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

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Postcards from Spain: Pamplona

So, the mystery town was Pamplona, the capital of Navarra, a region in Northern Spain. Congrats to Christy for the first correct guess! YAY! It is most famous the world over for Los Sanfermines, a weeklong celebration in honor of Saint Fermin, the city's patron saint, that runs from July 7th-14th. This is when people dress in all white with a red hankerchief (called paƱoleta) around their necks and run ahead of the bulls on their way to the bullring. The distance is about 800 meters and the run lasts around 2-3 minutes. This little city of under 200,000 is flooded with tourists during the week of San Fermin, with up to a million and a half people crammed into its narrow streets. Which is why I, for one, will not ever be in Pamplona the second week in July.

Ernest Hemmingway spent a lot of time in Spain, and in Pamplona in particular. This is his favorite bar/resturant in town, where he wrote The Sun Also Rises.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Finished Objects!!!

(Please ignore the I-just-got-up-and-haven't-brushed-my-hair-yet look- I wanted Juan to take the pic before he went out the door)
First off, we have the lovely Rambling Rose, from Rowan #39. The pattern calls for a cotton yarn, but I did mine with Rowan 4-ply soft, 100% merino wool. It was knit in size small, with #1 and #3 needles. I made the sleeves a little bit longer than called for, too, starting with 71 stitches and knit four inches more, spacing the increases to arrive at the requisite 79. (Ah! Now a little more awake!) I also completed the Herringbone cuff from Alterknits. The pattern was for a leather cord, I used a Noro "yarn" almost like a cord that my secret pal9, Angela, had sent me.I did not finish my first sock ever, but I am getting close. The pattern is Monkey, from Knitty.com. I am knitting it with a superwash wool yarn that sort of makes it look like those slouch socks from the 80s, hence, these are now my "totally 80s" socks. It doesn't look that slouchy on, though, I promise. I also sneaked in a sewing project over the long weekend: a needle holder that holds all my needles. Note the extra-wide pocket for my circs. I used fabric I had laying around and the instructions as given in Stitch N' Bitch. Now these photos on my screen look a little screwy, not sure if that is the same for the rest of you. Still not sure what to do about that. You may or may not be able to see that this whole thing rolls up and is secured with a ribbon (not yet attached in photo) and can be carried all across the country, as it will soon be.
Tomorrow I will reveal the Spain postcard location for this week, so there's still time to guess the location. There are already a couple up, and I won't say yet if they are right or wrong so everyone can guess who wants to.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Postcards from Spain: Mystery Town

I am going to be doing a series this summer of postcards from my trip to Spain last summer. Eventually, I will have the photos up on my travel blog, but there were so many I was a bit daunted the past few months to even start. I thought I would start the week off with a mystery place. Hint, this small Northern town is inundated with tourists at the beginning of July every year.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Dark Side

I recently switched to a Mac (now, there's something I never thought I'd say), and have been adjusting to this new world grudgingly. My blogging experience is not the same- my blog looks very different to me now, and I'm not sure if that is this computer or what- so if things look a little off, bear with me please as I straighten the kinks out. Thanks!

Happy Holiday Weekend!

The other day I was riding my bike to work and drove by this:
I have some project goals in mind this weekend. First up, my Rambling Rose is rambling along nicely. It needs a few more roses and some buttons and it's ready to go. I think it's totally doable for a long weekend.

Once I finally took a picture of my secret pal's gift, I dove right into one of the projects from the book: the Herringbone Wrist Cuff. The pattern in the book is made of black leather, but Angela had sent me a really cool Noro "Yarn" that is more like a cord. The book says that it takes 6 hours, but I got this much done in less than one, so I think I can get this done this weekend, too.

I also recently started my first sock using the Monkey pattern from Knitty.com and would like to get one done by the end of the weekend. We're not going too far this weekend, since we'll be driving out East the week after next. So, we'll see if my goals are too ambitious- it will probably depend on the weather and how much I feel like being inside. Hope you all have a great holiday weekend, too!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

More Boston Photos

Here are some more photos from my trip to Boston last week. The first are from the Boston Garden. I was there mid-day, and as you can see, there was lots of people-watching to be had. Everyone streamed out of their offices to walk around, eat lunch in the shade, get an ice cream, and check each other out.

I then crossed the street and happened upon Arlington St. Church. Now, I've been between Boylston and Newbury St. a hundred billion times. But I always have food and/or shopping on the brain (both streets are great for these). That day I was in more of a contemplative mood, and the church was "free" (suggested donation). It is a beautiful building whose highlight is the collection of Tiffany windows. It should be a stop on any tourist itinerary. I couldn't believe I'd never been there before. But then, again, we often overlook our city/town's own treasures, since you always think you can go somewhere next weekend and then just don't. Additionally, while touring churches is a tourist must in Europe, I am more hesitant to do so here in the States, mostly because I'm leery of forced-conversion schemes. ("Ok, we've got a group in, lock the doors!")

For Mother's Day, we had high tea at Upstairs on the Square in Cambridge. It is such a whimsical place and it gets its decorating inspiration from Alice in Wonderland. We had our tea in the Zebra Room. You can see the scrumptious treats that we just HAD to eat. (poor us, I know) There is also a champagne option that the group of ladies behind us chose and seemed to be quite happy with. I however, was up the next morning at 6 am to get to the airport on time to catch the next plane to Minneapolis.Eban and his mom opted for the "Peppermint Tea," which allowed for indulgence in peppermint ice cream, a brownie and chocolate.By the way, who ended up with the chocolate they gave us with the check? I never got mine!!!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Secret Pal 9 Revealed

This winter I did the Secret Pal exchange 9, and I never revealed who my wonderful spoiler was. Angela, the knitting diva, sent me some really great packages. The last of which was a month ago (and it's taken me this long to take a frickin picture). Here you can see all the wonderful goodies she sent me: ingredients for making bread in a cute terra cotta pot, lace-weight yarn that will be used to make something in the new book I just got: Lace Style; cool Noro yarn that I will be using with the beautiful silver button to make the herring bone wristcuff in the awesome Alterknits book she also got me. Then there is a fun, funky scarf and two more skeins of multi-colored yarn; recipe index cards; a "chocolate" ceramic bunny and a hilarious travel book full of mishaps on the kind of trips you wouldn't want to be on yourself but love to hear someone else relate. Plus, this all came the same week I finished my paper and was like a little prize in the mail. And now that I have taken a picture, I am going to proceed to use my toys!

Thursday, May 17, 2007


I got back to town on Sunday evening and at 9 am on Monday started right in on teaching an intensive Spanish class. It's three weeks long, 5 days a week for almost 4 hours each. The good part is that I'm out by 1 pm and can get other things done and/or relax for the afternoon.

The weather has been pretty confused this week- Monday it was in the 90s and this morning it was a very brisk 45 when I took Mobi for a walk. But everything is green and blooming and deliciously springtime. It is so nice.

I have been doing a lot of reading this past week- I got three books read last week alone. One is dissertation-related: The Invention of Argentina by Nicholas Shumway is a great history of the beginning of the country in the 19th century. He examines the "guiding fictions" that were established during this time and that continue to influence how the country operates and sees itself today. I thought this was going to be hard to get through, but it was surprisingly easy to read and engaging.

I also read Are Men Necessary?: When Sexes Collide by Maureen Dowd. (I had to assure Juan that the title was facetious). It was a quick, amusing read- I finished it in a day. I'm not sure I can say I learned a lot; the book lacks a deeper insight into the issues it mentions. It did, however, make me think about the concept of feminism and my own definition of it.

Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture by Ariel Levy was much more thoughtful and informative. She examines the disturbing trend that establishes porn stars and Paris Hilton (same difference) as young women's role models. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and learned a lot about contemporary culture. Highly, highly recommended.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

ABD in Boston

I did indeed pass my exam, so I can enjoy the rest of my stay unimpeded by stress and worry. Yesterday, in fact, was all cooking and all knitting. Meridith and I prepared dinner for some friends, which featured a classic fav: the Barefoot's pesto, peas and pasta dish. We also did lemon chicken, homemade bread sticks and salad, and I whipped up a punch bowl of sangria that miraculously was completely consumed by the end of the evening. For dessert we did make-your-own ice cream sandwiches with homemade strawberry ice cream and double chocolate chip cookies. Here everyone is all smiles just imagining the culinary treat upon which we are about to partake. (This is unfortunately the least blurry picture I got). Clockwise starting from the left we have Mike and Milan, Meridith's roommates, her boyfriend Eban, Meridith, and their friend Matt.
Rambling Rose, my current on-the-needles project, has been coming along nicely, too. The pattern is from Rowan magazine #39. I haven't mentioned it lately because of all the other things going on, but I have been sneaking in time here and there to get the two front pieces done. The fabric really wants to roll, so I think blocking is going to be necessary to even things out. Here you can see the detail of the front left side. I still have to sew the button and buttonhole bands, do the collar and make the roses that are attached separately.
Oh yeah, and the sleeves. Right. I think I am going to attempt to modify the pattern to make the sleeves 3/4 length rather than short. Since the yarn is merino wool it would then become a three-season sweater and I could wear it more often. I also have to find the buttons and ribbon belt. So, although I have a lot done, there is still much left to accomplish before it is wearable.

Through the end of the week I am going to get out and wander the city and enjoy my little vacation before my May-term class starts up again on Monday. I'm thinking of seeing some museums, checking out new shops and cafes, and doing some window shopping in the yarn and book department.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Where's Vanessa Now?

I arrived in Maine on Friday afternoon and will be heading out on the same bus this afternoon for Boston. I was up to see the folks and also to attend my friend Amy's baby shower yesterday. She's due next month. This was my first baby shower event ever, and I had a lot of fun. It included some great food, good company, and such artistic endeavors as decorating a onesie and a diaper cake topped with butt paste (now there's a phrase I never expected to have on my blog :)
I gave them a couple of pails with whale towels and washcloths, a mommy/daddy whale and baby, and a onesie with some whales on it. (Can you spot the theme here?) Here's the whole package:
And just the whales (my hand-knit contribution):
Tomorrow morning my sister is treating me to a facial at her place of employment, the Carriage House Spa and Salon on Church St in Harvard Sq., Cambridge and then I head over to BU for my oral exam. If all goes well, I will then be an official doctoral candidate and the unofficially official term, ABD (All But Dissertation) will hopefully now apply to me and my status.

So, send happy luck vibes my way for tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Blue Heron Project

On Earth Day the blue herons were unveiled on campus. They were all painted by local artists are are now all over town until October. This one's home is in front of Mugby Junction on Huff Street, where I tend to go a lot when I am sick of my office, since it is right across from campus. Here are some more of my favs below.This one is a painting of Winona's two lakes that we all walk/run/bike/Rollerblade around in nice weather.

To the right we have Elvis Haaron Presley. Cute, right? :) I see him a lot since he's in front of the Y.

In the cage is "Artists selected will be required to sign a contract"- a statement, if you will, of the hindrances to creativity inherent financial support.

Happy May Day!