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

Monday, January 28, 2008

Frozen Weekend and Neck Warmers

This weekend Winona held its 3rd Annual Frozen River Film Festival. Juan and I started the weekend off appropriately by snowshoeing on the river, going into the backwaters that we usually canoe through. While we did see some animals tracks skittering across the ice, the only wild life that revealed itself to us was a beaver who promptly disappeared into a hole in the ice. brrrr!!! The films we saw were really thought-provoking, touching, and sometimes a little scary. The theme of the film festival is environmental awareness. Some of the memorable films we saw included a couple on local and organic farming, followed by a panel of local farmers. You can see Fridays at the Farm here, which was my favorite. The Dalai Lama Renaissance was a very insightful film about a group of leading American intellectuals who met with the Dalai Lama to solve the world's problems, only to learn that the process must begin with the individual.

Continuing on with the Christmas gift showcase, here are the two "neckwarmers" I made. The first one I designed for my friend Lisa. I used the same stitch pattern from My So-Called Scarf, holding Berroco Ultra Alpaca doubled. I used two heavy silver horns at an angle and didn't make button holes so she could adjust how she wears it. Meridith is modeling it here.A close-up of the silver horn buttons.
My mom's present took the longest- I actually had to give it to her half done and then work on it madly the rest of the week to finish it. The pattern is from Rowan 42 and is called the Tapestry Scarf. The yarns I used were Rowan Kidsilk Haze, Rowan 4-ply soft, and Rowan Tapestry. It creates a plaid pattern and is actually warmer than it looks, since the yarns are all wool, silk, mohair, and soybean. Yes, soybean (the Tapestry yarn) And again, my "rotate picture" is not working *sigh* Just crane your neck, I guess.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Beer and babies

This is an ad I came across while doing research this summer in turn-of-the-century literary magazines from Buenos Aires. (If you click on it, you can see it better, I think) It's for a Guinness-like beer and the rhyme goes:
¿Por quĂ© puede criar esos mellizos
tan sanos y rollizos?
Pues porque mientras dura su lactancia
toma nuestra cerveza en abundancia.

Roughly translated as:
Why is she able able to raise these twins
to be so healthy and plump?
Well, it's because while she breast feeds
she drinks our beer abundantly.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Itty Bitty Sweaters

Today's feature of the Christmas showcase is.... baby sweaters! Since my friends have become quite fecund this past year, I had the opportunity to make my favorite project item in miniature, times three. For Jai's little guy Jack, I made the Placket Neck Sweater from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. I really wanted to make it striped, but I didn't know how much yarn I had and if it would be enough. Turns out, it was! (just barely)
I managed to get the stripes to line up with the sleeves/body all the way around.Here's my favorite part...the buttons are coordinating hippos.So cute or what?
For his sister Ella, I made the Avita pattern from Paloma's website. Such a fun, easy pattern. I was bummed I didn't have enough yarn for the ties, but I think it's still cute. This was knit with Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino yarn and is soooo soft. I can't get this picture to rotate correctly- grrr For Amy's little guy Graham, I went with Kate Gilbert's Baby Pea Pod cardigan. The pictures are awful- they do not show the color well at all. It's a bright green, much happier than it appears here. The lace panel by the button band forms little pea pods- for a little sweet pea.The neck band, sleeve cuffs and waist have a cute detailed leaf design, too. These buttons are made of a reddish natural wood, and go nicely with the nature-themed pattern. I'm hoping to receive pictures of the babies in their new duds, which would be so much better than seeing them all here just flat.
(hint, hint ladies :)

Monday, January 21, 2008


There's a lot of it here, and it keeps coming down. The temperatures have been hovering around zero for the past few days, too, so we are really in the middle of winter now. Although the urge is to hibernate surrounded by yarn and living off life-sustaining hot chocolate, I've been trying to stay active. Friday before the really chilly weather (I think it was a balmy 15 degrees or so), Juan and I went snowshoeing on some nearby trails. Saturday I did the treadmill and Sunday was my favorite yoga class. Today it was back to the gym this morning and I even left myself time to do the sauna/hot tub circuit. I haven't been knitting much because I'm exhausted from all the Christmas knitting. I did the math, and I made 10 gifts in three months. It was a lot of fun, and I'm glad I did, but I'll have to space them out next time.

Speaking of knitted gifts, now that they are all gifted and complete, I can showcase what has kept me busy for the past few months. You've already seen the prayer shawl and clapotis. Today I'm going to show you the Log Cabin Socks from Handknit Holidays. I first decided to knit these for my dad, but they were so much fun to knit that I decided they would be great for my sister's boyfriend, Eben, too. This is a really great pattern and the finished product is amazing! They are so comfortable and cozy, it's hard to take them off. For both pairs I used Brown Sheep Superwash wool because I really like how it knits up, washes, and holds cable texture. The colors are beautiful, too. They have lots of depth and complexity. I am a big, big fan of this yarn now.Papa's color is called "Lichen" and has greens, blues, greys, and browns.Eben's sock color is "Peacock," which is navy blue with flecks of fuschia and greens. I tried to get a shot of these colors in the sun:
Next knitted gift featured: Baby Sweaters!!! Stay tuned....

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Home Sweet Home

We are finally back in Winona after a non-stop 21 hour drive between snow storms. I am just finishing up my first work day back (hours clocked: 10), and we now have a four-day weekend to settle in and get used to the idea of teaching again. My course load this semester is going to be easy: I've taught all my courses before and only have two preps. Which means, no excuses, the dissertation MUST get written.

Here's a corner of my kitchen. The apron hanging on the wall is one I made before break uninterrupted while watching Gone With the Wind. The red and orange checked cloth is a towel hanging from its towel loop. Isn't it adorable? The pattern is from Amy Butler's book In Stitches

We're all happy to be home and not living out of a suitcase (and Mobi is once again the center of her universe).

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Clapotis

If you are an Internet knitter (and you know who you are!), you no doubt are familiar with the Clapotis. You may have even knit one (or two, or three, or....)

This shawal/scarf from Kate Gilbert, available for free on Knitty.com, has been very popular in the blogosphere for the past couple of years. So, when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to knit as a gift for my friend Rosine, this chic, multi-faceted, French-inspired pattern was the perfect fit. Finding yarn was not so easy. I finally settled on some while visiting Oklahoma City, though I immediately began questioning my choice. I'm not used to such colorful yarn, and I found it hard to reconcile my eyes to the variety. (Even though this is really not that colorful compared to some out there). In the end, she says she really loved it and the colorway was perfect and she was taking it with her to Paris over the winter break. I hope it's true, because I am STILL not sure how I feel about this yarn. It's Fiesta Yarn's Ballet, and with 50% superfine alpaca and 50% tencel, the feel was amazingly soft and warm with a nice subtle sheen to it.

The thing is, I'm not thrilled with the brown bits marking the transitions from the pink and green, since there is also black in it, and mixing those two is just against my style religion. And the color dispersement was inconsistent with this pattern, at least, resulting in some striping and some pooling of color at other points. Here's a shot where this discrepancy is notable: (That big gaping hole smack in the middle of the picture was taken care of, by the way). But all that counts is that she likes it and she at least said she does. The pattern does create a fabulous texture:And the dropped stitches look really cool and make this look harder to knit than it was.
Seeing as I gave this to her right before she jetted off to Paris, I only have photos of me in it for the moment.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Tis the Season to Make Whoopie

PIES!!!!! (If you're on a New Year diet, just keep one for yourself and share the love with friends and neighbors)
Here's how. You'll need:
To make six CAKES
2 cups of flour
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk

To make the FILLING
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon of salt
2 1/2 cups of Marshmallow Fluff

1. For the CAKES: Adjust racks to upper-middle and lower-middle position and set oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
2. With an electric mixer at med speed, beat butter and brown sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg until incorporated, then beat in the vanilla. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture and the buttermilk in two batches.
3. Using a 1/3 cup measure, scoop six mounds of batter onto each baking sheet, spacing the mounds about 3 inches apart. Bake until the cakes spring back when pressed, 15 to 18 minutes, switching halfway through baking. Cool the cakes completely on the baking sheets, at least 1 hour.
4. For the FILLING: With an electric mixer at med speed, beat the butter and confectioners' sugar together until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and salt. Beat in the Fluff until incorporated. Refrigerate the filling until slightly firm, about 30 minutes. (Can be refrigerated for up to 2 days).
5 Dollop 1/3 cup of the filling on the center of the flat side of six of the cakes. Top with the flat side of remaining six cakes and gently press until the filling spreads to the edge of the cake. (Whoopie pies can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days)

This is a new version I tried from the book I gave my mom for her birthday: America's Best Lost Recipes from America's Test Kitchen. It's on page 199. The thing to know about this recipe is that it calls for butter in the frosting rather than Crisco. So if you want to go traditional, go Crisco. If you just want rich, delicious goodness, this will do.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Holiday Baking

We started the baking season off right away with a cake for Julian's 7th birthday.It's a fire truck, complete with oreo wheels and a pretzel ladder. After doing a batch of the obligatory almond spritz cookies, I went for savory with some super-easy cheese puffs for munching. (Like my new apron?)A close up. Here's me at my birthday lunch wearing the hat Julian thoughtfully made for me: "So, when can I eat one of these cupcakes here taunting me?"

Friday, January 04, 2008


That's what I heard the other day when I walked in the door still a little sniffly from having just watched Juno. I thought we had already celebrated my 30th birthday earlier that day with a fabulous feast of lobster rolls, pesto pasta, and red velvet cupcakes. But no, there was more! Thanks for the awesome surprise guys- it was great to see everyone from both celebrations and talk to those who couldn't make it. It was, indeed, a memorable day.