patience.

First of all, if you’re a foreigner wanting to rent in this country you need two cosigners or months of rent in advance. We had known this before we got here so we were prepared for the months in advance. However, we were still turned down by several realtors. Most apartment owners here use realtors. We submitted so much paperwork and we were still told no, several times. Money doesn’t talk in this country but we have something better on our side. God.

I know our mother church has been fasting for us so with that and the help of the missionary that was here 3 years ago, we finally met a realtor willing to rent to us. This particular realtor didn’t have a lot of properties vacant but I was willing to make anything home after being in a hotel for so long. We were so glad to hear he had a new building with vacancy and a moving in promotion. Then, some friends we had made knew a friend that owns a mattress warehouse and he sold us his best mattresses for an amazing price! God is so good and we’re sleeping well. He’s helped connect us with all the right people. Now, onto decorating our apt…

We’ve been here for 2 months now and everything’s slowly coming together. Slow seems to be the norm here. It drives us Americans crazy but Brazilians are perfectly content with the waiting. We understand why they’re so content. It’s how it’s been their whole lives. Everywhere you go you’ll see lines of people waiting. Whether it’s paying bills or making purchases. If you go to a store and buy something you’ll usually wait awhile to process the transaction. When we bought our appliances it took an hour and a half to fill out paperwork and put us in their system. Then we waited 3-5 days to have the stuff delivered, then someone else would be sent in the next 2-4 days to put it all together. We even bought a tiny standing drawer/fruit basket and had to wait for it to be delivered, then again wait for someone the come and put it together. We could have done it ourselves but that would void any warranty and would’ve been unfortunate if we opened it and found a part broken. That happened with the closet we bought for my son, Jason. Yes, not all rooms have closets…or cabinets. I’m glad we didn’t open it because the mirror on the closet was broken and we’ve been waiting 2 weeks for someone to bring a new one, then we’ll probably have to wait for someone else to come and install it….you get the point. I’ve always needed more patience, this is a great way to get it. 😉

Life is different here for me also because I’m used to going to one place and buying so many different things. Ah, the convenience of it all. Things are so much easier in the States. Wait… I’m not complaining. These are facts. I’m merely informing you. I love it here and difficult is something I’ve learned to embrace and it doesn’t get the best of me. I can thank God for all the trials I’ve endured before this, for this attitude on life. He knows I needed em! Anyways, here in Brazil, you need to go to many different places to build a home. I even have to go to many different places to build a grocery list! One store just doesn’t contain everything I need to cook meals for my family over a couple of weeks time. 😉 I’m sure that’ll change once I’m more familiar with Brazilian foods. So glad they have ramen here! At least I know we won’t starve.

Another challenge is getting an idea of the price ranges here. It’s not as simple as example, Clean and Clear face wash is $R20 because you can go to another store and find it for $R16. We’ve also noticed that the part of town you’re shopping in doesn’t always matter. We found the face wash cheaper in the richer part of town. It’s like that with so many products here. It can be overwhelming going to different stores to get the best deals and it’s impossible to keep track of what you bought where. It’s like shopping in Wonderland…not much makes sense. Some items are even cheaper here than in the states and some are insanely pricey. Fruit is more affordable here while electronics are 2-4xs or more what you’d pay in the states. We bought a super cheap plastic fan, that you could find in the states for $15, for $40 US dollars here. Purchases like that hurt. :0 But keep in mind, there is no AC here so it’s a matter of supply and demand. We’ve had to laugh through several duds, of course. For instance, we bought some towels and they wouldn’t soak up water. They just pushed the water around on the surface. Then I bought some makeup and it ended up being so liquidy I couldn’t use it. Makeup and pictures to hang on the wall are 2 of the most difficult things to find here… And food I’m used to….but that’s another post.

We have been lucky to stumble upon some great finds, despite all the info above, but that’s the result of scouring the city and stores. It’s taken a lot of….eek, shopping to figure all this out.

The couches we found are beautiful and I was shocked how cheap we got them! Used isn’t something you can find easily here either. I kept asking, “Where’s the used furniture stores?” I got a lot of funny looks asking that question. Instead of used, Brazilians are accustomed to having the option to make payments on everything here from toasters, appliances, clothes/shoes to even food and gas! I’m definitely going to miss thrift stores. I love finding used furniture and clothes! We did find a used dining table.

Love my used table! We even got blessed because the seller didn't know it pulled out in the middle and we use the extra chairs as a desk chair and the other in our room.
Love my used table! We even got blessed because the seller didn’t know it pulled out in the middle and we use the extra chairs as a desk chair and the other in our room.

Maybe I should’ve labeled this post Budget Shopping in Brazil!

On Sundays BH has a “Feira Rip” or Hippie Fair and it is the best place to shop and get interesting stuff for inexpensive prices.

Imagefood-section-of-the-fair RiodeJaneiro_ipanemafair

You will find thousands of people shopping here. There’s everything you can think of here. I bought some hanging shelves for the kids rooms for $8 US dollars! I also bought throw pillows for the couch and frames. I have to wait another week to go and see what else I can find. I’m like a crazy woman on a mission to decorate and save money!

The pillows on the couch were $7 and the "onions" (that's what my husband calls them) on the coffee table were $10!
The pillows on the couch were $7 and the “onions” (that’s what my husband calls them) on the coffee table were $10 for all three!

Those pillows at a regular store would be $40 each! See the craziness of it all? And the onions? I saw some almost exactly like em for $60. Needless to say, that’s why I wait every week for the Fair.

I still haven’t found many pictures to hang on the wall. I’m used to going to a store and buying some cheap painting that’s been framed and is being sold at Walmart or Marshalls. Here at the Hippie Fair artist are lined up on the sidewalk selling their art. I’ve never been a fan of art. When I’ve visited my dads side of the family (they’ve traveled all over the world), they will show off their art with stories attached to each piece relating to where it came from and who painted it. That part was enchanting to me. Now here in Brazil, I’m walking down the sidewalk looking at art from talented Brazilians. It may not hold much clout here but if a piece hung in my living area in the States I could comment about the time I was in Brazil and found this beautiful masterpiece from an up and coming artist. Sounds enchanting , huh?

I ended up buying a painting from the Fair because I needed something on my wall but the longer I look at it the more interesting it becomes. The woman I bought it from was selling it for her father, an elderly man, who doesn’t attend the fair but supplies the artwork. I wonder if he does it as a hobby or if it’s his means of survival…You can see the pride of these people in their work.

It's not the most detailed piece but it's my style and it was offered at a great price.
It’s not the most detailed piece but it’s my style and it was offered at a great price.

My daughter approached me 3 days ago and said, “Mommy, I miss my room.” No. She’s not homesick but tired of bare walls and anyone who knows me, knows I love to make things look crafty. However, I don’t like to spend money on décor. Before we moved here I had just refurnished a whole bedroom set for my daughter, by myself. Hey, I have 2 carpenters as fathers. My earthly and my heavenly. We blessed her friend with her furniture and I promised her I could do the same here. It’s been a month since we’ve been in the apartment and her walls are still bare. Something she’s not used too.  So I got to thinking because I honestly haven’t found ANYTHING for her room. We brought her quilt so that’s done, but the walls….hmmmm. Then I thought, HELLO! I’ll check out pinterest. I mean, it’s not like I pin all that stuff for nothing….cough cough. I had some ideas but, of course no resources. And I wasn’t going to be getting any help from Brazil either. I did, however, have construction paper and tape. My husband said the print store had tissue paper. Then, off we went to the print store to pick out tissue paper. After 10 minutes and help from Google translate the clerk figured out what we were looking for. Sigh!Then I improvised…and she’s happy with the results. Plus, I only spent $15 US dollars.

Can't go wrong with tissue pom poms.
Can’t go wrong with tissue pom poms.

feb 2014 009 feb 2014 010 feb 2014 011The flower pom poms were pretty simple. Google will gladly give you a step by step guide. Here’s the shelf. Pretty right?

Of course I had to add an owl!
Of course I had to add an owl!

After 2 days of working on her room. I dreaded starting Jason’s but because he never complained, and only complimented my work. I thought such a sweet boy surely deserved something just as decorative. He’s 9 now, so “cute” just wouldn’t work for him. It’d have to be “cool”.

Again I got to cutting and taping. I wrapped tissue paper around blue construction paper to look like clouds. I thought the pom pom would look too “cute” for a 9 year old. So went for this instead. Then I attached the white plane with double sided tape. Jason added the beige paper plane.

feb 2014 003

I saw a canvas painting with 3 canvas side by side with the swirly dots going from each of the canvas then a paper airplane attached to the last one. It was so cute! But again I had no resources, just construction paper. So I got to cutting and cutting…I needed a lot of dots. He loves the outcome though so it was totally worth it.

Here's his shelf and paper airplane
Here’s his shelf and paper airplane

feb 2014 002

I had hoped to make his airplane out of a map but couldn’t find one so I opted for newspaper. Those are everywhere and this one was free. 😀

Furniture's pricy here so we opted for this instead of a headboard. We're happy with the results.
We opted for this instead of a headboard. We’re happy with the results.

Now the same goes for my room. Don’t judge me but I used placemats for my “headboard”. What do you think?

feb 2014 016

Life has been an adventure here. We’ve been lost in more ways than one. As long as I follow my very capable hubby I’ll be alright. He hunts, I save. It’s a perfect union. Provs 31:13 “She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands.”

I may not get a job and provide monetary contribution to our household but as wives we could find ways to be cost conscious and a financial blessing to our husbands.

I hoped you enjoyed my blog. Just one more thing we’ve added to the apartment. A gift to our animal loving kids.

This is Nico. Our 2 month old Cockatiel. The kids can't get enough of neither ;)
This is Nico. Our 2 month old Cockatiel. The kids can’t get enough of him…me neither 😉

Don’t forget to hit the ‘follow by email’ button please and leave a comment. Us missionaries love that! 😉

P.S. We had a bible study last night and 2 families came and got saved. Praise God! This nation is ripe for the Gospel, pray for us as we pray for you!





Happily married Christian mother of two. Gave my life to Jesus at 17 in 1997. He saved me, cleansed me, turned my life and set my feet upon His solid ground. Love Brazil & the US, love to read, love technology and love to homeschool my children and date my husband.

12 thoughts on “Making Home…Home.

  1. welcome to the world of expat/missionary blogging. We ought to do an aggregator site, where all of the missionaries can locate blogs on one site. Make it easier on people to follow us they won’t have to go to a gazillion sites to keep up. Good luck with the blog.

    1. I’m starting my webdsign/hosting business again, but only for our churches and fellowship. It’ll be super low cost…basically the cost of hosting & buying the domain name, but will include my design services.

      I’d love the to host the aggregator site for missionaries for free of course! I’ll set it up this week if you guys want. Just let me know.

      1. Melissa you amaze me, when do you sleep? I would be really interested in your web design and hosting information for our church website. It has a lot of information but it’s not COOL! I want COOL! contact me at my email address. It’s in the Pastor’s book and on the contacts page of the Taiwan Adventure Blog. Give me some prices and let’s try to do something

  2. Love your kids rooms! You are so creative! I’m not creative, but I can copy well, lol!

    Welcome to shopping in another country…I have the same problems!

    I’ve found a kindred spirit! I don’t like shopping either…lol! Well, I must qualify that statement because I like shopping for books & home decor, but not clothes or groceries, ha ha!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s