Days: 143, 144, 145, 146. Surprise showers and purse-cake.

Day One Hundred Forty Three (dia um centena de quarenta e tres)

Monday (Segunda-feirda)

24 Fevereiro 2014

I got up and ran 5 before we headed to the gym, where we met Ken and Tori. Ken had tried to prepare Tori for Chest Day, but it’s hard to explain the atmosphere at ALKE. Mondays are generally a busy day, and this day was no exception. We warmed up, stretched out, and got on with it. Chest Day was the same as last week, so I won’t bore you. My friend Krista put this on my Facebook wall. I’m sure she’s not the only one who feels this way.

gymkristaScreen Shot 2014-02-28 at 4.09.52 PM

Once we were done picking things up and putting them down, we headed for Pic Nic. We walked Ken and Tori back to Ken’s and went shopping at Fatima’s, and then home for lunch. We had run out of dog food the day before so we got Romeo a different kind of dog food then usual (because we usually get it at Antonio’s). Romeo took one look, walked into the hallway, and then dry-heaved for a few minutes before vomiting bile onto the floor. Apparently, he doesn’t like this kind.

Inspired by the delicious meal I’d had at Pic Nic the day before, I cut up the last of the leftover drumsticks, sauteed some onions, and made an omelet. Once I was fueled up, I headed to the fruit market to get my regular goodies; cauliflower, peppers, zucchini, apples, when I saw behind the cash register AVOCADOS. Ken must have missed them on Saturday when he came. There were four left, and two were a little past-ripe and had some finger holes in them from other patrons. I bought the two better-looking ones (1.33 for two!) and practically SKIPPED home to tell John.

John and Ken had practice with the juniors. I started making some coconut curry cauliflower dish I had seen on Pinterest so I could just heat it up for dinner. While I was making it, I told John I needed to come up with my workout for that night. We generally bounce ideas off of each other for workouts, so he asked me a few questions. Not a minute later, I heard from the bedroom “There you go. I just texted you a workout.” Ding. That was easy.

Soon after John took off for practice, I left for ALKE. Lina came upstairs at Toronto in her jeans and looked like she had been hit by a bus. She said she thought she had a double ear infection and was going to the hospital. We were planning to order pizza for dinner (since we had failed on Saturday night), so I didn’t want to ask Lina. She said the over was already on and she had them ready for me by the end of class. Then she took off for her doctor’s appointment. That girl doesn’t miss a beat.

I forewarned the ladies that John was responsible for the workout, so they could direct any and all complaints to him. Everyone laughed, but at the end of the class Saozinha said, “I have one thing to say. F&*!@ John.”


After I ran home to get cash, I scooted back to get the pizzas. I had made coconut curry cauliflower and a salad to have with the pizza. I took the cauliflower out of the over, turned it off, shoved the pizza boxes in (they are just barely too big), and took Romeo on a walk to go get Tori. I was not convinced that Tori had walked the vila enough to find my apartment.

As soon as Tori and I walked back inside my place, the boys arrived and we dug in.


Day One Hundred Forty Four (dia um centena de quarenta e quatro)

Tuesday (Terca-feira)

25 Fevereiro 2014

Nike+ told me I had an interval run. I took Romeo for my one mile “warm up” and then dropped him off so I could finish. Again, John and I met Ken and Tori at the gym: LEG DAY. Leg Day was the same as it was last week. The weather was stunning when I ran, but it was a little cloudier and cooler when we got to Pic Nic. I was so excited for lunch, I drank my cafe quickly and John and I went home. Why was I so excited for lunch? I had AVOCADO. 





The day got colder and colder as it went on. I even blew my hair dry before putting my hoodie over it just for warmth. Around 4:30pm our doorbell rang (which it seldom does). It was Lina! She brought costumes for Carnaval over. Carnaval is a giant all-night party that they have all over Portugal (and Brazil, Venezuela, and Italy) before Lent begins. Everyone dresses up like it’s Halloween. Lina brought over a flapper costume, a gangster, a hawaiian grass skirt, a clown, and a few wigs. Carnaval is Monday night into Tuesday morning (the party usually ends around 7:00am) and Tuesday is a national holiday. Businesses shut down. I called dibs on the flapper costumes.

John and I took Romeo on a walk to get his regular dog food. It wasn’t nearly as cold outside as it felt inside–this happens a lot here. All the warmth is in the sun, so if you’re not in it, chances are you’re cold.

John got ready for practice and I got ready for class. We both walked up to Ken’s together. John wanted to go over early to play FIFA and I was picking up Tori; she wanted to come to my class.


When I got home I made zucchini pasta and put some leftover sauce on top. I also roasted cabbage using a Pinterest recipe (you can’t go wrong with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic, can you?), and Skyped with my cousin, my best friend Anna, and my parents. I made a hearty white bean soup from my new favorite blog My Whole Food Life for the next day and then some banana ice cream for right that moment. I had a frozen banana which I blended with a little soy milk and cinnamon. It was amazing.


John came home and put one of the wigs on to show my parents. My mom said he looked like one of the beetles. John said he looked like his deceased grandmother.


Day One Hundred Forty Five (dia um centena de quarenta e cinco)

Wednesday (Quarta-feira)

26 Fevereiro 2014

John was sleeeeeping when I went out for 7 miles. The sun was so spectacular that I changed into a tank top and shorts before I went out. Romeo came for one mile, I looped the vila a little bit, and then took lomba do Cavaleiro up as far as I had the week before. I came down the lomba and ran straight home to finish 7.

John was just leaving to meet Ken at the gym when I got back. I generally skip Wednesdays and this day was no exception. I said that I would probably head to Pic Nic after I showered and cleaned up a little bit. I finished off my second, incredible, avocado and tried my Hearty White Bean Soup before walking to Pic Nic in the sunshine.


It was so warm and beautiful when I got there that all the tables outside were taken. I sat at the first table inside reading one of my four new books (have I mentioned that I love to read? But more than that, I LOVE to buy new books. And my Amazon Kindle feeds my addiction a little too easily, damn you One-Click buying) Wheat Belly. I kept peaking out the window, spying on the tables. When the last women got up from the third table and moved to sit with her other dining mates, I quickly scooted outside and secured us a table.

Not a moment later, Tori showed up. She had declined the gym as well. Not only was Leg Day kind of a bitch, she had also come to my class the night before. We were just settling in when John and Ken strolled across the jardim. We soaked up the sunshine for a while and then Ken & Tori went to walk by the water and to pick up some Massa, vodka, and orange juice for dinner. I was making brinner: massa french toast, homefries (regular and sweet potato), scrambled eggs, and screwdrivers. I headed over to Casa Batista to buy a baby shower present for Carla. Lina was throwing her a surprise shower on Thursday.

I ended up getting two tiny little sweaters for unborn Mariana (due mid-June). One size 1-2 months that she can wear twice before she is too big, and one 6-9 months that she can wear in the fall/winter. Lorena rang me up and asked if they were presents. I told her they were for Carla and she wrapped them up for me. In leftover Christmas paper. Whatever, that was the only kind of wrapping paper I had at home, so either way she was getting the wrong holiday. I will not be around to see Mariana wear them, but hopefully John and I will come back summer 2015. Or maybe we just won’t leave.

On my way home from Casa Batista, I spotted the Bread Van near my apartment. I bought six papos secos for John and couldn’t help but notice that they are now selling malasadas, which is like fried dough that is traditionally eaten for Carnaval. I didn’t buy any, but I did take a picture.


I prepped all the homefries and sliced the massa that Ken & Tori had brought over before class. I also made another batch of homemade Larabars. I made them a little differently than I did the first time—I still omitted the protein powder. I omitted the honey, because with the prunes and the raisins, they were sweet enough. I also omitted the raisins because I didn’t have any. The original recipe called for a mix of almonds and pistachios, and the first time I made them I had only used almonds. This time I had pistachios from Casa Cheia, so I used a mix. Because of the purple prunes and the green pistachios, they actually didn’t look that delicious, but they smelled phenomenal and I will keep you posted on their taste.

I headed off to ALKE and Tori was already there chatting with Lina. Leila came even though she told me she was too busy working (which is true). I am so full of mixed feelings about leaving this place—I love it so much and finally feel like I can communicate with (most of) the people around me, and I’m forming great friendships, but I also miss my friends and family at home. And the FIELDHOUSE. I really miss the FH.


Tori said she was just going to run home and shower. She would come over after—the boys only had the juniors so would be home around 8:30pm. I was pretty much done cooking when she arrived, and the boys showed up a few minutes later. We feasted.

After we ate every last little morsel I had cooked, we cleared the table and started to play our own version of Headbands (remember that time John gave both me and Ken Hermione Grainger?). First we started with 90s Pop stars which just made the generational gap between me and John and Ken and Tori seem larger than it is (only a few years, but in terms of 90s pop music, apparently these were epic years). Tori couldn’t name one member of New Kids on the Block, actually she couldn’t even name the group, (I had given her Joey McIntyre!!) and Ken couldn’t name Nelly Furtado. John guessed Usher correctly first, and I followed immediately with Oasis. Ohhhh, the 90s.

Next we did Disney characters including Pixar, which went a little better (Ken was Pocohontas, I was Dopey—really, John!?). We finished with fictional characters, and John gave me Kimmy Gibbler. I was the last person to figure myself out (having ruled out Full House as my TV show because they told me I didn’t have any sisters). Finally, in the style of Ron Burgundy, I asked, “I’m Kimmy Gibbler?”

Ken was Christian Grey from 50 Shades, and he could barely name the title let alone the main character. John was Homer Simpson which prompted a racial discussion when he asked “am I white?” to which I could only respond “you represent the white community”. He told me that was a bull shit answer. Tori, Ken, and I laughed hysterically at his confusion. Ultimately, he guessed his correctly first. Again. Tori was Meg Griffin from Family Guy, which she has never even seen.

Ken and Tori washed all the dishes and eventually went home.


Day One Hundred Forty Six (dia um centena de quarenta e seis)
Thursday (Quinta-feira)

27 Fevereiro 2014

I got up and could tell from the sunshine pouring into the kitchen that it was another warm day. I got ready and took Romeo for a walk-turned-run. I dropped him off after about a mile and finished four more. When I got back I had to change—I was totally soaked through with sweat. The sun is pretty intense, but as we’ve previously discussed, I am a natural sweat-er.

As soon as I changed and I shoved a homemade protein bar down my throat, we walked to the gym to meet Ken & Tori. Back Day.

For those of you who give two hoots about our work outs (<1%) I can now do four pull ups by myself. I do the other six standing on John’s thigh.

  • 4 x 10 pull ups
  • single arm bent row x 4 rounds
  • lat pull downs x 4 rounds
  • reverse fly x 4 rounds

Tabata core, :30/:15, x3 rounds:

  • back extensions
  • alt V-ups
  • mountain climbers
  • leg lifts

We walked to Pic Nic, basking in the sunshine. All the tables outside were taken, so we sat inside and enjoyed our post-gym cafes. I had a Skype date at 2:00pm so I took off quickly.

I caught up with my friend Krista and she got to bitch about the cold weather and the massive amount of snow there and I told her how good we had it (right that second.. because the weather often changes). John came home in time to make some funny faces and flex his muscles into my Skype camera.

After I ate, showered, and painted my nails, I started making hummus for Carla’s surprise shower. I cut up a couple cucumbers and carrots and because I didn’t peel my chickpeas, it took me a lot longer to process-until-smooth. By the time I was finished with that, it was after 5:30pm! I put together a workout, put some make-up on, and went off to ALKE.

I told the ladies we were going to finish a few minutes early so I could run home, grab my snacks and gift, and change for Carla’s shower.


After class I did run home and do those things, as well as straighten my hair. Which, because I have less hair than John’s grandpa, only takes me 6 minutes (one of the only times I’m grateful for such unfortunate follicles). I was back at Toronto putting my hummus & veggie platter on the table by 7:45pm. Aside from olive-slices-turned wheels on deviled-egg-baby-carriages, mine were the only veggies on the table.


While we were waiting for Carla to arrive, someone told Lina that she had to sprinkle water on Carla as she walked in, because it was a “shower”. She grabbed a bowl of water and flicked it into Carla’s face as she walked in to what she thought was a Desperate Housewives’ dinner. As Carla wiped her face everyone thought she was crying. She wasn’t. She was so shocked that when Lina went in for a hug, Carla pushed her off like “Wait, I haven’t seen everything yet!”


The Portuguese do not usually throw big wedding or baby showers, but Carla had mentioned that she really wanted one “like they do in the states”. Lina went above and beyond most showers I’ve been too. Everything was decorated in pink ribbon, from candles to overturned wine glasses, to over-sized champagne glasses full of popcorn (PINK popcorn!). If you want a party, ask Lina to throw you one.

IMG_1975 IMG_1978 IMG_1977 IMG_1983

On top of the dinner table full of potluck delights, pizza, deviled-eggs, chicken wings, chicken drumsticks, beef liver, bacalhau, rice, hummus(!), tuna salad, bread… there was also an equally large spread of desserts including three different Flans, two types of brownies, a red velvet cake, an almond pie, a cherry pie, chocolate pie, chocolate mousse, maracuja mousse (passion fruit… or dragon fruit, I can never remember), a giant Natas (custard), and something called Marguerites which were like egg blondies. I LOVED them. When I found out that Luisa’s sister made them, I told her so. I asked if she used a lot of eggs. “No,” she replied, “only four”. She tried to send me home with half of them, but I very willfully declined.


More than half of all the desserts were leftover (even after I went up for thirds… YES, thirds. Read: “cheat” “meal”). I was so full when they cut into the actually baby shower cake (made by the bread van guy’s daughter, so I’m sure it was delicious) that I couldn’t even try it. Carla’s mom made me take home a slice for John. Luisa made me take another for Ken. Somehow I walked home with three slices in my purse. Along with half a red velvet cake, a third of a gluten-free yogurt cake, three lemon loaf cupcakes, and a bag of pink popcorn.

I was wondering whether or not Carla would open her presents (mine was one of many wrapped in Casa Batista’s leftover Christmas paper) in front of everyone—I wasn’t sure what the protocol was for a Portuguese shower. She did open them all, but not in the same way Americans do, where they shout out who the gift is from while some good friend who didn’t want to, but somehow got roped into doing it anyways, writes down the gift and it’s givers name, while the opener opens and then presents the gift for all to “ooh” and “aah”. Carla just ripped right through them all, collecting her own trash as she went. There were no cards, there was no exaggerated fanfare. Instead of cards, Lina had us write messages on diapers for Carla to read as she used them. I wrote one about how Romeo, John and I will be back in American by the time she uses it. The thought alone made me sad.

Lola, whom I sat with, left around 10:00am. Soon after, Luisa and I talked about walking home together, too. The cake had been cut, the presents opened, and people were beginning to clean up their dessert or dinner dish to take home. We sat down at our table, Lina, Carla, Luisa, Catarina, and me, the only ones left. Lina’s mother and Carla’s mother, whom I had also sat with for dinner, had left.

Luisa filled up her wine glass again and we all got to talking and laughing. Everyone at the table spoke Portuguese, except for me, they all speak English, too, except for Catarina. Lina is really good at translating quickly either to English or from English for my sake, but she must’ve been tired from throwing the party-of-the-year, because she kept speaking to Catarina in English, who just nodded and smiled. I was so excited that someone else understood how I felt 50% of the time. We ended up getting half of a Desperate Housewives dinner, and everyone promised we would have one more before I left for the States. Luisa and I finally left just after midnight.

Days 140, 141, 142… “There’s a slug in my salad” and more tales from the Azores.

Day One Hundred Forty (dia um centena de quarente)


21 Fevereiro 2014

I had 5 miles to do before we hit the gym. I took Romeo on the first mile and then trudged along alone—either I was still feeling Leg Day or I am just fatigued from my sniffles (which were pretty much gone).

Friday: circuit day. We each chose two exercises to perform at 50 reps for a 300 workout. John chose curl-squat-press and SB leg curls, Ken chose downward cable rotations (50 each side!!) and hanging rotational knee tucks (25 each side). I chose alternating V-ups (25 each) and laying leg raises. Although we finished quickly, it was definitely difficult. Afterwards we headed off to Pic Nic to recuperate.

I am on this huge sauteed veggies and egg kick, so when we got home I made myself an enormous scramble and then showered.


I then tried (once again) to make corn flour tortillas (this would be my third attempt. Correction: third failed attempt.) I moved on to eat the black bean hummus I had made the night before—super delicious. While the corn flour tortillas ended up more like polenta, covered in my homemade PB and an Azorean banana, it still managed to satisfy my bread craving.


Since we stopped eating dinner at 11:00 at night, we got out of eating together at 5:30pm as well. It’s too early for me—when I get back from teaching Estou cheia de fome!! (straight translation: I am full of the hunger). John usually doesn’t even have a snack before practice, then gets home famished and eats a few PB&Js or a giant bowl of cereal. I, alternatively, have been coming home and making feel-good clean eats after class, but just for myself. Determined to form a better pattern, Friday I made a big bag of chicken drumsticks, with rice and veggies for him to eat before practice. I also walked down to the fruit market where I found eggplant. This is a giant score.

After I walked to the fruit market and finished making John’s dinner, I prepped for myself: rehydrated tofu flakes, cauliflower “rice”, and a diced onion. I was going to make myself some “fried” “rice” after class.

John headed off to practice and I went over to ALKE. Inspired by our morning workout, I put them through a 300 routine as well. Ten exercises, 30 reps of each, with a 1:00 plank (front, side, reverse, hands, elbows… etc) in between each set. Modifications included wall sit and jumping rope. Lola told me she had gotten avocados at the fruit market. Avocados? My eggplant were no longer seeming like a giant score. Except for some decidedly un-ripe guacamole Lina made for us when we first got here, I have not had an avocado in almost 5 months. She told me she had bought 3, and that there were at least 4 more. I planned to check on Saturday.


I love these ladies. I am going to miss each and every one of them.


I got home and whipped up my tofu and cauliflower “rice”. Which was delicious, but not enough food. I ended up satueing a bunch of veggies and (another!) egg to eat, too. I was going to clean the apartment, which I usually do on Saturdays, but I was exhausted. I was in bed with the light off when John got home from practice. #thisisfridaynight

Day One Hundred Forty One (dia um centena de quarenta e um)

Saturday (Sabado)

22 Fevereiro 2014

I got up around 8:30am to prepare for my long run. I had just gotten dressed and boiled water for my green tea when Ken texted John to say he was at Pic Nic. Ken’s friend, Tori, had arrived from Boston at 7:00am and Ken had gone to pick her up. After determining that nothing in the city was open and the weather was not that nice, they had come right back to Povoacao. John and I got ready to go (which involved me eating a spoonful of homemade peanut butter and grabbing a banana). We had to take Romeo for a walk first anyway, so we grabbed our empty water jugs and filled them up in the spring water spigot near Ken’s apartment while we did so. After we dropped Romeo back off we went to meet Ken and Tori.

Tori lives in New York but grew up in Connecticut and went to RISD. She had not slept at all when we met her, so after a quick cafe (and, in my case, shoving a banana gracefully down my throat) they took off so she could get settled. I had told Ken about the avocados, so they stopped in at the fruit market but told me later they had no more avocados. I took off for my 12 miles in the lombas and John and Ken went to their respective homes briefly, because some English Premier League game was on at 11:45am.

I was a little nervous about my run since I’d been dragging all week. I also got used to putting my rest day before my long run day as a preparation, rather than after. It wasn’t raining out, but the wind was really intense. This ended up working completely in my favor as the wind was blowing in from the water, and was thus hitting my back whenever I ran uphill. I had my fastest lomba run (and probably solo-long-run) to date.

When I got back I ate one of my homemade protein bars and took a warm shower (it had started to sprinkle at the very end of my run). Once I was clean, I went to cleaning the apartment and then making myself pancakes. #willrunforpancakes


I was trying to get ready quickly so I could get to Pic Nic for the Arsenal game at 2:00pm. Not because I give two hoots about Arsenal, but so Tori wouldn’t have to sit through a second soccer game with just John and Ken. I was sort-of-almost about to get dressed when John came home and announced that Pic Nic couldn’t play the Arsenal game because they don’t get the right channel. He also said that Tori was still napping, so then I didn’t feel quite as bad for not having left the apartment.

He had come home with a box of pastries. It was Rui’s birthday the day before (we totally missed it). We had seen Rui at Pic Nic that morning and he had reminded us. We said happy birthday to him, and also that we were sorry. “Parabens! Desculpa!” John bought him a cafe.

When John went back to Pic Nic an hour or so later, Rui presented him with a box of pastries and, just as quickly, turned around and left Pic Nic. I went to making some more chocolate-sweet-potato-”cookies” because I didn’t want to eat those treats. #eatcleantrainmean

Since the Arsenal game wasn’t on at Pic Nic and it had started to absolutely down pour after John’s return, we didn’t leave the house for the rest of the day.


We were planning to have Toronto Night’s pizza for dinner, but when we walked Romeo over a little before 6:00pm no one was there. No one was at Lina’s mom’s house either, so we decided to eat leftovers. I roasted up the eggplant I had gotten at the fruit market and put my leftover meat sauce on top to make little Italian treats. John heated up some of the drumsticks, and I made some more Tofu and “rice” with onions and zucchini. And a big fat salad.

When I was cutting up the lettuce for the big-fat-salad to put in my relatively new salad spinner I had spotted something brown on a lettuce leaf. At first I thought it was just a piece of soggy lettuce leaf, but upon closer inspection I saw what it really was: a slug. A SLUG. I began yelling frantically to John, who was in the bedroom: “JOHN. JOHN. JOHN. COME HERE. COMEHERERIGHTNOW.” He ran into the kitchen where I pointed with my carving knife (thanking god that I hadn’t chopped the damn thing in half!.

John watched quietly as I point down the knife and grabbed a paper towel to grab the slug with. Just as I went to reach for it, he “caw-caw”-ed loudly. I began screaming obscenities at him as he rolled onto the floor and then on to his back laughing. And crying. Once he finally got his act together, and I stopped screaming, he picked the slug up and threw it away. I finished washing the lettuce. #theshowmustgoon

That was pretty much the most exciting thing to happen to us on a Saturday night in a while. After we ate, we watched Disney’s “Up”, which I had never seen but John and Ken were quoting earlier in the week. As soon as it was finished I read one chapter of my David Sedaris book (laughing periodically), John walked Romeo, and we all went to bed.


Day One Hundred Forty Two (dia um centena quarenta e dois)

Sunday (Domingo)

23 Fevereiro 2014

Since my Nike+ Coach has moved my long-runs to Saturday (and the gym isn’t open on Sundays) I am trying to embrace my rest days. I got up early enough to take Romeo for a stroll around the whole vila and do a tiny bit of DIY kitchen yoga (which is harder than it sounds because Romeo thinks that just because I’m on the floor, I want to play. And by “play” I mean have him scratch my head and run into me repeatedly). John had a juniors’ game at 11:00am and the seniors were playing at 3:00pm. I was just really glad they were both home games.

After he took off for the complex I finished getting ready and then walked up to Ken’s apartment to get picked up with Tori. She told me Ken had texted her saying Pedro would be by a little after 11:00am. So we waited. Around 11:45am I asked how she felt about walking—it really isn’t that far, the sun was out, and I wanted to see at least one half of the juniors game. We started our uphill journey.

About halfway up lomba do Cavaleiro Pedro pulled up in his rental van. He had gone to my apartment and to Ken’s apartment and hadn’t found us. He plays pick-up soccer on Sunday mornings, and that was where he had been. We piled in and made it up in time to see the second half.

I had no idea what the score was, and I didn’t recognize any Mira Mar fans as English-speakers. I saw our crazy fan lady, Pedro’s mom. Pedro got a red card last weekend after the juniors’ game was over. I didn’t even know you could get a card after a game was over. He will be out for the next three games. Two other players got red cards, so John’s line-up was a little different this day. We got to see Saco score for Mira Mar (he left his shirt on this time) and Santa Clara score at least three times. Rui came and sat with us and kept speaking in Portuguese. I said “Falas Ingles, Rui! I don’t speak Portuguese.” When suddenly the sweet teenage girl sitting behind me said, “He’s asking if you’re going to watch the second game”. English?!” I said, “You speak English?” and she nodded politely, “What’s the score?”

At that point, it was 5-1 (including Saco’s goal). The game finished 7-1. Santa Clara is an incredible club, well-known and well-funded, and with Mira Mar missing three of their starting players, 7-1 wasn’t a terrible loss.

I tried to give Tori the low-down on who was who in the Mira Mar cast of characters. We had two hours before the seniors’ played, so we told Pedro we were walking down for lunch and he said he would drive us back up for the second game. We, along with Rui, started our descent.

Rui, who had generously given John his birthday pastries the day before, extracted from his pocket two keychains: one was a whale that said “Villy” for me, and another similar for Tori. We thanked him and wondered where they came from.

About halfway down the lomba, Pedro pulled over with the van, already containing two juniors players (Jose, and I don’t know who else) along with Ken and John. We jumped in, too, and it was not until we were sitting inside Pic Nic that I realized Rui had not gotten in the van with us. About 15 minutes later he walked in and sat down at the table next to us.

We all got omelets, which is something Ken regularly orders there but John and I had never gotten. I got mine just like I get my pizza; loaded with ham and veggies, sin queijo. It was delicious. We all got cafes and we heard Pedro honk from outside. The boys left in a hurry for their own game and Tori and I took our time leaving. We still had an hour before Pedro was coming back for us.

We paid our tab and walked back to my place to get Romeo. Tori loved him immediately (seriously, who doesn’t?) and Romeo made sure to put a show on for her. He was howling and hopping, running on the bed and snuggling. I put his collar on and we walked to Ken’s apartment. Tori needed to get some euros, so she grabbed her card and we walked down to one of the ATMs. While it was still very sunny, the wind was picking up. We walked Romeo home and headed back to the jardim to meet Pedro.

We walked over to the box where we found Glebiana with Mufasa and Serenela with her dog, Wendy.

liza&mufasaThis is me and my friend, Mufasa

Because there is no sun on that side of the field, we were pretty cold for the next two hours. John and Ken both started (no more funny business) and Mira Mar began the game moving the ball around very well. Berto got taken out inside Aguia’s box and was awarded a penalty kick (the ref started out relatively fair), which he scored. They ended the first half Mira Mar: 1, Aguia: 0. In the second half, Mira Mar was awarded three free kicks, one right after the other. They were like Goldielocks shots: Ken took one and over shot it. Alex took one and kept it on the ground, which hit the wall of players. John took the third which was a beautiful shot, but the goalie frantically saved. Aguia hadn’t had any good opportunities yet, so when Marco headed a ball in a few minutes later, I thought the game was ours, even when Aguia scored with 15 minutes left. What I didn’t realize until Ernesto was driving us home was that the ref had (inaccurately) called Marco offsides.

John literally knocked knees with an Aguia player in the first half, but brushed it off. In the second half, one of their players elbowed him in the nose. The ref “didn’t see it”, but John was bleeding pretty profusely. I didn’t even see him go down, so I was surprised when the lovely lady who works at Euromotas (the store next to our apartment) leaned over to me and said, “John! John!” pointing to the far end of the field. I didn’t even know she knew who I was. I watched John get up, lean over, and bleed his way off the field. After several minutes of rinsing his nose with their spring water spigot, he returned to the game, only to be taken out with 10 minutes left. They still didn’t put Adam in, this marking at least the third game in a row he hasn’t played a minute of.

When the game was over (and my self-indulgent ass was cheering like we had won..mainly because I thought we had), Tori and I ran our cold bodies to Ernesto’s car. I had told her he always drives me home, like it is an unspoken agreement. Even though he tends to be the first person out of the complex, he has never left without me. I introduced Tori to him and to Kevin (who had scored the winning goal in his futsol match the night before) and then we got into the warm car. It was then that Ernesto told me the game had ended in a tie, and that Marco’s goal had been called offsides. Bummer.

He dropped us off and I immediately made my favorite Gorreana green tea for me and Tori to warm our souls. John and Ken got home shortly after and we all walked down to Pic Nic so that the boys could have their Sunday beers. I got more tea on account of still not being able to feel my toes.

After about an hour of sitting, I was starving. We discussed the food situation, and I knew I had plenty to feed everyone (especially knowing that we would go shopping the next day). I went home to start dinner alone. Tori offered to help, but I warned her that I get kind of Nazi-like in the kitchen. I would text them when it was almost ready.

I had pulled some meat out of the freezer before we had left for Pic Nic, but it was no where near defrosted. I plugged the sink, threw in the packaged meat, and began to fill it with warm water. Meanwhile, I chopped up my beloved eggplant, a zucchini, and red and green peppers to roast. All of a sudden I heard a “tic-tic-tic” sound that I could not identify. I looked toward the stove, and then to the sink. The water was still running and the sink was overflowing. There was water all over the counter and the floor, and a few minutes later I discovered it was also inside my drawers and cabinets. Lovely.

I mopped up what was on the floor and grabbed rags to wipe the rest. I continued cooking until I had roasted veggies, honey-soy-garlic pork, meat sauce, pasta, and salad. The boys and Tori came home and we feasted. Somehow, water was still dripping.

I found out Tori tries to eat clean, too. She doesn’t eat white flours or dairy. I told her about all my gluten-free, sugar-free baking experiments and failures and she tried one of my sweet potato cocoa cookies. She said it was good, but I know they are an acquired taste. We told the previous night’s story of the slug, and I couldn’t help but notice that after that, Tori didn’t eat any salad.

Twenty weeks in Portugal.

Day One Hundred Thirty Six (dia um centena de trinta e seis)

Monday (Segunda-feira)

17 Fevereiro 2014

I got up feeling slightly worse than I had the day before–I must have been getting a cold. Nevertheless, I ran 5 miles, met John at Pic Nic because he wanted a cafe before going to the gym, then walked to ALKE to meet Ken. It was Chest Day.

We did 30 push-ups to start and end (today I did 30 staggered to start and 30 plyo to end). We did 4 rounds of each:

  • DB bench
  • DB Incline
  • Chest Fly

For core we did 4 rounds of 15 reps: hanging leg raises, decline sit ups (w/weight), and SB roll outs. We went back to Pic Nic and I was so hungry that I said we had to go home before we could go shopping. I was getting hangry.

After we ate (I had some leftover salad stuff with chickpeas and red peppers) we walked up to Fatima’s with Romeo. When we got back, I also went to the fruit market and Antonio’s. I was going to get all this outrageous food to make francesinhas because Leila and her boyfriend (who is visiting from the Algarve) were coming over for dinner. Francesinhas are sandwiches that are famously from Porto, which have sausage, roast beef, and ham, stacked together like a club sandwich, over french fries, covered with a fried egg (of course!), cheese, and then a special sauce made of beer, butter, and tomato puree. I was going to make one for myself without bread, cheese, or french fries. Or sauce.


Instead, her mom made us bacalhau, a traditional Portuguese Cod dish, with sweet potatoes (because they know I am trying to be good), and the most yummy black-eyed pea salad. I took this video of Leila’s mom, Lucy, a few weeks ago. She is the biggest badass jump-roper I’ve ever met. Here she is jumping rope with Liliana.

I made a second attempt at homemade Larabars, this time the flavor being coconut cream. Except I didn’t have coconut oil so I used coconut milk. I love the blog I found this recipe on; My Whole Food Life.


I made a big dish of roasted veggies and “red” velvet cookies but without the red dye and without the white chocolate covering. Right when I went to start baking I realized I didn’t have any flour or brown sugar, so John ran back down to Antonio’s for me. He came back moments later with flour, but no brown sugar.

Once I finished making the cookie dough (which had to set in the fridge for an hour) John went to coach the juniors and I went off to teach. Leila started her internship in the city, so I was surprised to see her at class. Even though her boyfriend is only here for the week, she won’t skip any classes. She just drops him off at the gym and then comes upstairs to work out.

Lola’s cousin’s girlfriend (my new American friend) came to class, too. She told me she didn’t run on Friday because it was hailing. Yes, it was hailing. She is leaving for America the next day where it is supposed to snow. I am not ready to go back there yet.


When I got home, I finished making the cookies (which came out looking like tiny little chocolate cakes).


I set the table and then went to walk Romeo. When I was outside Leila & Jose showed up. Leila sort of started to tell me earlier that she was terrified of big dogs. We brought Lucy’s bacalhau (holy yumminess), black-eyed pea salad, sweet potatoes, wine, and juice upstairs and waited for John. It took her a little while, but Leila began to calm down about Romeo. John got home around 9:00pm and apologized profusely; Pedro just hadn’t come to pick them up until almost an hour later than usual. We thoroughly enjoyed Lucy’s food and then Leila suggested we go to Furnas.


We got bundled up and into her Fiat. There is another place in Furnas where there are hot springs just for your feet, so we went there first.


It was so hot that it hurt. And you can’t move your feet at all or it will start hurting all over again.


After we sat around the pools for a while (which are relaxing once the pain stops) we got back into her car and headed for 3 Bicas which is a cute little log cabin style cafe next to the hotel. We all got cha de limao which is really just hot lemon water, but it was tasty. John tried to play the horribly-out-of-tune-piano and we got home around midnight. I slept vertical because I had completely lost the ability to breathe out of my nose.

Day One Hundred Thirty Seven (dia um centena de trinta e sete)

Tuesday (Terca-feira)

18 Fevereiro 2014

John was up most of the night (even though we had been so relaxed at the pools, when we came home we were both restless) and I was blowing my nose every 5 minutes. I went out to run 7 miles at 11:00am and he was still conked out. It was BEAUTIFUL out! Almost a beach day, and definitely a running in shorts-and-a-tank day… It didn’t stay that way; when I was done running the clouds were coming out and it wasn’t quite as warm. I was supposed to do three easy miles, three faster miles, and one cool down mile. I lapped the vila and then ran up lomba do Caveleiro until I hit 3 miles, then sprinted down and around the vila one more time before my “cool down”.

John had risen and filled my water up for me when I got back (feeling sweet!) and then we went to the gym. LEG DAY:

  • front squat to TRX trail leg squats
  • single leg RDLs to lateral lunges
  • Core: 15/20/25 TRX knee tucks and pikes

We went to Pic Nic where I indulged and had a galao (after 7 lomba miles and those legs, I needed it!). We then went home where I made a gigantic bacon, egg, and sauteed veggie lunch for me and John. I attempted a five-ingredient roasted cauliflower and sweet potato soup that, because I am still learning to cook, was more like “almost burnt” cauliflower. Ken came over for a haircut at JB’s barber shop.

Leila came to class again along with her mom, Lucy, who’s bacalhau I could not stop talking about.


When I got home John was at practice. I had the leftover fish with my sweet potato soup (pretty lame and tasteless, but I put some roasted zucchini on top, which was good). I Skyped with my cousin Meg and then with my parents (who I usually Skype with on Sundays, but I had totally bailed on them after traveling to Nordeste). Around 9:30pm, Romeo started jumping at the door and I told him to wait, and that I would take him out when I was done talking to my parents. When we finished Skyping, I looked downstairs to tell Romeo I would take him out in one minute. Only I didn’t see Romeo. I only saw my front door. Wide.Open.

He must’ve opened the door when he jumped up on it, only I didn’t hear it. I grabbed his leash and my key, and dropped my phone (because, who was I going to call?!) and went out to find him. I walked up towards Ken’s apartment first in hopes that he was chillin’ outside. But he wasn’t

I found him in the square outside Pic Nic. At first he ran right towards me and I thought it was going to be a cinch to grab him. Nope. He took off to my left right before he got to me and ran behind the bank. Luckily, the bank has a fenced-in parking lot behind it so he was trapped. He circled it once before admitting defeat and sauntered over to his collar. We walked home where he didn’t stop panting for at least an hour.

John came home asked, “Has Romeo been out?” HA.

Day One Hundred Thirty Eight (dia um centena de trinta e oito)

Wednesday (Quarta-feira)

19 Fevereiro 2014

I got up and bliggity-blogged for a while. I had decided to run and do yoga, but forgo the gym. John & Ken went to the gym and I went out to run 6.  When I was all done, I went home and grabbed Romeo and we met the boys at Pic Nic. While it had been pretty nice for my run, the rain began once we were sitting outside Pic Nic. Post-cafes we went home where I attempted to make tofu burgers #1 with the dehydrated tofu flakes I bought with Lina. I had put them in water to rehydrate when I picked up Romeo. I added to them egg, onion, garlic, and oregano. I made a corn tortilla to put it on, as well as a fried egg. I did not, however, squeeze the water out of the tofu before I added everything else, so they sort of fell apart. I made 5 “sort-of” patties, which I put on top of the tortilla, lettuce, tomato, egg, and then topped with a little ketchup and piri-piri. Not bad, and definitely worth a second attempt.


I wanted some more healthy snacks so once it stopped raining I walked down to Antonio’s, Casa Cheia, and then up to Fatima’s. I got conditioner, pistachios, some teeny-tiny silicone baking cups so I can make gluten-free treats for myself, a shredder so I can made desserts out of zucchini, and a couple of bags of salted peanuts. I figured with us being out of peanut butter, it being soooo expensive here, and this blog article I read, I would try my hand at making it. These bags were only one euro each.

On my way from Antonio’s to Casa Cheia I saw the bread van! I got 6 papos secos for John and continued on my way. When Neither Antonio’s nor Casa Cheia had cashews (or a grill lighter, ours was out of fluid) I started to walk to the other end of the vila to Fatima’s. I grabbed almonds, cashews, and a lighter and then realized I didn’t have enough dinheiro on me for all three. I needed the lighter. I needed the almonds to make protein bars. I just wanted to eat the cashews because I love them. Damnit. I put the cashews back on the shelf and walked home with my arms full of goodies.

I started in on my peanut butter experiment when I got home. Because the peanuts I bought were oiled and salted, I just had to pulse them in my food processor for about 10 minutes (probably would’ve been less if I had a high powered machine), stopping every 30 seconds to let the peanuts sit so they could secrete their oils. The finished product looked like natural peanut butter. With my two bags I was able to fill up two empty and cleaned-out honey jars.


I should probably start labelling these concoctions. I now have applesauce and peanut butter in honey jars, and black bean hummus in a Gatorade container. Where I previously had botched ketchup. And protein powder. And, of course, orange Gatorade. Gross.

After that was all cleaned up, I set off to make Chocolate Almond Protein Bars. These began with making your own almond butter. No problem, I thought, I just made peanut butter! I am the master nut-butter-maker. I can do anything. Not.

I am pretty sure the almonds I bought were dry roasted, so they didn’t have any of their own oils. After at least 10 minutes of pulsing, all I had was chunky almond flour. I added some canola oil (1 tbs), because some people commented that you could do that. When that started to work, it was clear that I needed more liquid. Only I didn’t want to add any more oil, so I added a little water. This worked perfectly, only now I had a sticky mound of almond flour which I was supposed to mix with oats, honey (agave for Vegans) and the chocolate protein powder John took from his giant bag at the gym for me. “John!” I yelled into the bedroom where he was, “Can I have that protein powder!?!” After rifling through his backpack for a few minutes it was clear he didn’t have the Gatorade container he had filled. He ran over to the gym where he had left it.

The recipe said to put all of the ingredients into your food processor, but my food processor is far too small. That meant hand-mixing, which was more than a little difficult. I also didn’t have any parchment paper, so I lined my 8×8 pyrex with saran wrap, smushed the oh-so-sticky batter inside, and hoped for the best. I shmeared some melted chocolate on top, sprinkled slivered almonds on half, and put them in the freezer to set.

I just wanted to make one more thing before heading off to teach: sweet potato chocolate cookies. I had one whole roasted sweet potato leftover from Monday night’s dinner, so I used that as the base. I omitted the chocolate chips and put in 1/2 cup of cocoa powder, because I wanted them to be more like the perfect little chocolate cake cookies I made on Monday. I also subbed my homemade applesauce for coconut oil, corn flour for the coconut flour, and honey for the coconut sugar. Though they weren’t as pretty as the cookies I made Monday, they were absolutely delicious and the best gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free cookies I have made to date. Also, because they were just for me, I didn’t take the same time to make them into nice shapes.

My “red” velvet cookies: IMG_1925

My sweet potato “cookies”:IMG_1926

John pointed out that they more closely resembled something that Romeo “made” than they did cookies. But he also ate a few and didn’t have any smart comments.

John went off to coach the juniors and I went off to teach. Leila came to class again and even though Lola is as sick as me (maybe even sicker), she came, too.


What is a “handwalk”, you ask?

When I got home, I made myself a big fat salad bowl and ate the rest of my burnt cauliflower soup. I Skyped with my friend Carrie from home and Cathy from California. John got home from watching Arsenal lose in the Champions league and made a PB&J for dinner. Romeo jumped up on the door and this time I ran downstairs to take him out.

Day One Hundred Thirty Nine (dia um centena de trinta e novo)

Thursday (Quinta-feira)

20 Fevereiro 2014

I got up feeling as though I could almost breathe out of my nose. I took a coconut cream Larabar out of the freezer and let it defrost while I had my green tea. The Larabr tasted like sunscreen, but not in a totally bad way. Because I was planning to do a second attempt at tofu burgers for lunch, I decided to make some homemade ketchup to go with them. I found a recipe on that other blog I totally love: Lipstick & Berries. Because I can never follow a recipe, but also because I didn’t have the right ingredients, it was a total fail. I put in too much vinegar and I used my immersion blender instead of my food processor. The smell alone was making me sick so I threw all of it in the trash. Blech. It was the stuff nightmares are made of.

I took Romeo for 1 of my 4 miles, came home, tried a Chocolate Almond Protein Bar (tasted like delicious candy) and then John and I took off for the gym. It was Back Day:

Ken came later so we started without him. John and I started with 4 sets of 10 pull-ups. I can do 3 by myself before John holds me feet up. I could officially be a Marine.

  • Single arm row @ 4 rounds
  • Lat pull down @ 4 rounds
  • Reverse Fly @ 4 rounds

Ken caught up with us and we all did 4 rounds on the TRX of 8 rows, 8 flys, and 8 Ys. We were not doing core, so I did one 1:00 plank and two 1:30 planks in between TRX rounds.

When we got to Pic Nic it was packed, so we sat outside. After we enjoyed our cafes and the boys enjoyed their Trancas Maca (which I learned means apple braid) John and I headed home where I attempted (again) to make tofu burgers.

This time I squeezed all the water out, but they still didn’t really stick together in patties. I put John’s 5 little semi patties on a papos secos (bread van!) and topped it with a fried egg and cheese. I put mine on a crappy corn tortilla that I made (sans recipe) with lettuce, tomato, ketchup, piri piri, and a fried egg. Still not really “burger” like, but actually totally yummy.


After we had lunch, we took Romeo for a long walk. I wanted to get more fuzzy socks so I could try to incorporate slideboard activities into my routines at ALKE. We went down to Casa Batista where I got 3 pairs for €3.80. We saw Vitor, who was going to take us to Riberia Grande on Friday so I could get my tattoo. We walked over to him to find out what time we should leave when he told me that the tattoo guy (Rafael) couldn’t do my tattoo on Friday. Again! Vitor said he would be happy to take us on Monday if Rafael could do that day. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

When we got home I made black bean hummus (I really, really, came close to following that recipe!) and my Chia Almond PB Balls with Nutella instead of PB and no raisins (the Nutella is plenty sweet). John reminded me the other day that we had bought Nutella but never actually use it.


The Nutella didn’t hold the ball shape as well as PB does, so they were more like bites, but so totally delicious and candy-like.


After I pulled the Nutella bites out of the oven I went off to class. I only had 5 ladies, and they were lucky that my fuzzy-sock-experiment worked. They got to go “slideboard” mountain climbers, in addition to lots of other fun things.


It is amazing how annoying your own voice sounds when played back to you. Sorry!

I went back to Fatima’s on my way home (again!) for almonds, almond slivers (I finished the ones I had making the Nutella bites), and saran wrap. Lola found me there and gave me a piece of maca bolos (apple cake) that she had made. She and I have been talking a lot about healthier ingredients (like subbing applesauce and bananas). I walked home where I made zucchini noodles to eat with the sauce I had made earlier. I walked Romeo, Skyped with my cousin, and Skyped with two of my athletes who I adore and miss terribly.


As usual, the highlight of my week involved none of the food or friends listed above, but beating Ken by 1 point in words with friends.


My life is complete.

Days 131-135.. Valentine’s Day, Nordeste, and Mufasa the puppy.

Day One Hundred Thirty One (dia um centena de trinta e uma)

Wednesday (Quarta-feira)

12 Fevereiro 2014

I knew I was going to sleep in—I was so completely exhausted from our weekend of fun. I got up around 8:00am only because Romeo was freaking out. I walked him around one block in the rain, trying to hide my bedhead and raccoon eyes with the umbrella—this one block includes the high school at drop off and I looked like I was doing the walk of shame. Fortunately it was raining, otherwise the umbrella would’ve looked weird. 

I got back in bed expecting to roll around for a while but I must’ve fallen back asleep because the next thing I knew it was noon. Noon! John sounded like crap and said he felt similar. I started folding the laundry from the night before, making John tea, putting away the extra bedding, when I realized…. I forgot to return the rental car! I am falling victim to island time.

I grabbed the keys and my wallet and went screaming for the door. I still had to put gas in it to return it the way I had picked it up. I scooted around the vila to the gas station, put 10 euros in, and then finished the loop to 7 Lombas rent-a-car. Closed. It was lunch time.

I left the car outside the pet shop and walked over to the Farmacia where the man working modestly told me he spoke a little bit of English but then spoke better than I can most days. He helped me buy a cold and sinus medication for John, and also more pain killers because I had just given John our last two Aleve (the man made me promise I wouldn’t take them together). Six euros later I was walking home.

I finished my dilly-dallying and then took off for my 6 mile Fartlek. This one was a little harder than last week’s because instead of running hard for 3 minutes and easing off for 2, my intervals were 4 and 1. I felt a little slow to start, but I ended up having a great run, aside from one small factor.

It was kind of chilly when I took off, and was threatening to rain. I had thrown on a long sleeve shirt and my Red Sox hat but had to ditch them both back at home almost immediately as the sun came out. I had thrown my long sleeve over my pajama top—something I refuse to wear in public because it breaks my cardinal rule. Which doesn’t deal with wearing pj’s in public—I have a dog, I don’t always get dressed to take him out—but deals with wearing shirts that say obnoxious things. I finished my Fartlek wearing my leopard print “Look like a Beauty, Train like a Beast” tank top. #killme

When I got back I walked back to the rental car/pet shop which I made sure was open when I was finishing my run. The woman did not look pleased with me, and she gave me a very motherly-yet-stern look as she said “Yesterday. I thought you were returning the car yesterday.” I explained that we hadn’t gotten back from the city until 6:00pm and she told me she likes to leave by 5:00pm… she told me she had waited until 7:00pm for me! I was beginning to feel badly when she ‘fessed up that she had actually left to pick her daughters up and stopped by again for a little while before 7:00pm to see if I was there. She didn’t seem that mad and she didn’t charge me for an extra day. She just asked me if my parents had a nice time. Oh, Sao Miguel.

John had gotten up and said he was feeling better. We decided to go to the gym at 4:00pm. The boys had done leg day when we got back from Ribeira Grande the day before, but I had gone to teach class. They did some biceps and triceps and I struggled through legs:

  • front squats to box blasts
  • reverse lunge to Romanian deadlift

We finished up about the same time, so we reunited for core. Three rounds of :45 work/:15 rest:

  • navy seals
  • stability ball roll outs
  • weighted Russian twists

It was after 5:00pm by the time we got done, and I still wanted to hit the fruit market. The boys had double practices again so I was on my own for dinner. I bought peppers and zucchinis, and cooked them with the rest of the eggplant I had gotten in the city. I also made a giant bag of chicken legs so John could reheat the rest when he got home. I was going to shower before I headed back to ALKE, but I didn’t prioritize well enough.


After class I went home and indulged in my veggie platter. I tried to catch up on blogging, but that took me days longer. I made my first attempt at homemade Larabars and made some more Chia Almond PB balls. I didn’t follow the chia protein bar/Larabar recipe to a T: I used 1 cup of almonds (I didn’t have any pistachios), I omitted the protein powder, I used prunes instead of dates, I quadrupled the chia seeds and I used honey instead of coconut oil. They didn’t come out quite as solid as a regular Larabar would, but I thought they were really good.IMG_1843


I have been wondering how Leslie from Real Deal Snacks makes her PB balls into perfect little balls that aren’t sticky, so I tried putting oil on my hands and forming them into balls before baking them. Success.

   IMG_1845 IMG_1847


Day One Hundred Thirty Two (dia um centena de trinta e duas)

Thursday (Quinta-feira)

13 Fevereiro 2014

I got up to more wind and rain. I tried one of my homemade almond Larabars (delicious!) and John tried one, too. He told me he didn’t like this new diet I was on, and gave me the second half of his to finish (gladly). I told him that was bull shit and that I would enjoy my delicious Larbars and I’d make him some good, old fashioned, Toll House chocolate chip cookies. Then I wouldn’t have to share my treats.

I decided to run later, so John and I headed to the gym. Ken didn’t respond to our pleas to meet us (sleeping), so it was just the two of us. Back day:

  • 30 pull ups
  • single arm bent row @ 4 rounds
  • lat pull downs @ 4 rounds
  • reverse fly (I did back extensions) @ 4 rounds
  • 30 inverted rows

 We had decided to do all core for our Friday circuit training, so John didn’t want to do any today. I did three 1:00 planks and we called it a day. We headed off to Pic Nic quickly before I went running. I only had 3 miles to do, and I declined to take Romeo. When I got back I made chocolate chip cookies for John. Win-win.

I wasn’t teaching class because of Girlfriend’s day. A bunch of the ladies from my class (along with Carla and Paula) were having dinner at Toronto Night’s at 7:30pm followed by karaoke and a massive dance party. Sometime in the middle of the afternoon, the municipal of Povoacao announced a Red Alert. The winds were so intense they closed all of the schools early (along with Mira Mar’s practice). I got nervous that no one would go to Toronto, but Carla picked me up and everyone was present.

Lola’s cousin and his girlfriend were visiting from the states and Lola brought along the American girlfriend for dinner. I was excited to have another English-speaking friend at dinner, but it became apparent almost immediately that the only thing we had in common besides knowing Lola was a native language. We commiserated once on how all Portuguese beer tastes like Bud Light (because it does) and got called American by some of my Portuguese friends because we were screaming at each other. At home, I call it “talking”. I thought Portuguese people were loud, but I was reminded that it really is Americans who take the cake.

This was my first “cheat” meal since I started my “diet”. I have the occasional galao and gluten indulgence, but at Girlfriend’s dinner I over-indulged. I had three plates of fish filets, salad, coleslaw (OMG), and goiaba, and then Lina’s long-awaited cheesecake (OMG).


After I sang (screamed?) Heartless and Single Ladies, the party (sadly) died down before midnight. I kept begging my amigas to stay, but everyone had to work the next day. Girls left one after another until I was actually the only one left. Luisa promised to make me gluten-free mallasadas (Portuguese fried dough.. swoon) because she makes it for her daughter who has Celiac. I tried to explain that one of the reasons I don’t eat gluten is because then I don’t eat junk food like fried dough covered in sugar, but it fell on deaf ears.

They locked the door behind me and I walked home where I would’ve ordered Chinese food—had that been an option—but instead ate a king size chocolate bar with hazelnuts and a half a bag of Portuguese biscuits just to top off my “cheat” “meal”.

Day One Hundred Thirty Three (dia um centena de trinta e tres)

Friday (Sexta-feira)

14 Fevereiro 2014

Valentine’s Day


I had made plans to meet my new American friend for a run at 10:00am at Pic Nic. After I got up and quickly walked Romeo, John scooted out sans-Romeo. He had told me the day before—because he is no good at surprises—that he had gotten something for me and could pick it up after 9:00am on Friday. He came back a few minutes later with a half-dozen red roses. He said he had hidden some other goodies for me, so after a few more minutes of drawer-rifling, he added to the bouquet two cards he had made out of pictures of us. He had gone through all our magazines and cut out words like “love”, “loved”, and phrases such as “united with love”. They were the best cards I ever got.

He also gave me a pair of fuzzy socks which I had been saying I wanted for weeks now—not because I want to wear fuzzy socks, but because I think I can use them in lieu of booties for slideboard activities. They stretch a lot, so I think the ladies can put them on over their sneakers. John had missed the reason I wanted them, and kept telling me to wear them. When I finally obliged later in the day, we went into hysterics: they made me look like I had cankles.

After we had our morning Valentine’s day celebration, I ran over to Pic Nic. The weather was looking bleak and as soon as I got inside it started to hail. HAIL. I had been a little skeptical anyway that my new friend would show up, but now I was pretty certain she wouldn’t. I waited 10 minutes (which was actually enough time for the “Portuguese rain” to stop) and then went out for my 4-miler.

As soon as I got home from my run, the Azorean weather changed again and it began to pour. I had told John to meet me at Pic Nic in case my American friend did show up and we wanted a cafe post-run. I found him there with Ken, highly distressed because he couldn’t find his phone anywhere. He had already been to Ken’s to look around their apartment, where he had spent the evening before playing FIFA 2014 on Playstation while I was out drinking and screaming. He left Ken and I there to run home and look and then he ran to Ken’s again where he ultimately found it under the couch. #FIFAproblems

We walked to the gym in the freezing, sideways rain where I could not warm-up. I got on the bike (which I scarcely do) just to feel my toes again. We did 4 rounds of core:

  • 1:00 plank
  • 15 burpees
  • 15 sky divers
  • 15 hanging rotational knee tucks (each side)
  • 15 thread-the-needle planks (each side)
  • 15 sprinter’s crunches (each side)

 We headed home where John made me a bomb brunch of sauteed veggies and scrambled eggs.


We got in our sweatpants and were going to watch a movie but instead Facetimed with our friend Nicole and her son Alex. I almost lost an entire blog post and then found most of it and posted it. The movie would have to wait.

I had class (because people said they would come!) so I changed and headed out to teach (it had stopped raining). Leila and Daniella were the only ones who came. It was Daniela’s last class with me because she is returning to school on the continent on Monday. Leila is started an internship in Ponta Delgada on Monday, so I’m not sure how much she will be able to come.


I wasn’t planning on working out, but because it was them and it was their last class, we all worked out together.


Daniella told me that when we had been dancing the night before, I kept saying I just wanted to go home and eat cookies. Which is exactly what I did. While I was at class, John made a delicious dinner of pork with sauteed veggies (sempre) and sweet potato.


I had bought a box of strawberries at the fruit market the other day, but decided to put them on the counter instead of in the fridge. When I opened them up to cover them in chocolate on Friday, they looked more like my fuzzy socks than fruit. I cut up some bananas instead, which I covered in dark chocolate.


They weren’t that pretty, but they were delicious. We tried to watch About Time with Rachel McAdams, but the quality wasn’t that good. I fell asleep but John watched all of it and then told me what happened in the morning. This is the closest I’ve come to watching an entire movie in months. It was also the first Valentine’s Day I can remember that I didn’t put on make-up and I sat around in a pony and sweaties all day. Best.V-Day.Ever.


Day One Hundred Thirty Four (dia um centena de trinta e quatro)

Saturday (Sabado)

15 Fevereiro 2014

I got up, had a homemade Larabar and a banana, and took off for 10 miles in the warm sunshine (no more hail storms). Romeo came for a little while with me and when I dropped him off just before 2 miles, I was absolutely sure the sky was going to open and the rain was going to pour. However, by the time I took Romeo’s collar off, chugged some water, and turned around, the sun was shining again full-force.

I made it up lomba do Alcaide even though every week I doubt that I can. Instead of going down the tree-tunnel road, I turned around and went home the same way I had gone. I did one more lap around the vila and headed home.

One of the things I thought about while I was running (if you’ve never run for over an hour, by yourself, with no music, you’d be surprised what comes to mind when you do) was that I had no eggs for my post-run pancakes, and I should’ve asked John to get some while I was running.

When I got back home I was hoping he would run out for me, but he was just getting into the shower. He and Ken had to leave at 2:00pm for the juniors’ away game. It was already 1:00pm. So, I switched from sneaks to fit-flops and trudged down the street to Antonio’s. It is only a 5 minute walk down and back, but post-run it took me at least 15. I came home and made him regular buttermilk pancakes from the amazing Pinterest recipe I found when I was eating gluten, and then set out to make yet another gluten-free attempt at delicious pancakes for myself. I usually do this with some combination of banana and oats and peanut butter and eggs, but they end up very heavy. I bought almond flour when we went to the city last week and I had some corn flour. The result was sooooo delicious. It has made it’s way onto my Recipes page.


John took off for the game and I started my weekend cleaning binge. Romeo was still sleeping on our bed, which is the best place for him to be when I’m cleaning. Once I swept everywhere and wiped down all the surfaces, I mopped myself right out the door (coat on, purse in hand) and took my computer to Pic Nic while the floors dried.

My plan was to catch up on my blog, but soon after I arrived Majid came in to watch an English Premier League game. We ended up trading Valentine’s day stories and then I showed him my new love; Pinterest.

I went home and made sauce for me, John, and Ken for dinner. Once I had that all set, I took Romeo for a long walk. It was still so nice out and I needed to fill up a water jug, so I brought my phone and took pictures in one of my favorite spots above the river.

 IMG_1867 IMG_1872 IMG_1875

John and Ken got home from the juniors’ game (who lost 6-0 and were awarded 3 red cards) and I kept my eyes open long enough to shove my face full of zucchini pasta and then I went directly to bed.


Day One Hundred Thirty Five (dia um centena de trinta e cinco)

Sunday (Domingo)

16 Fevereiro 2014


Aside only from New Years’ Day, this was the laziest, least productive day I’ve spent on this island.

Sometimes when I am lazy and tired in the morning, all I want is for John to walk Romeo. However, knowing it was going to be my only exercise for the day, I wanted to take him. We both ended up going with Romeo for a long walk (another warm day!) that included cafes outside Pic Nic and a trip to Fatima’s for almonds and cashews.

When we got back we had breakfast and John got ready to go to his game, which was also away, in Nordeste. Ernesto said he was going, but I had forgotten that he and Lina were spending the weekend celebrating Valentine’s Day in the city. I asked Serenela if I could ride with her and Filipe and they said I could.

I have been meaning to try a CrossFit wall climb and a handstand push-up, so before John left we did some of those in the kitchen. I made chili for dinner and honey roasted chickpea trail mix for a “snack” during the game.

Filipe and Serenela picked me up and we drove the 30 minutes north to Nordeste (which literally translates to “Northeast”). Serenela is from Nordeste and what I could see of it was beautiful. The Azorean fog was working its way back onto the island and since Nordeste is very high up, it was especially bad there.

By the time we got to the field, it had started to sprinkle. After an extremely awkward bathroom trip (where the maintenance guy told me to use the Senhores room instead of the Senhoras because it was broken, but then the toilet-stall-full-of-leaves-but-lacking-toilet-paper in the men’s room wouldn’t flush either), we sat in the rain for no more than five minutes. The rain wasn’t so bad, but coupled with the wind, it just hits you right in the face. Serenela, Glebiana with Mufasa the puppy, along with another girl I don’t know, walked back to the side of the field where the cars were parked and asked Pedro if we could sit in the van until the game started. I learned that Glebiana speaks English! Serenela was having a hard time finding a word in English when Glebiana chimed in. All these weeks sitting at games together and I had no idea.


It was so warm and cozy in the van and after moving over one car spot, we had such a good view of the field that we stayed inside the rest of the game. John started and played about 80 minutes. Nordeste scored a fluke of a goal in the first half when the striker and our goalie ran into each other and toppled to the ground, Ken ran into the net to defend when the ball (aided by the incredible winds) bounced on his foot and into the net. Noooooo!


Mira Mar scored around the 85th minute, I leaned over and beep-beep-beeeeeeped Pedro’s horn in celebration. I wished we could always sit in the van. We had the radio bumping and Pedro sang “What did the fox say?”

Because Serenela is from Nordeste and knows most of the players, she had a few moments where she was cheering for them. I threatened to kick her out of the van if she didn’t cut the shit. You must cheer for Mira Mar when you are sitting inside the Mira Mar van (or some other ghetto van that Mira Mar rents because their van is never in working condition). You must cheer for Nordeste outside.

After the game was over (1-1 was the final) Filipe, Serenela and I took a pit-stop at Serenela’s mom’s house in Nordeste. Because she is sweet, adorable, Portuguese, and older than me, Serenela’s mom just wanted to feed me. I tried to politely decline, explaining that for the first three months we were here all I did was eat bread. I did accept a Ferrero Rocher, because I didn’t want to be rude.

I finally got back to Povoacao after 7:00pm where I ate chili I had made in the morning. John and Ken came back from Pic Nic where Diogo had made them burgers with bacon. Ken went home and John and I took Romeo for one last long walk around the vila. I was so tired from doing absolutely nothing that I couldn’t even Skype with my parents and I went straight to bed when we got home.

Almond Corn Pancakes (GF, refined SF, DF)

I love pancakes. I basically run for my love of pancakes. I use my love of pancakes to get through long training runs (alone, up gigantic hills also known as lombas). Each week after my 10-, 12-, or 14-mile run I indulge in a re-fuel pancake session. However, since cutting gluten and refined sugar, I’ve had a hard time finding a pancake that doesn’t taste like a soggy oatmeal cookie (not that I don’t love those, too).

This week after my 10 mile solo lomba run, I made pancakes with almond flour and corn flour instead of my usual oats. I topped them with honey, slivered almond, and bananas. They were so good. They were so good that I will continue to run just so I can eat them again. And again. And again.



Yields: 1 serving (I got 6 silver dollar cakes out of my batch)

Prep & Cook time: 15 minutes



  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 corn flour (not corn starch)
  • 2 egg whites (or one egg)
  • 3 tbs soy milk (or almond… or coconut)
  • 1 tsp gluten-free baking powder


  • 1 tbs honey
  • 2 tbs slivered almonds
  • 1 sliced banana
  • or whatever you like!

Beat the eggs with non-dairy milk until fluffy. Add in flours and baking powder until just mixed (some lumps are good–they make for fluffier cakes!). Spray a skillet with non-stick cooking spray, melt a little butter or coconut oil (whatever your style is) and turn heat to medium-high. Pour batter into skillet, about 1/2 ladle-full for each cake. Cook 4-5 minutes before flipping (cakes will be slightly golden) and cook another 3 minutes on the second side. Transfer pancakes to serving plate and top to your choosing.

Big Al & P.Diddy come to Povoacao: Days 126, 127, 128, 129, 130

Day One Hundred Twenty Six (dia um centena de vinte e seis)

Friday (Sexta-feira)

7 Fevereiro 2014

We woke up (early for us means before 8:00am) and it was raining. I had picked up the rental car the night before and Romeo had an appointment at 10:00am to get groomed (#thankyejesus). John and I got ready and picked Ken up.

We were planning on dropping Romeo off, going to the mall to shop at Continente, and having a nice lunch, before picking Romeo up and heading back to Povoacao (I had 8 miles to log !!) We drove through the rain and fog and got off the highway at the mall exit. I had been to the groomer’s once before with Carla to drop off her Honey, and I was pretty sure I knew where it was. I had showed it to John and Ken on google maps and they were sure they had walked by it a million times when they had been staying in Ponta Delgada. We took a right turn after the mall and quickly the boys pointed out the (wrong!) groomer. I told them that wasn’t it and then began giggling uncontrollably. “What?” they wanted to know, was so funny. “Well, we’re screwed”. We have no phone, no internet, and no idea where this place is. It was 10:05am.

Luckily, after a few laps around the surrounding blocks I saw it. We got Romeo out of the car and walked into the groomer’s. The groomer was a really sweet 20-something-year-old guy with shaggy hair. He was showing us into the room where he would groom Romeo when he asked, “Romeo is a dog, right?” John, used to this question, responded with “Yeah! He’s a dog–not a wolf, haha”. But then I remembered that in Portuguese they have two words for “dog”: “cao” and “cadela“. A cao is a male dog, and a cadela is a female dog (put it in google translate and it actually says “bitch”). “Yes, he’s a boy!” We all laughed and then we left. Romeo cried for a few minutes once he’d been chained to his table (sounds WAY less humane than it actually looks) but he was fine. The groomer said it would only take him 45 minutes. Forty-five minutes?! In the States it always took upwards of 4 hours.





We sped over to the mall where John and Ken got breakfast-bifanas, which are just like regular bifanas except you eat them at 10:30am. We scooted down to Continente where I bought some stuff for Carla (dog food and cereal bars) and some veggies and nuts for my new cavegirl diet. I also got some sesame nougat crackers, because I was starving and wasn’t going to eat a breakfast-bifana. Ken stocked up on Kinder Buenos and we headed back to the groomers. Romeo looked great, except he was still all wet. The guy was just finishing him up when we got there; he sprayed some deodorant on Romeo, clipped just his fifth nails on his front legs, and rung me up. Fifteen euros. Fifteen! I couldn’t believe it. I also couldn’t believe how much fur was still falling off of him.

I had put Romeo’s choke collar and leash back on but had handed him to John when I was paying. As soon as we got outside, Romeo shook his newly-clean fur and his collar crashed to the ground. Romeo turned around and gave us a look of realization before he took off into the street. John and Ken sprinted after him and I got in our rental car and peeled out after them.

Luckily for us, Romeo stopped to poop and John caught him. All three of the boys piled back in the car. We decided to stop by the cafe that John and Ken had gone to with their team before one of their last games. It was a Pao do Rei! Not the one that Lina, Carla, and I usually go to, but one of the other chains. We all got galaoes and the boys got some treats. We got back in the car, and sort of by accident (three people who think they know where they’re going) ended up driving home on the south side of the island.

It was so foggy that for a while I could hardly see 30 meters in front of me, but it had mostly stopped raining. When we got back to Povoacao, we dropped Ken off and it started to rain again. I had a power snack and put my game face on to go run.


I wanted to hit-up the bread van, too, so my dad could enjoy the fresh papos secos when he got here. I got all geared up and walked to the square, but the bread van wasn’t there. I put a euro in my tights with my key, just in case I saw him while I was running.

I declined to take Romeo with me (hell, he’d already gotten his run in!). After about a mile, I decided to drop my outer-most-layer off at home, because by this point it was so wet it wasn’t doing anything except weighing me down. When I got to our apartment I saw the bread van on the next block. I ran to it, bought 6 papos secos and ran back home with them. For at least two of my miles it didn’t rain, but the other 6 were pretty wet. When I got home I left all my clothes at the bottom of the stairs and took the hot shower I’d been promising myself. I was supposed to pick up some more papers from 7 Lombas rent-a-car and I wanted to fill up on gas so I wouldn’t have to do it in the morning, but it was so cold and nasty that I did neither.

What I did instead was make unsweetened applesauce which was super easy and made our apartment smell like apple pie. I stored it in some honey jars I’d been saving and using for chia seed pudding. I am over the chia seed pudding at the moment and totally addicted to whole oats with a spoonful of PB and cinnamon.


When I went off to teach class it had basically stopped raining.


John was having more leftovers for dinner, so I just made some veggies with brown/cauliflower “rice” mixed in with the tofu I bought with Lina. It didn’t really taste like anything, so with the veggies and rice it was really just added protein. It comes dehydrated so I had to soak it for thirty minutes before I could cook it. I made my couve soup and cleaned for my parents. I got into bed early to read and rest before another early, even earlier, start tomorrow.


Day One Hundred Twenty Seven (dia um centena de vinte e sete)

Saturday (Sabado)

8 Fevereiro 2014

John and I woke up at the ungodly hour of 5:30am. A time we have not seen since we arrived here (even on New Years I think we fell asleep at 5:00am). We got ready and headed to the aeroporto. The weather was slightly better than the day before, but it was still a little foggy. I had checked before we left and saw that my parents’ flight had left Boston on time, but when we got to the airport they had actually been waiting about 45 minutes.

We rejoiced at each others’ presence and then got back in the teeny-tiny rental Hyundai which John had tried to clean Romeo’s fur out of. We went home via the north side of the island but then I missed the exit for Furnas, and we nearly ran out of gas. John was the one who noticed my missed-turn and we were able to get back on track, but not before we made my dad super-nervous, “Did you say you were lost?” It’s pretty hard to get lost on an island, but if anyone could do it it would be me. Or my mom. However, when there is only one road to Furnas, it’s almost impossible. We turned around, made the correct exit, and traveled through Furnas without further confusion. We stopped for gas.

As soon as we got home and I put fresh sheets on our bed both my parents took a nap. And John went into our makeshift bed-on-the-floor-in-our-loft-living-room and passed out, too. Then Romeo fell asleep and I was alone. I took advantage of the time and blogged before everyone woke back up. I had changed up my running schedule (and gotten off track of my Nike Plus!!) so I wouldn’t have a run today, but it turned out that I had a few hours to spare.


Once everyone arose from their respective naps, John headed to Pic Nic for the Arsenal game (they were already down 2-0!) and the rest of us set off to walk the vila and then meet him at Pic-Nic. It was raining. Before we walked anywhere we went into Carla’s salon so my parents could meet her. I had remembered to tell my parents some Portuguese things (like to pack your own toilet paper for the soccer game), but I had forgotten to mention the kiss-kiss greetings they would surely receive. Fortunately, Carla broke them in gently.

We were going to take a little walking tour, but it was crummy out so we just walked to Pic Nic and my parents and I got cafes. I still have not mastered at-home coffee brewing so I bought some instant before they arrived. They are not really instant-coffee-people, but it was better than nothing. My dad did some surgery on my tablespoon-tea-bag-filter on Sunday and tried to make Dunkin’s, but it wasn’t quite a win. Yet.

After our coffees at Pic-Nic John joined us as we walked to Antonio’s to grab some snacks. My parents poked around the Portuguese-style supermarket and we bought rose wine, butter biscuits, cashews, dog food and a Kinder Bueno for my dad to try. We headed home again. We were getting pizza from Toronto Night’s at 5:30pm before John and Ken got picked up for their game at 6:30pm.

My parents and I walked over to Toronto Nights where the got to meet Lina. We had gotten two fully loaded and one without cheese for me and my mom that also had half without meat (Lina is good people, so she deals with our annoying-ness). We walked home and Ken came over. My mom probably hasn’t had pizza in a decade but she loved it and my dad couldn’t get enough. John and Ken went off to get picked up for their game. I walked Romeo (still raining!) and we all got geared up for the Mira Mar vs. Vale Formoso game. This is their neighborhood rivalry (Vale Formoso is from Furnas), Mira Mar got smoked last time they played, and of course there was drama with the referees making terrible calls and all the Vale Formoso players diving excessively. Especially the captain. Vale Formoso is currently in 1st place and Mira Mar is in 5th, out of 7. This game was kind of a big deal.

When we arrived at the field (after DRIVING there! what a novelty) we settled into the box seating. Serenela and Glebiana were there with Mufasa the puppy.


It soon became apparent that the refs were considering cancelling the game due to the weather; there were giant bubbles in some spots, while in others there were air bubbles. The turf was a mess.


The refs were warming-up pretty seriously and didn’t seem perturbed by the conditions. The Vale Formoso officials were trying fervently to get them to see how bad it was. One official kept attempting to bounce a ball at half field and it would just land lamely with a thud. I think the Vale Formoso players and officials didn’t want to jeopardize their cushy 1st place position with shitty conditions, but that is just my opinion. After an HOUR, yes an hour, the refs started the game. But the one-hour rain delay (forcing a 9:00pm start time) wasn’t the only troubling thing. John was sitting on the bench through most of the discussions, while the rest of the team was sitting-pretty in the locker rooms. He stayed on that bench when the starting line-up took the field (he has never, since we arrived in October, not started a game), and didn’t play one minute of the game.

IMG_1821 IMG_1823

I asked Marcelo who had also come to sit in the box and he said he had no idea why John wasn’t playing. When Filipe came off the field in the second half, he too joined us in the box. He also said he had no idea why they weren’t playing John. 

Mira Mar scored off a corner kick and held Vale Formoso at bay for all 90 minutes for a win. It was awesome that they had beat the 1st place team, at home, but it sucked that JB didn’t play. It also sucked that this weirdness happened while my parents were here. They have never seen John play.

When John and Ken came back after the game (to finish their pizza, of course) neither of them had any idea. Neither coach had said anything to John about why he hadn’t started, or even played, in the game. He took Romeo for his late-night stroll and stopped at Cesar’s to have some commiseration/celebration beers. Everyone was pumped they had beaten Vale Formoso. John forgot his key so he buzzed at some point and it took me a minute to figure out what the sound was before I got out of bed and fumbled to the buzzer.


Day One Hundred Twenty Eight (dia um centena de vinte e oito)

Sunday (Domingo)

9 Fevereiro 2014

I woke up around 9:00am and everyone was still sleeping. I made my tea, had some oatmeal, and got ready to run. My mom got up and we had a little vila-lesson-involving-google-maps so she wouldn’t get lost. I found her around mile 4 staring at the “map” outside the zoo (it’s more like a picture of the east half of the island..helpful in no way whatsoever) and we went to the water closet together. I was here at least 3 months before I finally figured out what WC meant. And by “figured out” I mean I asked Ken. All the bathrooms in Portugal (and Spain, if I remember correctly) are marked “WC”. When John, Ken, and I flew to Lisbon together before Christmas I finally asked Ken, because I knew he would know. When I was telling this story to Lina later she admitted she never knew what it stood for, just that a WC was a bathroom. Bathrooms are funny because everyone calls them something different. Lina calls it going to the washroom. I mostly say bathroom, unless I’m trying to be less-crude and then I say restroom. Ken says toilet which makes for endless fun. “I was in the toilet,” he’ll say. “Really?” I’ll reply, “You were inside the toilet?”

After my mom and I used the impeccably clean WC, I took off to finish my 5 miles and she continued walking. When I got home I grabbed cash and quickly scooted up to Fatima’s before they closed at noon. We didn’t have any lettuce, were running out of instant coffee, and I wanted to grab some eggs. I saw my mom again and we discussed where the apartment was.

She never did get lost, but she probably would never have found our apartment if it wasn’t for Carla’s salon. She was on the street staring at our door and a few of our neighbor’s doors when she saw Kadu Instituto de Belza. She knocked loudly because she didn’t know which buzzer was ours.

John made his bomb-tastic hashbrowns for him and my dad and I made eggs. I just made ham and eggs for my dad, but I went all out for me and my mom: sauteed onions, peppers, zucchini, and to mine I added some cooked chicken I had in the fridge. We had our big fat brunch and then walked down to Pic Nic, where John was already watching a game. After we had coffees, my parents and I walked around the vila a little bit and then home where I started dinner.

I made meatballs for the boys and sauce with tofu and eggplant for me and my mom. Once I had nearly burned, but mostly finished our dinner, John and Ken came back and we left for Furnas. I drove us up through the lombas where I run so my parents could see it. We went up Lomba do Pos to Lomba do Alcaide and finally down Lomba do Loucao. Then we made our way to Furnas. We probably got to the pools (which we never would have found had there not been signs) around 5:00pm. We started in one of the larger pools and then made our way to the tiny, hot-tub-like pools where you can sit. I have never seen my dad so relaxed in my entire life. We got changed and then made our way to the place where you get the best bolos levedos ever.

We got a 5-pack of that (which we dug into right away), a few pieces of the incredible caramel cake, a pumpkin thing, and two fofas. We then drove back to Povoacao where John and Ken walked to Pic Nic to get beers. We ate dinner (the boys had their meatballs on the fresh bread van papos secos and my mom and I had our eggplant on zucchini “pasta”) and then indulged in the treats we had brought home. Once I start eating treats I can’t stop, so after I had half a fofa and a whole piece of caramel cake I went out to walk Romeo. When I got home we all started settling in for bed.


Day One Hundred Twenty Nine (dia um centena de vinte e novo)

Monday (Segunda-feira)

10 Fevereiro 2014

We all got up a little earlier than we had the day before. My mom got ready to walk, and John, my dad, and I walked over to the gym to meet Ken. We did chest day:

  • 30 push ups
  • DB bench @ 4 rounds
  • DB inclide@ 4 rounds
  • Cable fly @ 4 rounds
  • 30 push ups

My dad did his own thing, which happened to include 100 push ups. He also got on the bike and the treadmill and hung out with us until we were done. We were going to meet my mom at Pic Nic, but as we were walking down the driveway we found her coming down the stairs of Toronto Nights, “Mom!” She said she remembered that the gym was behind Toronto Nights. Ha. We walked to Pic Nic together and my parents indulged and got galaoes. It had started to rain, and only got worse as the day went on. My plan had been to go to the fish market and make fresh fish for dinner. I made some sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free oatmeal raisin cookies and then finally braved the rain. John and I walked Romeo to the fish market first, which was closed, and then to Antonio’s where we bought frozen salmon and more rose wine for my mom.

John ended up having double practices, so he took off with Ken (and the car!) and I took off for class.


My dad cooked the salmon while I was gone and we had it with roasted veggies and salad. It had cleared up outside, so after dinner the three of us took Romeo for a long walk by the water and enjoyed the warm, dry air.  We all settled in for bed just as John got home–he still didn’t know what happened Saturday night.


Day One Hundred Thirty (dia um centena de trinta)

Tuesday (Terca-feira)

11 Fevererio 2014

Again, I woke up extremely early (before 7:00am) and went downstairs to wake up my mom. It is super dark here at that hour (actually, I bet it’s not quite as dark as it is in Massachusetts). I told my mom it was 7:00am. “What time is it?” she asked. “Well, it’s 3:00am,” I answered. She has been really confused about the time difference since she got here. “What?!” I explained that it was 7am here, but 3am at home (where she will be returning to today). We both meandered in the kitchen drinking tea and coffee (and I had a few PB balls) and then I headed out to run 6 miles. I was supposed to do my second Fartlek, but I didn’t read the details of my training run and just went out. That was probably just as well since I ran like a slug. I had another 6 mile run the next day, and I decided to do that one as my Fartlek to make up for it.


When I got back I almost ate-shit slipping on our front step. It was wet out, but I think it was my new sneaks since I have gone out a hundred times in the rain and never slipped here. I got nervous that my mom would fall too so I used Romeo’s towel to wipe it dry. Of course, she came home a minute later and didn’t slip at all. I took Romeo out quickly while I was still all wet. Romeo had gotten into my mom’s ear plugs (which she wears because my dad snores like… well, like I do). Both my parents along with John had searched high and low but only found one ear plug (a bright orange plunger-shaped foam thing) but when Romeo relieved himself that morning, I found the other one. And just like everything else that dogs eats, he hadn’t chewed it at all. I grabbed it for my mom, knowing full-well that she wouldn’t want it. I brought it back to the apartment in a littered gum wrapper. She didn’t want it.

We all got ready and left for the city. The rain had lightened up, but the fog was intense. I drove to the city via the south so we could show my parents the big lake in Furnas (Lagoa do Furnas). I wasn’t sure how to get to the highway that way, so we just followed the signs for the Lagoa and it was easy. By the time we got to the city, the sun was peaking out of the clouds. We parked on the street pretty easily and walked the Portas de Cidade. We sat down for lunch at a restaurant called Angel’s Bay (Baia do Anjo) where our waitress spoke almost-perfect English (this is where the cruise ships dock). Her English was really good, but then when she was asking what my mom would like to order she said, “And you, lady,” which sounded kind of rude, but she was being very polite.


We enjoyed our lunches–I had a giant (GIANT) shrimp omelet, my mom had a sailor’s salad, and both John and my dad had beafsteak with rice, salad, french fries, and, of course, two sunny side-up eggs. We finished our meal off with cafes and walked back to the teeny-tiny rental car. Just 10 minutes later we were at the airport saying our goodbyes. These were not as hard as when we moved to Portugal–when John and I moved we had no idea when we would see them again, and I had no idea what I was in for. This time we know exactly how many days until we see each other again, and it really isn’t very many.

After we dropped them off we scooted over to the mall where we were meeting Vitor, Mira Mar’s new goalie. I was hoping to do a little shopping, but we didn’t have enough time. We followed him to Ribeira Grande where he has the friend who does tattoos.


Vitor was getting one tattoo finished and getting another small one. This is where John & Ken came last week and got theirs, but I couldn’t go with them.


I talked to the guy about what I wanted but ultimately we didn’t enough time. Which was fine, because now he will spend a good amount of time drawing it up and not rushing. We made a plan to come back on Thursday. We followed Vitor back to Povoacao.


I ran up to Fatima’s because we didn’t have any food. I decided not to take the rental car because, seriously, it is three blocks away. Of course it was the one time I had a bag rip on my walk home, and then I was cursing my stubborn self. I put the groceries away (after I picked them up off the street) and hurried off to class. 


When I got home I made a big salad and put salmon and chicken on it. John was at Pic Nic watching the Benfica game and he and Ken came home shortly after I got home because Pic Nic had been so packed. Once I finished eating the cleaning commenced. A bajillion loads of laundry, cleaning up the bed upstairs, and sweeping, sweeping, sweeping (Romeo’s fur is WORSE if at all possible!). It also became apparent while my parents were here that we have enough glasses/plates/bowls for two people to eat easily without a dishwasher, but four people (sometimes five) and no dishwasher meant a constant stream of dished being washed and/or dried for anyone to eat/drink something.

Once I was mostly done cleaning and down to just doing laundry, John went downstairs to give Vitor some money. He left the door cracked open which was all the invitation Romeo needed. As I was just getting settled in to finish my book This is Where I Leave You I heard John: “Romeo! ROMEO!” and then footsteps running down the street. John hopped in Vitor’s car and took off. I stood on the steps for a few minutes calling Romeo’s name until Ken messaged me saying that both John and Romeo were at his place. Goodnight.

Days 122, 123, 124, 125.. Rental cars, tattoos, and leftover chestnuts

Day One Hundred Twenty Two (dia um centena de vinte e dois)

Monday (Segunda-feira)

3 Fevereiro 2014

I got up and moaned about how cold it was. Eventually, after having taken Romeo for his morning stroll, I put my big-girl pants on (figuratively speaking of course, I literally had pants on when I took Romeo out) and went for my run solo.

After my 10 miles the day before, I thought I might be feeling slow. I was not. It may have been me running away from the cold, but I finished my three in just over 25:00, which I was pleased with. John and I got out affairs in order and headed off to meet Ken at the gym.

John wanted to change up his program a little bit—and stay tuned for my new “Fitness” section if you have any interest in what these programs consist of—so I am going to stick with the boys this week instead of creating my own super sets. This day we did:

  • Single arm dumbbell squat-to-OH-press → chin ups
  • Alternating dumbbell bench press → Inverted rows (feet on SB ball)

After feeling like a machine last week doing three sets of 7 chin-ups and one set of 6, I went for 8. I did three sets of 8 and this was my last set:

We did two rounds of core, at 30 reps each: decline sit-up w/weight, SB roll outs, and hanging leg raises. The hardest part about 30 leg raises is holding on to the bar for that long. And while, yes, I do rock the biker chick gloves that Ernesto gave to me (that don’t even match, which makes me more of a boss), I can’t wear them on the bar–they make me slip off. John showed me these wrist-strap-hooks which helped. We went off to Pic Nic.

John was hungry and wanted to go home before going to Fatima’s, but I decided there wasn’t a lot on my list and that I could carry it by myself. Ken and I went off to shop and John headed home.

Majid had already gone shopping for the three of them, so after Ken grabbed a few things for himself, I was on my own. I did my farmer’s walk home.

I finished off the rest of my Couve soup—which will appear under Recipes soon—and started chili for dinner (shameless plug, but will also be under Recipes soon). John had double practices, so I was really only cooking for myself. Since we had finished off the less-than-delicious first batch of Black Bean Brownies, I was excited to try a second attempt. This time I didn’t bother with any sweetener (definitely makes for an acquired taste!) and added the chocolate chips. The end result: delicious unless you get a bite with no chocolate chips.

It was 4:00pm by the time I finally hit the showers. I got ready for my class (these workouts will eventually—hopefully soon—hit my Fitness section) and headed out the door with wet hair. Mistake: It was cold out.


For whatever reason, I was missing a few solid regulars. More than a few, like 5 of them! And the girl who taught these classes last year was in town visiting (she lives on a different Azorean island now, Terceira) and came to my class. These classes last year were much different than the cardio-strength circuit style I do. They were aerobics. I was feeling a little lame since there were so few people, but then she was challenged by all the strength and said she really liked it. So that felt good.

I went home and ate my chili and my non-sweet brownies and Skyped with my cousin. My mom made a comment about how much Meg and I had Skyped recently, but we were roommates for more than 2-and-a-half years. We used to come home everyday to each other and knew everything that went on with each other. It’s almost like that when we get to Skype for an hour and just catch up on the minutiae of each others lives. It makes me feel less far away.

After we Skyped I took Romeo out, read, and then John came home. He had a good practice with the juniors and got to do a lot of performance training with the seniors. A good time was had by all.


Day One Hundred Twenty Three (dia um centena de vinte e trez)

Tuesday (Terca-feira)

4 Fevereiro 2014

I woke up to my alarm (which I obviously don’t set because I have anywhere to go, just because I don’t like to sleep all day) as well as the sound of rain. And wind. Oh yeah, that 5.0 mile Fartlek I’m supposed to go out and do? Definitely going down later. I was hoping to get it done before the gym because it is leg day.

Instead of getting out of bed to run, I stayed there until Romeo let me know that he had to go out. We went for our stroll, came back, John got up, and we hit the gym at 10:30am. Ken showed up like 20 minutes later—he runs on his own time in the morning. This was sort of on the early side for us, but John & Ken had appointments to get tattoos! I am super jealous and wanted to go with him, but I have another phone interview. I will go next time.

The new Mira Mar goalie is taking John and Ken to his friend’s tattoo shop in Ribeira Grande (which is halfway between Povoacao and Ponta Delgada).



We warmed-up, stretched out, foam rolled and then got to work.

  • Front squat to box jumps
  • Lateral step-ups to single leg RDLs

Our core routine for Tuesday is usually suitcases, leg lifts, and side bends, but we maxed-out for time last week. So, we decided to do a plank circuit: :45 each center, right, and left, :45 rest. Three rounds.

We went home so John could shower (I stayed dirty because I still had to do my Farlek, but the sun was shining by this point) and then we met back up at Pic Nic where they were going to get picked up. John also brought our empty propane tank downstairs so I could get a new one. After I had a cafe, I scooted home to get Romeo.

My first Fartlek. After a one mile warm-up, with Romeo, which turned into at least 1.25 because I paused my watch when he stopped to do his business by Casa Cheia and I must not have hit the button again. I happened to check my pace around the Zoo (about three blocks later) and it was still paused. Damnit.  I saw some of John’s junior players and I almost asked them to run up and down the street holding my watch to make up the difference. #runnerproblems

After I dropped Romeo off I set my Tabata for 3:00 of work and 2:00 of rest, for 6 rounds. The coaches at Nike said I was supposed to run faster for 3:00 and then slow down for 2:00 during the three miles after my warm up. I had never done a fartlek before, and I have to say I loved it. The 30:00 I had set my Tabata for took me until about 4.2 miles and then I took the remainder as a cool down.

When I got home I noticed that the propane tank was new. I won’t lie—my first thought was that John brought down a full one without noticing. But, no way, because it’s like wayyyyy heavier than an empty one. Then I thought maybe Carla had seen it and called the gas guy for us (that is totally something she would do). So I ran upstairs (after I lugged that friggan thing inside; I was going to try to bring it upstairs, but decided to leave it for John), grabbed 20 euros, and went down to Carla’s salon. Carla had no idea what I was talking about and said she hadn’t called him. Then she asked if I left an empty one outside, and I said yes. “Oh,” she said, “then the guy took it and gave you a new one.” Without any money? “He’ll come back for the money—he probably thought it was mine.” ONLY ON AN ISLAND DOES THIS HAPPEN. And that is what I told her, “Oh, that would NEVER happen in the States!” I still gave her the money for when he came back.

I had another favor to ask her. My battle against Romeo’s fur has continued. I sweep (and/or John sweeps) daily, and the fur doesn’t stop. It just keeps coming and coming. Also, his nails are out of control. He doesn’t jump on me, but when he plays with John and Ken he jumps on them. Also if anyone in the outside world acts excited to see him, he jumps. And scratches.

Since we are renting a car for when my parents are here this coming weekend, I figured we could get it a day earlier and drive Romeo to the groomer in Ponta Delgada that Carla used for her dog. I asked if she wouldn’t mind calling and making an appointment for Romeo. She didn’t mind. She even made sure the guy spoke English and told him we, and our dog, were American. Romeo is going to get groomed. #thankyoujesus

Once all that was done I finally went back upstairs to shower and eat. Then I went out to rent the car and get some body lotion at Casa Cheia. When I was leaving our apartment I saw Lina was in Carla’s salon. They were on their way to Pic Nic for a galao, did I want to join them? Twist my arm.

We went down to Pic Nic and leisurely enjoyed our coffees. Eventually I did go off to rent a car at 7 Lombas which is inside the pet store. The pet store where the woman speaks English and loves Romeo. This is not the same woman I rented a car from the first time. I told her I wanted it for 5 days, and I wanted the cheapest one. She told me it would be 106 euros and I could pay when I dropped it off and the end of the five days. #islandlife Only on an island the size of the Houston would this happen. Sometimes I don’t even believe it. But, it’s true. Actually, I think Sao Miguel might be small than Houston.

Screen Shot 2014-02-08 at 9.25.00 AM Screen Shot 2014-02-08 at 9.25.15 AM

After I stopped quickly at Casa Cheia, where I never can just grab what I went in for (it’s like Target for me in this way), where I bought body lotion, guava paste, coconut milk, instant coffee, and fabric softener sheets—did I mention our static cling is out of control? Because it is. Sometimes I can’t find a sock when I go to fold the laundry and it’s always stuck to a Dri-Fit shirt or running tights. John’s shirt stick to him like white-on-rice. I found a sock inside my running tights the other days but not until I tried to sit down. I thought maybe there was something on my chair. Nope. Tried to sit again, felt another lump under my thigh. Oh, it’s a (clean) sock. Obviously.

When I got home I got settled in for my phone interview which I will tell you went very well. The more I spoke to the interviewer the more I wanted the job, and we agreed on a lot of practices and philosophies for the job which I’m applying. I am very hopeful. And while it is (or could be, cross your fingers!) full-time, the hours are awesome and I’d still be able to coach, personal train, and still have time to run for myself.

I took Romeo out for a stroll, left John a note, and headed for ALKE. I had a few more women than the night before, but I think I have lost a few regulars. This is sad, but I still have an awesome group of ladies who do come. A few new ladies have become regulars; a few who struggle because they haven’t worked out in a while (but refuse to give up!), but I have one who came out of nowhere and is kicking serious ass. Both types are fun to work with.


I came home to Romeo and a note from John. He was very happy with his tattoo and would be home after practice. I set out to make chicken lettuce wraps. They were bomb.


I also did a lot of thinking about my friend Krista’s comment on my Facebook about starting a recipe book. I decided the best way to go about this new venture would be to add a section to my already robust blog about it. Now I can separate out my posts into different sections.

I Skyped with my old roommate Cathy from California and since she announced it on Facebook today I guess it’s OK to say that she and her hubby are expecting a little one in August. I am so excited. In fact, even though I already knew, I cried when I saw the announcement pictures on Facebook.

I took Romeo out again and then went back to working on my new blog. I always think I’m computer-savvy until I try to do anything remotely different that what I’ve already been doing. This took me far longer than it should have.


Day One Hundred Twenty Four (dia um centena de vinte e quatro)

Wednesday (Quarta-feira)

5 Fevereiro 2014

When I woke up the wind was out of control! It was easily just as bad as during Sunday afternoon’s Mira Mar game. Forty MPH for sure. (OK, so said 29 MPH).

I waited it out for a little while, and then took off for my “easy, comfortable pace” 5.0 mile run. Not thirty-seconds out the door and it started pouring. Awesome, who doesn’t love sideways rain? Right?

Romeo didn’t even want to go out so I let him be. I figured he would wake John up when he really needed to go out.

I contemplated turning around, but I was already soaked so I chose to stay committed. And the thing about wind is, yeah, half the time it is in your face, but the other half it’s pushing you forwards from behind, and that’s not so bad.

The rain eventually let up and I finished my run—but not before the wind literally almost swept me off my feet by the water. If you’ve never experienced this feeling before, it is truly incredible. It reminded me of a backpacking trip I took in high school to Mt. Madison in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. We were hiking a ridgeline and had to to turn around because some of us lightweights were having trouble staying on the ground the wind was so intense. Keep in mind we had at least 30lbs. on our backs to boot!

Five miles in the bag. As soon as I got home I immediately put on clean workout clothes (which is one of the mind tricks I use to keep myself going when I’m running; “It’s going to feel so good to go home and put on dry clothes! Keep running!”). John was up and still Romeo was lounging. I bought corn flour on Monday at Fatima’s and I’d been dreaming of making gluten-free banana bread ever since, so I set off to bake in my dry clothes.

photo 1 

John took Romeo out and we were planning on heading to the gym around 12:30pm. When John got back from his walk he remembered that Serenela has asked him to be the referee at some basketball tournament in the gymnasium at 1:30pm. He took off to the gym and I stayed behind with my bread; I would hit up ALKE later. They no longer close midday on Wednesdays because they have that intern.

Since there was a massive snow storm (and yet another snow day!) going on in Massachusetts, I got to Skype for a long time with my BFFL, Anna. She works from home a lot, but she was taking the morning “off” since everyone else was enjoying a snow day. She called me up and it was almost, almost, like sitting right in the kitchen with her. Technology is a beautiful thing.

I finished my Honey Banana Cornbread (shameless plug for my new blog format) which was bomb. I think I could have cooked it a little longer, as it came out looking nice and fluffy but then settled into a more dense loaf. Banana bread has this tendency anyway, but I think cooking it longer might have helped a bit. Either way, totally nutritious and delicious. Win-win.

I also made more PB balls. This time I used slivered almonds and chia seeds, and skipped the chocolate chips.


By the time I finished my bread and making an epic salad bowl for lunch, catching up with Anna, and sweeping up Romeo’s fur (again), it was already 2:30! I had told John I would try to get down to the gymnasium to see a game, but I hadn’t even hit the gym yet. I quickly gathered my things and walked to ALKE (in the rain. because it was raining. again.).

Since they’re usually closed during this time, the place was empty. Just me, the intern—Alexandre—and two guys in the locker room on their way out. How did I know there was two guys in there? The locker rooms and the gym are small, and the walls don’t exactly leave anything to the imagination. I foam rolled a lot, did my yogi-warm-up, and then did a 10-down which inspired my workout for class that night:

  • 10 push-ups to 10 alternating V-ups each leg
  • 9 push-ups to 9 alternating V-ups… and so on. I didn’t think I was going to be able to finish.

Then I did a shoulder-arm circuit for two rounds. First round I did 10 reps of every exercise I could think of, second round I did 5 reps. Done-zo.

I walked home in the sun, showered, and shortly after that John got home. I started sauce for dinner, John took Romeo out, Ken came over, and we stopped by Pic Nic. John and Ken were hoping that the Real Madrid game was on, but Benfica was playing. The world stops here when Benfica is playing. This coming weekend Mira Mar’s game schedule changed because Benfica is playing. No one else plays when Benfica is playing.

I continued on to Toronto Night’s where I took the ladies through 5 different 10-down supersets. One of my diehards finished early so I gave her 50 navy seals as a bonus. Her mom is also a diehard, and during a round of burpees she looked at me with a smile on her sweaty face and said “I hate this”. But did she stop? No. Did she stop smiling? Not even a little. I love these women.


I got home and John and Ken were watching the Real Madrid game on my computer and boiling water for pasta. We all ate dinner (I tried my sauce on raw zucchini pasta…. not as delicious as sauteing it. I need a spiralizer), and then we headed out on a re-con mission.

My parents arrive Saturday morning and stay for three nights. We only have one bed, but the guys have an extra bed in the room where Bobby had lived when he was here. John and I asked Ken if we could “borrow” it for the weekend. We walked up to his apartment, gathered up all the sheets, but left the mattress. John and Ken will move it Thursday night.

John and Ken tied up the sheets like a Hobo bag and I carried them home while they went off to play futsol. I began washing all the bedding that hadn’t been cleaned since before Bobby left in November.

I tried to recreate a “clean-eating” Pinterest dessert which consisted of blending together frozen bananas, PB, and vanilla (I substituted cinnamon). I ate it with a piece of my banana bread–I think I will try it again without peanut butter.



Day One Hundred Twenty Five (dia um centena de vinte e cinco)

Thursday (Quinta-feira)

6 Fevereiro 2014

The weather was poor and only got worse the longer I was awake. I managed to walk Romeo without getting too wet but then decided against running as the rain picked up. I blogged some of my recipes and eventually John got up. As we were getting ready for the gym the doorbell rang. I ran down the stairs but there was no one at the door. I peaked my head around and found Carla’s door open. “Liza!” she said from inside her salon, keys hanging from her open door, “I have something for you!”

Since we were going to the city on Friday to get Romeo groomed I told her I would get her some dog food for her Honey. She gave me some euros and also an empty granola bar wrapper. “Can you look for these?” she asked me. Of course—that is what friends are for. She made the appointment for Romeo, the least I could do what get her some pregnancy-snacks (not the dog food.. hahaha).


I went back upstairs and we walked to the gym where we met Ken and did all upper-body. I did my warm-ups and stretched, but I could not warm-up—the humidity makes it feel colder than it really is. By this time, it had stopped raining. We all did the first superset together, but did different variations of the second one, and all did core together:

  • weighted dips to military press
  • bent row to plate pullovers (or cable flys or preacher curls)
  • Tabata, :30 on / :15 off, three rounds: mountain climbers, toe touches, internal rotation mountain climbers, penguins.

We walked to Pic Nic where I chugged a galao and put my game face on to run. As soon as we walked in our apartment door I got a message from Lina: “You guys home?” I told her we were, and that I was headed out to run but that John was home. She said she had leftover lunch from friend’s day.

In Portugal they celebrate Valentine’s Day, Girlfriend’s Day, and Guy Friends’ Day. Thursday was Guy Friends’ Day and Lina had served her dad and his friends, Ernesto, Emanuel, and many others a great big lunch at Toronto Nights. While I was out running (4 miles; three “easy” and the last one “faster”) Lina brought over chicken, fish, sausage stuffing, garlic bread, rice, roasted chestnuts (my flipping favorite thing), and the best coleslaw I’d When I got back John told me she brought over “a bunch of stuff you can’t eat”. I had about a dozen chestnuts and then made a big fat salad with the chicken and an apple over lettuce and whatever other veggies I had in the fridge. It was all so delicious. I was saving the coleslaw for a dinner treat.

After I ate and showered I went to pick up some veggies at the fruit market and grab our rental car before class. The woman at 7 Lombas rent-a-car spoke such good English that I asked her where she was from. Canada. She has been living in Povoacao almost 11 years. While she said that she liked living here, she seemed surprised when I said we loved it here. She gave me the key and I went to drive home.

The ride is actually longer than the walk because of the one-way streets. It also took me a solid 10-minutes to park on our packed street. The car (a tiny, tiny Hyundai) seemed like it would fit in any number of spots, but when I went to park it I thought I kept hitting curb. Or car. I got nervous and drove until I could pull into a spot. It was only later I realized the noises I heard which I confused with impact were actually the power steering reaching it’s limit. Good to know.

I went off to class and John went off to practice, then burgers at Pic Nic, beers at Cesar’s, and finally a mattress re-con mission at Ken’s (in honor and celebration of Friends’ Day).


I came home and made veggies for dinner to which I added some of Lina’s leftover chicken, which I enjoyed with a side of the best coleslaw ever. I told Lina it was my Friday night treat. It was not until the middle of the next day that we both realized it had been Thursday when I said that.

I also made more clean-eating “ice cream” with frozen bananas, a little soy milk, honey, and cinnamon. After I blended it in my food processor, I added a handful of slivered almonds and a handful of corn flakes as topping. It was delicious–and having been dairy-free (not counting galaoes) for over a year, it was really nice to have a bowl of ice cream. Or frozen-banana-soy-milk-mush. But, what’s in a name?

I cleaned in preparation for my parents’ impending visit, painted my nails and watched Grey’s Anatomy, did laundry, and read until shortly before John & Ken showed up around 1:00am with the mattress in tow. Very good.

Homemade Azorean Meat Sauce

Since we arrived in Portugal I’ve had to learn how to do lots of things I didn’t know before. I have had to learn how to tell when bananas are ripe, I have had to learn how to do laundry, and I had to learn how to cook sauce from nothing. I fully admit that I never tried to make sauce before I lived on this island; I would buy a jar of Newman’s Own, Barilla, or Classico warm it up, and put it on some pasta. I would call it a meal.

One of the first nights we were here, John had practice with the junior team. He had told me which sauce to buy at the supermarket, since I had not learned yet how to translate Portuguese labels, and I tried to make dinner for when he got home.  What we had purchased was in fact tomato paste (polpo do tomate) and my old routine of warming it up and putting it on pasta was probably not going to suffice. I have come along way and tried many different ways to make sauce using polpo do tomate, but this is the best I’ve done.

Prep & Cook time: 30 minutes

Serves: 2 people

You will need:

  • 1 small can (or large bottle, if you happen to live in Portugal) of tomato paste, or polpo do tomate
  • 2 ripe, medium-sized tomatoes (roma are great, but really anything larger than a cherry tomato should do the trick), diced with juices
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 lb lean beef
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tbs Azorean pimenta paste (this I do not yet know how to acquire in the states… I will update ASAP)
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a small sauce pan, warm-up the olive oil on medium heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent (I even let some of them get a little caramelized… it’s up to you!). Add the garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes more. Add the tomatoes and the oregano and cook until tomatoes are soft and skin begins to separate from pulp. Once the tomatoes are nice and soft (10-15 minutes), add the ground beef. Stirring until brown and spread evenly throughout sauce. Add 1/2 cup tomato paste and mix thoroughly. Add pimenta if you are lucky enough to have it. They literally sell it by the gallon here on Sao Miguel in every type of store. Simmer for 10 minutes to 8 hours. Eat at your leisure.

Serving suggestions:

I eat mine over zucchini “pasta” but John eats his on spaghetti. Get wild.


Chia Almond PB Balls


This is a recipe I’ve made differently each time I’ve made them. I will explain some of the other alternative ingredients, but here’s my favorite so far.

Prep time: <10 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

*Preheat oven to 350F

You will need:

  • 1 fairly ripe banana (no brown spots is OK)
  • 50gr oats (gluten-free if available)
  • 3 tbs peanut butter (I have not experimented with natural or homemade PB.. use at your own risk! Hell, comment if it works out for you)
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 4 tbs chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds

Start by slicing and then mashing the banana in a mixing bowl by itself. Add in oats, PB, and chia seeds and mix well. Fold in almonds and raisins.

Grease a glass baking pan and place teaspoon sized balls of dough onto pan (if you have a small ice cream scoop, I’m sure this would be easier–I use two teaspoons). After I have measured out all the dough, I pour a little oil on my hands and roll them into balls.


Yields between 12-14 balls. Place in oven at 350F for 15 minutes to set. Take out and allow to cool.

I have also made them with more oats, less chia seeds, no raisins, and with chocolate chips. Take out anything you don’t like and try out something you like.


I wrap them individually in tin foil so I can take them with me easily. However you choose to contain them, make sure you keep them in the fridge until you’re ready to take them or pack them for a snack.


Big Al’s Banana Bread– full of gluten, dairy, and sugar!

This is my mom’s classic banana bread. I can’t remember now where the recipe originally slipped into our family (Betty Crocker?) but it has been a staple comfort food in my house. While I also have a fabulous gluten-free option, here is the original!

*Preheat oven to 350F

You will need:

  • 3 overly-ripe bananas (the more brown spots, the better), sliced
  • 1/2 stick of butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups white flour
  • Optional: 1/2 cup walnuts, chocolate chips, blueberries…

Wet Ingredients:

In a food processor (or by hand, just slightly more time consuming) place sliced bananas, sugar, softened butter, milk, and lemon juice. Blend until smooth.

Dry Ingredients:

Put flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a medium-sized mixing bowl and toss lightly to spread baking soda & powder throughout flour. Slowly add the wet ingredients until mostly smooth. Some clumps are good as they will help keep the bread fluffy and less dense.

If you are going to add walnuts or chocolate chips (or blueberries… the possibilities are endless), now is the time. Fold them in slowly.

Spray a bread pan with non-stick cooking spray and pour in batter. Smooth out the top with a spoon until the mixture is spread evenly throughout the pan. Bake at 350F for 50-60 minutes, checking with a toothpick. Top of bread will brown and split.