window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; function gtag(){dataLayer.push(arguments);} gtag('js', new Date()); gtag('config', 'UA-54570621-1'); Keeping it Real: September 2015

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday - bridges

Recently, while driving around with my husband on a day off without kids, we came across some unusual bridges. 

wordless wednesday, bridges


While waiting for the traffic light to turn green at the entrance of one of the bridges, I suddenly remembered The Bridges of Madison County and I was hit with the urge to get my camera and start taking pictures of the bridges. Not all pictures turned out well, since we were moving by then, but a few were all right.

wordless wednesday, bridges

And while I've seen the movie several times over the years, I've never read the original book, something I plan to correct pretty soon. I even posted about it here on my book blog!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Portuguese Sweet Rice Dessert

During the past few weeks, ever since school started, I've been a very lazy crafter. I have several sewing and crochet projects in the making, but I haven't found the patience or the energy to complete them yet. 

I have been cooking a lot, though, trying on new recipes and finding fast and uncomplicated ways to serve healthy food to my family. 

What I bring you today isn't anything new, though. It is actually a traditional Portuguese dessert: sweet rice. 
 
portuguese sweet rice, desserts, recipes

It's very easy to make, delicious and, truth be told, one of the only two desserts that my son actually eats (the other is strawberry ice cream; he's just not into sweets). 

You seriously need to try it!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

3 basic rules to get rid of clutter

This week I decided to take a break for my usual decluttering updates to share the some of the rules I have been implementing this year to get rid of clutter. 


3 basic rules to get rid of clutter, no clutter, decluttering

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Fresh tuna with vegetables and mashed potatoes

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned here that we watched fishermen bring in their nets and then got to buy fresh fish right there on the beach. 

Well, one of those fish was one small tuna fish and although I forgot to take pictures of the fish itself, I'm going to show you what I did with it.

fresh tuna, recipe, food

I'm a fan of simple and healthy recipes. I don't have time for anything too complicated but whenever possible I try to add vegetables to what I cook, in hopes that some of them actually end on my kids' bellies. 

So, to cook this tuna fish I used only simple and fresh ingredients: tomatoes, onions, half a red pepper, some garlic cloves and a couple of bay leaves. For seasoning, just salt, some provence herbs and olive oil. 

fresh tuna, recipe, food

In theory, with the tomatoes, the olive oil and the fresh fish you should have enough liquid in your pan, but if you find it too dry, add half a cup of water (white wine works well too).

fresh tuna, recipe, food

I put everything in a large pan and let it boil for about ten minutes and then simmer for another 20-25 minutes, until most liquid had evaporated.  

fresh tuna, recipe, food

I served it with mashed potatoes and a simple lettuce salad. It was a success and ever since I've been thinking what other fish would work well cooked this way too. When I find another perfect match, I'll be sure to let you know!

fresh tuna, recipe, food


Enjoy,
keeping it real, craft blog

Monday, September 21, 2015

Refashioned Classical Lampshade

Hi everyone, I'm back with my latest upcycling project, a lampshade this time!

refashioned classical lampshade
Here is the story behind it. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Homemade jam labels - free printable

The end of summer is the time of the year when our family focuses on making jams and fruit preserves to last us the winter. When I say family, I'm including the extended family since I usually only make pear jam or apple & pear jam. We do get offers of of jams and preserves made from other fruits but they are either eaten by my husband (the kids aren't into them, at least yet) or I pass them along to my mother. 

But when I posted the apple & pear jam recipe earlier this week I looked at the photos and I noticed there was one thing missing in those jam jars: labels. 


Homemade jam labels - free printable


So, of course I decided to make some cute jam labels. 

And even though I only need apple & pear labels right now, why stop there, really? I thought of all the fruits our family is usually into and made labels for those too, although mostly I will be printing them and passing them along. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

No clutter in 2015 - week 36 update

no clutter in 2015, keeping it real, decluttering


Recently we've hosted three birthday parties and so this week I've been mostly focusing on getting rid of all the birthday clutter, putting away what we can still use next year and just tossing everything else. But I still have a mess all over our home office desk that I need to tackle next weekend. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday - birthday flowers

I rarely talk publicly about my birthday, because 9/11 is a date on which a lot of people are mourning and remembering that fateful day 14 years ago instead of celebrating.

But the truth is I turned 40 last Friday. And while I received other beautiful gifts, the flowers my husband and my mother gave me were priceless. I guess they both now that by now I'm sorely missing the long summer days and anxiously waiting for another spring...

birthday, flowers



Monday, September 14, 2015

Easy & Healthy: Grandma's Apple & Pear Jam

When I was a child my grandfather owned a small pear orchard. He had inherited some land from his parents (my great-grandparents) and decided to plant a lot of pear trees. So, during the summers spent with my grandparents, we mostly ate...pears. 

There were also a few apple trees, but those apples tended to ripe late, and one fig tree but as a child I really wasn't into figs (though I love them today). There were really a lot of pears, and we had to be creative in finding ways to use them. But mostly, my grandmother, and then my mother, made jam.

grandma's apple and pear jam, apple and pear jam recipe

The thing with pears, however, is that they are very juicy when ripe and jam tends to be too liquid unless it spends hours on the stove, which is neither cheap nor healthy as a lot of the fruit vitamins are lost with too much heat. Adding a few apples will solve that problem, as both the less juicy nature of the apples and the pectin present in them will contribute to a nice creamy jam in a lot less time. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

No clutter in 2015: week 35 update


no clutter in 2015, keeping it real blog, decluttering

It's been a while since I posted updates about my journey to declutter the house this year, but I need to get into decluttering mode again and talking about it regularly here on the bog is usually an incentive for me to get things done. 

Since my last update we went on vacation, came back, finished painting our living room and putting all the furniture back in place. Ever since, I have made an effort to limit the number of toys, games, remotes, electronic devices, etc that usually are scattered around the living room. I have also cleaned the coffee table and all that is allowed up there now is a doily + decorative bowl set. I've also eliminated the play-mat and now the living room seems more spacious and a lot lees cluttered. Small, easy changes that can really make a difference. 

We hosted a birthday party last weekend and are planning another one this weekend, so I have a lot of party stuff laying around right now, but hopefully by Sunday evening it will all be cleaned out and put away. 

And finally, I've been focusing on books again. I know I've mentioned this here before, but I had quite an extensive library (and still do). Since the beginning of the year I have not purchased a single paper book and everything I've read is in electronic format. Taking into account that I usually read about two books a week (if you want to have a look at what I'm reading, check out my book blog here), this has made a huge difference on my shelves. 

In addition, I've been trying to get rid of most of the paper books I already own. In some cases, I'm replacing them by the correspondent digital version (when I know I'll want to re-read them some day) and in other cases just tossing them out. In the beginning I tried to sell the books, and succeeded in selling a few of them, but most of my books are in English and are hard to sell in Portugal. Some I just gave away and I'm seriously planning on donating the rest before the year end. Because I will not start 2016 with those books still at home. 

Plans for the next week? Finish a couple of upcycling projects that are long overdue and organize my craft closet (again). We'll see what else I can fit and I'll update again next week, hopefully with a lot of good news!

Happy decluttering,

keeping it real, craft blog

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday - fishing day

On the last days of our vacation we spent a couple of evenings at the beach.

I love watching the sun set over the water, when almost everyone has gone home, and quietly enjoy the end of the day.

wordless wednesday, beach

On one of the days, however,, some fishermen were bringing one of their nets ashore and a huge crowd gathered to watch. My kids, obviously, had to join the party.

Monday, September 7, 2015

The ultimate DIY shopping bag - made easy!

I have a problem with most reusable shopping bags. Or rather, several problems. They are either ugly or contain company logos (or a combination of both) and never last too long. Or they are too big. Or they unfold themselves when they shouldn't and then are a pain to fold back.

So, for a while now, I've been brainstorming a way to make a cute, cheap reusable bag that I can fold and keep in my purse. 

Well, finally, the ultimate DIY is out in the open. Complete with instructions and one zillion pictures to show you how it's made.

the ultimate DIY shopping bag, tutorial

This shopping bag comes together pretty quickly, it's easy to sew, reversible (if you don't mind one little pocket on the outside) and folds itself into a little cute pouch that perfectly fits your purse!

Want one? Here's the tutorial.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Fast & Easy Corn Bread Recipe

Making corn bread is almost a tradition in Portugal and there are literally thousands of recipes around. Almost everyone who cooks has his or her version of corn bread and I'm no exception. 

fast and easy cornbread recipe

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday - a day on the rails

Ever since he was a baby, my son has been fascinated by everything that moves, from cars to planes. But trains have always been one of his favorite means of transport, and I've lost count of the amount of play trains and rail tracks we have at home. 

wordless wednesday, train photos, train station, Santa Apolónia, Portugal


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