Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Making Chicha Morada

I recently had dinner at El Mono, a newish Peruvian restaurant, in El Cerrito. I loved everything they served - from the roasted corn appetizer, canchita, to the purple corn drink, chicha morada.  Ever since that night, I have been thinking about making a huge pot of chicha morada so that I can drink a lot of it whenever I like. This is something I have done for years. Whenever I like something a lot in a restaurant, I go home and make a huge amount of it from scratch. Over the years, I have made seafood gumbo, clam chowder, hot and sour soup, empanada, etc., etc.  I am not rich so I can't afford to go back to the restaurant and order the same thing over and over; besides, I have a huge appetite.

I already had the spices I needed in my pantry such as whole cloves and cinnamon. I have unlimited supply of fresh lemons and apples, so instead of using limes, I used lemons. All I really needed to buy were pinapple and purple corn. This morning I stopped by La Loma Market No. 1 while I was getting a complimentary alignment at Big O Tires across the street.  The produce guy was not sure what I meant by "purple" corn but as soon as I mentioned Peruvian drink, he took me to the Peruvian isle and showed me all different types of corn!  Wow! I was tempted to get some canchita as well, but I figured that I would make the drink first. I found many youtube videos and recipes on how to make chicha morada with slight variations from each other. I made my own modification as well. Instead of using sugar, I added honey to my drink. I have included a link above on how to make it in Spanish. You really don't need to understand Spanish to follow the young girl in the video. If a child can make it, you can, too.

I love this drink and sipping it with little chunks of pineapple in it!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Bench Makeover

Before photo of the bench

A few days ago, Katy from next door, told me that she saw a free bench on the curbside on her way home. She thought it might be something I would like.  We hoped  in my car, and she showed me where it was.  It was just about 3 or 4 blocks from home. I thought it was a nice bench even though the paint is chipping away. We also found a broken part, which I could easily just glue together. We managed to partially get it in my P.T. Cruiser and carefully drove back home.

 I first glued the broken part with my Gorilla Glue.  I thought about getting some Liquid Nails, but this broken part really didn't affect the functionality of the bench, so I decided not to spend extra money on it. I tightened the parts I glued together with a piece of red ribbon since I don't have clamps. It dried pretty quickly. I sanded the entire bench with a sanding block then hosed it down to clean it.

Glued the broken part with Gorilla Glue then held it together with red ribbon

I let the bench dry overnight before painting it. Even though I liked how the yellow color of the bench totally matched my house, I decided to paint it in lavender. I picked up a couple cans of Rust-Oleum Painter's Tough 2X in Satin French Lilac from Home Depot.  They are about $4 per can. I could have used a 3rd can to give it an extra layer, but the point here is to do it as cheap as possible using mostly found or free items. I spray painted the bench in the front yard. It was a windy day as usual in the Bay Area, so I had to stop frequently and seize the moments when the wind died down a little.  I am pretty happy with the bench's new look. What do you think?


Monday, August 29, 2016

Lulu's One Month Vacation With Us

Lulu is a young husky who stays with us at least once a year while her humans travel.  Her stunning appearance gets her a lot of compliments while we are out walking. People love the idea of getting a husky because they are pretty. Many first time dog owners don't realize they are also a lot of work. Huskies are high energy working dogs. As pets, they get bored easily. I was mentally prepared to take her out for two walks everyday and each walk would be at least 30 minutes. If she doesn't get her exercise, she could potentially start tearing things apart or digging big holes in the yard. In other words, she'd need to let out her energy in other ways. Lulu likes to wake me up in the early morning between 4 to 7 a.m.  I took some photos (with Wifi cam) of her pounding on my bedroom door in the morning. It's not exactly how I like to wake up in the morning.

Albany Bulb

Since she does not like Point Isabel, I have been taken her to other trails such as Albany Bulb, Motorcycle Hill Trail, Memorial Grove, etc. The other day I remembered that I have doggy backpacks that I got for Kelsey years ago.  I put them on Lulu we took a fast walk to El Cerrito Recycling Center to drop off some dead batteries and light bulbs. With the packs on her, she started walking in a straight line instead of trying to pull in different directions. We felt that we accomplished something after dropping off those items. When we hiked up Motorcycle Hill Trail, she also carried all of our drinking water.  Both Lulu and Cracus were super thirsty as we reached the top of the hill and couldn't wait to drink up the water.  

Arriving El Cerrito Recycling Center

My little helper, Katy, also tried some urban sledding with Luly using her skateboard. Lulu wasn't quite sure what we wanted her to do, so I had to run with Cracus in front of them for her to chase after us. Once she started running, it was too fast and scary for Katy, so I had to stop running.  We need to teach her some commands for pulling the skateboard.  I am a firm believer that a dog is happiest when he/she has a job to do whether is doing some funny tricks or carrying a few things.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Cracus Loves Playgrounds

Earlier this year Cracus completed an intro circus class at Canine Circus School in Oakland. It was obvious to everyone in the class that Cracus has two speeds - running fast and stop. He did all the training as fast as he could. He was impatient when he had to wait for his classmates to take their turns. He is a natural for doing circus tricks, so I continue to do the routines and make new ones with him at home.

Recently my "sidekick" Katie from next door has been going on walks with me and the pups. As we pass by different playgrounds, Katie always wants to go on the slides. Cracus is always eager to join Katie. He'd run up the stairs as fast as he can and also run down the slides!

We have played on the slide and the swing behind El Cerrito Library. Katie wanted to go to Cerrito Vista Park . I didn't know which park until we arrived. I used to pass by this park everyday on my way to junior high school. It didn't have these fancy play structures back then.  Cracus ran up and down the slides with Katie.  I wish I could get a slide for our backyard!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Garbage Warrior

I walk around the neighborhood a lot with the pups. While I walk, I often find pleasant surprises that I would not otherwise discover. I know where the vegetable patches and good fruit trees are. I can basically do an edible walking tour in the neighborhood. I also tend to get the first dibs on many curbside freebies. A few days ago I came upon a box of free stuff while I was walking Cracus. In the box, there was a copy of Garbage Warrior. By looking at the photos on the back cover of the DVD, I could tell the guy on the front cover, Michael Reynolds, uses garbage such as used tires and bottles to build houses. Wow!  He uses things people throw away and turns them into something everyone needs. This is a movie that is right up my alley! I was very excited to take the movie home with me.

When people think of garbage, it's often something ugly, dirty, and useless. The houses Michael Reynolds built are beautiful and functional. I didn't even realize the colored glass balls embedded in the walls are actually used glass bottles! 

After watching the movie, I Googled more about Michael Reynolds.  I realized this movie was released in 2008, so there had to be more progress on his projects in the last 8 years.  I found out that people can rent one of his "Earthships"  to experience living in a fully sustainable house, which provides food and electricity. Some of these nightly rentals are even dog friendly!  People can also attend Earthship Academy to learn to build these sustainable off-grid homes. This is just incredible. I knew there are a lot more fascinating sights and inspirational creations for me to explore and experience. The movie is available on Youtube and Vimeo for free. I am happy to share this movie below with anyone who is open minded. Enjoy!

Garbage Warrior Full Length from Louis Stamatelos on Vimeo