Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Very Special Drawings

February 21st will be a special day to remember for our family! It was the first time we gave a clear explanation of God’s plan of salvation for to our daughters, and they both said they wanted to make Jesus their Savior!  I know they are only 5 and nearly 4 years of age, but it seemed they were sincere in their understanding and decision. At one point, my younger daughter said unsolicited, “It makes me sad how I’ve been mean.” It was nice to emphasize God’s plan of forgiveness for our sin to her. The girls have continued to talk about it their decision over the  last few days.

My husband remembered a drawing he had learned. You can draw it for anyone to visually understand what God has done for us through giving his son Jesus as the means to eternal life with Him.  My husband drew this picture out for the girls explaining each step (Adam and Eve’s relationship with God before and after their choice to sin, man’s attempts to get to God, God sending Jesus to die for our sins, and our choice). It really kept their attention to listen and watch him draw the next part. After we finished talking about it and praying with the girls, he gave the girls a copy of the drawing for them to color. Here is my older daughter’s colored version:

Miah's salvation pic-1 

She was actually sick that night but felt great during our our home Sunday School time. In the middle of the night, I let her color to get her mind off her stomach. This is when she colored her drawing and added the pool with people around it. She is excited to be baptized—can you tell?! She added her name on the top line too, showing the path she’s chosen!  We are so thankful!!! These pictures will be a great memory for the girls one day too!

I’d love to give more specifics or answer questions if this is something you’d like to use or understand too!

I’m sharing this at:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Giving new wood some character

In an effort to fill the space left by a removed bide in our girls’ bathroom, I had a carpenter make me a table that fit around the bide pipes perfectly. Good and cheap carpentry is one thing I like living here!
But then to make a new wood table match the decor… I decided to try a part water/part paint wash on a scrap piece of wood and it was too light. I decided upon painting the table with full strength paint and wiping it off with a rag.
While that dried, I practiced applying a top stain in various ways, but decided the wipe off method would work again--a great use for a trashed t-shirt! This time I wore gloves!
I learned you have to work in sections to not let the stain get too dry before wiping it and to be careful of stain collecting on the other edge of where I’m working and not noticing it.
Finished work…
…in it’s new space.
I’m participating in the following “parties”:

Furniture Feature Fridays

Monday, February 15, 2010

“New” Foam Soap

I’ve nearly run out of all the great B&BW hand soap I brought back from the States. Instead of using a grocery store soap pump on the counter, I decided to get out an old foam soap dispenser my mom bought me from Pampered Chef years ago. It was not real attractive but very functional with directions on the side for mixing the foam soap solution. Sorry for the blurry photo (I need to work on close up shots!).


I subscribe to a blog called Just Something I Made. The writer, Cathe Holden, posts great FREE vintage digital downloads.

I found a flower print and a Paris post mark from her site to download and print that went with some scrapbook paper scraps I had. Using some decoupage glue I had, the soap bottle became a little more enjoyable to use.

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I left the backside uncovered so I’d be able to reformulate the solution without looking on the internet and measuring it out as I’ve done in the past.

It’s not perfect (bubbles that did not want to be pressed away in the paper after the top coats of decoupage glue), but I am thankful to have saved money and used something sitting in storage. I mentioned it to a friend, and she said she hadn’t noticed a homemade decorated soap bottle when she used our bathroom. What a compliment—thanks Cristi! And thanks to Cathe Holden for your blog/resources too!

I’m participating in the following “parties”:

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Through a Better Lens

My brother told us we needed to check out the new J.Crew catalog, not for clothes though. The setting of the shoot was in Portugal—talk about making the ordinary here look extraordinary!

J.Crew also has a Passport to Portugal page that is an amazing snapshot of all the good things to see, eat and do around here (“What to Expect”; “Location, Location”; “Language Lessons”; and “Best Place to…”). The shot Rocks of Love under “What to Expect” is Obidos, the castle town about 10 minutes up the highway from us where we visit often and bank at. There are 4 pics of Obidos plus many other wonderful places around Lisbon.

Please check it out so you can see what we get to enjoy here!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Dyeing to Make It Old

I had some great fabric I had bought last year that worked for our master bathroom but wasn’t quite the right tone. It needed to be a little more vintage-ish like the other things in the room (kind of a hodge-podge of vintage, beachy, and honeymoon souvenirs). Since I live overseas, heading to a place like JoAnn’s to get something different isn’t an easy option. I had a successful attempt with tea dyeing in the past and decided to give it another shot.

I brewed some tea using some loose black tea that was getting old. I had used regular tea bags when I did it in the States. I cut just the fabric I needed for the curtain and let it sit in the tea all day. I made sure to stir the tea initially and every so often to not get pockets of darker staining on the fabric.


I learned that you have to dry the fabric without washing it first to not lose most of the stain. Second time’s a charm! Here are the before-stain and after-stain fabrics:


I am pleased with how the fabric turned out for the curtain considering the limitations for that window (and the limitations of living outside of America). I could not put a bigger curtain there because our windows open in, and we open them often in the summer. Portuguese folks tile their whole bathrooms so my husband wasn’t keen on more holes in the tile. Thank goodness for a little wood piece atop the window to attach a rod to!

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I’ve linked up with the following “parties”:

The Girl Creative      DIY Day @ ASPTL


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Free Shipping on Books

Yes, not a very fancy title, but it says it all! My friend Jen told me about a website called The Book Depository out of the UK. She said they’ve had most every book she’s ever looked for. I checked it out, curious if they’d hike up prices to compensate.

I’ve been wanting a Portuguese history book and found one on If I was in the States, that might be the way to go with their free shipping once you order $25. But I have to consider the shipping or effort on my mom’s part to get it to Portugal after that. (Amazon does have international shipping thankfully, if I ever really need to order to come straight here.) So this book I want is $19.95 on Amazon (plus shipping or buy something else) OR 12.46 Euro at The Book Depository which equals $16.95 at the current exchange rate. Saves me time and money!

So exciting to have such a resource! (For all of you reading in the States, finding English books we want is something we miss overseas.) I hope all my international friends will be blessed by the news as well! Thanks Jen!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

He parted the Red Sea for us

Last Thursday I was coming home from running errands with my Portuguese neighbor. As we came to the highway intersection before our neighborhood, a policeman pulled me over. Apparently he and other police at the intersection corners were checking each car for registration papers. The officer, and then another lady, came over and spoke to me in Portuguese. I would turn to my neighbor, Isabel, for a translation. Then the woman began to speak directly with me in English (so well that Isabel said she couldn't follow her!). She asked for my car's registration. I searched through the glove compartment looking for something different than our insurance. I had never been taught what else you might need to have in Europe! I called Scott; he didn't know where the other paper would be, but I knew he started praying because right after that I found a folded piece of paper that was what she was looking for!

The woman asked me when we brought the car into Portugal—June 20th. She said it was over the 6 month allowance to have our registration changed from Germany. We read that we had 12 months from a website that gave instructions in English to people coming into the country. I told her we had planned to get the car inspected next week just so we could change the registration over. Isabel kept saying we had been out of the country for 3 months (for our recent furlough)—didn't that count? The lady clarified that we had not driven the car out with us. No, we flew to America. She took my papers and was gone for a long time filling out paperwork. When she returned she said my car would be in their custody, but I would be allowed to drive it that night only. After that I could not drive it until I had changed registration and paid the fine for not doing it in time. I asked how I could take care of the registration if I couldn't drive the car. She asked if we only had one car—Yes. So she made a note on the paper that we would be driving to the customs office the following day.

The next day at the customs office in a beach town about 30 minutes from here, we went first to a counter that appeared to deal with the car registration. One woman there spoke English. She read our papers from the officer the day before. She said we could not register the car as usual because we were over the 6 month mark. We would have to pay taxes on our car to be able to register it (or get it back from the government's custody!). We told her we'd read that because we'd owned our car in Germany for over one year we wouldn't have to pay taxes. She said that would be fine if we had registered within the 6 month mark. We asked if they'd consider that we were misinformed about the time period. She said we'd have to speak with her boss. In the mean time, she would figure the taxes for us. Scott and I discussed that God would not require more than He could take care of. She came back with a list of numbers that totaled 9, 350 Euros! Unbelievable! Yet peace prevailed. We asked what if we could not pay that? She said they can keep the car instead—our only car. Then she took us to her boss's office.

This manager we talked to was a nice man who spoke in broken English. He had my car papers that the officer took on Thursday and appeared to be informed about our situation. He spoke specifically to me, since I was the law offender. He began to tell me my rights under Portuguese law, one being that I could lie. I said I didn't understand, surely he had a word mistranslated or something. He repeated, "You can lie!" We told him we didn't want to lie. He asked me what I wanted to do. He repeated that my options were to pay the taxes and register, to give the car to the Portuguese government or take the car back to Germany. That brought up many questions in our minds but first we told him our story about having the wrong amount of time to get the registration changed. He said that because we were Americans and not European Union citizens that we would have had to pay taxes on the car within 20 days of us crossing the border because we were coming to live here. The only exceptions were for people here to vacation. He said we weren't even allowed to drive in Portugal as Americans because we weren't licensed to drive in the EU. Thankfully we had our German drivers' licenses that we'd worked so hard to obtain! When we showed him this, he said he needed to speak with his boss. He said he's studied the law and complained that there are too many exceptions in the Portuguese law, almost like he was suggesting that we would not be the next exception.

He was gone for a while, and everyone else was out of his office. We prayed there by ourselves for God to move on our behalf. Tears welled up in my eyes, not because of the enormity of the problem before us, rather that I knew God would not forsake us. Even if we had to pay the money, turn the car in, or drive the car to Germany to sell it (and then buy a new car in Portugal), He was going to come through for us somehow. Sea gulls seemed to float in the air right outside the only window there above a beach inlet. They had no cares in the world (Matthew 6:26-27). The manager came back and escorted us to the Director of Customs office for that area.

It was a large office with a large desk and a conference table. The director was in a suit and spoke very good English. He kindly asked us what we were doing in the country. We explained and made sure he knew we received income only from America. We showed him the papers saying we had 12 months to take care of the registration change. He looked at our German drivers' licenses and Scott's Portuguese visa. Then he spoke Portuguese with the manager for some time. He came back and asked to see any evidence that we'd lived in Germany for over one year. Thankfully Scott had done his homework and had every paper that was requested of us.

Then he said, "OK, let's go back to the other office and get your car registered." We said that's fine, but we could not pay the taxes. He said "Oh, you will not need to pay anything." Can you feel the relief we felt?! He took us to the first counter, told the ladies a bunch of stuff in Portuguese, and they got right to work preparing our paperwork to be done. I stopped the director on his way out and asked if my name would be cleared because of the citation or if I needed to do anything else. He said it was taken care of!

We think the Director used the date on Scott's residence visa (mid-August) to begin our 6 month time frame, rather than when we crossed the border. That is also the time we closed on our home—so our residency became official at that time. The manager stayed in that office for some time looking at legal books. As he was leaving, he stopped to tell us he didn't agree with his director, that he thought we didn't have "the right" to get this exception. We were thankful nonetheless that he wasn't the one with the final say.

We drove home that day in our car without a dime less having all the necessary paperwork to drive in Portugal and get further in the process of having new license plates, etc. We ended up ahead rather than behind. We laughed at how we had started to make plans in our head about how we'd take care of this. Scott leaned toward giving them the car (and calling someone to pick up the girls from school!). I leaned toward driving back to Germany. I missed our friends and familiar things there and driving back would surely be easier without so many of our household items in tow as when we drove out of Germany in June '09! God truly parted the Red Sea for us in the easiest way. Back at home, I felt most victorious in the fact that we didn't succumb to unbelief at the sea's edge. Rejoice with us!


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