Week Eight… Burpees and Thanksgiving

Day Fifty (quinquagesimo dia) Friday (Sexta-feira)

Semana oito

John and I both took Romeo for his morning stroll because the sun was shining and it was warm and beautiful out. After heading home and having homemade powdered galaos (not that bad! And I can make it with soy milk!) John, Ken, and I hit the gym:

Friday’s 300 Workout

  • 20 curl-press
  • 20 plyo push-ups
  • 20 inverted rows
  • 20 hanging leg raises
  • 10E rotational cable pulls


Ernes had bananas and eggs for us, but no plastic bags. No worries—we wrapped the bananas in a gym towel and put the eggs inside John’s thermal pocket on his backpack. The shells are really hard, and if one broke in there it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to clean (what is the worst thing? Cooked on food? Bodily fluids? … hmmm).

The eggs and bananas made it home safely after we stopped at Pic-Nic for galaos, fofas, and a sopa do dia. Ken made it safely home to our apartment, too. He had left his pizza there days before and John was threatening to eat it. After we all ate leftovers for lunch, Ken left and John and I went to work planning our Spanish vacation.

Ken is leaving Povoacao on December 17th, so we are too. After looking at what was the best way to go about things, we booked a flight to and from Barcelona. We are probably going to spend three of the seven days in Madrid, but we didn’t book anything. We also have a 7-hour layover in Lisbon on the way home, so we will have a little time to venture out and see that city, too. I have so many frequent flyer miles on my United card from the many trips to and from Sao Miguel already this year (and maybe a few trips to San Diego to see Cathy and Dave) that we aren’t paying anything for hotel rooms. Here is a heartwarming video of me surprising Cathy in San Diego for her birthday. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was about 5 weeks from living in Portugal. And here we are.


We just have one minor detail to firm up: Romeo care. There are a lot of people here who could possibly contribute. We are going to have to settle this pretty soon as we leave in just over three weeks. We arrive home to Povoacao on Christmas Eve and are planning on spending Christmas day with Lina and Ernes’ family. They feel like family.

We took Romeo on another long walk just as the sun was going down. If you don’t follow me on Instagram, or you do but you happened to miss this gem, here is a photo I took the other day of the sun beginning to set. This happens around 5:15pm.


I headed off to teach at ALKE and John headed off to his make-up practice for the juniors. Both teams have games tomorrow in different spots, so John and Ken won’t be at the juniors game to coach. Ken also learned earlier that they can only send 12 boys to play because the seniors are taking the one van (that actually belongs to the school that Pedro drives for because Mira Mar’s van has been broken since around Day Five). Lina and I are not going to the game, but she is making dinner for all of us to have afterwards. See? Feels like family.

I love teaching at ALKE. There were 11 ladies tonight and Xana and Julia kept popping in and out. After the workout, I had the ladies help me complete my 30 burpees. Day 4: 30 burpees. We went five for five. They started with five, then I did five. We went for six rounds. Muito obrigada, queridas!


I went home and made pasta and sauce and a big salad. We always share with Romeo. Here is his area after he ate:

IMG_0667Really, Romeo?

In honor of Catching Fire opening in the States, John and I re-watched The Hunger Games. If you’re a fan of Jennifer Lawrence and totally sick of Miley Cyrus, please enjoy this parody so you can think of it when Wrecking Ball is stuck in your head.


Day Fifty One (quinquagesimo primeiro dia) Saturday (Sabado)

Long run Saturday. I took off for two hours in the lombas and John took off for Pic-Nic to watch some matches with Ken. The weather was beautiful and I didn’t fall. I did however fail to hydrate properly and the sun was beating down. About fifty minutes in I started glancing down peoples’ driveways to see if they had hoses or spigots I could turn on. There are several public spring water spigots all over Povoacao, but I had passed several and was on a stretch of lomba do alcaide that had none. I kept going, peaking down alley-ways and driveways to no avail. When I came to the end of lomba do alcaide to the turn where I took a digger, there is a old cement structure. Up a few cement steps there was an open pipe, but no faucet and it looked dry. I paused my watch and went closer. There was a handle above the pipe inside a covered box and as I stood under that faucet I felt like Alex Owens in Flashdance. HA.


That was around 1:05:13. I plugged along through the almeda, which is what I learned a tree tunnel road is called here. When I came to the princess house, which belongs to Diane the nurse who comes to my class sometimes and was present at our Desperate Housewives dinner, I took a left for lomba de loucao. This time, instead of descending this lomba, I crossed back over to lomba do alcaide at the dreaded V-shaped hill. I made it maybe 2/3 of the way up before I had to pause my watch and catch my breath. This was around 1:27:30. I finally completed the ascent and began my descent down lomba do alcaide which takes longer (and I wanted to run further) and is also less-steep and therefore more pleasant. The steep descents put a lot of pressure on my lower back, and of course the descents are at the end of my run when I’m already fatigued. I cut up and down Lina & Ernes’ road, lomba de pos, and bro do caridade which runs directly above the river road I lap with Romeo daily. I finished in 2:00:16. I’m calling it 11.5 miles. Mission complete.


almedaThe Almeda: Photo cred. I still refuse to carry my phone, so I got this picture off of Google Images.

Unfortunately, I forgot about my #30burpees30days challenge before I got in the shower; I would have to do them later. I took my sweet time getting ready and then met John and Ken at Pic-Nic. They were getting picked up at 5:00pm for their game against Sao Roque. Sao Roque is a really good team–probably the best in their division–and the last time the juniors played their junior team, Mira Mar lost 10-1. This is John’s second regular season game, after drawing against Nordeste 2-2 last weekend. I blogged and walked Romeo and completed my #30burpees30days challenge. I did 3 sets of 10, non-SPLAT, without push-up, and tried not to sweat. Day 5: 30 burpees. Lina, Emanuel, Luisa, and Julia picked me up around 8:30pm. We grabbed Xana from Pic-Nic and headed to their house in the city. Ernes went to the Mira Mar game with Kevin and we were going to meet them in Ponta Delgada afterwards for dinner. Lina had make chicken pot pie, salad, and arroz doce (rice pudding). Lina had talked to Ernes at halftime and Mira Mar was winning 1-0. Winning! I couldn’t believe it. We all hoped the second half would go as well. Lina called Ernes when we were close to their house and Ernes announced that Mira Mar had won 2-0. Our overcrowded car erupted with joy.

The boys arrived shortly after we did, and Ernes ran out to buy celebratory beers. We feasted. Lina was upset because somehow during the car ride, the top crust of her pie fell in to the filling. It didn’t look like chicken pot pie, but it tasted like it and was delicious. After dinner and wine we walked down to the marina, which is about 10 minutes up the road. Every bar, restaurant, and cafe was brimming with people. There are a couple of GoodHeart soft-serve ice cream huts along this street and on the walk back Ernes treated everyone to ice cream. I was too full from dinner, but I had a lick of John’s caramel-swirl. He got Xana with his classic “does-this-ice-cream-smell-funny-to-you” HAHA “I’m-going-to-push-it-into-your-face-while-you’re-smelling-it” trick.

We walked back in the dark, warm, barely misting, night to the house. We piled into the two cars and made a sleepy, full, and happy return to Povoacao.


Day Fifty Two (quinquagesimo segundo dia) Sunday (Domingo)

Our toilet stopped working sometime on Saturday. It was doing the same thing it did after I flushed some paper towel on Day Eleven. It was trying to flush, but the bowl would just fill with water and then drain very, very slowly and never actually empty. When we got up, we walked with Romeo to the guys’ apartment and let ourselves in with our key to use their facilities. I planned to tell Carla when she came to work on Monday—there are enough public restrooms in addition to Ken, Adam, and Majid’s toilet. We are fine.

With no serious plans for our day other than watching soccer, we went down to Pic-Nic. It was cold and rainy. After several hours there we went home and watched Argo. We had dinner which looked like a frozen TV dinner but was homemade fried chicken (looked like chicken nuggets), rice, and (sigh) frozen vegetables. Ernes said he wanted to go to the pools in Furnas today if he wasn’t driving Xana back to the city. Luckily, he drove Xana back to the city, because it was so gross out. After dinner, John cheered me on for Day 6: 30 burpees of my #30burpees30days. I did 2 sets of 15 with push-ups. We walked back to the boys’ apartment to powder our noses.


Day Fifty Three (quinquagesimo terceiro dia) Monday (Segunda-feira)

I got up around 9:30am and took Romeo out. Carla was in her salon (Francisco was finally back at school after a 7 day fever! Poor kid) so I opened her door and told her of our toilet woes. I had to clarify: when she said not to put any paper in the toilet, did she mean toilet paper too? She did. She called her husband Joe to come over and he was at the apartment having already removed and replaced the toilet by the time Romeo and I got back. It wasn’t clogged with paper at all, but one of those chalky toilet bowl refreshers. It has probably been stuck in there since toilet fiasco #1, since I have never purchased one. Thank you, Joe. He then ran to his father-in-law’s hardware store to grab us some light bulbs while John and I mopped/bleached/cleaned the bathroom.

I took Romeo for a 1.5 mile run and then went out alone and did 15 sprint intervals (jog :35, sprint :15, walk :10 = 1:00). I know I have been running slowly without my GPS watch (although I’m not sure how slowly), and just generally feeling a little stagnant in my workouts and running. I have been trying to lift heavier, so I decided to pump up my speed, too. It felt great to sprint. John and I went to meet Ken at ALKE. We did four rounds:

  • Goblet squats x10-15
  • DB bench x10-15
  • SB roll outs x15-25
  • pull-ups for John and Ken x10-12
  • burpee to pull-up for me

I wanted to do my 30 burpees for the day, so I tried to do 3 rounds of 10, but I quickly figured out (after 5) that that wasn’t going to happen. I did 5, 5, 4, 3, 3, 2, 3, 2, 3. I also did two half pull-ups that I really couldn’t count. It’s hard because the pull-up bar is so high, but I did it. #hardworkworks #30burpees30days Day 7: 30 burpee pull-ups. I finished with a four-minute plank, 1:00 each center, right, left, center.

We left Ken at the gym to shower and said we’d meet him at Pic-Nic. This is what weather on Sao Miguel Island is like: It was barely sprinkling when we walked out of ALKE. About a block later, the rain began to fall a little heavier. A block later it began to pour, and John and I sprinted the last block-and-a-half to Pic-Nic. As soon as we got inside Pic-Nic, it stopped raining.

Monday included shopping at Fatima’s, making banana bread, buying and sending a postcard to my parents, and going to Antonio’s to get papos secos (Portuguese bulky rolls) because Fatima’s didn’t have any. John had practice for both the senior and the junior team. He and Ken couldn’t be present to coach the juniors on Saturday night because they had their game against Sao Roque. While the senior Mira Mar team won 2-0, the juniors lost 9-1 in Rabo de Peixe. NINE to ONE. At least none of the players got ejected from the game.

I went off to teach at ALKE, but I get tomorrow night off. I will still be attending class, I just won’t be teaching. Another girl, Gina, who has been coming 3x/wk to my class has been temporarily subbing at the high school as gym teacher here in Povoacao. Her time there is up, so she is going home to the continent. She is a certified personal trainer and BodyAttack instructor. She and her boyfriend are going to lead a BodyAttack class Tuesday night. I am hoping that John and Ken come with me, but John’s foot has been hurting him and Ken thinks that we don’t share the same definition of “fun”. Hm.

I had eleven ladies. Right before I left the apartment for my two-block-walk, it started to rain. Once safely inside Toronto Nights, it started to pour. By the time I left it was only sprinkling. #getusedtoit #goingtobeawetwinter

Day Fifty Four (quinquagesimo quatro dia) Tuesday (Terceiro-feira)

Tuesday’s weather was much like Sunday’s. Cold, wet, and rainy. I took Romeo for a walk and it was barely misting. When we went out to run it had stopped and the sun was shining. I ended up dropping Romeo off a few minutes earlier than usual because it began to rain again. By the time we got inside and I had dried Romeo off, it was no longer raining. I went back out and finished 4.0 miles. I think. I still have no GPS watch and am beginning to believe it was sniped in the mail. Either that, or the midwest is incredibly slow. It is coming from Chicago. I hope something else comes from Chicago. It’s name is Jackalope.

When we got to the gym, Ernes said he had something for us: “Everyday, something for you guys,” he mused. It was John’s Nike ID cleats! My dad sent them about (if not less than!!!) two weeks ago. My watch has been in the mail twice that long, but I tried to be happy for John instead of bitter for myself. He was like a little boy on Christmas. So thankful, so sweet.

 IMG_0690Opening them at Pic-Nic.IMG_0691Explaining their purpose to Ricardo: “They go on my feet.”IMG_0695Awwww.

John was wishing aloud that ALKE had a dip bar when Ernes pulled two attachments, seemingly out of nowhere, which he and John connected to what I believed to be a weight-rack and tah-dah: dip bar. Two gifts in one day. We have a lot to be thankful for. We did:

  • Dips
  • Military Press
  • Reverse Flies
  • Hanging rotational leg raises
  • Box blasts for the boys / burpee to box jump for me!

#30burpees30days Day 8: 40 burpee to box jumps. Now, I am not a very good tweeter (twitter-er?), but I have been tweeting my blog (actually, wordpress does it for me) and I have been tweeting Spartan Race about my burpees (what has my life come to?) and they tweeted me back! #excited They say you can measure a man’s life simply by counting his friends, but I, apparently, prefer to count burpees.


Fastforward: Pic-Nic, reading My Booky Wook, rain, rain, rain. I decided I wanted to send postcards to a select few at home, but I didn’t want to brave the rain. I waited for the break (isn’t there always a break?), but none came. John left to watch some Champions League games with Ken and I headed for ALKE.

I had the night off from running the class and became a participant instead. Gina and her boyfriend Carlos, both certified BodyAttack instructors, were going to attack our bodies with aerobics. I could write an entire blog post on aerobics, and I think I will.

What I Like About Aerobics vs. What I dislike About Aerobics

I almost began with “I’ll bet you can imagine how I feel about aerobics”, but you probably can’t and that’s why I’m going to digress here for an important moment.

First, let me say that I love physical activity. I am not an incredible athlete, and I don’t care if you are. Run, dance, play, jazzercise, skip-to-your-loo. Go nuts! Be active. I love it.

That, my friends, is probably the only I like about aerobics. I was a dancer for many, many years, seriously and then for fun. I love and can appreciate the art of choreography (Travis Wall: you are a god), but I do not love clapping along to the music while doing jumping jacks in sync with Britney Spears. And I love Britney Spears.

BodyAttack includes something called the “Superman”. I’m not sure if it’s better or worse than the Urban Dictionary definition. I couldn’t find a YouTube clip short enough that included the “Superman” but here is another:


I was the captain of the cheer leading squad in community college, and I’m not even embarrassed to write about it. I wasn’t dancing at the time and it got me to stay active and involved socially in a completely commuter-based school. I wish I had a picture from this time in my life, but I do not. It doesn’t really matter, it is as good as your imagination. There were three cheerleaders. Not three “other” cheerleaders; three including myself. I was the biggest by about 6 inches and 20lbs.

I am not only aware of the obesity epidemic in America, but am deeply troubled by it and feel personally involved in turning it around, or at least changing the future surrounding the problem. I read on Fitness magazine’s website today that two thirds of Americans are obese. Two thirds. For this fact alone I love CrossFit, I love Zumba, and I love aerobics. I love that CrossFit is popular because it makes working out and being strong “cool”. Being healthy is cool. I don’t personally enjoy Zumba, but I love that other people do. The same goes for aerobics and BodyAttack.

I have this Nike shirt that I bought a million years ago in a Florida outlet mall. It says “Strong is the new Beautiful”. This is something that is re-tweeted, instagrammed, and Facebooked daily and I. Love. It. The world does need more strong women: physically strong, mentally capable, emotionally well, healthy leaders. I love empowering young women to know what they are capable of, and that includes physical strength and endurance, as well as career, education, and life goals.

we can

I do not love bikini competitions, but that is a post for another day. I love strong and fit women (and men), but donning a bikini and being judged in your highest heels does not a feminist make. #icanteven

Back to my experience with BodyAttack

I did the Superman, I did the walking burpees, and I did the clapping and the jumping jacks. I sweat. We all had fun. Fifteen women showed up! This is the most we have had in a few weeks. Lina said it was a coincidence, but I think women like aerobics. I will be teaching my cardio-strength circuit class again tomorrow, and I’ll let you know how many women show up.


Day Fifty Five (quinquagesimo quinto dia) Wednesday (Quarta-feira)

Carla’s birthday: Take two. After having a fever for seven days, her son was finally back in school. I did a quick 2-mile sprint interval workout, and then Lina and I joined her for Chinese food in Ponta Delgada to celebrate. Chinese food is just as delicious here, and the restaurant looked like any and every other chinese restaurant I’ve ever been to. It was awesome; we started with spring rolls, had lo mein, tempura calimari, Chinese chicken salad, and honey barbeque chicken wings, and finished with fried ice cream. Afterwards, they took me to a store next door that sells all American products.The American store (Liberty) definitely has some stuff you can’t get anywhere else on the island, but it comes attached to a heavy price tag. I bought some Pop-Tarts for John (3.50) and a 60-pack of Nature Valley bars that were on sale (9.99!).

IMG_0703 IMG_0702

We picked Carlas niece up and went to a store like Michael’s or A.C. Moore. I eyed the Christmas decorations (every here owns a fake tree), but didn’t end up buying anything.

IMG_0706Portugal is very progressive.

We got pastries, of course, and the woman at Pao de Rei commented on how much I love the bolos de berlim because she remembers that I always get them. This time, I brought one home for John, too.

 IMG_0709 IMG_0711

We went to the Cash-n-Carry and that is when I knew we were going to have an American-Portuguese Thanksgiving afterall. There in one of the freezer cases sat some frozen birds. I picked out a 4kg turkey (about 10lbs) ringing in at 16. I also grabbed 10 apples to make Cathy’s apple crisp. Thank ye, Jesus! Thanksgiving comes to Portugal.

They didn’t have any stuffing and neither did the Sol-Mar supermarket we went to next. I decided to look up a recipe—how hard could it be? Bread, onions, butter? We would figure it out.

The girls dropped me off at 6:10pm. I had just enough time to drop my turkey in a bucket of warm water, change, and scoot over to ALKE. I worked out with them (all that Chinese food and pastries!) and had burpees as a station. We ended up doing 4 sets of :30. I did 32 burpee-with-push-ups. #30burpees30days Day 9: 32 burpee-push-ups. After class, I went home and attempted to defrost the bird.


When John got home, he helped me look up a recipe and prep the turkey. I have to admit a couple things: (a) I have never cooked a turkey for Thanksgiving or any other holiday, and (b) I did not know what “giblets” were, but I knew they were in this bird. The label said so.

I was washing the bird like Lina told me to when I noticed the organ-like-mass sticking out of the turkey’s ass. I am usually pretty tough when it comes to gross stuff—baby vomit, dog poop, etc—but I couldn’t handle this. “John! John! You take it out! YOU DO IT!” I was on the verge of losing it. “I don’t want to touch it! You do it!” he laughed back at me. I took a few deep breaths and reached into that bird. Because it was frozen, the organs were stuck and did not break free easily. As soon as I touched the organ, John poked my sides and made a pterodactyl sound. I broke into hysterical tears.

John got out what he could, but it was still too frozen. We rubbed the whole thing in salt and put it in a cold bath to spend the night. I hoped the rest of the Thanksgiving dinner prep would go differently.



Day Fifty Six (quinquagesimo sexto dia) Thursday (Quinta-feira)

Thanksgiving. Just like any good Thanksgiving day in the States, I wanted to start mine with a nice Turkey Trot. I took off for a chilly six-miler. It misted a little, but for the most part was just windy. Just as I hit four miles, Lina passed me and jokingly offered me a ride. I told her I had two miles to go, and I waved her on. Not even two minutes later, the sky opened and I almost drowned to death. I sprinted home in the sudden downpour. Should’ve taken that ride!

I changed and John and I met Ken at the gym. Lina gave me some corn starch for my gravy (something else I’ve never made!) as well as many encouraging words. We did two triple sets:

  • Single leg RDLs, ALT frontal/lateral raises, back extensions
  • Decline sit ups, tricep cable throw downs, incline bench

I finished with 30 burpees splats for time. #30burpees30days Day 10: 30 burpee SPLATS in 1:52.

We went to Pic-Nic and game planned our Thanksgiving dinner. Ken was making a roasted vegetable side dish, and would come over early to hang with us and cook it. We told Adam and Majid to come over at 8:00pm (after my class). While we were sitting, we heard something so familiar, we almost didn’t notice it at first. The woman next to us was speaking English! With an American accent! We commented quietly about it but didn’t say anything to her. A few minutes later, she leaned over to us “I can’t help but notice that you’re speaking English!” she said, “Where are you from?”. Turns out she grew up in Virginia, but went to Tufts dental school and has a dental practice in the financial district. She was here from Boston visiting family. We commiserated on how strange it was—it didn’t feel like Thanksgiving at all. Alas, it is just another rainy Thursday on Sao Miguel.

After having checked out some recipes earlier for stuffing, we got a loaf of whole wheat bread to make it with. We got everything else we needed: butter, onions, peppers, carrots, chicken bouillon, and dog food.

I started the apple crisp first while John checked the bird and removed the frozen neck (blechhhh!). I used my friend Cathy’s recipe, but made it a little bigger. I don’t measure because I suck at math and I’m better eye-balling it. The only thing I changed was I used a mix of white and brown sugar (because the supermercado had it!). I put in too much water, but it didn’t turn out to matter.

IMG_0718The finished product.

Once that was in the oven, I wanted to work on the stuffing. A loaf of bread, cut into cubes, two onions, a stick of butter, thyme (which I substituted with oregano #usewhatyougot), and chicken broth. I am never buying a bag of stuffing again! This was one of the easiest things I’ve ever made (google Betty Crocker’s classic bread turkey stuffing recipe). They don’t have celery here so I omitted that, and it was so delicious I practically had to hide it from John so we would have enough for dinner. I had a few moments where I didn’t think it was going to work; Betty gives you an option for “dry stuffing” where you omit the chicken broth. One stick of butter(ish) over an entire loaf of bread makes for very dry stuffing. Betty also leaves it up to you to determine how much chicken broth you want to add. My Portuguese chicken bouillon cubes didn’t have a measurement (in any language) for how much water:cube. We guessed and it worked.


When I was done with that, John went up to Ken’s to get a roasting pan for our turkey and a chicken we were commandeering to supplement the small turkey. Ken didn’t have one that was big enough, so John stopped at ALKE and Ernes got one from Toronto Night’s for us to use. John and I covered the bird in butter, stuffed it with half an onion and my Betty Crocker stuffing, put the rest of the onion and one carrot around the pan, and drizzled white wine on the veggies. #thatwaseasy

It was small, but we still thought it would take at least three hours. I prepped the chicken the same way, but I didn’t have enough room in the oven! John took the fully-prepped bird back up to Ken’s to cook at their apartment. After I stuffed both the birds, I still had about half the stuffing leftover, which I saved to toast up for out-of-bird stuffing.

We also made mashed potatoes. John looked at Fatima’s for a masher, but she didn’t have one. Knowing this ahead of time, I just cut the potatoes up super small and made sure I boiled them until they were really soft. I melted a lot of butter and put three giant garlic cloves in it. I smashed the potatoes with a fork, added the garlic-infused butter, some left over chicken broth, and some milk.


Other than too-much-water in my apple crisp, my only other faux pas was the gravy. I used all the corn starch Lina gave me, but it was still watery (John and Ken took all the juices from the chicken and the turkey). I added some flour. And then some more flour. It looked good.


By the time John carved both the birds and we all sat down, my gravy was the consistency of pudding. It tasted delicious, and the boys didn’t mind. John and I were very proud of our first attempt at hosting. Thank goodness it was only for five people.


It was especially nice to have Adam and Majid there—the more celebrating Thanksgiving the merrier. After dinner, we played some drinking games and I headed to bed before anyone left (classic), but got up again when I heard the guys opening the desserts Adam and Majid brought over.


They were like Portuguese Hostess cakes: one chocolate and one vanilla. I shoved my face and went back to bed. #thanksgiving #friendsgiving




Day Forty Nine… chicken soup and Russell Brand

Day Forty Nine (quadragesimo nono dia)

Semana sete

I had neglected running Wednesday because we were going to the city, but mostly because of the rain. I neglected it the day before that for a reason that I cannot validate, as I do not even remember it now. I ran 4 on Monday and set out to do 6 with and without Romeo this lovely Thursday morning.

I got back around 11:30am and John had not heard back from Ken yet. He was probably still sleeping. We went ahead to ALKE without him. I was happy to still be sore from Tuesday’s workout.

Today we did:

  • TRX trail leg squats x10E
  • Decline sit ups x15
  • Incline bench x15
  • Upright rows x15

@ four rounds

While I stick to my obsessive-compulsive routine of having one galao daily post-workout, John has a routine of his own. He makes a protein shake at ALKE with the ginormous bag of protein Ernes got for him and Ken to share, and then he gets a fofa from Pic-Nic to eat with it.

This is the pastry case at Pic-Nic:

 IMG_0623 IMG_0622The famed fofas are top, right.

It wasn’t raining today, but it was a little chilly and very overcast. Lina was making me nervous in the car yesterday saying that this was a tropical storm that was going to last for days and days. Some of the ladies in my class at ALKE have been trying to prepare me for the wet winter that is typical of Sao Miguel. I guess it is worst come January, February, March. Greeeeeaaaat.

I am getting really good at cooking the four or five dishes I’ve made several times, so today I went wild. I bought bone-in split chicken breast this week instead of a whole bird and I wanted to try to make chicken soup. I boiled the chicken with salt and pepper first so I could make my own stock. Once those were cooked through, I took the breasts out to cool and added a finely chopped onion, a carrot, and two potatoes to my stock. Once the chicken was cool, I chopped it up, threw away the bones (but not the skin) and put it back in the pot. I added the skin too, because John likes it and I was afraid the stock wasn’t going to have enough flavor. After maybe another hour I turned the burner off and let it sit. I planned to turn it on again and add rice and garlic after my class.

John had practice for the senior team, so he got home late. After my class, I went home and did my #30days30burpees Day 3: 30 burpees. I also did a little DIY yoga. The downhill running bothers my back, and the yoga poses in general are good for my zen (which tends to need some help). #namaste


I got a little crazy with the rice and my soup quickly became casserole, but it was still really good! I will add less rice next time and call it soup. It was a nice meal to have after a chilly, cloudy day.

I have been reading Russell Brand’s book and I am not really into it. It’s interesting and he is a good writer, but I have only seen him in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. John and I watched an old clip of him interviewing two leaders from the Westboro Baptist Church:

I took to my book a bit more eagerly after that.

Day Forty Eight… NOT celebrating Carla’s birthday :(

Day Forty Eight (quadragesimo oitavo dia)

Semana sete

Carla took her son to the the doctor because his fever was getting worse instead of better—turns out he had an ear infection! She got him antibiotics but tapped out for the day. Lina had to do some grocery shopping and drop some food off for her daughter, Xana, so we went to the city without Carla. 😦

It was starting to rain when we left and it poured all day. Good thing I bought those new Chinese-store-factory-scented-boots, otherwise my toes would’ve been freezing. We went to the mall for lunch and grocery shopping. I had a bifana and restocked on my soy milk. I even found clippers for John so he could cut his hair.

We went to the cash-n-carry for the restaurant and Pao de Rei for pastries. Finally, we stopped at Xana’s to drop off food. No one was home. The weather wasn’t getting any better, and the clouds seemed to be getting lower. We made one pit-stop on the way home to another mall in Vila Franca de Campo which is a town like Povoacao (only flatter) on the southern part of the island. It is known for having a beautiful beach, but we went to a giant Chinese store (two floors!) inside the mall. Lina’s mother needed a few random things that we were able to get there: magic markers and shoelaces. When we left the mall, you could hardly see 20 meters in front of you. Driving home this route takes you past the lake John wanted to (and succeeded to) show me when we rented a car all those weeks ago.

When I got home, John tore open his package of clippers and immediately set to fixing his hair. He took Romeo for a stroll in the downpour and inquired about practice. Betinho, the president of Mira Mar, said the juniors could stay home but the seniors would practice.

I grabbed my umbrella and set off for ALKE. I had 13 women and I worked out with them because I had neglected my running that morning. I did two sets of burpee splats: a :45 interval and a 1:00 interval. I know I did 20 during the second interval, so I am calling Day 2: 30+ for my 30 day burpee challenge.

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I had thought ahead and made carne asada before I left that morning and had thrown it in the oven before I went to class. John cut up the potatoes and carrots, so when I got home I just had to throw them in to the oven with the meat and onion marinade. When I walked in the door, Romeo didn’t greet me. What is that old saying about dogs? You know they did something bad when they don’t greet you? Now, those of you who know Rome-digs know that he is incredibly aloof anyways, so this doesn’t always ring true for him. Some times he is just being a weirdo. But this time it was true. I had left my coach umbrella on the bed for John, but he must’ve decided not to take it (the rain lightened up shortly after I went to ALKE) but Romeo had decided to make it his play thing. Niiiiiiice. He took the button off the top, which was no big deal and I screwed it back on, but then I noticed that he had chewed up the wooden handle. #whybuynicethingsanyway ?!

John came home and we ate our carne asada. For dessert, we indulged in eating Oreos that I bought in Ponta Delgada earlier. They come in a single sleeve of about 18 cookies for one euro and the creme tastes the same but the cookies taste a little Portuguese. They were double stuf. #nomnom

Day Forty Seven… too many words to say

Day Forty Seven (quadragesimo setimo dia)

Semana sete

Since Carla is home with her sick son we are not going to the city today. John and I both slept in and met Ken at the gym at 11:30am. I told John I haven’t been sore and I am jealous that he and Ken always are. He told me to lift heavier, so I plan to. We did:

Front squat to OH press. I did 20 reps @ 45lbs, 10 @ 56lbs, and 6 @ 78 lbs. I will be sore tomorrow. We supersetted these with burpees. Spartan (the obstacle course race organization) is hosting a #30burpees30days challenge. I think I am a day late, but I started today. We did 15 burpee splats for 3 rounds. Day 1: 45 burpees SPLATS.

Next, we did a shoulder burn-out with plates. Seventy-five frontal raises: 25 to your belly button, 25 to your shoulders, and 25 OH. I only used 5kgs.

Lastly, we did bent rows, back extensions, and SB leg curls. On the bent rows I did 20 reps @ each 45lbs, 56lbs, and 78lbs. #iwillbesoretomorrow

We headed off on a mission: the boys wanted their haircut. There is a barbershop owned by Milton (who I don’t know) and Marcelo’s grandfather. He doesn’t speak a lick of English, and John doesn’t want the same haircut at he had last time. It was a little to Euro for him.

IMG_0624Pre-hair cut.

We walked by the barbershop and it was closed, so we went to Pic-Nic for galaos. Marco was there and he agreed to go with us and tell the barber what John wanted. I was excited to see this old school barber in action.


There was one guy in the chair when we got there. After maybe 10 minutes of waiting, John was up. The funny thing about waiting here is there is one of those red ticket machines you find near the deli and butcher counters in the States. The best part about seeing it here is it reminded me of the other funny place I saw one in Povoacao: the emergency room.


Rui followed us in here, probably because I laugh at absolutely everything that he says. He knows some English phrases, and uses them randomly and without pause. “Don’t worry about it”, “Leave me alone”, “How you doin?”, “I’m fine”.. his delivery is hysterical. There is another name Rui goes by, but I didn’t know why or what it meant. I thought maybe that the other name was his real name and Rui was his nickname. Rui showed us this the other day, so I know Rui is his birth name:


It is sort of like a GED for middle school. Rui lives in a home with other developmentally delayed adults, but as far as I know he is free to roam during the day. Sometimes he goes over to the construction site across from our apartment where Lina’s family’s company is renovating an old folk’s home and just picks up a hammer. He is like the mayor.

I finally asked Serenela about his other name at the last home game. Lots of fans were yelling the same name at the referee after he made a terrible call. I learned that it literally translates to “little skull”. Pea-brained. They call Rui pea-brained. Rui followed us into the barber, but didn’t want me to take any pictures.


After John was done, we went home to clean up and eat lunch. John is used to cutting his own hair, but he left his clippers in one of his sister’s empty horse stalls in New Hampshire which is where we put our “storage”. He said it was still too long on top and took my mini scissors to it. If you go to the city tomorrow, he said, please buy me some clippers.


Ken came over and we walked up to Mira Mar’s complex so Romeo could run around untethered. The ladies who do the laundry for Mira Mar fawned over him and brought him a plastic container for water. John and Ken played around with a ball and I read Russell Brand’s My Booky Wook. Romeo had the time of his life. He ran free, took a giant dump, and got himself stuck in one of the goal nets. He managed to get his two front legs stuck in holes, as well as his head and neck. After John and I maneuvered his legs out of the netting, we were able to remove his head. #cutebutdumb

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We walked back down to the vila and I stopped at the fruit market. We saw Rui. Again. He wanted to hold Romeo’s leash, but with Romeo’s tendency to flee, John didn’t trust either of them. He kept repeating “Give me the dog. Give him to me. Give me that.” But John wouldn’t relent. When I came out of the fruit market, Rui offered to take a bag for me. I thought he was being nice, so I gave him the heaviest bag which was full of potatoes. He wasn’t being nice, he was being smart. He used the potatoes as ransom for Romeo. John tried to take the bag, “No, give me the dog,” Rui would reply. I finally grabbed the potatoes out of his hands and we walked home. Carla’s mom told me in the square earlier that Carla was going to work at 5:00pm to do a wax. At least I think that’s what she said—she doesn’t speak any English either. I tried to tell her I would bring my gift for Carla then. She had no idea what I was saying, but Carla was at work when we got back. I didn’t know where to get tissue paper or a card so I just used the paper shopping bag the sweater came in and a lined piece of paper for a card. I went downstairs to give it to her.

My class has thinned out a lot in the past few weeks. Only the strong remain. I had 11 ladies but I had only women who don’t skimp out on anything. We did four super sets three rounds each, :30 on / :30 off:

  • Plank to jump rope
  • Frogger push-up to deep squat sit (on stage)
  • Fwd lunge to bear crawl
  • Tricep extension to chaterunga lower

We finished with 5:00 of core. One minute each of: toe touches, leg lifts, suitcases, sprinters’ crunches (:30 each), and a wall sit.

Portugal was playing Sweden at 6:45pm so I met Ken and John there. I tried very hard not to sweat in class so I would be relatively clean at Pic-Nic. The game was tied at 0 when I got there for the second half, and the place was packed. Not long after the second half started, Christiano Ronaldo scored. Even though they would’ve won a spot in the World Cup with a score of 0-0, the place erupted with excitement. Henrique, who works for Mira Mar, began waving his Portuguese flag and enveloped John in it.

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I do not really understand it, but Marco (and Henrique) refer to Ronaldo as “Messi”, so when he scored they started chanting “MESS-I, MESS-I!” He scored two more times, and the same behavior ensued with each goal. Sweden managed to score off a corner and had another opportunity for a 3-2 Portuguese win.

IMG_0651Here is Marco in the background screaming “Messi” and flying like a bird.


I walked back over to Toronto to grab our pizzas. Lina gave me a free bottle of wine “because Portugal won!”. I left the boys to watch France secure their spot in the World Cup but scooped them up on my way home with the pizzas. I got three: one for each of us. I stuffed my face with half of my sem quiejo pizza, and waited for Lina to pick me up. She had made a birthday cake for Carla and invited me to have it with them. She and Ernes picked me up around 9:30pm. Francisco was sitting on the couch watching TV in a little Hugh Heffner robe when we got there. He is so cute I can’t handle it. Paula showed up with her daughter and they were both in their pajamas. We ate birthday cake and drank champagne and then Lina and Ernes drove me home. If Francisco goes to school on Wednesday, we will continue Carla’s birthday celebration. Ken was doing the dishes when I got home. #loveit

Day Forty Six

Day Forty Six (quadragesimo sexto dia)

Semana sete

Monday morning. I woke up before John, but I hadn’t slept very well. I ate a bowl of cereal right before I went to bed and then had crazy dreams. Around 7:00am I noticed John was awake, so I told him all about my armed-robbery-pregnant-with-no-belly-makeshift-pool-in-my-parents’-backyard dream and then promptly fell back asleep. No more eating before bed for me.

I went for a run with and without Romeo to complete 4ish miles. When I got back around 11:30am, John was still snoozin’. We usually go to the gym between 11am & noon, or we go in late afternoon so I decided to hop in the shower rather that sit around in my sweaty clothes and wait. John finally got up just after 12 after another night of horribly interrupted sleep. He and Ken decided to go to the gym at 2:00pm. Having showered and gotten dressed like the semi-functional adult I pose to be, I decided to go to the gym before my class at ALKE by myself. I went instead on a mission to buy boots for myself and a birthday present for Carla. The only closed-toe shoes I packed are sneakers and these night games are getting a little chilly. Carla’s birthday is Tuesday and we are supposed to go to the city for lunch. I hadn’t talked to Carla today, because she wasn’t at her salon yet. I got myself some faux-leather flat knee high boots at one of the Chinese stores that remind me of shops in Provincetown. I bought a sweater for Carla from one of the nicer shops (which I already gave to her by the time I posted this, so no worries about a ruined surprise).

I met John and Ken at Pic-Nic for a post-work-out galao. John got a bowl of the sopa da dia and I followed suit. For one euro you get a massive bowl of fresh soup that is different everyday, and most days they have two kinds. It was cold outside, but we sat out there anyway and ate warm carrot, bean, and onion soup.

When we got home Carla’s salon was still not open. Lina told me later that her son, Francisco, was sick and had stayed home from school. If he stays home from school again, we’ll have to move our birthday celebration. I got ready for my class and headed off to the gym to do the workout that John and Ken had done earlier.

  • 30 goblet squats
  • 30 box jumps
  • I did this set 2x
  • 30E alternating DB bench
  • 30 decline push-ups
  • 30 lat. pull-downs (I did 30 tricep cable pull-downs because the gym was so full)
  • 30 pull-ups (I did 12 minutes on the bike before the pull-up bar was free)

John and Ken had done a few minutes of core at the end, but I decided to do the core work with my class instead. Ernes watched me do my “pull-ups”. I did maybe 5 without touching back down, then 4, 3, 2, 1, 2, 3… you get the idea. After 20, Ernes asked how many more, and I replied “Ten, I am going for 30”. On my last rep my chin didn’t quite clear the bar. Whatever! Good enough for me. I jumped down and moved the aerobic step I use as a stepping stool, and panted away. Ernes was looking at me shaking his finger; “You only did 29,” he said. Ughhhhh. I turned around, walked back under the bar and jumped up. I swam my legs around like a dying fish until my chin cleared the bar. Thirty. Bam.

I only had ten ladies in class tonight. Even Lola was missing (she sent me a message saying she was sick). Lola and Ana (one of the many Anas) haven’t missed any classes since I started teaching. Ana has lost 4kg. She is a rockstar.


John had junior and senior practices, so I headed home to Skype. First with BFFL Anna, then with crazy cousin Meg (and her dog Mighty, Romeo’s brother from another mother).


I made Pic-Nic burgers for dinner. Tomorrow night Portugal is playing Sweden in the final game of the World Cup qualifier, so we’ll be at Pic-Nic. Instead of burgers tomorrow night, we are going to indulge and get Lina to make us pizzas from Toronto Night’s. Mira Mar doesn’t have practice during important matches.

Instead of crazy burglary/pregnancy/pool dreams, when I went to bed all I could smell was Chinese factory leather because I put my new boots next to my bed. #dontwanttoknowwheretheycamefrom


We finished with core, :30 on/:20 off, 5 exercises 3 rounds: russian kicks, alt. v-ups, oblique crunches R&L, & plank walks.

Day Forty Five… Honour Cup & Brunch Feast

Day Forty Five (quadragesimo quinto dia)

Semana sete

After last night’s shenanigans at Pic-Nic (yes, in my quiet little mid-twenties life two beers, a shot, and staying awake until 2:00am does constitute as “shenanigans”) we slept in. a little. I bought massa and bacon on Friday in preparation for Giant Brunch Sunday. I got up around 10:00am and took Romeo for a stroll and then strolled to Fatima’s sans Romeo for some juice and cinnamon (canela). I also poked around for some coffee filters or something I could use in lieu of coffee filters. One of the things in our care package from the FH was ground original Dunk Donuts coffee beans. We have no coffee pot. Fatima sells some kitchen-ware odds and ends but no french press (but she does carry several espresso machines) and certainly no coffee filters (which I don’t even know what I would do with any). I went back home to figure something out.

We made hashbrowns, massa french toast, eggs with ham, and bacon. The meat here is so lean—when cooking ground beef you don’t have to drain the grease because there is no grease—and this makes the bacon not so good. It is waxy and chewy and tasteless. We gave most of it to Romeo who was more than happy to oblige in eating our unwanted scraps. I had a ton of bananas, so I made banana bread, too. I also made Dunkin Donuts coffee. I boiled water in our tea kettle and then scooped the coffee right into the boiling water. I let it sit for about 7 minutes french-press style but then instead of pressing, I drained the grinds using a spoon and the tea kettle spout. Hardly any grinds got through, but the resulting drink was fairly bland and weak. Ken said it reminded him of real Dunkin Donuts coffee. Just before we sat down to eat, our doorbell rang. It was Lina and her goddaughter Julia with fresh, homemade lemon loaf. She had already given us some that she made on Thursday and it turned out so well they decided to make more. Since Bobby left everything she gives us (which is a lot of stuff), she gives us three portions of: one for me, John, and Ken.

After we stuffed our faces, ate lemon loaf, and cleaned up, the boys headed off to the complex to watch the final of the Honour Cup. Micaelence was playing Vale Formoso (the team from neighboring Furnas). I decided to stay home, blog in bed, and generally be incredibly lazy. It was cold and they were probably going to have to walk unless someone took pity on them. Someone did take pity on them and they only had to walk home.

I Skyped with my parents for a while and my dad told me all about how the fire department had to come to our house to put out a forest fire my dad had accidentally started with some hot coal from our wood stove. He has a system of transferring the ash to a pail, and after waiting a few days again transfers them to a boulder near the woods so even if there is some hot ash lingering, the boulder won’t start a fire. He said the fire department came and put out the fire before anything terrible happened—the woods are not far from the house, from his stack of wood, nor from the mower shed which is in fact a two-story “play house” that my brother and I helped him build. He is working on a new hot-ash system.

John came home—Furnas won the cup. John made sandwiches for dinner with the canned tuna that Ernes gave to us. #nomnom

As I promised myself I would do, after dinner I went upstairs, moved the coffee table, and did some DIY yoga. #zen #namaste

Day Forty Four…Liza strikes back & Mira Mar takes on Nordeste

Day Forty Four.. (quadragesimo quarto dia) 

Semana Sete

Romeo and I awoke leisurely, I had my tea and put my game face on, and then we went out for our long run, which I guess I have permanently moved to Saturdays. He came for his normal 1.8 mile loop, I dropped him off, chug-a-lugged some water, and headed for the hills. Literally. Not one to let anything or anyone stop me from doing something, I needed to conquer the running path that struck me down last week. After I dropped Romeo I doubled-back through the vila so I would have 3 miles done before I hit the lombas. I ended up stopping back at the apartment at 2.5 miles to drop my phone off. I grabbed it when I dropped Romeo off to take pictures but I hate wearing an armband and I’m not carrying my phone for 8 miles, sorry guys. No pictures.

I headed for the lombas and did my normal turn-off-at-lomba-de-pos-for-respite and then continued onwards. This section of lomba do alcaide is the hardest section of hill running I have encountered here, save for maybe lomba de pomar where I ran my very first run and have not been back since. Once I reach Lina’s street it is basically smooth sailing. I ran all the way to the end of lomba do alcaide this time planning on running my tree-tunnel-gravel-road through to its end. I ran like there might be ice lingering under each step I took, but I did it. The ground was so soft and the rocks jut out so far I found it slightly distracting to my beautiful surroundings because I kept my gaze mostly downward. After about a mile the rocks got smaller, the road levels off its descent, and the terrain is mostly smooth. The tree-tunnel looped all the way around to the very very end of lomba de loucao. There was some more tree-tunnel path that continued on, but I couldn’t tell where it would lead and there were no signs. I hung a left at a house I later described to John as looking like a princess house. Why? He wanted to know. What makes it a princess house? Oh, you know, because it is pink and stone and has turrets. Unlike the other mansions out here which are white and stone with turrets. Seriously.

I was a little hesistent because I wasn’t totally sure this was lomba de loucao because as-per-usual, there were no signs. About a mile–a mile and a half?–after I had turned at the princess house I saw the V-shaped hill I would’ve traveled if I hadn’t taken the tree-tunnel. I was on lomba de loucao. I descended all the way into the vila and after one small loop at the bottom finished 1:45:00. I am calling it 10ish miles because I don’t really know and that sounds good. On a nice flat course I can do 10 in 1:30:00, so this seems reasonable. I feel good, except that it was kind of cold and windy at the top of the lombas and my shirt is not only wet from sweat, but wet from being used as a tissue. #runnerproblems

When I finally made it home the only thing I wanted was Gatorade. GATORADE! How American. I settled for a gulp of John’s peach iced tea and then water. I had a bowl of cereal with soja leite and two peanut butter balls. I don’t like to eat before a long run (unless it’s race day), so I was famished. John wasn’t feeling well, and he has to be at the complex for at least 6 hours tonight, so he was taking it easy. At some point, we walked down to Pic-Nic so he could have a cafe before Pedro picked him up. I had my one galao but when I was done with it, Ricardo brought me another one “on him”. I know he is super nice and likes me and John a lot, but I think this particular gesture has nothing to do with us and everything to do with the peanut butter ball I gave him yesterday. You may think I’m being dramatic, but they are that good.

John went off to find Pedro and I walked home to be domestic. I wanted to make sauce so that when we got home at 11:00pm we could have dinner ready. And I wanted to sweep the house and mop the bathroom floor. And walk Romeo. Then I gathered my things: snacks which consisted of a Lara Bar and Halloween Pretzels, warm clothes, and, of course, my Mira Mar scarf. I headed off for the complex.

Upon not seeing anyone, I walked all the way up to the complex. Which from the bottom is maybe a 5:00 run, so I believe it to be less than a half mile. By the time I got to the top I was down to my tank top and on the verge of sweating. People in the stands probably thought I was crazy because they’ve been wearing long sleeves and floral leggings since October 1st. I settled into a seat in the back and watched the junior game. John and Ken, officially on the roster as coaches, were on the sidelines. I know they have been working hard as coaches to get the juniors to play together. The Mira Mar juniors were playing the Aguia junior team from Arrifes where the senior Mira Mar team played last weekend. It was an incredible game; edge-of-your-seat exciting. They played really well, came from being down 2-0, and tied 2-2. Well, I thought they had tied. Turns out in the 10 minutes I missed one of the Mira Mar players got a red card (third game as coaches and three red cards: one each game) and then the other team scored on the penalty kick. Mira Mar played almost the whole game one man down. They lost 3-2, but I celebrated like it was a tie. Serenela, Marcelo, and his girlfriend showed up somewhere in the middle of the second half. Marcelo got up toward the end of the game and said he was going to get ready. I was so excited—Marcelo never plays, is never even on the roster—“You’re playing?” I asked. “No,” he replied, “But I’m going to put my uniform on and sit my ass over there.”

Mira Mar was sporting there new kits for the new season:


After a 30 minute intermission, the seniors took the field. Since it is the first regular season game, the whole complex was packed. A lot of fans drove from Nordeste, too, including a one-man-band who played the drums 90% of the game.

I sat with Serenela who is from Nordeste and said she wanted both teams to win, but after a few minutes it was clear she was rooting for Mira Mar. Ken will blog in great detail, but the key elements of the game were as follows:

  1. John rolled his ankle five minutes in and limped around for 10, briefly got ice and, deciding he could continue to play, did just that.
  2. Shortly after he stopped limping, he went up for a header near the goal and the goalkeeper accidentally punched him in the nose. He played on. Still.
  3. Ken went up for a header that an opposing player decided to high kick but kicked Ken’s face instead. He played on.
  4. After two incredibly exciting halves, with Mira Mar scoring the first goal then falling 2-1, they tie the game up with 10 minutes to go in regulation time.
  5. Adam came in for John.
  6. 30 seconds left in stoppage time, Adam got a red card.
  7. Game over. Tied 2-2. Crowd went nuts.
  8. John brought Ken over for dinner and announced that we were going to drink beers to celebrate Mira Mar not-losing.
  9. The three of us went to Pic-Nic and celebrated not-losing with 5 colossal beers, 1 small bottle of Heineken and 3 shots.
  10. And drinking games.
  11. Our tab was €8.50.