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Help us Adopt!!

We are looking to adopt two little girls preferably abroad. Please help us raise money to cover the expensive costs or donate to support us to do various things. Keep up to date here: http://bissynut.com/fundraiser Are you thinking why so much??!! More information here. http://bissynut.com/adoption-expenses

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Adoption – While we wait…

Ahoy and Shelves

I’ve been decorating the room and collecting things for quite a while. Making sure that we have everything when we make the adoption trip and then for when we get back home. The room our new little bug will occupy is Bethany’s room. The walls are bright and the windows are large letting a lot of light in. It just feels like a happy room. The theme is sort of under the sea and we are going to keep it that way. I made a lifesaver out of a pool noodle and ribbon for the door. I bought cardboard letters (AHOY) and sprayed them a glossy white for the wall. It isn’t finished yet but its getting there. I think I need an anchor up there too.

I have been doing this on a budget, believe it or not and have gathered a good amount of goodies, clothes, toys etc..

Snap bibs and Gro Bag

I really hate the bibs with Velcro on them. Who thought of this? Where are the snaps? I have made it my mission to buy snap bibs (toddlers tear those velcro bibs right off and who wants that?). I did buy two silicone bibs to keep in the diaper bags. Plus I found a sale on a gro-bag sleep sack 2.5 tog. It is so nice, I just love it.

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I researched carriers and bought an ergo baby carrier we found it at Nobetterdeal.com, granted the box looks like it was tossed onto the freeway in front of a semi but everything is perfect in the box.

Bottles and Bottle Brushes

Paul and I avoid using plastic as much as possible for food items, particularly hot food items. Melamine is not so great either but options are quite limited if you don’t use either of those for kids. I found Brinware and have purchased seven of these little plates. There are two pieces to each plate, a glass disk and the silicone covering. What a brilliant idea!  I am also fond of the sets by Bamboo Studio and the silicone sets by Oogaa.  All three of these brands are offered on Zulily every so often, so keep an eye out.

Sippy Cups drying rack

I bought a few different bottles but we plan to take the Playtex with the drop in liners (yes these are plastic) with us. All the other folks say this is the best way to go because of the water situation in China.We picked up a portable drying rack and brush for the trip, sippy cups, take and toss containers to hold dry snacks (again more plastic) and the little formula and snack containers. Travel silverware, baby and toddler silverware.

Bumblee Bee Backpack

I found a Skip Hop Bumble Bee toddler backpack to put all of her little treasures for the plane in. We found a neck pillow to match the back pack, too cute! I have been buying the “Secure a toy” and the links to keep things from being all over the floor. We picked up a few little books about airplanes and some stickers to help with understanding what will happen next.

Diaper Dude

I bought a Diaper Dude for Paul (manly diaper bag) and picked up a hard shell wipe container. Paul might not want to be seen hauling a frilly dilly pink diaper bag anyplace. This one totally looks like a guy.

 

I do have a few stuffed animals, a doll, 2 lovey blankets, and  a couple Wubbanubs (just in case she takes a pacifier). Over the past year I have picked up Little People, Mega Bloks, stacking cups (that goes with us on the trip for sure), Weebles, stacking rings etc..

I frequent Baby Cheapskate to see about deals and I love their toys that get played with series. BC does a survey every year to see what toys are getting used consistently, nothing more frustrating than buying what you think is a lovely and probably expensive toy, only to see it overlooked within the week. I like the idea of not wasting time and money on toys. BC has the thought that all toys should do two things. So now I do look at toys a little differently and luckily everything I bought before I stumbled across the site actually was actually on the list. I watch for sales on Zulily too pretty much every day, I love that site! They have an iPad app and I use it every morning.

I found a brand new (still in the box) crib on Craigslist for $100.00 (they had received two for their shower apparently- SCORE). We also found a gal with a baby changing table that she had painted spring green. It’s a wild color but the whole room has crazy colors so I snatched it up and surprisingly it holds a ton of stuff.

When I go to Trader Joes (or get my hair cut, or any excuse I can manage) I look at both Homegoods and Tuesday Morning (what a strange name for a store, but you never know what you might find). I scored a bunch of Weebles there a while back.

Blankets

Last Christmas we went to a craft fair at the Commons Mall and I found a lady that had made the softest baby blanket. I bought it right on the spot. Since then I have been grabbing goodies on sale at Carters, TJ Maxx and using the cash back from Fred Meyer to put toward kid clothes, gear and toys.

I watch the Amazon lightning deals for good buys and shop sales, use coupon sites like Retail me not to get some money off. I look on Ebay for items in the sizes I anticipate we will need. You’d be stunned at how many cute Gymboree outfits I have scored for CHEAP. As you can see I have found a ton of items, each box is sized from NB all the way to 5T. I got the boxes at Lowes on clearance last year for $3.00 each. So handy!

Ikea Step Stool and Toys

Every time we go to Ikea I grab an extra item for the baby room. They have a number of really good toys actually. I bought a couple of the drawer organizer sets (perfect for baby things). We picked up 4 of the blue and green bins for kids toys and I am desperate for that 2×4 glossy teal cube thing they have there. For whatever reason they discontinued the glossy teal shelves that match it (totally would have bought those too). I bought three white frames to go on the wall and found a clearance on bright turquoise burlap at Joann Fabrics so I printed a seahorse out and pinned it to the burlap, and I am currently beading the damned thing. Holy cow, I somehow did not have any idea how long this would take. It will be cute when its finished but I might do a button starfish next (no more teeny tiny beads).  I will show and tell when I get it finished.

Purple 2 Jogger

I found a sale at Pish Posh Baby and bought a Baby Jogger and saved more than $100.00!!  It is purple!!! Perfect for a little girl. Glad we waited for a sale.  Actually right now Pish Posh has the Sand one on sale for $119, if this is your stroller.. go go go.  Love this place. They have a great Instagram account and highlight new products all the time, and they run a bunch of promotions as well.

Dream Blanket

I bought a pack and play at Albee Baby, Tip they have 20% off coupons OFTEN (sign up to receive them) and you can use that on those soft Aden & Anais dream blankets that are never on sale (I’m so going to get one of those).. ever. They also have a good amount of other sale items on all the time. If you are in love with the leg warmers for baby, Baby Legs has promotions, coupons and deals all the time. I think this is a must for your baby bag. If someone gets cold this is a great item to have on hand. People that fly with infants often mention dressing baby in a onesie and baby legs to make diapers easier to change.

Another favorite place to visit is Baby Steals, they have deals for kids, women, babies and scrapbookers. Love it!!  They have really great deals on nice things. They are another of my very favorite sites to check. They have two sales every day for each category and are worth a peek. You can also look at the archive and if the item you desire is still in stock you can buy it. Love that!

 

Target ran a promotion earlier on and we bought the Fisher Price Rock and Play Sleeper and then got the matching bouncer for free. I am not sure we will end up using these but my daughter and her husband will need them in the next few years I’m sure. Paul bought a Peg Pergo car seat in Tangerine (infant) from Amazon and we are looking to buy the convertible car seat next.

Pop and Play

I found a pop & play on Ebay for less than half price and I know that occupational therapists recommend baby gyms for children all the time. Again if we don’t use it I’m sure my daughter and son in law will eventually have kids and need all these things.

 

Almost every time we make an Amazon order we toss in a small item from our list, and then of course you see the Mega Bloks wagon, that was $14.00 on a lightning deal and the wooden puzzle (love wooden puzzles) was marked down to $9.00.  Other adoptive parents say to have a good collection of board books because the kids may not have ever been around them before and are generally pretty hard on them at first. Because there will be a language difference we are looking for the basic first word books to help in that transition. After I sell a bunch of books, games and videos at Half Price Books I will haul home a few more board books and puzzles for the collection. Which by the way is a great way to stock your library and you won’t have to be upset if the books are ruined.

Skidders Color Book Toothbrush

I am compiling a list of things to drag with us on the “gotcha trip” or whatever you want to call it. I think I printed out 8 or 9 different packing lists and I am compiling them all into one (lots of duplicate items) because I don’t want to miss anything important. I figure if I do this I won’t forget anything right? I know I will need things to keep a scared little girl busy on several long outings and a really long flight to the US. It sounds like I am fussing around a lot doesn’t it? I’m trying to keep busy, I need to feel like I’m doing something, accomplishing something. So I am hunting for items I can use on the plane and in the room.  I found Skidderz Shoes for toddlers (they encompass more than one size) and I will take them in three sizes so we can be sure one will fit her feet (they pack pretty flat). I saw a post from one mama that went over and took 6 pairs of shoes and NONE fit.  We will buy the squeaker shoes there but I think we need something until we get to the last place. We also found some Growing Socks, supposedly these will fit from 0-24 months. We’ll see right?

National Adoption Awareness Month

HS Paperwork

November is National Adoption Awareness Month and probably as good as time as any to talk about adoption and why we are adopting. I have ALWAYS wanted more kids and had planned to adopt from the beginning but things just did not turn out the way I thought they would as I mention here.  As Paul and I became more educated about adoption and in talking about it we came to the same conclusion. The China Special Needs program was what we wanted to try for.

If you can see the huge amount of paperwork on the table, this is just a small fraction of the paperwork that goes into a Home Study. This does not include the paperwork from the agencies or the government.

I’ve been asked a number of intrusive questions about this and I will try my best to address those questions and tackle some of the myths I keep hearing (even from friends and family).

MYTH: The children are unwanted.  China has a very different system. Think of all the children that are born out of wedlock in the US. Now consider that if your child is born out of wedlock this is against the one child policy and the child can not be registered. If your child is not registered they can not attend school or get a job. For all intents and purposes they do not exist. Please take a look at this article in News China.

Also many children are born with issues, for a moment think what if your child were born with congenital heart defect and the cost to repair it is staggering. The only option in some cases is for the parents to leave the child in the hope that the child gets the help they need.

Things I would really like to not hear anymore: any comments regarding why do we want a defective child and why not a “normal” child? This makes me crazy and I feel as if I may develop a nervous tic over this sort of crap. These are normal children. Some have special needs yes, this is true. If you have a biological child, that child could be born with special needs. The difference is that I know what the special needs are before saying yes. Could there be other un-identified issues? Yes, but this is the same as your own biological child. Things come up. Thankfully we have good health insurance.

Some point out that we’ll be starting over. Yes, this is true. We have three big kids and the new one will be in diapers. I think it will be wonderful. Little people look at everything with wonder, having a little person around makes everything more fun. I know I did a number of theme birthday parties for the kids and it was so much fun to plan them. The kids always had a good time (you had to come in costume) and it was a chance for the adults to be creative as well. We look forward to taking the new child to the beach for the first time or to see snow for the first time and then there is that requisite Disneyland trip when they hit 5 years old.

I’ve been asked “Don’t you guys want a baby?” A newborn is wonderful and special, but I don’t need that. I do have everything to take care of a newborn but my heart just isn’t in it. I have said I can’t really explain in words why I feel so pulled in the direction of the China Special Needs Program but I do, we both do. If they give me an infant (very unlikely) I’d sure take her, but we are planning for a toddler.

Why don’t you have your own? Really? Then I get “You’ll probably get pregnant after you adopt”. We are not trying or hoping for that. It would be pretty unlikely.

I’ve been told our adopted child won’t look like us. Paul and I have not only discussed this but we have taken several hours of training in how to handle this with both the child as well as how to handle invasive or rude questions from total strangers. We do live in a very diverse area so our new daughter will not be the only Chinese person at Gymboree. We live close to two Asian markets and plan to integrate familiar foods into her diet as she is getting adjusted to our family. We plan to celebrate her heritage and develop a few new family traditions.

Will you tell her she is adopted? Of course, I’m sure she will know she is adopted because A) We are Caucasian and she will be Chinese, see above question. B) She will be a toddler and will have some memory of her life in the orphanage. C) We want to be honest and open about the information, in an age appropriate way of course.

What if they want to search for their real mother? I think this is totally normal. We will help our child search. We will try to obtain a picture of the finding notice and the finding place so we can get on a registry. We will ask for all information from the orphanage that we can get. It is a basic need to want to know where you’re from.

You won’t know anything about his or her background. Yes also true. This is how it works when you adopt from an orphanage. It will be hard and it will get messy but that knowledge has not deterred us in the least.

There are 147 million legal orphans in the world. Can you wrap your mind around that? This is not including foster children who may be legally adoptable. Children growing up in orphanages are generally developmentally delayed by one month for every three months they are in care. Both growth and development are effected. Think gross motor, fine motor, cognitive, emotional, language and daily living activities are all delayed to some degree. I find this number astounding.

I believe every child deserves a parent that loves them will kiss boo-boos and tuck them in at night. Every child not only deserves that but needs that.

This is where we need your help. Not every person can adopt and perhaps not every person should adopt but everyone can help orphans by supporting adoptive families. It really does take a village. No matter your income most people do not have 30-40K laying around the house, I know we sure don’t. I have an adoption expenses page so you can see where all this money actually goes. Currently we are refinancing the house to bring our monthly payments down, get debts paid off and be able to set more aside for the adoption every month. Thankfully we do not have to pay the entire amount up front, but we will have to pay everything before we are allowed to travel to pick up our new daughter.

If 4000 people donated $10.00

If 2000 people donated $20.00

If 800 people donated $50.00

If 400 people donated $100.00

As you can see it all adds up, every dollar helps get that little girl home. We are running a Shave Ethan Bald promotion. When we hit $5,000 Ethan will shave his head bald, we will post pictures and video. His Christmas break is coming up, if we can get this out there and funded we can shave bald him over the holiday break.

Please help us by re-posting, sharing and tweeting the Shave Ethan Bald fundraiser. Thank you!

Buttery Pound Cake and Hot Fudge

Buttery Pound Cake and Ganache

I have a binder full of recipes, some I’ve tried and many are in there because I want to try them. This weekend I tried Buttery Pound Cake. Someone sent this to me some time ago so the origin is a mystery. I also tried a different sweetener and I will tell you about that as well.

Buttery Pound Cake

1 Stick of butter

1/2 C Heavy Cream

4 eggs

1 C Almond Flour

1/3 C Coconut Flour

1/4 C Vanilla Whey or Egg Protein Powder (I used Jay Robb)

1 1/3 C Sweetener (I tried Just Like Sugar)

1/4 t salt

1/2 baking powder

1/4 t lemon extract

1/4 t almond extract

1T vanilla extract

Preheat you oven to 325 degrees. Grease a loaf pan (I used a silicone loaf pan from Ikea- it is wider than the usual)

Cream together your butter and sweetener

Add in your extracts, eggs, baking powder and mix well

Next add in those flours and protein powder. Mix until nice and smooth.

Lastly mix in the cream and continue mixing until everything is nice and smooth.

Pour into your loaf pan and use a spatula to even it out.

Bake on center rack for one hour (mine took 50 minutes) until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Leave your pound cake to cool in the pan for 15-20 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.

So to be upfront here, I tried using Just Like Sugar in this one and this is NOTHING like sugar. I generally use powdered Swerve in my fancy baked goods but plain erythritol for every day use. The Just Like Sugar had a sort of bitter aftertaste that really threw me for a loop. So many people had said they use it and it just did not work for me. I did end up adding a little Swerve to try to mask the bitter taste but it did not help.

I was searching for a drizzle or topping I could slather on my pound cake (again to mask the bitter aftertaste). I found a recipe for Hot Fudge on The Liberated Baker and it seemed quick and easy and totally fit the bill.

 

Hot Fudge

4 T Butter (the recipe says unsalted but I only had salted so thats what I used)

1/4 c Heavy Cream

1/4 c Sweetener (I used Swerve, the original says Zsweet)

4 T Cocoa Powder (original said 5 but I tasted as I went and 4 was right for us)

1 t vanilla

The Liberated Baker had steps for this but I’m lazy, so I tossed everything in a tiny sauce pan on the stove and stirred furiously.  It turned out brilliantly and was delicious. It has that O-M-G Chocolate flavor!  I have got to check out the rest of her recipes and see what else works for us.

 

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Squares for a Happy Husband

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Squares

In recent weekends my very sweet husband, Paul has gotten up in the wee hours of the morning and taken Carl to a skilled nursing facility in Renton to finish his clinicals for a Certified Nurses Aide class both he and Bethany were taking.  He let me continue to snooze with the four dogs. Ok so probably he let me sleep because of the dogs but I’m not splitting hairs here.

Because Paul is a HUGE fan of everything cinnamon I made him the Cinnamon Cream Cheese Squares, which are pretty much his favorite thing I make to be sure. He sure deserved a special treat.

I found the recipe here and I’m so glad I stumbled onto their website. I might not be able to create a recipe from scratch but I sure can follow directions.  I’ve tried a bunch of different Low Carb and Keto Coffee Cake recipes, and none can compare to this. One was so foul we actually just tossed it out, it was one I whipped up for Easter.  The Cinnamon Cream Cheese Squares however are even adored by non-low carbers.  I know I heard you gasp, but it’s true.  Do not be scared by the 47 steps, follow them and you will be rewarded. This is scrumptious with a cub of coffee.

Ingredients

Crust

  • 2 C almond flour
  • 2 T coconut flour
  • 3 T Swerve
  • 6 T butter, slightly softened
  • 6 egg whites, whipped until stiff (about 5 minutes- Use the stand mixer if you have one)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. xanthan gum

Filling

  • 12 oz. cream cheese (1 ½ bricks), at room temperature
  • 3/4 C Swerve
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla Extract (I have also used Vanilla Paste and the Paste is better)

Topping

  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon and 1/3 C Swerve, mixed together
  • 3 T melted butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease an 8×8 square pyrex pan. I use the Trader Joes coconut oil Spray.

  1. In a large bowl, mix together crust ingredients almond flour, coconut flour, sweetener, salt, baking powder and xanthan gum until evenly mixed.
  2. Cut in butter by adding it in small chunks and using a pastry cutter to make a fine, crumbly meal out of it. There will be small chunks of butter remaining, but no large chunks should be visible. **I did it this way once and then I probably over softened the butter the next time and it turned out fine.  The recipe is forgiving. **
  3. Fold in egg whites by hand. You will lose much of the volume from the egg whites, but fold slowly and carefully. The resulting batter should be evenly mixed and somewhat fluffy in texture. **At this point you will be sure you have done this wrong, you are probably fine**
  4. Place half the crust dough into the center of the greased baking dish and use a spatula to carefully and evenly distribute it throughout the bottom of the dish. **Be sure it is roughly the same depth all over**
  5. Par-bake the bottom crust for 10 minutes or until it begins to slightly firm up. While you wait, prepare your filling.
  6. To prepare the filling, combine room temperature cream cheese with sweetener and vanilla extract. Stir or whisk well until it is all combined and smooth.  **WARNING do not, I repeat DO NOT let your son try this or he will try to eat it all and you might not have enough for the squares. It is really good**
  7. Remove the par-baked crust from the oven and allow to cool for about five minutes.
  8. Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over the top of the par-baked crust. **Stop eating the filling**
  9. Carefully spread the remaining crust mixture over the top of the cream cheese layer. To avoid mixing the cream cheese in with the top crust layer, I recommend applying the top crust in small dollops all over and then smoothing them together as opposed to doing one large dollop in the middle of the dish. This will prevent the cheese from mixing into the top crust. **This step sounds elegant but is a mess. I finally did it in little bits pressing them flat in my hand**
  10. Smooth the top crust and sprinkle it evenly with all of the cinnamon and sweetener mixture.
  11. Carefully pour the melted butter over the top, taking care to drizzle it all over so that it doesn’t all settle in one place.
  12. Bake the dish on the middle rack for 30-40 minutes or until the top is deep golden brown and caramelized and firm to the touch.
  13. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before slicing, or let sit over night. **These have NEVER waited overnight to be eaten, NEVER** The squares are delicious warm or at room temperature.
  14. Slice into 12 squares and enjoy.  **OK I am getting about 9 squares, I’d start a mutiny if I tried to make them ay smaller**

Head on over and see what other fabulous recipes the Fluffy Chix have come up with.

ZAYCON FOODS- BACON WEEKEND!

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We have been ordering from Zaycon Foods for a while now. We have tried several items and thankfully we have never been disappointed.

Recently we picked up 72 pounds of bacon, I know it sounds like a gigantic amount but it is the sort of bacon that you could have a full out brawl over. We do go through a ton of bacon here at the house every week.  I use it in a lot of things and then I save all the bacon fat to cook other things in.

Next month we will pick up 80 pounds of chicken and I hope to have my crap together so I can make several recipes ahead to freeze and then just portion out the rest of the chicken breasts into freezer bags. I’m thinking chicken pot pie, Greek chicken, shredded chicken, tandoori chicken and maybe the sauce for the crispy keto chicken. I’m hoping to come up with another idea or two because those freezer meals are a great solution and keep us eating well and not spending money on take out all the time. It takes away many excuses to behave badly.

We will also pick up 80 pounds of ground beef in December and hope it goes as well as it did last time. In the summer we picked up 80 pounds of beef, we planned ahead for several dishes so we could make “freezer meals” for the nights I was too tired to cook or if I had been gone all day. A week in advance we started to assemble all the ingredients I was going to need for each dish. We cooked up 32 pounds of beef that day, we made eight pounds each of: Ground Beef Stroganoff, Beef Pot Pie, Caveman Chili and Taco Meat. Then we packaged up the rest of the beef into 2 pound increments and put them into freezer bags for other miscellaneous recipes. Honestly I am a little worried we should have ordered 120 pounds of the beef because we really go through it.

Zaycon Foods have sales all over the country, you sign up, choose your “pick up spot” and turn up at the appointed date/time. It has never taken us more than 5 minutes to get what we ordered. We go through the line, give our name and someone puts it in the trunk for us and we are on the way home in moments. I have added my referral link and if you sign up using my code the folks over at Zaycon Foods will put a dollar into my account, I know that doesn’t sound like a lot but it sure counts up.

 

A sweet surprise

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The last few days have been crazy, just one thing after another. Paul went to leave for work and his tire was flat, then his front headlight was out and yesterday Tinkerbelle was sick and had an abscessed anal gland of all things. She had to have a procedure that was excruciatingly painful, but necessary for her to get on the road to recovery.

Early this morning the appraisal guy came to do a walk through of the house. I have been a raving lunatic trying to get things ready for this. We are trying to get all the finances straight and everything together so we can be in the black and able to adopt.

This afternoon a wonderful surprise arrived from my sweet husband. He is such a doll! The red and pink roses are in a red heart vase. The best part was the little note from Paul. Love that man!

The Growing Gallery Wall

I love to see pictures when I go to people’s homes. Last year I decided we needed a gallery wall. A wall of great memories, trinkets, Subway Art, Pinterest Projects and doodads. Where would it be? Our front door opens to reveal a hall and a lovely cherry staircase. Actually it is the only place cherry is used in the entire home and it is a dramatic effect. That is what made me fall in love with the house. The show stopping stairs. I’ll save you the gory details of all that we overlooked (I think our total lack of skill is one thing we totally overlooked but that’s another story).

I had plans to cut out kraft paper and put the layout on the wall first but in the end I didn’t do it that way. I didn’t have all the frames or doodads when I started. I had only a few. The wall grew up the stairs as my collection grew.  Frames are expensive so I bought them one or two at a time (usually on sale).  I took several pictures of Paul and I and had them matted with red, everything else is matted in white. All my frames are black and I incorporated keys, a doorknob, wrought iron designs, I bought a big S and used modge podge to put a chocolate brown paper on it.

I mounted a clock above the entry door so we’d know how late we were running. You can see the clock from the upstairs landing.

I bought a chipboard word “Welcome” and sprayed it with red glossy paint. You see Welcome when you walk in the house. Actually I’m sure a great many brain cells died while I was spraying various pieces. The garage might not be the best place for that activity.

I bought a frame with 2 pieces of glass (no solid backing) and a vinyl Winnie the Pooh quote that made me think of Paul the first time we met. I’m sure he is DELIGHTED it is a Winnie the Pooh quote. LOL!

I found an inexpensive 4 opening frame at Big Lots and cut hearts out of maps from where we met, where we got engaged, where we got married and where we live.

I bought an online deal for the letter pictures and I spelled Imagine.Later I found a another deal on those letter pictures at another place and I bought our last name to put under the S by the door.

I also got an online deal for a place called Fracture Me. I had pictures of the dogs and the kids done. They are the most amazing pictures. I love how vibrant they are. I did a little display by the office entry.

I moved the glitter word BELIEVE from over my bed at the old house to our gallery wall. I got profile pictures of all three kids and made my own silhouette portraits.

I used the subway art Carl gave me for Mothers Day and my Birthday.

The gallery wall has morphed into so much more… it spilled over near the door and down the hall, that wall is now filled with dog and cat photos and a huge wild print that I felt looked like Frisky. The gallery wall hit the wall at the top of the stairs on the landing. That wall is now the travel wall, showcasing doodads from different places and pictures places. There is a plate I painted in the San Juans, a basket I bought in Arizona, a picture from the Eastern State Penitentiary, the face of Aqua Sulis from Bath, a picture of Niagara Falls, a wooden Buddha face from Thailand, a painted tile from Arizona and a painted sand dollar from the coast, and a picture of the sign at Reading Terminal Market.

Travel Wall

I fear we will run out of wall space. I love to see the pictures, it makes the place look warmer in a way, friendlier and definitely happy. I’m constantly reminded of all the fun things we’ve done. I do still have a spot at the top of the staircase for a few things. I know I will add a picture of my daughter Bethany and her new husband Reggis, but I have no idea what else might make it on to the wall. I always liked scrapbooking, now its just bigger!

Re-Enlistment Ceremony

Not long ago we had planned that Paul would retire this year from the military (after twenty years), however we found out that if he did Ethan may not be able to get the full educational benefit. We want those kids to be all trained up and smart right? So recently I was honored to be invited to watch my husband re-enlist as well as two folks getting promotions. It was a beautiful day and really pretty entertaining, not to mention I am extremely proud of Paul. One of the guys belted out the Army song and I do believe he may do well on The Voice. I worry he will be deployed again but I’ve got my fingers crossed.

Crackslaw with Beef and Bacon

Crackslaw

Have you heard pretty much everyone in the LCHF world raving about “Crackslaw”? Yeah me too. We finally decided to give it a go, the boys moaned, complained and whined when they heard it had CABBAGE in it. I mean lets be honest, I was skeptical myself. My only other real run in with cabbage was that horrible diet soup from the 80’s and after three days of that who wants to even face another cabbage again.. EVER?  There is coleslaw and that is okay once in a while and depending on the sauce so as you can see I hesitated for a long time before trying Crackslaw myself.

There are a MILLION recipes for crackslaw, seriously just punch that into the search engine of your choice and prepare to be overwhelmed. I have tried three or four variations and this one is BY FAR our very favorite.

Paul bought me a HUGE pan so I could make this on top of the stove but I actually found a cheater way to do this in the oven so now I do that instead.

 

Ingredients:

2 Pounds of ground beef

1 pound of bacon

1 large head of cabbage (you can use the pre-shredded version but it is much more $$ when you need a bunch of bags)

1T Minced Garlic

1 Sweet Onion Diced

2 Bell Peppers Diced

1.5 Carrots (I use a peeler and put the carrot “curls” in) *OPTIONAL*

4T Frank’s Hot Sauce

2T Red Wine Vinegar

6T Tamari Sauce (Gluten free Soy Sauce)

 

Slice or Cut bacon into small pieces

Chop up the cabbage into small pieces, Take a peeler to the carrots, dice the onion and bell pepper.

To save time I toss the ground beef, bacon, onion and bell pepper all in and brown together in that big pan. If you do it separately please note I do not drain the fat off.

When the meat is browned I add the “sauce” to it. Franks, Vinegar and Tamari, Mix well.

I put the cabbage and carrot curls into two rectangular Pyrex 9×12 baking pans. There will be a TON of cabbage but don’t worry it will cook down.

Spoon the meat and sauce mixture over the cabbage/carrot mix dividing it up equally between the two pans.

Put in the oven at 350 degrees for about an hour. Stir occasionally to get the sauce covering all the cabbage.

This is a great one dish dinner.  Prep is super easy and should take about 30 minutes.

Alternately you can do all of this on the stove top (because there is so much cabbage it tends to be a little messy).

Now this was such a huge hit they wanted to know when I would make it again and the boys practically licked their plates clean. This recipe does freeze well *IF* you have any leftover to freeze.  I know I will need to add this to my do ahead recipe list for when we get our Zaycon beef in December. We purchased 80 pounds this summer, everyone pitched in and we cooked 32 pounds of it upfront making a number of meals to be frozen for nights I’m gone all day. It sounds like a lot but basically that worked out to be just 16 meals. The rest we packaged up in 2 pound increments and everything went into the freezer.

Zucchini Lasagna

I was trying to locate something different to try and came across Zucchini Lasagna, It looked easy enough and I was hoping it would work out. I did have to make a few adjustments because my husband is NOT a fan of ricotta cheese. I found this one on Skinny Taste and this is my version of their recipe. Their photos are fantastic (I took mine with the iPad, so keep that in mind.

 

Ingredients: 

  • 2 lb 93% lean beef
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1  onion
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • 28 oz canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 4 medium zucchini, sliced 1/8″ thick
  • 8 oz part-skim ricotta
  • 32 oz part-skin mozzarella cheese, shredded (Costco)
  • 1 cup Parmesan Cheese (Costco)
  • 1 large egg

Directions:

In a medium sauce pan, brown meat with the garlic & onions and season with salt. . Toss meat, tomatoes, basil and salt into larger pot . Simmer on low for at least 30-40minutes, covered. Do not add extra water, the sauce should be thick.

Meanwhile, slice zucchini into 1/8″ thick slices, add lightly salt and set aside or 10 minutes. I put my slices on a baking rack and had it drain onto a cookie sheet so it would be easy to clean up. Skinny Taste says to use a mandolin and with as many kitchen contraptions as I have that is one I am lacking. I sliced mine with a knife.  Zucchini has a lot of water when cooked, salting it takes out a lot of moisture. After 10 minutes, blot excess moisture with a paper towel. Seriously do not skip this step, if you do your lasagna will be really soupy.
Skinny Taste used a grill but I skipped that step, it might remove even more moisture but I have no idea. Place on paper towels to soak any excess moisture.

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a medium bowl mix ricotta cheese, 1/2 the mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese and egg. Stir well. I used a food processor and it took just seconds.

In a 9×12 casserole spread some sauce on the bottom and layer the zucchini to cover. If you have the deeper lasagna pan, by all means use it because my lasagna dripped over in the oven in the 9×12. Then place some of the cheese mixture and repeat the process until all your ingredients are used up.   I thought I did not have enough for the last layer of either the meat sauce or the cheese, so I zipped all of it together in the food processor and it was great (next time I might start there, ghetto I know but it would make the entire process less messy and much faster).  Top with mozzarella and cover with foil.

45 minutes covered at 375°, then uncovered 15 minutes. Let stand about 5 – 10 minutes before serving.

For us this was roughly 11 servings. Feeding 2 men, myself and 2 young women. Everyone loved it. I served it with a simple salad.

I also feel like this would freeze well if you used an aluminum pan. So if you could bring yourself to make a double or triple batch it would be really great to have it ready in the oven. I may have to keep this in mind when making freezer meals.

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