Friday 30 December 2011


I saw this idea at Sandra´s blog, and thought "what a wonderful idea to remember and celebrate the lovely things that happened during 2011". So here it goes:

I celebrated New Year´s eve 2011 at the Portuguese Club in the company of hubby, our daughter and her partner, who were visiting from France, our son, and about 14 friends. We danced to the sound of a mix of Portuguese and English songs, and we ate and shared the goodies that we had taken with. (No catering at this club, each family takes their own).

Our family
Almost midnight!

I had the opportunity of visiting Sydney for10 days, giving me plenty of time to roam around this beautiful city. I also got to know an "e-mail friend", and she and her husband were lovely people. They took us to the Blue Mountains and to the famous Bondi Beach.

The Sydney Opera House and The bridge 
The Three Sisters at Katoomba mountains
A picture I painted for a friend. I have been very slack when it comes to doing what I love - which painting and crafting - so maybe one of my new year resolutions should be: - to dedicate more time to my art!
Do you make many new years´s resolutions? Do you manage to keep to your promise?

MARCH 2011
The 6th  "Sculptures by the Sea" exhibition was held at Cottesloe Beach. It was my first visit, and I really enjoyed it.
The most popular work of art

View of the beach, with some works of art in the sand area
APRIL 2011
I had a lovely day out with two of my work colleagues, visiting the different garden displays and gathering some ideas for our gardens.

MAY 2011
A fishing trip on a friend´s boat to Carnac Island, 10km off the coast of Perth. Not too successful for any of us, as the fish caught as far too small and thrown back into the sea, but a fun day out nevertheless. We also saw some seals frolicking in the water.

JUNE 2011
A friend from Portugal came to visit. We also celebrated the 5th year of the Portuguese Social club with a dinner and dance.
It was also the start of my blog. I have met many lovely people from all over the world through it, and have got to know how other people live in other parts of the world, and learned some new skills, like soap-making.

My visitor with us at the dinner-dance at the Portuguese club

JULY 2011
I visited Adelaide, a city on the South east coast. As my husband has been working there since June on a long term project, it could be our future home...
Glenelg marina

Riverbank in Adelaide
The weather was warming up and a lot of work went into gardening.

Can you see the difference in growth just a few months later?

Fremantle´s Sustainability Fiesta and Kings Park Spring Festival were the highlights of this Spring month.
My Mom´s second novel was also published in Portugal.

View of the city of Perth from Kings Park

My mom´s first and second novel
After a few months of tiling, grouting, plumbing, assembling cupboards, etc, etc, my laundry was finally finished!

A short visit to Paris to see my daughter, and then on to Portugal, to sort out the sale of our apartment in Lisbon. Of course the highlights of the visit would have been meeting up with family and friends who I hadn´t seen in almost 5 years.

A grey day in Paris
Sunny day in the bay of Cascais (Portugal)
Christmas parties, lunches and dinners with friends...
Preparing for the New Year´s eve party, once again at the Portuguese club.
We still have one more boating activity planned for tomorrow morning though, hope it 
doesn´t make us too tired for some dancing later on in the evening.

Some lovely chocolates inside a chocolate bowl, that I was given at Christmas

My "Mommy" cat inside a basket by the gifts table.

Happy New Year everyone!! May you be blessed with lots of health and happiness.

Wednesday 28 December 2011

After Christmas gardening

I took a few days off work to spend some time at home with hubby, who is also taking a few days off to relax.
Yesterday and today, we have been taking care of our veggie patch and garden.
Hubby had built a wooden box just under the canopy of our former rotary clothes lines. That in turn was covered with netting to protect the plants from the harsh summer sun.
Yesterday we hired a van and bought  a couple of cubic meters of soil. It took both of us about two hours to put the soil from the van into the wheelbarrow and bring it to the back of the house and dump it into the veggie box...

Later when the sun wasn't as hot we started transplanting some of the veggies that were in container boxes into the new soil.  Vegetable and flower seeds were planted into pots.
I know this time of year is probably not the best to be planting or transplanting due to the heat, but hopefully because they are reasonably protected from the sun they will survive and thrive in their new bigger space.

When it was time to put down tools and prepare some dinner, we looked up to see the last of the sun´s rays disappearing, giving us a beautiful spectacle, and I ran inside to get my camera to capture this beautiful view.

My garden at sunset with the fairy lights on

After dinner we went for a short walk around the neighbourhood and I took some more photos of Christmas lights in our area. Quite an enjoyable and relaxing day.

Sunday 25 December 2011

Christmas Eve - Portuguese style

This is my first Christmas post on my blog, hopefully there will be many more Christmas to blog about.
The traditional Portuguese Christmas Eve was celebrated at my house with 15 friends.
Hubby made his delicious Garlic prawns for starters, I had cooked Bacalhau com Natas (Cod fish in cream sauce) and Algarve style carrots for the main meal, and Arroz Doce (Rice Pudding) and Panacota for dessert.
My friends brought a plate of various nuts and dried fruit, biscuits and dips, a delectable Tuna Roulade (I must get this recipe!), Pudim Flan (Creme Caramel), a green salad, Mango Mousse and more Rice pudding.

Cod fish in cream sauce

Algarve style carrots

The tablets outside (forgot the flash!)
The tables were set outside in the backyard, with some cane sofas under the gazebo. Later as the wind was picking up we took the sofas out and put the two tables and chairs under the gazebo, so we would be more protected. We had a wonderful night of sharing beautiful food with lots of talk and laughter.
When the guests started to leave around midnight we exchanged our gifts, to be opened later, and the last guests left at 1am.

My home-made gift baskets

The goodies I made - spicy nuts, soap, cherries with rose wine and vanilla, laundry liquid and tomato jam
I put another load of dishes in the dishwasher, we stacked the garden chairs and put the cane furniture back under the gazebo. It was past 2am when we went to sleep, after still having a short chat on skype with my parents and my sister in Portugal.

This morning under the gazebo

This morning, a Pudim flan (creme caramel) has been done and we are almost ready to go and join another Portuguese family who live 60km away.
Tomorrow, Boxing day will once again be celebrated with friends at their house and I will be making a Chocolate Mousse to take with. Luckily we still have another public holiday on the 27th, to enable us to recover from all these parties of overindulgence.
We do seem to eat far too much, an overload of sugar for me at least!!

Hope you are all having a Wonderful Christmas with your family and friends.

Thursday 22 December 2011

Christmas Lights in Perth

One of Perth´s attractions just before Christmas are the Christmas lights in the suburbs. The newspapers, TV and internet advertise the streets to visit  in more than a dozen suburbs, so you can plan ahead which areas to see. Picking the streets where there are quite a few houses is a good idea!
It´s sometimes difficult to drive past the houses, so it´s better to leave the cars a block or two away and just walk. A lot of time and effort goes into putting up these displays and some house owners ask for a gold coin donation ($1 or $2) to support their favourite charities. I find this fascinating, as I don´t think I would have the patience to set up a display year after year, so I take off my hat to these brave people that do that for the enjoyment of others, especially the kids and to raise money as well. 

Do you have this type of display where you live? I know that in the United States it´s also very common, but I don´t remember seeing it in Europe.

Have a wonderful Christmas everyone!

Monday 19 December 2011

The weekend and week ahead

Saturday was a busy day with my husband and I tidying up the garden, picking weeds, moving some veggies from the harsh summer sun to a more sheltered spot under the lemon tree... It´s amazing how much work goes into keeping a garden in shape.

On Sunday we both joined a couple of the Doctors at the practice I work, plus another receptionist (the rest of the staff was away on holiday or unable to come) and we had a buffet breakfast at the Red Herring, a beautiful restaurant right on top of the river in Fremantle. 
It´s just beautiful to be eating surrounded by water on 3 sides, watching the yachts glide past...

The Red Herring Restaurant

Then we just spent about an hour at home and we were off again to join friends for a barbecue at their house.
Two hours later we had to leave to take hubby to the airport for his weekly flight to Adelaide, but due to some "misunderstanding" with the GPS device, we got there late and the check-in was already closed.
Luckily his flight was rescheduled for early this morning without any penalties.

This morning I did some last minute gift shopping, for my son to take overseas. I have just dropped him off at the International airport and he should be taking off soon. He will spend Christmas with his sister in France and later will fly to Portugal to see the family and friends, only returning home at the beginning of February.
This year we will have no family around for Christmas, just friends...
Hooray for friends!!
Tomorrow I will start with the preparations of the Christmas Eve meal, that is so traditional in the Portuguese culture, tidying up the house, preparing the tables and chairs in the garden...
Don´t you feel as if there is never enough time to do it all when it comes to these special celebrations?

Wednesday 14 December 2011

Productive Wednesday & Tomato Jam

Today was my day off work. I got up early and after breakfast started making a few of my home-made Christmas presents.
I started by making Tomato jam (recipe below), which will be my contribution to the Christmas presents we put together for the Doctors at the clinic where I work. All the receptionists make some goodies and we package it into a nice container and give to each doctor.

When that was ready, I make Laundry Powder and then Laundry Liquid. I have bought some nice glass jars to fill with either the powder or the liquid, and they just need to be labelled and will be ready. I will post some photos when all my things are ready.

Just before 12, I drove to Fremantle to join Gill and Jan, two of my former work colleagues, for lunch at  Zephyr Cafe -  a restaurant by the river Swan. A pleasant place, next to a tiny strip of sand and a park with a play area for kids. A few mothers and toddlers sat under some trees having a picnic...the day was just beautiful.

I received my first Christmas present, home-make goodies lovingly made by Jan - a jar of Lemon butter, Sweet Onion relish and a jar of spicy nuts. I love the little jars!

You might want to try the recipe for the Tomato Jam, it was taken from a Portuguese cook book - "Cooking the Portuguese way in South Africa" by Mimi Jardim. After Marmelada (Quince jam), Tomato jam follows in the popularity polls.

1,5kg tomatoes (use very ripe tomatoes for best results)
1 kg sugar
1 stick cinnamon
(I also added a few dried cloves)
15ml lemon juice

Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water, skin them and remove seeds. Cut into pieces and place in a colander to drain. Place drained tomatoes, sugar and cinnamon stick in a large saucepan. Bring to boil and simmer until thick. To test if ready, place a spoonful on a saucer and let it cool, if it crinkles when a finger is drawn over it, it is ready. Add the lemon juice and bring back to boil. Bottle in sterilized jars removing the cinnamon stick and cloves.
Enjoy it!!