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I love to laugh and love with my family, read, exercise, cook and sew, all the while giving thanks to God for his immeasureable love and faithfulness to me.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Crank it up...


the oven, that is!  Like much of the country, we have been experiencing some pretty intense, cold weather.  And I think I can pretty much speak for most people in our area that we are so.over.it.

However I also know that we've still got quite a few weeks left of these frosty temperatures so I'd better just suck it up and deal with it!  That being said, since it is so cold outside, might as well do a little baking inside.

This afternoon all was quiet in the house and I did some serious baking with peanut butter-chocolate granola from here, mint chocolate chip Neiman Marcus bars from here, and whole wheat blueberry muffins from here. Let me just tell you--the house smelled divine!  The minute the Noodle walked into the house she took one sniff and said "You've been making granola, haven't you?".  The kid knows.
The Neiman Marcus bars are for a certain someone who has a milestone birthday that we're celebrating on Saturday.  The granola is pretty standard fare around here--great for breakfast, lunch or a snack.  As soon as it runs out I usually make more.  The blueberry muffin recipe was a new one, but I make the banana whole wheat muffins all the time and so I'm sure these will be good as well.

Baked anything good lately?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Year of the Ram


Gong Hei Fat Choy!  2015 is the Year of the Ram.
Watching the dancing
We braved the elements on Valentine's weekend and headed to AsiaTown to partake in the celebrations.  Martial Arts, dancing, calligraphy, music and the balloon bendy man.
Waiting in line for the balloon bendy man
Yummy food too.  Since Chinese New Year falls so close to Mei Mei's Gotcha Day this year, we had planned on going out for dinner as a combination celebration.  Since we were already downtown and the weather was AWFUL, we opted for lunch instead.
I spy calligraphy
We tried a new restaurant based on the recommendation of a friend and it did not disappoint!  So many choices--it is always hard to pick.  We ended up going with both rice as well as noodle dishes. The girls gobbled it up, no surprises there--ha!  They were thrilled that they were allowed to have tea with the meal.
It is FREEZING out!
 Cheers to a happy and prosperous new year!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Love is in the air!


Wishing you hugs and kisses this Valentine's Day!
A little sister love too!

Friday, February 13, 2015

China map hoop art


Got any fabric scraps lying around?  Looking for the perfect project in which to use them?  Have I got an idea for you!
At some point in time, I had come across this and thought--totally cute!  I could do that.
Then I saw this  and was completely smitten!  I mean, c'mon!  Love all those colors!!
I decided to tweak it a bit though, and make it a bit more personalized to our family.  Not that I don't love the good ol' U.S. of A., but I thought the map of China just might fit the bill.

I basically followed the directions here just using China instead of America.  The directions are easy to follow and, best part, there's NO sewing involved!  

In order to help my own brain plan, I colored each province.  
Now, by no means is this an exact replica...since I did this by hand the provinces aren't perfect.  If you're looking for perfection, then perhaps using a cutting machine would be the way to go?!  I love how it turned out though!
We hung it in our mudroom where it adds a nice jolt of color.  It's also a subtle reminder of how our family has been knit together to make a whole.
So gather up all your scrappy fabric and go to town!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

One year and 10,000 reasons!


I can't believe it has been one year since we met Mei Mei!  I keep thinking about where we were a year ago--Nanning, China.  Crazy!

The experience was totally different from the Noodle's--I guess that's true of any delivery, though.  A whole bunch of families from different agencies and even different countries were all milling around the Civil Affairs office...waiting.

There was a smaller room next to the big one where all the nannies and children were waiting.  The door was open, so families kept going and peeking in.  Such excitment!!
I remember having the same initial fear that I had with the Noodle--what if I don't recognize her? How pathetic would that be?!  Thankfully we had recently received some updated photos, so I was pretty sure I would, but still.  I was also really afraid that Mei Mei would have gotten a new "haircut" like the Noodle did and come to us with it buzzed.  Thankfully she didn't!

We were the last family to be called and by that time, the anticipation was killing us!  She walked out slowly, holding the hand of her nanny, but came right over to me and was curious.  After we got to know her, we realized that she was pretty nervous because she kept sticking out her tongue and licking her bottom lip.  She did that a lot while we were in China and was feeling uncertain or fearful (good news:  she hasn't done that here in months and months!).
She also had been given a piece of candy at some point in time and she pretty much clutched it for the rest of the day.
After the paperwork at the Civil Affairs office was finished, we went back to the hotel of the other family with which we were traveling and signed some more papers.  It was only then that we were able to go to our hotel and crash.  After a little bit of playing, a light dinner, some tears but also giggles and smiles, we all tumbled into bed, exhausted.
The magnitude of God's goodness and his amazing plan for our family of 3 and a little orphan still makes me catch my breath.  There really are 10,000 reasons for my heart to sing!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Lucky Birthday Noodles--a book


I don't think there's a mom out there that isn't thrilled when their family is given a book for the children. Colorful pictures?  Sweet story?  Main character in which you can relate?  All wins!  When the story revolves around China, Chinese culture or adoption it is even better.  A few years ago I even wrote a post about just that--see here.

I wanted to share a special story about a little girl who celebrates her birthday in a unique way--Mei-Mei's Lucky Birthday Noodles.  The character, Mei Mei, is turning six and as she awakens on her special day, she knows that she'll be helping prepare her special meal with her mama.

What's on the menu?  Lucky birthday noodles of course, since in the Chinese culture, noodles symbolize having a long and happy life.  Yum!
The story gently touches on adoption, the way in which this particular family helps weave Mei Mei's history into her present and even includes a recipe for lucky birthday noodles.
When I read the story to our Mei Mei, she got very excited since she happens to loove noodles and was quite enamored with the main character's party dress.  Ha!  She also liked that she and the main character shared the same name.
If you're looking for a way to start a new tradition, curious about bringing a little more Chinese culture into your lives or just ready to read a new book, I'd definitely recommend Mei-Mei's Lucky Birthday Noodles by Shan-Shan Chen.  Happy reading (and slurping!).

**This post was sponsored by Tuttle Publishing, but all opinions are my own.

Just added:  We had lucky "gotcha" day noodles for Mei Mei last night using this recipe and everyone LOVED them!  It was super easy and quick--a perfect weekday meal.  Enjoy!

So there was this time...


...when J and the Noodle were super excited and all dressed, ready to go to her Daddy/Daughter Brownie dance.
Then they got to the venue and it was completely dark.  Empty.  No one around.  Hmmmm??!?
A frantic phone call home and another check of the invitation, which revealed that Mama got the dates mixed up--the dance was the night before.  Eeek!  Oops!  Sorry!!!.  They made the best of it though, and still had their date--over ice cream instead of the booming bass. I know they both loved the time together ;)