Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Date Night

Last night my Love sprung a 'date night' on me. One of those evenings where he handles everything. He picked the restaurant and called the sitter, telling me to relax and be ready to leave at 5:45. He had printed direction so I knew we were headed into a part of Portugal we were unfamiliar with.

Well, look where we ended up!

Being the 2nd largest city in Portugal, Porto is famous for the port wine they make. I've always ooo'd and aahhh'd at this area when passing over it on the bridge. Such history and character!

We ate at a restaurant called...translated of course, "The House of the Black Mamas Daughter"

Now if that's not a name....I don't know what is!

It was a little rainy so my camera struggled to focus and of course there were rain spots on the lens....but I'll share them with you anyway.

Just remember... this is not the extent of my photography skills!

This was my husbands plate. Fried Codfish with home made chips and sauteed onions. The menu said this dish was prepared ''Black Mama Style". And later he had the nerve to ask me to learn how to make it! Some things are better left alone.....

After trying a bite of my food, he said it tasted like bologna compared to his! Bragging a little, wasn't he?!

Anyway, it was a lovely evening spent with my favorite person.

Excuse me while I say "thank you"......

~~~Muito Obrigada, Beijinhos, Meu Amor!~~~

Hope you enjoyed your tour of Vintage Porto.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Groceries, Budgets and Dinners

I cook dinner every night. If my husband, who is usually sitting in his office directly above the kitchen doesn't smell something cooking by 5:30 each night, he gradually comes down the steps, grabs a Maria cookie (imagine vanilla wafer...only better) and feels me out. He's always careful not to ask, "So what's for supper?" .... if I'm in a bad mood. (Did I say that out loud? I'm never in a bad mood...) But by snacking on a cookie, and letting his eyes pass over all the counter tops, he's letting me know that he's hungry. In my house, husbands don't prepare themselves dinner. Mine has been known to heat up leftovers for himself, or even whip up a mean salami roll, but this doesn't happen often. I believe it's my job to prepare meals for my family. Not just any meal either, but one that's partially healthy. That includes a meat, some veggies and a starch. I prefer to have a homemade dessert on hand at all times, but this doesn't always happen. Since I have zero willpower and I've been dieting, the desserts have been coming less frequently. But I believe a homemade dessert is healthier (can I say that..'dessert' and 'healthy' in the same sentence) than store bought cookies, packaged cakes and goodies.

I have a weekly menu I follow loosely. I don't like rules, so I don't impose them on myself if I can help it. I make a menu, shop once a week for all the ingredients and then I know I have what I need to make 7 meals. Sometimes I change up the days, depending on my mood or time that I have in the kitchen. Occasionally, I'm surprised with a dinner out, but this is not counted on or taken for granted that it will happen 'x' amount of times each week. It may happen once or twice a month, at most.

Our family of 7 can't eat out for less that 25 Euros, and this would be a light meal, not a heavy one. (That coverts to $32.00) So the chances of my kids yelling, "I'm still hungry!" would be great.

I buy groceries for less than 110 Euros each week. I have this much in my purse, and I can not go over it. Sales tax is already calculated into the grocery price, so it's easy to keep up with what I'm spending as I put each item in my buggy. If bread is 89 cents. At the register I pay 89 cents.

Price are still climbing here in Portugal. What are they like where you are? My grocery budget just isn't bringing quite as much food home as it use to be. After I spend 2 hours at the grocery stores ( I go to two...the cheaper one first and then a more expensive one for the items I can't get at the cheaper one) I unload the groceries and put them in the pantry. Michael comes to inspect and says, "It doesn't look like we have any food!"

I tell ya what, this can be frustrating.

I've not heard too much about inflation in America lately.....have some of the food prices gone back down? Is it easier/cheaper for your family to eat out? Have you had to increase your grocery budget in the last few months?

Does anyone feel my pain?!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Climbing Mountains

Okay, so maybe it wasn't like rock climbing, but I did walk FOREVER it seemed with a group of ladies today to the top of a mountain. There was a road the entire way, so we never had to go through dirt trails, but it was a challenge none the less.

At the top of Mt. Frangueira, there was a spectacular view! Here are a few pictures from our journey.

Walking over an old bridge

We shared the road with many cyclists

Today is Portugal's Independence Day, so there were lots of festivities in town. Including a stage with folk dancing and music.

One of our many 'onlookers'

I took time to smell the flowers

At the top!

Ladies resting before we headed back

Another view from up top. That's the ocean in the distance. Our family has a joke that if you look hard enough you can see the east coat of America.

There were about 50 of us.

We had a lot of fun and everywhere we went, people turned their heads and stared. Guess it's not often 50 ladies wearing purple t-shirts pass through the center of town!

Hope you guys are enjoying your weekend.

Friday, April 24, 2009

And The Winner Is.....

"Ha ha ha...for a minute there I thought you said you were pregnant again."

Congrats Mrs. Tracy!

If you'll email me your address and shirt size we'll get your shirt to you soon.

Thanks to all of you who played along. It was fun!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Two Days To Vote

There are two days left to vote for your favorite caption. Mrs. Tracy is winning by a landslide! You other ladies need to start
campaigning....The polls close at 6:30pm CST Thursday!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

If I Were A Cartoon....

I would look like this:

Please notice the beautifully clear complexion, straight smile and full hair.

I kind of like this 'new' me. Only problem with the 'Animated Nina' is that I don't have earrings on. I ALWAYS wear earrings. I don't feel properly dressed without them. Looking at this picture makes me feel vulnerable...insecure.... naked. Why would the artist leave off my earrings?! I feel a mama fit coming on and maybe a refund in the making.

Well anyway....with all that said I still like it better than this one....

Pimples, crooked smile, thin ratty hair.....wait let's go back to the 'pimples' part.

I'm very, very close to officially being in my mid thirties. Why in the world do I still get pimples?! At 14, 15, 16 and 17, I waited patiently on my turbulent teens to pass. I just new that once I entered my twenties, my complexion would clear up and become one of those 'peaches and cream complexions' that southern gals are proud of.

Well....I'm still for now you'll see me around bloggy world as the new and improved, Animated Nina!!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Caption Contest Finalists

Okay, the finalists are in!

What fun I've had with this!

My mother will never forgive me, but deep down I think she's enjoyed the attention. ;)

Here are the finalists:

  • "What´s that you say? I look Chinese?" ----Dani Joy

  • "Ha ha ha...for a minute there I thought you said you were pregnant again." ----Mrs. Tracy

  • "I'm smiling because my hair is fireproof!" ----Beeeee

  • "It tickles me to death when I let one." ----Pam

The poll is on my side bar.

It's your turn to cast your vote. Voting ends at 6:30pm CST Thursday.

Thanks for playing along!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

City Slickers

It was early fall. Still warm enough to sweat with the windows down. To save money, we borrowed a car from an 'upper classman'. Only those who were seniors were allowed to own a car and park it on post. We were barley 20 years old and fearless. We had the world by the tail, or so we thought.

So we set off for the hour or so drive from West Point, NY to New York City. Michael had been into 'The City' before, but this was my first time. Secure in him, I sat shotgun while we whizzed over bridges and witnessed happenings along the road side that I can not share about here. Looking for the the perfect exit, we passed toll after toll. My change purse was quickly dwindling. Commuters had specific coins they tossed into certain tolls and flew through the booths barley slowing down. We, on the other hand had a few bucks in our pockets and I was getting down to the pennies and Chucky Cheese tokens at the bottom of my purse.

The last booth didn't have an "actual" person working. So making change for 10$ bill was out of the question. We sat in the line scared to death as we quickly came up to the basket in which we were to toss $4.00 or a coin for the equivalent. I had about $1.25 left. We tossed the last coins and waited. Nothing. I tossed a few tokens, thinking I may trick the machine into recognizing them as quarters. Still nothing. Then it started happening. Horns began to blow. Not a polite little 'toot' but a New York City 'bellow'. Not just one car either, but the entire row of cars behind us, all 37 of them.

We began to fuss amongst ourselves. What do we do? I screamed in my best southern drawl, "Run through that thang!" It was padded, how much harm could it do? I'd pay for the damages to his friends car, I promised.

"No way, I can't run through that thing, we'll go to jail," he screamed back.

I didn't care at that point. I just knew someone was about to shoot us. I'd rather be in jail than dead! Flashes ran through my head, of my Mom at home recovering from surgery, receiving a dead or in jail.

Then a face appeared at his window. An ugly, mean face. I jumped and squealed. I cringed, waiting for the gun barrel, but instead he pulled out a roll of coins. The beloved coins that all the New Yorker's had. The ones I wish we had read up on before our trip. He said in a very ugly tone, "Give me 5 bucks and you can have one of these." "YES SIR!" I shouted! I would have given him $20 at that moment. And I'm sure all I had to say was 'yes sir' to convince him we were one of those southerners that had NO business in New York City.

Michael passed over the 5 dollar bill and disgustedly the man threw the coin into the basket.

Simultaneously the big, padded, yellow arm raised up.

We floored it and got off at the very next exit. Terrified that if we didn't, we'd end up at yet another toll.

Well, guess where we exited....


Right smack dab in the middle of Harlem.....

Want to hear more?

Friday, April 17, 2009

It's Complicated - Guest Blogger

The Portuguese people as a whole have an incredible ability of turning simple things into major productions. Explanations, traffic situations, public services. You name it, and it's difficult.

I believe it is in their bloodline. They are born with the convolution gene. For some time I considered that this strange gift was a product of learning, culture, or something in the water, but now I am well-nigh convinced that they are physiologically unable to simplify things.

As evidence of this, one of their favorite expressions is, “It's complicated.”

Family life is complicated.

Directions are complicated.

The language is complicated. Native Portuguese speakers routinely express how difficult it is to learn to properly speak, read, and write the language. You might say – but that's only for foreigners. No, it is difficult for people here too. We once copied the happy birthday song on a piece of paper before going to a neighbor's party. Even “Happy Birthday” is complicated. It has four verses.

When the grandmother saw our cheat sheet on the table, she picked up, read it, and wanted to know who had penned it down. When we explained, she apologized that she didn't have any coins in her pocket to reward us for our correct spelling. I don't think she was kidding.

If that was not enough, names are also complicated, and because of this, I've yet to understand if, when, why, or how they choose to take or drop names. Our language teacher has, including her first name, six of them. The best part is she didn't even take her married name! One day I asked her about it. Her only explanation? It's complicated.

Politics is complicated. Although they despise the way government is run, never get involved, and rarely vote; if asked to briefly explain any one of those situations, the answer will certainly be, “It's complicated.” Saying that they have communists and socialists would be sort of like saying only two soft drinks exist in the world – Coke and Pepsi. They have the Left Bloc, the Left Revolutionary Front, the Portuguese Communist Party as well as the Communist Party of the Portuguese Workers. They also have the Ecologist Party and the Workers' Party of Socialist Unity.

That's just in the Left Wing. Other viable parties exist within the Center-Left, Center-Right, and Right Wing classifications. Head spinning yet? I'll mercifully spare you the rundown of all the parties that have gone into extinction.

Since moving here, we have discovered that our neighbors are the kindest, and most helpful people we have ever met. They are generous, jovial, and love to talk. For the most part, there is no pretense. They are who they are whether you like it or not. Just don't ask them who they really are – it's complicated.

Written by Michael Andrzejewski for the LaGrange Daily News

Don't forget to leave your Caption for the Caption Contest! You have a few days left!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Caption Contest

Are you ready to have some fun?!

Here are the rules:

  1. Leave a comment with a caption for the following picture.
  2. Be creative!
  3. That's it! Easy huh?!
  4. You have until Monday, April 20th to leave a caption.
  5. After that I will post the finalists and let you, my readers vote on a winner.
Update: After a little thought and a bunch of questions, I've decided that one caption per person is the limit. If you've already submitted more than one, I'll choose my favorite when deciding the finalists.

Here is the picture!

This is my mom. The picture alone cracks me up! I can't wait to see your captions!

And the winner will receive

one of our new ministry t-shirts!

(A big thank you to our models Bro. Jimmy and Kacey!)

How cool are these?! Be one of the first to have one. If you'd rather just buy one instead, leave a comment or email me. They're $14.95 and that includes shipping.

Okay, so leave your caption.
Have Fun!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Monday Mayhem

Does this sound like a Monday Mayhem to you?

  1. Sleep til 10:00.
  2. Leisurely drink two cups of coffee while still in PJ's.
  3. Finally shower and heat up left-overs for lunch.
  4. Watch my 2 and 4 year old put snails all over their arms and toys.
  5. Organize a Treasure Hunt to occupy the last day of Spring Break.
  6. Accept lots of hugs and kisses from 5 precious kids.

No, it doesn't sound very mayhem-y to me either. But rather just the opposite. I'm enjoying spending this day with my kids. It's rainy outside and cold, so were staying in. Mondays are our "off" days. If there is such a thing.

However, if this weren't such a wonderful day, I would be having a Mama Fit about my clean sheets that accidentally got left on the clothes line yesterday. This is the view outside my kitchen window.....and I've already mentioned that it's raining!

AND our Resurrection cookies that we made that were supposed to turn out hollow on the inside to represent the tomb, turned out like Peeps marshmallow candy......go figure. Maybe because we made them on Easter night instead of Easter Eve? Hmmmmmm?

But, like I complaining is a good day. The kids said they taste better like this anyway.

Last night after church we carried the Custodio's out to eat to thank them for their help with the music in the services the last few weeks. It was a nice time of fellowship and it helped relieve some of my sadness I had yesterday missing my family from the States.

You never know when your food will show up with an egg on top!

My baby girls are growing up. This is also another area I could 'fuss' about....but I choose today to celebrate family rather than complain about it.

God is so very good.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Resurrection Sunday

Remembering what Christ did for us on that first Resurrection morning.

Make sure you thank the Lord for His goodness today.

With Love and Prayers,

The Andrzejewski Family

Your Servants in Portugal

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Friendships Made

We were blessed to have had the Contreras family in our home this week. We had a fantastic time of fellowship. Here are a few pictures of our time together:

Justice was hurt and Daddy was making it all better.

What a good-looking group of kids!

What a silly group of kids!Waiting for their ice cream.

Waiting for our ice cream too!
Roller blading
Portuguese food
Justice was sick and he didn't feel very good.



Happy Birthday Andrew!

Thank You again Contreras family for making that drive to visit us. We are so thankful for your friendship.

Have a great weekend everyone. Happy Resurrection Sunday!