Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgivings: Constants and Changes

Hi lovely people, near and far!

In this time of thanks, I'm taking a minute to thank life...Today I'm interpreting it in terms of changes and constants. 

The people and places that stay: a constant reminder of roots, reflection, and growth. My parents, my hubby gato, dearest old-time friends, redwood trees, the California coast, Spanish flamenco and tapas, Cusco and its wonders, sweet friends in other places. the bliss of being. Thank you, life.

The things that change: the ever-evolving world, the challenges that come my way, exciting steps forward, new opportunities, relationships. our bodies and minds. the seasons and the moon. everything external, and internal too. 

I'm also thankful for this here blog and space to share my life! And for YOU here reading this, thanks for being here :) I wish you delicious and fulfilling celebrations.

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The next few days I'll be a little out-of-commission. This weekend -> Thanksgiving celebrations on a short trip to Cusco! And we have a big move coming up in the next few weeks. I won't be too long :)

Hugs and blessings,

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tuesday Tunes #15

Poetry slams. Have you ever heard a performance? I am transformed by the energy and words that are so eloquently and creatively expressed. It's like musical lyrics that tell a story. Stories of people. It seems like that is what's all too often lost in the music on the radio today. 

So today I decided to open the scope of Tuesday Tunes to include slam poetry. Because this story is real. It's infuriating and refreshing to hear truth spoken. I hope it inspires something in you, like it did in me. Lauren Zuniga (

Power and strength to unfairly incarcerated women. And that this brings a point of reflection on the prison system.

Any thoughts?? Join in the link-up if you have a song or slam to share!

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Prohibition in Peru + Weekly Wishes #6

Hey there. I hope you're off to a beautiful new week...and a delicious one at that! The weekend is going to be guaranteed greatness - visiting friends and celebrating a feast together in Cusco!! There will be lots of givings-of-thanks and face-stuffings.

Before I share Weekly Wishes link-up hosted by lovely's a fun little cultural bit:

Yesterday was a local voting day in Peru. While I was aware that the elections were happening, I had no idea it would affect our Saturday night wine and movie plans. I went to the store to pick up a bottle - ok, a box - of wine and saw this:

One side of the aisle was blocked off by toilet paper display, placed strategically in front of the liqueur (for a supposed barrier, this was a pretty fluffy choice. I can just imagine someone barricading through triumphantly to grab a beer). I pretty much started cracking up right there.  

At this point I overheard someone mentioning that it was the Ley Seca - or the dry law. And this sign explained. Basically, everyone is restricted from selling any alcohol for 2 days before and the day of voting. Aka, the prohibition for 3 days! 

I was laughing about this to my husband and it was obviously normal to him (he's Peruvian). Voting is required by law here so I suppose its their way of assuring that people will not be too drunk to show up and vote the next day. Apparently there are quite a few other S. American countries which enable this law during voting. All in all, I get it. It is just ridiculous to see the measures that people go to in order to restrict some things. Hahaha! Here's my favorite:

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I really like the theme of this week's wishes: new beginnings. It rings true to me and my husband, as we're changing things up a bit now (and he has a new job!). 
Last week's goals:
1) Start going through things. Well, technically...I did my laundry and cleaned up a bit, but I'll still be giving the 'going through things' part another go this week.
2) Be thankful. This one went pretty well. I took some time during public transportation to think about some little things and people. Is this something I can really 'check' off my list, even if it's like an on-going goal. We'll just go with yes for now!
3) Catch up on my online class.  Yessiree! And I'm so glad I finished! This class has given me some good ideas and inspiration in the teaching area. I may even try some more online classes :)

And a few things I'm putting more energy into this week include:
1) Get going on gift projects! I'm thinking of one in particular because it needs a bit of plan time.
2) Show thankfulness. I want to do this by writing a few nice emails and catching up with some special people.
3) Keep practicing yoga. Since I stopped going to the yoga studio (because of conflicting/sporadic schedules), I've been keeping up the practice at home with online videos. I'd love to practice a few times this week to get more focused and open up my heart.
4) Continue going through's a process. 

Thanks for coming by! Go 'em go-getters!! 

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Visiting Pachacamac

Hey there, and happy weekend again! This week ended on a really exciting note: my hubby is now employed!! We're celebrating by watching movies and eating salty and sweet treats. Wine was part of the plan, but that turned into a funny story...

Last week Rafa and I took a bus about an hour out of Lima, to visit the ruins of the ancient civilization, Pachacamac. It was nice to take a few hours to explore and do something different. Plus, it was on my Peru bucket list. But of all the really awesome archaeological sites in Peru, this one didn't make it high on our list. The museum was very interesting and had some neat artifacts. It was a little disappointing that most areas were prohibited from entry. This may have been due to the large restoration projects going on...Ok, maybe that didn't come off right - it is an impressive place to experience (and even more-so if you haven't visited other Andean ruins yet!). 

Pyramid with ramp.

Rafa being a rebel.
A little history: 
Pacha means "earth" + chamac means "energy". This Pre-Incan civilization was a very important center in Peru, energetically and ceremonially. For this reason, many people pilgrimaged from far away to this site. Some of the architectures include: pyramids with ramps, a palace, North-South road, East-West road, a cemetery, the old temple, the painted temple, temple of the sun, the female virgin quarters, and the pilgrimage area. Here are some more of our photos!

Acllawasi - the female quarters.

The Temple of the Sun, main ceremonial area. And also at the top of the mountain, overlooking the coast.

Rustic restoration of Temple of the Sun.

Some other cultural snippets from my life in Peru!
Harvest Fest: Huatia
A Cultural Bit: Guinea Pigs

Have a beautiful rest of the weekend!

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Boy Behind the Blog {2}

Boys Behind The Blog

Hey all! Do you know that feeling when a new season hits all of a sudden? That was today, here in Lima. Literally it's been foggy and no sun for the last 3 1/2 months I've been here and then...bam! Today is SPRING! Full out - sun, blue skies, and light-sweater-at-night weather. I couldn't be more happy to see something other than grey! There are studies about the weather's affect on peoples' or a region's feelings and I definitely see that it's true (for me at least). Having just a bit of sun and being able to see the moon at night, I feel refreshed and more focused. Just the inspiration I needed! 

Now...onto this really fun link-up with Mal and Stephanie. Boys Behind the Blog is about sharing a bit about the boy in our lives with some selected questions. I was excited to hear his answers too, because he always surprises me (#1 and #2 I wouldn't have known). So here are what my hubby - Rafael - says. 

1. What celebrity would play you in a movie about your life?
Marty McFly to be able to travel to the past or future. 

2. What is your dream car?
A van, like the A-Team.

3. Do you have any tattoos? What, where, why?
I have a few tattoos. Let's see...8. My latest tattoo is based on the movie "The Bicycle Thief" because it's one of the movie's that inspires me to keep going, even when things are bad. 

4. Boxers or briefs?
I prefer boxers.

5. List 3 random facts about yourself...
- I have 3 nipples. 
- One day I am going to go to Japan.
- I've been to the South Pole.

Love this guy :) Thanks for stopping by and have a great rest of your week! 

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Weekly Wishes + Tuesday Tunes #14

Good day all! It's been way too long since I've participated in Melyssa's Weekly Wishes, so today I'm excited to connect with these lovely women again. I really love this link-up because it's a nice little push to inspire me with accomplishing some things that have been on my to-do list. So first Weekly Wishes and below is my music pick of the day for Tuesday Tunes.

Since I haven't participated much lately, I'll just share that I accomplish something from my Lima bucket list! We went to Pachacamac ruins, about an hour from the city (another post coming soon). 

Now here are my aspirations for this week.
1) Start going through things. In December I'm going back to California for awhile and my hubby is moving to another place in Lima (somewhat stressful, but poco a poco). So I'd like to start going through things this week, purging, and organizing a bit to prepare for the move/trip. 
2) Be thankful. I'd like to use this as my mantra and thread it through everyday. And I'll participate in one of these thankfulness projects I'm seeing around blogland and admiring so much.
3) Catch up on my online class. This week, I'm getting back on track to finish out my class! It's really enjoyable and opening my perspective on education. I can't wait to do this one!

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And here's the musical portion of the post! I started Tuesday Tunes (14 weeks ago) because I love finding and sharing new artists and music. Here is where I share a song and a little bit about the artist or how I found them. 

This week, my props go out to the T Sisters. These girls have some of the most beautiful harmonies, with a classic, folksy twang. I kind of fell in love with them and their music when I went to a variety show in Oakland, in which they were all dressed up with fun costumes (who wouldn't love that?)! This song is their version of Paul Simon's American Tune and it just really hits a deep spot in me. Go T Sisters!

Please link-up with Tuesday Tunes if you love music-discovering too! Have a beautiful day.

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Monday, November 18, 2013

A Fall Smoothie: Pumpkin Pie

Hey fall faeries! I've got a few more pumpkin recipes to share - pumpkin bread and pumpkin wantons (coming soon!). Really, pumpkin puree seems to be the gift that keeps giving. Just freeze it and defrost when you've found a good pumpkin recipe {some ideas here and here}. Anyway, here's how to make this delicious Pumpkin Pie Smoothie.

Collect all your ingredients: pumpkin puree, bananas, milk, water, sugar, cinnamon, ginger powder, vanilla extract. (I would have liked to use nutmeg or pumpkin spice as well.)

Add a few ice cubes and blend it up!

All that's it: easy peasy, pumpkin-squeasy!

A smoothie in fall? I realize that's a little atypical. I still like it as a refreshing start to the day...but you can also leave out the ice cubes and it will be more of a juice, and still really good.

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Advice to My Pre-expat Self: Expat Q+A

As the holidays come around, I can't help but long for family, friends, our music and food-filled celebrations, and egg nog. So I've been living in Peru the last two years and have grown accustomed to a lot of things here, which is fun and really makes me feel like a local. But there are always things that I miss, whether its a person, food, a mindset, or a natural beauty. I'm glad to be joining Belinda and Bailie with another Expats Q+A link-up today, sharing some advice to my former pre-expat self.

Question 1.
 What advice would you give to your pre-expat self? 

Traveling and living abroad actually showed me that there are more opportunities to take advantage, even back in the town and state where I'm from. While I definitely love international travel, it's nice to remember that there's so much to explore wherever you may be. So I would tell myself to take advantage of all those opportunities. (ie. after living near San Francisco for nearly all my life, I just checked 'walking the Golden Gate bridge' off my bucket list last year!)

And, I'd tell myself to take pictures of everything! My first time living abroad in Spain was during college. It's funny looking back at those pictures, the majority of partying or silly times. I would have told myself to start photographing any and everything. But I suppose that's where I was at that age...

{more bucket list items here}

Question 2. How do you reconcile what you thought life would be like in your new home and it is in actuality? i.e. did you think you would be fluent in your new language and your are struggling with the basics.

Moving to Peru was kind of like a big jump of eagerness to leave the US. I was planning to probably teach abroad and perfect my Spanish. Although, the reality of transitioning from traveling for several months to working full-time, was a big adjustment. While my time and experiences were more limited, I was able to live more like a local and rent a place. There are times I wish I could be traveling and exploring again, but it's a trade-off I've taken to be here. But we're planning to take more short trips the upcoming year and I can't wait!

{photo from my old apartment in Cusco}

Good to see you here - join in the link-up if you'd like!

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tuesday Tunes #13

Hey lovelies - it's Tuesday and time to share a new tune I'm loving. If you feel like linking up, you're welcome to! Last week I was busy and unable to post a tune, sorry about that. So here's my pick for the week...

Joyce Jonathan! I actually found this artist from Anna's blog at East See Do, when she shared some really lovely French music. This beat is called "ça Ira" and is a guaranteed toe-tapper. I really like the whimsical sound, maybe French music in general does that. 

Do you have a favorite French song?

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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Hey there! I've been on the pumpkin kick for the last week or so. Maybe you've noticed it's been quite pumpkin-y? It's so awesome I can pretend it's fall here in Peru :) 

While looking for pumpkin pie recipes, I stumbled on this pumpkin cheesecake recipe over at The Crunchy Moose by Ashlee and I decided it was an even better idea! Her post has pictures of the steps so I didn't include those here. 

- 2 cups of vanilla cookies (or graham crackers)
- pinch of cinnamon
- 3/4 cup butter
- 6 oz. of cream cheese
- 2 tbsp corn starch
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 1 chia egg or an egg white
- 1/4 cup evaporated milk*
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 cups pumpkin puree

* The original recipe calls for heavy cream but I used evaporated milk and it still turned out. 
** These are approximate measurements

the crust
Blend cookie crackers well in a food processor until they're fine crumbs. Here you could also blend in some kind of nut, if you'd like. Mix in the cinnamon.Then melt butter until liquid and mix into the crumb mixture. Form crust evenly into an greased pie tin.

the filling
Mix the following in a blender: cream cheese, sugar, corn starch, vanilla, eggs, and chia egg. 
(In this step it's really important to make sure the cream cheese is went blended. I don't have an electric/hand blender, so I just mixed by hand. I learned that it doesn't melt into the cake, as I thought it would. You can see what I mean in the photos.)
Then hand mix the milk and puree into the mixture. 
Now, pour the filling into your pie tin. oven for about an hour. I'm not sure what temperature (our oven is only on or off. really.) but I imagine it would be around 350*. It should be lightly browned around the corners, the crusted baked, and the filling slightly jiggly. 
Let it cool for a bit, then pop in the fridge for an hour or 2 to finish it off. 

For my first ever cheesecake, it turned out pretty taste-y. The crust is sooo delicious! The filling was good too, but I learned that the cream cheese really needs to be blended well. Here are some photos:

Thanks for stopping by :) Have you made any pumpkin recipes this season??

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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Bucket List

Hey all. Life can be pretty heavy sometimes, wouldn't you agree? It seems like lately, natural disasters are having such extreme affects on people all over. So let's take a moment to send good wishes to everyone who is being affected by the hurricane in the Philippines these past few days. Especially some love to Leia and Jason, who have family there. I can only imagine the distress of this situation and hope that it ends soon. 

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On the other side of things...Life is full of lots of good stuff. And I think a bucket list is such a fun way to keep track of these things. It's really inspiring to me to read over mine and imagine all the possibilities. So I'm sharing it here today. I also have a reverse bucket list over here if you want to see some things I've accomplished. 

My Bucket List

1. Take part in a flash mob 
2. Ride a camel in the Sahara desert
3. Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge
4.  Get a tattoo
5.  Learn an instrument
6. Study abroad
7. Go to the airport and purchase a ticket to a random destination
8. Cross-country US roadtrip and visit national parks
9. Cave des Roches, France (Mushroom caves)
10. Chaco Canyon, New Mexico (part of #8)
11. Angkor Wat in Cambodia
12. The Tunnel of Love in Ukraine
13. Nara Dreamland in Japan
14. Visit all continents (North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Antarctica, Australia)
15. Learn a 3rd language (at least conversationally)
16. Walk the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, Spain 
17. Raise kids
18. Get married
19. Open a café
20. Earn money from blog
21.  Ride an elephant
22. Geocache
23. Write a kid’s book
24. Stay in a tree house for a few days
25. Make cottage cheese
26. Do a juice cleanse
27. Plan and do a random act of kindness
28. Sky dive
29. Learn to rock climb
30. Ride in hot air balloon
31. Be a burner (aka finally go to Burning Man)
32. See the Northern Lights
33. Live in a jungle
34. Walk along the Great Wall of China
35. Learn to crochet
36. Create a home
37. Visit Joshua Tree, CA (preferably attend music festival there)
38. Volunteer at music festival
39. Make a legit time capsule
40. Attend a sweat lodge ceremony
41. Attend a TED talk
42. Learn a lot about herbs and natural remedies
43. Grow Bonsai tree
44. Take a photo a day for a month
45. Eat sushi in Japan
46. Live in South America
47. WWOOF in Asia
48. Host Couchsurfers
49. Take a hot yoga class
50. Sleep under the stars
51. Visit lavender fields
52. Visit sunflower fields
53. Learn canning

If you have a bucket list, I'd love to check it out. You can share in the comments :)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Expat Diaries: A Little Look into Lima

Well, hi there! I think it's a good time to hop onto the Expat Diaries link-up with Rachel and Chelsea. The idea is to share travel tips or expat stories. I was going through my brief photos I've taken here in Lima (all taken on my hubby's mini video-cam) and realized I haven't shared many. AND, as I'll be away visiting California for an uncertain amount of time, I want to start re-appreciating Peru for everything its been. So here are some recent pictures and a little bit of the the stories behind them. 

A nice thing about Lima is that it's right on the coast. And we live about 15 minutes from the beach. A very stone-y beach, as you may be able to see, but it's the ocean nonetheless. It's been nice smelling the fresh ocean air and not being at a crazy high altitude. 

Catholicism is a big thing that's expressed all over the place, in all kinds of ways. On the bus a few months ago, I overheard a woman tell her friend they just past a church and the friend responded by a frantic sign of the cross. This little shrine (or what else would you call it?) has become something so second nature to see, which kind of bothers me actually (I won't go into why here though). But I'm very amused by the contradiction of a beautifully adorned figure amidst graffiti...or say a well decorated saint off the deserted highway. 

These two pictures (above and below) are in Park Kennedy, in a nice area of town, where we've been living for the past few months. It is a big tourist area, so it also has a lot of cultural charm - museums, fairs, art exhibits in the park. Above is the torito de Pucara, which is actually a very Andean tradition (from the mountain-region). Small ceramic painted bulls are placed on tops of houses to bring abundance and protection. This huge version was just really cool, since the real ones are very small. 

Playful bundles or sleeping balls of kittens are sure to be found in this park. Several years ago people started leaving cats that couldn't be taken care of at the park. Since then they've reproduced and they inhabit the park. There's probably at least 25 cats! I've made a few friends :)

This picture was taken one day Rafa and I were exploring the center, at 
Paseo de los héroes navales (Walkway of Naval Heroes). I'm not sure what the big official building is in the background - but they aren't an uncommon sight to see. I like the perspective of the photo. My Rafa's a talented one :)

Thanks for stopping by and happy almost-weekend folks!
Abrazos <3

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Monday, November 4, 2013

Keeping the Pumpkin Recipes Rollin'

Hello all! So I've been cooking up a pumpkin storm these days...and still have about 4 cups of pumpkin puree to go. Soooo - keep the pumpkin coming!

Here's a little recipe update:
First Rafa and I carved the pumpkin/made puree. Then I made a pumpkin cheesecake (recipe to come) and toasted the seeds (just with salt and some garlic powder). Sunday morning was a good day for pumpkin chia pancakes. And yesterday I actually tried making these Pumpkin Wonton Ravioli's (which I'll post soon too!) and they turned out really nice. to keep me going with the pumpkin, I found a few more recipes to try (plus a few non-pumpkin ones since it won't last me that long).

These are my new fall recipe picks:

1. S'mores popcorn balls at Club Narwhal. This gal Amy makes mouthwatering culinary creations and I'm all about trying this one!

2. Curried Pumpkin Soup with Coconut Milk @ Curry and Comfort. This has been on my to-make list since this post in mid-September. I may just have to splurge for coconut milk soon.

3. Pumpkin bread at Tastes of Lizzy T. Classic pumpkin bread is a must. I just wish there was pumpkin spice in Peru!

4. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Wantans at Peas and Crayons. Google-ing 'wantan recipes', there weren't many sweet options that came up. But this one definitely stands out. Anything cookie dough-y - I'm in! 

5. Pumpkin Pie Frozen Yogurt at Emily Bites. This looks perfect - yummy and simple! 

Didya notice that most of these are sweet things? I think I'd choose sweets over salty, most days. What about you?

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