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




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