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.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Mobi Ramekins Might be a Bit Spoiled

While wandering the aisles of Target yesterday, I happened upon a "50% off or more" section, scoring two amazing discoveries. A dog tent and sleeping bag, totaling $25 (discounted from $90). I couldn't resist. It's going to be great for camping and can also be used at the beach- she is very sensitive to sun, and it has an SPF 50 protection. It includes little stakes, a floor blanket, screen windows, and a waterproof cover- all the details a person tent has and much easier to put together. We've already trained her to go in by saying "tent" and pointing, and last night when it was time for bed, she went in there without either of us saying anything. It might seem a bit excessive, but it really is a great portable house for her. Really.

Rambling Rose

When I was in Kansas, I got to spend a couple of hours in the Yarn Barn, and of course I did not walk away without some damage to my bank account. I've really been wanting to knit up Rambling Rose, from last Spring's Rowan magazine, and scoured the store for the perfect yarn. The pattern calls for 4-ply cotton, but I really don't like working with cotton. Lucky for me, right below the 4-ply cotton was Rowan's 4-ply soft, which is 100% merino wool. The color is just what I was looking for- something spring-y but that could work for fall, too, and would go with my skin tone and feel great.

I couldn't resist the green sock yarn, even though my sock attempts so far have not been fruitful, I am going to try another pattern and see if I can get myself some handknit socks one of these days. I hear they're divine. I also got some sock yarn for Stephanie, my secret pal9, because I had been wanting to get her some and this was my first opportunity to do so. Hers is the multi-colored yarn. The sheep is a tape measure that I kept hoping I'd get as a gift from someone, because it seems like one of those things you shouldn't buy for yourself. But I was on a roll and decided to go for it. I got a note from Stephanie in the mail today with a fun surprise. She made me a special project bag as a thank-you. Isn't that sweet? Thank you so much Stephanie- it will get lots of use. It's reversible and I just folded the top over so you could see both fabrics. I especially like the purple rainforest fabric.
I started the cardigan last week and this is what I have so far. The bottom portion is 1X1 rib on size 1 needles. When you get to the st stitch, you get to go up to a size 3, which seems positively gigantic in comparison. I actually like working with smaller needles, and at this rate I should have it done by the end of April, which isn't too bad for a sweater.
I have to get back to working on my big paper that is due too soon for what I have done so far. If you don't hear from me for a while, now you know why. To give you an idea of what I'm reading, I'm going to do this little exercise I picked up from Yarnmonster and I think it's supposed to be "today's motto".
1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next 3 sentences on your blog along with these instructions.
5. Don't you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest.
Mine has to be an "intellectual" book because I'm writing a literary criticism paper and that's the only kind of book I have around me these days. No fun reading for me. The book is Childhood in the Works of Silvina Ocampo and Alejandra Pizarnik by Fiona J. Mackintosh: "They are often indicative of the disturbing nature of the poetry: the 'nina sonambulada' inhibits worlds close to violently surreal paintings." This refers to Pizarnik, who I love, but my paper is on Ocampo. I am hereby tagging anyone that wants to participate- I'm sure your quotes will be much more interesting and you can actually find a motto in yours. I hope this one doesn't reflect mine, anyway. Sleepwalking children and violent surrealist paintings- hmmm...

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Flashy Summer Tank

Here is my finished project from last week. It looks lop-sided, but that's just the way I have it layed out on the bed. It is a tank top I started last summer in Cadiz, Spain, with yarn I had bought in Madrid in May. I had the project 95% done, and ran out of yarn, even though I was using the exact same yarn as the pattern and gauge was good. Even more frustrating, the stores in Cadiz didn't carry the same yarn and by the time I got to Madrid in August, they were closed for summer vacation. When I was in Madrid again this past January, I decided to stop into the yarn shop just to see if maybe they still had it, even though it was very out of season by then. When I first asked the man, explaining what it looked it, he said no. Then he told me, "wait-I'll go check in the back, we may have some after all." And lo and behold, he returned with my yarn! He received a big smile nad many thanks for his help. And my eternal devotion to his store- which is Lanas Sixto, on calle Atocha, 9 right by the Plaza Mayor. They actually have a lot of yarn you can fondle, too, which is not always the norm in Spain. I'm not sure how their English is, but being so close to the Plaza Mayor, they must get lots of people from other countries, so someone probably does speak some, at least.

I just completed this project now because it will still be some time before I can actually wear it with the white pants I envisioned. But I was itching to finish something last week, and this was the closest project to completion.

The yarn is from Katia, a Spanish brand, and the pattern is from their Summer 2006 magazine. It is green with flecks of shiny purples, greens and blues. The straps are i-cord in another Katia yarn in cotton

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Asian Style Turkey Burgers

First things first: the Warriors won their game out in Springfield, MA last night. Only two games to go before they become the National Division II champs.

What a week! To say things have been hectic around here is to understate the situation. 10-hour days on campus and the kind of days that I haven't even had a chance to sneak in a quick blog check to my favs. Then its home for dinner things, I did manage to take the dog for a long walk on Monday (where we came across this sign reminding us to just slow down a bit), and then either grading student work, reviewing apps for a new position in the Global Studies department, or studying for my paper. But I need more paper time and more exercise- you know, moving would be nice!!!

At least spring is here! Yay! And I've gotten some knitting in when my brain was too tired to read anymore- baby gift surprises that can't be revealed and a finished project that has only been 8 months in the making (no time to snap a photo yet).

Last weekend was so crazy we didn't even go grocery shopping. So, our current state does not involve yogurt, fruit, OJ- all the things I love. I did invent a delicious dish the other night- turkey stroganoff lasagna. I sauteed ground turkey with a chopped onion, garlic, carrots, mushrooms, salt, pepper, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and a can of cream of mushroom soup with a little water mixed in, then layered it with shredded cheese, chopped fresh parsley, and lasagna noodles, heated it in the oven and viola! Yum yum yum.

To the right you see one of my specialties: Asian Style Turkey Burgers. I adapted the recipe from one I found in Cooking Light magazine a few years ago. Here it is:
1 pound ground turkey
half a finely chopped onion
handfull of finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons of Worcestershire Sauce
half a red bell pepper
handfull of mushrooms (I prefer shitake, but baby bells and button are fine, too)
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
2 teaspoons of grated peeled fresh ginger
some salt and pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
Mix it all together, divide into 4 patties and cook in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat about 5 minutes each side, until done.
We served it here with provolone cheese and mesclun greens, but I also like them with a ring of pineapple and guacamole. Juan has them with the usual mustard, relish, and ketchup sometimes.

Accompanying the burgers we had sweet potato fries. I cut two large sweet potatoes into fry-like wedges and tossed them with a tablespoon of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon each of ground cumin, paprika, and dried oregano, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. I then baked them in the oven at 450 for about 25 minutes, moving them around once in a while. "My Yammy Spice" recipe from the Crazy Plates cookbok.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Cat Puke

I am here at a local cafe and lucky me has just been privy to the following conversation:

"Our cat sleeps with us in our bed and it is so hard to get him out when we get up in the morning. He just doesn't want to move."

"Our cat sleeps in our bedroom, too. He throws up there every night. It's always in the same spot."

"Oh, really?"

"Yeah, we don't know why, but he does it there every night. But we don't mind because the carpet is nasty anyway. You know, you just can't get that stuff out of carpet. So, as long as he only does it on the bedroom carpet, we don't care."

"Yeah, that's good."

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Win Win Winona

WSU Basketball update: We broke the Division II record for most consecutive wins on Saturday night and won again on Sunday night (so they are up to 54 wins as of today) in a really, really close game. The team plays again tonight, though we won't be attending- tickets sold out in the first half hour yesterday and neither of us had the time to go stand in line.

Our little town has even made the New York Times and if you have literally 30 seconds, you can check out a funny video on YouTube done by a couple of the university's finest.

I'm a little nervous for them- you could tell they were exhausted Sunday night and tonight they're playing the #2 seed. But, they did win the Nationals last year, so we know they can do it. Keep your fingers crossed!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Knitting and cooking

After week of restaurant meals, I have rediscovered my kitchen. Here, you're looking at shrimp curry with jasmine rice and lots of veggies. I used the jarred curry (naughty, naughty) because it was there for a while and I needed something quick, so I didn't think it the appropriate time for inventing curry recipes. It was as great as it looks. Yesterday I roasted a chicken stuffed with lemon, parsley, and ginger and made Parker's Pea Soup from who else, the Contessa. So, now we have a couple of days of leftovers and while adjusting back to work I don't have to worry about food.

I got some great yarns at the Yarn Barn, and I'm ready to finish my stash-busting projects to be able to use my new yarn. As if the weather wasn't inspiration enough, Knitty.com has its Spring issue up, and I love love love Jordana Paige's Isabella.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

More Lawrence Photos

One place we frequented while in Lawrence was the Free State Brewery. The beer is delicious, the building is cozy but modern, and the clientele is varied: it's a mingling of clean-cut mid-western students, artists, hippies, bikers, entire families, yuppies, and hipsters. It really seemed as if everyone in Lawrence, of all walks of life converged on the patio to soak up the afternoon sun. Their onion rings are out of this world. Not only are they almost the size of your head, but they are decadently irresistible.
While it might seem odd that two people on vacation from the university might pack up and spend the week at another university, it has been a great vacation. It's warmer here, we just had to hop in the car and go- no layovers, airport security or border patrol, finding accommodations for the dog, planning action-packed days to fully utilize the time and money spent. Just doing whatever whenever we felt like it. Having a big university in town guarantees lots of things going on: arts, music, sports- whatever your fancy. We even used the university library a couple of times for research resources we don't have back home. We visited the Lawrence Arts Center, where there are art and dance studios for public use, the Historical Museum, and the Natural Science Museum.

I also spent a couple of hours at the Yarn Barn, right downtown on Mass St. It is a very spacious store, so you're not bumping into people every two steps and feeling like you're in people's way. The selection is great because they have both high-end and affordable yarns, and resources for weaving, spinning, knitting, and crochet. I did get some yarn, which I will show as the projects progress. I had forgotten how great it was to be surrounded by so much yarn- to be able to feel it, or not just wonder if the color on the screen was true to "real life."

Unfortunately, our time here has come to an end, and it's back to colder temps and classes and office hours. It's the first time in a long time, though, that we both feel rested after a vacation, rather than needing another one just to recover.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Downtown Lawrence

The downtown here is what we would hope for Winona. A mile or so on Massachusetts St. is full of stores, restaurants, and night clubs. It is a vibrant street where hippies (new and old), college kids, soccer moms and business execs converge. Some of the turn-of-the-century architecture remains, mixed in with the new or converted to a more 21st century-use. Case in point would be the old Varsity movie theater, now home to Urban Outfitters. We attended Pan's Labyrinth in another theater, the Liberty, that still retains its original function and art-deco style.
Perhaps what most surprised me about Lawrence on my first visit was the preponderance of "free spirits" everywhere you turn. When you consider that Kansas has always been a free state, as in never legally permitting slavery, you can see where the live-and-let-live attitude has a long history here in town. Clothing-wise, the vintage look is quite popular here, too. We had breakfast today at Wheatfields, a bakery so serious about their bread that they brought a basque oven-maker over to create their brick oven.
After another long walk with Mobi, lunch was enjoyed at Local Burger, which lives up to its promise of serving local burgers, such as lamb, beef, buffalo, and their speciality- the best veggie burger I have ever had. This is a place not to be missed. They are sensative to vegan and vegetarian diets, the environment, and local farmers. There was a man in the paper this week who had lost almost 25 pounds in a month, due to swtiching from fast food restaurants to eating at Local Burger. The place is well done also because it doesn't feel like your typical vegan place- and you know what I mean. You can get a glimpse from the photo below that I snapped as we were waiting for our food.We took some time to read in the afternoon at Java Break, a 24-hour cafe that is like a series of converted basements trailing off every which way. You want to sit at a booth? They've got it. Comfy, worn-in sofas, armchairs, or leopard-print stools that look they've been stolen from Austin Power's love den? Yep, yep, and yep. They've got dark corners in which to huddle with a fellow-conspirator or long group-friendly tables. I'm sure the crowd gets more interesting as the night progresses, but since we were there at the tame hours between 4 and 6, things were pretty chill.
After returning to the hotel to feed Mobi and play a couple of rounds of mini-golf, we attended the play "The Maids," by Jean Genet. It was an intense show, but done really well. We topped the night off at the Free State Brewery, which I will post about later. I think I've written more than enough for now.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Mobi, I Think We're in Kansas Now

This morning, after a leisurely breakfast at First Watch, where we had crepes and cashew/blueberry pancakes, we headed down to the levy by the Kansas River. Walking a total of five miles, we were all a little lighter and more refreshed. People who live in a cold climate yearn for spring this time of year. The days are getting longer, so it is supposed that the temperatures will soon be rising, as well. We need this hope- and when it happens, when the temperatures actually do rise, we tend to overcompensate. College campuses suddenly swarm with topless guys playing frisbee and girls in bikinis shivering under the still-cool spring breeze. After months of being accosted by the weather every time we step outside, the tables are turned and now we are the ones who tap into the sun's energy, using every moment outside to the fullest. If you have to be inside while spring is blooming, a sense of urgency tugs at your conscience all day. You should be outside enjoying the day, since it could all abruptly end- the sun may go behind a cloud at any moment, a shower may descend, the sky could grow dark with night... any and all of these possibilities are highly likely during the spring months.
But nevertheless, I am ready, we are all ready, for spring's arrival. The barbed tail end of a mild winter reminded us of why people shudder when we say we live in Minnesota. I'm ready to emerge from hibernation and start being active again. As I was walking today, I could feel myself grow a little taller, my back straightening ever-so-slightly, as if shedding the huddled, defensive posture necessary to brace yourself against below-zero winds. I took in deep breathes of air and unzipped my coat. It felt great.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Winning Team

This weekend we attended the WSU NSIC Red Baron Men’s Basketball Classic Tournament and they won! They will be playing for the NCAA Championship next weekend. I'm not a big sports fan, but it is a lot of fun at the games, so I got out my purple Mardi-Gras beads, purple Docs, and WSU tee and brought all the school spirit I could muster. It was also an exciting game for them because they just tied for the all-time NCAA Division II record of 52 wins. Langston University of Oklahoma set the record with perfect seasons in 1943-44 and 1944-45 and by winning the first five games of the 1945-46 season. So, if the Winona State Warriors win on Saturday, they will have also set a new record. (Thanks to the WSU website for details and photos)

We got into Lawrence, Kansas a couple of hours ago. I will be taking some pictures and talking more about the town over the next few days we're here. Right now, we're off to have dinner at a Greek restaurant and then see Pan's Labyrinth. We left a Winona of 16 degrees to arrive to 69 degrees here in Kansas. It's not the Caribbean, but it's also not Minnesota.