Sunday, April 25, 2010

Springtime in the North!!!

Spring is here! Some days it actually feels more like summer! Would you believe it was 27C (81F) the other day?! Crazy! They say this summer is going to be hot hot hot! Now that the spring is here and everything is blooming, I do feel kind of sad that I am going to miss the glorious Canadian summer...but only a little bit. I´m more excited then ever to go and start my new life in Chile! And, I love the Chilean winter, so I am absolutely not turned off that I will be arriving right in the middle of it. The last Chilean winter I lived through was when I was renting an apartment with my sister a couple years ago and we survived with no estufa! Of course we wore layers of clothes and our jackets inside our apartment at all times, but we survived. E says that this time he is not willing to live without an estufa. My poor baby ha ha! So yay! I can look forward to a warmer Chilean winter this time!

Though I love winter, I am looking forward to finally not living in winter year round!!! For the past 5 years (except for this past summer) I have beeing going from Canadian winter to Chilean winter, and completely skipping out on both summers!!! I´m so excited to finally let my body adjust to a normal year, passing through all its seasons at a normal pace. I really need that. I love experiencing every season and enjoy the changes that take place in each one. The thing I LOVE about Chile is that for me, there are actually somewhere around 12 seasons as opposed to the normal 4. This is because I am obsessed with Chilean fruits and veggies and all the farmer´s markets that sell them fresh and in season. For example in Chile we have (these are rough estimates, feel free to correct me):

-Raspberry and Blueberry season: November to April
-Cherry season: November to January
-Grape season: February to April
-Kiwi season: April to September
-Peach, Plum, and Nectarine season: December to March
-Pear season: February to June
-Avocado season: September to January
-Clementine season: May to July
-Apple season: February to July
-Prickly Pear season: February to April
-Corn season: January to April
-Tomatoe season: summer?
-Melon season: summer?
-And many more whose seasons I can´t remember right now...feel free to add some!

I love how in Chile you can define a season by the fresh produce available. In Chile, each month the markets are flooded with a new type of fruit or vegetable that´s ripe for the picking and I look forward to these changing fuit seasons more than I do the actual sumer-winter-fall-spring seasons. That´s the food nut in me. My personal favorite seasons happen to be Cherry, Corn, and Prickly Pear season. But I absolutely love ALL of them and always buy a ton of whatever happens to be the fruit of the month to take advantage of the low prices and big flavour. In the Northern Hemisphere, I have never felt that huge change in the produce seasons. Everyone tries to buy local but at the same time, we only have so many fruits one can buy locally during the year and we don´t have the massive variety that Chile has. Also, even though it may be in season in the North, it doesn´t necessarily mean it´s cheaper, which sucks. In Chile things are way cheaper and way better tasting when you buy it in season. I will be arriving to Chile right in the middle of clementine and kiwi season and I´m already drooling over the thought of how many of these fruits I can manage to stock our kitchen with.

And with that I leave you with photos of the current Northern season. Things are blossoming here like crazy! I swear, one day I went out to run in the morning and everything was still bare, brown, ugly, and cold. And then a few days later I went out to run again, and everything was turning green, so many trees had blossomed, and it was warm! I am now running in my T-shirt again! Speaking of running, call me a dork, but I have already mapped out the distances of all my favorite running routes from our new apartment and have even mapped out some new routes I want to try. I CAN´T FREAKING WAIT!!! I LOVE running in those areas!!!!

So, hello Spring, I will enjoy you for the next month, but soon we will have to part. See you again in the Southern Hemisphere!!!

The linden tree blossoms.

The apple blossoms on our apple trees. We have about 7 of them.

Our proud Canadian Maple tree standing strong :)

My dad playing with poo bear.

My beautiful little poo bear not appearing to be too happy about the approaching Spring ha ha!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Bye Bye School!!!

I realize I´ve been nonexistant in the blogging world for a while but if you could just see what I have been going through in these past few weeks, you would understand. But now, I can finally get back on blogger and write freely and happily and I feel joy. A few weeks ago I thought I would never make it to this day alive! This week has to have been one of the most challenging and stressful weeks of my entire life. First, I had all my finals this week. Second, I had to hand in my honors thesis draft to my prof! This second point was a big one. It was the biggest obstacle for me this year and I did it!!! Now that it´s officially done, and my supervisor has seen it and approved, all I have to do is work on the corrections, then work on more corrections that my honors thesis committee will give me, and then some more corrections, and then I present next week, AND THEN I´M OFFICIALLY DONE MY UNDERGRAD!!!!

Wow!!! Just typing this freaks me out!!! It all seems so unreal! But I made it! I got here! I have no more finals so now I can just focus on doing a good job with my thesis and putting on all the final touches. But I have a week for that. I can finally start to relax! Things are moving along as they should be! And I couldn´t be happier!!! I did it!!! I´m so proud of myself for making it!!! There were times when I honestly wondered how I was going to do it and really considered giving up my honors because it just got to the point where I couldn´t handle the work load. But I percevered! Yay me! Well, to tell you the truth, I think I could have majorly done better on every single one of my finals. This is probably going to be the worst semester academically since my first year just because I never anticipated the work load of an honors program and so something had to give. This last week I had almost no time to study, and my exams are going to show it....buu. Oh well, sometimes you just have to let things slide. There was no way I could have given everything 100%. It was too much. I have to accept that and move on.

So things are coming along swimmingly in Chile as well! I have big news! WE FINALLY FOUND AN APARTMENT!!!! After 2 months of looking, and a lot of dissapointment, we found it!!! We were starting to give up hope when we finally found this place. If you want to find something in Providencia or Bellas Artes, man, be prepared to look a while! Especially if you have a lot of things on your list of requirements. We were looking for something with a patio, parking, near the metro, relatively low in price, and in Providencia or Bellas Artes. We really wanted a patio but finally, we had to give up that option and be a little more lenient with our requirements so that we could find something soon. So, our apartment doesn´t have a patio because the owners converted the patio into part of the living room. It´s kind of like an enclosed patio but it makes the apartment way bigger so that´s nice. Anyway, after we placed an offer on one apartment and were beat by some competition, we started getting worried. E went to look at more apartments after that and couldn´t find anything he liked. Then finally we found this apartment that we ended up getting, and it seemed awesome so we applied. But of course, there was competition again and we ended up not getting it. THEN, out of the blue, we get a call saying the guy they originally gave the apartment to lost his job and would no longer be taking the apartment! So finally they decided on us!!! Yaaay us!!!!

One thing we learned during the hunt: A lot of people advertising apartments lie big time! Keep that in mind if you´re wanting to rent something. So many places, for example, lied about how big the place was, thinking potential renters wouldn´t notice. I´m sorry, but if you advertise that the apartment is 75 meters square and it´s actually 60 meters square, somebody is going to notice!!! They also lie about the gastos comunes. Almost every place E saw advertised a gastos comunes that was 10-20,000 pesos lower than it actually was. How did we find this out you ask? E asked the concierges at all the places he went to to get the real scoop on the apartment. Such a great idea! They are the ones who really know how the apartment is, how much you pay in gastos, if the apartment is neighboring tenants who are wild party animals and make a lot of noise every night, if the apartment gets too hot in the summer, you name it...they know it all!

So anyway, the consierges at this place had nothing but good things to say. The best thing about this apartment is that it´s big and it´s right next to the metro in Providencia in a great neighborhood! So we definitely are getting our moneys worth. It´s so hard to find something on the bigger side that is near the metro and doesn´t cost a fortune. My favorite thing about this place is that the kitchen is which is quite large actually (for Chilean standards) and has a built in table as well! My favorite place in the house is the kitchen. I am always cooking, baking, eating, etc. and it´s just such a social and pleasant place to be. So you can imagine my delight when I saw that in addition to being big, it has it´s own table right infront of this big window with a view of the neighborhood so that people can actually join you in the kitchen to socialize as you cook. I love this. Most kitchens in Chile are so tiny, especially in apartments.

And the apartment has two big rooms too! Most of the two bedrooms we´ve seen are really just1.5 bedrooms but are advertised as 2 bedrooms. When you see some of the actual places and look at the second bedroom, it´s nothing more than a closet. This has happened a lot to E when he was out looking. One of the reasons we specifically needed two normal sized bedrooms was to have space for my family when they come to stay with us for the wedding. For that we´re going to require that the additional room have at least enough space for a bed. We did compromise with not getting an apartment with a patio but after looking for apartments for two months, and seeing what was out there, we realized that the space and location and price were totally worth not having a patio. And we´re only planning on living there for a year before we buy something so really, one year without a patio I think I can handle. We´re going to end up using the inside space way more than we would ever use a patio and if we want to have bbqs or big parties, we´ll just go to E´s parents house who have a gorgeous yard. All E´s siblings go to his parents house to make bbqs and have parties because it´s way nicer than any apartment and has way more space. So, I´ve decided that being patio-less for a year is going to be okay. Oh and just to clarify, by patio, I mean balcony, not yard. In Chile they use the word patio for yard and terraza for patio. I was definitely not expecting to find something with a yard ha ha! That would have been even more impossible! Plus, I don´t think I would ever want to live on the first floor of an apartment building anyway. First floor apartments are more susceptible to robberies and are usually not as nice because they´re all jailed up with bars in attempt to prevent them.

Sorry to go on forever about our aparment but I´m just so excited!!! This is going to be the first time we´ve ever lived alone together and the first time we´re both living independantly away from our families! So it´s a big deal! Poor E had to delay moving out of his parents house for a few years because he was financing all of our plane tickets back and forth and all of our travels since I make no money when I´m in school. What a great guy. Anyways, we are finally doing it! We´re both cutting the umbilical cord and going out into the world! Yay!!! This is so freaking awesome!!! I can´t wait to just get there and start doing normal grown up things like grocery shopping and cooking meals and walking around that awesome neighborhood, and working, and NOT STUDYING!!!! God this post sounds like I´m 18 ha ha! I´m actually 24, incase I hadn´t mentioned that before.

All of E´s family and friends are making fun of us now though because they have either seen the apartment or seen pictures of it and are wondering what we are going to fill all the space with! We have absolutely nothing! The only possessions we are going to have when we move in is a big beautiful huge king sized bed that E´s parents so graciously donated to us, a semi-functional refrigerator, which is also being donated to us by E´s parents, a TV that E and I bought for ourselves on our third or fourth anniversary, an ugly, white, falling apart, patio table which we will be using as a dining table and is also being donated. And that´s about it folks! When we have people over, we´re going to have to request that they bring their own chairs ha ha! Seriously, I don´t know what we´re going to put in the actual living room. And at the same time, we will have no money to buy things right away because all our money at the moment is going towards the wedding. So we´re hoping we can make it on the bare essentials until the wedding where we will hopefully receive the apartment furniture and appliances we so desperately need. The first thing on the list is a stove, since we need to eat and I NEED to cook. E is going to go look for used stoves so hopefully he finds something. Hey, I´m going to take this opportunity to ask anyone in Chile reading this...if you have any furniture or appliances you want to sell or know someone selling anything, please let me know! New stuff in Chile is so overpriced!

So in about a week, the fun begins!!! I can finally enjoy the freedom!!! So many things are happening before I go! We have my bridal shower and bachelorette party. Then my mom and I are doing a road-trip to Washington to visit my aunt and cousins. On the way back we are taking the nice scenic route through the Olympic Peninsula and taking a ferry to Vancouver Island, so we can hang out there for a while and enjoy the nature and beauty of that place I will miss so much! If you have not gone before, please, at some point in your life, visit Vancouver Island. It is a paradise. Full of islands and beaches and rustic forest beauty...I think it´s probably my favorite place on Earth. There is also talk about a trip to Vegas and San Francisco which I´m so excited about!!! Then grad and then party and then I´m off into real life! I can´t wait!!!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Signature Dishes by Moi

I´m zeroing in on the final two months here in Canada and it´s got me thinking about the things I´ll miss. There are a million important things I´m going to miss like my family, friends, dog, etc...but lately I´ve been thinking a lot about food and sadly realizing that once in Chile, I will no longer be able to make many of my favorite snacks and meals anymore :(. I´m a weird one and I have invented some pretty weird food combinations in my time, most of them revolving around salads, but I love my food and I know I will desperately miss and crave it when I´m gone. I thought I´d share a few of my weird food combos with you incase anyone wants to give something new a try...

1.) The Happy Banana

-0.5 cup cottage cheese
-1 cup plain or vanilla 1-10% yogurt (none of this non fat business!!!)
-2tbsp ground flax seeds
-1tbsp peanut butter
-chopped banana (add as much or little as you want, I usually put a half)
-add honey or sugar (or sweetner if you´re watching those calories) to taste

Just throw this all together in a bowl. Some people gag when I tell them what is in this mysterious concoction but trust me, it´s to die for! It´s so great because it´s super healthy, but it´s rich and creamy and tastes like a wonderful dessert. This always helps kill my sweet tooth. I can never make this in Chile because I can´t find cottage cheese or natural crunchy peanut butter (I hate the icing sugar kind!).

2.) Cauliflower Salad

This is a simple dish. Once in a while I get such a craving for zesty tangy flavour which can only be satisfied by Kraft´s Zesty Italian dressing. I have been making this since I was little and I have no idea where I got the idea but it´s genius! It´s really simple, you basically just chop up cauliflower into tiny little florettes until you have a big bowl full, or however much you want to eat, and then dump a bunch of Italian dressing over it. I always add a few squirts of lemon and some salt to make it that much zestier. This salad is so refreshing because of the zesty flavour and the crunchiness from the cauliflower and it just makes me happy. I have never been able to find Italian dressing in Chile so this dish is out. Though I could make dressing, everytime I have tried to make Italian dressing, it has never come out as zesty and flavorful as the Kraft kind. I guess I´ll have to pefrect my salad dressing making skills.

3.) Tuna Salad Delight

-a few stalks of celery chopped
-half a red pepper chopped
-chopped steamed carrots tossed in butter and dill
-a can of tuna
-chopped hard boiled egg
-1tbsp mayo
-quarter onion chopped finely
-1 avocado cubed
-few sqirts of lemon
-crumbled feta

Again, just throw all this into a bowl and mix for a totally different version of a tuna salad. Surpisingly it´s amazing. I came up with this salad one day by just tossing everything I was craving into a bowl and voila! I invented a re-vamped tuna salad! The tuna, dill, and lemon go really well together. I have never been able to find feta cheese in Chile which is really sad because I have always wanted to share the national Slovakian dish with E and his family but can´t because feta is the main ingredient! I guess in Chile I´ll just have to make this sans feta...oh well...

I´m sure those reading this are either about to barf or are intrigued. Hey, don´t knock it until you try it! I promise I make normal food too but I can´t help coming up with quirky combinations once in a while...Anybody else have some weird food combinations they can´t live without? Stay tuned for more weird recipes (and not so weird ones) by me in the near future!

And with that I´m off to study! April 29th I´ll be done with my undergrad forever and then the final countdown to Chile begins!!! Wish me luck!!!