Best black bean salad

People are always astonished that my son is a vegetarian. Astonished and worried. I have one Portuguese friend who adores Evan and she even insisted I get blood work done to prove that he is healthy. I did and he is.

Even so, SO often people communicate their worry about his protein intake. You need not.

This is an example of a salad that is loaded with protein. It is also a salad that is so freaking delicious that there is no way you will miss the meat on your plate.


Comjack´s Black Bean Salad
Vegan, Vegetarian
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  1. Salad
  2. 2 cups canned black beans, rinsed
  3. 1 cup of onions
  4. 1.5 cups kernal canned corn
  5. 1.5 cups tomato (we sometimes add the tomatoes after as it´s the one fruit Nuno does not like)
  6. 1 avocado (soft, but not brown on the inside)
  7. 4 Tbls cilantro, chopped
  8. 1 clove garlic, minced
  9. Dressing
  10. 1 tsp chili pepper (we do not add this)
  11. 1 tsp paprika
  12. 1 tsp cumin
  13. .5 tsp Ground Pepper
  14. 1 tsp Salt
  15. dash cayenne
  16. 3 Tbls lime
  17. 2 Tbls olive oil
  1. Mix up the salad. Mix Dressing and add to salad and toss. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Toss before serving. Enjoy!
  1. The Comjacks are friends who stayed with us. They more then paid us back for their stay by simply sharing this salad recipe. Thank you Aaron!

Table with a view

I am pretty honest about how lucky I am. One of the aspects of being a stay at home mum is that I get to go out once in a while for lunch. I do not do it as often as you think, but it is something I get to do.

Once a month I do attend a book club where we lunch at member’s houses. Whereas the lunches ‘out’ are reserved typically for going away parties and birthdays. But these lunches where we dine out are typically fantastic. Portugal has so many beautiful spots and such a wide selection of great restaurants.

This past week one of my dearest friends had a birthday lunch. Her request was a patio or veranda with a view. I offered to organize the event and with some research we narrowed down the options to 4 restaurants with ‘esplanadas.’ For myriad reasons we went with Noobai Cafe. It was a gamble as the food reviews were not all great. But every comment was that the view was stunning. It was.

table with a view

My primary concern was that my darling friend have a happy birthday. I of course also wanted the ladies to enjoy themselves. I am quite confident that we accomplished both.

We all live a little outside of Lisbon, so going in for lunch does not happen often enough. The area where Noobai is located is undergoing some serious renovations. But even ‘under construction’ it is a stunning little corner of Lisbon. I will be honest, I did not love my meal, but the sangrias (there were 5 types to sample:) were fantastic, the view was amazing and the service was very good.

I will go back again to explore and this time my husband might be lucky enough to get an invite.

Historic Tour

Lana has been working on a project with three friends where they give a tour of their school and tell you a bit about its history. The original buildings date back to 1750. All the parents in the Portuguese Secondary Section of her school were invited to participate in the 80th Anniversary celebration of the founding of that section of her school. (The school itself was founded in 1932 as an English School, but her section, the Portuguese Curriculum, was established in 1935).

My daughter and her three friends were responsible for the tours. She and C ran the English language tour. While RA & AC ran the Portuguese language tour.

Here are RA & AC leading parents on a Portuguese Language Tour.
portuguese tour

This is Lana talking us through some interesting information about the Palace entrance.

lana stepsAnd here is my American girl (don’t let that flag fool you) with her friend C. C is 100% Portuguese but she did a simply wonderful job guiding the adults in English. No joke. She was great. I congratulated her mother on what a great job she did. It seems my daughter insisted C do the tour in English. Lana told C not only that she was going to do it, but that she could do a great job….SO PROUD!

S&CThe girls are standing in front of some of the 80 (get it, 80th anniversary) words that describe their school. The words are in English, Portuguese and French. These are the three languages they are learning.

And here is the team. I just adore these girls!

girls tour

Magic Medicine…

The three of you that read this blog know that I have ben super sick since Sunday night. First a bad 24 flu, quickly followed by what my doctor determined was a severe case of tonsillitis. He gave me some magic pills and like that I can swallow my own saliva. Oh the small things that make life tolerable. I ‘celebrated’ by waking up at 5:40 to take my daughter to swim with her ‘heart’ team. Totally worth it to see her with one of her best swim buddies.


They were actually assigned to lanes 4 apart from each other, but that made it VERY difficult to chat. Somehow G made it into Lana’s lane. Not following the ‘rules’ I am sure, but it made me smile.





Collective Common Nouns…in Portuguese

Two weeks ago my wee boy did not do well on a Portuguese Test. I really wasn’t too fussed. This same kid scored top of his class on a nationwide math test that same week. Third in his year. But what we thought was fine, got him in a tizzy. It came to a head when he refused to do a homework assignment. Well he didn’t just refuse, but lost the plot. I was the devil pretty much for making him do it. We had a row both that evening as well as the next morning.

Immediately I requested a meeting with the teacher. In reviewing his test we realized that the kid knows more Portuguese grammar than his mom. But we agreed that he could stand to review a number of things. We also recognized that he has a bit of writers’ block. Not for lack of ideas, but the fear of not doing well. He just won’t start writing. I blame the stress he is feeling over the National Exams that will take place in two weeks.

Tests are taken everywhere. Too true. Thing is, in this country it is the law that your grades are posted on a wall at school for all to see. Cruel for some. I know. I have tried to explain to him that he can not try to compare himself to his classmates. They are almost all native speakers who have lived in Portugal their entire lives. Each child has two parents who are highly educated and both speak Portuguese fluently. Did I tell you that my kids are forever correcting MY Portuguese?!?!? It is a testament to their teachers, their smarts and their hard work that they have done so well.

All the same I had to do something. This is the plan we came up with:

  1. I created a grammar binder (I had started it before this incident, but this brought it to a new level of urgency). This binder contains all the rules from the 4th grade text very neatly laid out for us to review two per night. We have sticky noted the pages he feels he needs to review. He is taking this opportunity to work on my grammar and his father’s as well. Teaching something proves you know it.
  2. We are coming up with ‘plans’ for sample essays. The kids can actually write. He just needs to plan something and then get it done. Simple as that.
  3. Read. Read. Read, in Portuguese.

One of the things that came up in his grammar book was common collective nouns. To make the process easier and more effective for his limited time to study them I made them into flashcards with pictures. Thank God I don’t have a full time job. Then again this is what I did (do) for my students all the time. I love this s@^!


I am loving learning with my boy. It’s a gift he is giving me and his grandfather too. Did I tell you my father is now appalled with my Portuguese? True story.

This Saturday while his sister was at her tutoring session he and I popped into a local café. Studying does not have to be all about sacrifice.



Recently Lana’s swim team decided to reduce their training schedule. With their season over it was a reasonable decision. Thing is, my kid is signed up to compete with her school (who does not train together…that’s another story). With this in mind we decided to find an alternative for the days she’d be off. We ended up being invited to have her try out for a team in the city. 

My daughter does not enjoy change. Her deciding to try out for another swim team was an indication how much she wants to improve. 

We attended a session. It was awful for her. She was a wreck. But after that ‘failed’ attempt she went back. 

The second time was not fun. There were tears. But she vowed to try again.  And she did. 

Here we are taking the train to her practice. It starts with 45 minutes of dry land training. Then there she swims for 1.5hrs. This kid….I’m just not sure I could be more proud of her. 



Education in Portugal is all about work.  To be more specific, it is all about working towards the tests. Period. 

I have no regrets that I enrolled my children in a Portuguese School. Goodness no. Their being bilingual and having a much stronger command of language than I do, is benefit enough for the experience. 

Let us not though speak of educational philosophy and pedagogy when referring to the Ministry of Education in this country.  My checklist of what I disagree with is just much too long. 

But here I am, on my first day of April break in my bed with my 4th grade son. The wee lad has at least 7 shortish books to read over this holiday period, with a short book summary to follow each. That’s not all of course. 

Our deal was that we’d read them together and I’d learn from him. I did. 

Portuguese Ministry of Education, I thank you for your required reading book list for the 4o Ano National Exam. Because of you, my son and I enjoyed a good read while having a great cuddle. Congrats on getting one thing right. 


Onto his book summary.  


I have failed at, and continue to err at many things in my role as a mother. But my children becoming readers is one great success. Photos like this make me so incredibly proud.