YO ELIJO CUIDARME.

Este año yo elijo cuidarme ¿y tú? ¿te apuntas?

Muy pronto cumplo los 44 y he decidido que los quiero empezar cuidándome como nunca. Es algo que debemos hacer todos y yo empiezo ya.

El primer paso es ponerme “a plan”, ese propósito que todos hacemos cuando comenzamos un año nuevo.
He elegido el servicio de Dietista Online de yoelijocuidarme.es porque,  aunque siempre me he sentido bien, ya sabéis que soy muy defensora de las curvas de la mujer porque me parecen bellas, quiero cambiar mis hábitos y apostar por mi salud.
Creo que para las personas como yo, que llevamos un ritmo de vida tan frenético, es muy fácil caer en malas costumbres que hacen que nuestra salud se resienta.

Me he puesto en manos de la nutricionista de Forté Pharma, Laura Rojas además de los mejores coaches que son para mí una gran ayuda, sobre todos en esos momentos en los que estás apunto de recaer… ¡que los hay!

La verdad es que estoy muy animada y muy ilusionada porque, hasta el momento, no me está costando el trabajo que yo pensaba. El secreto está en mentalizarme y en dejarme aconsejar por los expertos que, digo yo, que para eso están. No quiero dejar de nombrar a mi entrenador Juanjo ¡ten paciencia conmigo!

Para las que queráis hacerlo conmigo, os diré que he empezado con un drenante y tengo que reconocer que ¡es alucinante! En esta primera semana he perdido muchísimo volumen y me siento fenomenal, con mucha vitalidad.
Sólo hay que ir a la farmacia y allí, cuando adquieras un producto de Forté Pharma, os darán un código con el que entrar en la plataforma yoelijocuidarme.es, donde tendrás a tu disposición a este maravillo equipo. Tu nutricionista te pondrá una dieta para ti, tendrás un coach que podrá ayudarte en lo que necesites además de ejercicios que te ayudarán a llegar a tu objetivo.

Es para mí todo un reto y, como no podía ser de otra manera, lo compartiré con vosotros ¡como todo!

British Food In Portugal

What do you miss when it comes to your food shopping?

For most people, the food that is available in the supermarkets, weekly markets and local shops is sufficient for everyday living. But now and again we like to indulge ourselves with a little something that is particularly British that generally can’t be bought locally

Here are a few ideas and possibly a few alternatives that don’t quite compensate but offer a good alternative. There is nothing like the real thing, however.

Bisto/OXO – If you cook meat well and collect the juices you can Bistoalways make good gravy. But if you want a quick fix for the “meat pastie thing” you bought from Modelo it would just be nice to have some instant gravy or OXO kicking around. Knorr does actually do a stock block over here but you can’t beat Bisto or OXO.

Cheddar Cheese – The stronger the better (otherwise what’s the point). A reasonable alternative to making the roof of your mouth tingle is to look for a good Azores cheese

Crackers – Not the ones to pull but ones to put your cheese on such as Hovis or cheese thins or sesame seed things. You can buy TUCs here and digestives (although not quite the same.)

Cadbury’s Chocolate – You can still buy Cadbury’s and Nestle in Portugal but here it is different because it needs to stay solid in warmer temperatures. This seems to give it a creamier, thicker texture and also lasts longer in the mouth.

Crisps – What can compare to a KP disco or a Hula Hoop or any of the multitude of Walkers’ flavours. Over here, look out for some of the Lay’s specialities or even the Heinz Tomato Sauce flavour crisps.

Baked Beans – HP, Heinz, Branston or even own brand baked beans. They are something unique to the UK. Holiday makers flock to a restaurant that has them on the menu. In Portugal we have more varieties of beans. Try taking a jar of Feijao Manteiga, Feijao Alubia or Garbanzos and adding polpa da tomate, sugar and salt and make your own. Shortly we will have our Branston Pickleown recipe for baked beans on the website.

Branston Pickle – Unique, even in the UK. Many UK supermarkets copy but none seem to achieve the same result.

Sliced Bread – Hovis , Kingsmill, Warburtons or others. Portuguese bread just doesn’t toast right and it dries out quickly. The selection of buns and baps is great but it just doesn’t slice with best of them. If you want something close, try Mini Preco’s “Reva Extra Fofo Sandwich”; not perfect but it makes pretty good toast.

Real Ale – What can I say? You can’t always get Real Ale in the UK but at least you can buy bitter which is completely different from any of the Portuguese beers. Super Bock do a label called Bohemia which is a dark beer but I’m afraid you won’t get a head like a Marstons Pedigree or a Boddingtons.

Sausages, Bacon and Ham – Portugal have a huge pork industry but it is unlikely that you will find anyone that makes a decent sausage. Curing the bacons and hams also only seems to done by English Butchers that work out here. You can get a presunto-type bacon here but don’t fry it too long as you will end up with crispy bacon fries!!

Black Pudding – Quintessentially Unique. The important factor in Black Pudding is that it has no big lumps of fat or gristle. In the UK there are very few varieties of black pudding; in Portugal there are hundreds!! But there is one major difference and that is that most Portuguese Black Puddings are very chewy and contain big lumps of fat. If you are looking for an equal to the UK, try anything containing Flour (farinha) or Rice (Arroz) as these tend to have a lower fat content.

Salad Crème – Essentially mayonnaise with vinegar but you try and recreate it.!

Spam – You can buy luncheon meat in certain supermarkets but HP sauceSpam has a certain taste and texture and it fries much better!

HP Sauce – Or any brown sauce. Mayonnaise, Tomato sauce and squeezy mustard are about the extent of Portugal sauces but sometimes you just need “Brown”

Malt Vinegar – White wine vinegar will do for most things but when you are pickling your onions or seasoning your fish and chips, you can’t beat a dash of Sarsons to improve the meal.

Chocolate Hobnobs – Ultimate biscuit! A mega-digestive with texture, flavour and chocolate. Need I say more!!

I am sure your mouth started watering before you even got half way through the article. I had to stop 3 times for snacks – mostly salt and vinegar hula hoops dipped in salad cream.

If you need to buy any of these products have a look in our Business Directory in Food & Drink Retailers for your local stockists.

If there is something you think I have missed, drop me a line and I can drool as I add it. All donations gratefully accepted.

Pet Dogs Help Children Feel Less Stressed

Your furry, four-legged friend may be doing more good than you thought. A new study shows that pet dogs help reduce levels of stress in children.

That’s welcome news for many children and parents around the country, because about 40 percent of families with young kids have a dog. While those numbers support the dog’s position as a much-loved member of the family, scientific research has been light on making the case with real, hard data.

With the new study, researchers from the University of Florida have given dog owners a reason to reward their pups with an extra treat or two.

“Many people think pet dogs are great for kids but scientists aren’t sure if that’s true or how it happens,” said study author Darlene Kertes, an assistant professor in the Psychology department at the University of Florida.

For the study, researchers intentionally placed children between the ages of 7 and 12 into stressful situations, such as public speaking and having to solve difficult arithmetic problems. Then they paired some of the children with their dog, while other children had a parent present. A third group of children had to perform the tasks alone.

The researchers wanted to compare how different social supports — or none at all — affected levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, in the children. After testing the children’s cortisol levels with saliva samples, the researchers discovered that the group of children with dogs present had a positive reaction — even better than having a parent there.

“Our research shows that having a pet dog present when a child is undergoing a stressful experience lowers how much children feel stressed out,” Kertes said. “Children who had their pet dog with them reported feeling less stressed compared to having a parent for social support or having no social support.”

The researchers also found that the way in which the children interacted with their pet dogs led to divergent results.

“Children who actively solicited their dogs to come and be pet or stroked had lower cortisol levels compared to children who engaged their dogs less,” said Kertes. “When dogs hovered around or approached children on their own, however, children’s cortisol tended to be higher.”

The results are leading researchers to believe that dogs can play an important role in helping children mature. Other studies have shown that canines can help kids improve their “autonomy, self-concept and empathy.”

“Middle childhood is a time when children’s social support figures are expanding beyond their parents, but their emotional and biological capacities to deal with stress are still maturing,” said Kertes. “Because we know that learning to deal with stress in childhood has lifelong consequences for emotional health and well-being, we need to better understand what works to buffer those stress responses early in life.”

The next time you want to send your pooch to the doghouse, you may want to think twice. It appears your dog is doing some nifty character-building work behind the scenes.

“How we learn to deal with stress as children has lifelong consequences for how we cope with stress as adults,” said Kertes.

Virtual Reality May Soon Help Autistic Children in Classrooms

A school classroom is a second home to most students, a familiar environment where the worlds of academic and social mix to provide a well-rounded learning environment. But for a child with autism, the classroom can be a stressful place filled with busyness and performance pressures that can make it difficult for them to learn.

But things may soon become easier for these students. Researchers now believe that virtual reality can aid autistic children in the classroom.

Virtual reality is being examined as a possible teaching aid for this setting because it can provide a way for those with autism to cope and manage being in stressful situations. It can also aid in breaking down the barriers of perception and social challenges that prevent them from learning. This would work well because virtual environments have a consistency and predictability that the real world does not provide.

When taking in the experiences of the everyday world, the challenge that autistic people face is that their brains struggle to block out external stimuli; internally, this results in sensory overload. In social situations, this can resemble or materialize as anxiety or panic attacks in crowded or loud situations. The demands of the school classroom can also recreate such stresses.

By using a device called the Oculus Rift, Dr. Nigel Newbutt is helping autistic children make advances in the classroom. The device includes 3D high resolution video as well as audio and tracking technology. The combination of these elements creates an experience that can engross users in a completely virtual world.

“If used appropriately,” Dr. Newbutt told The Independent Online, “virtual reality can provide portals into a neurotypical world, and suggest ways to help navigate this world.”

When Dr. Newbutt and his research team at Michigan State University examined how virtual reality can help the autistic community, they zeroed in on the user’s physical experiences and how VR could assist them in relating to real life scenarios. Dr. Newbutt says the good thing about a virtual reality classroom is that it is predictable and the reaction to the players would always involve consistency. But he also shared a challenging aspect to using this technology for those with autism spectrum disorder.

“[More research must be done to uncover where there] is a risk of stay in…immersing in virtual reality without any bridging of awareness and skill to the real world,” says Dr. Newbutt.

The human avatars in virtual worlds accessed by VR devices like the Oculus Rift are a benefit for those with autism because they have less unpredictable physical movements and use simplified facial expressions and body language. This is a great help to the autistic community because they are then less apt to misread someone or their intentions.

The possibility of using virtual reality in future classroom settings could provide a flexible and affordable support system for autistic people in controlled academic or learning environments. It can also help them navigate bigger and more complex situations in the outside world like traffic, subway stations, and music and sporting events. Ultimately, VR could support the autistic community in making choices that can make their lives more manageable and enjoyable.

Dr. Newbutt says this about the goal of his VR training sessions: “Their real potential is for those on the autistic spectrum to gain enough understanding of the neurotypical world to be able to choose what to take on in their pursuit of self-sufficiency and happiness. We are gradually shifting perspectives from deficits to strengths.”

Prepare for Autumn Rain

Early Autumn is the time to prepare for the rains in central Portugal.

The problem with rain is that it comes down so heavily in the autumn that it can take us by surprise, it can completely swamp a garden, and even destroys newly made lawns or beds. Spring rains are generally lighter and follow a wet winter, but autumn rains are often very heavy and thundery.

I remember standing outside my kitchen a couple of years ago during a heavy storm, watching our Autumn rain in central Portugalgravel path being washed away by the river of water, it gouged out the earth underneath and left some areas of the garden with trenches up to 5cm deep, all in just 30 minutes. The rains usually start at the beginning of October, so it is a good idea to be prepared for them.

If you have a new garden, or have recently made changes to the garden, try to imagine what will happen in a heavy downpour. Most Portuguese houses do not have roof gutters, so the rain pours down onto the paths, then races away downhill. The earlier you catch the water the better. Controlled drainage is the key. In more temperate climates, like the UK, a large amount of the water will soaks into the soil before it does any harm. However in Portugal at the end of summer, the ground is bone dry, especially if it is the notorious red clay that is common in central Portugal, and it will absorb virtually no water at all during the first heavy rains.

If you haven’t yet experienced a good Portuguese drenching, then don’t underestimate the enormous power of the rain water and the damage it can do to a garden. Keeping the grass slightly longer in October will help slow down the water when it reaches the lawn. It is surprising how quickly a village stream or river can fill up when the rains start.

It is important to keep road gutters and edges clear of leaves to help the water to flow away and to prevent the leaves being washed into the drains. We can all do our bit by keeping the roadways outside our own houses free of fallen leaves, as unfortunately autumn brings lots of them at the same time as the rains! The arrival of the autumn rains after a long, hot summer can cause problems but is also a blessing to many gardeners in central Portugal. Farmers will now start preparing the ground for sowing winter crops and the non-irrigated areas of the garden finally get a drenching.

You have time to consider collecting the rainwater for use on the garden when it starts to dry out. There are many ways to do this from plastic tubs under down spouts and drain pipes to concrete water tanks. If you need help sourcing materials or you need advice you will find help in our Business Directory pages.

Introduce Yourself with a Personal Tagline

You’re at a meet-up and someone asks, “So, what do you do?”

Well, you came to the right place because my mission is to help you come up with the perfect answer to that question.

Your own personal tagline — a short and sweet sound bite that says what you do and why you do it.

The “why” part is where it gets interesting. It’s your mission. It’s the purpose behind your work.

Remember this: Your tagline isn’t about impressing people and getting them to hire you. It’s about getting a conversation started.

It’s inspirational because magic happens when you have a strong intention to make a difference.

The easiest way to create a personal tagline

Say what you do and why you do it

You may have the same job title as a million other people. Find something special about how you do your work that makes it more effective.

Do you solve a problem? Do you make people look good? Do you make people more successful?

It could be better customer service, better user experience, better team collaboration.

It’s your “why” statement, your mission, your superpower.

Examples of personal taglines

Superman: I conquer super villains and make the world a safer place.

Social Media Expert: I build Facebook pages to help companies engage with their customers.

App Developer: I write mobile apps that solve everyday problems. I’m working on one right now that helps people get to sleep.

Web Developer: I help people set up online stores that get lots of traffic and sell stuff.

How to find your superpower

Your superpower is a combination of what you do plus the special thing you do that makes it great. It makes you irreplaceable.

Here’s how to create a personal tagline that holds the magic of your superpower:

  • Use The Tell Me About Yourself Checklist to jog your memory about the great things you’ve done. This puts you in the right frame of mind.
  • Watch Simon Sinek’s TED talk, How to Know Your Life Purpose in 5 Minutes
  • Brainstorm 10 personal taglines that say what you do and why you do it.
  • Now pick the one tagline that makes you feel the most confident.

Grassing on the Lawns!

Here is a collation of information for looking after your lawn in the challenging Portugal climate.

We all like our green lawns. Whether you water your lawns throughout the hot months of the summer to keep your lawns green or let them go dry, this is the time of year to make sure we keep our lawns green, for at least some part of the year!

Scarifying, aeration and top dressing are words we have all come across before and this is the time of year to do it.

Scarifying: removing dead growth lawn2

Use a fan shaped rake to give air for the healthy grass to grow. If your lawn is very dry, scarify when dry and lightly scarify again when the first rain comes and you see the new, strong grass shoots coming through.

If you have moss in your lawn then a moss weed killer needs to be used a couple of weeks before scarifying so you are raking out dead moss.

Aeration: Putting air into your soil

Aeration is done by forking all of your lawn, making small holes in the ground 10cm deep, moving the fork when in the ground to disturb the soil underneath, every 15 cm apart. A thankless task but very necessary and helps drainage and root growth.

Top Dressing

Mix together top soil, sharp sand and a little amount of compost. Scatter the mix with your spade over all the lawn. Using a rake, flat side down, work the top dressing into your lawn.

Damaged Lawns

I have used the top dressing method on damaged areas, after clearing the dead grass and raked the bare soil, I have mixed grass seed with soil and some compost and scattered this over the damaged area, using a stiff brush to make sure the mixture gets in between any good grass. This method can achieve reasonable results.

Another suggestion is to cut out the damaged area of turf in a square and lightly fork over the soil in the base of the removed square. Sprinkle some crumbly top soil or compost over the base of the removed square and scatter the grass seed over the area at a rate of 15-25g per sq m (½–¾oz per sq yard) if no sowing rate is given on the packet or by the supplier. Cover the seed with a light sprinkling of top soil or compost to hide it from the birds and water in with a watering can fitted with a fine rose.

Repairing lawn edges lawn1

Dig out a square of the damaged lawn. Turn the damaged square through 180° and replace it so that the cut edge aligns with the lawn edge and the damaged edge is facing inwards and make good if needed as you would for a damaged lawn (above).

Mowing

Mow mainly in Spring and Autumn, when the rains start the grass grows fast, and occasionally in the summer months. You should not mow between February and April, as this is usually a dormant period and never when there is frost. Mowing height is an important factor in keeping a good lawn. For early spring mowing set the cutting height on your lawn mower at its highest setting. Gradually reduce the height until you have reached your desired grass height. Avoiding close mowing which can damage a lawn.

Care for lawns during drought

Mowing – Raise the height of the cut in dry weather to avoid weakening the grasses and let the clippings fall back onto the lawn rather than collecting them so they act as a mulch.

Water your lawn in the evening or early morning or with sprinklers through the night.

If you follow this advice then lunch on the lawn next summer just may be a possibility.

The Pillory Of Tomar

Pillories are stone columns, although some were made of wood, placed in a public place, in a city or village, where the criminals were tortured and publicly humiliated. In Portugal, the pillories of the municipality were located in front the City or Town Hall from the 12th century onwards. Many had on the side a small cage-shaped hut, with iron bars, where offenders were exposed as a form of public shame. These kinds of pillories usually consisted of a base, on which a column or shaft rested, and ended in a capital. Some of them were extremely adorned and served as a symbol of the power of judicial authorities. Its presence was intended to serve as a deterrent to other would-be offenders.

The pillory of Tomar was built in the 18th century,pillory in the now Praça da República. In 1940 it was taken for restoration and, once restored, it was placed in the Largo do Pelourinho. Before this one, two others existed:

The first one on the old Chão do Pombal, at the time of the Knights Templar, and the second one was built later in front of Largo Paços de D. Manuel (presently, Praça da República), in the 16th century, and it has been replaced by the present pillory.

The parts of the Pillory of Tomar

The pillory is made of limestone. As far as the base of the column is concerned, the prismatic part is square-shaped, with bevelled angles and frame in each of the concave sides. The superior side is also bevelled, to reduce the support base of the column. It’s shaft is a pyramidal block emerging from its small base, becoming round-shaped in the middle and then it starts to get thinner all the way to the capital, which is marked by an angular frame on each side. Its sides and angles are well decorated with natural elements. From the top of the pyramidal block, and crowning the monument, rises an iron armillary sphere. The armillary sphere became a common motif during the Age Of Discoveries and it is present in many Manueline styled monuments.

The Manueline style, also known as the Portuguese late Gothic, is an architectural and sculptural art style developed during the reign of King Manuel I and which continued after his death. This style incorporates sea elements and representations of the Discoveries brought from the voyages made by Vasco da Gama and Pedro Álvares Cabral. The Manueline style emerged during a prosperous and glorious period in the history of Portugal, and its presence can be seen in several monuments all over the country.

Summer showers ahead?

The mercury is set to dip slightly over coming days and showers, heavier towards the south, will be in place for much of the country for most of the coming week.

Lisbon: A pleasant and warm Saturday will give way to a cooler Sunday, at around 25 degrees Celsius, and Lisbon could see a few showers around, being heavier on Sunday and gradually easing up as the new week progresses.

The South: Southern Portugal will enjoy a warm if slightly cloudy weekend, with temperatures at around 28 degrees Celsius, before heavy showers move in on Monday and spots of rain lasting until the middle of next week.

The North: The north will be partly cloudy for most of the weekend and cooler than the rest of the country, at around 22 degrees. Rain will fall on Monday and Tuesday, becoming lighter towards Friday.

The Role Pets Play in Managing Our Mental Health

Taking care of a pet can often feel like a full-time job, but have you ever stopped to think about how they also take care of us?

According to a new study, our pets serve to comfort us when we need it the most, especially for people with mental illnesses. When asked what helped them manage their condition, many people said their pets helped the most.

“Many felt deep emotional connections with their pet that weren’t available from friends and family,” said Helen Brooks, a mental health researcher at the University of Manchester in the U.K. and lead author of the study, to NPR.

The researchers interviewed 54 people with serious long-term mental illnesses. Of the group, 25 of the participants considered their pets part of their social network.

“When I’m feeling really low they are wonderful because they won’t leave my side for two days,” said one study participant with two dogs and two cats. “They just stay with me until I am ready to come out of it.”

The participants were asked who they went to for help or advice, where they gained emotional support and encouragement, and how they spent their days. They were then given a diagram to complete. The diagram had three consecutive circles surrounding a square in the middle to represent the participant.

They were asked to write the people, places and things that gave them support into the circles, with the circles closest to the center being the most important. Sixty percent of people placed their pets in the central circle, next to family.

“I think it’s really hard when you haven’t had a mental illness to know what the actual experience is [like],” said one participant. “There’s like a chasm, deep chasm between us … [Other people are] on one side of it, and we’re on the other side of it. We’re sending smoke signals to each other to try and understand each other but we don’t always — we don’t always understand.”

Brooks said many individuals with mental illness find themselves isolated. They start to see less of their friends and pets can give affection without understanding the disorder, she said.

“[Pets] don’t look at the scars on your arms,” said one participant. “They don’t question where you’ve been.”

In addition to providing emotional support and closeness, the participants also said their animals distract them from their illness. One participant placed his pet birds in his closest social circle.

“They help me in the sense, you know, I’m not thinking about the voices, I’m just thinking of when I hear the birds singing,” the participant said.

Mark Longsjo, program director of adult services at McLean Southeast, an inpatient mental facility in Middleborough, Massachusetts, said the participant interviews reflect his professional experiences.

“I think there’s significant value in considering the common everyday pet to be as important as the relationships one has with one’s family in the course of their treatment,” he said.

The pets also keep people from withdrawing from the world. One participant said their cats keep them involved, while another said getting out of the house to walk the dog helps.

“That surprised me, you know, the amount of people that stop and talk to him, and that, yeah, it cheers me up with him,” the participant said. “I haven’t got much in my life, but he’s quite good, yeah.”