After two failed attempts at making banana bread, I think I may give up and let the oven win. Not sure why I can make pumpkin bars, cakes, cobblers, etc, and bread just won't finish in the middle. Maybe because the pan is too deep? This was in the oven 40 minutes longer than recommended, and even after covering the top, both that and the bottom were black, but it wasn't done in the middle, as perhaps you can see in this photo. I tried a new recipe and was so excited to taste it... bummer.
Monday, July 2nd
Ran an errand downtown during the day today and loved these charming old flags that were hanging out of a second story window, above a little mom-and-pop shop. Their obvious age makes me wonder who they belonged to, where they have flown, and how old they really are...
Tuesday, July 3rd
As mentioned in one of my recent posts, we have been confused and bewildered by the amount of taxes we occasionally have to pay to receive a package sent from America, never knowing if it was randomly searched, searched for a reason, randomly taxed, taxed for a reason, etc. Sometimes we get letters saying we need to respond and prove something-or-other like the reason we are receiving it, a declaration of honor saying we won't sell it, and the like. We never know why sometimes we have to pay, and have heard we can avoid this by asking senders to take off tags, put things in plastic bags instead of original packaging, and send flat rate boxes that have the USPS logo on them. After a long-awaited Christmas box finally arrived from my brother (he's busy... it's not that the mail had to travel for 6 months), via my mother, we were very disappointed that we were taxed a LOT and had to pay more than we had ever paid to receive it or else they would send it back. After being informed that we would really enjoy the presents, and after really wanting some other things inside that I had shipped to my brother from Amazon, we bit the bullet and just paid it. I must confess that it was surely worth it! You can see the abundance of goodies here, a few American items sent from our wish lists sent by Kyle and his girlfriend Kelly, a few fun things my mom threw in, and two small electronic items which made the super high taxes all worth it. Can you find the two iPhones in the photo??
Yes, we now have iPhones, and we need someone to come over on a vacation and teach us how to use them! Free Portugal tours in exchange for iPhone tutorials! We are so thankful for our family and their generosity to us! (PS - if any of you Americans in Portugal want the details of why you get taxed, when boxes will get searched, etc, I can give you all the info because I got the low down from Alfândega!)
Wednesday, July 4th
Happy birthday, America! My mom sent me these Christmas ornaments a few years ago and I decided they were better used to decorate our front door for the 4th! We slept in today, as we are off for Coimbra's city day, and it felt great! Obviously the Lord knew what He was doing when He moved me to a place that has a city-wide holiday on my country's birthday, and as long as I live in this city, I will be able to celebrate America with a day off! :)
Thursday, July 5th
For being the patience that balances my impatience, for being the calm to my crazy, for putting the sun in my clouds, for bringing simplicity to my complexity... for all these things and easily 1 million more, I am thankful for you, Luis Miguel Almeida! Happy birthday to my one true love, who is making all my dreams come true... Here's to your best year yet! I adore you!
Friday, July 6th
The birthday celebration continues at lunch with our wheelchair soccer team... I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard with a group of friends! What a privilege it is that even thousands of miles away from my home community, I can still work with such an amazing group of people who are changing lives through this fabulous sport! So blessed!
Rather than lots of presents or a trip away for the weekend, Luis Miguel preferred a dinner with his nearest and dearest friends, the 4 that he grew up with and who remain his best friends to this day. Luis's parents graciously offered to host it at their house and prepare a lot of the Portuguese food (not exactly my forte quite yet!), including his favorite dessert, "Sweet Rice", pictured below, which was a huge help! I thought I would add a little American flair to the party with some discussion questions to provoke fun story-telling about the birthday boy himself. I was a bit nervous about this part, because not every Portuguese person is a fan of all the board games and themed parties that Americans love so much, so I took a risk. It could either result in total silence or lots of laughs, and thankfully, it was the latter! I put folded little pieces of paper in a bowl in the middle of the table and without saying anything, they immediately sparked interest! The result was 3 fabulous hours of more laughs than I have ever heard come from this group! It was a sweet time with old friends and I heard of a lot of old funny stories about Luis that I had never known before, including one where he and his friends put a small lizard into the binding of the teacher's attendance book on the podium in the front of the room in elementary school! Priceless!