Peru Oct. 17 2015

A second day in Lima. Sab (whom I met just yesterday morning) has taken on the role of “tour director”. I figure it’s my responsibility to arrive at the primary destination-after that I don’t want to make decisions. I suppose that makes me a passive tourist but it means I am happy to tag along and see the parts of the world others have chosen to visit. Sab, an experienced traveler has done much research and had prepared an itinerary that I was more than happy to adopt.

Sab had listed four things she wished to do/see today. First was a visit to a woman who brokers between international customers and weavers/embroiderers from many regions of Peru. She does broker alpaca items, but she specializes in 100% Pima cotton weavings that were simply gorgeous. Beautiful, soft, subtle shawls, scarves, table runners, cushion covers all handsomly woven in lovely colors-the craftsmanship outstanding.

As I am writing I realize I forgot to take pictures of the goods on display in her home showroom (a lovely apartment, BTW). How dumb was that! All I have is this picture of the shawl I bought which doesn’t do justice to the weaving.

Our second stop was for lunch in a central part of Lima after finding Park Kennedy, which we’d come to see, mostly under construction. From there we walked several blocks to a main Market in search of nuts and dried fruit for snacks during the next two days of travel.

I have many more photos from the market, but my internet connection isn’t allowing me to upload them right now, so I’ll move on.

Our final stop was a large labyrinthine shop showcasing Peruvian crafts people of all persuasions, each set of items displayed in its own small room.

Were I twenty years younger I’d have bought this plate below, but these days I’m divesting so the photo is all I’ve taken away with me.

The most interesting objects were four foot tall sculptures of boys we found in the indoor cafe “garden”.

Tired, we headed back to Larcomar Shopping Centre for one last fast walk through, mainly to pick up a couple of bottles of water to take on our upcoming journey – then a walk back home.

Tomorrow begins with breakfast at 6:00am and departure at 7:00 for our journey by van south along the coast to Paracas for an overnight stay, before carrying on to Ayacucho on Monday.

Peru – Oct. 16, 2015

I landed in Lima at 11:30 last night. Immigration was reasonably fast (in spite of the large number of people to process), but my luggage took forever – in part I think because United (remember Dave Carroll’s great video “United Breaks Guitars“) destroyed my hard sided checked bag! I was only able to get out of the airport because I really had packed a roll of duct tape! There was a tear from the top to the bottom on one side of the bag – so while at the United counter setting a claim in motion, I dug out my duct tape and wrapped the suitcase a couple of times to make sure I could get as far as the reception area where I was actually met by a driver holding a sign with my name.

My first day in Peru started with breakfast where I met up with Sab from Munich. She and I had been corresponding and had planned to spend the day visiting historic Miraflores and then the Museo Larco to see treasures from ancient Peru.

Casa Inca, our hotel is just a few steps from the Pacific Ocean:

We took the walk along the top of the cliff until we reached Larcomar, a large upscale shopping centre really just around the corner from our pensione. Expensive, international brand stores. We walked about for a short while then left. Next we hailed a cab to take us to central Miraflores. We hadn’t gone far when the driver pulled over and said traffic was too heavy and he put us out! Fortunately we were able to hail another, more accommodating driver who took us to the Plaza Mayor (the historic center of Lima).

Several large ornate churches are located there as well as the Presidental Palace (guarded by high iron fences and a police detail).

Lots of shops for tourists, the colourful goods machine made using synthetic materials but interesting to browse.

We looked around for maybe an hour then took another cab to Museo Larko – first stop lunch in the restaurant there. We decided to order a selection of appetizers and weren’t disappointed. The food was beautifully presented and delicious.

Then a visit to the Museo itself starting with the collection of early Peruvian erotic pottery – several rooms of interesting, detailed, explicit renderings of all aspects of sexuality as functional objects.

Next stop the permanent pottery, textile, silver and gold body ornaments and jewelry collections. All amazing artifacts like this burial set.
It was now past 5:00, we were tired so we got another cab (cabs by the way are amazingly cheap in Lima – these long distance trips costing us between $9-$12) and returned home.

It’s now about 8:30pm – I’m worn out so off to bed. Sab and I are planning a visit to another part of Lima tomorrow and I need to be rested to be able to keep up with her.

Peru Begun

My alarm was set for 2:00 am – the cab was coming to take me to the airport at 3:00. We departed Halifax on time. A change of planes in Toronto, and now I’m sitting in the Houston Airport with another two hours before we leave for Lima.


The airport is quiet – it’s mid afternoon. I’ve been reading an Inspector Banks novel, some New Yorker articles, watching TED videos – loved the one of Benjamin Zander on the transformative power of classical music (search for it on

This adventure has begun. I’ll do my best to journal the experience for you.

More tomorrow.

Crazy Quilt Shoulder Bag

I started with some raw silk scraps, then gathered bits and pieces of batik from my scrap boxes.

Now there are a couple of ways of setting up a crazy quilt piecing – the easiest is to cut a muslin block in the projected size, cover it with fabric pieces using a stitch,  flip and press technique, then trimming away the excess fabric when the block has been completely covered.

I didn’t make my fabric pieces that way. I began by sewing (and pressing) strips and largish triangles together until I had an assembled fabric 12″ x 10″ more or less. Then I created a second piece approximately the same size. Squared both pieces and trimmed them to 10″ x 10″.

Next I backed the crazy quilt fabric with a layer of quilt batting, top stitched each seam with rayon embroidery thread using a different decorative stitch for each seam.

I wanted a couple of compartments in my bag, so I cut one of the finished pieces in three, inserted zippers, and added the lining at each zipper location. Then the top zipper – the shoulder strap was attached at this point.

I added pockets to each side of the main compartment lining before attaching it at the top zipper. I finished the bag by placing right sides together and sewing the side seams starting with the lining; then the seam across the bottom of the bag (it’s a good idea to remember to unzip the top zipper before stitching the bottom seam so you can turn the bag right side out).

I turned the bag right side out by pulling it through the lining. Finally, I stitched the bottom of the lining and push it inside the bag.

The final step is to zipper the top of the bag and steam press it so it’s flat!

Generally, I prefer not to carry a purse, building pockets into my jackets and pants instead. But every now and again I need a small bag – this one will do nicely.


Another pair of socks from leftover yarn. Finished last evening. I unrolled the yarn, counting the number of repeats; divided the yarn in half and started knitting trying to judge just how far the variegated yarn would go. I interspersed a soft green solid at the beginning of each repeat. It worked out well – I was able to extend the patterned yarn past the middle of the foot.

And now on to the next pair.

“Whale Watching” Now Hung

Having the piece stretched on a wooden frame was a good idea. The framers were able to pull it flat – the “bubbling” disappeared. When I got the piece home I added a muslin backing with a label. Then I walked around the house looking for a place to hang it. It ended in my living room replacing “Asparagus Field” which now hangs in the spare room. 

I’m pleased with how the finished piece turned out.

Christmas Shortbread Bars

Can you believe it – I could not find a version of this recipe online. As well, as long as I’ve been making this recipe (I’ve been making it for 30 or more years – I only make it once a year at Christmas time and give 7/8 of it away), I’ve never taken a photo of the finished bars! So I’ve commandeered a couple of images to represent my Christmas Shortbread Bars but while mine kind of look like these, mine are WAAY better (I’ll add pictures when I make these in December, promise)!

IMG_8139_zps10b26850 White-Chocolate-Cherry-Pie-Shortbread-Bars4-150x150

The original recipe came from a box of Robin Hood Shortbread Mix (hasn’t been available for years) – with a recipe for a candied fruit topping. However I have a terrific shortbread recipe “Mrs. Cooke’s Shortbread” (which I got from a friend at least 40 years ago) which I thought would make a great base for the fruit mix. My fruit mix is rich and it’s all held together with one can of Eagle Brand Condensed Milk.

So here is the recipe:

Mrs. Cooke’s Shortbread

(I double this recipe when I make my shortbread bars because I need enough shortbread to cover a large cookie sheet)
Preheat oven 350° F

1/2 lb butter (at room temperature so you can cream it easily)
1/2 c white sugar (this year I will use coconut palm sugar which I’m sure will work as well since I’m avoiding white sugar entirely in my diet)
1 tsp vanilla extract (that’s real vanilla, please)
2 c. white all purpose flour

Cream butter, add sugar, vanilla, and last the flour; Mix well until you have a crumbly texture
Dump onto a large non-stick (or parchment lined or Silpat covered) cookie sheet
Press firmly, particularly at the edges
Pierce with a fork to allow the shortbread to expand uniformly
Bake for 15 minutes, then rotate cookie sheet 180° so the shortbread bakes evenly, then bake for another 15 minutes.
The shortbread won’t be quite fully baked but that’s how you want it because you’re going to continue baking after you add the candied fruit topping. Let the shortbread cool for 10-15 minutes before proceeding

Candied Fruit Topping

1 – 11/2 c shredded coconut (unsweetened if you have it)
1 c of mixed candied fruit (with some chopped cherries and citron)
1 c Thompson raisins (you can certainly use sultanas if you prefer them, or even currents)
1 c chopped pecans (you could use walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts chopped)
1/2 c dried cranberries
1 c bitter-sweet chocolate chips (can also use semi-sweet – the point is dark rather than milk chocolate)
1 can (room temperature) Eagle Brand Condensed Milk

Put all the topping ingredients into a large bowl, add the condensed milk and mix as well as you can – it’s a sticky mess but is it ever going to be good.

Spoon the fruit/condensed milk mixture onto the shortbread making sure you spread it evenly to cover the entire surface of the shortbread (try getting as close to the edges as you can – don’t want to waste any of this Christmas bar).

Bake 25-30 minutes at 350° – until the coconut begins to turn golden.

Cool on a rack, then cut into bars. I cut the entire concoction into 8 portions – which in turn can be cut into 12-16 bite-sized bars. This stuff is SOOO rich you don’t want to serve more (although you’ll want to eat more).

I make these Christmas bars about three-four weeks before Christmas. Slip each of the 8 portions into its own small ziploc plastic bag, store them in the fridge until I give them away.

Let me know how it goes if you decide to try them – they’ll be an instant favourite – trust me!