Thursday, March 29, 2012

Traveling Friends- Peru

Last month I revealed a new feature that I am hoping to make regular here on the blog. I have asked friends and readers to share their travels with us and answer some questions. Last month, I featured Taryn's trip to Egypt. This month, I am happy to share with you Larry K's trip to Peru. As I did last month, I asked a few questions, here are Larry's responses and photos. 

MSTG: What kind of animals did you see?
LARRY: We saw llamas, wild pigs and various birds.

MSTG: What do the houses look like?
LARRY: There were many kinds of houses: modern buildings in the cities, small houses made of wood or concrete in the rural areas.

MSTG: What type of transportation did you primarily use during your visit?
LARRY: We traveled in a minivan that was provided by the organizer of the trip. We were on a yoga tour of the Sacred Valley of Peru, and we stayed most of the time at a retreat center. We also took a train from the center to the town of Aguas Calientas, to get to Machu Picchu. 

Machu Picchu.
Llama at Machu Picchu. 
MSTG: What was your favorite meal that you ate there?
LARRY: We had many wonderful meals; at the retreat center we ate fantastic home-cooked Peruvian food, including excellent vegetable fritters, fresh salads and grains.  

MSTG: Did you see any good live music?
LARRY: We didn't see any live music, but I did play guitar at the orphanage which is owned by the retreat center.

Horse at the orphanage. 
Jam session at the orphanage. 
MSTG: What were the children doing?
LARRY: Mostly, the children were in school, but we did see children in the market with their mothers. 

Peruvian Wedding Celebrants. 

Thank you Larry for sharing your photos and experience with us! 

If you would like to share your travels with us, contact me at mamacitasglobe[at]yahoo[dot]com. We'd love to see where you've been! 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Saying Goodbye To Peru

We have officially concluded our tour of Peru. We created a flag, made a yummy snack of alfajores, made some clay llamas, and now, we have eaten the food. 

As always, I got up early and spent the day in the kitchen preparing for our big feast. I had music playing that was Peruvian radio (streaming free online), many recipes at my fingertips on the computer, and all of the dishes clean, ready to be used. 

Causa Rellena de Pollo, Quinoa Salad, and Humitas (Tamales) to eat. Limonada to drink (we used brown sugar to sweeten it and instead of blending it with ice, we just served it over ice.) 
My dinner. Yes, I went back for more as I always do, it was delicious! 
While we enjoyed our dinner, I asked trivia questions and my littles and our guests did a great job answering them. 
Dessert: Encanelado
I had our recent library books, still on loan, and the book that we made set out for our guests to see, and for us to reflect on if we wanted to. 

After dinner, Aiden grabbed the book Moon Rope (which I told you about here) and sat at the table and read it again. This was super exciting as he is a new reader and doing really well, he really likes to read! 
When our guests left, Preston and I tucked our littles into bed, put the left overs away and turned out the lights on the pile of dirty dishes. We had the same balance of relief and sadness to have it behind us that we always have the end of one of our journeys. 

**Check back in a few days, I am going to be featuring a readers travels. After that, we are going to be moving on to a new destination, we will be "visiting" another European country.
See the other European Countries that we have visited here, here and here.  

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Cold Llamas and Happy Sun

What is a mother to do with her littles when it is a freakishly hot day in March? A craft of course! We had not yet done our Peruvian inspired craft, so it was high time that we got to it. In my efforts to break away from Sculpey and create some table decor for our Peruvian dinner which is just around the bend, I jumped waaayyy outside of the box (ok, not really) and used air drying clay. 

The supplies, including our very well loved table cloth that is specifically for craft projects.

The littles and I discussed what we would make and we decided to make a sun together, Aiden and I would each make a llama, Aiden would make a potato and an ear of corn, and Eliana would make some beads. She really had little interest in making anything else on her own. 

To make the sun, I made the center shape, then asked Aiden to smooth out as many of the cracks as he could using water and his fingers, I made the rays and Aiden scored them and added water to help them adhere, Eliana made the parts for the face, then scored and wet those areas. Both of the kids added details to the rays after. 

After we finished Aiden thought that the llamas were probably cold and should have blankets (why he thought they were cold is beyond me, it was 86 degrees in our house while we worked on this, so very far from cold.) 

The llamas, corn, potato (cut in half), beads, and the sun.
The cold llamas. 
One blanketed llama. (Aiden is still working on a blanket for his, so in the next post when I share the dinner  table decor, it should be done.)
Our happy sun. 
We had a lot of fun and got a little messy making these creations. I am eager for them to sit on the table as we enjoy our Peruvian feast. 

*If any of you have been to Peru and want to submit some photos and answer a few easy questions to share on the blog, please let me know! I have some great ones to share soon from a reader who recently visited Cuba, but I'd love to squeeze in some Peruvian ones too! Contact me at mamacitasglobe[at]yahoo[dot]com

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Book, A Stamp, and A Map

One of the very first things I like to do when we start learning about a new country each month is make a trip to the local library and see what we can find for books. I look for books that are inspired by the culture that we are learning about, rather than a fact book. It doesn't have to be fiction, but it usually is. 

The book that we found this month is Moon Rope/ Un lazo a la luna by Lois Ehlert. It is based on a Peruvian folk tale about a fox and a mole who make a rope of grass to climb to the moon. The fox desperately wants to see what's up there, the mole is nervous and keeps looking down as they climb. The mole falls to the earth, the fox makes it to the moon. As a result, the mole prefers to stay in his tunnels during the day and come out at night to see his fox friend on the face of the moon. 

One of the things that I liked about this folk tale was that it carried more than one message. On one hand, it reminds us that our fear can make us fall, as mole did while climbing the rope, because he kept looking down, while the fox who kept looking up to the moon made it there. On the other hand, the story is told in a way that can also make you see the perspective of keeping your feet on the ground. That maybe it isn't so bad that the mole fell and that the grass isn't always greener on the other side.

All in all it was a nice story, with cool artwork and the added bonus is that it is written in both English and Spanish on every page.

Another part of our monthly tours is scratching our scratch map. This time, the country that was being scratched happened to be a gold color which made it a bit more difficult to see the boundaries since the part you are supposed to scratch off is also gold. Aiden did a great job scratching it (he did scratch part of Ecuador in the process, but not too much.)

It is also time for stamping the passports. I contemplated trying a different medium this month instead of a potato, but it seemed that probably Peru was not the month to skip using a potato since potatoes are such a big part of Peruvian agriculture. 

Eliana, looking moderately crazy, getting ready to stamp her passport. 
Showing it off.  
The stamp. 
We are starting to prepare for our end of the month celebration, planning our meal, thinking of table decor and sampling music. BUT, before we do that, we have one more craft project planned and I will share that with you on Thursday. 

You can see how I made the passports here, and a step by step of how I make the potato stamps here. Don't forget, you can also skip to any of the posts by clicking on the Detours and Shortcuts link in the "Atlas" section of this page, there they are broken down into the flag posts, the crafts, the food, and the passport stamping, as well as any extra adventures that we may have done. 

Thanks for reading. I hope you are having weather that is as lovely as ours this week! 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Alfajores- A Peruvian Treat

There comes a time in every mama's life when she decides that an afternoon snack does not need to be healthy. Sometimes, it just needs to be yummy. So while I browsed for ideas and recipes, I found one for alfajores. Now I can't say this enough.... even if dulce de leche seems like an item that would be easy to find because you love it and you've seen a kaziliion recipes on Pinterest that call for it, it is not easy to find and there are even many people who will look as you as if you are crazy when you ask for it. Of course, we live in Rural Maine, so if you live somewhere else, you might have no trouble finding dulce de leche... the point is, don't plan to buy your ingredients the same day that you plan to make the alfajores. After spending much of the day trying desperately to track down dulce de leche, and deciding that I was not going to spend ten hours making it, or even three hours, and the one hour recipe seemed a bit like overkill, I bought some caramel fruit dip. 

Anyway, here are the steps that we used to make these yummy little Peruvian inspired treats. 
Step 1: Wash hands (sorry I didn't take a picture of this step)
Step 2: Add 1 3/4 cup of corn starch, 1 cup of flour, 1/2 tsp baking powder, and 1 tsp salt to your bowl.

Step 3: Mix the ingredients.

Step 4: Cut butter using a pastry blender or knife in a separate bowl.
Step 5: Add the flour mixture.
Step 6: Wash your hands again.
Step 7: Mix the butter and flour mixture with your hands until smooth. 

Step 8: Wash your hands again.
Step 9: Add 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, 2 tbsp of apple juice (the recipe actually called for Pisco, a Peruvian Brandy, but we didn't have any of that and as it turns out, Pisco is also not available at the local grocery store), and 1 tsp vanilla.
Step 10: Wash your hands.... again.
Step 11: Mix the ingredients with your hands again, until smooth and dough forms a ball.
Step 12: Wash your hands again.
Step 13: Put the dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Step 14: (Optional) Refill your soap dispenser.
Step 15: After the dough has chilled for 30 minutes, wash your hands again and roll the dough  out and cut into 2 inch circles. 
Step 16: Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven on parchment lined baking sheets for 10-15 minutes, until slightly golden brown. 

Step 17: Let cool for 5 minutes and then use your dulce de leche (or store bought caramel fruit dip, as we did) to create sandwiches.  

The next step of this recipe is to roll them in coconut, but I am allergic to coconut (this makes me very sad), so we skipped this step.   
Step 18: Sample the goods.

Or just give the goods a stare down because your belly hurts from sampling too much along the way. 
Have you tried any new recipes lately? How about discovered that an item on your grocery list is too exotic for your region? Have you been adventurous and made dulce de leche yourself rather than try to find it at the grocery? 

**The original recipe that I followed can be found here

Monday, March 12, 2012

Peruvian Book- Winter Pinterest Challenge

As I mentioned last week, Sherry at Young House Love announced another Pinterest Challenge. The idea behind this is that it's time to take a break from pinning and start actually creating what you've been pinspired by. Last time Sherry announced a Pinterest challenge, I made Dia de los Muertos sandwiches for my littles (check it out here.) This time, I decided I wanted to create something that was a little bit more involved. 

I pinned this idea on Pinterest a couple of weeks ago and had been trying to figure out how to make it suit our needs. They created a lapbook from a file folder that focused on a child that they are sponsoring from Rwanda. I put my thinking cap on and came up with the following idea to adapt to what we are doing. 

I decided to make a book. I started with a mini photo album and I pulled out some scrapbooking supplies that haven't seen the light of day for about 5 years. 

I created pages that had information that was important for us to know while learning about Peru. First up were the various flags. 

 Next was a map, showing Peru and where it is located in South America. 

On the next page, I glued an envelope to the page and filled it with images of animals that live in Peru. I found some really great ones online at a website for Mongabay.

The next thing I did was use a free printable from here, that has a small map and prompts to fill in the blanks about distance. The printable is called "Are We There Yet?" but I wanted to include some spanish as well, so I didn't use the cover, I created my own.  

I found a website that gives you the distance in miles and how long it would take to get to your location on an airplane. You can find it here, there are many locations to choose from, so you can get pretty close to the actual distance. 

For the next page, I printed a photo of the national flower of Peru. It is actually, unofficially the national flower, but it is known as the National Flower, so that's good enough for me. 

The last thing that I did was create a page for the foods. Here, I asked the kids to write ten foods of Peru and I made it in a trifold format. 

1.Potatoes 2.Corn 3.Chicken 4.Rice 5.Quinoa 6.Fish 7.Aji Peppers 8.Lamb 9.Pork 10. Guinea Pig
Yes, you read that correctly, Guinea Pig is a delicacy in Peru and served on very special occasions. 
With the Pinterest Challenge behind me, I feel that I can continue to pin things on Pinterest in good faith, that I will use the pins as reminders and come back to actually create some of the items that I have pinned. The official end date for the challenge isn't until Wednesday, so if you are working on a project, or want to, keep it up. You can share what you've created here by posting a link in the comments section and/or head on over to Young House Love on Wednesday and share it with them. Though, I hope you'll share here too, I'd love to see what you're up to! If you are not on Pinterest, then you MUST head over there right now and request an invite, your life will never be the same :)

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