Day 7: Sunshine and biking and being halfway through?

Today marks the halfway point of my Quarantine--overall, it's been wild! Sadie helps me stay sane at night with her antics and energy, and I've been extremely busy with school and applying to things and cooking and staying on top of things ;) not that I'm good at any of the above, but I'm trying my best! Today for lunch I had a bagel and egg and some cucumber--shown below in glorious portrait mode ;)

Much of the daylight hours were spend outside, doing some readings. I moved from sun spot to sun spot reading materials for 3 of my classes. Here is a shot of SUNSHINE and Confucius' Analects, which was nice. I like close-reading texts in peaceful places, particularly on my kindle. It just brings a different vibe to what I'm reading--like I'm choosing to read this text for pleasure like I would any other book on the kindle, instead of doing pages of readings on my laptop, where it's decidedly never for fun.

In anticipation of a crazier week class-wise, I prepared some dough balls to pull into noodles for the upcoming days--I can add oil/garlic/chile as tradition dictates, or I'm eyeing a tofu & celery recipe online that I would love to try, which would also be delicious over some fresh noodles. But here are the dough gherkins, coated generously in oil. we'll see how well I can pull these hehe. But they'll cook in about 90 seconds, so would make a delicious lunch or dinner in the coming days. And the longer they sit, the better the gluten will develop, so hopefully the stretchier they'll be?

An hour before sunset, Sophie and I headed out on another bike ride, which was really lovely. Sophie's wearing shorts, but don't be fooled--I was wearing leggings and it was a wee bit nippy ;) but it was good to get out and release some energy. I slept so well after the last bike ride, and I'm looking forward to another good sleep tonight... thus far, I've used coffee as a crutch to regulate my sleep schedule.

Tonight we're having dinner from the famous and well loved Pizza Grove--specializing in both pizza and indian food, so I eagerly await my samosa as I write this out. I've got lots to do, but I'm excited to spend another evening around the outdoor fire.

Day 6: Friday with Carrie Newcomer

Today, food-wise, I peaked during dinner, when I fried an egg and put it on an everything bagel with some cream cheese... Thankfully I was able to rely on my previous cooking skills during lunch when I reheated the last of the golden curry. I'll cook more in earnest this weekend but it felt good to feel happy and full after just a bagel hehe.

This evening brought with it an excitement that Sophie discovered earlier this week--that one of my all time favorite musical artists, Carrie Newcomer, was having a livestream concert this evening at 7pm ET. Sophie, Kat, and I had seen Carrie Newcomer at Club Passim in Cambridge last spring--in March of 2018--and just absolutely loved it. Though this time was a bit different, being online, it was still a fun outdoor experience.

Nancy and Rob joined for a portion of the evening, listening to the concert but skidaddling before we made SMORES and gossiped until nearly midnight. Fittingly, the concert was even called "around the campfire", which we absolutely took to heart.

I learned, though, that it's impossible to blow out a flaming marshmallow with a mask on, so that was a testament to the strength of the masks but an obstacle to having perfect marshmallows. but it was good. I am also so impressed by the night-sight images my phone is capable of!

Overall, it was a lovely evening after a tremendously chilly day (I wore a jacket all day), and I started this winter season with the first night of doubling up pants layers--sitting outside is fun and all but it gets cold! and yes, that is Kat's sister's balaclava around my neck.... I wore it most of the night to keep my recently shorn head warm ;)


Much love, take care, and listen to some Carrie Newcomer! Her warm and deep voice is just what I needed right now.

Day 5: Thursdays are crazy

Today started with 3 courses--Ethical and Political theory, Music from Earth, and Chinese. In between Music and Chinese I left my office, shown here, to go make lunch, and it started to absolutely pour.

The rain continued throughout chinese, pausing occasionally, allowing me to take a break to eat ice cream outside between chinese and the Bok center shift. :) At the bok, one of the assignments was to take a self-portrait of items in your place, with no keystoning in the photo (meaning, an overhead photo--I've taken about a hundred of these for my art instagram). I edited my photo in Snapseed after to make it look a bit less like I was using dreary rainy day lighting.

About an hour before I had planned to cook dinner, Nancy asked if I wanted any white wine, and I agreed happily. I drank some, but I was mostly excited because I had been wanting to cook the rest of the mushrooms that I had in that gallon ziploc, since I knew they were about to go bad, and I figured sauteeing them in some white wine and garlic would be delicious. And they were! I added some Pecorino Romano and Italian seasoning (and also chile flakes), and it was a delicious on some pasta. Although, it's hard to go wrong with butter and garlic. I was a little sad that some of the mushrooms had gotten mushy and looked kinda weird when I sliced them open, but overall I got through that bag just in time, I think! I only used a few sips of the wine for cooking, so don't worry about me being wasteful hehe.

I wanted to take another photo of the bell after a day of rain--it was still drizzling, but I ate dinner in my doorway regardless. Anyway, it's been a busy day, and I'm not even halfway done with the things I need to do--here we go!


Take care, and much love! I can't wait for the weekend!

Day 4: Winning at cooking

Today I had Celtic, Chinese, and my China in the African Continent course, all of which I attended outside. I love my little corner where I schlep my belongings and laptop, and settle into class. I'll take a photo tomorrow, perhaps. A common question is "is that a virtual background, Lara?" in Zoom, at which point I can show off the luscious green trees behind me and talk about Sadie, who's been chasing squirrels around me all morning. She's such a sweetie--I can absentmindedly scratch her tummy with one hand and scroll down on my readings with the other hand, and she'll occasionally rotate her position 180 degrees so I'll get her other side. Now I'm just relaxing at the dining table, and Sadie is waiting for me to go to bed.

For lunch, I made an omelette from the mushroom taco filling from last night, and I I must say, this may have been my favorite thing I've made here yet--I definitely went overboard with the cheese and cumin/paprika seasoning, but it was so filling and wonderful. I think even though I'm objectively a worse chef than my parents, I am simultaneously eating the comfort that I created this meal and the knowledge of the things I added to make myself like it more--so in the end, I get so much satisfaction from eating the things I make. Even though it's simpler and maybe less nutritious than home, it's completely my own. Not sure if that makes sense.

Process photo of my Tofu curry dinner ;) My veg and tofu were simmering prior to adding the Japanese Golden Curry spice blocks, and it looks kinda bad! but then! I added the spice block and I created the following masterpiece:

I overate, for sure. But it was so worth it. I just love Tofu and golden curry so much--yea. it's been a good day, food-wise. I definitely could have added the tofu a bit later, because in my continuous stirring, I may have overzealously crumbled it to pieces. But eh it's fine.

I am here to sell y'all on this magical quick dinner... it's spicy, it's flavorful, it's easy, and it warms you from the inside. I mean--look at the amazon reviews for S&B Golden Curry:

ya really can't go wrong there. ;)


Welcome to my third food blog series hehe.

Much love, take care, and I'll be back tomorrow!

Day 3: Which spices do you want to use? Yes

Hello! Today was a busy day with 3 class lectures/sections, and a meeting afterward! luckily for me, Sophie snapped this photo of me this morning so it's not completely a boring blog. Sadie was right there by my side, a loyal classmate and roommate as ever. I think she expects food. But I'm staying strong!

I found that the internet connection is much much better outside, which is good motivation to do more of my courses/work outdoors (feels healthier and more college-y, too.) The occasional squawk from the chicken or bleat of a goat is also a great conversation fodder. ;)

Today lunch was some fried eggs with avocado on WASA thin rosemary crackers, which, while it was delicious, wasn't very photogenic. Plus, I had 15 minutes between class to prepare and consume it, between 1:15 and 1:30. So it was... hastily made and hastily consumed! I like this schedule, though, because I can eat, dump the dishes in the kitchen, and go to class, then come back to them and clean the kitchen in a more relaxed way.

I got more adventurous with dinner, since I realized that I should probably eat these corn tortillas I had brought for sharing with the Webster family. They'll likely be a bit stale by the time quarantine is over, so I might as well use them! Anyway, I made mushroom tacos with a raw salad of corn, tomatoes, and peppers to go with it. Yesterday Sophie brought me an ear of fresh sweet corn, which was so delicious eaten fresh and raw today! I used whatever I thought would go okay, which ended up needing quite a bit of salt added to it, but ya live and learn. I know this looks very similar to the mushrooms I made two days ago, but let me assure you! They are very different--I just cooked them also by sauteeing with onions and herbs, but I used lots of cumin and paprika and chile to make sure that they taste like taco filling. And they do! so yay. In other wonderful news, I got a tub of ice cream tonight, which I'll definitely dig into tomorrow afternoon! hehehe.

That's all for now, folks! I'll see ya tomorrow!


Day 2: Settled and Plucking along

This morning started off really peacefully--I slept in, and eventually let an exasperated Sadie out to play at 10:20, (she usually gets let out at 10). Last night, Sophie joyfully brought me some fresh bread, which I had this morning for breakfast, alongside a chocolate croissant hehe. I may have burned it a little in the toaster oven, but that's how these things go sometimes.

After breakfast, I worked on different assignments for class, and I enjoyed sitting outside for lunch with Sophie. Nancy made me pancakes and bacon, which I eagerly ate--so I saved my leftovers for dinner tonight. Overall, it was a peaceful day, with lots of work interspersed with outdoor sitting and chatting.


As I compose this blog, Sadie is laying on the carpet at my feet, occasionally snoring or making noises with her mouth, but the minute I rise to walk toward the kitchen or bedroom, she gamely follows me (I think to check that I am not getting her a snack--she has pleading eyes). I've been instructed to stay strong! and not feed her anything.

I'm nervous about the workweek, but then again, I'm nervous about many things.

Take care and much love!

Day 1: Settling in, unpacking, and so on

Welcome to the first actual blog post! Today I mostly have just unpacked and prepared for the week ahead--making a calendar, etc--and I folded all of my clothes into the dresser. Unpacking the suitcase that I packed in March made me uncomfortably aware of what place I was in mentally at the time... it wasn't pretty. Much of the clothes were hastily folded, and some not folded at all, with scarves strewn over other things. But I do have a ton of clothes here, which is good.

Here are some photos of the space! it's gorgeous and cute and very cozy, and I feel right at home in a sort of grandparent-style way.

Though you can't tell in this photo, my bedroom has TWO windows, and the bed has both Sophie's and Chloe's mattress pads (intended for use in college) on it, so it's very comfortable. Last night I slept with Sadie, who is a very sweet dog but can't seem to hold still enough for a good photo of her--a challenge I am more than willing to take on.

The living space has many chairs to choose from--indeed, there are 2 couches, a lounge, and an armchair. I eat and work at the dining table, which has a nice view out the window at the Webster home.

The kitchen is also great; I have everything I need to cook with and more. I was poking through the knife block and encountered something that was definitely not a knife--it looked like a poking stick, and it was round and pointy with a handle like the knives. Realizing my foolishness and remembering that this is what a knife sharpener looks like gave me a chuckle this morning.

I love the little bell at my front door, and I hope it gets some use soon! So far, I've curtailed any loneliness by calling friends this morning as I was unpacking and settling in, and this afternoon I want to prepare for the school week. I hope the blog will help, too.

Since no blog post of mine is complete without a picture of some food, here is what I made for lunch today! It's just pasta with some herbs and butter, so you can't really go wrong there.

After lunch, I read a bit and did some more unpacking! Then we all went on a bike ride--it's a wee bit difficult to catch my breath after riding up hills, but apart from that it all went well! Then I made some dinner (the Websters provided the meatballs) and talked to Hannah for a long time. Sophie brought me a massive cookie that she made, and overall, it was a peaceful evening. I have no idea how to cook mushrooms, but I took my best guess and sauteed them in butter.

Hope everyone is staying healthy and happy, and I'll write again tomorrow!

Day 58: I can't believe this day is here

So today was my last day at the embassy. Tomorrow I fly away, back to the US, and so, this will likely be my last blog post for a while! But nonetheless, I'll try to add a lot of photos.

Today at lunch we had a farewell gathering, and I was sad to realize amid all the goodbyes this summer, this one is actually mine. It was bizarre. But I got everyone's email and they'll be anxiously waiting to hear if I get in to the Foreign Service in 2 years' time.

Then, after work, there was a Mid-level professional development outing to a bar in Lisbon, and the interns were invited to come. It was the fanciest bar I'd ever seen (on a roof, overlooking Lisbon), and the drinks were pretty darn expensive. However, the company and the views made it a worthwhile outing.

Thanks to Giscard from the Econ section for taking these photos with and of me! :)

The whole crew at the bar--pity I can't keep my eyes open for photos.

The women interns and Fellows and FSOs! I'm proud to be part of such a funky group.

Then, Sebastiao and I rambled out, cracking jokes about the bourgeoisie in the fancy elevator before heading downtown to pick up some Pastel de Nata for me to take home. It felt weirdly like my last night in China, where I stayed up far too late and did far too much, and received far too much weight to my luggage. Here's hoping it's okay.

I enjoyed the views of Rossio and heard Sebastiao's fun facts for the last time this summer: "on this street, students at my university shout at this building "hire me!" even though it is empty, because it is a tradition", and "that theatre was built by that German guy you like ( prince Ferdinand)'s wife, Mary II, and that's a statue of her father, Peter IV. They love him in Brazil" and "see that space there? it used to hold a statue of king Sebastiao, but tourists were drunk one night and destroyed it by climbing it and shaking it" and so many more. I could listen to him for ages. How does one person know so much, simultaneously, about everything? I don't even feel that bad asking him random "why" questions about Lisbon because he legitimately knows the answer and is happy to share!

The theater built by Queen Mary II

The beautiful Rossio train station, with a center enclave where king Sebastiao used to be

Restauradores (Peter IV the Restorer because he won the portuguese civil war against his brother Michael the absolutist, thus restoring Portugal to its former glory. Then he handed Portugal to his daughter Mary II and moved back to Brazil.)

I will miss him and everyone else.

Much love!

Day 57: Dinner at the Residence!

Tonight Ana and I cooked for the house--an american dinner, complete with country music and a red-white-and-blue chocolate chip cookie cake.

I made buffalo chicken casserole, which was actually a big hit (although it made everyone sweat because it has a bit of a bite).

Then we did some jiving!

I will miss these folks a lot.

I bought a lot of the ingredients--the pringles, the doritos, the ranch and the buffalo sauce--at the Naval Exchange store on the compound. It was kinda silly.

Much love!

Day 56: Cascais and Cabo da Roca

Today started off at home: I did laundry, I prepped dough for a cake for tomorrow, and I even cleaned my room.

Then I packed my bag and went off to meet some of the other interns for lunch in Lisbon (at 100 Montaditos, the last time and perhaps also the best time--I will miss these folks) before our planned trip to Cascais and Cabo da Roca!

Cascais was really cool and extremely vacation-y: it felt like Lisbon, but hotter and more intensely for tourists, like some parts of Mexico can be.

The whole crew + Genevieve, a former summer hire at the embassy (and daughter of someone working there)!

Many many fishing boats!

and a full beach!

We stumbled upon this park --and the rooster below.

More Azulejos

....the greatest form of flattery.... ;)

Then we made our way along the coast (on foot, sorry Brianna) to Boca do Inferno (or, as we also called it: "the devil's a**hole" for reasons unknown but maybe there was some miscommunication involved).

Walking along the ocean made me feel like I was in some sort of crazy dream where I was transported into a postcard or something--the water was so blue and it was amazing weather (though a little hot).

The Boca do Inferno was a little underwhelming after all of the outlook points that were considerably less crowded, but the cave was pretty cool. I can see why people wanted to take drones up here, though.

After that, we walked back to the city center and enjoyed an amazing meal at an Indian restaurant recommended to us by Michael's boss Dave. Honestly, the best restaurants have been on his recommendation, and he hasn't been wrong yet. I don't know how he does it! I did try some Nimbu Panni (which the waiter warned me not to order because it's 'different') and it was kinda nasty. it's like salty water with lemon in it. However, the other interns all bravely tried it and politely took more than just a tasting sip--which made me feel a lot better.

Then we went to the Westernmost Point in Continental Europe! Cabo da Roca! I can't describe how glorious it was--and here are pictures that don't do it justice. ahhghhgghh. But, it was good I brought a jacket and a windbreaker, because it was rather chilly up there--and super windy.

The non-intern on the photo is Luis, the Portuguese Uber driver that took half of the crew up to Cabo da Roca. He had never been, so we invited him to enjoy the sunset with us, and he did! it was crazy but he was super sweet! I can now also say that I've been inside the Uber car before the request to the app is even made. After spending about an hour at the point and taking photos and chatting, four of us joined him in his car as he opened up his driver's app for Uber and we placed a request (FROM WITHIN THE CAR). I don't think that's ever going to happen to me again. It was an awesome uber ride.

Anyway, it was a glorious day. My head is still flashing with all the vast sights and colors and the roar of the ocean. The sunset at Cabo da Roca made me feel some sense of closure, though, that I can't really describe.

Much love!