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I bumped into my stained glass instructor, of many years ago, Mrs. Rachel Bissette, at a garage sale.  Rachel is a talented stained glass artist, a good, dedicated teacher, and a beautiful human being. Not only has she been a good instructor, with loads of patience, good advice, and humor, but she would also make sure the class have plenty of glass scraps to work with, always an extra soldering iron or anything else that’s needed (and we always needed something), coffee and cookies, and… class trips to glass factories,  which is the equivalent of Disney World for a kid. Not less.

After we had our laughs, and brought up shared memories, I made up my mind to go back to her class next Fall. I got that stained glass itch again…

Meanwhile, here are some of my stained glass creations. Nothing grand, but certainly fun. I gave some as gifts, and did not have the sense to photograph beforehand.

Enjoy.

Bzzzz

Bzzzz

Put on your dancing shoes

Put on your dancing shoes

The very hungry caterpillar

The very hungry caterpillar

Fall Leaf

Fall Leaf

Tiny Fairy

Tiny Fairy

Coffee Jar covered with mosaic

Coffee Jar covered with mosaic

Colored Feathered Bird

A lighted Chanukia, for Chanukah

and… a  lit Chanukia

Mr. Owl

Mr. Owl

Mosaic at my (then) kitchen window

Mosaic at my (then) kitchen window

Sea Scene- given as a gift to my neighbor

Window Sea Scene- given as a gift to my neighbor

Curried-Cumined Zucchini Soup

Curried-Cumined Zucchini Soup

Curried-Cumined Zucchini Soup

Our winter is too long and too white. There, I said it! To break all this whiteness, I made a warm green soup.

you’ll need:

  • 2 Tbs fat (butter, ghee, coconut oil, tallow);
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds;
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped;
  • 3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped;
  • 1 tsp curry powder (if you like less spicy, use 1/2 tsp curry and 1/2 tsp turmeric);
  • 3-4 zucchini, coarsely sliced (I also used one Dudhi, an Indian type of long zucchini);
  • 3-4 cups liquids (bone broth, chicken broth, vegetable broth, water). Use less liquid (3 cups) for a thicker consistency;
  • salt and pepper;
  • lemon;

* optional: garnish (cilantro, parsley, sour cream)

ingredients assembly. not in the photo: lemon, broth, parsley, salt n' pepper

ingredients assembly. not in the photo: lemon, broth, parsley, salt n’ pepper

how-to:

  1. Melt fat in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and allow them to heat just until they let out their wonderful aroma. They will start to splutter. Don’t allow them to burn or blacken.

    sizzling cumin opening it's fragrance

    sizzling cumin opening it’s fragrance

  2. Add the onion and garlic and saute for about 4 minutes until they start to soften.

    zuc·chi·ni. noun, plural zuc·chi·nis

    zuc·chi·ni. noun, plural zuc·chi·nis

  3. Add liquid, zucchini, curry powder and salt (add more salt if using only water as your liquid). Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat, cover and cook gently for 30 minutes, until veggies are tender.
  4. Allow soup to cool, and blend (I use an immersion stick) until just smooth.
  5. Before serving, reheat soup. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed. Ladle into bowls, squeeze some lemon, and add some garnish.

Peru – part IV

Part V- Machu Picchu

Day 7

We woke up real early in the morning, in hope to see the sun rise from the top of Machu Picchu, the “Lost City of the Incas”, one of the new 7 wonders of the world. We made sure our backpacks for the day were ready (aka: water bottle, rain poncho, sun screen, snacks, hat, chocolate, tickets, and… passport!).

Some of us took the zigzaging bus up to the top (including yours truly), while others, braver, and better knee equipped, hiked up the steep steps.

Needless to say, at the top we discovered the many clouds that blocked the sunrise.

Good morning clouds of Machu Picchu

Good morning clouds of Machu Picchu

So, traveling with my son, until the rest of the family comes, we made our way on the trail that led up to the Sungate, on the western side.

Hello Alpaca

Hello Alpaca

With the thin air, and the narrow road at times, it took us a while to get to the Sungate, but the view was incredible.

The sun rising behind the clouds at the Sungate

The sun rising behind the clouds at the Sungate

MP5
At the Sungate one always meets people that have just hiked up the Inca Trail for 4-5 days to get to Machu Picchu. This is where we sat and rested, waited for the clouds to disperse and reveal MP with all its splendor, and waited for our food :)

meeting a group that just hiked for 5 days us the Inca Trail

meeting a group that just hiked for 5 days up the Inca Trail

After a little food (and energy). Lior and I started to climb down.

gotta be careful on the narrow road

gotta be careful on the narrow road

Can you spot the ruins of Machu Picchu ?

Can you spot the ruins of Machu Picchu ?

Short clip HERE

Glory Glory Hallelujah!

Glory Glory Hallelujah!

new friends

new friends

a must photo- unavoidable. Wayna Picchu in the background

a must photo- unavoidable. Wayna Picchu in the background

After we have hiked the trail to/from the Sun Gate, we joined an English speaking tour guide. Recommended!
From here on, I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. There are many (but many more were left behind)…

overall look of the village

Overall look. Close by is the religious center, behind are the residential and industrial sectors

the agricultural terraces

the agricultural terraces

MP20

Quechua Peruvians tour their ancestor's landmark

Quechua Peruvians tour their ancestors’ landmark

an ancient view

an ancient view

terraces

terraces

who spots

who spots Alpacas?

heading back to the bus, down to Aguas Calientes

heading back to the bus, down to Aguas Calientes

After we made sure that our passports were stamped with the Machu Picchu mark, we took the bus back down. We were so tired after a long and interesting day, and went straight to the local market, where the cheapest and best homemade food is found (not to mix with the touristic craft market).

The local food market for great cheap meals and fruit juice

The local food market for great cheap meals and fruit juice

We filled our bellies, and now we had to kill time until our train ride, back to Ollantaytambo, and from there, a bus ride to Cusco. The boys went their way (to the hot springs), and us girls spend the best time ever, at the Vida Spa on Yahuar Huaca street, with an hour long hot stone massage. What a great way to end this day. A word from my daughter:

Lior: If you decide to hike up Machu Picchu, like I did, make sure you are physically capable! I thought it would be no big deal because it is ‘just’ one hour, all stairs hike. On the contrary, it was one of the hardest hikes of my life because it was one hour, all stairs! The steps are made of huge slabs of rock, so are not all even, and are mostly very big. So if you still want to hike up, make sure to time your wake up accordingly to how long it takes you to hike!

Since we woke up at 5 am, we did not get the chance to see the sunrise. Still, the view is beautiful, and it is more appreciable on foot. When the clouds are blocking the sun, it is a bit chilly (think sweater weather), but when the sun comes out, it is in FULL FORCE! The Incas built Machu Picchu in accordance with the sun, so it gets the maximum amount of light possible, so it gets hot quickly; make sure to bring sunscreen and a hat! After finally reaching the historic site, we hiked about another hour up to the sun gate (easy compared to the initial hike), to see the famous views, and the sun. Just our luck, as we got there, the clouds came in and blocked the view. We ate lunch there, and after walking a bit down the path back to the main site, the sun came back out…

After the tour, which is really good because I learned some history (!), take some time to just explore on your own. Machu Picchu is huge, and it is fun to explore all the nooks and crannies of the place, and get to know the alpacas! By the end of the day, you will have been able to say: “I’ve been to Machu Picchu, one of the seven wonders of the world!” , and realize the enormity of the statement.

Peru- Part III

Part IV- Aguas Calientes

*in this post, all photos can be clicked for a bigger photo

Day 6

Wow, we were so excited to finally head on to Machu Picchu, the crowning glory of our journey. We didn’t even care that we had to wake up very early in the morning, to start our walk towards the mini van at 5:00am. You can say that we got used to this kind of travel, we were trained by now.

We sat ourselves with 4 more passengers, and left Cusco towards the city of Ollantaytambo, a 2 hour drive. We were thrilled to enjoy, once again, the beautiful scenery. Of course, some of us preferred to just sleep.

Once in Ollantaytambo (seemed like a nice town worth visiting next time), we boarded the train, Peru Rail, to Aguas Calientes, for a two hour ride. And what a ride that was. Big windows on the sides and above our heads allowed a direct view to the amazing scenery during the ride, as well as a glance into passing by houses and farms of the locals. A nice stewardess was passing with some snacks and hot drinks. Coca tea was our choice. It was a fun ride.

Train to Aguas Calientes. Smile

Train to Aguas Calientes. Smile

towering cloud mountains and forests

towering cloud mountains and forests

raging river through the window

raging river through the window

spotting Aguas Calientes

spotting Aguas Calientes

Arriving at Aguas Calientes (meaning “hot waters”). The small town can only be approached by train or foot, and is the access point to the yearned Machu Picchu (unless one takes the Inca trail that lasts a few days). As this town serves tourists who come to Machu Picchu, there are lots of restaurants, touristic markets and stores, guest houses to cater different budgets, and… hot springs. Since we arrived early, and planned on hiking up to Machu Picchu the next morning (yap- early, to see the sun rise), we had a whole day to spend in town.

Aguas Calientes, to Machu Picchu, Peru

near the hot springs,where locals and tourists alike enjoy to bath, Lior seems to be the local attraction

Aguas Calientes, to Machu Picchu, Peru

tired from the long day, we found a place to sit and relax

Like a bridge over troubled water, I will ease your mind

Like a bridge over troubled water, I will ease your mind

more Aguas

more Aguas

local market

local market- the juicer. we came back for more

walking along the river, more Aguas Calientes views

walking along the river, more Aguas Calientes views

flowers of Aguas Calientes

flowers of Aguas Calientes

even a soccer field in this small town

even a soccer field in this small town

It was fun just walking around town. We found a french (!!) cafe’, a cute little bakery near our guest house for fresh tasty alfajores (on calle Chaska Tika), and stumbled upon a local school band that was practicing (short clip).

Lior: Getting up at 4am, I was expecting a bus to take us to the train station. Well, this bus turned out to be an old minivan, and we were squished in there for around two hours. It was all worth it for the long, scenic, and relaxing train ride, in which we got hot tea (or coffee) and snacks! Interestingly enough, there are two different trains that reach Aguas Calientes, but you are only allowed to ride one. That’s right, us tourists are not allowed to go on the cheaper train, reserved for Peruvians only.

Aguas Calientes is a really nice town, split in half by a river. On one side of the river, it is strictly tourist attractions, restaurants, shops, the market. The other side is where the people live, go to school, play soccer. The tourist half is expensive (more than Cusco), but they have nice things, good food. The less touristy half has less “nice” restaurants, and can be cheaper. Indeed, we found a bakery across from our hostel (we stayed in the non tourist half) that served absolutely delicious mini-alfajores! Be careful, we bought and ate way too many alfajores, and ended up with extra cookies, and no room in our stomachs (but lets face it, is there such a thing as too many alfajores?).

Peru, Part V- Machu Picchu

Orna and Ella are Israeli icon restauranteurs. Their place is a Tel-Avivian institution, and their yam latkes, or pancakes, are very popular, for a very good reason. If you’re ever in Israel, be sure to visit their place, and definitely try the yam latkes.

This year, Hanukkah falls smack on Thanksgiving, so a yam latke is a given.

paleo yam latkes

paleo yam latkes

So I took Orna and Ella’s original yam latke recipe, and tweaked it to fit my paleo diet needs, aka: no gluten, dairy, sugar…

you’ll need:

how-to:

  1. Heat oven to 370°f *. Spread some coconut oil on parchment paper on a baking sheet. * my oven seems to me to be less heating, so please start yours with 360°f.
  2. Just as the original recipe suggests: “Peel the sweet potatoes and chop into large pieces. Cook sweet potatoes in a pot of boiling water (or steam) until they are completely soft. Place the sweet potatoes in a strainer for an hour or two until they are drained of all water (they can also be left overnight in the fridge to drain).”
  3. Blend the yams with the rest of the ingredients above, without the coconut oil (which is only for greasing the baking sheet).
  4. Spread latkes (flatten them) on baking sheet. Put in oven for 40-45 minutes, as you make sure they’re not burned (see no.1 above).
flatten golden latkes on baking sheet

flatten golden latkes on baking sheet

Serve with apple sauce, yogurt, sour cream, or chive sauce in original recipe.

photo ain't doing no favor to these yummy latkes

photo ain’t doing no favor to these yummy latkes

from my pre-paleo era, recipe for light Hanukkah sufganiyot

Peru- Part III beginning

Yap, this post is long, as was our day spent in the Sacred Valley. I should mention that El Valle Sagrado is full of pretty little towns, Inca sites, and markets (such as Chinchero). After visiting Chinchero, we slowly made our way to Moray. Here are some scenes from our drive to Moray.

surrounded by majestic mountains is the Sacred Valley

surrounded by majestic mountains lies the Sacred Valley

We went to take or photo, and cute Quechua kids joined us

We went to take or photo, and cute Quechua kids joined us

on our way, farmers with oxen are plowing. The old way

on our way, farmers with oxen are plowing. The old way

I had to stop our driver, as I wanted to see the oxen at close range, and the smiley young farmer

I had to stop our driver, as I wanted to see the oxen at close range, and the smiley young farmer

Moray is an impressive look-alike huge amphitheater. Different levels of terraces are carved into earth, each layer is at a different depth. The theory is that the Incas used the terraces as a big experiment for crop growing- each crop would be planed at a different level, as some researchers have established that there is a variation of about 4 degree C between each of the terrace levels. Don’t forget the Tourist Ticket bought in Cusco, to enter this site.

Moray from up above. Can you spot the people in the distance?

Moray from up above. Can you spot the people in the distance?

starting to climb down the concentric levels

starting to climb down the concentric levels

Once in Moray, you’ll sometimes notice small groups of people performing some “earthing” or “grounding” in the very center of bottom circle, as a ritual. It’s a religious Incan ritual “El pago a la Pacha Mama” (the retribution to mother earth), an Andean ritual where one thanks the earth for its gifts and asks for fortune.

and climbing down from one level to the other on special "stairs" carved by the Incas into the walls

and climbing down from one level to the other on special “stairs” placed by the Incas into the walls

And now, back on the winding road through the Sacred Valley, towards the Salinas.

A river view in the Sacred Valley

A river view in the Sacred Valley

gettin' close to the Salinas

gettin’ close to the Salinas. Wes started noticing those curvy cactus everywhere

wow, breathtaking view of the Salinas, from high above

wow, a surreal view of the Salinas, from high above. better click to see the large version

One of the most astonishing places to see, both from above- high in the mountain, and from ground level, are the Salinas. Thousands of salt pans that have been used to extract salt since Inca times. The pools are fed by a saltwater hot spring, which has been diverted into the salt beds where the water evaporates and leaves crystallized salt to be harvested.

beautiful Salinas

beautiful Salinas

Carlos, our driver, is trying to balance the path between the Salinas

Carlos, our driver, is trying to balance the path between the Salinas

a lump of dried salt at the Salinas

a lump of dried salt at the Salinas

kids near a stand selling salt from the Salinas

kids near a stand selling salt from the Salinas, and other chachkes

After lunch in the village of Urubamba, we headed to the village of Pisac, our final destination for the day. Many people arrive to Pisac on Sunday, for its BIG market. We went there for the spectacular views. After crossing town, we start climbing up hill with our car, up and up and up. As if we didn’t see amazing panoramas until now, the ones from the Pisac Inca ruins were wonderful. Temples, Inca tombs, stone ruins, and terraces sprawl on top of the mountain.

climbing to Pisac behind this truck

climbing to Pisac behind this truck

from 3353 meters (11,000 feet) the eyes can see far far away

from 3353 meters (11,000 feet) the eyes can see far far away

terraces of Pisac. One has to imagine, how did the Inca managed plants at this heights and in such a neat order

terraces of Pisac. One has to imagine, how did the Inca managed plants at this heights and in such a neat order

cute Quechua girls are playing in the ruins

cute Quechua girls are playing in the ruins

Pisac ruins

Pisac ruins

it's easy to get lost in Pisac

it’s easy to get lost up there (or down there)

at these altitudes it's getting pretty cold. Alpaca wool helps

at these altitudes it’s getting pretty cold. Alpaca wool helps

We got home (our hostel) quite late and tired, but it was a great day. The next day, we just took a break, and went… rafting.

Lior: Moray is supercool. Apparently, if you got to the center of the very last circle, it is really warm! There were some people crowding around the bottom, trying to catch its heat like a firepit. A lot of people really like the Salineras, but I thought they were just OK. One good thing about them is they show up really nice in pictures (“omg, not even edited!”)

The best thing, by far, was Pisac. I love love love climbing about and just exploring on my own. Unfortunately, we saved it for last, so we didn’t have too much time there. Also, a lot of people get altitude sickness there (like my brothers, I didn’t!), because it’s even higher up than Cusco! Anyway, the ancient ruins of Pisac are stunning, and overall so much fun! We met some kids there, whom I played with, and we traded bracelets. Overall, successful!

Day 5

A day of fun!! Woke up early to join a group led by a cute guy, Noel, from Mayuc. It was cool, we all had great fun. Afterwards, we spent some time in a Peruvian style sauna, and got to eat warm lunch. Everybody later got their hands up on the zip-lines, and I got to take the pictures. We got home late, tired, and once again- very happy.

We all just seem to be paying attention before the rafting. We're actually very cold

We all just seem to be paying attention before the rafting. We’re actually very cold

Let the fun begin...

Let the fun begin…

we named ourselves "La Cucaracha" team, and we were very successful

we named ourselves “La Cucaracha” team, and we were very successful

viva la cucaracha !

viva la cucaracha !

and a glimpse of zip-lining

and a glimpse of zip-lining

Lior: Doesn’t matter how old you are~ GO RAFTING! This was just one of the most fun days, mainly because the adrenaline rush. Being in a river, you are at the bottom of a valley, and the view is simply amazing! It kind of compares to the Colorado River (what I’ve seen in pictures, never actually been there). After, when everyone went to the sauna, I skipped and went straight to the shower. Having gone to sleepaway camp for 5 years, I know that when it comes to hot showers, it is actually war. After, we went ziplining over a “raging river” (definitely a river, not so much the raging). Ziplining is so liberating, and everyone should do it, no matter how scared they are!

This day was so much fun, but also very energy draining. Make sure to get a good night’s sleep before, and make sure you have a bed to collapse on after!

Peru- Aguas Calientes

Peru- part II

Part III- The Sacred Valley and rafting

*in this post, all photos can be clicked for a bigger photo

Day 4

Today- we determine our own day, pace, itinerary… After yesterday’s rushed city tour, we decided to hire a driver that’ll be with us the whole day, drive us where we want and when we want. We are, after all, a family of 5, so for $140 for the day, we had a driver and a car. And music :)

Today we’re exploring the Sacred Valley.

We started climbing out of Cusco, slowly. Just leaving the city in day light, allowed us to enjoy some sights of how people go about and live their normal life in the Andes.

We left, passing through Plaza De Armas. Surprise, surprise, the army was marching in the plaza, while pedestrians were crossing the street, cars were driving through, and it felt like it was an organized disorder…

left, left-right-left

Left, left-right-left

As we climbed up, we noticed that most houses were built from mud bricks. Some were covered with plaster or were whitewashed, and some were left as-is, thus giving the city a fairly red look.

Cusco suburbia

Cusco suburbia

mud bricks and plants

Mud bricks and plants

Hills surrounding Cusco

Hills surrounding Cusco

50 shades of green

50 shades of green

beautiful valleys and mountains

Beautiful valleys and mountains

Arriving at Chinchero, a small town. We picked this town for it’s Sunday market. There’s a way bigger one in Pisac, but we opted for the small, less touristic one. We also got to see the process for making alpaca wool at a small co-op.

two social alpacas in Chinchero, Peru

Two social alpacas in Chinchero, Peru

Dyeing the alpaca wool in the pot. All colors are derived from natural sources

Dyeing the alpaca wool in the pot. All colors are derived from natural sources

Colorful alpaca yarn

Colorful alpaca yarn

Weaving

Weaving

Chinchero market: recycling old shoes into sandals

Chinchero market: recycling old shoes into sandals

Chinchero market, selling.. something

Chinchero market, selling.. something

Chinchero market, buying small terracotta outdoor cooking pottery

Chinchero market, buying small terracotta outdoor cooking pottery

Chinchero market

Chinchero market

Chinchero market, locals resting, drinking their pink corn juice

Chinchero market, locals resting, drinking their pink corn juice

one of my favorite photos. 3 ladies eating their meal

one of my favorite photos. 3 ladies eating their meal

Chinchero market, selling musical instruments

Chinchero market, selling musical instruments

This girl was left to watch over the merchandise

This girl was left to watch over the merchandise

Lior: It was really good to be able to choose where we wanted to go with our driver. Just driving around the Sacred Valley is fun, because the road is very scenic! Stop at Chincherro, where they have a place to show tourists how their fabrics are made. Although, as I said, it’s touristy, its only on a small scale (and you get to see the process that all of the blankets go through). A bit down the road in the same town, there is a very colorful market, but not everything there is best quality.

At the market, make sure to taste quinoa juice! It is very warming and very sweet, and , well, it’s quinoa! Another thing I noticed, is that some people were taking pictures of me! A few local Chincherros had their cameras up, snapping “candid” shots of me… they’ve probably never seen anyone as sunburnt as me. Overall, this market is a YES!

sweet, warm quinoa juice in Chinchero

sweet, warm quinoa juice in Chinchero

cont. next page

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