Monday, December 29, 2008

The Bedroom is Finished! (Almost)

Of course there are always things I wnat to fix/change. (Curtians, professional framing for the family tree, etc) But for the most part the bedroom is done!

See my Flickr account for "notes" on the pictures with stories and such. Flickr stream

Friday, December 26, 2008

letter on canvas

This is another part of my "antique/family heritage" room. I have a copy of a letter that my Great Grandfather wrote to his parents while he was stationed in the Phillipines as an Army Doctor in 1900 during the Philippine–American War.

There's a local scrapbook store that is going out of business so I bought a few canvases from there. I made copies of the letter on yellow paper and then got out my modge podge.

That's the entire letter and the envelope. I have the date and the letterhead blown up on the last small canvas.
This is the actual text of the letter:
Angelus, PI, Dec 17th, 1900

Dear Mother and Father,
I have been looking for a letter from some of you for some time; have received two from Johny in which he stated that Jessie was writing to me - this was in August. I received the letter yesterday it had been misspent to Pikin, China, and therefore did not reach me. I sent you the envelope which shows the stamps of the different mailing stations. I have learned that at the time the 9th Infantry left here for China, I was under orders to join the third Regiment upon the request of quite a number of the Officers, but being in the hospital sick at the time and Gen Grant also requested that I remain here as it would take some time to get anyone to know the business of the office as I did. So, I am still here at the headquarters.

There is a quite a number of changes going on account of the Volunteer Regiments leaving for the States very soon. I am certainly glad they are going home as few of them have done anything here but many of them have been a disgrace to the Army. They want the credit for the work done by the Regulars and have truly earned the credit as deadbeats and especially Hospital beats. -- I have a small house or “Cassa”, as it is called in Spanish, all to myself just opposite the headquarters building and have it fixed it up very comfortably, the present indications are that I will remain at this place for some time on account of being familiar with all the towns and the stations in the district and can speak the native language very well that I have to do considerable interpreting. I have seen circulars issued by the insurgents giving what was or supposed to be Bryans speeches and extracts from letters by Americans which had eluded many of the natives into believing that they would given 40 acres and a mule if Bryan was elected. We heard the election news here about as soon as you did as the Cable Bulletins were sent all over the island to the different Telegraph and Telephone stations. We are having a few hangings of the natives here for Murder and it is having a good moralizing effect on the insurgent bands. Nearly every day some of the insurgents are captured they are being slowly taken and growing fewer in numbers.

I have a small garden connected with my house and would like for you to send me by mail some seeds. Tomato, cucumber, lettuce, celery, peas, beats, cantaloupe, and watermelon. Also some flower seed. Vines such morning glory, medina ___ . I have a watch which I will send to PaPa sometime soon to keep for me. It strikes the hour and the quarter of an hour all you have to do is to press a spring and it strikes the hour the hands on the face represent. Will send it by registered mail.

Will close at this time

You son, Gordon

I received the pictures. Will send you some in a few days.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Family Tree Wall Update

I posted a while ago about creating a family tree for my antique bedroom. (See this post).

I ordered a number of antique oval Italian frames from ebay (sans glass), made copies of old family photos, bought some thick foam board and satin finish modge podge and went to work on a photo collage. (I'm going for art/design - not heirloom - here)

I've also collected a few gold and white saucers and small bowls at thrift stores that I'll either hang on the wall or use to set on top of dressers and such to collect jewelry, coins, etc

This is what I have so far:

This is a close up on the calligraphy and some of my favorite names on my family tree. They're just pretty names. (Calligraphy work the art of Lisa at Pen and Ink Calligraphy)

These are my paternal Grandfather's parents. Great-grandma is a little off-center there, but oh well.

Here is my father as a wee one. (I'll probably re-do this one later to get rid of the line at the bottom - but for now it works) There's a picture of my younger brother about the same age and they look like twins.

and my mother

One of my ancestors was a B movie actor. Here's one of his head shots. I can't recall his name at the moment..I have it written down somewhere (he's a second cousin or something...not on the family tree)

Some of the plates I've collected.

Hopefully I'll get the family tree framed and everything on the wall soon!

Thankful for my job at Christmas time

I get two weeks off for Christmas vacation. I never really intended on being a teacher - I just kind of fell into that profession. The more invested I've become in the idea of being a single adoptive parent the more I am thankful that God let me to this job. I love knowing that I'll have this time to enjoy the holidays with any future children.

Unless I end up adopting earlier than I plan or older than I plan - my children are not yet in existance - but I'm still praying for them - praying for their birth families. I hope that this holiday season is one of warmth, love, and health for them.

(Of course, I'd love a job that would allow me to homeschool my children as a single parent...So, God, if you want to give me a heads up there that would be great. If you want my preference I'd love to own a small little idea.)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Oh Christmas Tree

I finally got around to putting up my Christmas tree. After Wilbur (cat) destroyed my tree last year I didn't want to put it up too early this year - especially since I have Thing 2 (Mishka) now to join in on the destructive fun.

After a number of years of doing the "fancy" and themed trees with florals and ribbons and what-not - I was in the mood for a little holiday nostalgia. So I dug out my tin of Christmas ornaments from my childhood, invited my mother over, and reminisced about the years when i wanted an ice-skater/teddy bear/car ornament.

First though! The Holiday unpacking:

Mishka plays in the ribbon from last year's tree.

I forgot I had these lovely vintage Hollie Hobbie Christmas glasses. A friend got them for me for Christmas last year - so I didn't really get to use them. I think they're adorable and they so fit my "vintage nostalgia" theme for Christmas this year. (there I go with the theme again...I said I wasn't going to have one!)

I bought a "slim tree" to fit in a corner of my living room rather than using the monster I inherited from my parents - I wanted something cute and simple - not grand and elegant. This picture shows you why I would never get a real tree - I wouldn't know how to put the lights on a real tree!

The tree! It makes me sad that pictures of trees never look as good as the tree. And, the angel is WAY too big - but it's what I had. I need some kitchy star for the top though - that would be perfect.

I also made a centerpieces for the coffee table.

I love the way the star ornaments kind of sound like wind chimes on the side of the vase with the fan blowing. (Yes, I'm running the fan in December. Crazy Georgia weather)
The small angel and baby Jesus is the only thing I have as a nativity. I just want to find a nice nativity where Jesus is not white or black. Is that too much to ask? This small one belonged to my "like-a-grandmother" and I got it when she passed away a few years ago.

Anywho. Time to wrap some presents to go under there!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Busy Life

You know - I know it's possible - and more than that - something I want to do. But, some days I wonder how on earth I will fit a child into my life and even if it's fair to do such a thing.

Example. Yesterday I went to bed at nine in order to get up at 4 a.m. this morning. I left my house at about 5:45 in the morning because I had to some errands before work and then get to work by 6:30. I came home at 4:15 because I was exhausted - but I should've stayed until at least 5 because my desk is a MESS. Leaving that early was rare - but it was the second time this week that I made it to work before anyone else. I typically spent 10-11 hours at work each day - on a normal day. I can get by on about 6 hours of sleep and still feel rested. So, that's 16-17 hours a day. That leaves 7-8 hours a day to do everything else. Make dinner. Clean. relax.

And I want to try to fit in: drop off/pick up from daycare, bathe children, play with children, take children to ballet/soccer/doctor/whatever, make sure children who are coming from traumatic backgrounds are adjusting well/ etc. into those 7-8 hours?

I mean - I know I can and I will make it work. Plenty of teachers are mothers. There are plenty of single working mothers in the world. There are things at my job that I can drop without taking a pay cut and free up some of my time. I know all this - right now I'm single and I do have time so I say yes to things like yearbook and helping after school and planning Shakespeare festivals - - and I won't say yes to those when I have children that become my world.

Sometimes I just wonder, "Is the kid going to hate me for making them be a part of a single parent family?" It's at those times I try to remind myself that in the hierarchy of family situations - I may be lower than a two parent loving family - - but I'm higher than an orphanage.

Just a busy day and realizing how I am so accustomed to coming home at the end of the day and not worrying about anyone but myself - but that's not the life I want - and truth be told I'd rather be sitting in traffic in the rain on the way to a ballet recital right now than typing this. I'd be exhausted either way - but the other one is a better option still.

On another note - I'm reading a book that is the story of a single adoptive mother. It's good. I'm being reminded again of all the paperwork, money, and uncertainties of the process. But at the same time - on the back cover is a picture of a woman with two beautiful boys - and that's really all that matters.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

50 cent decor

I stopped by a local thrift store the other day and found two wine glasses that are so not my style for stemware but I thought they might work for another job so I grabbed them. 50 cents for two wine glasses. (Side note: Luigi Bormioli Esperienze is the stemware I DO love. You know, if you're ever looking for a gift idea.)

I came home and washed them up and then grabbed a cup full of rocks I've had for about 5 years. These are small rocks that I found on the shores of the Oregon coast (Single Domestic Trivia: stones were found the same week that I first tasted Rosemary Eggs. It was a good week) In addition to being free the rocks have the added benefit of having some sentimental value and a story to go with them. I do love things that tell stories.

I put the stones in the bottom of the wine glasses, threw in two red votive candles I had, and voila! A pretty little accent for my guest room.

as you can see the side table needs some work. I'm thinking a quick two-color paint job. Here's my palette:

I'm thinking painting the door the yellow of that solid pillow and the rest of the green of the solid. don't know. Ideas? I'd like to do some kind of design on it - but making things look precise and detailed is NOT my speciality. (In fact - my inability to stay in the lines and do things "straight" is the reason I thought for so long that I was not creative and why I chose to major in English rather than go to art school. But ...that's not what this post is about. We'll discuss the childhood trauma of unidentifiable toy soldier Christmas ornaments at a later date.)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Christmas Decor

My Christmas decorations are VERY limited at the moment. I haven't wanted to put up the tree yet because I know my cats think Christmas Tree = their personal playground. So, I'll probably wait until the semester is over so I can enjoy the tree while I'm off work and not worry about what my little furballs are doing to my Christmas decor while I'm trying to inspire the minds of the future.

However, I do have a couple things up! I started my Christmas Village this year.(click to make pictures larger)

My favorite holiday sight: a tree on top of a car.

Look at the guy inside the hardware store window! The mailbox and fire hydrant are on loan from my mother. I think they look so good there she should let me keep them. Don't you?

I got my inn!! Isn't it cute? Mailbox is also part of the items on loan. I love this little family with their suitcases as well. (We're going to pretend like the snow is not dangerously high in proportion, ok? Good.)

Cute kids building a snowman. Why, yes, that is Nicole's shoe store there in the background. So much fun!

Told you the cats get into everything.

I am also making my first ever adult effort at observing Advent. Here is my advent "wreath"

(if you, like many of my readers, are a reader of Lauren's blog - you'll notice you've seen this before. Great minds think alike. What can I say?)

I like it :) It's really been rewarding to kind of focus on the meaning of this season and to really try to embrace and understand what it was like to wait on the Messiah. In addition to lighting the advent candle each morning I'm using an advent guide that has prayers and scripture passages for each day. I'm really enjoying the guide. On the first day the opening prayer has the following included: "Increase our longing for Christ our Savior and give us the strength to grow in love, that the dawn of his coming may find us rejoicing in his presence and welcoming the light of his truth." I think this idea of "increasing our longing for his coming" is very important to me - I know It's very easy for me to content with this world and my life here and forget that I'm suppose to be longing for more - that there IS something more worth longing for.

Today one of the scripture passages we read was the prophecy in Isaiah 11 that talks about a shoot sprouting from a stump. The guide had this reflection that I found interesting and encouraging: "Our God can transform our weakness, our sin, all conflict and all division from every life-less stump - where any future hope has been cut off - a shoot of new life can sprout."

I hope you're all enjoying a wonderful Holiday season. :) I'll have pictures from Thanksgiving and such later hopefully.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving Leftovers: Chopped

Turkey, chopped
Fresh cranberries, chopped
Walnuts, chopped
Apples, chopped
Mayo, ch..err..nevermind

Mix. Put on Bread. EXCELLENT Thanksgiving leftover sandwich. SO GOOD.

Friday, November 28, 2008

fostering, random thoughts and open countries

I don't have anything of great importance to say - I just wanted to take a moment to update.

I have a coworker who is a single foster mother. I was able to find a few moments to ask her some questions the other day which was helpful - she was very kind and let me ask all kinds of personal and answered kindly. She also told me that the first child that was placed with her was an infant and she raised him for seven years before he was taken from her because the biological family got him back. Which - is pretty much my nightmare scenario for why I don't know if I could handle fostering or domestic adoption. My heart about breaks just imagining that scenario.

I've been getting rather discouraged with the number of countries that are closing to single parent adoption and that's what is making me look more into domestic - - but that just doesn't feel right to me. Everything can change so quickly though - and I'm still just 25 and planning on waiting to officially start the process until I'm 30 so I've got about 4 years left before I can get freaked out about open countries.

For my reference (or yours if you're interested)

current countries open to single woman adoption (of younger, healthy children) according to the country charts at

Bulgaria, Ethiopia (up in the air - lots of rumors going on that it's closing to single parents), Haiti, India (case-by-case), Kazakhstan (but they typically won't let single women adopt 2 or a 2nd child), Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Poland, Russia (with a LOT of extra paperwork and such).

Of those - I'd probably avoid Russia as they require "above average pay" - and, well, I'm a teacher. I want at least two children eventually - whether at the same time or not. I don't know if I'll want my children to be able to share a national heritage or not - but I'll probably avoid Kazakhstan so that it's at least possible to return to the same country for a second child if I so choose. Just on a "gut" reaction - Bulgaria, Haiti, Kyrgyzstan, and Poland appeal to me. I'm not interested in having to put up with the extra paper work hassle - so I'll avoid India as well.

and, of course, this can all change again in 4 years. But, for now, there are my thoughts. I like to ramble through it now and then and let my brain process all this stuff.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Nicole Helps With Holiday Shopping. (Edited)

I'm going to pretend like shopping fits in with my theme here and do a "look at these cool things!" post. I've been doing online browsing while the turkey cooks in preparation for Black Friday and Christmas shopping. (I have to be done shopping by the 11th as my family is doing an early Christmas. ACK!)

Things Nicole Loves (and maybe a friend of yours would love too!):

1. Rain Parade Umbrella: They look like people in raincoats! And they're umbrellas! My favorites are the red, white, and light blue ones.

2. Woodnetic Frames: It's wood, that's a magnet, that's curved, and then you put pictures on it. It has that 70s kind of design look. Totally wouldn't fit in with my decor - but I think it's a cool design idea.

3. Soup and Sandwich Plates. The days of juggling your bowl of soup and your sandwich while you try to eat on the couch watching tv are over. I'm in love with these things. They're so cool!

4. Birds on a Branch Necklace: It's just so cute. A mom bird and little baby birds. I love the kind of antiqued/dull look it has too.

5. Beautiful eco-friendly desk calendar: The designs are beautiful and at the end of the year you can send the old cards back for the designer to recycle and get a coupon for the new ones!

6. Cloth fruit and veggie baskets: If I had kids to buy presents for they'd so get these. I love 'em!

7. Amber Tree Necklace: If you haven't been clicking on the links. Click this one. It's GORGEOUS. This etsy seller has the same design in other stones as well - but the amber is my favorite. This is where I need to not be the single domestic so I can be all, "Hey, honey. Isn't that pretty?" *nudge* *nudge*.

8. Come Over To My Neighborhood Pillow: Actually, I pretty much love all the pillows by this designer. They've got that "modern retro" thing. If I ever decide to re-do my living room decor that'll be the look I go for. (Those "Woodnetic Frames" would fit there ya know!)

9.Market Bags made from recycled newspaper: And, it's snobby parts of the newspaper which so appeals to me. You know - the leisure, arts, travel sections. They've got a cosmetic pouch version as well which is just too cute.

10. Bamboo Utensils with Carry Case: A better idea for all those work lunches than the plastic stuff. Plus it has a cool pouch. And, it cracks me up that it's got a fork, spoon, knife, and chopsticks. Seriously. I love it! You can even get it in a camo carry-case. Because, you know, hunters need those chopsticks for the deer hunting lunch break.

11. Huh Duh Arg Oy Post-it Notes: Oh, just click it. I want! If you only knew how often I write, "HUH?" on my students' papers!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Thanksgiving Food

That is most of my ingredients for the Thanksgiving Dinner this year. The turkey (free turkey thanks to the "turkey points" program at the local grocery) is in the fridge and a few other things got left out - but that's about it.

Let's investigate. Shall we? (Why, yes, I do have too much time on my hands!)

I call this ingredients by number:

1. For the STUFFING that will be STUFFED in the bird. (not the inferior dressing)
2. I don’t really know. Just seems like I should have a can on hand.
3. See #2
4. I’m going to try baking acorn squash
5. And I’m drizzling real maple syrup in that squash. I almost bought the organic maple syrup but it was twice the price. Ah well.
6. Cream cheese for the potatoes. Yup!
7. Onion for the stuffing. (cut in teeny tiny pieces for my mother.)
8. For Robert Redford
9. For Cranberry-Walnut Salad.
10. I’m going to do the corn . . .
11. . . .and rice casserole
12. Organic orange so I can zest it into the sweet potato casserole without zesting in pesticides that stick to the skins.
13. Non-alcoholic bubbly. (The alcoholic variety did not add to my turkey points.)
14. Pecans. I’m going to sugar coat them, put them in a crust, put them on top of stuff. They’re great.
15. Potato and Sweet Potato. They have friends elsewhere in the kitchen.
16. When I called my mother to see if she had any last minute requests all she said was, “I like Redi Whip now.” So, there you go. It makes pumpkin pies prettier too.
17. Cool whip is necessary for cranberry salad and Robert Redford
18. For the cranberry salad.
19. These will be roasted and they will be amazing.
20. For the top of the green bean casserole. (which I will make if I make it back to the store as I didn’t get the Cheese Whiz.I never can find that stuff in the store!)
21. Canola oil for pumpkin bread.
22. Pie crusts. . . for the pies.
23. Apples. For the cranberry salad. (that salad has a lot of stuff in it!) I may make an apple pie. We'll see how ambitious I am.
24. Cans of pumpkin. Bread. Pies. Yummyness.
25. Crescent rolls. Because I don’t have the desire to make biscuits this year.
26. Robert Redfordness

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Update from the sewing front

I have stacks of fabric and felt and beads on my kitchen tables. It's all ready for me to turn into cute little pillows. See my little sketches for pillow designs:

cute, no? You can click on the pictures if you want to see a bigger version of any of them. The colored pencil on white paper does not a good picture make. I even made little pattern pieces though!

I'm also thinking: hot air balloon, umbrella/rain drops, duck, trees, holiday (snowmen, Christmas tree) as possible "felt applique on a pillow" designs. I'm hoping they'll turn out cute enough that I can sell them for a few bucks on etsy. Felt is cheap and I buy fabric on sale and in remnants - so it should be something i can actually make a small profit on. Hopefully. Any ideas for other felt applique designs that look like they might fall in my limited drawing range?

And really - the entire purpose of this blog update is because I thought posting pictures of my sketches sounded like more fun than ironing the fabric so I could actually, oh, I don't know, START the pillows.

I hate ironing.

Ok. I'll iron them. And I won't use the fabric that's not washed yet either. I will follow the sewing rules!

I'll let ya'll see when I'm done!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Cranberry Season

I got this recipe off a message board I visit and it is SO GOOD. I love cranberries. (Not cranberries shaped like the inside of a can mind you. Whole fresh cranberries.)

This is Ruby Chicken.

Put about 1/3 cup flour and 1tsp kosher salt in a Ziploc bag. Throw in two breasts of chicken (I used a few tenderloins instead as that's what I had) Shake shake shake. Coat chicken. In a skillet melt a couple tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Then put in the chicken and let it brown on both sides.

Meanwhile - in a small saucepan. Put 1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, 1/3 cup of white sugar, 1/2 cup orange juice, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg to taste, and 2 Tbs chopped onion.

Bring to a boil over medium heat.

Pour boiling cranberry mixture over browned chicken.

Cover and reduce to simmer. Cook for approximately 25 minute or until chicken is done.

Serve and enjoy!

I made this two nights in a row it was so good!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Favorite Things: Lemon-Lime Press

I picked this thing up at Williams-Sonoma a month or so ago - and I love it! It makes me not dread recipes that say such things as "the juice of one lime."

You of course cut the lime in half first. Not much explanation needed for this post - just watch how amazing this thing is:

(And, that's guacamole I'm making. Yum!)
To juice a lemon you'd just flip the green part up so that the basin is a bit bigger and then put half a lemon in there and press away.
Go get one. It will make you happy.
Now I need a citrus zester. . .

Monday, November 10, 2008

Why I'm Not Using a Donor

I've got the question a couple of times now from different people. "Why adopt? Why not just use donor sperm? No intrusive home visit. The child is yours"

Let me just point out one quick thing first - probably one of the most hurtful and infuriating things you can say to an adoptive or prospective adoptive parent is to in any way insinuate that an adopted child will not be "theirs". So try to avoid any mention of ownership if you're ever talking to someone about an adopted child.

So. Why not? I've thought about it. It has it's appeals. Cheaper. More certainty. I don't have to worry about what the months or years in a foreign orphanage has done to my child. I don't have to worry about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Reactive Attachment Disorder, or if my child would hate me for taking them away from their home country. I would get to be more selective about the genes of my child. They'd have mine first of all and then the registries for sperm donors are fairly detailed these days - I'd have my pick! I would get to experience the miracle and joy of childbirth, of holding my child when s/he was mere seconds old, of watching his/her first everything, and experiencing the bond of nursing. There are definite appeals and I hope that one day I may be able to experience that in the context of a marriage.

But here's why I won't do it as a single woman.

1. There are children in the world who have spent months and years in conditions less than satisfactory. That are struggling the effects of poor choices made by their parents and caregivers and may need some extra or specialized care. These children already exist and need a home. They are missing two parents and I can provide them with one. If I used a donor - I'd be creating a child who was missing a parent.

2. Creating a child with someone I've never met and just know by a number kind of weirds me out a little bit.

*warning* If you struggle with infertility you may not want to read the rest of my post. Just warning you. I'm not trying to offend anyone - but this is one of my major reasons.

3. My heart says that there are moral and ethical issues there. I am opposed to all forms of birth control - which I think means that if I'm going to be fair I should be opposed to fertility treatments in general - and the more I think about it the more I am. It's an ethical issue that basically reiterates point #1. Why on earth would I spend my money, time, resources, and mental stamina to create a child when there is one that already needs my love? it seems selfish to me to go out of my way to demand a biological child when in reality - a child is a child. My conviction on this has grown over the past year - to the point where I now say that even if I were a married woman who was unable to get pregnant - that I would not proceed with any tests or procedures beyond making sure whatever was wrong was not damaging my health and would instead begin to pursue the married adoption route in order to build our family.

If I get married and find I can't get pregnant - I probably will be heart broken and will take time to grieve that - but I really believe my conviction will stand strong. If it wasn't a conviction I would be pursuing the in vitro now rather than the adoption. Believe me - it certainly looks like the easier path.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Rosemary Eggs

I had someone make me scrambled eggs a number of years ago that were heavenly. They were the best I ever had. I never attempted to re-create the masterpiece though until today. It had been a number of years and I wasn't sure if it really was the special ingredient or if the flavors were just intensified by the fact that I was able to eat breakfast while looking out large windows towards a view of a rocky beach with crashing waves. I thought I'd give it a try though!

First. Heat up some olive oil in a skillet and sprinkle in lots of rosemary.

Let that heat for a while and stir it around a bit. After about 5 minutes. Dump out the rosemary. Yep. Dump it out. I have a vague memory that perhaps the man who made these for me had a little fire action going on in the skillet - but perhaps that's more of me romanticizing my beach-view-breakfast.

Now - put the skillet back on the eye and pour in your eggs that have been whisked with some cream and a little kosher salt.

Stir with a wooden spoon occassionally (I'm convinced that the wooden spoon makes a difference). Stir them until they look like the consistency that you prefer.

After you plate the eggs sprinkle with a little fresh ground peper and enjoy!