Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Matters of Taste

I'd heard all the maid horror stories from friends and acquaintances. Tales of maids who steal, those who spend their days on your couch watching novelas and eating everything in sight, and how no small appliance is safe when you ask a maid to use it. I entered this thing fully informed.

But (knock on wood) I've been pleasantly surprised with our faxineira, Lucilene. She does a nice, thorough job with the cleaning and ironing. Granted, she has a slightly unnatural fear of my washing machine (which we're going to have to cure her of once baby is here - we're cloth diapering!), but for the most part she does everything I ask of her and even more.

And by 'more', I mean that she apparently has some unfulfilled dream of being an interior decorator that she likes to live out while she's in our apartment. She has a jolly good time rearranging all the decorative items in my living/dining room and she really seems to enjoy going through the baby stuff and putting out on display all the books, stuffed animals, etc. that I try to keep contained. She's also been known to randomly flip over the reversible comforter on the twin bed in the baby room from the more classy striped side that I bought it for to the tacky floral print. And the bag of oranges I had on the shelf under the microwave in the kitchen? Well, this week she pulled out one of my pretty pie pans and created an orange pyramid to adorn my counter top with.

It seems to make her happy, so hey, whatever. I just spend the next couple days putting things back where they belong and then she comes along and works her 'magic' once again. It's really not the end of the world. And usually I get a good giggle from her organizational/decorative efforts.

But occasionally I come across something that just really isn't working for me. Usually it involves an object rather foreign to her that she really has no idea about. For example, I have a couple Glade Glass Scents air fresheners in the house. Sure, Glade advertises that "These beautiful air fresheners contain natural fragrance oils set in an etched glass design—a perfect complement to any room, anywhere" but at the end of the day, let's face it, it's an air freshener . . . not really something that I consider a conversation piece or the highlight of my decor. So I like to keep them discreetly on a high shelf behind other more display-worthy items. But you can bet that every week when Lucilene dusts the living/dining room the air freshener gets moved into a highly coveted location: to the middle of the coffee table or on the shelf that has a spotlight focusing on it (oh and she's sure to turn on the spotlight to really show it off) or front and center in an arrangement of framed photos.

And then sometimes the problem is more of a practicality issue than just a simple matter of taste:

Well, actually, it could have a lot to do with taste. I'm not sure how it would work out if dried chives were used in place of chili powder or fennel for parsley or ginger for Italian seasoning.

I brought down a nice spice rack that we received as a wedding gift and it sits on my counter top next to the stove. And granted, it was needing a good wipe-down. But taking all the tops off the jars to clean them and then put them back on haphazardly . . . well, maybe not the best idea in the world. And you would think that with 20 jars of spices, odds are that at least one got put back correctly and I almost did think that too - but it turns out the jar labeled cinnamon was actually cumin. (So glad I sniffed it before making apple muffins this morning!!!)

So today's put-back in order project involves lots of spice smelling. I never realized how similar oregano, parsley, basil, marjoram look. As do paprika, chili powder, cinnamon, and cumin. And I really need to get that fixed before Z Baby arrives and Eric takes over cooking duties for a few days - YIKES!


Ray Adkins said...


I am so glad you had luck with your maid. These are sure minor problems...
We also were very lucky with ours and are still in contact with her today. We visit her and her son everytime we go to Brazil.

lovelydharma said...

That's really cute! Albeit a bit annoying and a headache for you to get them in the right jars again. So maybe not so cute... but the glad freshner in the spotlight! Priceless.

Geraldinha (our maid) also has an unnatural fear of the washing machine. It took two years but I finally got her over the fear of the vacuum cleaner thank goodness -- we do have a dog after all. She also loves to rearrange. She lines up all the knicknackey things in a straight line on the sideboard or coffee table like dominos! Then I go and put them at angles, stagger the picture frames, etc. and the next week she does it all over again!

But my real question is how my dear are you managing to make apple muffins this far past your due date? Can you even reach the counter??!! :-)

Corinne said...

I can never find anything after someone else cleans!! I spend half a day putting my kitchen back the way I like it!! At least it is better than Joelma, so in typical non-cofrontational mineiro style, won´t come out and say she does not want to work for me anymore, rather calls and feigns "sick" every Thursday.

Russell said...

Were you able to find chili powder here in BH? I'm having a little bit of difficulty finding it. I went to the Mercado Central yesterday and was told what I wanted was hot paprika. I haven't tried it yet but I'm feeling it isn't the same thing.

Emily said...

Russell, I wish I had better news for you, but I've had no luck with finding chili powder here. I've heard they sometimes have "chili em pó" at Verdemar, but I've never seen it. I just bring back tons of it when I go to the US.

camila said...

Hi Emily, I've visited your blog before, but HAD to comment today... I have to say I'm laughing really hard, though I wouldn't find it funny if it happened to me... At least once a week I wish I had a maid here in the States, but I really don't miss the things that come with that convenience! When something was missing, we asked the maid "where did you hide it", because it seemed like that's what she was trying to do. Things were NEVER put back in the same place, and I keep wondering why... But you are lucky you have a nice one, good ones are hard to find!

Ray Adkins said...


Hot paprika is not the same thing as Chili Powder.

Stephanie said...

Hehehe this is funny! Im sure it is frustrating to have to go back behind her some days, but I am glad you both seem comfortable for the most part :) And glad you found someone you like!!

Lori - Blondie in Brazil said...

Ha, ha! Funny, yet probably frustrating too. :) I can't believe that about the spices. I would definitely be one to use it before sniffing. Cooking disaster for sure. Too funny about the air fresheners as well. Ha!

Spice Rack said...

Keep all the spices into a fixed sealed spice rack help preserve the freshness and potency of the spices .