Thursday, August 31, 2006

Pearl MeiQiu Brown

My Utah buddy, quilter extraordinaire Kim Brown and hubby Lee have a new daughter Ji Mei Qiu soon to be Pearl MeiQiu Brown. Pearl is currently in the Huazhou City Social Welfare Institute, Huazhou City, Guangdong and she was born 01/22/99. Pearl is going to be spoiled and loved by her sisters Hillary, Madison and Grace. Congratulations Brown family!!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I will survive!!

Well I have to, I now have a t-shirt that says I did!! Last night I received this cute t-shirt from fellow local adopter Melissa. Check out that saucy, sexy ladybug! She had these shirts made and sent them to the sisterhood that waits and waits and waits for our little angels. We are a great support system for one another and all of us will survive, we will prevail, we have to we have a t-shirt! Thanks Melissa, big hugs right back at'cha.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The CCAA is moving in the wrong direction

This current batch of referrals matched families with log-in-dates (LIDs) of July 14th through July 22nd, nine stinking, lousy days. I feel like the closer we get, the farther away the finish line gets. With our LID of August 10th we still have 19 days worth of LIDs separating us from Baby S's referral. At this point we could be looking at a referral in November with travel next year! I thought things were getting better, moving in a positive direction with 5 days worth of LIDs producing referrals in March, 7 days of LIDs for April, 9 days for May, 13 days of LIDs for June and 15 days in July. So why are we going backwards with 9 days this month. It was supposed to be at least 14 days worth of LID's this month so that we could get our referral no later than September, but NOooooooo.

This morning CCAI GA showed up on my caller ID and I knew it wasn't good news. Sure enough, time has run out and we need to have a home visit from the Social worker and a home study update, get the doctor to update our medical reports and re-apply for our I-600A and I-171H. Later in the afternoon, the Denver CCAI office called asking how we were doing during the wait and if there was anything they could do to make it easier. Yeah, give CCAA a swift kick in the butt and get them moving so we don't have to waste our time, effort and money on re-doing all this cr*p!

On a happier note, congratulations to all the families who received their referral this month, including my Utah bloggy summit mate, M3 with a referral for twins!! Rose and Marie are darling, Congrats!

Fellow local adopters Ilene & Michael have a beautiful new daughter Xiu Fu Xu, soon to be April Lauren. Born November 28, 2005, Xiushan, Chongqing
Given Name: Xiu Fu Xu Surname Xiu, Fu (Good Fortune) Xu (Warm; Balmy)

Check out all the beautiful new babies, listed in the side bar under "We have our Referral."

Monday, August 28, 2006

Kacey gets spoiled

Yesterday was Julie's shower where Kacey was spoiled with gifts. We all got to meet Julie's Mom Susan. Susan is so ready to travel to China and bring home her first grandchild, she's just as excited as Julie. It was a fun afternoon!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

We heart Cretha & Michel

We received a wonderful surprise package from France full of presents from fellow dtc mate Cretha and her husband Michel. Eammon was so thrilled with the football and I fear that Baby S's first words won't be Mama or Dada, they'll be Watford, go Watford!! The Eiffel Tower box is so darling and I think that we'll use it for holding her first tooth and lock of hair. The beret is so sweet and as all of you can guess, one day you'll come to our blog and there will be a picture of Baby S wearing that beret! Thanks Cretha & Michel, hugs to you in Paris.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Baby S will be styling!

Wow, once again Baby S is going to be one styling gal thanks to my CCAI secret pal. I love both of the dresses and the fact that they are larger is perfect, thank you so much. It's funny because just the other day I started thinking of bottles and thought it would be a good idea to get some and a bottle brush, you must have read my mind! Your gifts arrived on a perfect day, I was somewhat down yesterday with the extended wait, but once I saw those adorable dresses, my mood brightened. Thank you my pal!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Bloggy tour of homes week 4

Kitchen11.0 This week in our tour we're taking a look at kitchens. I think that the reason our home was on the market for as long as it was, was the previous state of the kitchen. At the bottom of this post I have pictures of how the kitchen looked the day we did our pre-purchase home inspection compared to how it looks today. I do have to say, it was in a sad state. The cook top only cooked on high, the microwave took 8 minutes to heat a cup of water and the refrigerator leaked. The original colors were yellowish tile on the floor, green and off white tile on the counter tops, the cabinets were beige with oak trim and the wall paper which by the time we purchased the house had been painted white, was originally pink.

Kitchen4 One of my favorite parts of the kitchen is the back splash. The 1-inch slate tiles match so well with the granite countertops. The granite color is called blue pearl and has these speck in it, which when seen in certain lights, glow blue, silver or gray. I also love the decorative tiles in the back splash as well as the stainless steel rack which helps break up the wall space. If you look closely in the pig's pitcher, you'll see that there are wooden giraffe salad forks.

Kitchen5 In my previous home post I spoke of my chair fetish, well the kitchen sports some fun chairs too. These teapot chairs (and table) were made by my blacksmith friend George Martell. It's rare that we sit at this table as generally we eat at the breakfast bar, which sports coffee cup stools.

kitchen6 Eammon has two favorite parts in this room. Well, actually four favorites with the freezer that magically provides food and the microwave which cooks all food. Honestly though, one of his favorites parts is the view. When I first brought Eammon to look at the house, he walked in the front door and out this set of kitchen doors and said yes. He didn't even realize that there were rooms upstairs. He fell in love with the view and said if I wanted the house, to go for it. These French doors in the kitchen are the ones that the geese and ducks generally knock at when they want to be fed, so they are always somewhat dirty with peck marks.

Kitchen7 Eammon's other favorite feature in the kitchen is the instant hot water tap, just what every good Brit needs when tea time rolls around. Sorry that the pictures aren't better, we get such great light with all the windows, but it makes picture taking very difficult.

Below are some before and after pictures of the kitchen. I tried to pair up the pictures to first show how the kitchen looked before we purchased our home, on the day of our pre-purchase home inspection, followed by the same view today.  Just a little difference in the look.

Kitchen before1Kitchen11.0kitchen before 21kitchen9

I've gone back into the past weeks posts and added some before pictures, also from the day of the home inspection. It's always fun to see how the rooms have changed. Enjoy!

Well, that concludes this week's tour, join me next Friday when we look at bathrooms.

Previous bloggy tour home posts:
Week 3: Dining room
Week 2: Living rooms/ Family rooms/ dens
Week 1: Foyers/ Entrances

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Why is it that each time I call with a problem I'm told, "I see you're one of Dish Networks most valued customers." Yeah, I'm one of their most valued customers because they have my credit card number so that they can bill me automatically each month! So tell me, why when I called last Friday with an outage was the first available appointment for today, between 12 and 5PM? If I'm so valued wouldn't they try to get my satellite working in less than 6 days and not make me wait all afternoon for their service tech...That's providing they don't no-show like they usually do. Hey last December/January when they no-showed 4 times in a row I demanded so many credits for all my time wasted that I ended up with three months free.

On top of that, I'm already on the phone with a problem, aggravated that I'm missing my shows and sitting there having to listen to their music and promotions, do they really think I'm going to sign up for premium services and pay them more money?? Why the rep bothers to ask is beyond me.

Since we've been without television for almost a week, Eammon rented a couple of movies. This week we saw V for Vendetta, Syriana and Inside Man, all were really good. It's funny, neither Eammon nor I really miss having the T.V. but of course the new seasons of Survivor, Lost, Grey's Anatomy and Desperate housewives haven't started yet so I figure that I'm not missing much.

Last week I bought petrol for $2.64 and I thought I got a bargain, man have I been brainwashed!! When I moved to Georgia in May'98, I was paying $0.69/gallon.

What ever happened to the cents symbol on the keyboard, when did that disappear?

Speaking of when I moved to Georgia, in May 1998 my 1991 Volvo had just shy of 160,000 miles on it. That was mostly thanks to a lovely 209 mile daily round trip from my home in Boston to a work site out at UMass Amherst, which I did for too many months to count. Well, that and driving up to the North Shore, New Hampshire or the Cape to hit the beaches most every weekend of every summer.

Well, today I hit 188,000 miles on my car, averaging just over 3,600 miles per year since living in Georgia. At this rate the car will still have less than 250,000 miles on it when Baby S starts to drive, a mere dent into the life of a Volvo!! Think she'll mind driving around in a 31 year old Volvo while all her friends have shiny new cars? I can't complain about my car, I wanted one that would out last the payments and was safe and that it has. One thing to notice though, on the dashboard there's an analog clock, how many people remember those?

Toilet paper. Fellow blogger Melissa wrote about husbands and toilet paper so it got me going. Tell me why, when there are paper towels and rags and other things to wipe up spills, does my darling husband find it necessary to remove the t.p. from the master bathroom to wipe something up in say the kitchen? Then IF, which is a big IF, the t.p. is returned to the bathroom, why is it left on the tub, no where near the little room with the toilet??? There's a case of t.p. in the linen closet, if t.p. is the only thing that he can use to wipe up a spill, wouldn't it be easier to take a roll from there instead of off the holder in the toilet room? Think I may need to invest in one of those locking t.p. roll holders that they have in some public bathrooms because drip drying is no fun.

I'm in the market for a new digital camera, something on the smaller side. Anyone out there with suggestions or comments about their camera, positive or negative, please let me know.

To my Secret Pals, I know I'm late this month, please forgive me as I just haven't gotten myself in gear but your gifts will be in the mail early next week!

I'm making tacos for dinner, avoiding referral rumors and waiting on the service tech...Fun, fun, fun.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Presents from the Grandparents

My parents recently returned from an American version of "If it's Tuesday it Must be Belgium".

They flew out of Florida on a Saturday to Salt Lake City where they took a tour and stayed the night. Sunday morning they attended the broadcast of The Mormon Tabernacle Choir then were on the bus as they passed Bear Lake and continued through Bridger-Teton National Forest to Jackson, Wyoming for a fun filled evening including a covered wagon ride, chuck wagon dinner and western entertainment at the Bar-T-Five Ranch. On Monday they visited the Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Jackson & Jenny Lakes, the Chapel Of the Transfiguration, Old Faithful and Firehole Canyon & Falls. Tuesday included visits to Norris Geyser Basin and Mammoth Hot Springs then they passed through Tower Junction and visited the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, which included views from Lookout and Inspiration Point. Wednesday brought Shoshone National Forest and then onto Cody for a tour of the Buffalo Bill Museum, the Plains Indian Museum, Whitney Gallery of Western Art and Cody Firearms Museum. Then off to Hot Springs State Park in Thermopolis, Wyoming. Thursday they saw Ten Sleep Canyon and crossed the Big Horn Mountains to see Devil's Tower. They arrived in Rapid City in the afternoon, where they actually got to spend 2 nights which included dinner and the sunset lighting ceremony at Mount Rushmore. Friday morning they visited Mount Rushmore, and went through the Black Hills to Crazy Horse Memorial. That afternoon they boarded the "1880" Train in Hill City for an excursion through So. Dakota to Keystone and finally a tour of Deadwood where they spent the night. Saturday they returned to Wyoming for a stop at Fort Laramie National Historic Site, then on to Cheyenne for their farewell dinner. Sunday after breakfast flew out of Denver International Airport back to their quiet home in The Villages.

Even with their busy schedule they were able to find two of the cutest t-shirts for Baby S and fun socks for all of us. Mom & Dad, I know you enjoyed your trip and we'll enjoy the gifts. Thanks!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Brought to you by the letter "F"

Get your mind out of the gutter!!

This morning Eammon and I went into Atlanta to get re-fingerprinted. Hopefully this will be the only part of the process we'll have to re-do and re-pay for and this never-ending adoption will soon come to an end before we have to do anything else over again. I do have to say, the location where they do fingerprints now is much nicer than where we went the first time. It was easy to find, plenty of parking and it was a nice big, clean space. Just like last time they were quick, our appointment was for 9am and we were back in the car on the way to Eammon's office by 9:28am...not too bad.

After I dropped Eammon off at his office, I came home as decided it was a good morning to pull some weeds. It rained last night which helped loosen up the Georgia clay baked brick soil, but man were those weeds wanting to hang around. I was so pleased when my neighbor stopped over with a jar of homemade fig jam, it was the perfect excuse to stop work in the yard and wash the mud and sweat off my body.

So fingerprints and figs, our "F" words of the day.

Monday, August 21, 2006

A B C, 1 2 3, baby you and me

I love this time of month when gifts start arriving from my secret pals. My wonderful August secret pal sent another great package this month, including an adorable soft baby doll which has a rattle in it and a great soft "I Can Do Anything" book with a squeaker and teething tabs, both of these items will be perfect to bring to China with us. Then there is an ABC puzzle board, number magnets, a super soft fleece blanket with ladybugs, more scrap book supplies in the form of fuzzy panda bear stickers and finally a bobble head giraffe!! Who knew that there was a bobble head giraffe? But of course my wonderful pal found it for us. Next month my pal, I get to find out who you are and I can't wait. Thank you so much, just like every month we love everything you sent.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

It's Liza Day!!

Local adopters Jill and Seth have their newest child, Liza. Congrats to the Z family!!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Bloggy tour of homes week 3

Dining room3.1 This week our tour features dining rooms. I love that when you first enter our home, the first thing you see is the view above. The dining room is a large trapezoidal room which is a little unique and it gives a very open feel as the room flows right up to the entrance and the living room. I have many of my favorite items in this room the largest being the dining room set its self.

Dining Room 13 The set is red oak with black walnut inlays and decorative metal components so that it has the arts and crafts feel and style of both Frank Lloyd Wright and Charles Rennie Mackintosh. This set was actually designed by Robert Sonneman and was marketed under the name Urban Primitive. Just before it went out of production I was able to get three pieces, the table and chairs, the sideboard & hutch and the buffet table. To this day I've never seen a dining room set that I've loved as much as this one.

DIning Room View14 Eammon's favorite part of the room is the view out of the French doors. He loves to sit at the head of the table, looking out...Except when the geese come knocking and begging as they see us sitting in there.

Dining Room Giraffes15.2 Also in the room are three leather giraffes, the largest being the same height as I. We named the giraffes but we obviously aren't very creative as the largest one is named Gia as in gia-raffe... The mid-sized giraffe is Gia-too and the small one is Baby. To further display our lack of creativity, the bunny and pig that you can just see under the antique radio, they're named Bun and Pig. I know, we're losers and it's amazing that we're going to be allowed to name a child all by ourselves!

Dining Room Grandpa Pictures Another favorite of mine are these three drawings that were done by my maternal grandfather. It's interesting that in all the homes where I've displayed these, I've always hung them vertically. I guess that's just how I always see them in my mind and it's amazing because in each of my homes, there's always been the perfect spot to hang them. If you look off to the right, you'll see the entrance to the master suite and of course a giraffe painting greets you as you enter that space.

Dining Room Tall Chair12.0 In addition to my love of giraffes, I also have a bit of a chair fetish. I love chairs that are unique, even if somewhat impractical like the one pictured to the right. When I first saw this chair I just fell in love with it and had to have it and I've always been able to find a spot to display it. The built in shelves surrounding the French doors give me lots of space to display some of my trinkets and helps to keep all my clutter in one spot.

Dining Room She chair11 Last but not least are my lady & man chairs which flank the sides of the sideboard & hutch.

Dining Room he chair9 Above the chairs are some paintings that Eammon always teases me about, telling me that they look like ladies with willies, but I'll let you be the judge on that one.

Here are some pictures of the room before we bought our home. These were taken on the day that we did our pre-purchase inspection. The previous owners used what we use as the dining room as their living room.

former livingroomformer living room 2

Well, that concludes this week's tour, join me next Friday when we look at kitchens.

Previous bloggy tour home posts:
Week 2: Living rooms/ Family rooms/ dens
Week 1: Foyers/ Entrances

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Mystery solved

It was my fabu July Dragonfly secret pal who sent this adorable doll and great CD. Thank you my wonderful July pal, every month you send such wonderful gifts all of which help to decorate and make Baby S's room oh so cute or help to fill her closet which will make her oh so cute too. I'll be sorry to see the swap end as I look forward to the packages each month, but the end of the swap means our little ones will be here soon. I can't wait to find out who you are so that I can attach a name to the thank you.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

How to empty a freezer in a week

before and after pictures of our freezer
(click on pictures to enlarge)

I've received numerous email requests asking for the recipes of some of the items I made for Eammon before my trip. The recipes below may not be authentic, but we like them. If you make any of them, let me know how they turn out. Enjoy.

Chicken Tikka Masala

1 lb. Chicken breast, boneless and skinless cut into 1-inch cubes
2-inch-square piece of fresh ginger, minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons Oil
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric powder
1 teaspoon Chili powder
1/2 cup plain fat free Yogurt

In a food processor puree ginger, garlic and 2 tablespoons oil into a paste. Remove 2 tablespoons of the paste and set it aside for the gravy. Add turmeric powder, chili powder, yogurt and salt and mix well. Scoop out into a bowl. Add chicken pieces and stir to coat well. Allow chicken to marinate for about an hour.

After the chicken is marinated, Pre-heat the oven to 300 F and bake for about 15 - 20 min or until just cooked through.

For the Gravy:
2 Onions, medium dice
2 tablespoons ginger/garlic paste from above
2 teaspoons Coriander powder
2 teaspoons Garam masala
1/2 cup Tomato puree

3 medium potatoes cut into 1-inch cubes (boil until cooked and fork tender)
4 Italian plum tomatoes quartered length wise.
10 fresh basil leaves

1/8 cup Cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup toasted cashews halves

Heat oil in a pan and fry onions till they turn golden brown. Add ginger/garlic paste and fry till the oil separates. Add coriander powder & garam masala, then add the tomato puree. Add salt to taste and then add little warm water and let the gravy to come to boil.

Add the cooked potatoes and plum tomatoes, allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Add chicken pieces and basil leaves and allow the gravy come to a boil.

Serve over Basmati rice. Garnish with cilantro and cashews.

Serves 4.
Seafood Korma

1 1/2 pounds mixed seafood/fish, all shelled and cleaned (shrimp, oysters, clams, squid, cod, whatever you fancy)
2-inch-square piece of fresh ginger, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoon chili powder
Salt to taste
2 tablespoon turmeric powder
2 red chili peppers, minced
3 diced tomatoes peeled and seeded
1 cup low fat coconut milk
1 bag favorite frozen veggie mix, thawed & drained


Fresh cilantro to taste
2 tablespoons chopped cashews
2 tablespoons raisins

In a food processor, puree ginger, garlic and 3 tablespoons water into a paste. Scoop out; set aside.

Warm a large skillet a few minutes over medium-high heat. Add oil. When oil is hot add onion and allow to slowly cook to golden brown. Add cumin seeds and cook for a minute or two. (Cumin seeds may explode like popcorn, so keep the lid handy.) Add chili powder, salt and turmeric powder. Stir in chili pepper, cook 1 minute. Stir in tomato and ginger paste. Cook until fragrant, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Add coconut milk and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium, and cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sauce should thicken. Add veggies and bring sauce back to a boil. Add seafood/fish and cover. After one minute, remove from heat and allow fish to poach in the hot liquid for 15-20 minutes.

Serve over Basmati rice. Garnish with cilantro, cashews and raisins.

Serves 4.
Spicy Udon with Lobster

1 pound cooked lobster meat pieces
3 large frozen Udon noodle cakes, thawed
2 large onions, thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons dark sesame oil
2 tablespoons lobster base
1/2 cup Heinz ketchup
1/2 cup medium sweet soy sauce
1/2 cup sweet rice wine (Mirin)
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
Sriracha a few tablespoons, to taste
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

In a very large pan, heat oil and add onions, cook until golden brown. Add garlic and cook about a minute until fragrant. Add sesame oil and lobster base and stir well to mix. Add lobster, toss well and cook for 2 minutes. Add ketchup, sweet soy sauce, Mirin, vinegar and Sriracha. Bring to boil and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add Udon noodles and toss to coat, cook until noodles are warmed through. Sprinkle top with sesame seeds.

Serves 4.

Monday, August 14, 2006

A very secret pal

I received this adorable doll and Chinese lullaby CD from one of my secret pals. Baby S's has lots of stuffed animals, but this is her first doll. She's so cute and the outfit is so sweet, I just love her! In addition I can't wait to listen to the CD, I've heard that the Chinese lullaby CD's really help sooth the babies. My one problem with the gift, I don't know which pal sent this great gift and who to thank.

We absolutely love the gift, so if you are the pal who sent this wonderful package, please leave an anonymous comment and let me know so that I can thank you properly.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Melissa hosts the locals

Yesterday local adopters gathered at the beautiful home of Melissa & Darren for a fun and delicious pot luck dinner. This dinner was special in that one year ago this month was the first local adopters gathering. I was having such a good time chatting with everyone I forgot to get out my camera until we were just walking out the door, so only this one picture.

Thanks Melissa & Darren for being great hosts and happy birthday Melissa!!

If you're a local waiting family and would like to join us at our monthly gatherings, please email me and I'll add you to the mailing list. Below are links to check out our past gatherings.

August '05
September '05
October '05
November '05
January '06
February '06
March '06
April '06
May '06
June '06

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Ladies who lunch celebrate again

Yesterday the ladies who lunch celebrated with Julie, the referral of her beautiful daughter Kacey. Julie had put in her order for key lime tarts so they were the dessert du jour. Kacey received lots of nice gifts and as usual we all had a great time. Of our little group, three of the babies are home, two of the girls have their travel dates set, Julie has her referral and then there's me, the last of the group...Waiting patiently...

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