Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Few Differences

Hi friends: Writing from Houston, Texas! We’ve been back in the USA for about a week. Jet lag is starting to break!

My dear American friend in Portugal asked me to let her know things that hit me funny when I got back “home”. I thought I’d write a post about it. I think after flying back home from Europe several times for the past 8 years that I would not be surprised by things. I expect to be overwhelmed by the hugeness of SUV’s and trucks on the highway as well as central air and heat. So it has been fun to take note this time of what was unexpected.
Please don’t be offended by what I’ve noticed or commented on. I know the list might be long if you were to visit my other home in Portugal!  Here we go:

  1. Girls with messy hair in sports outfits at restaurants and stores
  2. Churches everywhere--not historical pieces of architecture but mainly khaki metal flat roofed buildings
  3. The friendliness of Chick Fil A staff
  4. Extremely soft toilet paper
  5. Souped up cars
  6. Yellow egg yolks! What are the chickens in Portugal eating that is different from here?
  7. Enormous drinking glasses at restaurants and being sold in stores. A Portuguese might mistake them as pitchers.
We're headed to visit my mother-in-law in Alaska next. Another cultural experience ahead! 

(And hopefully I can figure out how to add photos to a blog using an iPad. You are missing pics of a truck with a big "Redneck" decal on the windshield and bling belts and purses at the sporting goods store. Maybe you can imagine...)

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Here in the morning shadows

I catch my breath and sing

My heart is fresh and fearless

And over-brimmed with spring

second stanza of “May Night” from Rivers to the Sea by Sara Teasdale


Our plum tree had a bad season last summer. Some kind of disease that made its leaves turn curly and grow strangely. The few plums that grew blew off in some strong winds. Lots of white buds make a statement for another chance.


Archways to some medieval structure near the castle walls at Obidos, a beautiful relic of a bygone day. What appears to be fireweed has found a sweet spot on top.


What I just threw in a pot a year or two ago because I couldn’t stand to see a viable plant go in the trash after cleaning out some flower beds. It feels like years since we’ve seen it’s color which only opens for the sun.

So thankful for the object lessons that spring offers. Is your heart fresh and fearless and over-brimmed with spring?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Chance to Celebrate Others

Long ago, I knew I wanted a party for my 40th birthday yet I hesitated to ask my family and team to have to do such a thing. One thought kept coming to me though, that I wanted to thank all our local friends here in Bombarral who have helped us so much over our years. A party would be the perfect chance to honor them. So, amongst other great celebrations for this milestone birthday, my family, team and I pulled off the event!

invitation copy

The invitation was the choice that set the décor for the party. It was ordered from the Green Cherry Factory on etsy. She has some of the most beautiful invitations I’ve ever seen! Unbeknownst to me, my friend and teammate, Anne, ordered a matching print from this shop with sweet words for my 40th! She brought it to put out the night of the party:


Anne, Linda (another teammate) and I scavenged our stashes for items that would work with the colors and décor. Anne let me borrow her amazing chalkboard for the wall behind the food table. Linda sewed garlands made from floral and coordinating color scrapbook paper. I added pink glitter to the rims of some green glass votives.


Anne and my girls hung up old photos of me in the shape of 40 on our entry wall. It was a hoot to share my past big hair with others!


We used a recent flea market buy, a pink chenille bedspread, as the table cloth and a bin that normally holds the garden hose for our flower container.


We had lots of yummy food contributed by many people. It was fun to have such a variety! Our menu included Hawaiian sliders, kabobs, orzo salad, spinach dip in a bread bowl, potato salad, a cheese plate, layered dip in a cup and meatballs! We got to use my vintage glass hostess set plates for the party—it  might have been the first time they’ve been used since we moved to Portugal!


The dessert table about overflowed! The pièce de résistance was Linda’s Andes Mint cake (recipe from Bird on a Cake). We also had chocolate almond cake, key lime pie fudge, make your own fruit pizzas and two kinds of cupcakes.


Here I am giving a personal thank you to each guest and sharing about the great things I see in their lives. It was wonderful to see people be encouraged and even shed some tears. It was worth all the effort for this opportunity!


A few shots of guests—not everyone, but you can get a feel for the party!






A special thank you is in order for my family and my team for helping this event be such a memorable occasion! I am so grateful!!!


Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Skirt and Stockings

It’s time to take down our Christmas decorations, but I remembered to take a photo of our new Christmas digs now that the presents are gone.


I finally made new stockings and a new tree skirt from fabric I’ve had for two years! We had been working our way towards a more bright color scheme in our ornaments and such. So glad to have it all come together this year!


Now for a few close-ups:


After considering a few one-main-fabric tree skirts, I went with the pie piece cuts to include them all. I found the cute trim at our local Retrosaria, battled with it a bit trying to find a way to sew it on. I relented and used hot glue.


The stockings were a success in the making only by following the tutorial by Sew Like My Mom. It took a bit of faith to see how it would turn out. You essentially create one solid piece, lining and exterior,


stuff the lining in when you’re done


and fold down the top.


{Anyone remember the red candy fabric above from 1996 or so? My daughter wanted that for hers over some of the “newer” retro fabric I’d bought. Worked with the color scheme though!}


My husband wanted a manly stocking, so I made his from a felted sweater I had. {It really works to wash and dry an old wool sweater on hot to get great fabric!} I used the same instructions but had to piece some of the sweater together for the neck of the stocking which is hidden.


Here they are post-Christmas--not so pristine in shape after being so full! But so nice to have it done and them be well enjoyed!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Nativities Around Our Town

Around here we’re attempting to get past a week of illness in our home. It’s not easing up fast! In the meantime, I thought I’d post about a few things I’ve missed. I realize the blog has been dormant for too long!

This year I made sure to take pictures of the nativity scenes in our town, Bombarral. I have wanted to do this for years, so  here are the four we found outside our home. Here in Portugal, nativity scenes are called Presipios.


On the way out of town is a gigantic Mary and Joseph with baby Jesus. I tried to give some perspective by getting the windows and doors of the quinta in the background. It is awesome to see at night lighted up!


A little further out of Bombarral close to Carvalhal, there is a nativity set up at an old church.


Back in town there is a neat silhouette nativity set up at a concrete beam making plant that can be seen from the highway. So nice!


And up by the church in Bombarral, a life size version complete with date palms this year {and our two cuties}!

I did not get any good photos of the working nativity scene at the Colombo mall in Lisbon. If you’re in town it’s not to be missed. There’s way more than just the manger scene. It’s a whole village of moving figures doing their work. And the cow at the manger is chewing hay and things like that!


One of the presipios in our home is made up of vintage pieces I’ve found at the flea market, some dressed in traditional regional Portuguese garb. I love how the Portuguese add all kinds of people to come worship baby Jesus!

Happy New Years to you!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Zippered Pillows for the Novice

I sewed four pillow covers yesterday. Quite a feat considering I haven’t delved into much craftiness in months! {More finished product photos at the end if you want to skip the nitty gritty.}


The day before I didn’t have the zippers yet so I cut the fabric for each one. It was actually nice to start the next day with all my materials and everything cut {kind of like a cooking show with each ingredient premeasured in a little bowl!}.

I found a great tutorial which made things SO MUCH EASIER! Check out the most simple pillow cover with a zipper tutorial at Scout and Nimble first. Her instructions and photos are very easy to follow.

So why the post? I sew so {ha!} infrequently that I usually feel like a big novice every time! I thought I’d share some things I learned along the way for any other novices out there. Please, save time from my many mistakes! It was almost laughable today, like when I sewed up the end of the fabric in the zipper seam because I wasn’t careful! If you are a regular seamstress, this post is not for you!


For starters, don’t think you should do a long stitch on that first seam before attaching the zipper thinking it will be easier to rip out. It needs to be a smaller stitch so it won’t pull out when you put a pillow through the hole. The seam ripper will have no trouble cutting through even a smaller stitch.IMG_5623

One problem I encountered was not having zippers the same length as my pillow cover as Jesse did in her instructions. By the time I got to the third and fourth pillow, I started figuring out what I needed to do.


I learned I didn’t need to make the zipper foot on the machine go around the zipper pull, but just stop close to it and come back to that part after I unzipped it a bit. It is loose above, but after ripping the seam open, you can grab the pull and open the zipper some. Then you can sew around the end. MUCH easier and neater!


You can see in the photo above the green lines I sewed after the back stitching {after I had unzipped the zipper some}.


I also thought I’d try sewing the zipper to the seam edges only and not through both pieces of fabric to not have the sewing lines seen on the outside of the pillow. It is doable, but in the end I wonder how this pillow {below} will look in the long run. The crease from ironing is the only thing keeping the zipper somewhat hidden. Sticking to the instructions and using the right color thread is the answer I think!


The floral pillow ended up in our bedroom for now. It’s destination to the patio was routed by a travel pillow on sale at AREA {a fabulous store in Portugal}. That fabric wasn’t made for the outside anyway.


Outdoor pillows are not that easy to find here in Portugal, if it is possible at all. For all my friends living here, I found outdoor fabric on fabric store row in Campo Ourique in Lisbon, but they only have stripes and solids. It wasn’t expensive at all when you don’t need a whole meter.


Three pillows made with outdoor fabric, one cheap IKEA solid I had, and my new travel pillow. It might need a mate! Hopefully we can finish up our back patio projects soon so I can post all of it then.

Friday, March 8, 2013

A Rainbow’s End


Last year I started this small project after seeing a digital version I liked. It took a sick day in January to complete it! So glad now.


It was fun to add a bit of Spring and Truth in our entryway.


I made a couple trips to our local retrosaria between last year and this to get a needed button or two to fill in the rainbow well. If you’d like to make something similar, I’d recommend starting with a larger piece of cloth than I did. It got a little tricky trying to keep my piece between the embroidery hoop with all the buttons not wanting to bend on the hoop’s edges.


The cursive writing was just freehand and the clover is four small hearts ends together. I pulled the fabric around a frame back {with stand} and glued it. I had planned on framing it, but the frame did not have enough space for the back now-covered-in-fabric to fit in its grooves.


Thankfully it stands well on its own! Happy Spring and St. Patrick’s Day to you a little early!


linking up to Tatertots and Jello and

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