Thursday, 29 April 2010

Should I be friendly to the environment?

I think we should always try to be friendly to the environment.  The question is how much we have to care.

Eleven years ago when I moved to the States I would be very happy to start recycling my packagings.  At that time in Mongolia we did not have any recycling programme at all.  I continue doing recycling in Portugal too. 

I think a year ago I was a very happy to find out that Eco Pontos of Oeiras town municipality put containers for used oil.  Before that I would collect all my used oil and put in plastic water bottle and through with my domestic rubbish.  Now I do not have to do anymore.

More than a year ago I stopped buying bottled water to reduce my plastic bottles.  Probably I use more electricity, which is not good too, and boil my drinking water.  I cannot drink water from the tap or cannot drink not boiled water either.

When I shop I bring my bags but to be honest from time to time I forget.  In order not to forget I keep my bags in the car. 

It seems like some Eco-friendly industries charging some shoppers who tries to make their difference to the world. 

Below the link to the article.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Obidos visit during Easter Monday

On Easter Monday DH and I had a children free day.  The DDs went to creche to practice their socializing skills, while their parents went to Óbidos, a little old town with its castle and bright white houses. It is almost an hour's drive from Lisbon and someone could see everything in an hour if in a rush. To prolong the time there, one could find a nice little restaurant and have lunch or dinner.

During almost nine years of living in Portugal we were waiting for the right moment to visit Óbidos and walk along the old castle walls.  According to Lonely Planet this little town was in 1228 a little village, and it was a wedding gift from Dom Dinis to his wife Dona Isabel.

As soon as you enter through the old town walls you are greeted with an arch decorated with azulejos (painted tiles).  Under the arch an old lady had put her little table and was selling her handicraft. 

Òbidos's cherry liquer is a famous king's best secret.

Rua Direita accommodates many tourist shops and some cafes where you can drink the famous cherry liqueur.  Small cafes had a little table with two chairs that customers can drink cherry liqueur from little chocolate cups for €1 (and eat the cup!).  Once a year during March Òbidos holds the international chocolate festival.  During the festival, visitors can look at chocolate creations and taste and eat as many chocolates as possible.

In any town in the west there has to be a church - this is Saint Mary's church. 
  And here are some more photos of Òbidos.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

My Japanese craft love

I am fascinated with Japanese handicrafts. They are made with love and care. They are also so beautiful and delicate. I am making quite lot of Japanese related crafts but before showing their photos, here is a bit of background.

I cannot remember when I first heard about Japan; probably when I was at school during history lessons. In 1939 Japan invaded Mongolia but quickly, with the help of Soviet Red Army, Mongolian Army expelled them from our borders. After the war was over, near the capital city we had a cemetery with graves of hundreds of Japanese soldiers. During the 1990s many of their remains were returned to Japan.

In April, 2007, my husband and I and our one-year old daughter, who had just started walking, went to Japan to see the cherry blossoms. Our first stop was Tokyo, where we spent a couple of days looking at nearby gardens and frankly, recovering from jet lag.

We went to the Four Seasons Hotel's Japanese Garden. In early April the hotel was holding 20 something Japanese and Western style weddings in one day! We met a Japanese mother and daughter who had dressed for a wedding and asked to have their photos taken with us - sorry, we were tourists! As you can see daughter was wearing kimono with long sleeves, which means she is not married.

After Tokyo we went to Fukuoka and saw a beautiful Japanese garden. In a small plot of land, big rocks will represent the mountain, white gravel will be the sea, and these will be mixed with bridges, temples, waterfalls, bamboo and many carp.

During the 1980s not only Mongolian children but also adults sung a very famous Mongolian song about origami folded paper crane. It was for remembering a little Japanese girl who was ill after the American atomic bomb fell in Hiroshima. And her dream was to make a thousand cranes to recover. We visited the memorial and people all over the world would send origami cranes. I do not make many origami but I can make an origami crane by heart.

Kyoto was our last stop. It was divine for me as I found some craft shops and I was happy to shop till I dropped. There were so many fabrics and bags to buy. Like a typical woman I bought many, but left only three for myself after giving most away. You can see them here. The biggest one is for evening, the medium one for my mobile phone which has little geisha doll hanging from it, and the little one is for my coins; it has a frog symbol for money.

While we were walking in Kyoto's Gion district, a classical tourist area, two maikos (training to be geishas) came to us, asking to take their photo with our daughter! Usually, when tourists see geishas and maikos they ask to have their photos taken with them. In our case it was the contrary. We had our little darling and many Japanese called her kawaii - cute.

After my Japan trip I started making sashiko, traditionally hand stitched on blue working clothes to reinforce them, hence the tradition of white stitching on blue fabric. Nowadays, it can use any coloured fabric or thread. I decorated my daughter's leggings with sashiko stitch:

While searching on the internet for Japanese crafts I found a pattern for a Japanese knot bag. I made it with my Asian-patterned fabric. The handles have different heights.

Recently, I found some Japanese bags that I made a while ago. These bags have a little story to tell. Eight years ago after arriving in Portugal I went to learn Portuguese. A Japanese man was studying with us and at the end of the language course he gave to all female students Japanese scarves. The scarves were beautiful but I was more interested in how Japanese women kept their scarves. I made a couple of bags to keep my scarves, but the fabric is not Japanese. These are square scarves folded and hand stitched in sashiko style.

I hope you enjoyed reading my little story of Japan. One day I would like to go back and shop in the craft paradise in Tokyo.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Street children in Ulaanbaatar

After the collapse of Soviet Union at the end of the 1980s, which was the Mongolian economy depended on it was hard for normal people to survive.  Shops had only sugar and flour and price for everything was rocketing almost every day.

During that time first street children or gang rose from sewage of Ulaanbaatar city.  The government could not coup with sudden rise of numbers of homeless children and at that time it could not figure out itself too. 

Handful of foreigners is helping the situation.  Many foreign media tried to get public awareness but it did not decrease number of children living in streets.

I met Didi many times during my Friday nights out because in Ulaanbaatar there were not many places to hang out at nights.  I knew what she was doing in Mongolia. 

Didi is working to help to street children in Ulaanbaatar.  Now her Lotus Children's Centre in the Mongolian capital is providing shelter, food and education for vulnerable children.  The centre spread its business providing accommodation and tours to visitors.

You can help or sponsor children donating money or volunteering your work at Lotus centre.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Antonio Sa and Ana Pedrosa

I met Antonio Sa and Ana Pedrosa some years ago. If I could say, they are my first Portuguese friends by accident.

 Me with António at his exhibition, Esphino

At the beginning of this century, wow I can say this, Lisbon's Colombo shopping centre's FNAC shop had António Sá's photo exhibition. My husband and son saw this and told me that photos were from Mongolia. I went to see the exhibition and got his address and called him. Me and my husband arranged to meet them in Esphino, near Porto.

They traveled to Mongolia and visited many places such as Gobi, steppes and mountains. From the talk I was amazed being a Mongolian that they ate fish huushuur (fried dumpling). I was astonished! I never ate fish huushuur in my life in Mongolia! The only guess I could make it because this event happened at the Huvsgul lake, a very famous Mongolian tourist destination.

The photographer's family

When he visited Mongolia his short name Tony was very popular among Mongolians because of a Brazilian soup opera.  Every Mongolian could easily to say his name.  He is the one of Portuguese does know about Mongolia and gives some talks and exhibit his photos about Mongolia in Portugal. 

If you are interested in photography workshops and photography holidays he would be perfect person to contact. He and his wife write for Evasões, National Geographic Portugal, Rotas & Destinos

Tomorrow, Friday, 16 April at Colombo's FNAC auditorium he will talk about his Iceland photography tour.  This is one of his tours that he does.

Monday, 12 April 2010

DDs bags for creche

Last week I has been quite busy making for my DDs bags to put their changing clothes at their creche.  For this I used my a very sophisticated (at least for me) computerized machine the first time in its full potential.

I had the machine for nine months and I used most of the time for sewing and used embroidery attachment only to write someone's name.  This time I used embroidery patterns and changed many threads.  The result was wonderful and I was happy and girls were excited.

A little bear hanging from from washing rope is for the DD2 and two hugging bears for DD1.

Now they are posing with their bags.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Japanese Sashiko Stitching

Thursday four ladies came to try sashiko stitching, which is a very relaxing therapy.  I think it was a very appropriate pattern for this time of the year when Japan will be covered with sakura blossoms.
Many Japanese would be going to parks to sit under cherry trees and enjoy life.

I prepared sakura - cherry flower pattern from Susan Briscoe's Japanese Quilt Blocks to Mix and Match. The book has many patterns and how you can mix them to make a great quilt. I made my biggest quilt using kimono patterns for my DH's birthday present.

 However, this is Ursula's machine stitched sakura flower. 

 This is Susan's hand stitched sakura.

If you want to know more about sashiko you can visit Purl Bee and it explains very well how to do sashiko.  Enjoy your stitching. 

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

A Mongolian contortionist

Mongolians love their contortionists. Girls started training as early as three years old and their can do until their late thirties. Enkhtsetseg Lodoi, was my neighbour when I lived in Ulaanbaatar, capital of Mongolia. She was performing when she was five months pregnant and almost after the birth. For many years she worked in the west and now she is retired but teaching girls for this old Mongolian art.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Vilamoura, Algarve

Many Portuguese but also northern Europeans love Algarve for its sea and sun. This Easter we spent there two nights there. Here is Vilamoura Marina - luxury hotels, yachts and cars.

At the marina almost every restaurant and shop had an English name. There were plenty of British, both tourists and locals.

Porsche Club Portugal had its monthly meeting at Vilamoura Marina.

Two Boxster S (could get only one of them in this photo), a 1951 black Porsche 356 whose owner was younger than his car, white 993 Carrera.

Two wheels in one

Me trying to be creative.


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