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Tax Deductible!!

Tax-deductible donations can be made directly to our agency! Just indicate “STALEY FAMILY ADOPTION” in the memo and mail to:

Wasatch Adoptions
1140 36th Street #204
Ogden, UT 84403

Thank you for helping to bring our little angels HOME!

Help us Adopt!!

We are looking to adopt two little girls who are special needs from China. 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

Reviews

SAN DIEGO – WEEK 1

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As I mentioned in my last post, we both took the Ebags Motherlode Jr backpacks as our carry on. They fit under the seat in front of me (which I did not expect) and I was even able to get my teeny purse mashed under there with it. I knew we would be roaming around a lot so I only brought a small cross body purse.

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The packing cubes were SUPER handy! I felt like these really kept my items in check, organized and easy to locate. My feeling is if you are on the fence get a set and give it a go. I was also on the fence and I got a few sets of the Ikea ones just to try. I then bought a set of the Sharper Image ones for Paul but I ended up taking the really huge one (I mean it is GINOURMOUS) to put all some of my fabric and sewing crap in.

SD Zoo Parrots

Paul and I made it to California we had a pretty great time and those four days went by so fast it is a blur. We got to visit the San Diego Zoo. What an amazing zoo. We were really lucky and got to see a ton of the animals, most were out and active. While we were at the zoo I managed to stop at pretty much every little shop stand they had an buy all the little composite rubber animals I could find.  I was thinking of all the different activities we could use them for.  The zoo also had an amazing amount of great children’s books.  I only grabbed one because we had just been to Barnes and Noble in the morning and had already bought 6 books. I can’t resist kids books and we want the girls to be readers.

For those of you in the military planning to visit the San Diego Zoo please know your active duty ID gets you in free and onto the bus tour etc. It will also get you a discount purchasing tickets for your friends and family members!  That is such a great deal and makes the visit more affordable. You can get a Storipass and have pictures taken at a number of different locations throughout the park. We did buy a picture package that gave us the digital rights (AWESOME) so we could then post or print them if we wanted to. I believe it was 55.00. We had a hard time finding pictures both of us were in for our adoption dossier because I am usually taking the pictures.

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Check out these amazing creations using recycled flip flops! I love this idea. They had different animals at each shop/stand in each area. They also had a selection of local wines, olive oils as well as gourmet chocolates. We did get a souvenir for our travel wall (two small animal tiles). I was a little stuck on the beaded flamingo but I finally decided I should just go with a wall item.

We apparently found the most popular BBQ joint in the area. We managed to eat there three times. In our defense.. the BBQ is amazing! The place is Phil’s BBQ and if you are in the area you can’t go wrong with either the Beefy Ribs or the Baby Back Ribs.

We were harassed by a HUGE waffle at the Waffle Spot. That is totally a Low Carber’s nightmare right there. This waffle was persistent.. I did resist however and ordered the Baja Omelet (I may or may not have licked the giant waffle once or twice). I was thinking this place is a little sketchy since it is The Waffle Spot in the morning and turns into the Amigo Spot in the evening but we were pleasantly surprised. The food was very good and the people were nice, plus it is really close by.

We visited Old Town and had a fantastic breakfast at El Patio de Old Town. I noticed very mixed reviews (depending on the site) about this place just now when I was looking for a web site to refer people to. We had a great experience and the food was very good, we watched the gal make fresh tortillas (actually the smell brought us in), everything was fresh and delicious. We both had the enchiladas. They were offering a breakfast buffet but I am very leery of buffets so this was a better choice.

While in Old Town we had a visit to the Whaley House Museum. If the name seems sort of familiar you may have seen it on a ghost/paranormal show.  It is a lovely old home with an interesting history. Tickets were $6.00 and sold in the house next to the Whaley House, this also serves as the gift shop as well.

We found a pizza place and had gluten free pizza. This pizza had a nice thin crispy crust and was delicious!  The place is called Project Pie. When I saw the name I was thinking Banana Cream not pizza, so glad I looked it up!  We probably paid $25.00 for three personal sized gluten free pizzas. Let me just say this is more pizza for less $$ than the pizza we usually get.

I found a room at the Marriott with a kitchen. This is huge because who can continue to eat all meals out? Ok so maybe I could but I’m thinking the budget would be happier with less of that business.  I made Chicken Soup and I think I will put a bunch into bags too for at least a couple meals every week while I am here.  The kitchen is small but the fridge is full sized, there is also a microwave, dishwasher and cook top.  To make this work we picked up a crock pot (no oven here) at Target.

The bedroom has a king sized bed and its a tight fit in there with the dresser, there is a sink space and a bathroom with tub/shower combo and toilet.  Parking is a pain here and will run an extra 13.00 a night unless you are staying an entire month and in that case your parking is free says the gal at the front desk. This is a great bonus. The nickel and diming drives me nuts so I’m happy when that works out.

I made it across the boarder twice now and into Tijuana. I am taking part in a study and this has been pretty interesting. I got the results of my saliva test and it is shocking to say the least. The list of things they found boggles the mind. I will be interested to see what happens.  I was able to meet a few other people there for different treatments (not part of the study), one woman was there with her son. The son had suffered an accidental gunshot to the head and was partially paralyzed on one side. After the first treatment he had he could open his hand (which has not been possible since the brain injury occurred).  I am coming at a time when a lot of others will be there and I have said I will do my stuff in the lobby. Really its because I am nosey and want to visit with people and see why they are there and what results they have had. So far I’ve not met any other study participants (probably because most of them finished already, I was late or they are on a different schedule).  My blood was sent to a specialty lab in Europe to be tested and I will be waiting to see those results too. I love this sort of thing.

I see a lot of folks coming to Tijuana for dental care. I am making a list of dentists to check out.

I have one last restaurant to comment on.  I had plans to get out and get a haircut, find a fabric store etc but I felt a little yucky so I came back to the room and planted myself. I ordered dinner from Rays Mexican Restaurant using Eat 24.  This is pretty inexpensive when I think of ordering Mexican food at home. Minimum delivery order is $25 an that is a TON of food. Seriously a ton.  On the upside I have breakfast all set! The Tamale was sort of odd but delicious. I’ve never had veggies and potatoes in a tamale before, It was HUGE! I tried chicken enchiladas (I will eat that for breakfast) and a beef burrito which is HUGE and very good.  This is not that craptastic burritos you usually get this doesn’t have the filler, it is pretty much all meat. Love it!  That covers the trip.. I do have another update but I will write that separately.

 

A Keurig Elite 40 Machine and the Search for a decent K-Cup

Paul and I had talked about this whole Keurig thing for a while and recently it was on a great deal so we snapped one up. This is the Elite 40 model, there is nothing at all to set up really. This is a plug and play sort of machine, which is great.  The machine comes with a variety pack which is helpful – you can try those and see if something strikes your fancy.

The machine takes K-cups and the prices vary wildly from brand to brand. Most of them seem pretty expensive to me (unless you locate a sale). K-cups are also available in regular tea, flavored tea, chai, hot cocoa, apple cider and iced coffee/tea. Honestly I was excited to try all the varieties.  I even made a cup the night I opened the machine.

However cup after cup I find *most* of them to be watery and tasteless. How is this so popular? I am stumped.  I personally prefer a medium roast coffee, usually a medium roast is full of taste but lacks that burnt or bitter aftertaste the bold roasts seem to deliver.

In the mean time I ordered another variety pack online to keep trying more options.

I was at our local Safeway and see K-Cups are on sale. WHOO HOO! Carl wanted Swiss Miss Cocoa, I declined to buy it after reading that they use sucralose in them.. I picked up a box of Café mocha and sucralose is in there too. I finally pick a peppermint tea, an apple cider and a coffee from Caribou.

Carl tries the Green Mountain Naturals Apple Cider says it is tasteless. AWESOME. Wish that had been in the variety case!

I see Starbucks is now offering their own system, the Verismo. The comments on the V585 are really dismal. For $399 I think people want a little more. The Verismo 580 seems to have fared a little better with consumers but the price point is half of the V585. Man I am sure glad I didn’t run out and get one of these.    I am still forever hopelessly addicted to the little Starbuck’s Via coffee packets.

Sea Snax Review

While perusing the organic aisles at Fred Meyer Carl and I came across these little packages of Sea Snax. I had never tried them before, but I have had dried seaweed sprinkled on a salad and it was fine so we thought we would try a couple of flavors.  We however only tried one flavor… just no.  They are wispy thin but of course they tasted like I was licking a piece of kelp off the beach. I didn’t want to waste them of course so I took the remaining packages and put them in my daughters stuff because she is staying in the dorm and I thought one of those girls will eat them.  In the meantime I was willing to lick almost anything to get the taste out of my mouth. Can’t they hide these in chocolate? Until then I will have to take a pass on this one.

The Alexis Hotel

My sweetheart took me to The Alexis Hotel for my birthday & Valentines Day. The Alexis is a little boutique hotel in downtown Seattle with an eclectic style and unique touches everywhere you look. Lots of art in all styles and mediums. The rooms are beautifully furnished, both rooms seemed quiet, I did not notice any street noise at all. The location is fabulous, the hotel is close to everything you might want to do downtown.

Sitting Area for the first room

The sitting area had great art, a television and a fireplace.

Love the simple art and the ornate mirror.

From the sitting area you see the bed

The bookcases in the sitting room are stuffed with reading material, what a great idea.

A TV and Microwave (think late night snack)

There is another television across from the bed in case you want to snuggle up with a late night snack and watch your favorite show.

The spa shower

Room one also featured a lovely spa like bathroom with a huge shower.

This however was not the room Paul meant to reserve. He went to the lobby and moved us to a Spa Suite. and Holy Cow was it ever worth it!

Art and Antiques near the elevators

Entry Hall

Spa Suite Bed

The Sitting Area and Bar in the Spa Suite

 

Desk area in the suite

If you are forced to do some work you have a cute little area to set up. They do have wireless internet access (we always look for that).

The Spa Suite Tub!

Now this is a bathroom, it is amazing! A huge tub for two and a large shower.

Shower in Spa Suite

Sink area in the Spa Room

The Spa Suite room was very large, the beds were comfy, we had coffee and read the paper in bed first thing in the morning. It was so luxurious! I love that!  While we were there I did notice that they are a pet friendly hotel. I would have never guessed. They also have an exercise room but I did not use it (no one was chasing me with an axe).  I wish I had thought to take pictures of the lobby.

 

 

 

Seasonal Delights Cafe & Espresso Co

Everyone knows how much I love a deal, when I saw the deal on Yelp I thought “wow this looks awesome!”, so I bought it yesterday and took my mom for lunch there today. Freighthouse Square was this cute little place teeming with shops several years ago so I thought this would be a great opportunity to go back and see what is there now. The answer to that is not much! It was depressing, most of the spaces were vacant, there were very few shops and eateries. Maybe this should have been a clue.

While we walked along you could smell fabulous baked goods(cinnamon rolls probably), we saw the reader board displayed out front of Seasonal Delights and the offerings looked great.I was confident we would have an amazing lunch at that moment.

The Reader Board

When I ordered the chicken crepe I was told by a young gal that this crepe was off the menu for the season (okay but it is on the board- but I said nothing) so I chose the chicken cordon bleu crepe instead, my mom ordered the Hawaiian crepe. We also ordered two lemon zinger crepes for dessert.

The savory crepes arrived quickly and My mother asked if I was trying to kill her off. Oh that is not a good sign at all.

The crepes were too thick and utterly tasteless.. this was like a Denny’s pancake – nothing like the delicate crepes you might be hoping for. Inside was a tasteless unseasoned mix of cheese, deli ham and chicken, bland and boring.

Apparently the Hawaiian was much the same according to my mother. I declined to try a bite.

The Lemon Zinger

The Lemon Zinger Crepes were the same thickness with lemon curd stuffed inside and raspberry drizzled over the top… at least you could taste the lemon. Other than that it was a total flop.

Everything used was out of a package or jar.. except for the THICK crepe.

When I was recounting the story for my girlfriend Kristen, she told me she had a horror story of her own. When Kristen and her mother dined at the same eatery her mom found a slug in her salad. YUCK!

On the upside the woman that owns the place was very nice and friendly…  we did not complain to her because honestly what is the point? I am not coming back after that.

Later both my mother and I had stomach issues.. my advice, do yourself a favor and skip it.

Coffee Creamers and Egg Nog

We have been coming right along, back in July I posted about the creamer I had switched to and now I have baby stepped my way to the So Delicious French Vanilla Creamer.  Originally when I bought this creamer I was worried it would be at this as the coconut milk but no.. this has the same consistancy as my regular creamer and does the job nicely. It is different, don’t get me wrong but I would recommend this to anyone who wanted to limit dairy but is still looking for creamy delicious coffee. Love It!! I found this one At Marlene’s and more recently at Fred Meyer.  Again selection varies wildly from store to store. We have three local Fred Meyer stores one is a Marketplace and the other two are full stores. Only one carries my creamer.

Yesterday I was forced to try the Original flavor creamer by So Delicious. I have to say.. not bad, I still perfer my favorite French Vanilla but now I think I will even want to try the hazelnut flavor next time I see it. I love to have options.

While picking up my favorite chocolate almond milk I noticed the So Delicious Nog. Wow! What a treat, not only does the So Delicious Nog have the same mouthfeel as regular egg nog it is yummy! Next time I plan to try it with a little whiskey.. you know for that authentic feel.

Just so we are all clear, I don’t work for the folks at Turtle Mountain but if they want a taste tester I want them to know, I’m so in!!!

In search of quick snacks

I am always on the look out for a great “legal” or almost “legal” snack for us to have. I do grab the Kind bars and those are almost “legal” except for the puffed rice. However they are still a better choice than a Chewy Bar or something similar, plus they are usually available in most grocery stores.

I Love the Oskri coconut bars. The pineapple one is my favorite so far. These little bars are fairly dense and really quell that afternoon hunger. They are easy to bring along but are still fairly spendy but I am willing to buy them if we are going to be on the road. I’ve purchased these at Marlene’s and at Huckleberry’s in Spokane Washington. The bars are available to order online if you don’t see a location convenient for you.  The coconut bars are shredded coconut jammed packed into a bar.. if you are not a fan of coconut this is not the bar for you.  Oskri does have several other products and this is a company worth investigating because they use renewable energy to power their business.

Stretch Island Fruit has a wonderful fruit leather, its 100% natural with no added sugar and no artificial additives. We had been getting this at Marlene’s by the register until I found it at Fred Meyer in the box!  Great for the kids’ lunchbox or for the ride home. The plus side is you aren’t getting any artificial colors or flavors and all of the flavors I’ve tried thus far have been really good.

While shopping at Target recently I came across a great snack.. Archer Farms Organic Fruit Leather. There are ten per box and at $2.99 it’s a great deal (30 cents a strip). I chose the Raspberry and the Apricot, they were both very good and I’d be happy to try the other flavors. This is another great option for the kids (or you) that doesn’t involve all that artificial crap.

I’m glad to see so many companies getting in on the organic bandwagon. We certinally need more companies to do that.

 

Reviewing Coconut and Almond Milk Ice Creams & Organic Chocolate Sauce

One of my very favorite foods is ice cream, as far as I’m concerned ice cream should be mandatory. As you know we have been trying to remove GMO’s from our diet (honestly a daunting task because most of our food in the US is genetically modified). We are also trying to move toward a Paleo Diet but I am unable to get rid of the sugar yet (old habits die hard I’m afraid).  I have located some delicious options for your sweet tooth if you are trying to avoid dairy or perhaps soy products. One night we got the three of us in the living room to try out a few new products.

Coconut Bliss Chocolate Hazelnut – Very strong chocolate flavor, not as sweet as others, slightly bitter. The texture is not as creamy as the So Delicious but still very nive and they have large nut chunks. This is a good choice for the person who doesn’t like things to be sugary sweet. It satisfys the chocolate craving for sure.

Almond Dream Chocolate- This ice cream was very sweet with a milk chocolate taste but you could not miss the almond flavor (I know I know it is Almond Milk so what did I expect right?). This one was Carl’s favorite.

So Delicious Cookie Dough – Light, sweet and creamy with dark chocolate flakes and dough chunks throughout. One caveat however; this one is not soy free. You noticed more of the coconut flavor on this one. Paul liked this one the best.

So Delicious Vanilla Bean- Creamy and sweet with a good vanilla flavor. I had expected it to be overpowered by the coconut milk its made from but I was delighted to be wrong.

I did then try the Santa Cruz Organic Chocolate Syrup drizzled over the top of the So Delicious Vanilla Bean ice cream. That was AMAZING! With only a handful of organic ingredients the syrup was smooth & delicious and not overly sweet.  I have tossed out the Hershey’s Syrup in favor of this one at both houses. We all love it this way.

Purely Decadent Cherry Ameretto – I love love love this one, this one is sweet & smooth with a creamy texture and sweet cherry chunks. The ameretto flavor is light with a slight twinge of the coconut in the background.

Coconut Bliss Naked Coconut- I LOVE coconut ice cream so I thought this one would be over the top coconut flavor… but to my surprise it really was not. The coconut flavor was very light with coconut shreds throughout. The texture was similar to the texture of ice milk ice cream.  I think this would be the perfect end to a heavier meal.

I see Coconut Bliss has a ton of flavors available just as So Delicious/Purely Decadent has. It drives me crazy I can not locate all the flavors to try. I am desperate to try the new Ginger Cookie Carmel from Coconut Bliss and the Purely Decadent Chocolate Brownie Almond.

Purely Decadent had a few things at our local Safeway. Fred Meyer carries Coconut Bliss and So Delicious, but selection varies wildly store to store.  I hope some day we are able to have a much larger selection available at more locations.

 

 

Review For So Delicious Coconut Ice Cream

Imagine my surprise when I found So Delicious Coconut Milk ice cream… not just coconut ice cream but ice cream made with coconut milk. With so many folks avoiding dairy this is a great idea. I LOVE ice cream, so I had to try it. The local Walmart had three flavors available, Vanilla, Chocolate and Mint Chip. We got the Mint Chip and the Chocolate to try.

I liked the chocolate, it had a nice creamy texture the only drawback in a way is the coconut taste does come through (not a bad thing) with this flavor. I would suspect that a little homemade chocolate syrup drizzled over the top would take that hint away and well, you can never have too much chocolate.

The Mint Chip however was fantastic… I LOVED it.  This is not usually my favorite flavor but I am SOLD on this one. The texture again was creamy with these great dark chocolate flakes. This is a must try!  Paul was a fan of both flavors but liked the mint chip just a “teeny bit” more than the chocolate (really I think he was hard pressed to even choose).

I should also report that the other day when we tried the So Delicious Coconut Yogurt, Paul made the switch and we had to make another run to Marlene’s to pick more up for the week.

I do regret not grabbing the So Delicious Vanilla now. I did see some mini ice cream novelties at Marlene’s when we were there, but I failed to get those either because we were going to be stopping at another store before heading home. Of course now I think we could have just eaten tham all in the car right?

As I was writing this I thought I would search for the So Delicious product website and see who all carries this… holy cow they have a TON of ice cream flavors. This is great news for us because ice cream is a food group all its own and I am not giving it up. Thankfully I won’t even have to try.

 

Silk PureAlmond Dark Chocolate Milk

We stumbled upon an amazing chocolate treat in a sort of unlikely place. We all know I am totally addicted to chocolate, and if it isn’t really good I’m not interested. We tried Silk’s PureAlmond Dark Chocolate Milk. It was rich and delicious and the right consistency for really good chocolate milk. It is a wonderful treat and the best part for me is that this can mask the taste of my protein powder.. gotta love that!!

I was stunned to find that the AlmondMilk has 50% more calcium than dairy milk. Who knew?  I have found PureAlmond Darl Chocolate Milk at both Walmart and Safeway and runs about $3.00 for a half gallon, so it must be a product that folks are looking for.

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SPENT TO DATE: $14,251



ADOPTION TIMELINE

Oct 10 Saw "Elsa's" profile for the first time

Dec 1 Saw Paisley's little face and asked for her file

Dec 15th Got files for Paisley and another girl from agency

Dec 16th Read files and called to find IA doctor

Dec 17th I spent all day on e-mail and the phone with IA doctor

Dec 19th we sent a check for $600 and official application to the Agency

Dec 22nd we got an e-mail we had been approved by the Agency

Dec 22nd I wrote a Letter of Intent for the CCCWA that we intend to adopt Zou Bing Jie

Dec 23 we finished the Agency contracts and paid $140 to have 14 signatures notarized (OMG!)

Dec 26 Sent contracts and $3500 International program fee to Agency - Lucky for us Zou Bing Jie has already been locked to us

Dec 27-Jan 5 CCCWA will be closed so NOTHING will happen.

Jan 4 H.S Agency Suspended

Jan 8 Received P.A. from China

Jan 19 Found Fu Chen You on Shared File

Jan 21 Wrote LOI for Fu Chen You

Jan 31 Home Study Visit and Paid $1550

Feb 2 Received P.A. for Fu Chen You

Feb 4 Home Study Visit

Feb 22 Home Study Finished by SW

Feb 25 Home Study Approved by Agency

Mar 6 Picked up Home Study

Mar 6 Sent I800A

Mar 9 USCIS Received i-800a via Fed Ex

Mar 11 Official USCIS notice I-800a Received

Mar 24 Finally have all Fingerprint cards

Mar 25 Did a walk in at USCIS Biometrics

Mar 25 USCIS approved our Expedite

Mar 25 Received USCIS RFE