Monday, August 29, 2011

A Good Laugh Now and Then

The first fruits of our garden this year were not the prettiest.


We discussed that someone could do a sermon on this—so many angles you could take!


Then there are were my zinnias that grew from seed. I came outside one afternoon to find this. {My girls had a heyday with this inchworm!} Obviously the flower had been on its way out—some kind of mildewy looking stuff. Thankful for a laugh before its demise in the trash!


My husband and I had been talking about me doing some sequential blog posts on the vintage yet still-in-use or unusual signs we see in Portugal. Then we showed up for our boat trip and saw this one. {I know the situation would not be funny, but I found it’s uniqueness quite humorous.}


And fish hung to dry is not a daily sight for me, yet not surprising…


but what was hanging next to it was!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Berlenga Island

Warning: Lots of photos in this post—it was tough to narrow them down!
There is an amazing island {or group of them—this is the biggest} just 45 minutes off the coast of Portugal, and we got to see it this week! We scheduled some vacation days and decided we’d better stay close to home, and fortunately Berlenga is!
We rode a boat that carries about 180 people—it was cheaper that way. We learned the hard way that not getting in line early means you have to sit underneath and face sea-sickness. {They even passed out plastic bags to the passengers underneath and not on top!}
 Unbelievable water, right?!  I didn’t make any adjustments in the photos either!
The girls wanted to learn to snorkel like their daddy, but they need to get a bit stronger in their swimming skills. We’ve had a friend who went scuba diving here and loved it too.
a view of the beach we were at and where my husband snorkeled from above
The walking trail takes you high up above the port. You can see the coast we departed from in the distance—Peniche is the city. We live in the area close to that hill you can see way in the background.
After quite some time of walking, you get rewarded with this view: Forte de São João Baptista das Berlengas.
The hike downward felt a tiny bit treacherous, but I’m glad we went down this only versus climbing up!
Like other castles and fortifications we’ve been to in Portugal, the bridge to the fort had no rails. There was even a girl standing there getting enough courage to take a dive from the ledge. We also saw a bride and groom taking wedding photos—talk about a location! You can actually rent rooms in the fort—probably great views over comfort.
We took a glass bottom boat tour for 4Euro a piece, and got to ride into caves like this under the fort. It was worth the price alone to not have to hike back to the main port with our girls!
This rock formation is called “the elephant’s head” I think?
The boat in front of us was going through this passageway. When we passed through, my husband asked me if I felt like I was in a Disneyland ride—surreal for sure. I was reminded of Thunder River at Astroworld for some reason, for any Houstonians out there.
a distant view of the lighthouse we passed on our hike
headed back to the main port before our departure back to the mainland—quite an adventure!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Three Bags Full

Yes sir, yes sir, and I’m not talking about wool.

August is the time of year in our region of Portugal {the “Oeste”} for pears to be harvested. We are learning that people sign up to be pear pickers, and it just happens to be during the month that many Portuguese are on vacation, but some choose to work as a “picker” instead.


So it shouldn’t have surprised me when a line of cars were parked on our street: the field across from our neighborhood was getting harvested.


They bring in huge boxes and set them periodically amongst the trees for the pickers to fill. Daily we see tractors like this carrying full boxes from fields to the cool storage houses. Pears in this area are called Rocha named after the original producer here and can be kept in storage for around 10 months. They have to be left in warm temps to get soft enough to eat.  I used to think they were called Rocha because they were hard as a rock {the word for it in Portuguese}…but they just need a little time, and they are sweet!


Our neighbor called us to ask if we wanted any pears from the field behind his house. The owner there is not a farmer but gives his pears away to friends. My husband took our car and came back with 3 bags full—he had to tell the man we couldn’t take any more {and there are still gobs of pears on his trees!}. I get sad about all the pears on the ground that pickers deem no good. How much more to see the good ones still hanging on!


But I am not called to use or share every pear. My green, thrifty side hates to see any go to waste! What is NOT green is how I turned on my old fridge in the garage to keep my pears until I can deal with them! I do have two trays of pears sitting outside waiting to ripen so I can make something with them. Maybe pear sauce like two years ago…or maybe something different this time…or both. Any ideas? Wish I could ship them your way!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Dishcloth on the Wall

My kitchen desk area was a long time coming, and worth the wait! We had to find a carpenter that could match the cabinets and then a local granite dealer that could match the countertops that were already in our home when we bought it. {Marble and granite are unbelievably cheap in Portugal!}


You’d think I’d get it decorated in no time flat. Yet it’s been about nine months since it was all installed! I think having to drill holes in the tile deterred my decision making and following through a bit. But, at last, it’s all up!


The three vegetable print plates were a semi-simple decision. It was what to put in the big space behind the computer desk! I wanted the area to be restful to the eyes, rather than busy {which my grandmother’s fun salt & pepper shaker collection would have been—sad!}. I had some great pics of my girls and husband so I chose some frameless dollar store frames for those. We tried to hang them without holes several ways and had to resort to drilling.


One day I was going through my fabric stash and thought I should see if a dishcloth complemented what I had used in the kitchen. It did…but what to do with it? My husband happened to be hanging things in the new office so I grabbed a frame before he used it to try out my idea: putting the dishcloth behind the frame as a dry-erase board. It worked!


I bought a similar size frame that matched. FYI: it has glass—not sure how dry-erase would do on the Plexiglas-like frames. I didn’t even have to cut the cloth {which I was happy about} but folded and taped down the corner edges that stuck out. It has been so nice to keep tabs on meal plans and other to-do lists that don’t need to be rewritten weekly in my week at-a-glance calendar!


One space I planned for and therefore was easy to decorate was my latte bowl shelf. Just enough room for them and the hidden electrical cords behind them for some light on my desk!


And lastly, the tops of the cabinets needed some bigger items to fill the void. Two flea market finds, a souvenir box, and two items I use seasonally will work until something else catches my eye.


So thankful it’s done! Now just to finish organizing the insides of the cabinets!


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