Archive for the Holidays Category

Thanksgiving in Rome

Posted in Holidays, Special Occassions, Travel with tags , on September 4, 2012 by grandersons

What’s Thanksgiving without turkey and mashed potatoes?  In our case, one with a view of the Vatican and a full plate of authentic Italian pasta!

We spent 4 days in Rome with our sister and brother-in-law, Megan and Dasch Houdeshel, and it was certainly something to be thankful for.  While we missed being away from family and would have enjoyed a big piece of pumpkin pie, we had an absolutely amazing time exploring this beautiful ancient city.

We rented a great apartment in the Trasevere neighborhood of Rome, an area less overrun by tourists and full of charm with it’s narrow cobble stone streets and charming bars and restaurants.  We quickly found our favorite corner cafe just a couple of blocks from our apartment and frequented it often (Megan and Dasch got to know the barista quite well!).

Each day was a new adventure as we covered most of the main attractions, walked for miles, and enjoyed some incredible meals along with our fair share of gelato.

A few highlights included:

The Colosseum…

Here we are outside.

And a 20ish week baby bump sighting.

This pic made the Anderson Christmas card!

The Pantheon and a cafe nearby… 

The pantheon was stunning, as you can imagine.  It was particularly amazing to see the rain pour down through the open roof!

We made a few stops (maybe more than a few…) here for coffee – cappuccino, grazie!

Our neighborhood, Trastevere…

A little brother-sister stroll…

 Nightime walks…

Time to make a wish at the Trevi Fountain.

Making the best of some cold, rainy weather and finding our way around…

Dasch and I are both fans of maps – where are we?

When in Rome…  Carry an umbrella!

The Vatican, especially on a gorgeous sunny day…

We split up to explore but met up to enjoy the afternoon sunshine!

So, do we have a lot to be thankful for?  YES.  We are so thankful to have a sister and brother-in-law that we can travel so well with.  We are thankful to have spent a few days in an incredibly romantic, beautiful city.  We are thankful for gelato and the delicious simplicity of pasta and pizza.  We are thankful for the opportunity to travel around Europe so easily and soak up as many experiences as possible.  Ciao e grazie!


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!

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!

Madrid Aglow for the Holidays

Posted in Holidays, Special Occassions with tags , , on January 23, 2011 by grandersons

Madrid has a tradition of lighting up the city with imaginative displays of lights between mid-December and January 6th (Dia de Reyes or Epiphany – a holiday celebrated in Spain that is equally, if not more, celebrated than Christmas).  There is even a Navidad Bus that you can take for just 1 euro and tour the main streets of the city on a mini-light tour!

Here’s a peek at some of our favorite views of the lights with friends and family over the holidays…

A cold night, walking the beautifully lit streets with friends ended with churros y chocolate at Chocolateria de San Gines – talk about a wonderful way to get in the holiday spirit!

These photos were taken from the Navidad Bus on Christmas Day with Kyle’s parents, sister, and brother-in-law.  It was FREEZING but well worth it for the views!

An American Thanksgiving in Madrid

Posted in Food & Cooking, Holidays, Special Occassions, Uncategorized with tags on December 12, 2010 by grandersons

I’ve spent 29 Thanksgivings in Boise, Idaho with my family and Kyle has spent every Thanksgiving of his life with his family too.  Even when we lived in Seattle, we’d join the hordes of travellers to make our way home for turkey and mashed potatoes.  There was only one year we almost didn’t make it – it was Thanksgiving 2001 following September 11th and  Kyle had recently had a cyst removed from his wrist and had to wear a pretty bulky cast while it healed.  On the way to the airport, Kyle realized that he didn’t have his wallet.  We raced home to look for it, then retraced our steps around Seattle, but couldn’t find it anywhere.  It was gone.  We went to the airport hoping for the best and expecting the worst as a college kid in a hooded sweatshirt with a cast on his arm tried to get on a plane without any form of ID beyond his check book.  My mom will never forgive herself for telling me to get on the plane without him and we laugh about it to this day, but amazingly enough he batted his baby blues and submitted to any search necessary (no, he didn’t actually have to be strip searched – thank goodness!) and managed to get on the plane right as it was ready to take off.  Our track record of being ‘home’ for Thanksgiving was impressive.

We knew that this Thanksgiving would be different.  We were halfway around the world in a wonderful country where canned pumpkin and brown sugar are hard to come by and not a single relative was in sight.  We quickly realized that in this case, different wasn’t a bad thing. 

Just like at home where we bounce from one dinner with Kyle’s family to a second dinner with my family, we maintained the tradition of having two Thanksgiving dinners in Madrid.  We started with an event hosted by the ‘Net Impact Club’ on IE’s campus. The Americans cooked traditional Thanksgiving foods and enjoyed dinner with students from all over the world.  For many international students, it was the first time they’d ever eaten turkey, stuffing, or pumpkin pie and we loved sharing our American Thanksgiving traditions with them.   

Next up was Thanksgiving at Erick and Mandy Bauman’s – a couple from New York who invited a crew of Americans to celebrate with them.  They roasted a beautiful turkey and everyone brought a traditional food item that they eat with their families at home on Thanksgiving.  It was AMAZING!  We devoured roasted veggies, green bean salad, deviled eggs, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and all the pumpkin pie (and whoopies) you could imagine.  We couldn’t have asked to spend our first Thanksgiving in Madrid with better food or better people.