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!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Thanksgiving preperations

I'm planning out my Thanksgiving menu. It will just be me and my parents this year.

I wanted to try out a simple Thanksgiving menu that Domino magazine had this month - but my mother vetoed it in favor of our traditional meal - which is fine - that's good too! I'll save the simple Thanksgiving menu for another time. Perhaps when I finally succumb to my wandering ways and end up on the other side of the country - I'll invite other people like me over for the holidays and do the "new" meal.

But for this year - here is my menu for Thanksgiving (and leftovers for forever given that there will only be three of us)

Turkey: salt and pepper and a few other spices perhaps - whatever I feel like that morning.
Stuffed with a stuffing mixture composed of: white bread crumbs, cream of mushroom soup, sage, Italian seasoned bread crumbs, onion, and water.

I'll roast that in my super duper huge roasting oven (think huge crock pot) and baste it every hour or so. It will turn out moist and perfect with yummy stuffing all moist and savory!

Side Dishes:

Sweet Potato Casserole: Bake sweet potatoes, scrape out the flesh and mash/mix with butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger to taste. Pour into a baking dish. In a small bowl mix pecans, brown sugar, and soft butter - - sprinkle over the sweet potato mixture. Bake 45 minutes at 350.

Cranberry Walnut Salad: Grind 4 cups fresh raw cranberries in a blender. In a large bowl mix with 1 bag miniature marshmallows and 1 cup of white sugar. Refrigerate over night. Just before serving mix with 2 cups chopped apples, 1/2 cup of walnut pieces, and 1 pint heavy whipping cream. Serve cold.

Green Bean Casserole: the way everyone makes it. :) This is actually my sister-in-law's speciality. Mine never tuns out so great. But, I'm going to attempt it again this year as she'll be a few hundred miles away that day!

Mashed Potatoes: Martha Stewart Living had an article about blending your mashed potatoes in a mixer and mixing in cream cheese along with the butter and milk - I'm going to try that this year as part of my "something new and different!"

That's the traditional spread with re-runs of family favorites - - and then I always like to add one or two new dishes.

This year my ideas are:

Baked Acorn Squash via The Pioneer Woman Cooks.

Corn and Wild Rice Casserole also from that Pioneer Woman (the woman makes good looking food!)

and I'm open to other suggestions! So share those favorite Thanksgiving side dish recipes!

Oh - and for dessert we'll have Pumpkin Pie and the Robert Redford I told ya'll about a few weeks ago.