Saturday, February 28, 2009

One Year Ago Project

We boarded our tour bus and headed north-east of Brasilia into the country on our way to the neighboring state of Bahia and the farming town of Luis Eduardo Meghalles.  It was named after a governor's son, hence the interesting name!

There was so much to see along the way - 

one of the suburbs of Brasilia- 

a big grain handling facility.  Farmers don't store grain on farms like we do here - it's trucked to the grain company right from the field and the facilities are huge.

Along the way we followed this ridge of 'mountains' for several miles.  You can see the road to a farm on the side.  Government builds highways but individuals build roads in to their own property.   Infrastructure, as we know it, is not provided by the government.

New farmland was being opened up all along the way in this area.  There are very strict guidelines for environmental standards, including a 20% green space reserve.  The cerraido (brushland) is cleared, worked and pre-treated to bring it in to agricultural production. 

Brahma cross cattle were grazing along the highway but cropland definitely dominated. 

After a six hour ride on the bus, we arrived at our destination - and almost immediately headed to the local Case IH dealership to check out the machinery.  Such a typical farm thing to do in a new town!  

In volume of sales, this dealership was the biggest one in the world!!!  This combine (minus the cutting header) was the only brand new piece of machinery on the lot as the demand for machines is so high, they are usually sold before they arrive.  This also means that used equipment moves off the lot quickly too.

Inside the shop all kinds of repairs were being carried out but the most interesting to me were these cotton picker headers which were being retrofitted with new teeth.

Here's the drive unit and you can see the 'bin' at the back.  The cotton is picked, comes up the chute and is packed into huge bales in the back compartment and then dumped out when it's full. 

Workers were re-assembling some machines out in the yard.  The picker spins at a high speed and 'combs' the cotton bolls off the bushes as it moves along the rows.  We didn't get to see one in action as the cotton was just in the blossom stage.  Next time!!

Brian Willmot (in the yellow shirt) is an American farmer from Missouri who is managing a farm here and he was an excellent interpreter for our group.  The guy beside him in the white shirt was the manager of the dealership.  Of course all the men in our group had lots of questions, which they willingly answered.

These were beside the building - not sure if they were for sale or owned by the workers.  

This was a great start to the agricultural part of our trip - the whole reason we'd come!

Tomorrow - some sights around town and a trip out to a cotton gin - stay tuned!!


I just realized that my last post was #900!!  That's kind of amazing!  I've found 900 different times that I had something to write about and put out there to share.  Now I have a record of those thoughts and I can go back and read them whenever I want.   Such good stuff on this amazing internet.  Ten years ago who would have thought this was possible?!

So in honour of this milestone in my blogging life, I have a giveaway to share with someone.  How about some chocolate, some scrapbooking treats, a good book and lots of color to celebrate?  Leave me a comment and I'll pick a winner on Monday night (March 2nd).  

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

One Year Ago Project

Mid-morning, we boarded the boat and left the EcoPark Lodge -

cruised down and across the river, which was pretty low (according to the locals).  During high water season in June, the water would be 10 or more feet higher!  

The homes and businesses on the water were on floating docks so they could rise with the water and survive!  This little restaurant was close to our lodge.

Once we were on the main river, beautiful homes with lush grounds could be seen - 

and more humble homes were evident too.  The Amazon is truly an amazing river and we were thrilled to experience one little part of it.  

At the Manaus airport, we had time to grab a bite to eat - 

at this fine place!  Good thing the menu items were numbered and we could communicate our orders that way.

Our next destination was Brasilia, the capital city, a four hour flight from Manaus. ( Brazil is a huge country!)    Designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, this city was planned in 1956 with construction completed in 1960.  In a period of 41 months, the whole city was built and the government center was moved from Rio de Janiero.  This move had been approved in 1891 but with changes in government, nothing was done until Kubitschek (who became the president) made building it an election promise.  It's mind boggling to think how so many buildings and so much infrastructure could be built in such a short time!

Now 2.5 million people live in this city which has the shape of an airplane, although the original architect intended it to look like a cross.  

This museum had a city model and you can see the wing effect.  Where the wings meet, down the center is a transportation and communication boulevard that runs from one end of the city to the other.  The main government buildings are located in the front center.  I'll show you more pictures of the city when we return in a few days. 

We arrived in the evening and the next morning these were the views we had of the hotel district from our balcony. 

We were right beside the main transportation boulevard and you can see some of the overpasses.  

Brasilia is a modern, bustling city located quite near to the geographic  center of the country, which is why the capital was moved here.  Most people who work in the city live further out in suburbs and must be bussed in for work.

And this was a common site during our trip!!  Many suitcases shuttling in and out of the bus!

Our first day in the city was just an overnight stop as we left for part 1 of our farm tour the next day.  Stay tuned for a long bus ride and a visit to a farm machinery dealership tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

One Year Ago Project

I forgot that on our last morning in the jungle, we went out piranha fishing after breakfast!     

The boats could each seat 10 people and had a small gas motor.  Did you notice that the local guide seated in the front of the boat is on his cell phone?  Yes - they are everywhere!!

We stopped at a fishing dock and dropped our poles in 

on both sides.  I love all the fishing poles in these 2 pictures.  

No one in our group caught anything but the guides brought in a few fish.  

And when we left, we gave these guys a Canadian flag.  They were always so helpful and lots of fun even though we had a language barrier when it came to communicating.  The boat in the background was waiting to take us across the river and back to our tour bus. 

 Tomorrow on to the capital city!


Week 11 in Design Your Life - Just My Type - how to use the element of fonts effectively.

But first the Real World  Color Challenge - use the colors of Punch Pizza in St. Paul, MN but I only picked up the pink - purple elements.  I used chipboard letters and a font that matched so it unifies the layout.   This is a favourite picture of Na and Jerry from 2004.

Sketch #1 - create a simple, elegant layout with strong type - use 1 font for title and journalling.  

And sketch #1 repeated - with the other granddaughter!

Sketch #2 - Create a layout featuring type contrast.  I used rub-on letters for the title and handwriting for the journal piece.  This is a self-portrait that our beautiful niece did of herself.

And once again, I love my creations!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

One Year Project

The whole time we were in the Amazon jungle, we were treated to a whole range of interesting activities.  One afternoon we took a boat ride down the river to an aboriginal village 

to hear music -

to participate in some dancing - 

marvel at the kids' ability to climb all over the trees - 

and take lots of pictures!

That night after supper, we got back in the boats and headed into the reeds along the tributaries to look for some caimen (a relative of alligators and crocodiles).  Each boat had a local guide and 2 aboriginal boatmen who piloted us and did the searching and catching. 

Our boat was the only one that was successful at actually capturing a caimen!

We brought it back to our lodge and everyone had a picture taken before he was released back in to the water.  It was quite different to be on the river at night rather than in the light of day.  We were so glad to experience all of these special activities.

Tomorrow we leave Manaus and head to Brasilia, the country's capital.

Ten on Tuesday

1.  We had Cheddar Apple Soup from this lovely book last night.  It was delicious and perfect for a winter evening.  The book is a gorgeous coffee table book that takes one on a culinary journey across Canada and was a Christmas gift from our good friends.  

2.  Winter is back with a vengeance!  12 cm of snow in the last 2 days and -30 degrees C by Thursday morning.  

3.  Someday I want to live in a place where people (like Karen at My Life) plant shrubs in their gardens or watch the trees blossom (like over at Amongst The Oaks) at this time of year.  I can't even imagine how wonderful it must be to do those things.   Yes - I do know that I would have to take my whole family with me :))

4.   Look at these beautiful flowers that Mary over at Little Red House captured in this mosaic.  She has such a lovely home and I admire her decorating talents.  

5.  We had a lovely dinner with my aunt and uncle on Sunday afternoon.   Often our visits include the whole clan so it was a little treat to do lots of visiting and enjoy being a group of 4.  They are wonderful hosts :))  and honorary great-grandparents to our grandkids :))

6.  Did you know that the average pre-schooler will get 6 - 10 colds per year?!  Each cold boosts a child's immunity to more serious infections that can come along in later years.  

7.  I need a housekeeper - enough said!

8.  It's the last week in February - where have the last 2 months gone?!!  At this rate the year will be over in a blink.  Anyone else feel like time is flying by?

9.  It's Shrove Tuesday today - traditionally, the day to empty your kitchen of all rich food before the season of Lent begins tomorrow.  We always have a pancake supper at our church on this day and it was good.

10.  "We do not cease to play because we grow old; we grow old because we cease to play."  George Bernard Shaw
And with that I'm off to play with Meadow tomorrow!

Monday, February 23, 2009

One Year Ago Project

Day 2 of our South American experience

boating along one of the tributaries of the Amazon - 

jungle guide and his aboriginal helper showing us how to use medicinal plants -

 sanctuary where monkeys who have been taken away from poachers (eg. found in suitcases heading out of the country at airports) are rehabilitated and reintroduced to the wild - 

feeding time - he really wanted the brazil nut I was holding - and I eventually gave it up!

Thanks for coming along!  On the agenda tomorrow - visit to an aboriginal village and crocodile hunting!

Simple Daybook #30

For Today . . . February 23, 2009

Outside my window . . . snowflakes drifting down for most of the day, -15 degrees C and winter making her way back in to our world

I am thinking . . . about a new project that involves some teaching and some cooking - lots of possibilities and details to work out - perfect for project oriented me!  And - that the wedding is now less than one month away!!!!!!

From the kitchen . . . Cheddar Apple Soup, Whole Wheat Bread with Apricot Jam and Gingersnap Cookies

I am wearing . . . black cords, black long sleeve t-shirt, red cable knit sweater and slippers

I am reading . . . Better Homes and Gardens, March issue - all about gardens and springtime - it's full of beautiful flowers and yummy spring recipes 

I am hoping . . . that Heather is feeling better very soon - she's had a long, long week of being sick

I am hearing . . . the CBC news

I am creating . . . week #12 layouts for Design Your Life - soon I will be finished this project!

Around the house . . . tax paperwork, recipe books, and some sewing projects

One of my favourite things  . . . fresh tulips and spring flowers of all kinds,  brightening up the house

A few plans for the rest of the week . . . 3 days of subbing, play date with Meadow, Shrove Tuesday pancake supper at church, Lenten service, tea with 2 former students and their mom  - a pretty full week

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you . . . fresh bread, toasted, with cream cheese and jam for breakfast

Be sure to visit Peggy at The Simple Woman and read more lovely daybooks. 

Sunday, February 22, 2009

One Year Ago Project

We have been thinking back on our trip to South America last year at this time and we have so many marvelous memories!  So over the next month I'm going to share a few pictures of where we were exactly one year ago, day by day.

Day 1 - Miami to Manaus, Brazil

After an overbooked flight in Miami and a flight plan change for 5 of us on the tour, that involved overnighting to Sao Paulo (with Crystal sitting in first class!), we finally arrived in the Amazon jungle,  1000 miles west of the mouth of the river.  

We stayed at this lodge in the jungle - 

which looked like this as we arrived - 

and had several parrots to watch!  This guy was bothering the housekeeping staff so he had to move out to a big tree.  Some of the smaller ones loved to fly through the open air dining room and sit on the table as we ate!  

Tomorrow we go on a jungle walk and visit the monkeys - be sure to come along :))

Let's Get Inspired

My scrapbook studio has been a rather empty place this week but tonight I'm trying to finish a layout that I've been stalled on for awhile.  I've got the pictures chosen and all ready but I need to do some computer type work - and I've been putting it off big time!  I have decided that this layout will be finished before I can go to bed tonight so that I can take a picture of it in the daylight and show it to you.  Keep your fingers crossed that I won't be up all night!!

Exercise Your Creativity with Christi Snow at Altered Ambitions is based all around chocolate this week!  Now what's not to love about that idea?!!  It sounds delicious and I'm feeling inspired to create something in the kitchen tomorrow as well as keep my eyes open for 'chocolate' photo ops this week.  Christi found some yummy goodness over at Etsy so I had to go and look too.  Check these out!

           Luxe Letters by SheaChic Designs

baby booties by FunkeyMonkeyy

         baby bracelet by Glitterbugboutique

      kimono baby jacket by Bulalla

I hope your week is filled with creativity and beautiful things!