I can say without a shadow of a doubt that Avô Manuel was my favorite Grandfather. Which might sound redundant since he was the only Grandfather I ever knew. And I also know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I was his favorite Grandchild (sorry brothers and cousins but this is true).
Funny enough I was not blood of his blood and I didn’t bare his name. But that was just a detail that never was of significance to either of us. I was the first born of 13 grandchildren, three of them he never got to meet. And although he was a football fanatic and I practiced Ballet that didn’t stop our special bond to strengthen as I grew and he grew older.
My first memory of him is a bit hazy, for sure taking place at his house. My strongest memory of him: his hand holding mine at church as we prayed Holly Father. Till this day I get tears in my eyes every time I think about that strong grip.
We had special moments, things we did together that none of his other Grandchildren was ever allowed to do. He had an office in his house, locked with a key that in general was kept in the pocket of his jacket. No one could go in without him there…except me. He had a leather chair that turned but I remember being allowed to sit on it and spin it round and round until I was dizzy. We listened to Pavarotti, the great tenors and all of his favorite music.
Every school break I was allowed to pay him a visit at his office in downtown Porto, more precisely at Grémio dos Retalhistas de Mercearia do Norte. I am not sure how little I was when this ritual of ours started but for sure I wasn’t more than 9 or 10 years old. I would catch the 78 bus, alone, so I would be there around noon. Then he would take me to a bookstore close by where I could choose a book. Afterwards we would go to Mercado do Bolhão, always to the same restaurant under the stairs. He would proudly say he had his Granddaughter with him which always made me feel extra special. Afterwards we would go back and I was allowed to stay at the office for a while. Then was offered a croissant and sent back home, feeling the luckiest of girls because I had a new book. Only many years later did I understand that my luck was to have him.
But our bond was made stronger and stronger when he appointed me his helper for Christmas. You see, we have always had strong traditions and rules about this holiday! All the presents were kept in his office, hidden away from curious eyes. Everyone would bring the presents to his house from early December on. Then we would make piles or place them in bags for the children. At this point everyone, no matter what age, was forbidden to get into the office. Everyone except me…I would help him every day when he got home from work, until Christmas Eve arrived. Then, after dinner, everyone was sent to the basement to wait for Father Christmas and we would set up the living room, moving the ordered piles from one place to the other. Me and him.
I have many memories of our time together. He was a poor driver, always wearing his leather gloves that he felt gave him a special grip on the steering wheel. I remember when he stood with his black tuxedo at my parents door house for my 18th Birthday party. A surprise he said. I remember the Christmas Eve when we were walking home from church and he had a heart attack. I remember visiting him at the hospital, tubes all over his small figure. He survived for a few years more, fighting his illness until he couldn’t resist anymore.
I remember the day he died. I remember my Mother’s face of pain, the sad eyes, the tears, the intruders that came to the house, that made themselves invited in our time to grieve, the decisions that had to be made for the ceremony. Since 1993 he is missed by all of us. He wasn’t there for my wedding, he never got to know any of my children. Still, he his the one I ask for help in my prayers, it is still his guidance I seek in times of need or struggle.
Today he would be 100 years old. If he was alive I know exactly what he would love to do: have his family around him, his Maria by his side. I imagine his frank smile under the white moustache I have always known him with. He would bicker with his sister-in-law, he would say grace, he would be happy. So the best way to honor him, today, is to be happy. If, after I am gone, my grandchildren, remember me with the strength, love and immense saudade I remember him by, then I know I will have done a good job. Meu querido Avô Manuel, PARABÉNS!
Because Life is a Story worth sharing, thank you for being part of mine.
(now press play because some moments can really last forever)
There is a certain pleasure in going to sleep with the air filled with freshly baked chocolate cake. It is one of those things you can’t explain but it is definitely something that wraps you around and makes it easier to fall asleep.
Baking, for me, is a simple pleasure. More than cooking in general, baking is what makes my heart race faster every time I get the chance (and the time) to try a new recipe. So every time I bake, the air in my house is filled by the sweet smell of sugar and butter, cinnamon or orange, chocolate or lemon.
I have tried dozens of Orange cake recipes but it is still my Great Grandmother one that has first place. I have tried several chocolate cake recipes but there are only two I use on a regular basis. They are full proof and everyone loves them.
More than eating the cake, which I also appreciate, making it and enjoying the scents it leaves makes me extremely happy. And funny enough, whenever I want to thank or cheer someone, I bake. Simple pleasures, simple gestures, things that cross the threshold of our lives and somehow have the power to heel, to comfort, to bring joy. In our ever so busy lives we often forget that simple, true gestures are far more appreciated…. and missed.
Last year I spent Valentine’s day with my husband in Amsterdam. We rarely travel just the two of us, the sacrifice needed to be able, if possible, to travel as a family. So I made a special dinner, I set up a little decor on our table and although I only got home from work at 10.30 p.m. the night before, I baked. And I went to bed happy as a little bird.
Here is my Chocolate Cake recipe in case you want to try it. I think I have posted it before but anyway… It is really easy so don’t stress, don’t fret, open your heart, you kitchen cupboard and simply bake. I promise you won’t regret it.
Life takes us to unexpected roads, some of which we wished we wouldn’t have to travel thru. If along such roads we are lucky enough to find a handful of good friends, a warm and loving family and someone who, even if occasionally, bakes for us, then we are all set to have a much nicer ride than expected.
And in the spirit of perpetuating Valentine’s day a little more, here is a music worth hearing, time and again.
Because Life is a Story worth sharing, Thank you for being part of mine!
I have never been a person that only sees in pink. I am more one that first of all looks at the grey and how almost black it all seems. I truly envy those who can always look on the bright side of life.
Everyday we face challenges, bigger or smaller, that more often than we would like to admit, make us tremble, shake the root of our souls and make us wonder what will happen next. Doubt, fear, sadness, the feeling that there is a road we are traveling, not by choice but by (un)fortune. Where will it lead us? What can we do? Who can help us and share our griefs or not so good days?
At my wise, not anymore young but still not old, age I have come to the conclusion that you truly see the ones who love you when big challenges come into your life. It is when all seems blacker than the night, that the light is in fact brought by someone who cares and loves you. In different ways, bigger or smaller. That is not my belief really, is more my experience let’s say.
Family, friends, from nearer or farer that gather around you to help, support, lend a hand or even a tissue paper for you to cry on. And no matter what happens, in general, the challenges that we face do make us stronger. Stronger in our belief that we are loved, that we matter, that we have actually made a difference in someones life big enough for them to care about us.
My family is my rock, it has been so since I can remember! From the days of falling down from a bicycle or being, literally, run down by a dog, they have been there for me thru thick and thin. Then, one day, 26 years ago, a young boy came into my life. We dated, we married and grew a family together. Better said, we are growing our family together. He has become my strongest rock, my shelter and my support. Together we have faced quite a handful of challenges. Big, bigger and small.
Raising a family is the biggest challenge in my life. A good, delightful, amazing adventure but that also is enormous in complexity, in doubts of what is or isn’t right, how we should or should not raise our children. Even if nothing major happens, it is an everyday pleasure but also an everyday worry.
But at the end of the day, I must say and admit, that I am proud! More and more everyday! The small nest we have created is gradually growing and gaining it’s own wings.
I am not a very open person. I am even a little introvert in some occasions. So I tend to keep a lot (ok, ok, a whole gigantic mountain) of things to myself. But there comes the day when holding back just isn’t the best or the right thing to do.
My rock has it’s birthday today and somehow this year a gift and a birthday card, because of all the challenges he helped me thru this year alone, just didn’t seem enough. And because I know no better way then shouting out this way how much I love, appreciate and cherish what we have, because this is the best way to tell you how honored I am to be your wife, grateful that you are my rock and truly in aw of what our love was able to generate, I write you this card.
I am quite sure that when we are very, very old and asked what was our biggest challenge and our biggest achievement, this will be it: Family. May God bless us with the serenity, health, wisdom and love needed to keep these smiles coming. They are a sign of the happiness, trust and sense of belonging and love that we all share.
I love music! And if one searches a little, we end up finding a lyric that says what we want to say. So my darling husband, Happy birthday and if, on your birthday, I can ask for just one thing, may this be it!
Because life is a story worth sharing, thank you for being part of mine!
I like terms, words and phrases that somehow hide content. Things that can be seemed and perceived as one and also another. Weird probably but if you work in the scrapbook/events industry, you know how valuable this is!
At the same time I like the titles of the things I do to have meaning. And I also like to do (and give) useful things. We do not want things to sit around merely catching dust!
In less then two days time I will be teaching alongside my dear friend Manoli Picatua, in the north of Spain. We have over 50 ladies attending the Scrap & máis event. And this year we turned the cards around and Manoli is doing an amazing Mini album and I will be teaching an altered art project (hopefully good…).
That is why Sewing Ideas (or Costurando Ideas) was born, so that I can go and teach alongside my dear friend but also from my strong belief that one can do simple, functional, yet beautiful and stylish things!
Filled with small details, with small ideas, lots of tricks and of course….hundreds of little things to do… So ladies, brace yourselves for a class that includes scrapbook, sewing, embroidery, decor, watercoloring and so much more!
And in case you are wondering, yes I will be teaching this class again in Porto, during the month of October.
Sewing Ideas, as the name says, or doesn’t say, can be literally about sewing, can be about life in general, about the ideas that daily spring to our head, it can be about memories or almost any other thing! For me it is about prettiness, and loveliness and the feeling of home and homemade.
To my friend Maristela who planted the seed for this project in my head, thank you! To all of you coming to Scrap & Máis, I hope you will enjoy the project and have lots of fun! To those in Porto, I promise to let you know when I will be teaching this sweet class!
Because Life is a Story worth sharing, thank you for being part of mine!
There are many different marks in the “calendar” that you can acknowledge as the beginning of the year: you can celebrate the 1st of January as the number one day, you can follow the Chinese calendar and celebrate the first day of the year somewhere around February, you can consider that it is your birth date that dictates your number one day in a year, what starts you of into a sort of rebirth.
Quite honestly for me and although I always celebrate the 1st of January and have a look on the Chinese new year, September, with the beginning of the School year, is in fact when the year starts for me.
This is the month that comes after vacation, longer or shorter, it doesn’t really matter. Then, and as you start receiving your children’s schedules for school, football, ballet and so on, you start rearranging your time, your life.
You set out to buy (or make) new agendas, new calendars, new notebooks, you pin in the refrigerator who is going to be where, doing what, you search your head for innovative but easy recipes that you can make thru the endless weeks to come.
So yes, for me, life changes a lot in September and in this one particularly, as I start a new and very exciting challenge! It changes more then I can remember…
Because I am an organization freak I know that I need to have some tools ready to enter this new phase of my life. I am definitely not the type of person that dives into the unknown without being prepared, fully organized. Well, at least I try not too.
A notebook is something I always have and when I start something important, a new one is a must! For work I prefer simple and clean design ones. And since gold is definitely the statement color for office look at the moment, a new gold ruler was a much needed tool.
I like pretty and elegant things. And these gold bow pins are very much me! My parents gave me the gold scissor a few months back and the stapler is a new add on, from the DIY shop line by American Crafts.
But the best on my new office are these watercolors! They were a gift from a friend (thank you Susan), painted by her daughter and I have been keeping them for a very special day. They are a set of four and I promise to post a photo of the set when I have them hanging on my wall.
Phase 1 of my beginning of the year organization completed. Now for phase 2, getting everything at home ready, I admit I am a little behind mainly because the after school activities for my children have yet to be decided.
But there is one thing I have already done, which is my weekly menus. By now I have a set of 4 so I can rotate the meals. At our house we always have vegetable soup to start and finish with fruit (I actually always eat my fruit first, but that is an entirely different story). Soup varies from spinach, watercress, carrot, pumpkin, green beans and so on.
Every now and again I make Roasted vegetables soap for myself. It is very healthy and warming! It is super easy to make: peel the vegetables (you can leave part of the pumpkin skin on), put them in a baking tray, sprinkle with olive oil and some dried herbs like oregano, thyme, basil and let them roast in the oven at 180ºC for 90 minutes. When they are done put them in a casserole, add hot water and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Blend everything together, add salt and you are done!
I am sharing with you my weekly menus bellow, although you will for sure laugh because they are in Portuguese! But well that is my household main language and functionality is the main purpose of these planners so….
I wonder if there are other Mother’s out there who struggle like I do to bring variety to their household meals. Since to add to the time factor one most also bare in mind each child preferences and dislikes, our own schedules and activities. So why not share with me your planned meals for each week? Do you find mine useful?
Anyway, today is for me the beginning of a new year and I am all set and prepared! So with that in mind, I leave you with an Abba song to start everyone on the right path! Have fun!
Because Life is a Story worth sharing, thank you for being part of mine!