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We are Familia FIG. We are a bi- lingual, blended family. Belalu was diagnosed at 9 months with hypochondroplasia.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Man with a Pan

For Christmas, Meridith and I got our parents cooking lessons for the whole family with a personal chef. Jonathan Carr, The man with a pan, came to our house the day after Christmas to teach us how to make all kinds of delicious vitals. Specifically, we made guacamole and salsa; steamed mussels in a garlic butter sauce; sesame rice pilaf; asparagus in a lemon butter sauce; flounder with a cajun crab stuffing; and for dessert: tiramisu!!! While we were preparing the food, Jonathan talked to us about prep techniques and hints. He was so nice and answered all our infinite questions- I'd love to do it again with other dishes. It was a lot of fun and had a delicious end :) Here are some photos of the evening.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas!!!

I hope everyone is having a great day. Now that I am FINALLY on vacation, I will be posting more regularly. Those exams had me busy for the past couple of weeks, but they're done now. I won't know how I did until this spring, when I finish my last one, so I have to just assume I did ok and not think about them anymore. I will be in touch with all of you who have been trying to contact with me within these next few days, I promise! Have a great day!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


So, this is the month of tests. I just finished grading my students' final exams. Tomorrow I will submit the grades and be allegedly on vacation. However, I will be taking two of my four written qualifying exams next week, and will therefore be hopefully two steps closer to getting my Ph.D. I've mostly enjoyed studying for these exams, actually. It's like an independent study, but I don't have to write a paper at the end (just take a 5-hour test ;)

My first exam is on Colonial autobiographical historiography. Which includes the conquisatdors' journals and letters back to Spain as well as books and chronicles written by colonial subjects. For example, I've read Hernan Cortes's letters to the King of Spain, justifying why he basically committed treason by conquering Mexico against his superior's orders. I've also read a conquistador's chronicles of how he survived a shipwreck off the coast of Florida and spent the subsequent 9 years traveling by foot across the continent to get back to the Spaniards in Mexico. Another guy's boat was kidnapped by pirates and he managed to be released to freedom after months of torture and abuse. And yet another book is basically a 17th century gossip rag about all the unfaithful husbands and wives, murder and intrigue that took place in a new city in Colombia.

My other exam is on a group of Spanish poets called the Generation of 27. Since it's some of my favorite poetry, it's been quiet interesting to learn more about them and read their works more in depth.

And yet another exam I already crossed off today was getting my Minnesota Driver's License. I just had to take the written test, but I was still a little nervous due to previous DMV traumas. But I got it!!! Well, they tell me I did- I won't have the actual card for another month. I feel it's a good start to my test marathon.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Monday, Monday

It's been a whirlwind week- starting with a long weekend Thursday. In addition to Dec. 8th being my mother and Mobi's birthdays, it also marked the end of classes for this semester. Juan and I celebrated after my class that afternoon at the Green Mill-I tried a "purple rain" Long Island Iced Tea (Happy Hour Special), which involves the usual suspects plus Midori. Juan had himself a tall Sam Adams. Then it was off to "Tequila Girls" night- a group of women ranging from late 20s to 50s and beyond who get together monthly for margaritas and a chat. It was a lot of fun- the mayor's wife as there and another woman who's lived in Winona for most of her life, so I got some good town lore and gossip, plus delicious margaritas- what more could one ask for on a Thursday night?

It was another snowy Saturday, which I spent studying for my upcoming exams (yikes!) That night we ordered Chinese and watched "King for a Day" on AMC- specifically the last part of Girls, Girls, Girls and Blue Hawaii. I love watching the Elvis movies for the blatant sexism they portray (life was so much simpler when girls knew their place, wasn't it? ;) and the fabulous late-fifties/early sixties sets. Then we topped the night off with some bowling at Winona Bowl. We hadn't gone since June, so suffice to say our scores were not worthy of being published at this time.

Yesterday was gorgeous winter weather, so we took a road trip to LaCrosse, WI, a town we often visit. After discovering a wonderful grocery store we will be making our regular place to shop, we heading downtown to Jules Coffee House, where I did some more studying and Juan read his new book, The tipping point. After two hours at the Y for yoga and hot tub/steam room, we went down to the Winona depot to welcome in the Holiday Train. It's a yearly tradition here- they have singers, Santa, train rides, cookies and hot beverages. People bring money or food to donate for local food pantries.
So, now Juan and I have been singing "People of the world, get on the love train" or "Can't Help Falling in Love with You" all weekend!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Mobi's famous!!!

I was cruising through the web page of our newest pet store in Winona: The Urbane Animal. They sell high-quality pet products and Mobi and I went to check it out the week before Thanksgiving to see what sort of goodies they had for her. And Miss M. got her picture taken to put up on the pet wall. But she's also on the web! Check her out in a rare semi-calm state. To see her on the page, go to "Products" and hit the refresh button until she appears- the photos are rotating in random order, but are all cute.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

On the Road...Red Wing, MN

Despite forecasts of cloudy skies, today was a brilliant blue with a bright sun that reflected off the snow from yesterday. It's that fluffy snow that sparkles in the sun- gorgeous! So, we hopped in the car and took a little road trip an hour's drive north of Winona along the river, to Red Wing, home of Red Wing shoes.
We also discovered lovely Lily's Coffee House. The coffee and ambiance were perfect. They were decked out for the holidays, as you can see. (There really were people there, I swear!)

There was also an art fair going on near the river (inside, of course!).
We wanted to do some more exploring, but the 18 degree temps changed our minds and we vowed to do so, oh, around April. On the way home, we stopped at Lark Toys in Kellogg.
It's a very fun toy store, candy store, and lunch spot with a beautiful carousel. The name stands for Lost Arts Revival and carries on the family business of handcrafted wooden toys, although they also sell more commercial toys and books, too. Throughout the whole complex are glass cases filled with vintage toys and games. It was a great little trip with lots of new discoveries and magnificent scenery. As we were driving along the Mississippi we could see flying next to us bald eagles and other birds of prey. I was amazed how the usually vivid colors of green and blue of the river, bluffs, and sky had muted to white, brown, and pastels of pink and light blue. I wish I could have taken a picture, but it just didn't work from the car.
tomorrow's the start of another week- I hope it's a great one for you!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Snowy Saturday

This week just flew by- and now the weekend's almost over, too! I did quite a bit of knitting in the car on the way to my aunt and uncle's house in New York last weekend. So much so, that I haven't done it again all week! This is what four days in the car produced:

Now that I think about it, I did get a little done on Tuesday night, too, but about an hour less than I could have, if I didn't get completely lost going to the knitting group that night. They were meeting in a house that mapquest told me was 5 minutes from mine. Thing is, I printed off the directions, but not the map. And while I looked at the map, I didn't do so very closely because I noticed her street was off 9th and I live on 5th. So, how hard could it be?...... Well, one hour later and one trip home to look it up on mapquest AGAIN, I realized that Winona is actually divided in two by Route 61, which I already knew. What I didn't know was that the streets on both sides of 61 have the same names with no designation whatsoever to tell you which side of the highway you want to be on. So, that's how I could follow the directions without ever actually finding the street. Moral of the story: CHECK THE MAP

Last night we saw Agatha Christie's play "The Mousetrap" at WSU. It was really good- the students were great actors, especially Juan's student who played Chrisopher Wren, the odd, uncombed young man who aroused many suspicions of various sorts. Theater is huge around here, so there are lots of opportunities for going to a play- more than we've taken advantage of so far.

Today it's been snowing all day- it's been the perfect Saturday. I got up early and read for a few hours for my exams, then did yoga at home with this book:
When I lived in Boston I would go to the Baptiste studios in Cambridge and Boston- now I go to the local YMCA, which has some great classes. However, they don't offer any yoga classes on Mondays, Fridays or Saturdays, so I have to do it at home. Thing is, I am not so disciplined at home and it's hard to motivate myself to do it there. I'd like to get some Baron DVDs- they'd help. (Christmas present??) But anyway, I did do it for 45 minutes yesterday. (yeah me!)

In the afternoon, Juan and I watched Noi Albinoi- a movie from Iceland about a brillant guy who's stuck in a small town in the middle of nowhere. Typical of Northern European movies, it didn't have the happiest ending, but it wasn't entirely bleak either. The setting was gorgeous and fit right in with the fluffy whiteness falling outside our windows.

Today was the perfect combination of productivity and relaxation.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Dum...dum...da dum....

In case you were wondering, that's me humming the wedding march. :) So, Juan and I are officially engaged and in the process of planning two fairly last-minute (but NOT shotgun) weddings. One will be in June in Maine and the other in August in Spain. We only picked these two places because they rhyme.

Thanksgiving was wonderful by the way- I've almost forgotten about the traffic and miserable weather on the ride home. But I will not forget anytime soon about the games (Apples to Apples -VERY fun group game) and the delicious food.

Ok, got work to do!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Recent Knits: Take 2

What I'm eating: OREO COOKIE BALLS These are soooo easy and yet taste as if they required three days in the kitchen. Make them for the next holiday party and be prepared for excessively lavish praise. All you need is: 1 package of oreo cookies, 1 8 oz box of softened cream cheese and chocolate to melt (this could be almond bark, candy chocolate, a candy bar or chips). #1. Throw the softened cream cheese and cookies in your food processor until they are well mixed and all the cookies are incorporated. #2. Put this mixture in your fridge or freezer, depending on how soon you want to eat these babies- you need them cold enough to roll easily. #3. When they're ready, roll them into smallish balls and then dip in the melted chocolate (the microwave is the easiest way to safely melt chocolate without burning-just put it on 3 minutes and check every 30 seconds or so). #4. Put them on wax paper and back in the fridge or freezer until outer chocolate hardens- then enjoy! You can make so many variations of these- low fat, white or dark chocolate, with mint or peanut butter oreos, etc.

What I’m wearing: Salina, from Vintage Knits, with Rowan felted tweed in herb. I actually started knitting this sweater in January, but have been working on so many other things that I just got around to finishing it this week. It fits PERFECTLY and I love, love, love the color of this yarn! In addition to being a beautiful shade of green, it has flecks of blue, black and white.

What I’m knitting: Basketweave scarf, from Stitch n’ Bitch Nation, with unidentified variegated blue/green yarn. This is a fun project because it’s easy enough to knit while watching tv, but more interesting than regular stockinette stitch. Also, it’s a quick knit, so practically instant gratification- yeah!

Project-in-progress on hand-made wooden needles from Maine

I hope you have a safe and delicious Thanksgiving holiday!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Recent Knits: Take 1

I completed a couple of projects this week. First, I finished the Debbie Bliss Biker Jacket from The Tweed Collection. I don't remember the brand of yarn I used, but it is a gorgeous charcoal gray tweed with flecks of orange, maroon, green, white, and blue- here's a detail that gives you a general idea:

And here are some more shots:

Detail of front with zipper

Right sleeve and front

Can't have a jacket without the bike!

Also, I started a new project last night- it is super difficult and like nothing I've ever done before- lace knitting. But I'm tired of just doing knit and purl, so I thought I was up for the challenge. It's Rowan's Butterfly, the camisole version that made the cover of the n. 37 issue:

If you look closely, you'll notice that this not only includes
lace, but also beads, another new knitting skill for me. And here are my beads and the yarn I'll be using- Rowan Kid Silk haze. (Which I received free for renewing my Rowan subscription.)

Now, knowing this would be difficult, I checked out a Butterfly on-line knit-along and read all the trouble people had with it, cutting and pasting pertinent entries into Word and organizing them by topic for easy referral when necessary. I consulted my knitting books on the terms in the pattern and instructions for beading. I spent at least a couple of hours of prep work and felt confident that I would be ready to start. Right. I'm not even sure how many times I re-started, never able to get past the first five rows. So, after nearly four hours of knitting (this does not include the previous two hours of prep work), this is what I came up with:

And, as you’ll surely notice, I will have to rip this out and start over because I obviously did something wrong. So, for now, Butterfly can go back into its cocoon, and perhaps I’ll try again in a couple of days when I’ll be in the car for a long ride to New York- less distractions that way.

Tomorrow I’ll add photos of my other finished sweater this week, and my other project-in-progress that is actually fun to knit.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

So, where's the knitting?

Although I originally started this blog for mostly knitting purposes, I've yet to post anything along that line. And that's because I need to take pictures of projects and add them in somehow- I'm still learning how this all works. I used to work with html and web pages, but it's been a while, so all I can say is soon, soon.

In the meantime, I'm going to post some shots of our recent trip to Chicago. We were there right after the White Sox won the World Series, which is funny since I was in Boston when the Red Sox won last year. Then, I was too lazy to stand out in the cold for the rally, but this year, it was a gorgeous day and I was there anyway, so I figured why not?

Magnificent Mile

Mobi, me, and the Chicago skyline

At the rally. Go Red ...ummmm I mean, White Sox!

G.O.B. kicked us out of here when we tried to walk to our car with Mobi.
No dogs allowed!!! Even walking through!

An unusual parking garage

Notice the beads- she's got team spirit.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Película of the Week: La niña de tus ojos

Last night we showed a movie for the students who take Spanish here. It was part of our weekly Spanish and Latin American Film Series- an opportunity for them to see foreign movies, hear Spanish spoken, and get some extra credit. For some reason, the DVD player only put the movie on Spanish and the English subtitles didn't work. But they all stayed and watched it anyway.

It's about a group of Spanish actors that go to Germany in 1938 to make a movie in two versions: Spanish and German. The film they are shooting is set in Spain, but since they are filming in Germany, there's a lot of play with the contrasts between these two supposedly disparate countries. And you end up questioning what makes a country more savage- a lack of refined culture or cruelty. It's a very funny movie for those who know a little about the culture and Spain's history during the 30s. Though I would say the comedy is more on the darker side, since it does deal with fascism, Nazis and concentration camp prisoners. The cinematography is excellent and the actors are all the big comedic characters of Spanish cinema. Plus, Penelope Cruz is in it, faking a Malagueña accent, which I think the students liked since she was a familiar face for them.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

It's Winter!!!!

So, it actually snowed last night. People kept talking about it, saying it would happen, but I refused to believe. Then, there I was in shivasana during yoga class, supposedly on my way to blissful nirvana, when someone says "hey, look out the window!" And what do we see but soft, fluffy flakes coming down. I have to admit, I really didn't mind as much as I thought I would. It was very cozy to be in the house last night and this morning reading under my quilt and seeing the snow come down outside.

It wasn't so great when I had to walk to school later this morning. However, I decided to make the best of it, so I piled on the layers, put my I-pod on Ravi Shankar to conjure up imagines of warm, exotic India, and headed out the door. About two blocks into my 35-minute walk, a woman pulls over and offers to take me to the university, since it was on her way. (She assumed I was a student). She was extremely nice, and while she talked about her kids in high school, I couldn't help but notice that she had a gold hoop in her left eyebrow. This was one hip mama, on whom the Karma gods are certainly smiling today. One more reason to love Winona!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

3...2...1...Blast off!!!

I've been thinking about starting a blog for about a year now. There are several knitting blogs that I frequent, and I've wanted to join in the online dialogue. I find people's comments and pictures helpful for my own projects, and perhaps I can help someone myself, someday. Also, since I moved to Minnesota last January, I now live multiple states away from all friends and family, and this seems a great way to keep them updated on my goings-on, especially since I am absolutely horrendous with email and phone communication. I'm hoping people will also comment and let me know what they are up to. Additionally, a blog serves as a nice journal, something I never seem to have time to maintain anymore. Soooo... all these reasons (and a little study procrastination) have culminated in my not putting it off any longer. So, here it is!