Archive for February, 2011

1 Down, 4 to Go…

Posted in Life in Madrid with tags , on February 20, 2011 by grandersons

Kyle officially completed his first term at IE and lived to tell about it.  It was no easy feat as he spent hours and hours in class, studying, working with his group, and doing what he could to be successful in this challenging and competitive program.  I’m so proud of how focused he’s been and have actually enjoyed hearing him talk about what he’s learning, ranging from how to make a socially responsible business profitable to why he never, ever wants to be an accountant.  It’s been exciting to watch him learn and grow among an incredibly talented, motivated group of classmates.

Below is his section, – N4 – the group of people he has all of his classes with throughout the entire program, following their last exam.  Congratulations!

And then it was time to celebrate as superheroes!  For those of you that know Kyle and I, dressing up is not one of our favorite things.  However, I may have changed my mind after spending a fun night out as Bat Man and Bat Girl!  Thanks to Erin for the excellent photos!

Kyle certainly has a lot of work cut out for him in the next nine months, but we know that if it’s anything like these first 4 months, it will definitely be worth it!


Mi Amor

Posted in Holidays with tags , on February 19, 2011 by grandersons

Ah, Valentine’s day in Madrid…

Two years ago we were on our honeymoon in Cabo over Valentine’s day and it forever changed our Valentine’s day traditions.  We’ve never made much of a fuss over this overly commercialized holiday, but do tend to use it as an excuse for a little extra “I love you” occasion.  When we were in Cabo, Kyle planned a romantic day at an exclusive beach resort where he thought we’d enjoy an afternoon on the beach and a nice dinner at the ocean front restaurant.

Little did we know that his sweet intentions would turn out to be a bit of a disaster!  We should have known we were getting in over our heads when we had to go through two security check points to even enter the resort, but we kept our cool and made our way to the nearly deserted beach and pool area.  After a bit of awkward lounging by the pool, we walked the beach (pic above) and sat at the bar for chips and guac that we tried to savor at a whopping $15 per margarita!  They were good, but really?!?!

The next sign that we were a bit out of place came when we saw Matthew Perry stumble out of a resort van after a day of golfing, red faced and stumbling of course, but Matthew Perry none-the-less!  It was finally time for dinner and we settled in hoping to relax and enjoy the gorgeous view.  Kyle had specifically asked about a pre-fix menu since it was Valentine’s day and they assured him we could order off the regular menu.  Little did we know that the pre-fix menu was about $150 per person (not including wine) and we could only order off the regular menu in addition to the pre-fix!  Needless to say, we were expected to drop a minimum of about $400 on one dinner and we were not pleased.  So, what did we do?  Oh…we walked out, stopped at a little market, and went back to the house we were staying at to celebrate our romantic evening with homemade quesadilla’s and beer!

So what did our Valentine’s day in Madrid look like?  This…

And since I was in Belgium the weekend before Valentine’s Day, it included this…


Our time in Madrid has certainly increased our appreciation for ‘the little things’ and for each other.  With the challenges of living in a place so different from “home” it’s made us realize that we are in fact each other’s “home” no matter where we find ourselves in the world.  I think we’ve both been impressed with how well the other is doing – whether in school, with work, making new friends, learning Spanish, etc. – and we certainly feel lucky to be in this together!

Nothing says “I love you” like quesadillas, beer!

And I thought I might be bored…

Posted in Life in Madrid on February 7, 2011 by grandersons

Keeping busy in Madrid has certainly not been as challenging as I expected it to be – it seems there’s always something to do and I’m thankful to have continued working full time with Stand for Children!  With Kyle spending an average of 9+ hours a day at school or studying, it’s up to me to fill my days and experience Madrid on my own during the week.

My typical weekday in Madrid looks like this…

Roll out of bed and eat breakfast while perusing Facebook, the NY Times, etc.

Work, work, work – dig through emails that accumulated since I went to bed at 3pm Seattle time and plan for the day ahead.

Hop in the shower, throw on some clothes, and give Abby a snuggle goodbye!

Spanish class at AIL – I adore my profesora, Anna, and classmates, Erin, Shir, and Hassam.  Let’s just hope my Spanish continues to improve!

Home for lunch – leftovers or a tortilla bocadillo (tortilla is an egg/potato mixture similar to a quiche on baguette) and a quick walk around the block with Abby.

From that point on, my day (and night) is mostly dedicated to work, but I certainly try to squeeze in a few adventures here and there.  Some of my favorite afternoon activities so far, include…

  • Cooking – I’ve been testing out some amazing new recipes from my dear friend Lukas Volger, author of Veggie Burgers Every Which Way and have also been on a major risotto kick.
  • Hunting down cozy cafes with free wifi – I try to spend at least a couple of days a week working somewhere other than my little apartment, often with my friend Rachel who I ‘pomodoro‘ with.  My favorite spots so far are Harina and Azul (both have amazing cafe con leche and baked treats).
  • Madrid bookclub – One of the things I knew I would miss about Seattle was my “Too Busy Book Club” so I was thrilled when other ‘partners’ of IE students were interested in starting our own Madrid Book club.  So far we’ve read “Island Beneath the Sea,” “Water for Elephants” and now we’re on to “Between Assassinations.”
  • Writing – Of course I love documenting the highlights of our time in Madrid on our Granderson Getaway blog, but I’ve also started writing for a blog that was started by two IE partners last year to support ‘foreigners’ moving to Madrid.  I’m honored to join this team and write a weekly post for The Guiri Guide to Madrid.
  • Walking – I’ve recommitted to my 10,000 steps a day after a bit of a holiday hiatus.  This city is perfect for pedestrians strolling the streets and admiring how every neighborhood has it’s own charms and personality. Retiro (the ‘Central Park’ of Madrid) is definitely my (and Abby’s) personal favorite walking spot.

I’ve also been thinking it’s about time I start a ‘must do in Madrid’ list since the time is flying by and we’ll be heading back to Seattle before we know it!  Stay posted for my ‘must do’ ideas…

The Grandershel’s in Spain

Posted in Food & Cooking, Holidays, Life in Madrid, Special Occassions, Travel with tags , , , , on February 7, 2011 by grandersons

Christmas of 2010 was unlike any other – spent in Spain, away from the Grant’s and the Holden’s for the first time in my life.  It was particularly hard to be away since it was the first Christmas without my Grandma Darlene, who’s perfectly decorated tree, pies, and hugs made you feel like you were hanging out with Mrs. Klaus herself!  Despite missing our Boise traditions, we were happy to welcome Kyle’s parents, sister and brother-in-law to Madrid for the holidays.  They made us feel at home away from home and we had a wonderful Christmas!

Over the two week visit, we came to call ourselves the “Grandershel” family – comprised of the Anderson’s (Kyle’s parents, Ken and Sharon, from Boise, Idaho), the Houdeshel’s (Kyle’s sister, Megan, and her husband, Dasch, from Salt Lake City, Utah) and us – the Granderson’s (Me, Kyle and Abby).

Kyle’s parents flew in a few days before Christmas and got to know Madrid a bit before Megan and Dasch arrived on Christmas day.  We spent a sunny Christmas opening presents, walking through Retiro, taking a light tour on the ‘Navidad Bus’ and ending with a nice Christmas dinner in our cozy little apartment.

The day after Christmas we headed out on a Grandershel roadtrip to the Adalucia region of Spain.  I had rented a ‘7 passenger van’ that wasn’t exactly the mini van I had imagined.  When we first saw the little silver hatchback we were sure we’d been assigned the wrong car and went to the attendant with our concern.  He quickly unfolded two more seats from the floor of the back and suddenly there were in fact 7 seats crammed into a remarkably compact space!  I ended up enjoying the very back seat snuggled up with Abby on my lap and wedged comfortably with my pillow and a pile of suitcases while Kyle did an amazing job driving us safely around the South of Spain.

We made a quick stop in Cordoba for lunch before our first destination – Hacienda Minerva – in Zuheros, Spain.  Some friends had recommended this charming hotel surrounded by olive groves and we absolutely fell in love.  We only spent one night there but could have stayed for a week!  I even wrote about it on the Guiri Guide so other people might enjoy this gem.

Our next stop was in Granada – an unbelievably beautiful, historic town that is home to the Alhambra Palace.  I had booked a 3-bedroom house in the Albacin neighborhood on a hillside overlooking the Alhambra and knew it would either be fantastic or really weird.  I had seen on the online description that it was a ‘cave dwelling’ with the house built into the cliff side, but little did we know that rooms built into caves don’t have doors.  There literally wasn’t a single interior door in the entire place – not even to the bathroom!  There were two ‘cave’ rooms downstairs with a large living room and kitchen and a loft room up a narrow staircase.  Let’s just say that between the stinky old pipes and lack of doors, this was an interesting place to stay for 3 nights.  We all agreed by the end that it was pretty cool that we’d slept in a cave and that it seemed a fitting place to experience the historic city of Granada.  It wasn’t so bad, but I think we all would have traded the house for a room at the Hacienda Minerva in a heartbeat!

The finale of the trip was Ken and Sharon’s last night in Madrid.  Kyle and I had given everyone tickets to see “Mamma Mia” as a Christmas gift and we all loved the impressive performance that left us humming Abba for days!

A big thanks to the Anderson’s and Houdeshel’s for a fantastic Christmas in Spain and memories that will last a lifetime!