Thursday, December 24, 2015

Comfort and Joy

From the time I was a young child one of my favorite foods has been Portuguese Sopas.  I'm don't have any Portuguese in my lineage, but my mother was raised near a town with many Portuguese decedents so she was privy to the festivals and celebrations they held...and with that their scrumptious food.

This is her recollection of Sopas:

Once a year she remembers watching a parade with family friends that honored Portugal's Queen Isabel of Agagao.
It was one of a few opportunities her family of 8 would "go out and eat."
She remembers standing in line to get a bowl of the delicious stew and bread, and that it was her chance to drink an orange soda.

Sopas found a way into our family traditions (mostly through the stomach memory).

My grandma began cooking Sopas for our family visits.
The rich aroma of spices filled the house and I have such vivid memories of walking through the door and smelling it simmering on the stove.

The smell was an instant hug of love knowing that she had prepared early in the day the stew meat in anticipation of our arrival.
Sitting around their little round table in the kitchen allowing the steam to rise around our cheeks as we sopped up the juices with french bread.
The Sopas soon became a requested item for my birthdays. 
I have never pronounced it correctly.  
And it lovingly became known in our home as "Soupis"
Sopas for me became a love language of food.

I remember around my 10th birthday or so my mom suggesting that maybe for my girl's sleepover we should do pizza instead of Sopas because the girls didn't really like that for dinner.  I was stunned. Slightly offended.  How could someone NOT appreciate the labor of love that IS Sopas. I conceded.  Secretly pissed as I took bites of pizza instead of slurping up Sopas on my birthday.

New traditions soon took over, and Sopas was made less and less.

Recently, I asked with puppy-dog eyes if my mom would please make some.
She knows food is my love language.
My mom loves me. 
Not surprisingly, my dad does too.

They both prepped two pots of Sopas for our families last night.
It was family.
It was history.
It was new memories.
New laughter and stories told as the steam kissed our cheeks again.
It was everything I remember it to be and my memories are full because of Sopas.

Here is a photo story of the night, as well as a brief history of Queen Isabel of Agagao.

The "Festa" began hundreds of years ago.  In 1296 when Queen Isabel of Agagao, wife of King Diniz of Portugal, saw her subjects suffering from the effects of a devastating drought followed by a long famine. Thousands of people died during those years. Wells ran dry, and food began to get scarce.  Portugal’s Queen Isabel did all she could for her people during that time. There is a tradition that shows her, always with red roses in one hand and a small loaf of bread in the other. This stems from her habit of taking bread from the palace and secretly passing it to the poor and hungry. One day the king found out about it and confronted her. When she opened her apron to reveal the stolen bread, a miracle had occurred. For instead of bread, a bunch of red roses fell to the floor. Her generosity and love for her people had been honored by God.

Masses were said continuously during a nine-day novena until the day of Pentecost when the people witnessed three ships sail up the harbor and docked in Lisbon. These ships were filled with grain. Their hunger was finally at an end. It also began to rain, after several years of drought. This was considered to be a major miracle.

In thanksgiving to the Holy Spirit for this miraculous deliverance, the day of the Pentecost was declared to be a national holiday. This holiday persisted in Portugal for several centuries before being exported to the Azores Islands, and onto the community in Manteca.  Queen Isabel was canonized by Pope Urban the Eighth in 1625. Her devotion to her people was symbolized by the promise she made to the Holy Spirit that if her people were delivered from the famine and drought, she would lay her jeweled crown on the altar as a gift to the church.

Replicas of her crown adorned with the dove, the Holy Spirit’s symbol, were made and the saintly queen began a custom of crowning and placing her cape on the poorest girl in the kingdom and poorest male beggar.

Although the original meaning of this custom, which intended to honor the less fortunate of the kingdom, has been partially forgotten due to our comfortable life styles, the custom of crowning and feeding the people of our community Sopas still takes place.

This Festa tradition has survived nearly 700 years of tumultuous worldly change and may very well survive another 700 years, for its inception is deep-rooted in religion, but more importantly, in faith.


I amand I am heart-full of food, family, and memories.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Old Time Rock and Roll

The oldie in me will forever call this place "Roller Towne"...
Macy corrects me every time with an excessive eye-roll and a clarifying tone to say, "It's CAL SKATE MOOOOM."

I will still probably call it Roller Towne.

Again we brought the mountain down to town to hang out over our Thanksgiving break.
I'm always so excited to see these faces.
Doing life alongside people that help raise up your kids, keep them accountable, and literally pick them up when they fall down is a blessing indeed.

It bears repeating, I am thankful.

If you didn't already know, there is a 7-11 next door.
They have THE Slurpee there.
It was freezing outside.
We still drank them and got brain freeze.
Oh, and Vito found THE pink donuts and shared.
He's a keeper.
And last but not least, I had the banana flavored Slurpee. 
You knew I would.

I am and I like banana flavored just about anything.

Peanuts and crackerjack kids...

I love our community of families.
We have some great friends who are like family to us!
Some friends decided to get together for a viewing of the Peanuts new movie.
We took up quite a bit of the theatre! 

The kids visited with Santa for a bit.

After soccer practice the boys and I decided we needed to make this: Butterfinger Chocolate and Peanut Butter Lush

photo courtesy of Spicy Southern Kitchen

This is how ours turned out...
It was verrrry sweet.
The boys did a good job.

Monday, November 23, 2015

It's not even Thanksgiving yet...

We are expecting a storm in the next few days, so while the weather was nice and Steve was able to help unpack the shed to get Christmas decorations out I decided to take advantage.  I've NEVER decorated for Christmas before holiday at a time for me...but every now and then I like to be a little less predictable and change it up.  Hence, Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving. Gasp, I know!

Decorating is his favorite, can't you tell.
(insert sarcasm to the max)
To top off our day, we met with our small group families to fellowship over some amazing "Firehouse Chili" and ended with some amazing homemade cheesecake.  
I would say, another great day!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Kinda like a Turtles Song

Some days make me feel like I'm in an episode of the Wonder Years, or living out a my own version of a music video.  Most of you already know I'm a weirdo so I don't have any issues confessing through my blog that my brain works that way.

Yesterday felt very Turtles to me.  More specifically, it felt very "So Happy Together."

"Me and you and you and me
No matter how they tossed the dice
It had to be
The only one for me is you
And you for me
So happy together

I can't see me lovin' nobody but you for all my life
When you're with me, baby, the skies will be blue for all my life"

We spent the entire day together as a family and it felt wonderful.
It wasn't without its time-outs, redirection of behavior, or snappy little attitudes...
but we were all together for the entire day and it was so what we needed.

Steve planned for us to start our morning out near his office handing out turkeys with the kids to some grateful fourth grade families at a local school.

 When the passing out of the turkeys slowed down, they resorted to playing a homemade version of soccer and volleyball using the box wrap and a plastic bag. 
 From there we journeyed to West Hills College to watch our SHS Volleyball girls compete for the Valley Championship.
They won!

 What's not pictured here is a two hour layover at the Hobby Lobby in Hanford.
I didn't have time for my camera.
If you've been there.
You know what I mean.

Our last stop of the night was at Matt & Sara's new casa!
So much fun to see them getting settled in their new home...and so much closer to us!
(I'm pretty sure this is their Christmas gift to me...the fact that they are a hop, skip, and a jump away!)

I amand I would say that day one of our THANKSgiving break has been chock full of things we are truly grateful for. Each other!