Shabby background

August 28, 2012

week 34.

Sunday, August 19th
We went to see Singin' in the Rain while in London!  The seats were high (since we got a good deal on tickets), and photos were forbidden, but I snuck this one in at the end.  It REALLY RAINED on the stage in the theater... a downpour!  It was truly a fantastic show!

Monday, August 20th
My friend Ang took us to her favorite part of London, which happens to include Neals Yard, which was this bright ray of sunshine nestled within a few "average" streets. Loved it!

Tuesday, August 21st
Now that we're back in Coimbra for a few days before we start work, we decided to take advantage of the local farmer's market in Condeixa, our little suburb. It was super fun to buy fresh and know we are supporting the community, not to mention use the new bag that my grandma sent me (which you may remember from week 28)!

Wednesday, August 22nd
Relishing our stash from the local Camden grocery store close to Ang's house... Thought I would take advantage of a grocery store with things we can't get here in Portugal, including bagels, Craisins, onion powder, ground coriander, yogurt-covered rainsins, Nature Valley granola bars, and also Dove stick deodorant and vanilla creme cookies, both of which we can get here, but they're much more expensive!

Thursday, August 23rd
Nothing like using one of the last few days of vacation to defrost the freezer! There was one time that we accidentally left the door cracked open a bit, making a piece of plastic-wrapped fish defrost a bit and somehow leak fish juice all over, resulting in every package in that general area smelling like fish juice, making sorting through the freezer to find something a very smelly event.  We now have a super clean, organized and labeled freezer, which is delightful! High fives for the handsome hubs who did most of the dirty work!

Friday, August 24th
Last weekday lunch on the balcony... caprese sandwiches, wine, and delicious green Portuguese melon!  We are so blessed!

Saturday, August 25th
Stopped by the farmer's market again yesterday to pick up some fresh flowers... Aren't they gorgeous?

August 27, 2012

week 33.

Sunday, August 12th
When you didn't shoot a picture of the day, just put up a photo of your husband and a baby kitten that you happen to have on your phone from last week.  It will work just fine, especially if you make it black and white to disguise the poor quality...

Monday, August 13th
Helping a friend with some wedding planning... this venue was pretty decked out!

Tuesday, August 14th
Sometimes you just have to invent dinner. I don't usually invent, at least not when it involves cooking. I really enjoy recipes with exact. measurements. to. follow. But when you're craving mac 'n' cheese and you have none, you need a little something to make your less than fabulous macaroni a bit more interesting.  I recommend adding pesto. I was so happy to find it at our Lidl grocery store after returning from Italy. I had seen it here before, but not at 1€24 for a decent size jar! I made this revolutionary mac 'n' cheese recipe that I discovered on Pinterest (of course) and found it lovely with a spoonful of pesto added to it!

Wednesday, August 15th
We found wild figs growing in a tree close to our neighborhood while we took a walk today.  Who knows if it's legal to pick them when they are ripe?

Thursday, August 18th
Vacation planning!  Love that I have a husband who loves maps and loves organizing travel folders! (Please forgive the awful cell phone photo!)

Friday, August 17th
After 2 years of being country neighbors with my dear friend Ang from high school, we finally found a way to make a visit happen, and we are so glad that we did!  A weekend in London was definitely not enough time to explore, but how could you even want to leave the house with these two adorable faces staring back at you???  Ang started her life in England by marrying Pete, a brilliant and hilarious Englishman, and almost 7 years later they have planted a church and built a beautiful family.  Who would have thought that two best friends from high school would each marry their own European and start new adventures across the sea? If you would have told us that at drama rehearsal in the gymnasium of MLHS 12 years ago, I'm not sure we would have believed you, but here we are!  So grateful for friendships that span the miles, for shared experiences both past and present, and let's be honest... it's gotta be a tried and true friendship when a family of four in a small flat generously rearranges the furniture of a room 3 nights in a row to accomodate overnight guests on the fold out couch!  Looks like there needs to be an entire blog of London photos, but for now, these faces will probably make you smile!

Saturday, August 18th
I couldn't resist!  Thankfully, I have a really patient husband... and thankfully the photo turned out well, because I can't say that he was completely thrilled when for the third time I asked him to take a photo inside a phone booth.... :)

August 23, 2012

week 32.

Sunday, August 5th
Since I didn't shoot a photo today, I'm highlighting one from yesterday, when we had a really fun dinner with couples from Luis Miguel's soccer team.  I love this group, especially how the couples are always holding hands, showing affection, etc, though most have been married for 10+ years.  They are really fun people, and one of them had a colleague who transformed a type of "garden house" that they own into a small dining room that they use as a "restaurant" of sorts for private parties.  It was so charming and fun, since it was just our group, so the service was just for us, and they had really great homemade food, not to mention it was appetizers, soup, main entree, drinks, and dessert for just 10€!  I took this photo of the traditional, old-fashioned Portuguese pottery design that is so very well known here:  terra cotta ceramic painted with pretty white designs.  And of course, I had to take a photo of the soup, because without soup, it wouldn't be a Portuguese meal!

Monday, August 6th
So thankful that my personal translator decided that he would work today, even when he only had clients at his part time and not at the Rehab Center with me. Thankfully they are only about a mile apart and he could swing by after work to correct my Portuguese on an important document.  :)

Tuesday, August 7th
We went on a long walk just outside of our neighborhood yesterday and discovered lots of blackberry bushes, so we decided to walk the same way today, but with baggies and tupperware containers.  :)  They were pretty hard to reach and the bush was crazy thorny, but we managed to pick about 3 cups of berries!  As blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are super expensive in Portugal, Luis thought it was wise to calculate how much we "made" by picking them off the side of the road.  I think he came up with about 10€, but after already sampling them in some yogurt tonight, all I can think about is how delicious they are going to be in a cobbler tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 8th
What's up, giraffe neck?!?!  That would be mine, not that of my sweet friend Marisa, who sits next to me in choir and kindly invited me for coffee today.  It was great to have some girl-time, something that I crave, but is a bit hard to come by here (as you may imagine, making friends takes quite a bit of time in a foreign culture, let alone really great girlfriends)... but more importantly, it was great to find out about a fabulous second-hand store here in Coimbra, since I have pretty much combed the entire country looking for them and the only one with women's clothes and/or jewelry in Coimbra recently closed, as you may remember from this post.  This store has very little clothing, as they just recently opened, but they also buy used clothes, which is great news!  To top it all off, the owner is fabulous, loves helping people, and has a space in the front of the store to display local artist's work, and told me we could get together to talk about putting some of my photography or handmade jewelry and art there!  So grateful for girlfriends, and for a new second-hand store 2 minutes from my office!

Thursday, August 9th
CAN . NOT . BELIEVE that the Queen of Sunscreen actually got a little burned at the beach today!  I reapplied 2.5 times, and I guess not covering my entire body on that 3rd application and falling asleep with my hand in the sun resulted in this.  Bummer!  I'm in shock. It's been so long since I've had a sunburn that I have become quite a wimp and easily annoyed with the sting and itch.  Never again!  As many of you know, I had a mole that turned into basil cell carcinoma 3 years ago, and I wasn't what one might call a sun-worshipper.  It was something that happened to me as it could pretty much happen to anyone, so I have become a bit of a tyrant about the daily application of sunscreen, and a bit of a nazi when on the beach. But really... who burns their HAND? Yeah. This girl.

Friday, August 10th
Favorite summer meal... mom's chicken pasta salad!

Saturday, August 11th
Happy birthday, Matias!  We love you and wish you a great year!  (Fun cakes like this are becoming quite the rage in Portugal right now!)

August 22, 2012


Who would have thought that after  731 days -- two years -- of marriage, that one could possibly have writer's block?  Oh, don't get me wrong, I have plenty to say. But how can I organize it? How can I make it concise?  How can I put pen to paper (or fingers to keys?) in order to tell a story when that story has just begun?  Yeah, I don't know either.

But what I can say is that I love being married.  It's hard to describe sometimes, this communion of everything incredibly important and everything so simply mundane, a daily dance that reveals not only the best of you, but the worst of you as well.  

It's not every day that I would find myself quoting a romance novelist on matters of love, but I think Jodi Picoult really penned truth when one of her characters said, "Maybe you expected marriage to be perfect - I guess that's where you and I are different. See, I thought it would be all about making mistakes, but doing it with someone who's there to remind you what you learned along the way.”

Seeing yourself reflected in a marriage relationship is often a more accurate mirror than an actual piece of reflective glass itself.  And sometimes that's painful. Because sometimes we are ugly.  We make mistakes.  But other times... other times the companionship and covenant between us is so sweet that I can't help but think I couldn't possibly love him more.  And then the next day I do.  Nothing will teach you more about forgiveness -- both the asking for and the giving os -- than marriage.  It's a sweet juxtaposition of receiving love and receiving grace that teaches one how to give love and grace as well.

I suppose I could continue, but I think most people come here for the photos, so considering I never posted a wedding blog (would YOU sit in front of your computer uploading photos just days/weeks/months after moving to Europe? Yeah, me neither), here are a few of the actual day in all of it's [sweltering] glory.  If you missed it, be glad you stayed inside your air conditioned house... it was crazy hot!

Our invitation, designed by David Duong,
Programs and American and Portuguese flags to wave at the recessional
Isn't my dad so handsome?
The joining of two cultures: as sand from the ocean's shore in Portugal and red clay from the soil in Georgia are impossible to separate once poured together, so is the bond of two people united in marriage.

Did anyone end up with all these flags after the wedding?  I still have no idea where they went!
He makes me laugh every day... 

Fabulous friends... two of which flew across an ocean to stand next to us on this day!

We chose this historic plantation house as our wedding venue because we were able to
personalize every empty space as if it was our own!
Luis dancing to Portuguese music with this mom
The disco line dance, made famous by my college roommates, has now officially
been danced at each of our 5 weddings. So thankful to have these girls at my side!
I think everyone would agree that the highlight of the night was both of our dad's dancing together. As you can see, they were the center of attention!
My extended family, all the way from up der in da nort'!
The beautiful historic plantation house 

For more photos, visit Rosanna Marie's blog, where our wedding  was documented: Part 1 & Part 2.

Upon our arrival to Portugal just 9 days after the wedding, I met a lot of Luis Miguel's extended family and friends who weren't able to come to the States for our wedding.  We were blessed that even after helping us with the cost of the wedding, Luis's family threw us a fabulous reception for next to nothing!  Everyone contributed by bringing food, wine, and desserts.  Luis's godparents supply a large metropolitan hospital with all the pastries in their cafe, and they operate their business out of an in-home warehouse, which they so kindly donated for our reception.  We draped sheets over the ginormous shelves of flour and sugar and they set up quite a lovely dinner considering it's... well... a warehouse!  It was quite overwhelming, as everyone felt the need to meet me (and touch me a lot while doing so... they're freindly people, those Portuguese), but it was so fun to have a peek at how a Portuguese wedding reception could be! And let's just be honest... not every girl gets to wear her wedding dress a second time! Unfortunately, the day we planned the dinner for ended up being the same day as the wedding of the son of the most well-known wine producer in Pinhel, and it just so happened that ALL FIVE photographers were booked months in advance for his wedding that night!  Bummer.  Thankfully I had brought my own camera and snapped a few photos, then a kind cousin carried it around all night so that we could be included in the photos!  We even managed to sneak outside before the party started ans snap a few that "looked European"! :)

The wedding cake!  And yes, those are huge chunks of shaved white chocolate!

The Portuguese frequently have 3 or 4 desserts at a normal dinner party, so obviously we had like 20!
That's 3 tables of desserts, people.

Lots of Portuguese food!
Dancing with Luis Miguel's parents
This guy played for us and is extremely talented!
One traditional Portuguese dance puts the couple in the middle of the circle while
all the others  walk and dance in a circle around them, clapping and singing...
...and then they all come toward the middle in one big squeeze!
cousins and friends
Really love the doors in Pinhel...

Couldn't resist... it was like a human picture frame!  Wish we would have stood up as well!
I'm all "Does it look European? I need it to look European..."
And then... a little over a year after, we were crazy blessed when we actually got our real European pictures!  Our American friends hosted some American photographers here in Coimbra to do free photo sessions, and they invited us to be a part of it!  Since we had planned our wedding, I had always wanted to get photos in Coimbra with me in my dress and Luis in his suit, so this was an opportunity that I would not let slip away!

This was parked all by itself outside of the train station, and asked Luis if he thought I would get shot if I just jumped on.  He was skeptical, and I glanced at an old man sitting on the stairs, he nodded, seeming to give me his approval.  After asking if it was his and receiving an affirmative response, of course I asked if I could get on.  Aren't you glad I did?

Our little corner of the world...

And then a bird pooped on my dress and in my hair, signaling the end of the photo shoot.  Good thing I was in Portugal, because the Portuguese say it's a sign of good luck!

All photos by Kim Lewandowski
This year, we spent the weekend before our anniversary in London visiting my dear friend Ang from high school. What a blessing to still be in touch,  not only for friendship's sake, but also to share experiences: 5 years before I did, Ang married her very own European and moved herself 'cross the sea as well.  And how lovely it was to reminisce, share stories of being foreigners abroad, and just simply be ourselves together. There is nothing like living in another culture to make you realize how valuable the friendships are with people who knew you when you were young and remained friends with until now.  So thankful for this family for hosting us for the weekend and for making our trip so enjoyable!

Pete, Ang, Madeline, and Nate, rocking a PB&J like it's his job...
Their personalities in a nutshell...
Friends for the last 15 years... and as Ang said, we haven't aged a bit!
Since we love the ocean and, well, it's free to enjoy, we decided to spend the afternoon of our anniversary there.  It was the most brilliantly sunny day near our house, but unfortunately the beautiful, white puffy clouds turned low and grey at the shore. We still enjoyed ourselves as we relaxed and read on the sand, though!  

I'm so thankful for you, Luis Miguel Almeida! And just as I mentioned on our anniversary last year, being in love with you did not arise from a single moment, but in many moments strung together, constantly arriving one after the other, like ocean waves on this very shore. And the best part about those moments that arrive like constantly rolling waves?  From where we stand now, it's impossible to see the opposite shore; these moments will continue to roll in, day after day, year after year.  The opportunities to fall in love again and again will never end.  And for that I am forever grateful.  Thank you for showing me what unconditional love looks like every day.

Happy anniversary, my sweet Love!