Weekly Nutshell



Monday night we walked several blocks to the Chile’s restaurant on the corner. It’s our favorite American restaurant here in Lima.


On Tuesday we took a break in-between Marissa’s online classes (which she watches live) to walk to a nearby park and toss a frisbee. We really need to get out into the “fresh” (it’s Lima, Peru- trust me the air is not that fresh!) air more often. That’s a goal for February- to get outside once a day.


On Wednesday, Marcus made a roll-back can (another Steve Spangler experiment). He had to be creative without an actual hammer or screwdriver. Please note- I did not throw away the screwdriver. I gave it way. We are preparing to move back to the states in another month so I’ve started giving away things we don’t need to keep and I gave away our only hammer and screwdriver (here) a little too soon.


Marcus’ make-shift hammer. I thought it was ingenious!


Meanwhile, Marissa sketched out an ocean scene and started painting it with watercolors. She took a watercolor class last fall to learn some techniques. Hopefully she’ll have it finished to show next week.


Marcus and I continue to read, The Hobbit, and now Marissa and I are reading, The Princess Bride (the abridged edition).

And Marcus is at boys camp tonight, until Saturday afternoon which means Marissa and I can watch more chick-flicks! Tonight’s chick flick was Romance on the High Seas, starring Doris Day (I am a huge Doris Day fan).


The Andean Culture- Part 5


PicMonkey Collage

On our way to the Sacred Valley, we visited an animal rescue called, Awanacancha. Here we saw native Andean camelids, such as the llama and alpaca, and other animals, such as the condor. We even saw the condor fly.

On our way out, we spotted a woman sitting on the ground, weaving.


We stopped at a scenic lookout to capture this view of the Sacred Valley below us.


The Sacred Valley has part of the Urubamba River running through it. In Quechua, Sacred Valley translates to Sacred River.


From here we drove down into the Sacred Valley and ended up at the colorful marketplace in Pisac. Pisac is the entrance to the Sacred Valley.

PicMonkey Collage2

I was delighted to find another doll for my collection. I have only been able to find this type of Andean doll here in Cusco. This one stands just under 22″ and is completely handmade.


After shopping for an hour at the marketplace, we gathered up our treasures and made our way to the town, Ollantaytambo, which is at least 9,000 feet above sea level.


Ollantaytambo is one of the oldest villages in South America. During Inca times, Ollantaytambo was a lodging place for nobility.


We explored the popular Inca ruins which Peruvians call, the Ollantaytambo Fortress. It really was not a fortress so much as a ceremonial temple, however.

PicMonkey Collage3

It was so windy that we had to hold onto our hats and our hair was whipping around our faces. There were a lot of stairs to climb.


We stood in front of the Wall of the Six Monoliths.


It really was a fascinating wall to inspect up close.

PicMonkey Collage7

Looking out at the Pinkuylluna mountain in the distance, we could make out hikers exploring the ruins there.


It’s a fascinating mountain because you can see a stone face in it. Can you see the face?


Hobbit Riddles


I’ve been reading, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit to my son, with my daughter listening in occasionally. There’s a part where Bilbo meets Gollum and they engage in a riddle contest.


So we challenged ourselves to make up our own riddles. See if you can guess any of them!

Riddle #1:

What is more numerous than man.
Is all the same yet different.
We may see it everyday.
Some spend hours in its company.

Riddle #2:

What is perfect only once.
Makes a fresh impression.
Grows smaller every day,
Until it slips away to nothing.

Riddle #3:

What can blaze and flare and glow
Can be an inferno yet can grow cold
May be seen to consume
But also to restore
Not always welcome
Not always poor
Though not only used for good, nor bad
Always seems dangerous
Yet constantly true
Can be built from the last
Or start from anew
Considered old fashioned, too.

The Elusive Chocolate Chip Cookie in Peru


Chocolate chip cookies are truly a novelty here in Peru. That’s because the vast majority of Peruvians do not even own an oven, so of course they do not bake. Even if they could bake, they would not be baking chocolate chip cookies. For one thing, chocolate chip cookies are distinctly American (I dare say most Peruvians have never heard of or tasted a chocolate chip cookie). If Peruvians are going to make a cookie, they make their delicious alfajores, which is a shortbread cookie filled with dulce de leche.

Sadly (for expats anyway), true chocolate chips are not made here in Peru, nor are they currently imported. Brown sugar is not made or sold here, either. Peruvians have what they call, “brown sugar”, but it is only a brown colored sugar. You can find small jars of molasses here, however, to make your own brown sugar.

The only reason I have a few bags of chocolate chips in my Peruvian cupboard is because I brought them in my suitcase.

PicMonkey Collage

Americans here are funny because we all covet our limited supply of chocolate chips. We even bargain for them once in a while and we make chocolate chip cookies only on special occasions. So it truly is a treat to have a chocolate chip cookie here in Peru.

The Andean Culture- Part 4



Another beautiful backdrop for a family picture as we continued our touring around Cusco.


In a little town called, Chincheros, we relaxed as we watched a knitting demonstration.


At one point these three women, dressed in native Andean clothing, sang us a song in Quechuan.

They use native plants, seeds, purple corn (which is also made into a drink), berries, etc. to make natural dyes for their alpaca wool.


After the demonstration we bought some of their handmade items for sale and then they dressed us up for a picture.


After we waved farewell, we drove quite a ways to our next stop.


The Maras salt mines, also called, Las Salinas de Maras, were amazing to see up close. We were now 29 miles outside of Cusco, within the Sacred Valley.


Would you believe there are at least 3000 man-made salt wells or pools?


This warm and salty little stream flows directly into the pools.


So the salt comes from a subterranean stream named, Qoripujio, which as been around forever it seems. The sun evaporates the water leaving salt crystals behind which are then harvested by local farmers.


Notice how the pools are terraced. They are not very deep. It was so much fun to walk around the edge and take it all in.


Our final stop of the day was Moray. This is believed to have once been an Inca agricultural center.


The Incas were terrace farmers as I’ve probably mentioned already. Apparently they had a very practical irrigation system in place here once upon a time.


The mysterious thing about these circular terraced ruins is that the temperature becomes quite a bit warmer at the bottom than it is from the top. Marissa and Marcus ventured down, with our tour guide, to experience this for themselves.


Both Marissa and Marcus said it was indeed much warmer at the bottom.


The Blessings of Time


Time-hobbiesTime to enjoy a hot breakfast together.

Time to snuggle up with a great read-aloud.

Time to pretend and use our imaginations.

Time to explore the world around us.

Time for science experiments!

Time to create a work of art.

Time to visit a museum.

Time to master a skill.

Time to discover a talent.

Time to learn naturally.

Time to grow up unrushed.

Time to give service.

Time for cooking lessons.

Time to daydream.

Time together.

Time, precious time.

Homeschooling has blessed my family with the gift of time.

Weekly Nutshell


This week we celebrated my baby girl’s birthday. She also went to girls camp since it’s summer here in Peru.


Marcus tried painting Sistine-style.


He chose the creation as his bible scene.


He also learned how to average by timing his own walking, jogging and running per minute.


And we started reading, The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien.