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June 24, 2012

week 25.

Sunday, June 17th
So sad to send off our dear friends Cristi and MG at a "See you in 6 months" party, but so excited for their summer adventures in the US, and so thankful they will be back with us in January!  We love you!

Monday, June 18th
We had an event at the farm that our Association owns tonight, (a Sardinhada, where the highlight of the evening is grilling sardines -- heads, tales, and all!) and though I have always admired it from afar, I had never stepped foot in this second-floor garden overlooking the property.  It isn't being used at the moment, but even despite that, it is so charming and beautiful!

Tuesday, June 19th
I remember that while researching wedding bouquets, I found out that black cala lilies are something like $10 a stem, and you need at least 8-12 to make a bouquet.  If only I had known that some of our [future] friends had them growing outside of their front door...

Wednesday, June 20th
My addiction to Pinterest has really paid off in the dinner department, as we have had a plethora of new recipe ideas flowing from our kitchen as of late.  I need to write a specific post about each of them, but I thought it might be worthwhile to warn anyone planning on making baked cauliflower poppers: you should probably not let 15 minutes pass without checking on them, because in some ovens, they blacken quite a bit faster than anticipated!

Thursday, June 21st
I love walking into the house to see fresh flowers!

Friday, June 22nd
Doesn't Luis Miguel Coelho Santos Almeida look so fabulous with glasses???  (Thank God he doesn't need them... we are already praying that all of our future children have his great eyesight!)

Saturday, June 23rd
We took some of our disabled clients for an outing at the beach today and they loved it.  At this time of year in Portugal, there are a lot of religious events honoring the saints (St. John, St. Anthony, etc), and each city has their own little festival to celebrate.  They have what are called "marchas" (marches), which are parade-like events where groups from the same city dress up and perform a typical dance, each with their own musicians and theme.  There were people lined up for quite a while, so by the time we made it over there, the crowd was about 8 people deep and the best photos I could get were by holding my camera over my head and randomly snapping!  Here's a halfway decent shot that I got of some of the dancers... Though I don't know the meaning of it, I really liked the creative seamstress theme... check out the pin cushions on their wrists and the spools of thread in their hair!

week 24.

Sunday, June 10th
If for even one second you've had your ear turned to European news lately, you have probably heard that "The Cup" has officially started!  The UEFA Euro Cup soccer tournament, that is, passing through the continent once every 4 years and turning everyone's eyes and ears toward the nightly games!  We got together with a bunch of couples from Luis Miguel's soccer team, one of which happens to be our friends Carina and Marco. Carina is a speech therapist working at the Center with us, and Marco joined the soccer team last year, so we get to see them a bit more than normal lately, and we like that. :)

Monday, June 11th
As I have mentioned before, I haven't quite caught baby fever yet, but I have to admit, these books make me want to have babies so that I can read to them! (Pardon the low-quality phone photo). Too bad they were 14€ each! (And yes, of course I already found them on Amazon... but I want them in Portuguese!)

Tuesday, June 12th
We love walking through the small wanna-be park that is across the street from where we work, but sometimes while strolling, I feel like I'm being watched.  Can you figure out why?

Wednesday, June 13th
As I mentioned, the Cup is on everyone's minds, and I appreciate how it brings out patriotism wherever you go! Back in the day, apparently just about everyone had their Portuguese flag hanging off their balcony to support the team, and though it's not as common these days, you can't help but notice a lot more flags around the city... including hanging from the clothesline on our balcony!

Thursday, June 14th
I am pleased to announce that after leaving San Francisco on April 2nd and arriving in Portugal on April 24th, a birthday package from my dear friend Lana is finally in my hands!  We have had countless meaningless troubles with the postal border control here in Portugal, and after returning various forms they requested and finally speaking with them once, we determined that it was probably opened and held because the items had tags on them (though the prices were removed). We have heard that they get suspicious that foreigners in Portugal will bring new, foreign items into the country and try to sell them, thus hurting the already weak Portuguese economy. At least that's what we think.  So we have learned our lesson: all tags off, everything out of the package and sealed in zipper bags!  Love you, Lana, and thanks for thoughtfully sending me mail and unknowingly extending my birthday celebration two months!

Friday, June 15th
After a really tough, discouraging day being a foreigner in a European workplace, my sweet Luis Miguel rented a chick flick for me AND watched it with me, then spoke one of my little-known love languages: lists!  I have had a recurring eye infection (which has turned out to be a type of conjunctivitis) which is forcing me to stop using contacts for a while, thus needing to buy new glasses, so we planned to spend our Saturday negotiating with all the little mom and pop places downtown to see who would give us the best price for lenses.  How else would we organize our morning without making a list???  Love this guy, and love the way that he takes care of me!

Saturday, June 16th
I love seeing people walking down the street with fresh flowers, which I must admit, is a fairly common occurance here, and I always want to carry some myself!  Near the end of our glasses hunt, we stopped at the local farmers market and picked up three bunches of flowers for 1€50!  I love farmers markets! I love fresh flowers! (I even love them so much that I tolerated the old lady selling them being super pushy with me! Beauty wins over pressure!)

June 10, 2012

week 23.

Sunday, June 3rd
We headed to the mountains for Luis's dad's birthday today.  His parents were camping in their souped-up, decked-out van with Luis's aunt and uncle, so we went to crash their lunch, sing happy birthday, and give presents.  The drive through the mountains was breathtaking, as all the yellow blossoms are freshly blooming!

Monday, June 4th
I don't believe that this is the first time I've mentioned that I love how the Portuguese are constantly growing things in their own yards and on their own trees (not that the Americans aren't, I just didn't interact with farmers daily).  My colleague Rita visited her extended family a ways north of us this weekend and brought back cherries, which were a very nice addition to my day full of spreadsheets and Portuguese-English translation! I love them, so I especially love this time of year, and there weren't many that made it home to my house!

Tuesday, June 5th
It still amazes me that people would use another country's flag to make a fashion statement...

Wednesday, June 6th
I love old school library card catalogs!  Our library does have an electronic system, but I appreciate how they still have the old card catalog on display.

Thursday, June 7th
What's a Portuguese national holiday without a multi-cultural pancake breakfast??  Our sweet and hospitable Gereckes invited us over to have pancakes with two other Brazilian couples (quickly becoming dear friends of ours as well!) on our day off today, and we celebrated the body of God (that's literally what the holiday is called) with lots of laughs and refreshing community, and I may or may not have brushed up my ping-pong skills by creaming an American and then getting creamed by a Portuguese. (Winners and losers will remain nameless!)

Friday, June 8th
Yet another weekend where we will be able to make fresh-squeezed orange juice because one of our kind friends passed along some 15 oranges to us!  Luis put the entire plastic bag of them in the refridgerator, and as we took some out to make orange juice, Luis discovered this little guy nestled among the oranges!  Poor thing was in the refrigerator for quite a few hours, but he survived!  Luis adores snails, and was determined to make sure he was ok and take him outside to a new home in our yard!

Saturday, June 9th
Even after only being here for a year and a half, I am still surprised by the people connections that happen fairly regularly!  Late last year, we found out that one of the couples that sing in my choir have a daughter, Rita, who is in the same class as our sweet little Lily, (daughter of Cristi and Michael), and Rita also has regular consultations at our Center where we work, so we all see each other regularly and have become friends!  Ana Teresa and Carlos Pedro invited us over to their gorgeous house this weekend for a "lanche" (snack time at 5.00) on Saturday, and I think it's safe to say there was enough food for a dinner!  They are a fabulous family who appreciates art and culture and in general has a great sense of humor, so we laughed a lot!  Thankfully they love how I analyze everything about our life in Portugal, so they didn't mind when I called everyone together (including another friend and her kids they invited over, and their dog, Mari!) to take a photo of the day!

June 6, 2012

week 22.

Sunday, May 27th
I could sing songs and write books about my love for blueberries, but have had to put these dreams aside as they are not very easy to find for an affordable price here.  I ate them just about every day with yogurt while I lived in Atlanta, and always had a package frozen for a spontaneous blueberry cobbler, should the need for one arise. It may be easy for you to believe, then, that when I saw three teeny tiny packs of these for 1€ each at my favorite little supermarket Lidl the other day, I snatched them up immediately! 

Monday, May 28th
If you have read these daily posts from a few weeks back, you may remember me mentioning a monthly event we host for volunteers at our Rehabilitation Center called "Chá das Seis", or "Tea at 6".  The Portuguese eat dinner late, so they usually have some sort of small sandwich or snack around 5 or 6, so we created an event at this time so we could eat and drink as well!  We usually have lots of natural teas, along with cookies and juice, and after seeing this cookie recipe on Pinterest, I couldn't help but make my own cookies that look like tea bags!

Tuesday, May 29th
Did someone just say "festa tematica"???  As most who know me personally know I love me a themed party, you can imagine how excited I was to hear that one of our volunteers suggested a themed party, "Pink & Blue", where all of our clients and volunteers that are at our disabled residence here Coimbra have to dress in one of the colors!  We also had pink and blue desserts, food coloring in our Sprite, and blue raspberry Kool Aid that my sweet American friend Cristi donated to our cause.  :)  I wish I was in America, because you know I would have rocked some giant, hot pink fake eyelashes, but I settled for painting my nails pink and blue and wearing a wig for part of the time.  Here's my dear friend Paulo getting away with not wearing the wig for the 1 hour I let him go without it!  :)

Wednesday, May 30th
One of the things I love about working in the disabled community is that I am consistently surrounded by people with positive attitudes.  You may not believe it, but I have known many more disabled people that are joyful, positive, and generally pretty content with life than their able-bodied counterparts!  Dona Ermazinda is one of those people.  She is in a wheelchair and has lost a bit of extension in the reach of her arms and the flex of her hands, but she wheels her manual wheelchair on her own most of the time, and she is one of the most cheerful and inquisitive 78-year-olds that I know!  She is a resident of the elderly care center that is on the upper level of the part-time clinic where Luis works, so sometimes I go with him and sit and chat with her while he sees other clients.  And I love her. :)  As I was making the aforementioned tea bag-shaped cookies, I had a bit of dough left over, so I broke out the heart cookie cutters and made some pink sugar frosting to surprise her with cookies for her birthday! I was also pretty tickled that the aforementioned blueberry container was pretty cute (recycle in the name of crafting!), and with some tissue paper as a decorative cushion, they fit perfectly!  And I can't lie... after we took one out and gave it to her to taste, she definitely asked for another. While on her way to dinner. Rebel.  ;)

Thursday, May 31st
Who likes helping others with handmade wedding projects, thus saving money and making things beautiful at the same time...?  I do, I do!  One of our colleagues, Mariana, is getting married this weekend, and during our lunch hour, a few of us girls got together to help her make cones by gluing paper doilies together, which would hold petals for people to throw after the ceremony . That's my idea of a fun way to spend a lunch hour!

Friday, June 1st
Last week, while running through the mall to pick up something quickly, I saw a new frozen yogurt (i.e. FroYo) place had opened up in the mall, and since I left the US shortly after the huge froyo trend took off, I was thrilled to see one in Portugal!  I was eagerly anticipating lunch with my friend Cristi today, and we had planned to pick up froyo as a dessert!  We arrived and saw that it looked very American... 3 different sized bowls, various toppings, with soft-serve-looking frozen yogurt that was making my mouth water.  Cristi was very disappointed that they only had vanilla as a base, and as the girl working there emphasized that is was a natural yogurt base, we decided it was best to ask for a sample first, which was served in the classic little white cups.  Let's just say we are very thankful we didn't pay for a whole bowl!  It had the sour tang of real yogurt with a bit of sugar trying to even it out a bit, but it was a major fail.  I desperately wanted to warn everyone behind me in line, but Cristi convinced me they probably didn't know what real froyo should even taste like. Needless to say, I was so, so very disappointed.

Saturday, June 2nd
It's not every day you see a donkey-drawn wagon crossing the street in front of you... unless you are from Pinhel, that is!  We visited Luis Miguel's hometown this weekend and I couldn't whip my camera out fast enough to see them actually cross in front of us, but if you look closely, you can see some hooves under the wagon and if you look closely between the [adorable] man and woman, I do believe you can see the donkey's ear!  Three cheers for small towns?  Anyone?  Anyone?