31 August 2011

La vuelta al mundo - Travel Journal

Last day of the month, is time to share our photos for the challenge "La vuelta al mundo". This month the theme was "Descubrimientos: diario de viaje", and here's Jackie Rueda's briefing:

"Puedes publicar cualquier foto que hayas hecho lejos de casa durante un viaje. No tiene que haber sido un viaje grande, puede ser de un fin de semana o incluso de un dia. Lo importante es que ese sitio no forme parte del mapa de tu cotidianidad, que sea de alguna forma un descubrimiento, una exploración"

"You can post any photo you've done away from home for a trip. Doesn't need to have been a big trip, can be a weekend or even a day out. The important thing is that the place is not part of the map of your daily life, that is somehow a discovery, an exploration "

Also, each photo must include a brief description of the moment and place it was shooted, like a travel journal.

While last month challenge was really exciting (I mean, it was a treasure hunt, can't get more exciting than that) this month was more about let it go with the flow, for me. I was in August break mood, so between that and some research on my photo folders I would have something. In result I'll be posting a mix of new and old photos. It was fun to find and shoot new places, but it was equally fun to dive in my older photos and relive the moments when they were photographed.

To my followers, you'll be seeing some previously posted photos. To all of you out there, hope you enjoy my travel journal!

Mickey in A Coruña
It had been raining and the day was really gray. The sight of Mickey Mouse walking over the place, splashing color with his balloons was really a fun surprise.

Stairs heading the water

Venice is beautiful in a strange kind of way. While the canals give it a romantic feel, all around you see abandoned houses with walls falling apart. But looking at it trough the camera... all that decadency adds such a beauty I don't think it can be explained. The Venice that got me was not the glamorous and romantic, but the old and misterious full of histories in every broken brick.

The rooster guarding the castle

The best part of getting out is the unexpected. This was one of this moments. Almourol's Castle stands over a little island on Tejo river. As we got out of the boat we were already amazed by the beauty of the place, and the light of the end of the day was perfect... Then, there, on the island walking toward us, there he was. The rooster who guarded the castle.

A peek at a marina in Genova

We had been walking for a while. The map we had was not very accurate, and we were in a verge of loosing our patience to find the train station to get back to the city center. In between buildings I had this view of a marina. I stoped and grabed the camera. The husband looked at me but said nothing. I think he was beggining to understand this thing I have. Inside I was smiling and thinking: this is worth the walk!

Beach of Vagueira

This was one of the perfect shooting afternoons I ever had. Everything worked perfectly, the weather, the sea, the sky that blows me away... and I remember particulary of this moment. I knelt down on the sand and was watching people in the background. All felt so calm and perfect, and that imense sand ahead of me, greeting the clouds in the sky...

all photos by me

The August Break - Day 31

So, this is it. The end of the August Break. It has been so much fun and relaxing at the same time!

It's summer, it's been a really tough working year, I really needed a break. I had one goal, just post a photo a day. No pressure, no theme, no long texts writing,  just shoot and share. The best thing, in result, I actually got into a shooting routine amongst all my agenda. Getting the camera, the phone-camera, whatever, out, and shoot.

Now the funny thing is to be surprised finding the batteries charging, as if they went there by themselves, but they don't, you know. Or the hubby passing me the camera as we get out of the house, without words, cause I know what he is saying:

"Ain't you forgetting something?"

photo by me

30 August 2011

29 August 2011

The Versatile Blogger

Remember that I told you I received an award? Here it is!

I got it from Amanda, from Poppies and Ice cream, who I recently found in this amazing blog world. And I'm so glad I did, cause she is quite special. Go there and read her!

So, I'm a versatile blogger, cool! Here are the rules: I must write 7 things about myself, and then pass it out to 15 blogs I recently found. 15? Really?? Well, lets see... First things first, so, here are seven things you probably don't know about me:

1* My father has 7 siblings, each one (my father included) with 3 to 5 children (I'm the oldest of 4), making a total of 29 cousins. I'm cousin number 15. From those, 8 are already married and have their own kids on a total of 16. Have I lost you yet with the numbers? That means aproximately 70 people in the family. We are very close to each other and we still manage to get almost all family together by Christmas and Easter.

2* I made my own wedding dress and bouquet. Around here people say it brings bad luck. Really?

3* I'm still in denial of being in my thirties, even though I'll be 32 next October. Yikes!

4* I read Little Women more than ten times, and I lost count of how many times I've seen Green Card. I've been wanting to have a greenhouse ever since.

5* I don't like peas, melon and Beyoncé (I mean, that thing she does she likes to call singing).

6* I love music and I know how to play the guitar, but I hardly practice anything, except for some singing and playing at church every now and then. I grew hearing grunge, like Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, but my current favourite bands are Bon Iver and Dave Mathews Band.

7* I love sports. I'm quite a football fan, and I'm pretty sure that's at least 50% the reason why my husband married me. That being said, I'm not a naturally born sportswoman. Actually, I pretty much suck at any sport, and at school I was the worst at gym class, regardless of my efforts. I practiced tennis when I was younger, and secretly envied my sister who could do everything easily at first attempt. I eventually got over it, and now I've been playing football for the last 6 years. I'm proud to say that I've improved (a bit), but I'm still a much better watcher than practicer.

And now the list of blogs to whom I'm passing it:

* Blue LaReve - by Amanda - She is down to earth and above all a pleasure to read and get in touch
* For the easily distracted - by Rianne - lovely photos and I have a major jealousy on her camera collection
I heart flowers - by Sophie - she knows her flowers and she knows perfection as well
Little buckles - by Andrea - she says it right, it's like a tale, beautifully illustrated with photos of the daily life, for her two children to read one day
Oh happy day - by Jordan - Oh... Paris... Check this out. It has all sorts of beautiful things.
Corinne Krogh Photography - By Cori - recently discovered her photo blog, after being a follower of her personal blog for long, and truly inspired by her wonderful wedding. The girl has talent, see for yourself!
Flora and Purl - by the Mother of Purl - A mom's life, as it is. Sweet and fun.
* Toasted Pictures - by Marinka - Beautiful pictures of amazing places, what a combination!
Dear Olive - by Kellie - this is just sweet beyond words.
The Style Files - by Danielle - Tons of inspiration stuff. Addictive. Don't go there if you have work to do. Just sayin...
La Cucinetta - by Ana Elisa - Love to read her, she is smart and funny. And the food? Delicious, mouth watering recipes.
Kim Klassen Cafe - by Kim - If you like to post process your photos with some amazing touches, this is a place you should visit
She told Stories - by Bella - beautiful photos
A beach cottage - by Sarah - what if one day you just decided to start a new life on the other side of the world? This is quite a place to get inspiration.
Lottie really loves - by Lottie - she share her thoughts, her fears and her joys.

photos by some dear friends of us

28 August 2011

The August Break - Day 29

A prayer
Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tornadoes ...
are forces of nature that we can not control and therefore we must accept them.
Still, many people suffer. How many lives destroyed?
How many fear that their assets, their homes, their lives are taken by the storms ...
Let us pray that the Lord's light illuminates the hearts of all those
who face severe trials and give them strength to overcome and overtake.

I wrote this prayer for last saturday's church service, inspired by all the news on TV 
and the concerns I've seen around the blog world.
I thought I might share it with you.
photo by me

The August Break - Day 28

Why is it that, sometimes, blurry pictures are more intense than perfectly focused ones?

photo by me

27 August 2011

The August Break - Day 27

Around here there's no summer without grilled sardines. When you scent that smoke's smell in the air, yeah, it's summer! And now it's ending.

photo by me

26 August 2011

The August Break - Day 26

Today I'm lovin colorful and textured gardens. And dreaming of a little, cozy, country house. With a big garden with little yellow flowers on the grass floor, and lavender and rosemary bushes releasing perfume around the house... and a wooden porch facing the sunset, with little roses climbing the pillars and raining over our heads on the kitchen entry. Thank God we don't have to pay taxes for dreams!

And you? What are you dreaming of?

PS: I received an award! I'll be passing it on on Monday, stay put!

all photos by me

25 August 2011

The August Break - Day 25

This is what we have home to come back to. Meet Marie (Curie) and Frida (Kahlo).

all photos by me

The August Break - Day 24

Day 24 on the 25th day? Yep. No posting yesterday, because... it's hard to say goobye to this:

Real life calls. It's the end of our vacations. I'm back! Thank you for all your visits.

all photos by me

23 August 2011

The August Break - Day 23

There's always light behind the dark clouds. Believe.

all photos by me

22 August 2011

The August Break - Day 22

The perfect end of a day.

all photos by me

A refreshing summer soup

Soups take a very important role on the portuguese diet. Tradicionaly every meal begins with one and usually that means a vegetable soup. Ocasonaly it can also be a chicken or a fish stock based soup.

This is one of the reasons why the mediterranean diets are amongst the most healthy in the world. Unfortunatly the stress of the modern life is causing the lost of very good habits, such as this one, and I'm affraid that the next generations won't grow as healthy as we did. Still, I hope it won't get to that, and that this growing conscience that we need to take care of our bodies will change the habits of the coming generations.

When we got married, we made a pact to live an healthier life. Step by step we will make our journey to live a long, and quality, life with each other and the family we are creating. The obvious way is to start with what we eat. Cooking is no stress, nor sacrifice for me, on the contrary, thats a job I gladly take at home and everywhere. So, we're of to a good start, or so we hope. Soup is one thing we really love (no sacrifice here either), and we have the fortune to have acess to home grown veggies the hubby's mom (that in law thing sounds so bad..) grows at her kitchen garden. Yay!

We are really fans of a spanish cold soup caled gazpacho that is basically raw veggetable soup, we love it when the weather get's hot. I've been searching for other cold soups, with an acidic bite like that, but I find it hard to fall for a cold soup. I came across a recipe of a cucumber soup when the kitchen garden provided more cucumbers in a week than we could ever eat in salads, and I whent recipe search. Its diferent than gazpacho, as it is a cooked soup, but the iogurt gives it that acitity that totally brings a cold soup to life. We loved it, don't know if you will... but give it a try and tell me what you think! Here's my adapted version:

Cucumber Soup

2 cucumbers
2 medium potatoes 
1 zucchini
2 onions
2 garlic cloves
1,2 l of water
1 yogurt (120g)
olive oil

Peel the the cucumbers, the potatoes, the onions and the garlic cloves. Remember to wash the vegetables several times. Cut a few slices of cucumber and set aside. Cut the ends of the zucchini (do not peel it) and chop all vegetables in small pieces. Take the them to cook in salted water over medium heat. Once everything is cooked remove the soup from the heat, reduce it to a puree and strain it through a sieve. Ahust the salt and season with pepper and two table spoons of olive oil. Set aside in refrigerator until very cold.

To serve transfer the yogurt to a bowl with one table spoon of soup and mix well with a fork. Wrap it in the soup and serve each plate with some pieces of the reserved slices of cucumber. Enjoy your healthy meal!

photo by me
recipe adapted from here

21 August 2011

The August Break - Day 21

Notice something popping out of my hair?

It's been hot in here, but, as you may know, we kind of have something that atracts clouds and rain, so guess how it was yesterday? Yeah. Dark sky and raining every now and then. And the calm sea became agitated. But you know what? We didn't cared. We headed to the sea and had fun with the waves. It was super!

photos by the hubby, me and Matilde (my brother's girlfriend)

20 August 2011

The August Break - Day 20

First day of beach at the Algarve and I already have two new beautiful necklaces! I'm a happy girl. Add to that a very hot day and a refreshing sea bath. I'm close to be flying.

Be aware, something happened on my head...

photos by me and the hubby

19 August 2011

The August Break - Day 19

One last glimpse over the living room before we go for a holiday week. It's quiet. There are no kitties running around, leaving fur balls on the couch. No TV on, no music on the stereo.

 Looks empty without fresh flowers over the table...

all photos by me 

18 August 2011

Spinach + Goat cheese = Heaven

Look at this. Are you mouth-watering? Lets start from the beginning of the story...

It's saturday, nothing particular stands in your agenda for the day, so you indulge yourself with some laziness and stay in bed until all sleepiness has gone away and your skin looks fresh and recovered from the week.* You stretch all your muscles and pop your bones. You're ready.

Sometimes, you just feel so good that you wanna jump out of bed and make pancakes or bake a cake... Other times you get surprised by the sun light slowly invading the room, as a tray full with fruit and warm toasts gently slides next to you. And then there are those days. In those days you are literally kicking each other out of the bed, till you decide to toss who'll be cooking breakfast.

That's basically where we were. By that time, it was more lunch time than actually breakfast, but none of us cared. Without an agreement, we both dragged ourselves out and just swallowed a few toasts with jam.

Even though there's not much of excitement going on, not fun stuff to do, these are pretty much perfect days for me. Our world just stops for a moment without rush. What do you do in days like this?

One thing I like to do is go grocery shopping. (You're probably imagining hundreds of better thing to do, yeah...) It would be perfect if we had a really cool street market, which we don't. But, anyway, it's just nice to go calmly pick what we need, smell the fruit and touch the veggies and talk with each other along way. And nothing like lets-hurry-the-supermarket-is-closing.

Back home, way passed lunch time and those jam toasts long gone, there's a tick-tack in our stomachs. Need to prep something to eat. Quick.

Luckily I predicted that at the market, so I was prepared. In my mind I had a yummy looking pie I've seem Jamie Oliver cook in his 30-minutes meal show. It was supposed to be easy peasy, thats what the show is all about anyway, so I gave it a try. And well, it was everything I had in mind. Easy, quick and delicious.

I made some adjustments to work with what I had in hand and what I've bought. More important ones: I used puff pastry instead of filo because I wanted to go the easy(est) way this time; I also replaced the feta cheese for some portuguese goat cheese, I could have bought the feta, but I love goat cheese... and I felt like using something national, plus the cheese I chose has a consistency and saltiness very similar to feta, so I had a feeling it would work; lastly, I replaced the pinenuts for walnuts, just because thats what I had in hand.

No more talk, here's the recipe. Be aware, it looks harder then it is indeed. Just follow the steps. If you feel the need, watch the video, it helps. There's a link at the end of the post. Enjoy!

Spinach and Goat cheese puff Pie

100g walnuts
3 eggs
300g goat cheese
50g grated cheddar cheese
Dried oregano
400g spinach
1 pack of puff pastry ready for pie 

(I used a 230g pack, circle shape aproxm. 45 cm diameter, 
but it would work with a square shape beautifully, don't worry) 
Cayenne pepper
grated nutmeg
Olive oil
rosemary leaves

Preheat the oven on 200°C/400°F/gas 6. Toast the walnuts in small chunks in a dry pan (oven proof if you have one) over high eat. In a bowl crack the eggs, had both cheeses  and season with pepper, dried oregano, and a lug of olive oil (I added no salt at this point, it was salty enough). Add the walnuts and mix well but don't mind a few chunks of the goat cheese.

Put the frying pan back on the heat with a table spoon of olive oil and a knob of butter and add the spinach. If you can't do this all at once, let them wither on the heat and then add the rest. Season lightly with salt and keep stirring (at this point you can add lemon zest, I forgot it but didn't miss it). They'll be done in few minutes.

Meanwhile, take a large sheet of greaseproof paper, approximately 50cm long, scrunch it up and wet it under running water so that it slightly softened. Lay it out flat again on your worktop, rub a little olive over it and season with salt, pepper and a pinch of cayenne. Lay your pastry over the seasoned paper.

Take the pan off the heat, add the spinach to the cheese mixture and some grated nutmeg (best if grated at the moment). Make sure you let the pan cool a bit. Carefully move the paper with the pastry into the empty frying pan so the edges spill over. Push it down into the sides of the pan, then pour in the mixture and spread it out. Fold the pastry roughly inside, never mind being too perfect, let it do it thing, it will work out beautiful in the end, and sprinkle the rosemary leaves as you please. Put the pan back on a medium heat for a couple of minutes to get the bottom cooking. Take to the oven if it's oven proof or just transfer the paper with the pie to the oven tray. It needs to stay in the top shelf to cook for 18 to 20 minutes, or until golden and crisp. And you're done!

Let me tell you, in my world spinach+goat cheese=heaven!

Edited to add: I've done this twice so far and I tried it with and without the lemon zest. I must say I like it better it minus the zest. Also, jamie's version uses more eggs, so I tried that way the second time too, again I must confess I prefer it more gooey and cheesy, than perfectly set but more eggy. Trust your instincts and do what works best for you!

all photos by me 
You can find the original recipe here and watch it here

  *This doesn't happen all that often? Well... at last, for me it doesn't. I better enjoy it when I can.  

The August Break - Day 18

Lisbon. Love to watch the city life by the colors of the morning sun.

all photos by me

17 August 2011

To the person who is now in possession of my cellphone

If you stole it from me, be sure that you belong in hell.

I don't care if I gave you a chance by leaving the bag zipper open. I don't care if you have a hard life. I have a hard life. And I don't take pleasure from things that do not belong to me, you know, other people's things. I work my ass of to get everything I have.

No. It's not an easy life. Fight it! Don't be a coward.

If I was stupid enough to have lost it, anywhere between the train and the bus to work, and you found it, well, I still have some confidence in the good will of people. Because, you know, there are some good people out there. Honest people. So, I was hoping that you would return it to me. I don't expect you to know who I am and find me. Don't worry, the authorities will do that for you. And I don't need to offer you a reward, cause it's the right thing to do, and good people do nice things just because it feels good. But I would be tremendously grateful to you, and would have you in my heart forever, because good people leave a print in our life. And probably would bake you a thank you cake. Just sayin...

I waited. Two whole days. I contacted the authorities, the train and the bus company. Several times. No such thing was returned anywhere. And I even called my cellphone hoping you would answer me, but it just rang once and then you turned it off.

Why? Don't you know that it is mine and not yours? Do you think that finding it, and keeping it, makes you a better person than a thief? It doesn't. It's not yours to keep. Oh, and it's a crime amongst our laws, did you know that?

I will keep looking for it, because I still have faith in the human kind, even if everywhere I go people tell me not to have. "People don't do altruistic acts no more. People see advantage in every thing and will take it if given the opportunity." So, am I naive? I don't care. This is who I am.

If I never get to have it back, wich I know is the most probable thing to happen, I hope that, when you find all my pictures full of smiles in the cellphone card, you'll be sure that you stole a piece of an happy life. I don't expect you to feel bad about it, as I don't expect people like you to have feelings. Anyway, whether you stole it from me or found it and kept it, be sure that

I hate you with all my heart.

photo by me, taken that very same morning
and that was actually the exact bus I caught. weird, I say.

The August Break - Day 17

cross the river. there's always the other side.

all photos by me

16 August 2011

The August Break 2011 - Day 16

"I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death."
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

all photos by me

The August Break 2011 - Day 15

you and me

photo by me

15 August 2011

The August Break 2011 - Day 14

How did I forgot yesterday's August Break?

Who am I kidding? This is why:

Yes! You got it right: a real summer sunday afternoon. Who would've thought after waking up yet again for a cloudy rainy day? As we say around here, St. Peter gave us break. The skies opened for a bright sun after lunch and of we went to a river beach near by to end the day. It felt like summer, real summer at last.

Oh, and there were snails...

all photos by me 

10 August 2011

Oh summer, where art thee?

Yesterday I was putting together photos for this post when, in one of my breaks, I stopped by Blue LaReve. We're entering the beginning of the end of summer, she says. What?

Realizing that made me sad, even though her words are beautiful, and yes, it's true.

I'm always excited for a new season to come. Everything changes (at least here where I blog from). The nature, the smell in the air, the light, the clothes, people's faces and moods... but where is summer?? What happened to the hot days? They come and go, and never really stay. (hot days during labour days don't count as such, not for me they don't, period.)

I want to take the car and drive to the beach on sunday, just because its hot and we need to refresh... And start the evening with a beer and a plate of prawns or snails (if your giving me that look over the snails, well, you just need to come to Portugal) on a terrace bar as the sun goes down over the horizon...

Two weeks ago we wanted to do that. It was our first anniversary and we felt like we really needed for a bit of honeymooning. The summery ones, with hot days, long beach baths, short clothes, fresh drinks and lots of ice cream.

Need I say we had none of that?

Instead we had rain and cloudy sky the whole time. And an immense sea looking at us underneath the mist. After driving 400 km... Oh summer, where art thee? Not in A Coruña. (and this was supposed to be our second honeymoon!) Well, I guess we're just not lucky this year...

So, no sun, no beach. Let us do what we like when we go to a new place. Walk. Walk the large and the tiny streets, the crowded and the quiet ones. Admire the architecture, the old and the contemporary buildings. Breath in the culture, sit at a terrace having a drink, and relish how life goes by in that place. And taste local food, of course, local delights...

Definitely, these were not the vacations we've planned, but we loved every minute of it. Galicia is a beautiful spanish region, with an impressive shore made of bays, estuaries and capes, that create fantastic beaches (even thought we haven't had the chance to try them...). The old city of A Coruña itself is placed on a peninsula with the sea surrounding it. At one side you have the marina and the harbor, at the other you have the beach bay.

"Feira das Marabillas", the medieval fair that happens there every year in July
I personally love the antique galician buildings, with those white balconies.
football fans at the Riazor (the stadium was a disappointment, but photographically I had a blast!)
and the water fall at the Opera house

There are plenty of things to see, I assure you. But if you're not a city kind of person you can always take a drive along the shore and you'll find beautiful pueblos, with lovely beaches and small harbors as well as small typical restaurants, facing the sea, serving delightful fresh fish and sea food.

Oh, and did we ever got to see the sun? Hell, yes! In both of the trips from and back home. No, I'm not joking, this is just how lucky we are. Next week we're driving south for a few days at the Algarve (Portugal most famous beach area), wish us luck!! I'm not ready to let go of summer yet.

all photos by me
except for this last one, taken by a sweet spanish girl, who offered herself to take us a picture and ended up taking 5!
if by any fortune's chance you happen to cross this, thank you!

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