Aug 28, 2007

the butterfly skirt

I finished the prototype, but my photo taking talent lacks quite a lot. Here it is:

I like it well enough that I plan to make another skirt, not exactly the same, but still a long one, and based on the pattern that this one is from. I'll use a different color and probably a different edging, but this one was fun. The pattern for the motifs at the bottom said that it was a leaf pattern, but it looks more like a butterfly pattern to me. I might use it again - and give it more of a butterfly look than it has now.

Okay, I'm editing with some more photos. Here's the skirt, spead out on the bed.

And a shot of the motif more closely.

And then the border.

Aug 26, 2007

La Vaca Loca

Last night, we went to a fiesta of La Virgin de Asunciòn. It was held at the end of a block, in the street Los Olivos. There was a live band and they put on a free concert. O. and I funded the construction of one of three vaca loca costumes. The vaca loca is a painted paper machè cow (ours was a gray beauty with big dreamy eyes and elegantly painted blue horns), hollow in the middle, large enough for a man to put over his head and shoulders, and strung up with pinwheels of spark-throwing fireworks. Traditional Peruvian music plays and the man puts the cow over his upper body and someone lights the fuse. The cow dances to the music and the sparkling pinwheels light and shoot off 2 at a time. It's great fun and the fireworks are handled by professionals, so it's fairly safe, too. We stayed long enough to watch our cow dance and another of the paper machè Holstein variety, and a tower of pinwheels and sparklers light up. It wasn't long before the whole neighborhood was out to dance in the street and enjoy the crazy dancing cows. I tried to get a photo of the cows dancing, but the fireworks were too bright and all I got was a big yellow flash on the picture. Wah. In spite of the lack of photos, the fiesta was great!

anyway, since I have no photos to post, I thought I'd share this little cutie,

and a "vaca loca" film clip:

Aug 25, 2007

More on Causa

More about the causa...

There are so many variations on this dish. Causa rellena con atun (tuna), causa filled with shrimp, causa filled with crab meat, causa filled with chicken...etc, etc, etc...

The causa that I ate had different colors of potato layers - the bottom layer was green, but the flavor was the same as the other layers, so I'm guessing that a small amount of avocado was mixed with the mashed potatoes to add the color. The middle layer was yellow, and I'm sure they used a bit of yellow pepper paste to color it. The top layer was orange - I think they may have used tomato sauce or red pepper puree to color that layer.

I found a recipe for causa filled with tuna, but the fillings are really very eay to change out. Suggestions for filliings are at the bottom of the recipe:

CAUSA DE ATUN / Tuna Fish Potato Loaf

Ingredients :
2.2 lb (1 k) potatoes (yellow, if available)
1/4 cup oil
Juice of 2 key limes
1 tablespoon ground aji amarillo fresco / fresh yellow aji (chili)
1.1 lb (½ k) fresh tuna fish or 2 6-oz cans of tunafish packed in oil
½ red onion, diced
2 tomatoes
2 sliced avocados
2 cups mayonnaise
8 Spanish olives
2 hardboiled eggs
Optional: Red pepper, thinly sliced


Boil potatoes with salt. Peel and mash. Combine with salt, white ground pepper, key lime juice, aji and oil.

Mix tuna fish with mayonnaise and diced onion.

Spread potato mixture on a thin rectangular sheet of plastic. Spread the filling: top with tomatoes, sliced avocado and roll using the plastic to help form a round loaf.

Refrigerate for one hour, remove plastic and place on a serving dish. Garnish with parsley, chopped olives and hard boiled eggs, sliced avocado (with drops of key lime juice to prevent discoloring) and if desired, mayonnaise and red pepper slices.

Note: If canned tuna fish is used, season with key lime juice and chopped onion.

If fresh tuna fish is used, bake first with salt and ground white pepper.

Different fillings for Causa:
Avocado, mayonnaise, diced tomato and boiled diced eggs.
Avocado, mayonnaise, beets and boiled diced eggs.
Shrimps, mayonnaise, ketchup, drops of lime juice and ground yelow aji.
Crabmeat and mayonnaise.
Octopus in olive sauce.
Olives and mayonnaise.

6 servings

Aug 23, 2007

Wednesday weavings

I'm finished with the skirt portion of my latest project. Now all that's left is the border at the bottom edge. That is taking more time than the whole upper skirt took! I've decided on a different motif for snowflakes. I changed to a leaf style of motif, and really like the looks of it. Connecting the motifs to the skirt will be a little challenge, since the skirt was designed for snowflakes, but I don't think it should be too difficult. The snowflakes just didn't inspire me when they were done all in one color - gray. I'm still scattering a few beads here and there on the motifs, and will have beads on the final lower edge when the skirt is finished.

Celeste and I went walking in the rain today. It's been raining off and on for the last week. Rain here is not really that cut loose and pour kind of rain; just drizzle. Things are wet and chilly outside, but inside we are all comfy - crocheting, watching soccer, and sharing a bag of chips between the three of us: O., Celeste, and me. Days like this are sometimes dreary for me, but when I have plenty to keep me occupied, I'm fine. It also helps to know that everything is fine with my family at home. My daughter has been writing me a lot more than usual, which thrills me to no end (seriously!), and I talked with my dad yesterday.

I spent the morning preparing for my conversational class this evening. I hope several people come. One of the instructors here at the institute wants to attend! We talked yesterday about pronunciation. She is dissatisfied with her pronunciation. Although she has studied and taught English for 25 years, she feels that her pronunciation is terrible. Actually, I don't think it is. She has an accent, of course, and keeping up with the evolving language and all its idiomatic phrases is difficult, but honestly I think she speaks quite well. She just doesn't sound like an American nor does she sound British. She sounds like a Peruvian, which is perfectly acceptable to me.

We went out to eat a few days ago, and I had una causa rellena con cangrejo (layered potato pureè filled with crab meat. Yummy! I'd never had causa before, but have always been curious about it. I'll hunt for a recipe. For now, here is a picture of causa rellena con camerones (shrimp).

Aug 20, 2007


Taliesin is 1/4 Peruvian medium/dark brown. He's grown into a lovely young jr. herdsire in the last year and will begin his breeding career this spring. Each shearing shows a better and better fleece. Couple that with his outstanding conformation and strong bone and he makes a very nice male. We'll see if he can pass on all of that to his offspring.

A son of Tessa and Black Knight, Taliesin is for sale for $5000 USD. For more information, contact Suzzanne here.

The Secret

Wise little bunnies share insight on "The Secret". :o)

An Update and a Crocheted skirt

I've started a new project. It's a crocheted skirt from Interweave Crochet magazine, Fall 2006. I like the look of it, kind of an updated hippy look, without being messy. And although I love granny squares, I can only handle so much of that, too, so this will be a good change. I'm doing the first one, the prototype, in gray alpaca/acrylic blend, and if it turns out well, I'll make the "real one" in light gray, white, and black alpaca. I like the snowflake pattern on the lower hem. If there's enough yarn left, I'll make a little shrug or capelet to go with it. I'm about halfway through the prototype now, and really liking the pattern. It's working up pretty quickly. I'm planning to string a few e-beads on the yarn to scatter at random on the lower half of the skirt. Only the lower half, though...I know if I were wearing it, I'd sit on those little glass beads and split them in half as soon as I sat on a hard surface. So beads only on the lower half, where there's no weight to be mashing them.

Life here in Lima is returning to normal. We still feel the periodic tremor, but they are nothing much and causing no damage. Dearest Cupcake had a much harder time, and a very close-up look at the quake action in Ayacucho. I'm glad she came out of it okay. The neighborhood where we live and the military community (including the institute where I work) are busy collecting clothing, blankets, bottled water, and non-perishable foods to send to the effected areas. Medicines and first aid supplies have been sent and distributed where needed. I asked what would happen with those people who lost their homes in the quake, and was told that probably the government would replace them with a comparable sized house, but of better construction. Where they will be staying in the meantime, I don't know. The news now reports of the problem with gangs and criminals controlling the neighborhood streets, looting the destroyed homes and businesses, and then there is the danger of damaged houses that are still standing. The people are beginning to move back into their houses, if they are still standing, but it might only take a small tremor to bring the walls down on them, if they were made of adobe or if there was significant damage. Police and local military units are trying to maintain order and peace, but where there are desperate and unhappy people, there is little peace.

More on this can be read here, if you missed the link above.

Aug 16, 2007

The day after...

I was at work when we felt the tremor. It wasn't particularly strong in Lima, but it lasted a while. We felt it at around 7:15 pm, and it shook the institute for a good ten minutes. I thought it was me, maybe getting an inner ear infection and losing balance, then students began to scream and cry in the courtyard. People ran for the main entrance to get out, and people from the streets were trying to escape the swaying buses and cars by running inside. That was the most dangerous place, a bigger threat than what the tremor caused here in Lima. Panic all around. I was mostly just standing there enjoying the odd feeling of the ground moving under my feet, not really getting that this was actually a much bigger quake somewhere else. I haven't heard much of the news yet - just what was on the radio in the bus on my way home last evening. What I have heard is that the epicenter was in Pisco or Ica, and reached a magnitude of 7.5 on the Richter scale. Four hundred-odd people dead or missing, around 350 confirmed dead. Edited at 10:40 pm - 510 confirmed dead. Wounded being airlifted to Lima hospitals. Military medical teams and civil engineers have been mobilized to extract and treat people as they are found in the rubble of their homes.

Here in Lima, there are some cracks in the walls of some buildings and things fell off the shelves on the higher floors, but no one was killed and no homes or buildings came down. A man came to inspect the apartment building and found a few minor cracks, which were repaired, but nothing else. Celeste weathered the tremor in her crate and in her magic camo jammies, safe, secure and happy. She bounced out of the crate and went out to play with us. Celeste's buddy, Galo the beagle, came outside upset and was still trembling an hour later. The cocker, upstairs, stays in the bathroom when his people go to work, and all the bathroom shelves emptied themselves on the floor, where he was. Happily, he made himself a bed of the towels that landed on the floor.

Thanks to all for leaving your comments of concern and good wishes. We appreciate them so much! We are all safe here. O.'s cousin, Fanny, lives in Pisco and she and her family are safe, although the rear portion of their bed & breakfast inn collapsed last night. Luckily, the portion that they live in and the restaurant are intact.

Aug 15, 2007

a little music, please

Gotcha, Papa

Yesterday morning, something happened close to our building...but I don't know what. All the dogs in the building knew, but I didn't. Maybe a little tremor, maybe an ambulance closer than usual - I don't know. But all the dogs barked and made a ton of noise. In the midst of Galo barking and the cocker spaniel upstairs yelping, I noticed a delicate little voice, almost musical. I looked at O., and he looked at me - neither one of us were singing. Celeste sat in the living room, looking out the window and then tipped her nose toward the ceiling and sang a beautiful little tune in that delicate, musical little voice. Not loud, not mournful, just high, sweet and tuneful. Not at all what I was expecting. Her usual "inside voice" is a mixture of barking and yodeling, and I half-expected her singing voice to be something similar. It only lasted a couple of moments, and then whatever it was passed. But now I know that Ms. Blue Eyes follows the rest the family, and can sing for her supper, if necessary.

Now, if we could just teach her to play the banjo. The photos below are a little fuzzy, because I'm always trying to take the picture before she moves. Celeste can only be still for a few seconds at a time, when she sees a camera come out. Then she tries to look inside the lens and that makes a rather dark close-up.

I finished the garnet sweater and also finished a dark brown capelet. Celeste is here, modeling the capelet. It is dark brown acrylic, cheap but warm, and in this photo, Celeste is modeling the garment with a rhinestone pin from Walmart. Very chic, very stylish, very dramatic for the young Siberian diva.

Aug 13, 2007

Lunch For A Wild Tomato

Tiradito, the younger brother of ceviche, has only become well-known in the last 20 years or so. Its origins can be found in the approach of Japanese immigrants to eating raw fish, though some suggest it's closer to Italian carpaccio, popularised earlier in the 20th century by Genovese immigrants.

Two are the main differences between them: the cut and onions. While ceviche is cut in bite-size cubes and comprises a generous amount of onions, tiradito is sliced in fine, long pieces and carries no onions.


600g of white fish (sea bass, flounder, grouper, sole, etc).

Juice of 15 key limes

1 mild chile pepper seeded, deveined, and finely diced

4 tbsp ají amarillo paste (medium to hot chile paste)

1 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped

1 tbsp freshly chopped cilantro

Salt and pepper


Make a dressing with the lime juice, diced pepper, ají amarillo paste, ginger, salt, and pepper. Set aside (preferably in the fridge).

Slice the fish into fine, sashimi-like pieces (stripes about 6cm long, 2.5cm wide, and 1,5cm thick). Place in a cold serving dish, the pieces on a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Cover with the dressing and serve immediately. As with ceviche, tiradito can be garnished with sweet potatoes and boiled corn grains, yuca or clean, edible seaweed.

Aug 12, 2007

Adventures in sea food

I have a new favorite food: conchitas a la parmesana. It's scallops on the half shell, with lime juice poured over them, and freshly grated parmesan cheese (not the boxed stuff) sprinkled over the shell to cover. Then they are broiled till the cheese is melted and lightly golden brown.

I also like choritos - steamed mussels on the half shell, covered with a mixture of marinated minced onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and lime juice, with a dash of salt.

Today we tried a new food for lunch - tiraditos. Tiraditos are like sushi, a lot like ceviche. It is raw white fish, sliced thinly and marinated in lime and covered with a sauce based on hot peppers and vinegar. Garnished with white corn kernels. It seems like a very simple dish, but wow, is it good.

Aug 11, 2007

A Good Day

Today has been a great day! My conversation class was filled to overflowing this morning and we had to move to another classroom. I planned some activities to get them started talking, and it seemed to work very well. I had some returning students and many new ones. We made introductions, conducted interviews among the students, had group discussions and brainstorming sessions, and then they presented what they had discovered about one another through the interviews and presented their discussion topics and talked about their passions. They seemed to enjoy the class and managed to get over their fear of making mistakes while speaking. That's a major hurdle for many of them. So many are afraid of mis-speaking and fade into the background of their classes, so by the time they get to me, in advanced English, they are still speaking on a very basic level. So we work on speaking with confidence, expanding the vocabulary a little more each class, and creating conversation on the fly, without needing to write every sentence down before speaking.

Celeste and I have also had a good day. We've been at the park and out walking most of the afternoon. We came back so she could catch a nap and I could catch up on housework and sit down for a few minutes. We bought a DVD movie and a bag of chips to share...the chips were gone long before the movie ended, but Celeste seemed to enjoy watching "Arthur and the Minimoys" as much as I did. Some days I wonder if we are the right family for Celeste. She is rarely satisfied with walks and runs in the park, and often her energy and personality get her into trouble outside as well as around the house. She's so gregarious and believes that every person she meets is just waiting for her to leap on them and smother them with kisses. Some of them are, and invite her to jump on them. Others are terrified of the big feet and teeth that they see coming at their faces. She also thinks that every used Kleenex, plastic bag and fallen leaf is placed on the sidewalk just for her. In the house, she feels that she needs to be with us at all times, to the exclusion of going outside to pee. That seems to be taking things to the extreme, in my opinion, but I admit that I don't know everything there is to know about the Siberian psyche.

I've decided, too, that I will only knit with gray and light-colored yarns until Celeste is finished shedding. Heh, it may well be that I spend the next several years knitting only light-colors and grays...I'm not sure how the shedding pattern goes for Siberians. My Basset hound sheds about every six weeks all year round and adores being brushed. Celeste has been shedding for the last 2 months and there's no sign of it letting up yet. It's not coming out in clumps like she might be shedding her winter coat, just dropping about a handful a day throughout the apartment. And she seems to detest being brushed, even with a soft-bristled brush, so she makes it a challenge to keep her groomed and minimize the dog hair that lands on the floor. Come to think of it, Celeste seems make most things a challenge.

Aug 8, 2007


This is Tessa. Tessa is a classy young girl! She is ½ Peruvian out of Peruvian Cahuide and Booth/Douglas Jurita, a true black. Her fawn fleece shows wonderful crimp and a very soft handle. Tessa is a great mom--lots of milk, very attentive to her cria, and keeps her own weight up while lactating. Tessa is an unassuming beauty that is one of our favorites. Tessa's newest baby is a beautiful true black female. She's only two days old and looks to be an amazing little girl. Tessa will be bred back to Abba's Black Knight again for an early fall 2008 cria.


This month, I have 4 classes! I have my regular daily class and the Monday-Wednesday-Friday class. And in addition, I have a conversation class on Saturdays and another conversation class Thursday evenings. Wooohooo!

I taught my first conversation class last Saturday. It was very interesting because there were people there from all different walks of life. Most were past students of the institute, returning to brush up on their English skills for a specific purpose. One man is a military officer, headed to Africa to work in some facet of the United Nations. His boss will be Canadian, so this man feels the need to be sure of his communication skills. Others are professional people, most dealing with international customers, usually on the telephone. Still others are students of other institutes who want to improve their grades and speaking skills. This past Saturday was a little difficult for me, since I hadn't any idea of what to expect. Now I know, and I have a plan.

Tomorrow is my next conversation class. I can't wait! Although Saturday was difficult, it was so much fun getting the people talking and getting to know them. Actually breaking the ice and getting conversation started was the most difficult. Once they got started, all I needed to do was guide them and help them with pronunciation. We did a group story, which will be continued this Saturday. I gave them a starting point and they ran with it from there. We had a brainstorming session. We practiced introductions and reading - from something other than a text book.

I've finished the basic structure of the garnet sweater and am putting on the collar this morning. I still have to close the seams on the sides and sleeves, but I hope that by tomorrow, I'll be able to wear it to work! I think I'll have enough yarn to make a scarf to go with it.

Aug 3, 2007

All together now...

Every day, 4 to 5 times a day, Celeste goes for a walk or run with either my husband or me. We may hit the bike path or go to the park, or just walk and walk and walk with her. She is learning basic manners: sit, stay, heel, down. But Celeste is Siberian, and has her own thoughts and her own agenda. When we come to an intersection, she knows that the thing to do is to sit and wait until we are able to cross the street with no cars coming. Sometimes, when traffic is heavy or there are lots of people on the sidewalk, she gets busy checking out the people and the sounds and forgets that she is to sit and wait for the word to go. Then I remind her with a "Celeste, SIT". Several times there has been so much noise that she couldn't hear me, so I bend closer to her ear to tell her...loudly. And several times, there came a break in the noise, just as I yelled "Celeste, SIT!" So now, at the corner, if there are people who are familiar with us, they join in and everyone says, "Celeste, SIT!"

When we go to the yarn store, the same drill applies. Celeste knows that she is to sit quietly in the store and wait until I've made my purchases. She gets to go inside the stores with me, as long as she behaves herself. So the people behind the counter all join in with me and we say in stereo, "Celeste, SIT!" At the corner pop stand, the old lady and her son, who keep it, join me in saying, "Celeste, SIT!" On the bike path, with pooper scooper in hand, I often yell over the sound of traffic, "Celeste, do your business!", but sometimes the traffic noise fades unexpectedly, and so now many people have learned "Celeste, DO YOUR BUSINESS!"

I'm so proud that, as an English teacher, I have been able to contribute to the continuing education of the community and teach everyone within earshot a few basic phrases in English, heh. Just doing my part for the betterment of the world.

Aug 2, 2007

Picture day in the park

Celeste and I went for a walk this afternoon. We got a few photos of the surrounding area and the park, and some of Ms. Blue Eyes, of course. Behold:

Celeste on guard, above and below. Watching for pigeons...

An apartment building close to the park. Apartment buildings are going up everywhere!

Houses on the block. I like the blue one.

The front door of a house nearby.

There among the plants is the pigeon that Celeste wanted to play with...

Back home again!