About Me

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

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Don't Gross Out the World

My cousin just sent me this fun quiz. I got 8 out of 11, in case you were wondering.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Rainy Sunday Brunch

Today we had a friend from the department over for brunch. It was simple but satisfying. Juan made a tortilla espanola, as only he knows how, and I made a Romesco sauce to go with it. We also had a lovely salad of mesclun with avocado and pomegranate seeds and homemade salad dressing, of the food course. Accompanying the food were mimosas (OJ and champagne). For dessert, fruit and yogurt parfaits. The first layer was vanilla yogurt, then a mix of strawberries and blueberries. I took half the strawberries and blended them in a small food processor, then mixed them with the whole berries and a little confectioners sugar. Layering the yogurt and fruit, I then topped the parfaits with granola I had made the night before.

Yesterday we saw Brokeback Mountain here at the Winona theater. It is an excellent, excellent movie.

I am currently enamored of the movie on PBS's Masterpiece Theater. They are showing Bleakhouse, a Charles Dickens Novel, over six weeks. (We're on week two at the moment). It has everything that makes a great Victorian novel- love, death, betrayal, all tied in with social criticism. Just one question: What does "keen as mustard" mean????

Friday, January 27, 2006

Película of the Week: Balseros

The Spanish and Latin American Film Series is back! Every Wednesday night we play a movie for the students that is either from Spain or Latin America. They voluntarily attend- we usually get an average of about a dozen at our showings.

We started the semester with a documentary. The title, Balseros, refers to the Cuban rafters that put their lives on the line to have the opportunity to start a new life in America. The movie follows seven people on their journey to and through America over the course of seven years. What I like about the movie is that it doesn't sugarcoat the stories- these are people and they are not always virtuous nor good, and the directors do not try to convince you otherwise. It was also interesting to see that the systems in place to help immigrants transition into society were maintained by church charities NOT with government organizations.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

My current knitting and food projects

Da Dum! It's finally here- a picture of my current project

This will be an aran sweater for Juan knit with size 11 needles and 100% alpaca wool(soooo soft). It is practically my first cable project ever (I made a scarf with cables last month).

This weekend flew by- we had the wine-tasting dinner last Thursday- it was ok- just ok. Friday we went to WSU for a couple of plays that were student-directed senior projects. I have been very impressed with the drama department here. All day Saturday we attended the Frozen River Film Festival, which featured films shown at the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado- all having to do with the environment, outdoor sports and sustainable living. This link takes you to some pictures from the day- if you look in the audience in the 2nd row, right, you can see Juan and I awaiting another film. (Look for the BRIGHT red of my fabulous poncho I still haven't posted here yet). Also, the second row from the bottom, left, features an adorable little girl with the cutest outfit who sat through an hour and half of movies sin drama.

Sunday was rest and time to continue with my current kitchen project: the perfect homemade hot chocolate. I'm still working on the formula- so far they have been too sweet or not enough. I will share the special formula when it is discovered. I'll leave you tonight with a shot of one test model next to a plate of sopapillas, or buñuelos, which is basically little balls of sweet fried dough eaten for breakfast in Spain and Latin America.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Knitting update coming soon

I admit I've been remiss on my knitting updates. I have to work on my finished projects page(s) as well as my works in project page(s). I promise I will do so this weekend, so stay tuned for fun photos and recent project details.

It's Thursday, in other words my Friday, so the weekend starts at 4 pm today. Tonight Juan and I are driving to Wabasha to the Historic Anderson House for a dinner and wine tasting. (oh-la-la!) I will bring along the camera to snap photos of this cute little river town about half and hour north of us- but if it's dark when we get there, I don't know how much I'll be able to capture. I am very excited about the opportunity to taste some fabulous food, since that seems to be in short supply around here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A leeky week

This week I experimented with a new cooking ingredient: leeks. Although I've seen them in the grocery store and in many recipes, I just never bought any before. So, I decided to try them in a potato/leek soup of my own devices, which is pretty bold for me, since a) I almost always use a recipe and b) I had never used leeks before. However, I am proud to say the experiment was a resounding success!

Let me back up a little and say that last Friday, before the film festival adventure at Green Lantern, Juan and I sat down to a delectable meal of roasted chicken with lemon, rosemary and garlic and Juan's special recipe of brussel sprouts w/ olive oil and lemon. I love roasting chicken because you get so many different meals from one cooking session. First, I always include a couple of whole cloves of garlic in the pan, so we can spread roasted garlic on crusty baguette bread with the meal. I don't think there are many things better than roasted garlic, I really don't. The leftover chicken can be added to salads or sandwiches- this week it was salad with homemade Italian dressing. Homemade dressing is far superior flavor-wise to store bought ones and really doesn't take that long to make. Once the chicken is pretty bare, I cook the rest of the, ahem, carcass, with veggies and seasoning to make a broth that can be frozen for future use in soups and risottos and such.

So, back to the potato-leek soup. The taste was favorably disproportionate to the preparation time. All I did was boil a couple of cubed potatoes in about 4-5 cups of homemade chicken stock, add the cut-up leeks after 15 minutes and cook for another 15 or so, add some pepper and then puree the whole thing with an immersion blender until smooth. Some people like to add cream or half and half to their purees, but this was perfect without any additions. I think the stock had a lot to do with the flavor, but it could have been the leeks, I'm not sure. Check out here for more leek info than you ever needed/wanted to know. The thing with leeks is, they are notoriously full of sand, so be sure you clean them well before cooking. I can confidently say I will be cooking with leeks many more times in the near future.

I leave you today with photos of Lisa with the red pom-pom hat I made her for Christmas with Rowan's Ribbon Twist yarn in Racy- oh yes, I said Racy
A view from the back
And now the front

Monday, January 16, 2006

Martin Luther King Day

It's been a four-day weekend here in Winona, which has been flying by, as expected. Saturday I went with my friend Nancy to scope out a barn for a BIG birthday of hers coming up in April. Plans are still in the works, so we'll see where the festivities end up. Personally, I hope the barn works out, since it would be my first fete in such a local. That evening we went with Nancy and her husband to check out a new-for-us restaurant across the river: Hillside Fish House, which was pretty good family dining-lots of seafood, of course. We all then went to see the Ben Munisteri Dance Project at local St. Mary's University. I'm not all that familiar with modern dance, but it was nice to see something different. For a couple of the pieces, I felt like I really didn't "get" it, but I was assured that sensation is normal with modern dance. So, aside from some general feelings of ignorance, I enjoyed the show.

I finally finished "Swann in Love:" an over-200 page chapter from Proust detailing minutely the entire process of Swann falling in and then out of love with Odette. I am quite relieved to be done with the whole thing. Now I have one more chapter and I will be done with the first volume. In general, I am enjoying his meandering writing style and thorough description, but the whole Swann-Odette affair was really maddening. I may have to take a break between this and the next one, however. Because, well, sometimes a girl just needs a little more action in her literature. I leave you with Walter Benjamin's take on Proust:

"The thirteen volumes of Marcel Proust's 'A la recherche du temps perdu' are the result of an unconstruable synthesis in which the absorption of a mystic, the art of a prose writer, the verve of a satirist, the erudition of a scholar, and the self-consciousness of a monomaniac have combined in an autobiographical work...The conditions under which it was created were extremely unhealthy: an unusual malady, extraordinary wealth, and an abnormal gift. This is not a model life in every respect, but everything about it is exemplary. The outstanding literary achievement of our time is assigned a place at the heart of the impossible, at the center--and also at the point of indifference--of all dangers, and it marks this great realization of a 'lifework' as the last for a long time. The image of Proust is the highest physiognomic expression which the irresistibly growing discrepancy between literature and life was able to assume."

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Friday the 13th: Visit to the Green Lantern

Last night Juan and I felt adventurous and decided to check out the Green Lantern's Friday the 13th film festival. The Green Lantern describes itself on its web page as: "A restaurant and cabaret located on the city's Lower East Side, the Lantern is the heart of this town's underground." (Click on the picture at left to go to their website.) The Green Lantern is home to the Weird Winonans' UFO and paranormal discussion group every Thursday as well as Dr. Bob's puppetorium (neither of which I have yet to be witness). We have determined that at some point we will request a tour of the puppetorium basement, though.

So, the film festival: "FRIDAY THE 13th! Beware the Ides of January. 'VINNIE PULLUPACHAIROS INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL' live cabaret acts in between strange and outrageous independent short films." It included some interesting shorts, such as 12:01 p.m., with the father from That 70s Show; Solid Geometry, based on a short story by Ian McEwan and starring Ewan Mcgregor; and the biggest surprise of all, Un Chien Andalou, Bunuel and Dali's surrealist film from 1929, which opens with an up-close shot of an eyeball being sliced with a razor, in order to shock bourgeois sensibilities of the time (and that continues to give most viewers the heebie-jeebies). The eye-slitting can be seen as a statement of rupture with the aesthetics of the day, but I actually prefer L'Age d'Or (another Bunuel-Dali surrealist collaboration) because it seems to infuse more humor into its avant-garde agenda of satire and ridicule. The other interesting "film" we saw was actually a recording of a performance piece by an artist present. Over twenty years ago, he decided to be buried alive for three days in order to foster better relations between our realm and that of the dead. Performance for the Dead featured his "funeral" and subsequent rising from the grave three days later. hmmmm.... right.

Oh, and in case any of you have been plagued by a similar question: buffalo and bison are the same thing when you're talking about the North American animal. Bison is just the more scientific name.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Vacation's over (sort of)

Our overflowing mail awaiting our return

Today was the first day of classes at Winona, but since we don't have to go back until Tuesday, it wasn't so bad. I basically presented the syllabus, did a short activity to get them talking espanol again and we were done. While it does seem a little silly to have to be back for one day with then four days off, it's made a nice transition to the start of another semester.

My vacation was wonderful. I read a couple of great books, saw some good movies and made some delicious food.

Persepolis 2: This is a follow-up to the memoir Persepolis. Both are graphic novels by Marjane Satrapi about growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. This second one follows her as she grows up alone in Vienna and then decides to return home. It amazes me how intimate and personal these books are despite being told in such a spare writing style. I highly recommend both of them.
Julie and Julia This is another memoir by a late-twenty-something woman in New York who decided to make all the recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The first chapter, I was horrified by the writing- it was so blatantly obvious that this was her first book I couldn't focus on the material- there were so many metaphors, one right after the other, that you couldn't even figure out what she was talking about. However, she soon lightened up on the metaphors and I could get through the rest of it. It's a fun book, if not overly enlightening.
Remembrance of Things Past I've never read Proust and figured that I should, being a literature student and all. I'm still working on volume 1 (of 6) and while I am enjoying it for the most part, I'm getting a little tired of Swann and his unhealthy obsession with Odette- she's not worth it, man, why can't you see that!

Knitting projects completed:

I finished my vest before I left for Maine. Yes, that is more tweed yarn (I can't stop!)In the car on the way to Maine, I made a couple of gifts for friends with fun Rowan ribbon twist yarn in red- a cabled scarf and a cute hat with pompons. I wish I had snapped photos of the recipients with their presents, but didn't have a working battery all vacation, so no go. If they send me shots, I'll be sure to post them, though. I liked the yarn so much, I also made myself a fun little poncho that I will post this weekend. In addition, before I left had finally finished a baby blanket for my friends Peter and Martha, who had adorable Nathaniel back in November.

As for movies, I saw a few, but the biggest surprise was Gangs of New York. I had heard few good things about this movie- it was boring, it was too long, it was violent- but for some reason I wanted to see it anyway. And I LOVED it. I was fascinated by the American history that rarely is spoken about these days- it reminded me of an eye-opening article I had read about the building of the subway system in New York and all the unknown people that died in its creation. The most bizarre parts of the movie turned out to be based on historical fact- you have to see the Discovery Channel's show that accompanies it.

And last, but most certainly not least: the cooking :) Having some extra free time and a fully loaded kitchen with lots of space, I couldn't resist. Some of the delicious plates I prepared included: deviled eggs; shrimp, crab and mussel gumbo; Cajun crabcakes; Mexican lasagna (thanks Rachel Ray); lemon-herb chicken with marscapone-almond risotto and glazed carrots. I went to the library and got out all the cookbooks from the young, hot chefs you see on Food Network these days- The naked chef, Tyler Florence, Nigela Lawson and Giada de Laurentiis. I love to read cookbooks- especially before bed. Talk about good dreams!

Tonight the Tequila Club is meeting for margaritas, so I will be appropriately welcoming in the Spring semester.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Juan's back :)

So the other evening Mobi and I drove down to Boston, because I had to do a couple of things there before heading home. First and foremost, I had to pick Juan up at the airport from his Euro-holiday. But before that, I was also on a mission to find the perfect shoes to go with my wedding dress (aka- NOT those icky white things they try to sell you in the bridal salons). I am pleased to say: mission accomplished on both counts. Last night we visited some friends and then headed back to Maine this morning. This evening we walked around the Old Port in Portland, saw Syriana, and had a delicious dinner at Street and Company (Juan had the calamari and it was scallops for me). Check the above link for more movie reviews, since there isn't anything I would say that they don't already have written there. Juan's return signals the near-end to our winter break, and we will be teaching back in Winona on Thursday. We have one more day here before the two-day drive back to Minnesota- here's hoping the weather behaves for us!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year!

Before I tell you about my New Year's Eve, let me preface by saying that in the past few years, (actually, almost all of my twenties so far) I have been in some fairly "exotic" local for this special night, such as Venice, Buenos Aires (twice), and various places in Spain. Last night, however, I went a very different route for celebrating the start of 2006. I was actually in bed, reading, when the clock struck midnight. I didn't even know that it was 2006 until I shut my book to sleep at 12:30. While I know this doesn't exactly make for an exiting blog read, I have to say I was very happy to be at home snug in bed. This partly has to do with the fact that my vacation has been pretty busy between trying to see everyone and getting as much wedding planning in as possible in the few weeks I'm here. The other factor, I think, is that there tends to be a lot of hype around starting a new year- new starts, new resolutions, exciting changes... and since my birthday is so close to the new year, it also tends to have a lot of significance for me. But this year, I am very happy with where I'm at and how things are going, so I guess I don't really need that feeling of drama a new year usually carries with it.

I hope you all, however, had a fabulous New Year and that 2006 is going to be great for you!