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September 30, 2012

week 39.

Sunday, September 23rd
A question for all the other Chapstick addicts out there: don't you hate it when you get to the end and you can't roll the tube up any higher, but there is still at least a 1/4 inch of Chapstick in the tube?  I started saving all these tubes and decided to recycle them all into one tube this weekend using toothpicks. Was it the smoothest process ever? No. Did it result into a like-new chapstick? No. It's definitely all bumpy and not as compact as it should be. But did I get half of a tube of chapstick from those other 4 that I took out? Yes, I did. And I can't get Chapstick in Portugal, so now I'm all proud of myself. Yay.

Monday, September 24th
All the university students have returned, and on a lunch break walk we spied some initiation rites going on...

Tuesday, September 25th
So happy to say that my first week of selling Portuguese pottery on Ebay was a success - I sold all 6 pieces!  Praise God! Being a lover of great customer service, I decided I needed to create some sort of logo to put on a little card with my contact info inside the boxes that I shipped out. I already had this cute little notepad with scalloped edges, and with a little tricky scotch tape work, I attached it to an 8x11 paper and ran it through the printer with a fun font. Violá! Homemade logo!

Wednesday, September 26th
So much fog in the city this morning... like white cotton candy sitting in hills of Coimbra!

Thursday, September 27th
Caught a glimpse of a beautiful sunset from our balcony tonight...

Friday, September 28th
One of my college friends, Erin, was working again in Lisbon this year and her fianceé joined her for the trip and met us for dinner in Coimbra. We brought pasteis de nata to celebrate Erin's birthday and surprised her with them at the restaurant. Check out the look of love on Curt's face as she gets ready to blow out the candles!

Saturday, September 29th
Don't have a pot for the plants on your balcony, but have an old pair of jeans? Perfect! No wonder there are no second-hand stores in Portugal... people are using their old jeans as planters!

September 23, 2012

week 38.

Sunday, September 16
Stayed up waaaaay too late tonight watching my newly-listed, hand-painted Portuguese pottery rack up views on eBay!  My kind American friend Elizabeth (who also married a Portuguese man and moved to Portugal 29 years ago) started out with the idea to sell Potuguese pottery to Americans when she lived in Coimbra quite a while ago, and now has passed along the opportunity to me!  The potter is dedicated to continuing the tradition of Coimbra's hand-painted pottery, and no two pieces are alike! (Shameless plug... lots of unique Christmas gifts available!). We are so blessed to have such kind friends and to have this amazing financial blessing! Here is a photo of one of my favorite pieces... a sugar bowl with a special spoon created specifically for it! You can see more pieces on my Ceramics Pinterest board.

Monday, September 17th
This girl had a birthday today, and we love her so, and really wish she wasn't so far away! We became dear friends as seat mates on spring break choir tour circa 2005, when we both discovered that not only did we bring more than one book for a 9 day tour, but that we both also brought electronic travel Yahtzee. (What I wouldn't give to have that photo in digital form for the photo of the day today!) Thankful for you, Em! Parabéns, Snug! Love you!

Tuesday, September 18th
I must admit that we have pretty great weather in Portugal, but unfortunately almost all the rain comes in winter, which leaves the grass and the forests really dry in summer, leading to lots of fires. I refrained from posting a photo of a fire really close to our house last week, because it just seemed so sad to use that as the photo of the day, with smoke so black and flames so tall we could see it from our balcony. Today there was another in Coimbra, and as we were leaving work we realized it was also really close to where we were. I refrained from the picture-taking, but as we got close to home at and stopped at a red light, I noticed that the grey smoke in the distance was so high that it was starting to merge with a cloud in the sky. A second glanced revealed that it wasn't a cloud at all, but some sort of rare reaction/formation of the smoke that was making the top of it billow up into a white cloud. It fascinated me, hence the use of it for today's photo...

Wednesday, September 19th
Sumoku -- fun game sent by the familial unit of Cheeseheads. It's like a crossword, but using numbers instead of letters. Lots of thinking involved. Not recommended to start a game after 10.00 pm, as evidenced by our very tired eyes. Fun, though!

Thursday, September 20th
While looking through lots of closets and drawers for something tonight, I happened to find a shoebox of Luis Miguel's, full of all the cards that I have ever sent him in the history of our story together. Needless to say, my search abruptly ended, and I sat down on the floor and read every one of the 87. It was a bit emotional reliving all the longing and heartache that a long-distance relationship brought, but there was redemption as well. In our one-year dating anniversary card I found this: "I never expected that one year could be so meaningful... so memorable... so remarkable. I never expected that a journey with far more days apart than days together could ever bring two people so close." I don't have enough words to say how thankful I am to be married to someone who invested so much to make sure our love could last, even across an ocean. Luis Miguel, you are my treasure!

Friday, September 21st
Got a sweet package from my grandma, with a note inside that said "open carefully". When I opened it, I found this, with a note that read:

"Don't get excited,
Don't get misled,
It's not what you think,
It's a dishcloth instead!

So take off the ribbons,
Cut the threads loose,
Get a pan of water,
and they're ready for use!"

Pretty adorable, eh?  :)

After calling to thank her, I found out that the reason that the note seems like an antique, what with the stained, yellowed cardstock and the seemingly type-written letters, was because it was actually an antique! She stopped by an estate sale and found this in its own little box, and she guesses it's from the 40's or 50's, but no one knew for sure. My mother and grandmother are the queens of finding unique things like this! So amazing!

Saturday, September 22nd
Did I actually put on a monkey suit and a mesh hat and let swarms of bees buzz around me within centimeters of my face, just to say that I did it?  Why yes, as a matter of fact I did. Did I have a small moment where I may have screamed and removed myself from the situation for a minute? Possibly. Would I do it again? Doubtful. But was it fun? Hecks yes. In a scary, nerve-wracking sort of way. Luis teammate, André, got into bee-keeping after his grandfather handed down his honeycombs, and now he keeps bees (if that can be used as a verb??) and took us with him this afternoon. Sometimes, when I think about it, my skin still gets all creepy crawly, but now I can say that I was bee-keeping once, right? :)

September 16, 2012

week 37.

Sunday, September 9th
Because this is only a one-photo-per day challenge, and because sometimes it's impossible to limit one photo per event per day, occasionally events overlap. Like the boot sale mentioned last week. I can't stop thinking about it and can't wait until October 7th when I can go back again!  This was one of my favorite finds from the last sale -- an antique alarm clock in great condition with a gorgeous typesetting! Doesn't it look adorable on this bookshelf?

Monday, September 10th
Had a work meeting in the beachy Figueira da Foz today, and couldn't help but admire the sidewalks, which, in Portugal, almost always have beautiful designs!

Tuesday, September 11th
On a day that America remembers a tragedy and honors her heroes, I long for the place that I have always called home.  While at the FIPFA Powerchair Futebol World Cup last year, I was torn between cheering for America and Portugal, so I decided that I would just glue two flags together and cheer for both. I keep it on my desk as a reminder of both countries that have now a place in my heart, and having the stars and stripes in front of me today was a great reminder of how far the American people have come since 2001!

Wednesday, September 12th
Thanks to our sweet friends Ang and Pete hosting us in London, we brought back lots of non-Portuguese goodies from their local grocery store, and thanks to the technology of freezing, I am still enjoying the bagels!

Thursday, September 13th
Had a really fun chat with my long-time friend Danae today, and her adorable son Jack joined us after his nap. He's still looking a bit sleepy here while we chatted on Skype, but they were so adorable all snuggled together that I couldn't resist taking a screen shot for my photo of the day!

Friday, September 14th
Our friends the Gereckes loaned us their crock pot while they are on a 6 month furlough in the US and I am enjoying using it, much to the chagrin of my energy-saving husband. Electricity is super expensive in Portugal, so even having it run on low all day adds up to quite a lot... or so he thinks! The challenge is on, as I am planning to measure our electricity bill in the next few months and try to see how much more we really spend using this fabulous little machine.  I'll keep you all posted!

Saturday, September 15th
Though we have had an incredibly hot September in Portugal, we were thinking that this just may be our last Saturday to really relax and enjoy the beach.  Fortunately we headed out early, because it turned out to be probably the most beautiful beach day we have had since summer began!  I never would have called myself a "beach girl", but now I can't seem to get enough of this place...

September 11, 2012

week 36.

Sunday, September 2nd
It only took us two years, but we have finally discovered the English "boot sales" ("boot" is "car's trunk" in British English), meaning lots of foreigners and lots of second hand stuff... which to me, = fun x 2! I really loved the few photos I took of some of the little booths (no one sells out of their trunks for real) but I couldn't pass up this one that was shot in the little village that we drove through before we got to the sale.  I didn't touch the colors... this is straight out of the camera!

Monday, September 3rd
You know that it's going to be a delicious dinner when french fried onions and a can of a cream of chicken soup are involved! (French fried onions courtesy of American week at Lidl and the cream of mushroom soup... you guessed it... British Boot Sale!)  Mom's Pork Chops are for dinner!

Tuesday, September 3rd
This is my happy hour. (Yes, today. Yes, 5.30).

Wednesday, September 4th
My dear friend Rita, who you may have seen a few weeks back on her photo of the day bachelorette party, is having a music themed wedding!  Both she and her fiancee sing and play music, one for fun and the other professionally.  Knowing how much I love me a themed event, she asked for my help and of course I couldn't say no!  With the help of the Photoshop-savvy Suzy (also a dear friend of mine, hallway mate, and art teacher at APCC), and an idea discovered by a third colleague, Carina, this was the result after a few days of work... 36 tables, each with a different instrument as its name!

Thursday, September 5th
Let's just say that someone's (ahem... KYLE) girlfriend  fits pretty well into the family when she sends anniversary cards. I must say that it takes a special person to send an anniversary card.  Birthday cards... now those are pretty normal to get in the mail, even in this technological age. Christmas cards? Still classic. But anniversary cards? That's a rare bird that sends one of those. A rare and fabulous and beautiful bird, might I add. And I am the lucky one to get sweet mail from sweet Kelly!  And I live across the ocean from her. Now, for those of you who know my family, you know that she fits in well when I mention that she sends cards. REAL cards, people. With stamps. If that doesn't make her the perfect piece of the crazy puzzle of our family, I don't know what does. (That's code for "MARRY her already", in case you missed it!)  Thanks for the mail, Kelly!

Friday, September 6th
As long as I'm on a card kick, I must admit that I enjoy making them as well.  Think I should add them to "Things I should sell one day so I'm not too poor to travel the world"?  I wasn't sure where to go here to get a wedding card, so with the adorable little notepad that my friend Cristi gave me, I made one little sheet into a frame.  Good thing I stuck that burlap in my suitcase before moving to Portugal, eh hubby?  :) (Easy to find here, but expensive!)

Saturday, September 7th
I plan to dedicate an entire blog to my first Portuguese wedding experience (we just had a dinner for our wedding in Portugal since we married in the States), but because it may take me months to get around to that, I will mention a few highlights: Rita was beautiful, Tiago surprised those attending by singing Ave Maria during the ceremony, we had lunch AND dinner, which meant arriving at 11.00 am for hors d'ourves at the brides house with about 1/4 of all those invited, attending the ceremony at 12, heading to more hors d'ourves at the reception site at 2.00 pm, having a 3 course lunch at 4.30 pm, lots of dinner and dancing and photos in between, dinner at 10.30 pm, then lots more dancing and photos after, finally falling into bed at 3.15 am.  Now THAT'S what I call a party! (And the average amount that a couple gives as a present is $200!)  Here we are with the fabulous couple... each looking at our own cameramen, of course! (Don't they look great for already having entertained their guests for 10 hours??)

September 2, 2012

week 35.

Sunday, August 26th
We headed out to another small suburban town tonight to support a friend who had a photo exhibition, and her boyfriend, who had a summer party, both held at his bar. Now, when I say "bar", you probably think dirty, crowded, smoky, and loud, right?  So you probably wouldn't picture it like this, would you?  So so so beautiful... and this is just the back corner!

Monday, August 27th
I don't think this girl on Win It In A Minute really thought through her clothing choices for this special event where she would be on national television.  Even if she didn't know and was just chosen from the audience, wouldn't you at least put on something a little nicer in the rare chance that you might get chosen?  And the host... A suit and Asics tennies?  Really?  I have no more words.

Tuesday, August 28th
While Skyping with my parents and discussing the unusual weather this summer, my mom proceeds to get up, go into the other room, and bring back their digital thermometer that they use in the house.  Just in case you don't remember how a certain temperature feels, you can refer to the handy little man on the screen, because his clothes change appropriately with the temperature!  Apparently in Wisconsin, 73ºF is warm enough to wear a t-shirt and shorts!

Wednesday, August 29th
Read about a great way to freeze fresh herbs from a large bunch so they don't go bad: chop them, put them in an ice cube tray, then freeze them with a little olive oil in each cube!  Brilliant, right?  Can't wait to see how they turn out!

UPDATE: You need to use a lot of oil (which I didn't), covering all the herbs, which may not work well with all recipes (guacamole, for example), which is why I only used a little. (First mistake). You also will need to wash the ice cube tray about 17 times with a scrub brush to get all the oil out. And you probably won't be able to get all of it out. And then you won't want to use it for ice. So don't use one of your nice ice cube trays like I did. (Second mistake). Might try it with water next time, but I fear for it getting a little soggy in the defrosting process. Has anyone else tried this?

Thursday, August 30th
I believe I may have mentioned how blessed we are to be able to eat lunch in our work cafeteria every day. It is convenient, saves us money, and makes our lives easier in general. I can't say I'm in love with the Portuguese cafeteria food every day, though, so it's kind of refreshing in summer to bring our own lunches and plan dinners in such a way that we have leftovers for lunch the next day. There are also very few people at the Center during the month of August, as most take August off as a summer holiday (most workers get 22 - or more - work days of vacation). With so few people there and everyone bringing their own lunch, I thought it would fun to bring a bit of America to APCC, so I suggested that we have a pancake lunch! I found a great from-scratch recipe that I have been making at home, and  last time we were in the States I brought back some maple flavoring for syrup, so it just seemed like a great idea, especially since we have a semi-adapted kitchen in the Occupational Therapy area at APCC! Judging by the empty plates at the end and the number of people that asked me for the recipe, I think we can say it was a hit! I also would suggest drinking sparkling Portuguese green wine with your next pancake lunch at work... delish!

Friday, August 31st
The highlight of checking the mail for Luis is always when the D-Mail catalog comes. It's Portugal's version of the "As Seen On TV" store, and Luis always seems to find some fun new product that he could put to good use. Care to guess what it is this week?

That's right, folks.... it's a full-body painting suit, to avoid dirtying even the tiniest cell of your skin while painting. I'm surprised it didn't also come with a gas mask!

Saturday, September 1st
It's a sad day in the Volunteer Department, as we sent off our 4 European volunteers today!  After 6 months of serving the clients of APCC, we really felt like they became a part of our family.  It's hard to believe 6 months passed that fast, and the office will surely feel quite empty without them! Christian, Adriana, Kata, e Ata... please come visit Portugal again soon! We love you!