Dec 26, 2013

My Christmas Eve Tale

This year, Christmas Eve was made of a varied set of emotions...

Family would gather at our home, so I took the day to help in the kitchen.

All went well until electricity decided to fail at lunchtime and not return during the whole afternoon.

My parents became very stressed out as they believed that the 'proper functioning' of Christmas Eve depended on electricity. The complex fireplace system in the living room, where I set the table in the early afternoon, needed electricity. Drinks needed ice, created with the help of electricity. The preparation of the one thousand and one different dishes needed a good source of lighting, so we could see what we were doing. And we needed to take a bath in water heated with... Electricity!

Stress and chaos grew exponentially, until my brother exclaimed: "Let's just take the food to Aunt Z., who has electricity, and have Christmas there!" He immediately called her, and she willingly replied: “No problem!” But my mother faltered… "Oh, I really don’t like that idea…" And I supported her: "Well, you know, mother put a lot of effort on Christmas decoration and she even bought new holiday linens, and she's really eager to host Christmas this year…" My father grabbed the phone and told my aunt that everyone would come to our house and we would have a nice romantic candlelit dinner.

Everything was prepared on time and, as if by magic, ten minutes before guests arrived... There was light!

Aunt Z. arrived and put all the gifts she had brought from her home around our Christmas tree. And the tree, which was once almost naked, was suddenly swamped by a mountain of gifts.

Dinner was held in the dining room, as originally planned, near the toasty fireplace, and at two tables covered with fine Christmassy linen. The smallest table is traditionally called 'The Children Table', even though there are no longer children in the family. I, my sister and my two cousins sat at this table​​. And dinner was made of yummy food, happy conversations and much laughter. What a delight!

Around midnight Aunt Z. began distributing gifts, perfectly embodying the role of Mrs. Claus. "This one is for you, and this one is for you, and this and this and that!" And the presents seemed to multiply as they were being distributed.

My sister was thrilled and said, jokingly: "I think I’ve never received so many gifts in my entire life!" In our childhood we never got many gifts, but she was clearly exaggerating, carried away by the exuberant enthusiasm of Aunt Z.

Finally, not long after, everyone said goodbye, and we stayed in the kitchen for a little while, cleaning up and commenting on the joy of the evening.

After my parents and sister were gone to sleep, I lingered on the sofa, drinking hot tea and leafing through one of my gifts: the book ‘Miopia e Astigmatismo’, by Nuno Markl. Before bed I still gave the finishing touches on my gift to B., which this year was handmade by me.

And so it was a happy Christmas Eve... :)

(Note: This 'tale' was originally posted on my other blog, in Portuguese.)

Dec 24, 2013

A beautiful Christmas

I'm writing just to wish you all a beautiful Christmas, full of hugs, yummy food and laughter :)


(Image: internet, exact source unknown)

Dec 16, 2013

What I've been up to

It's been almost two months since I last wrote here. I made a commitment to write more, but instead I disappeared. I don't have a perfect justification, so I'll just apologize to those who may still read these words.

So, what have I been up to?

- I've been writing daily on my new Portuguese blog, since I turned 30 (it's kind of a journal / diary). It's been an interesting and therapeutic challenge and I haven't missed a day so far which, to me, is an amazing feat!
- I haven't finished my PhD yet... But I'm working more than ever and I'm feeling the end getting closer. It's been a hell of a journey and sometimes I still wonder if I'll really get to the end. But I will. I know I will.
- Since money has been short, I've been living more frugal than ever, and it's been OK.
- I'm still doing Project 333, even if not in a very methodical way. I can't remember the last time I bought a piece of clothing (it must have been more than a year and a half ago), and I still feel I have too many clothes.
- I've read some great books lately. Some of my favorites are:
      > The Mind and the Brain   
      > Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
      > Walden
      > Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found (I'm finishing this one)
- I'm more and more in love with tiny houses (like this one!).
- I still struggle with my old depression symptoms, but I've been using several strategies that are helping, such as:
      > Exercising regularly
      > Getting enough sleep
      > Doing mindfulness exercises
      > Respecting my introversion and high sensitivity
      > Savoring the present and the tiny pleasures

Things are far from perfect. Objectively, I'm this thirty year old woman without a job, living at her parents' home. I struggle with shame and lack of motivation almost every day, but I decided not to give up on myself. I'm doing everything I can and know to keep going.

It's been good to write here again.

Be well :)

Oct 21, 2013

One-year journal / diary, in Portuguese

On the day of my 30th birthday I created a new blog, in Portuguese, where I intend to write something everyday, for a year. And I've done it so far! I missed writing in my mother language. It feels, of course, far more natural - and I'm also much faster. You wouldn't believe the amount of time I spend editing these English posts!

I spent some time reflecting on whether I wanted to share this new blog here (for those of you who understand Portuguese, of course). And I decided to do it. But be warned: it may get boring! It's pretty much a diary, where I ramble about my day, and do some self-analysis when appropriate.

If you wish to visit, be my guest: "Um ano na minha vida".

And now, completely unrelated, I end with some pictures of Fiona, who is so very cute and photogenic (and maybe a little dirty from playing in the yard)!

See you soon!

Oct 11, 2013

Commitment + pictures of a sunny afternoon

My blog turned one on August 30, and I turned thirty on October 1 (thirty... how did that happen?...).

As you may have noticed I've been procrastinating about writing in the blog in the last few months. I think my resistance is, in part, a result of feeling like I actually don't have anything useful to say. My current life situation is not exactly inspiring...

But I also know that this is just that inner voice speaking, whose main job in life is to nag, criticize and roll its eyes on everything I do or contemplate doing. The truth is, I want to write and I don't want to let this blog die. And I know that there's a part of me that may actually have something important or useful to say.

I'm not very good with commitments, but I feel that a commitment can help here. So, my dear readers, I'm committing to posting at least once a week. It can be just a picture, or a sentence about the weather, but I'll post something.

And, to cheer things up a little bit, I'm sharing some pictures I took yesterday. I've been spending a lot of time in my room working in front of the computer. So yesterday afternoon I decided to catch some fresh air in the garden and backyard. It was a sunny and comforting afternoon...

Be well, and see you soon :)

Oct 6, 2013

Tiny 2013 summer vacation: Gerês (part 2, of 2)

And suddenly, another (almost) two months passed by... I know it's a bit too late for vacation pictures, but here they are... :)

Day 4 - Afternoon exploring (and bathing in) the Vilarinho da Furna dam

I, posing right beside the dam!

"Do not throw objects - you may hit people"


The other side


"Private property. Belongs to the former inhabitants of Vilarinho da Furna. Limited access." (We payed a symbolic fee to access.) 

We walked this path, along the waterside


The path was long and the view was stunning

So much water

Happy cows

We found this heart shape. Is Nature in love? ;P

Supposedly we should be able to see the old Vilarinho da Furna village here, but on this specific day it was completely submerged

I and the water (which was surprisingly warm)! 


Local flora,  in pink

Local flora,  in yellow

Local flora,  in grey

Local flora,  in greenish brown 

Traditional 'espigueiros', on our way back to the hotel 

The afternoon says goodbye

Day 5 - Returning home, with a stop at Porto

We found another lake, with a mini dam downstream

River beach

Porto city park (suddenly, the weather was grey) 


Someone scared the geese (the white spots on the floor are feathers)

White as snow


A splash of red

~The End~

Hope you enjoyed traveling with me. See you (hopefully) soon :)

Aug 27, 2013

Tiny 2013 summer vacation: Gerês (part 1, of 2)

Hello again! :)

As promised, here I am to share some pictures of my tiny 2013 summer vacation. This year we decided on Gerês, again - because it is green, peaceful, and well... Gorgeous!

We ended up extending our stay for another day - so we totaled 5 beautiful days of 'dolce far niente' :) I'm presenting the pictures by day, with a brief explanation of the places/scenes depicted.


Day 1 - Travel to Vila do Gerês, stopping in Braga for lunch

> Braga

Flowery avenue

Stopping for some coffee after lunch

Walking the streets of the historic center

Igreja de Santa Cruz

Colorful buildings


Building dressed up with colorful lamps

Walking some more

Detail of beautiful old church

Love this old stained glass window

> Vila do Gerês

We're happy to be back :)

The waters are clear

Parque das Termas

Melancholic window

Summer festivities decoration (late afternoon)

Summer festivities decoration (evening)

Day 2 - Afternoon exploring (and bathing in) the 'Cascatas do Tahiti'

While traveling to the waterfalls, we saw this beautiful view


A tiny piece of paradise

B. got all excited, jumping from rock to rock, while I screamed for him to be careful

B. conquered the hill

I had to jump into these clear waters

Me, ready to jump! (or... ready to enter slowly and carefully, to test the waters... whatever!)

View, while returning to Vila do Gerês

Day 3 - Resting in Vila do Gerês, around the hotel pool

"Pool! Yaaay!"

Resting, with my kindle on my lap

(to be continued)

Where did you go for vacations? What kind of vacation do you enjoy? Please share in the comments section :)