Santos Populares’ Manicure


I spent two mornings driving through Bairro Alto and Cais de Sodré. This week was São João, and the streets were decorated with colorful banners and lights. Driving around the old part of Lisbon is hectic, with very narrow streets, confusing signs, and lots of people. Nevertheless, it is impossible not to love the old facades with the emblematic “azulejos”, blue tiles.

It was time for a new manicure, and this time I used Born Pretty stamping plate BP-L 027


I used Kiko Electric Blue 336, and Milky White 840 as base colors. Then, with plastic wrap I added yellow, grey, and lighter blue little splashes on the nails to create the undertone colors you find in some old tiles. I finally stamped on blue and white on three of the nails, and voilá! Here it is my Santos Populares manicure.

Have a great weekend! Bom fim-de-semana!



Honey Cornbread

Coming from the land of Arepas and Empanadas, Bollos and Carabinas, I can say that corn flour side dishes were always part of my Venezuelan childhood menu. Yet, when in the USA I first tried Cornbread, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t eaten it before!


This recipe of Cornbread has honey as one of the ingredients. It makes all the difference in the world. Cornbread is the perfect side dish for chili, for a good steak, and it is delicious just by itself.

Honey Cornbread



In the Venezuelan Andes cuisine, we find lots of bean dishes. I grew up eating black beans, lentils, and chickpeas, but somehow there were no mixed bean dishes. When I first tried a “chili”, during my years in the USA, I fell in love with the possibilities of this dish. I am an omnivore, but my husband only eats some fish; therefore, we mostly eat vegetarian dishes at home.

I found this easy, yet tasty three-bean chili while preparing a pot of chili for our annual “Autumn chili cookout”.  In the past, I had prepared more complex dishes, yet with this one I won the prize for the “Best Vegetarian Chili”!

I only changed one thing: Instead of using green bell pepper, I use roasted red Spanish pepper. Also, if I have sweet corn, I also add it to the pot.

Here it is the recipe:



Born Pretty Store

Once my college pal Chrissy convinced me to give it a try to nail stamping, I went to the closest Chinese store and got a basic simple Konad Kit of one plate and a functional stamper. It worked great to start and to get hooked to nail art, but pretty soon I realized I needed more stamping plates, some stamping polish and different types of stampers. Unfortunately, these are not readily available in Portugal, so I had to purchase them online.

Chrissy recommended the online store Born Pretty Store. It is located in China and it offers free shipping worldwide. The have a variety of affordable nail art supplies (and more), and their customer service is good. They sell their own brand of stamping plates, and also Qgirl, Cool, and Ya Qin An. The same for stamping and regular polishes, and all sort of manicure tools and gadgets.

They always have promotional discounts, coupons and special offers. You also earn reward points with your purchase. Depending on customs, here in Portugal I have received my order from two weeks to two months.

Yesterday I received my order with plate: BP-35.


I used it to create a Portuguese blue tile themed manicure, inspired by Chrissy’s creation.

White & Blue

If you live where there are no nail art stores at hand, definitely Born Pretty Store is an excellent choice.

Oh Labdanum!

If I could encapsulate the fragrance of our walks in the rocky coast of this side of the world, it would be with the warm, subtle yet intoxicating aroma of labdanum.

In Portugal there are at least 9 species of the cistus family. My favorite fragrant shrubs are from the ladanifer specie.

They cover the fields with their silky petals, and the bees have a feast with their pollen. Their aroma comes from their leaves though, they exude a sticky resin that warmly inebriates the air. The flowers of the Cistus ladanifer subsp. Ladanifer, has five petals each with a reddish/brown spot on them. Their star pattern reminds me of a starfish. The Cistus ladanifer subsp. Sulcatus, have the same type of leaves and number of petals, but the flower is completely white.

Their common name in Portuguese is Esteva, and a field filled with them is called Estevais. I love the “snow like” look of the flowered plants and white petals all over the field and the ground.

I also have sound some “mutants” plants. The have about double the amount of petals, but the same type of leaves. I still have to find these in the botanical site.

Enjoy the pictures!



Nature on a Saturday afternoon

We just returned from our walk. There are so many flowers, insects, birds and reptiles making the most of the season!

Here I want to share the cutest sight of the day: A tiny snail napping on a small Queen Ann Lace flower.


Portugal’s Landscape

One of the things I love the most about living in Portugal, is having the time to enjoy the surrounding beauty. In Venezuela, nature walks are something that nobody does on a daily basis, and later in NY we were so busy that although we had daily walks with our dogs at the park, only on weekends we could venture to go to wilder places. In Portugal, both, beach and mountain are right there for us to enjoy.

Portugal is always green. All year round there are plants and flowers to delight our senses – and allergies -; but every year, there is a slight change on which plants flower most or first. Sometimes, I even get to see flowers I didn’t see the season before. I love that sense of discovery I feel while enjoying our daily walks.

Here I want to share with you a natural flower arrangement. It has one of my favorite flowers: the Viperina, a yellow specie of the Daisy family, a Queen Ann Lace, beautiful Cardos and a wild Malva.



I am a violin and viola player, ergo I have had very short nails all my life. I always wore my nails bare, or with pale colors, but last summer, that changed!

Through the years, in spite of the distance, and thanks to Facebook, I have kept in touch with several of my college classmates. Chrissy, is not only a fantastic flute player, she is also an amazing nail artist. While admiring her work, she convinced me that having short nails was not a reason to stay away from nail art. I took my chances, and I discovered a new hobby!

Last summer I owned 3 nude colors, one base coat and one top coat. Now, I have a total of 62 nail polishes (top coats and base coats included), few nail art tapes and stickers, 24 stamping plates, several stampers and a handful of nail brushes, dotting tools, and manicure tools. Most of my polishes are Kiko, and in average a manicure lasts me 6 days.

I am totally hooked on Nail Art. I thoroughly enjoy doing something artsy on my nails. If you have the time checkout Chrissy’s blog, she is truly amazing. Here I share with you some of my best manicures so far.

Have a great weekend!

PicMonkey Collage



El Relámpago del Catatumbo – The Catatumbo Lightning

The NASA has announced the new lightning capital of the world: The Maracaibo Lake, “El Lago de Maracaibo”. The phenomenon of the Catatumbo Lightning is not new to Venezuelans. Back in the 80’s when I was in Middle School/High School, we learned about the Catatumbo River, and that right at the spot where its waters meet the Maracaibo Lake, there are special atmospheric conditions that favor the occurrence of lightning almost every night. According to the NASA, “an average of 297 nocturnal thunderstorms per year, peaking in September.”

When I was in school, we didn’t studied the specifics of this natural event; I’m sure that very little was known then. Here I would like to share some articles about it.

NASA: Earth’s New Lightning Capital Revealed

BBC: At one lake in Venezuela, lightning flashes 28 times a minute

MNN: ‘Everlasting storm’ has 1 million lightning strikes a year

Making Bagels in Portugal

As I said in my previous post, everywhere I have lived I have found products/produce in different packing. In Venezuela I would find grain yeast in big packs, in NY in packs of 3 grams, and here in Portugal, the best price for instant yeast is Aldi’s packs of 7 grams.

I had to adjust Mr. Reinhart’s recipe to what I find in the supermarket. Here I would like to share the proportions for plain bagels:

2 tablespoons of honey (great replacement for Malt Syrup)

20 grams of kosher salt

1 pack of 7 grams of instant yeast

1100 grams of white flour

2 cups and 4 tablespoons of water (depending on the type of flour you might need to add a bit more or less water. The dough shouldn’t be runny. If you need to add few more table spoons of flour is OK).

I add all these ingredients to my bread making machine and set it on the dough cycle. In one hour and fifty minutes my dough is ready to go to the refrigerator for overnight slow rising.

I coat a glass container with a little bit of vegetable oil, and then cover it with plastic wrap. Next day will be the process of rolling, boiling and baking the bagels. You can make them the same day, but they taste much better if you let the dough to slow rise.


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