Friday, August 28, 2009

What People AREN'T Talking About. (Portugal: Part I)

Ever been to Europe?

Ever considered?
Most definitely.

Thought about Portugal?

The least touristed Western European country, is also the most inexpensive. No really, people AREN'T talking about it, although I had not actually tested this prior to titling my post... just search Twitter for "Portugal" 95% of the posts are in Portuguese. Search Twitter for France or Spain... and everything you see is written in English.

So other than the fact that Portugal is a fairly undiscovered destination (ironic, seeing as how the Portuguese were the first great pioneers of navigation) , why go?

In winter, the weather in Lisbon (the Portuguese capital) is more than pleasant. Which in all honesty, is the main reason my family thought about visiting in the first place. What a lucky mishap that turned out to be...

Walking around Lisbon has a special charm. The lack of tourists allows one to truly feel like they are experiencing something completely new and different. No matter how far away a place is, or how exotic the fauna may be, load an area up with 3000 kiosks selling touristy chatzky's and it suddenly becomes just like... well... any other foreign exotic place with 3000 kiosks selling tourists chatzky's. Lisbon has a very authentic feel, staying in an apartment rather than a hotel can help with this too, that I must save for another post however.

Sounds, Tastes and Miradouros!

So what exactly does Portugal have to offer. Skinny, winding medieval streets can be found in the Alfama district. My favorite part of traveling is walking around in new places and the Alfama is perfect for taking some great Flickr shots! Pastelerias serve "bicas" which is a very strong Portuguese espresso shot, available in decaf usually. "Pasteis" are custard like pastries, I'm not the biggest fan of these types of pastries but the rest of the fam LOVED them. The pasteis are actually really good with cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on top!

Stop to look over the Meditterranean -esque buildings at one of the Miradouro's or lookouts.

 If you don't like to eat fish, you should probably stop reading this article now... or atleast read it knowing that you should never actually go to Portugal. The good news: most restaurants have many options... The bad news: all of these options involve a big filet of fish as the main course, with an accompaniement of potatos and maybe a salad. I personally find it delicious! Specialties like octopus and barnacles are available too. The most popular of the fish specialities is the bacalhau, dried salt cod. It is said that this can be prepared some 300 ways.

In various dinner restaurants, you can sit in on a Fado performance, fado is a very melancholy almost opera like genre, very specific to Portuguese culture.

Alright, this was enough Portugal for one evening... but I will be bringing you further detail in later articles :)

<3 AzureChina

my Portugal pictures are all taken by me! Some can be viewed at

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Just how much food do you get for 200 calories?

I'm always searching out new information on nutrition. I don't believe in "diets" because were all different, and have different needs. Personally I believe that one of the best ways to lose weight and or keep it off is to simply educate oneself about what you are eating... I'm also a huge fan of cool search engines... is one of my favorite sites for self education on the calorie content of foods. One can search for foods using traditional categories such as food groups, and also with creative ways such as shape (curly? flat? triangular?)

There is a picture of each food listed, showing the quantity of the food which is equivalent to 200 calories.

Did you know that 1,333 grams of lettuce is equal to 200 calories, and that 35 grams of Wavy potato chips pack the same 200 calories?

The sites coolness doesn't stop there, click on a food, and see how many minutes of various exercises it will take to burn the calories provided by the food. also provides nutritional information beyond calorie content alone.

Check it out for yourself at

Play with the search engine while further educating yourself on nutrition. It's kind of fun!


Photo provided by This artist does not endorse my blog. Downloaded the photo under creative commons license :)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Fashionable Sewing Queen's Palace

If you follow me on Twitter or are friends with me on Facebook... you already know I cannot get enough of

It's just that I have spent so long being disappointed in many of the mainstream sewing companies patterns, even Vogue.

Its not that their patterns arn't lovely... they just are not targeted to a younger crowd.

Burdastyle patterns are SOO fabulous and trendy and many are FREE!

They just updated their site and it is now easier than ever to search patterns by season, style, ease of construction, and more options are available as well.

If you have a pattern you'd like to share, users can also add creations and patterns, who knows maybe could be a good marketing technique?

The pictures above are dresses which I have made using some of the patterns on Burdastyle... sorry that the picture is not more professional looking!

Check it all out at