Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Trip to the Butcher

Going to the butcher is always an interesting experience here. As Fernando likes to joke, the supply chain is so short and the meat so fresh, they can practically tell you the name of the cow! I love that we eat fresh meat from cows that eat grass (not corn, no feedlot) and have happy lives frolicking around with lots of space. Ok so maybe cows don't frolic, but I maintain that a happy cow makes for better tasting meat and let me tell you, the meat here is GOOD! But going to the butcher is not one of my favorite errands to run for the following reasons:
1- Although every butcher shop I have been to looks impeccably clean, there is always a strange smell and the level of refrigeration in place is questionable.
2- Two words: Meat Hooks
3- Three words: Hanging Cow Tails
4- Having to ask them to grind the beef for me and listening to the the sound of the gurgling, grinding noise coming from the meat going through the machine.
5- They always put the meat straight into a plastic bag, no hygienically wrapped plastic over a piece of styrofoam and usually there are little pieces of meat that find their way to the handle and I end up getting raw meat on my hand. Ick!
6- And the kicker: I once saw the butcher bring out an entire frozen sheep intact(head, body and legs minus the skin) in a big clear plastic bag, over his shoulder. OMG!!!!

In summary, fresh cheap meat from happy cows in sketchy wrapping from tepidly chilled display case surrounded by odd hanging cow and/or sheep parts/bodies is an annoying errand to run but totally worth that amazing steak for dinner!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Congratulations, Fernando!

Today Fernando received the results of the important financial exam he took back in June and he passed! Thanks everyone, for sending your good vibes and CONGRATULATIONS, FERNANDO!!!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

On the Other Side of the Stand

I am a big fan of artisan crafts. Perusing art fairs and street markets is one of my favorite things to do when exploring a new place. There is just something about buying handmade original goods that I love. Especially years later when that little craft is sitting on a shelf and someone compliments you on it and you can say, "Hey thanks, I bought it in a tiny town in Italy while hiking along the coast."

My love for artisan crafts has always been as a buyer and not a maker. But recently I had the opportunity to be on the other side of the stand. As you may remember, I alluded to some wool art that I have been exploring since moving here because sheep are one of the principle resources of Tierra del Fuego. As knitting just isn't my thing (as my hands confirmed when my mom tried to teach me to crochet in the States back in May), I have set my sights on perfecting the art of felting wool. You can make almost anything out of felt: jewelry, shoes, clothes, purses, pillows and more. So far, I have most enjoyed making necklaces.

Two weeks ago I was able to set up a small display to sell these necklaces in a very small artisan fair here in Porvenir. I paired up with one of the only other women in town who works with wool. (She spins her own yarn from "dirty" wool right off the sheep, cleans it and then knits.) It was a fun experience! I have new perspective on artisan crafts and appreciate them even more than before. You, as the artist, put in so much time, energy and heart into your product and then when someone buys it (at a price that can never capture this time, energy and heart), it becomes theirs. I don't mean this in a negative way; it's just funny to think of someone walking around wearing "my" necklace!
And now... the pictures! For those of you who know me, I am by no means an artist so go easy on me!

Here is the stand (with post cards too that I made last year, the first one may look familiar!):

A close up of the first row of necklaces. They are made from wool roving (clean and carded wool that has not been spun into yarn). Using hot water and soap, the wool fibers start to entangle and that's felt!

Second row up-close:

I also made some felt flower pins to sell:

Here is the knitting master of Porvenir with all of her goods displayed:

Because she was kind enough to let me pair up with her, I made her 9 tiny felt flower pins which we stuck to her knit hats. She sold 8 hats at the fair, all of them with felt flowers on them, coincidence? I'd like to think not!

All and all a great experience and like I said, I have an even greater appreciation for artisan crafts than I did before. It's A LOT of working making things by hand and most people don't understand the process involved to get to the final product. As a consumer we focus on the price tag but going forward I will try to buy locally and handmade as often as possible.
Now if anyone wants to order a necklace... just let me know, ha!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Leaving on a Jet Jumper

Tomorrow we leave for a one week trip to Santiago for my sister in-law's wedding. I found a dress in Porvenir and will definitely post pics post-wedding. We'll be taking the tiny airplane to Punta Arenas tomorrow morning (12 minute flight), Olivia's first time and my second. And then it's on to Santiago in a big plane where we get to enjoy the luxuries of *old school* travel: We can bring our own liquids on board that are greater than 3 ounces. We don't have to take our shoes off to go through security (When Olivia was 9 months old the security guy in Dallas made me take HER shoes off.). I don't have to go through the rigmarole of collapsing down the stroller and car seat to fit through the luggage scanner. And my computer can stay tucked away in my backpack where it belongs. Ahhh, remember the days...
I was organized enough this time to have some posts lined up while we're busy in Santiago so stay tuned for:
A Trip to the Butcher
Joanna the Artisan Craft Maker (!)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Membrillo Madness

For my non-Chilean resident readers, do you know what this fruit is? It looks like an apple but look closer and you will see that it is not. It is called "quince" in English and "membrillo" in Spanish. Perhaps it is the lack of variety of fruit here in Porvenir, especially this time of year, but I just can't get enough membrillo this winter! Raw, this fruit is too acid and too hard to eat but cooked in a little bit of sugar and cinnamon, it is delicious! I haven't ventured to prepare it in any other dishes but am open to suggestions!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Penguin Expedition

Last week we got the inside scoop on where to find a group of King Penguins on the southern part of Tierra del Fuego. The inside scoop of course was a set of vague directions referring to landmarks like fence posts, bridges and bends in the road. But it turns out that the penguins who visited us back in December were not at lost as I thought. Yesterday, after a two hour drive (on those lovely dirt/gravel/muddy/rocky roads) and a 20 minute walk through a field in the rain, we found the king penguins, all ELEVEN of them! (Was someone missing a partner?) It was very very cool. They were absolutely beautiful and tall and amazing. Of course we have plenty of pictures to share:

Walking towards the coast, not sure if we were heading to the right spot or not, we kept having to double back because of the meandering river that was too wide, too deep and too cold to cross!

Approaching the penguins. I was glad to see they were on the other side of the river so we wouldn't get too close and scare them.

Some close-ups:

Your typical family photo, in front of a King Penguin colony:

The sun was setting on our way back and Fernando took this GREAT shot of an estancia (farm):

And for those of you as excited about the penguins as I am, here is a video of them waddling along which was pretty much the only thing they did the whole time we were watching them.

Woohoo, penguins!!!!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Boina: the Patagonian Cowboy Hat

Boina is Spanish for "beret." Despite having never seen a French person wearing a beret the whole time I lived in Paris, I have always associated berets with France. So I was a little suprised to see Chilean cowboys and farmers sporting "boinas" but apparently they are very typical here. A quick internet search pointed out that berets are actually used in a variety of places by a variety of groups all over - Tierra del Fuego being one of these places! Olivia's grandpa left his boina at our house on Sunday and Olivia was quick to pick it up and walk around the house with it. Fernando joined in the boina fun. The quality of the pictures are not that great because Olivia would not stay still but you'll get the idea!

This is my favorite, that look on her face!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Walking/Sliding in a Winter Wonderland

I thought that right in the middle of the heat wave up north would be a good time to post some more winter pics of the cold wave down south! Temperatures have been below freezing often and it has been snowing alot. Although it never accumulates more than an inch or two, the below freezing temperatures and lack of street and sidewalk cleaning equals a slippery, sliding Porvenir. Today I unsuccessfully tried to drive up two different hills. When we bought our SUV five years ago in Santiago we opted for the 2 wheel drive, thinking, "when will we need 4 wheel drive?" Opps.


Very WET snow!

Drawing with a stick:

Porvenir's main drag:

Better equipped for the snow now (squeezing a couple more days out of last year's snowsuit!):

That famous view from our house, now snow covered:

And two pictures of Olivia on some very cold, non-snowy days, sporting some cute winter wear, always ahead of the trends :)

Monday, July 5, 2010


Every winter a group of flamingos comes to Porvenir. I love looking out the window and seeing splashes of pink on the bay. I never realized before that flamingos live in such cold climates. They are beautiful. Take a look!

Outside the fishery:

A close-up:

Although the colors are not as nice in this photo, here are some flamingos we saw outside of the Torres del Paine park in February. It's a cool shot with the towers in the background.