a portugal state of mind

I’m back home after six amazing weeks in Europe. It was a life-changing trip. I know I've written that before, but somehow it's always true. When I travel, I arrive home a different person from the one I left behind on my Seattle doorstep.

If I talk a lot about the transformative power of travel around here, that’s because it never ceases to amaze me. I keep expecting travel to become banal or boring or, at the very least, predictable. It never does.

Time away from home always manages to leave me awestruck at the vast and varied beauty of the world. And humbled at my small place in it.

One of the highlights of this last trip was the ten days I spent in Portugal. This sea-swept, sunny little country seems to take up a bit more real estate in my heart every time I visit!

I spent fantastic week in Lisbon seeing friends and doing research for an upcoming retreat. This city is a painting of bright sun, sparkling river and pastel-hued buildings arrayed along sidewalks paved in cream-colored limestone. To climb one of its many hills and look out over the city is breathtaking. Wandering Lisbon's ancient alleys for something as mundane as lunch with a friend takes on an intoxicating air of mystery. And the locals, at first reserved, are quick to offer a smile and a helpful piece of advice if you take the time to strike up a conversation. 

Then Beau joined me and we headed for the rolling, sun-drenched hills of the Alentejo. This part of Portugal is all golden grasses, vineyards, olive groves and placid cows napping in the shade of cork oak trees. I love bouncing over its dusty roads in our rented car--stopping for lunch at a tiny local taberna or pulling off to buy cherries from the back of a farmer’s truck. Wending our way up a one-lane road to a hilltop castle with stunning 360° views of the valley below always leaves me a bit giddy. And watching the sunset from the terrace of a 19th-century olive oil factory (now converted into a fantastic restaurant) leaves me feeling the whole region has been sprinkled in some sort of magic dust. 

I treasure all these golden Portuguese moments. I'm grateful, too, for the effect they have on me once I'm home.
Before this trip, I was running around like a crazy person, trying to jam an unreasonable amount of work into each day. I was stressed and irritable and argumentative (to the point of throwing a blanket on my husband’s head when he refused to acknowledge my infinite wisdom).
That version of me now feels a million miles away. A Portuguese state of mind lingers on, leaving me unable to recall what I was so stressed about exactly. I'm finding it easier to focus on work instead of scrolling manically through Instagram at five minute intervals. I’m energized to dive into creative projects that have been languishing on my mental to-do list. I'm miraculously able to stop working at a reasonable hour these days in order to take walks along the lake with Beau before we head home to open a bottle of wine and throw together a simple dinner. I’m sleeping like a champ.
Travel can do that. 

Which is precisely why I keep exploring. And also why I invite you to come with me: this last trip to Portugal was so inspiring, I want you to experience it for yourself!

I'm thrilled to announce I'm teaming up with my friend Filipe to bring you a week of food, wine, creativity and beauty in sunny Lisbon this October!

Filipe and I have so many amazing experiences planned for you. We've filled this retreat with the sort of people and places no traditional tour guide could take you to--some of our most talented creative and culinary friends and visits to our very favorite, locals-only spots!

You'll cook Portuguese specialties alongside local chefs and sample the custardy sweets the country is famous for. You'll travel to an organic farm and harvest sea urchins by hand at the shore. You'll visit the studios of a jewelry-maker and a ceramicist and learn to make your own wall-hanging with a local artisan. You'll stroll historic streets sampling hyper-local wines, cheeses and other Lisbon specialties.

This is going to be the best trip ever!!! (I'm getting goosebumps just thinking about it.) This retreat is the perfect way to banish burn-out, inject creative inspiration into your life and experience this stunning country.

Registration in now open and I absolutely cannot wait to share my Portugal with you! Click the button below to join us!

paris + portugal

paris image via millys-kitchen.com
paris image via millys-kitchen.com
paris image via millys-kitchen.com

Hello friends!

Here’s my current situation: I’m laid up on the couch with a nasty cold. I’ve talked Beau into recreating the breakfast we ate over and over at our favorite coffee shop in Paris: softly scrambled eggs with black pepper and chives, buttered toast and a cortado (which is ever-so-adorably called a noisette, or “hazelnut”, in French). So I’m nursing my noisette and trying not to be too grumpy about being home.

I am happy to be back in our little house, snuggle my cat and see friends. But other than that I'm sort of hating the transition back to Seattle life: grey skies, having to drive everywhere, feeling isolated working from home, bills. I posted this sentiment on Instagram yesterday and received a ton of wonderful advice on how to get over my Seattle blues: jazz on the stereo, candles, nature walks, a trip to Coyle’s Bakeshop for pastries, and (because this is Seattle) lots of coffee. 

paris image via millys-kitchen.com
paris image via millys-kitchen.com
paris image via millys-kitchen.com

I’m taking this advice to heart. I plan to give each suggestion a go. I especially liked the recommendations to get “an insanely cozy pair of fuzzy socks (even if they're ugly as hell)” and to head to the butterfly exhibit at the Seattle Center for a dose of pretty. 

portugal image via millys-kitchen.com

In the meantime, I decided to spend the morning editing photos I took during our trip to France and Portugal. First of all, for some strange reason I love photo-editing and it always puts me in a good mood. Also, this trip was an especially good one. I’m not exactly sure why. It might have had something to do with how much I liked everyone who came on the Paris culinary tour. Or it might have been the fact that Beau was with me for almost the entire trip. It might have been spending an evening at the beach in Portugal with friends watching an especially stunning sunset. Or perhaps the week Beau and I spent rambling through olive and oak groves in the Portuguese countryside, stopping at tiny villages to sample local specialties. 

portugal image via millys-kitchen.com
portugal image via millys-kitchen.com

Whatever the reason, looking back at all the beautiful places we visited over the last month and sharing them with all of you is brightening my spirits already.

I’ll be back soon with some new recipes for you. Until then, I hope you enjoy these photos from Paris and Portugal!



portugal image via millys-kitchen.com
portugal image via millys-kitchen.com
portugal image via millys-kitchen.com
portugal image via millys-kitchen.com
portugal image via millys-kitchen.com
portugal image via millys-kitchen.com
portugal image via millys-kitchen.com
portugal image via millys-kitchen.com
portugal image via millys-kitchen.com

your love affair with portugal

portugal culinary retreat via millys-kitchen.com



Hello, friends!

We've reached Day 5 in the Countdown to Portugal! For those of you just joining in today:

Registration for the Portugal culinary retreat opens tomorrow at 10am PST

To celebrate and to share with you all the things I love about Portugal, I’ve been posting to the blog this week about this hidden gem of a country and why you need to mark your calendars and join me for 7 days of sun, wine, seafood and stunning views this October!

Here are links to Day 1Day 2Day 3  and Day 4 in case you missed them.

Today, I'm sharing all the details of the retreat with you. Along with a few more reasons I think you should join me this October. Read on to find out what I've got in store for you, then check back tomorrow at 10am to register and start your love affair with Portugal!

portugal culinary retreat via millys-kitchen.com

I take people to places that awaken our senses. 
Places that remind us how life can be lived.


portugal culinary retreat via millys-kitchen.com

I was not expecting what I found in Portugal.

I went for a photography workshop. I was just passing through for a few days on my way to Paris. It’s sunny, I thought. And I think they have decent wine. Whatever. No big whoop.

But every day I spent in Portugal upended my assumptions and revealed a brand new (and unexpected) passion for this little country that hardly anyone knows about.

But you should.

portugal culinary retreat via millys-kitchen.com
portugal culinary retreat via millys-kitchen.com

I don't say this lightly:

  • You need to feel the Portuguese sun on your shoulders and breathe in the briny scent of the sea.
  • You need to hear the poetry of Portuguese in your ears.
  • You need a break from obsessing about work and bills and obligations and to-do lists.
  • You need to put your feet up and sip crisp vinho verde from a terrace perched over the river Tejo.
  • You need to walk along cobbled streets that curve between pastel-hued houses.
  • You need to visit tiny fishing villages and centuries-old farmhouses and castles by the sea.
  • You deserve to relax. Slow down. Take in the intense beauty of this wondrous country.
portugal culinary retreat via millys-kitchen.com

I fell hard. Head-over-heels. In love with Portugal.

I fell for its soft-ripened cheeses. Smoky charcuterie. Sultry wines. And the seafood!

Portugal is a country that understands seafood. You absolutely need to taste it, fresh off the line.

portugal culinary retreat via millys-kitchen.com

Now I’m on a mission: 

I want everyone (but especially you--my beauty-savoring, culinary friends) to begin your love affair with Portugal.

Consider me your official match-maker.

Any travel tour or guide book can lead you to the typical tourist spots. But that's where everyone goes. And then you return from your vacation needing a vacation since your nerves are fried from all the planning and the the crowds.

That's why a lot of people don't travel as much as they should. It takes a good amount of time and effort to plan the perfect trip. And it can feel like a crap shoot in terms of the actual experience lining up with your dreams.

This October, all you need to do is book your ticket, pack your bags and show up! I’ll take care of the rest. You’ll leave Portugal feeling refreshed, reinvigorated and ready to re-enter your life with a joyful new perspective.

portugal culinary retreat via millys-kitchen.com
portugal culinary retreat via millys-kitchen.com

My mission is to create beautiful experiences for people.

Beauty brightens weary perspectives.
Beauty opens hearts and minds.
Beauty shifts priorities from the habitual ho-hum to our true desires.

It slows us down.
Unravels our complications.
Awakens our sleepy creativity.
Opens our eyes to what truly matters and what can fall away...

Traveling to far off places awakens our senses like nothing else can. 

We return to our lives feeling like a veil has been lifted. Things seem more crisp. More purposeful.

More beautiful.

portugal culinary retreat via millys-kitchen.com

People who travel with me enjoy the luxury of ease and authentic, non-touristy, experiences specifically for lovers of beauty and cuisine.

Here's what I have planned for you in Portugal:

  • Two amazing hands-on cooking classes with local chefs
  • Food tours featuring local artisans crafting excellent products with love
  • An excursion to an organic farm in the country where we’ll taste local wines and cheeses, and dine al fresco. 
  • A visit to a fishing village where we’ll learn about centuries-old curing techniques, take a tour of the (lively!) fish market, and visit a tiny, locals-only restaurant for a traditional seafood lunch. Yum!
  • Plenty of opportunities to taste Portugal’s amazing wines and ports and learn how they’re made
  • Several cheese and charcuterie tastings. You will not believe how good the cheese and charcuterie are in Portugal! You’re going to want to fill your suitcases with this stuff.
  • Lots of tasting pastéis de nata and other delicious pastries  
  • Local guides who will lead us to the city’s hidden culinary gems. 
  • Neighborhood walking tours highlighting Portugal’s amazingly beautiful architecture and grand history
  • Visits to some of Lisbon and Porto’s most fantastic shops and markets
  • Delicious breakfasts, Portuguese-style
  • Lunch or dinner every day at local restaurants, traditional and modern 
  • Eight nights of accommodation at boutique hotels in Lisbon and Porto. (Hand-picked by moi, after much deliberation. They’re beautiful.) 
  • A bedroom all to yourself. (So you can chill out when you’re tired of being around other people and get a great night’s sleep.) 
portugal culinary retreat via millys-kitchen.com
  • Transportation within Lisbon and Porto and for all excursions. Taxis! Subways! Trains! Boats! So much adventure!
  • Gratuities for local guides, instructors, drivers, servers and hotel staff. Because we’re nice like that. And because they work hard taking care of the details that make our stay extraordinary.
  • Free time to make your own discoveries. Sometimes the discoveries you stumble on to are the most memorable.
  • Personalized recommendations of Lisbon and Porto sights and shops for your free time--in case you need a little help figuring out what to do.
  • The joy of traveling with a small group of fellow food lovers!
portugal culinary retreat via millys-kitchen.com
"I enjoyed everything! Our group was fun and Olaiya responded easily to our requests for seeing or doing this or that. The food was amazing, and I loved how we walked everywhere, which kept us hungry enough to eat all of the delicious food. The restaurants were carefully chosen and we chatted with each Chef towards the end of our meal. It was delightful!
Enjoying the sites and history fit easily between our planned events. Olaiya was amenable to moving things around based on our interests which made for a very personalized experience.
The trip was so well thought out, organized, and relaxed. I cannot wait for the next Portugal trip and traveling with the wonderful Olaiya!" -- Sonya
portugal culinary retreat via millys-kitchen.com

The Details...

October 3-9, 2016.
The perfect time to visit Portugal, in my opinion.

7 days of eating, drinking, cooking and wandering our way through Lisbon and Porto!

Size of group:
6 (plus me)!

$4497 for seven carefree days of beauty and inspiration. And the food. Did I mention the food?

A 50% deposit is required to reserve your spot. The balance is due two months before we depart.

What's not included:

• Your airline tickets, taxes & baggage fees

• Travel insurance. Which is pretty nifty and I highly advise.

• Room service. 

• Gratuities for restaurant wait staff when you’re not with the group

• Meals when you’re not with the group

• Any activities or items not listed above

Cancellation policy:
Please be sure you can attend before booking. All payments are non-refundable.

portugal culinary retreat via millys-kitchen.com

“The gladdest moment in human life, me thinks, is a departure into unknown lands.”  

– Sir Richard Burton

There are only 3 spots left. One of them is yours.



portugal culinary retreat via millys-kitchen.com