As mentioned in the last post, we recently spent a long weekend with a dear friend in Lima. Seemed like a shame to get all the way there and not make it out of the capitol, but such is travel with a tot. Plus, our schedules were fairly taxed back in Santiago with holiday commitments so a long weekend was really all we had to spare.
Our friend lives in the Miraflores neighborhood which is perched on cliffs overlooking the Pacific ocean. We passed our mornings sipping flawless Peruvian coffee and looking out at the hazy horizon. I hear this is close to the number one complaint of those posted in Lima, the incessantly overcast skies. We were lucky enough to have the clouds break to blue a couple of afternoons during our stay. Though there for a short time, I didn’t mind the grey at all. I love that dreamy, muted palette.
I knew that the kitchens of Lima were highly respected in the worldwide “food scene”, but figured this was more of a play for tourism than an integral part of their culture. SO INCREDIBLY WRONG. Markets were bursting with table after table of reasonably priced organic fruits, veggies, legumes, grains, sprouts, coffee, chocolate. You name it, they had 5 different varieties. The thing that really stuck with me was that it didn’t seem like it was totally geared toward wealthy “food-y” expats (and priced accordingly). In my limited time to observe, there seemed to be a fairly decent mix of shoppers. It was nearly torture to not give into my urge to fill every pocket, shoe and empty carry-on with multi colored heirloom beans and delicacies like quinoa flakes, cacao nibs, maca powder and adzuki sprouts. Lima is a food loving dietitian’s paradise. Oh, and from there we went to the craft markets. Could my heart stand another surge of this colorful and delicious inspiration?
Apparently not. Snakes! Grab the defibrillators and hand me the wallet! The Peruvian textiles had my mind spinning with projects more quickly than the money could change hands. If it wasn’t hand-woven, vibrantly dyed wools, it was baby alpaca snugglies and yarns. On previous visits, my girlfriend had ferreted out a few vendors who actually sold some of the fabrics raw by the meter instead of already committed to cushion covers or blankets. The ones we fell for had a salvaged edge on either side of the 12″ width. Perfect for an ottoman! After some quick calculations and conversions in my head, I bought around 5 meters. At six bucks a meter, it was taking shape within a reasonable budget. The next step was to figure out what to use for the stuffing. Something sturdy, preferably eco-friendly, maybe recycled/repurposed and ideally free. I read a few tutorials on line which all suggested buying a giant bag of beanbag filler from Walmart. WHAT??!? That didn’t check any of my boxes. “A giant bag of beanbag filler from Walmart”- just typing (then retyping) those words makes me feel filthy and evil, like those words and I just strangled a pod of dolphins in the great Pacific trash vortex.
So I didn’t go that route because I don’t need that on my conscience. I remembered from my super brief stint as an embassy worker back in September the insane amount of paper shredding that’s done daily. After checking with the appropriate officials, I was allowed to remove a big bag of fluffy shred from the recycling bin. It worked out perfectly! Moderately lightweight, very firm and if I ever need a handful or two of extra stuffing to fluff her back up, I have a good source. I made an inner box cushion from old fabrics to lend structure and keep things more contained. Zipped it all together on the machine and hand stitched the final seam. I am pleased with how it came together so quickly and simply. My Peruvian poof and other “big” purchase, a thick wool blanket turned rug, are perfectly vibrant reminders of our quick but memorable visit to Lima.