Archive for November, 2010

Kyle’s first day of school – finally!

Posted in Life in Madrid, Special Occassions with tags , , on November 28, 2010 by grandersons

Kyle finally had his first official day of school!  The acceptance email from IE arrived in February, we moved out of our house in June, flew to Madrid in October, moved into our new apartment in November, and after 3 weeks of orientation and ‘launch’ (aka teambuilding and networking activities) Kyle finally had his first official day of class at IE Business School last Monday!  And he looked good too…

The first day of class was a big deal, not only for Kyle to attend his first classes, but also because he got to choose his seat.  You wouldn’t believe the buzz that flurried around IE about how early people were planning to show up to make sure they got a good spot!  It seems that where you sit matters a bit more when you know you’ll be stuck there for every class, for the entire 3 month term – seriously.  Fortunately, Kyle landed a prime seat with an aisle to his left – perfect for a left-hander. 

Day one included ‘information systems,’ ‘managerial economics,’ and ‘financial accounting’ – riveting, right?  It looks like the next year will be packed full of case studies, reading, and group projects.

Now to backtrack…

Kyle’s first day of orientation – all the IE students went to the main IE campus in nearby Segovia – was a formal kickoff to the program.  The 2011 class of IMBA students represents over 80 different nationalities!  Included in the photo above are students from Columbia, Brazil, the U.S., and Peru.  We’ve met incredible people from Italy, France, the UK, Israel, Egypt, Japan, South Korea, India, Columbia, Germany, Venezuela, Mexico, Canada, and many, many others.

During the second week of Kyle’s launch, he participated in a Social Responsibility Forum to learn about sustainable business practices.  Kyle was impressed by the caliber of speakers and motivated to engage with other IE students interested in combining entrepreneurial efforts with creating positive outcomes for communities.

“The 5th annual IE Social Responsibility Forum will showcase many of the exciting and innovative developments and opportunities happening around the world, focusing on the impact of social and environmental changes on business paradigms. All changes, great and small, will hopefully lead to the next big thing.”

Anne got to join Kyle at a reception following the forum and compete with a team in the “Marshmallow Tower Contest.”  Our strategy was precise and calibrated; our outcome was a bit unbalanced and wobbly!  We worked with Chikako, Erin, and Erick – go team!

Kyle certainly has his work cut out for him in the coming months, but there is no doubt that he will have gained tremendous knowledge, experience, and perspective by the conclusion of his program next December.  This is truly the ultimate Granderson getaway and so far we’re soaking up every experience to the fullest!


Cumpleanos Continued…

Posted in Uncategorized on November 21, 2010 by grandersons

Apparently the party doesn’t stop here in Madrid…  We managed to extend Anne’s birthday into a two day event!

The day after Anne’s big 2-9, we joined a group of over 30 IE students and their partners for dinner at another great vegetarian restaurant – El Estragon.  We filled half the restaurant and filled the place with the buzz of conversation and uproars of laughter.  The night ended with two birthday cakes – one for Anne and one for our friend, Andrew Dupre, who also had a birthday last week.  Feliz Compleanos!

Feliz Cumpleanos

Posted in Special Occassions with tags on November 21, 2010 by grandersons

Just another day in Madrid…except for the fact that it was Anne’s 29th birthday!

A run down of the day…

Anne wakes up and enjoys a walk with Abby and Kyle to meet her new friend, Rachel, for a ‘work date’ at a nearby Starbucks.  A cinnamon roll and chai are the perfect way to start the crisp, sunny morning and Anne is happy to get out of the apartment and make the most of the ‘pomodoro technique’ with Rachel.  The Pomodoro Technique is a pretty simple idea that has been Anne’s life saver working remotely in Madrid.  The general gist is that you set a timer (or use a handy widget on the desktop of your computer) for increments of 25 minutes with 5 minute breaks and a longer 20 minute break once you’ve done several rounds of 25/5 minute sets.  The purpose of setting a timer is to force you to focus on one thing for 25 solid minutes and take an intentional break before going back to work.  It’s the best thing ever!  And it’s even better when Rachel and Anne ‘pomodoro’ together because then they can be super productive with their work and still get to chat during every break!


Next, she makes a quick stop by the apartment to say hello to Kyle and Abby before going to lunch at El Azul de Fucar with her new friend, Erin. To her surprise, she was greeted not only by Erin, but also by a few other “IE partners” – Celeste (and her darling little girl Makenzie), Alison, and April. It’s tough to beat a lunch of pita and hummus, veggie quiche, topped off with carrot cake – especially sitting in a darling cafe with a group of amazing women!

The afternoon and evening were spent in the apartment on calls and the computer for work before heading to dinner at Isla del Tesoro with Cesar, Karina, Rachel, and Kevin. We enjoyed a fantastic dinner and great company!

After dinner we were off to a bar on Plaza dos de Mayos to meet up with several more of our new IE friends. A few rounds of cerveza and good conversation made the perfect end to a wonderful birthday in Madrid!

Not to mention the “midnight snack” (or 2am snack as it seems to go in Madrid…) of cupcakes from Cupcake Madrid that Kyle had picked up earlier.

Anne certainly missed celebrating this day with her fabulous twin sister, Erin, and good friends in Seattle but was happy to squeeze in a few phone calls and loved the sweet emails and facebook posts that made it feel like she wasn’t quite so far away.

A big thank you to everyone who made this such an amazing day for Anne.

Makin’ Whoopies

Posted in Food & Cooking with tags on November 13, 2010 by grandersons

As many of you know, Kyle and Anne look forward to fall for one important reason (okay, there are many – but one in particular takes the cake)…PUMPKIN.

Granderson Pumpkin Party 2008 – we did not win the contest with our “Idaho” carved pumpkin.

Each year we hold the “Annual Granderson Pumpkin Party” complete with our amazing friends and family; a pumpkin carving contest with bronzed pumpkin trophy to document annual winners; and all things pumpkin (pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin penne pasta, pumpkin chocolate chip bread…).  But the real star of the Granderson Pumpkin Party is the Pumpkin Whoopie Pies.

Imagine two fluffy, cake-like pumpkin cookies held together as a sandwich by perfectly sweet creamcheese frosting.  Yum.  If it’s hard for you to picture, this image might help:

So what are the Granderson’s to do in Spain, where canned pumpkin seems to be nearly impossible to come by?  Why, go to the American Store in Madrid of course! 

We walked away with six cans of pumpkin sold at 2,50 euro a pop – yikes – but worth every penny!

Now we just have to figure out how to use our oven (that supposedly functions as a microwave and a traditional oven at once) and find baking sheets tiny enough to fit inside and we’ll be set.  We were sad to have this year pass without the Granderson Pumpkin Party, but are already looking forward to 2012!  Time to start crafting designs so your name can take its place in history on the bronze pumpkin.

Now, time to go make some whoopies!

At Home on Diego de Leon

Posted in Life in Madrid with tags , on November 12, 2010 by grandersons

The Granderson’s have found a home away from home in Madrid!  We finally have an address for the next 14 months:

Diego de Leon, 61 4c
Madrid, Spain 28006

Can you tell we’re pretty happy about unpacking our bags and settling in for our ultimate Granderson Getaway?  After a week in a hotel, two and a half weeks with our incredible friends (Karina and Cesar), a week without internet, and two trips to Ikea – we’re loving our new home!  

To start with, let’s just say that in choosing our new home we went with “quality over quantity” with our cozy little space.  Who needs a bedroom door anyway?  Multiple rooms are totally overrated when sunlight pours through the windows and you have a safari in your bathroom (just be patient for this one…).  Would you like a tour of our new apartment?  Don’t worry…it won’t take long since it’s all of 350 square feet!

This is the view from the front door.  Living room and ‘home office’ straight ahead and kitchen table conveniently wedged between the wall and a pillar.

A peek at the bedroom.  After looking at a number of apartments with two twin beds pushed together, we were pleased to find a cozy full size bed to curl up in.  An added bonus is that the bed lifts up to hide a space for storage – not that we have enough stuff here to need extra storage!


Washer (no dryers here) and oven in our little kitchen.  We’re not technically sure if we can call it an oven at this point since supposedly it’s a microwave and traditional oven in one and we haven’t quite figured out how to use the “oven” mode yet.  We had better figure it out soon though since we’re in desperate need of home baked pumpkin whoopie pies!

It’s a general belief of Anne’s that every happy home has a rooster in the kitchen – some of her dearest friends can attest – so of course this timer has made itself comfortable on our kitchen counter.

And now, what you’ve all been waiting for…welcome to the safari in our bathroom.  The shower is hiding behind the door, but as you can see, the highlight is the animals that our dear friend Lily (age 2) named off on Skype the other day – Lion, Monkey, Giraffe, and Elephant!

Abby says thank you for taking a tour of the new Granderson abode and wanted us to tell you that the couch has a foldout bed ready for visitors!

Rainy Day in Toledo

Posted in Travel with tags on November 8, 2010 by grandersons

We tried to buy tickets online to take a day trip to the small, historical town of Toledo but the website wasn’t working.  We meant to wake up at 8am to catch our train but overslept and didn’t wake up until 9:30.  We looked out the window expecting to see blue skies but were surprised to discover clouds and rain.  Perhaps we should have taken these things as a sign that Saturday was a good day to curl up in Cesar and Karina’s cozy apartment and watch a movie rather than go on an adventure to Toledo!

But no…we decided to take advantage of our time here and headed to the train station.  We were able to get tickets and grab a quick desayuno of croissants and café – pretty terrible compared to the amazing croissants and café we’ve gotten spoiled by at The Columbian Coffee Shop near Kyle’s school where we’ve become “regulars.”  We climbed onto the train and settled into our seats, glad that we only had a 30 minute ride ahead of us. 

We arrived to find it cold, wet and CROWDED.  We navigated our way up the steep steps to the fortified part of the city on a hill and discovered that it was beautiful despite the overwhelming crowds and dreary weather.  We had Abby with us (of course) and were somewhat limited in the places we could go in and out of, so we spent much of our time wandering the narrow streets sight-seeing and admiring the architecture rather than touring through museums and other monuments.

This city had once been the Spanish capital and a center for Moors, Jews and Christians, so we soaked up the history and admired the incredible Cathedral and synagogue before settling in for a late lunch huddled next to a heater under the large patio umbrellas on the main plaza.

Next, we set out in search of a convent Kyle had heard about on NPR where you put your money on a turntable that comes back around with pastries made by the nuns of the convent.  Apparently the mystery of the nuns hidden behind the turntable and the delicious pastries are worth finding, but we were unsuccessful.  Cesar assured us when we got home that it does exist, but that finding it is no easy feat.  Next time!

Wet and cold, we caught our train back to Madrid and couldn’t have been happier to get back to Cesar and Karina’s warm, cozy apartment.  We pulled on our sweats – yes, our lulu lemon sweats – and snuggled up to watch “Date Night” and eat popcorn with our wonderful friends.  All-in-all a great end to our rainy day in Toledo!

Playing Tourist

Posted in Uncategorized on November 4, 2010 by grandersons

After over two weeks of apartment hunting, living out of suitcases, Anne’s busy pre-election work schedule, Kyle’s first round of pre-courses at IE, and dealing with lots of logistics – we decided it was time to ‘play tourist’ and explore our fabulous new city!

Saturday, October 23:

We finally broke out our copy of Fodor’s: Madrid’s 25 Best – What to see, Where to go, What to do and set out on an urban adventure with Abby in tow. We began by taking the metro to a neighborhood (barrio) called La Latina and wandered through the Plaza Mayor in search of the perfect lunch spot. The day was surprisingly warm and sunny so we settled in at a table on Plaza de Santa Cruz and enjoyed a leisurely lunch as street performers rotated through with their various forms of entertainment. Abby soaked up the sun curled up under our table – what a good puppy she is!

Next up was a walking tour from Fodor’s – we managed to get the general gist but took a few of our own detours (on purpose or not, we’ll leave to the imagination). We began in Puerta del Sol – one of the most touristy, crowded shopping and dining centers of Madrid – and weaved our way back to the Plaza Mayor to admire the street artwork for sale and the people enjoying lunch in the numerous café’s surrounding the plaza.

Eventually we made our way through the Plaza de Oriente to the monumental Palace Real (the Royal Palace) surrounded by expansive gardens and walking paths. At this point it became obvious that we were in desperate need of ice cream so we strayed from our guide book and enjoyed every bit of it. Back on track, we continued walking up to the Templo de Debod and enjoyed looking out over the city. We decided that at some point we’ll have to go back and take the ‘teleferico’ or cable car for an even better view.

We ended an already wonderful day by going out with the Dupre’s – a couple from Deleware that we met through Kyle’s program. Andrew is in the IMBA program with Kyle and Erin is his fabulous wife. We started out with wine and tapas at their apartment before venturing out in search of dinner. Andrew and Erin are vegetarians and have done their homework on veg restaurants in Madrid, so we headed toward Vegevara in the neighborhood of Chueca. It was about 10:30pm by the time we arrived and there were plenty of empty tables so we were shocked to find out that they were booked with reservations until 11:30pm. We were already struggling with the adjustment to eating dinner well after our usual U.S. time so we weren’t quite sure what to do with ourselves. Fortunately, we ended up stumbling upon a place we’d been to before – San Which – and took it as a sign that we should sit down and have veggie burgers at this new favorite spot! We finished the night with a stop at the “Museum of Ham” or “Museo de Jamon” which is a chain bar/restaurant known for being covered floor-to-ceiling with cured ham legs and just so happens to serve 1 euro cervezas.

Sunday, October 24:

El Rastro! This Sunday market near Madrid’s Puerta del Sol is one of Karina’s favorite spots to snap photos of graffiti, dread locks and streets swarming with people and lined by tapas bars. She headed out early to capture some prime photos and we joined Cesar to meet her around 11am. The streets were packed with booths overflowing with everything from boxer briefs with the Spanish flag (which Kyle was seriously tempted to buy) to artwork, scarves, and antiques. It’s like the Fremont Sunday Market on steroids and we loved it!

According to Cesar, El Rastro is only fully enjoyed with tapas bar hopping and we now completely agree. We started with cerveza and clara con limon (beer with lemon soda – quite refreshing) and croquetas, moved on to sardines and tasty roasted green peppers, and finished with yummy tortilla (egg and potato) with brava sauce (supposedly spicy, but pretty mild). Full stomachs and a few beers left us all ready for a serious siesta!

As we start to feel more settled in our new home, we’ll continue to ‘play tourist’ and make new friends…we’re planning to take full advantage of our “Ultimate Granderson Getaway!”