Fires in Portugal

27th July 2017

In my wonderful tiny country, which is just like a small slice of Spain, there is a huge summer problem.

The fires rip along the country.

I wake up in the morning and look over the neighbourhood from my balcony. There should be clear sky and birds singing, but not this morning.

Everything was dark. The smell of burning wood filled my senses.  There has been drought this year. Very little rain and the farmers are worried. The crops, what will happen to the crops? If the farmers don´t get their crop they have no income. What is it that makes every summer like a hellhole with burning fires everywhere.


This year is worse. I have been here 6 years and every one of them we have had terrible fires, but not as many deaths as now.

This photo is from yesterday afternoon.

The fires are about 80 km away from my home but the smoke is here and the smell, the horrible smell.

Why is this like that every year? Why does the government not do something about it? What can be done?

Those questions pop up every year. Now there is a committee, 12 people, trying to figure out something. They will talk until death, but will something wise come out of it? I’m not sure. I hope so, but I am, truth to tell, not optimistic.

This morning I was watching the news and the names of 64 people, that lost their lives just in one day some weeks ago, were read. Family of 4, family of 2, a firefighter and many more. What a tragedy and all because we have trees that somehow catch fire during this time of the year.

I was driving home from Coimbra and saw cigarettes flying from cars ahead of me. How can people be so stupid? Don´t they think about anything but them selves? This makes me furious and the cars had a P number so they were likely people living here. No one should do this, its common sense.

It is not just in Portugal. It is in south Italy and southern France also. The drought is killing everything and those who don´t respect the nature, sometimes, light the fires just by pure ignorance.


This is how it looked from my balcony early this morning, clouds of fire all around. Massive and no crack in it. The smell horrible even inside my apartment.

I hope someone will come up with a solution, not soon but NOW.

Good help those who have lost their homes these last 24 hours. It brakes my heart to see grown men crying on TV and looking at the shell which few hours earlier was their home.

Hulda Björnsdóttir





The Portuguese wedding part 4

I said some days ago that I would tell you about the naked tree next to the entrance of the building where we had the lunch.


So here is the tree, but not naked anymore. Now it has some beautiful cards on it.

What are these cards for? I had no idea. I did look and saw names of famous composers, which made sense to me because I knew this would be the concert of the year. I assumed, without looking that there were names of some famous arias beneath the composers name.

Little did I know!

In the afternoon there was a lunch. It was supposed to be inside. When people begun to move inside I did as well.

There were several tables and no names at each plate.

How would I figure out where to sit? I knew a bit about the people I would be sitting with but did not see them anywhere.

Oh, this was so humiliating. There must be a simple explanation, I thought. I just had to figure it out.

I headed out, trying to find the bride. She would know. I found her and she explained everything.

The cards, on the naked tree, did not have names of arias on them. They had names of people!

The composer was the name of table and the arias were the names of the people who had been but together and should enjoy each others company during the lunch!

My table was Vivaldi and wonderful people kept me company during the lunch. People I had not meet before but took me under their wing and made sure I did not get lost.

We had interesting conversations and I learned a lot. I always learn when I talk to the Portuguese. They are willing to share and they are all immensely friendly. I cant count my blessings enough to have all those new friends in my life and hear their stories and get to know about their lives.


The concert of the year was really a concert of the year.


My beautiful friend, the bride, is a great soprano singer and she sung for us after lunch.  Ave Maria and several arias. What a performance.

One of my new friends  played the piano like a true maestro.

I sometimes complain about not getting enough art to nourish my soul here in Portugal.

This day was a heart warming day in every sense. My beautiful friends got married. Now the future is bright and the happiness waiting for them. I look forward to continue to be part of their life. I am luckier than most. Having friends is precious and worth nourishing. I will never forget this wonderful day. It is one more memory that I will keep in my heart forever.

Hulda Björnsdóttir





I am not hungry but need something

25th of July 2017

These days it is really hot here in Portugal. I get hungry but not hungry. I don´t want hot food and for lunch I don’t want to cook.

Something needs to nourish me and that’s when I love my blender and frozen berries.

Today I mixed blueberries and pecan nuts plus protein and soy milk.

I make my own soy milk and there are no added ingredients. Just the beans and water. I learned to make my own when I lived in China. After 6 years in Portugal my old machine needed rest so I invested in a new one. Its steel and hopefully will last for ever.

Usually I add frozen bananas to my smoothie but today I did not.

If you want to experiment just put anything you have in the fridge or freezer. I like the cold one because it is hot.

Just make sure the protein you are using is good quality.

You could add some cyan pepper and even some hemp oil.

Use your imagination and experiment. That is the word of the day. Experiment

Life is too short to lack the adventures. Experimenting with something new is always and adventure. It does not have to be huge, just the little things, like making a smoothie with different ingredients can be a great surprise. Just look at mine and see the beautiful colour. Using strawberries makes a different colour. Did you know that frozen strawberries are healthier than fresh ones? Don’t ask me why but I like them cold and they taste different.

Have a great day and enjoy it.

Hulda Björnsdóttir




Making my own bread

24th July 201720231925_875757922576036_7210386085241346755_o

Good morning everyone.

I have been writing about the wedding but now its about my bread. There will be more blogs about the wedding but not today.

I try to make my food because then I know exactly what is in it.  I also like to use natural ways to keep the insects away and found this wonderful solution by accident. In a pot outside my kitchen door I planted Mint, Basilica and Lavender. Every time I go to my balcony I touch the plants and no mosquitos.  I am not a mosquito friend and they probably hate me.

The plants grow in the pot and get a lot of attention from me so they are happy. I usually make my breads on Sundays because the electricity is cheaper. 6 breads in the oven and I am happy.

This Saturday I got the idea to use my insect trap to make my breads different. The kitchen smelled like heaven after I cut them to pieces. Yummy.


Mint, basilica and an Icelandic herb. The  Icelandic one needed to be soaked and I used the water also in the bread.

I always use spelt and lots of seeds. Never sugar, but raisins make it sweet.  The recipe changes every time. It depends on what is in store.

5 dl. spelt (this time I used fine and integral together, 2 dl.fine and 3 dl.integral.)

1 teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 dl each, pumpkin seeds, raisins, sesame seeds and girasol (Have no idea what it is in English but this is the Portuguese name)

4 dl. mixed soymilk and water (Homemade milk of course with no added sugar or anything, just beans and water9

This is mixed (by hand and not too much) and baked for 45 minutes more or less at 185 degrees.


I love these breads and it is convenient to have them in the freezer. Let them rest for a while under towels, until they are cold. Then you just put them in whatever you want to keep in the freezer until you need them.

Yesterday I had mine with hemp butter. Usually one slice is my breakfast with Chinese tea, Jasmine tea that I get from my friends in China every year. The summer crop. On top of the bread in the morning I use 1 teaspoon organic honey mixed with cinnamon and a slice of goat cheese.


Well, now you know how to make a delicious bread where you put your love and passion into it while mixing the ingredienses  by hand.

You eat healthy and your body loves you.

You think positive and your mind adores you.

You spread love around and everyone smiles at you.

What more can you wish for?

Hulda Björnsdóttir

Portuguese wedding part 3

20248346_875138202638008_1724057825709424866_o.jpgI have already posted 2 parts and here is the 3rd one.

This young man had a very important job at the wedding.

I noticed him when the groom arrived with his family.

He looked so grown up and yet so young. So sweet but also a tiny bit nervous.  I saw him talking to the grandfather and it looked like he was seeking some advise, which he got with a smile and a pat on the shoulder.

Grandfathers are like that. They cheer when its needed and they encourage when you have to depend on your independence.

The young man was not tall. He was not playing loudly with the other children while the brunch was served. There was just a grown up young boy who would one day be a handsome young man having the young women trying to look their best. What a grand future.

When the bride arrived it was obvious that his role was important.

Just before she came and we gathered at the house he was sitting there with his glasses on. A terrible sunshine could ruin everything so sunglasses, big ones, were a must. He sat there with a box.  I asked what was in the box? He looked at the groom, who stood next to us. Oh, I knew. The rings. They were the treasure the wonderful boy took such a good care of and did not let out of his sight. I asked if I could take a photo and that was ok. That moment he made my day.

When the bride had arrived and the priest finished talking and laughing he was asked to bring the box.

Where was he?

If you are a young boy with a heavy task ahead you sometimes loose the concentration. That’s normal isn’t it?

Someone found him and he walked with dignity towards the altar. Some people tried to guide him but that was not necessary, now he knew what to do.

The box was opened and the rings were there. Everything was ok and he could go back. Looked like a heavy burden had been lifted from his shoulders and he could breathe normally.

Moments like this are precious for us who live them but they are like diamonds in the memory bank for a young handsome Portuguese boy.

He was my hero and I will never forget him.

Hulda Björnsdóttir


Portuguese wedding part 2

20247877_875023489316146_8030282551653147379_o21. July 2017

Yesterday I told you a bit about my wonderful experience when attending my friends wedding here in Portugal.

I want to share some more with you.

The weeding was outside as I told you yesterday. Because my friend and her fiancée are both working in the music world there was bound to be a lot of music. This was going to be the concert of  the year. The sister of the bride plays the harp and some friends are singing and playing different instruments.  Here they are preparing. The ceremony has not begun.

This was a hot day so everyone sitting needed a fan and there they were waiting on the white seats. These seats are for the closest family and would soon be occupied by them.

The beautiful fountain, that is in fact a wall, was making those peaceful sounds, soothing and singing with a soft voice that  only water can.

When I came first to Quinta das Janelas I wondered why these naked trees were there. Another one is closer to the entrance to the banquet hall. There is a reason for everything here in my wonderful country and these trees are important.

On the tree closer to the banquet hall  were red cards with something written  on them but I did not look and figure out what it was. There was so much to see. So, what was written on them? Names of famous composers.  Something else and I thought maybe it would be some of the arias and songs they made. Little did I know. I did not  want be in the way and decided to figure it out later.

The preparation went on and soon everything was ready for the brunch.

The sun was shining.  Beautiful ladies in amazing dresses. The groom was there and the harp sounded like a hymn in the sunshine. Hugs and kisses and firm handshakes. This was a day to remember and lot more to tell.

Hulda Björnsdóttir




A Portuguese wedding

20. July 2017

Few days ago my friend got married.

This was the first wedding I attended in Portugal and I looked forward to it. What a day! The sun was shining and the weather as good as anyone could wish for.

Here in my country there is a custom not to start anything on time. A relaxed atmosphere it is.  I have a habit to be early and as you can imagine I came 20 minutes early. There was no one at the place, not yet.  Soon the people who were preparing everything began to arrive. The musicians, the decorators and so on.

Eventually of course the guests arrived one by one or rather family by family. Young and old together. Everyone in their best dresses. People stood in small groups talking and enjoying the wonderful day.

The groom came in a shiny black car, decorated with red roses and with him his family.

The tradition here is that we kiss when we meet. The men shake hands but the women get kisses. I found this rather strange at the beginning but now after 6 years I am used to the culture and accept it.  Although I have to admit that when a man shakes my hand I feel like being accepted into the community.

Because the weather was wonderful the brunch was served outside in the beautiful garden of Quinta das Janelas in Coimbra. Everyone was hungry, or so I imagine. The Portuguese eat a lot and enjoy their food. Even I, who usually don’t like the food enjoyed it.

When we had eaten the group began to move towards the house. Now we waited for the bride and her family. The talk was like whispering, not loud, just anticipation in the air.

The car arrived and my beautiful friend and her family came out. The bridesmaids and the flower girls were ready. The priest had arrived some time ago and the groom was waiting at the altar. The altar was a table and behind it a beautiful wall with  running water.

The brides parents escorted her and I cried. This was a moment I would never forget and it moved me deeply. I was not the only one who shed a tear when they walked after the red carpet and into the new future.

What a day.  This is just part one of the story. There is more to tell and I will soon.

Hulda Björnsdóttir