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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Some of My Art

I've been painting horses and cattle for a long time. My art web page is here.

What do you do when you do not like a painting that you have created? This one, for example, I was never happy with it. I did not like the harsh bit, the overextension of the neck, the green color of the background ..... 

 


You do this ... cover it over with gesso and start again!

 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Empañadas

I decided this week to try making empañadas. I used this turkey/chicken recipe that I found at Laylita's Recipes. All the ingredients were in my kitchen, including a cooked chicken breast in the freezer, so I didn't have to go out and buy anything. I made Laylita's dough recipe - very easy.

This is the white flour that I use:

 

The package is decorated for Semana Santa (Holy Week) which this year runs from April 9 to April 15. The bags are also decorated with Christmas themes come December. Every time I see Nacarina flour bags, I think of this:


This is what the prepared chicken filling looked like, sitting on an unbaked empañada before folding:

 

Empañadas folded, edges sealed and covered with an egg wash prior to baking:

 

20 minutes later, all cooked. Oops, some of the filling ran out - no problem:

 

The recipe made about 16 empañadas so lots left over to freeze for another day. What I like about these is that any kind of filling can be used, savory or sweet.


Sunday, March 5, 2017

Eyes on Costa Rica - Update/March 5, 2017

The number of countries from where this blog has received visits has risen to 119, the latest including Bosnia & Herzegovina, Azerbaijan, Bolivia and, most recently on March 3, Mauritius. The number of individual places from where visits have been received is now over 3300.

Mauritius is a small island country about 1200 miles off the east coast of southern Africa and seems to have some of the trappings of Costa Rica. On the map below, it is highlighted with reference to Costa Rica by yellow circles.

 

The red dots identify places from where visits have occurred since September 29, 2016. The density would be significantly greater if all places both before and after that date were shown (see my October 4, 2016 blog entry).

I find it fascinating that someone in another part of the world is reading my Costa Rican blog. It's like having penpals everywhere and I'm learning about so many countries/places.


Official site: http://www.mauritius.net

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sunday, March 26, 2017

It has been a quiet week. The most exciting thing that happened was when I discovered this in my ice cube tray:

 

I hope the end came swiftly for the little insect.

Weather wise - sunny, dry, blue skies, some ash from Turrialba volcano. I water the front and back of our property every second day but keep a close eye on my orchids. The vandas need water every day it seems. We asked our gardener not to cut the grass yesterday. Better to let it grow a bit long and not burn.

Here is a photo of one of my vanda orchids. Vandas are epiphytic, meaning they cling to tree bark or hang from cliffs and rocky areas. You can see why I have to water them every day - they grow in barely any potting medium. They also need a fair amount of fertilizer. I bought this vanda and one other at an orchid show in Alajuela about two years ago, maybe three. They were considered "babies" and would not flower for quite some time. No flowers as yet! I had a vanda when we lived in Cloverdale, British Columbia, but the conditions there were just not compatible with what vandas require so the poor thing expired. That's another great thing about living in Costa Rica - I can indulge my love of orchids at not much cost and not much trouble care wise.

 

This next photo of an orchid (not a vanda) has sent out two flower inflorescences (on the left and on the right). This orchid is mounted on a couple of wood slabs. I should see the flowers open in about a week. 

 

I found a very good vegetarian chili recipe at Latin Cooking. I use their recipes fairly often because the ingredients are easy to find here in Costa Rica and I normally have most of them here in our pantry. The only change I made in this vegetarian chili was to use ayote in place of the sweet potato. The ayote is a beautiful orange color and cooks up like a sweet potato. Maybe they are the same?  Here is a photo of the finished dish. Very healthy with beans and vegetables, plus it tasted good. 

 

I found this great product at our Supermercado Coopeatenas R.L. Pico gallo fresquita for only 819 colones (about $1.92 CAD). The photo shows an empty bag because I transfered the product into a glass container to keep in our refrigerator.  I used some of it on top of the vegetarian chili. Plus: it is a product of Costa Rica.

 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Spiders - A Funny Story

Many years ago, Lance and myself were guests at a cottage in the province of Quebec, Canada. The cottage was on a lake, it had a sauna, a huge stone fireplace, a boathouse and was very, very nice.

We had our own bedroom and one night as we were settling down to sleep, I told Lance there were spiders in the room. He said, "Don't worry, I will always protect you from spiders". Okay, that was fine with me. I never forgot that he said those words and he never forgot either.

Now that we live in the tropics, his spider protection duties have evolved into including cockroaches, scorpions, tarantulas, millipedes, centipedes and ants. We practice catch and release, except for the ants .... the leaf cutter ants can decimate a bush in no time flat. We use pellets and sprays for them. When ants get into our house - and they will in the tropics, all the time - we have to use sprays.

Today I did a laundry and, as usual, hung everything on the line to dry in the tropical sun and trade winds. At this time of year (the dry season), laundry dries fast. Brought the laundry inside and was making up our bed .... put the fitted sheet on and I saw something running out from the sheet onto the floor. Lance! Lance! A big spider just ran out from our sheet onto the floor!

He gallantedly came inside, got down to look under the bed and said, "Is that it?" I got down also and looked - it was an old, dead brown leaf! I found two more "spiders" in the fitted sheet .... they were blown into the fitted sheet by the wind .... and blew out when I shook the sheet out to put it on the bed.

Here is a scorpion that Lance found in our bedroom recently. We released it into the vacant field near us.

 


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunday, February 19, 2017

One of my blog readers commented yesterday on a post of mine from 2014 (regarding renewing cedulas in Costa Rica) that the information I provided at that time was now out of date and the laws have changed. Yes, that is correct. This is a good time to remind everyone - if you are in the process of obtaining Costa Rican residency/renewing your cedulas (ID cards) or anything important related to living here - please obtain professional assistance. Do not rely on blogs/Facebook pages/your friends to give you the correct information. And do not rely on something I said in 2014 that was, at that time, correct.

One thing we have learned from living here is that two people can go and do the same thing and get two different results.

Today I walked from our home in Vista Atenas down to the Coopeatenas grocery. I think it is about 3 kms. At this latitude, the sun is quite direct but this is the dry season so I hardly broke a sweat. Sunglasses are a must. So is saying "buenos dias" to everyone I meet.  I called Mario to drive me home with my three bags of groceries. 

For some reason, I had an urge today to prepare Swedish meatballs. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

February, 2017

This year seems to be speeding along - March is almost here.

We have been distracted lately by the task of renewing our cedulas (identification cards). This is our second renewal and, for various reasons, we were late in submitting our paperwork. However, there is a one year period of grace with a small monthly fine added and one must also obtain an affidavit from a lawyer giving the reason for the lateness. They are in Spanish and we required two affidavits, one for each of us.

When we first arrived here in 2011, one requirement to maintain our pensionado status was to show that $1,000 USD a month had been converted into colones. This was done at a bank and we kept the receipts and submitted them all with our other renewal documents. This requirement was discontinued and so we stopped doing conversions in November, 2016.

Renewal paperwork can be submitted at selected Banco de Costa Rica (BCR) branches. Unfortunately, Atenas is not one of them. Our first appointment on January 19th was at one of the BCR branches in San José. Everything seemed to be proceeding nicely until I was asked if we had bank accounts in Costa Rica. We did not - there has not been a need to have one since we own no property/vehicles here. We obtain cash by using ATM's. So no renewal on this day! We didn't know this was a requirement.

I opened a BCR colones account the next day and obtained another appointment on March 8th, at the same branch, at 9:00am. Normally, a bus ride from Atenas to San José is about one hour long. However, due to lane closures on ¨La Platina¨ bridge, we were worried we would miss our appointment so we caught the 6:00am bus. The bridge, on the General Cañas Highway and over the Virilla River, is undergoing major repairs and causing huge traffic problems. Trip times both ways turned out to be an hour and 30 minutes, so not so bad.

This time, all our paperwork was in order, we paid our fees, and went happily on our way. BCR will send all the documents to Migración and we can expect to pick up our new cedulas on March 12th, so we were told. This part is easy, because they will be sent to our correos (post office) here in Atenas.

Weather-wise, we have been experiencing a lot of strong winds and also ash falling from the Turrialba volcano. No rain of course, this being the dry season. I keep an eye on my orchids and make sure they are getting enough water. They are outside all year so easy enough to turn the hose on them.

The other day I was walking into Atenas when a car pulled up beside me with two men sitting in the front. Turns out it was Carlos (one of our regular taxi drivers) in his own car and he offered me a lift into Atenas centro, gratis. It is so nice to be recognized by the Costa Ricans - we feel like a part of the community.

Here are some photos we took in San José last week. These statues are located in front of Banco Central de Costa Rica and were created in 1982 by the Costa Rican artist Fernando Calvo and are named "Presentes".

 

Me.

 

A little bit of San José - the BCR branch we went to, around 8:15am.

 

And, just for fun, a scorpion that was in our bedroom. We "practice catch and release". We throw a plastic food type container over the critters, slide a plastic sheet underneath and release them outside - in this case, into a vacant field across from our house.