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Lilypie Kids birthday Ticker
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Table for One?

Actually, this table would seat a whole lot more than one as all my friends who are on this journey with me would be more than welcome to pull up a chair. Thank you for the kind words on yesterday's post. I hesitated after I posted it because I don't want this to become a sad place for me, but sometimes you just have to say how you feel. All days aren't good, and that's normal. Those of you involved in the adoption process can back me up when I say that contrary to what many people think....adoption is not the "easy way." You basically have to accept that you control nothing in this process and let it work the way it's supposed to work. That can get to be too much sometimes when you would rather take charge and to quote a popular comedian, "Git 'r done!"

Today is better. It finally seems like the October referrals may arrive this week, plus Jim took me out to dinner. I just wasn't up to passing out candy to cute children this year. And the local grocery store chain opened a new store last week that we finally went to after dinner. It is awesome and has all the frou-frou foods I like and that are hard to find around here. It's not Whole Foods or Trader Joe's, but it's a whole lot better than anything else we have within a 3-hour drive!

Monday, October 30, 2006
Roller Coasters are Scary

The roller coaster goes up, and the roller coaster comes down. There's really no news in adoption world, and that's the news. Referrals have been coming pretty steadily around the 25th of the month. Rumors were hot and heavy last week about their imminent arrival, and yet we have nothing. There are actually multiple rumors out there that I have already mentioned that could mean a December referral for us. Unfortunately, there was a new one today that says October referrals may still be a few weeks away. In other words, no October referrals at all. Those would be the November referrals. If there is only one batch before December, it would be even more unlikely that we would be included.

Today, I realized that I am very tired. A deep in the bone weariness that is just overwhelming. I recognize this tired feeling as it's how I feel when I'm depressed, but I'm not depressed. I'm just tired. I'm tired of waiting to parent. I'm tired of being in the adoption process. I'm tired of staying positive about the excruciatingly long wait. I'm tired of well-meaning questions. I know that this feeling will pass. A night out with friends, a good night's sleep, and tomorrow is another day. Just ask Scarlet. But tonight, I'm tired.

Saturday, October 28, 2006
Thanks for the Memories!
Though it didn't end the way we hoped, it was still an amazing season. Jim and I made more trips to Detroit and saw more games than we ever have. I saw about seven games. Jim easily went to twice that. Who knew on day one of the season that it would end with the Tigers at the World Series. Just the fact that they made it there is just amazing.

Last spring, Jim and I went to Traverse City for part of our Spring Break. We usually go to Gulf Shores, but this year we didn't want to make such a big trip. At that time, we still were hoping we'd receive our referral and travel fairly soon. We figured a few days in Traverse City would be one of our last "couple" vacations before becoming parents. Even though it was early April, northern Michigan fooled us. We woke that Monday morning to a snow storm. The wind was icy and blowing hard. We headed out to a wonderful local bookstore and spent the morning reading and drinking coffee. The snow stopped, the sun came out, and we headed out looking for a place to watch the first game of the season. It was Opening Day. We looked in the tourist guidebooks and found a listing for a sports bar. Off we went! The sports bar turned out to be a tiny hole in the wall in the back of the Holiday Inn. There were about 10 tables, no other customers, and a bored bartender. We ordered a snack and settled in to watch the Detroit Tigers begin their season. Slowly other customers drifted in. Some businessmen who brought their laptops so they could continue working as they watched the game. Several ladies wandered in and out as there was some sort of conference getting ready to get started down the hall. I don't remember what it was for, but well-dressed women wandered in and out of the sports bar. They were meeting new friends, finding old friends, and having a drink while they waited for their conference to begin. As the game progressed, the room warmed up. People started cheering the good plays and chatting across the tables. We saw Chris Shelton begin his powerful hitting streak that carried him through the first month of the season. We saw a spark in the Tigers that day, but never dreamed how far it would take them.

Today, we planned to be standing at Comerica Park watching game six of the World Series; unfortunately, this series ended with game five. Instead, we've had a quiet day at home. We treated ourselves to lunch at a favorite local steak place. I miss my Gulf seafood, but the midwest is great for steak. I had a filet mignon sandwich with two filets on it for $6.79. Half of that sandwich is now in my fridge waiting for me to get hungry again. A quick run to Michaels to buy embroidery thread and beads for my business class, and then a stop at Target to buy totes and ingredients to make a big pot of vegetable beef soup. That's not the worst way to spend a sunny, but blustery day. It's funny how similar in feel today was to day one -- minus the snow.

Jim has been so consumed by the Tigers, especially lately, that he has to come down to earth a bit. He was very contemplative today as we talked about our child over lunch. Rumors are hot and heavy that things are going to pick up and we may actually see a December referral. I'm almost afraid that by typing that I've jinxed us. We have a lot to do to get ready. When you wait as long as we've been waiting, you kind of go into a holding pattern. It's like being frozen in limbo. There's much to do, but doing it reminds us of how long we've waited, and of how long we may still wait. We started the nursery this summer when my sisters visited and painted their murals. It's time to assemble the furniture and get the room set up. To launder the piles of clothes we've been given and put them in drawers or hang them in the closets. It's time to get Shadow used to that room and what his limits are. It's time to buy plugs for the outlets and figure out how to hide the cable/TV/computer cords. It's time to buy safety gates and block off the stairs and kitchen. It's time to pick out a high chair, stroller, and car seat. It's time to sew that 100 Good Wishes Quilt; at least I've finally started the scrapbook! Wow...the list keeps growing, I'd better get to work.

Friday, October 27, 2006
Favorite Ingredients Friday

I am a Food Network addict. I'll turn it on Saturday mornings and watch while I do laundry. This is a recipe that was presented by Giada De Laurentiis. It was part of a kid-friendly menu. It's very easy, and we really enjoyed it. I've done this with chicken tenders, also.

Visit Overwhelmed with Joy for more delicious recipes!

Pork Milanese

1 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
2 large eggs
6 boneless pork loin chops, pounded thin to 1/3 inch-thick (1 1/2 pounds total)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil
6 lemon wedges

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.

Coarsely crush the panko into a large shallow bowl. Stir the cheese into the panko. Lightly beat the eggs in another large shallow bowl. Sprinkle the pork generously with salt and pepper. Dip the pork, 1 piece at a time, in the egg, allowing the excess to drip off, then dredge the pork in the crumb mixture, patting to coat completely. Place the pork on a small baking sheet.

Heat 1/4 cup of oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of the pork to the hot oil and cook until golden brown and just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to paper towels to drain, then transfer them to a clean baking sheet and keep them warm in the oven. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil to the skillet and fry the remaining pork.

Transfer the pork to plates and serve with lemon wedges.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Works For Me Wednesday!

I recently found this great website that allows you to create your own avatar. You can download the image as a jpg and use it on your blog, in an email, wherever you like. You can create different ones to represent your family and get a whole group shot going. It's not earth shattering, it's just fun. Here are two I made last week to represent my husband and I going to see the Detroit Tigers win the league championship. Just imagine him about 10 inches taller than me. :o)

If you look on my sidebar, you can see one I've posted to represent me right now. I can make changes to my WeeMee on the website and have it automatically change here. The have a lot of choices for wardrobe, accessories and backgrounds.

WeeMees work for me! To find more WFMW ideas, visit Shannon at Rocks in my Dryer.

Monday, October 23, 2006
Winter Comes Early

Wow, is it cold outside. Snow flurries were actually falling when I left school today. Tonight's forecast calls for our first accumulating snow. Bah! Don't get me wrong, I actually like winter and enjoy the first snows, but I loooove Fall. This early winter is taking away my beatiful Autumn leaves too quickly. One big advantage of the cooler temps is Jim and I can do a Sam's or grocery store run and stop for dinner on the way home without worrying about the groceries melting.

We hit Sam's today and decided to try out a new chain restaurant that opened a few weeks ago. It's one of those quick-service Mexican restaurants that claims to have free-range, etc... I've been to a few other versions of this type of restaurant, but we hadn't tried Chipotle's yet. I wasn't impressed. Here's my review.

I will confess one of my food issues here. I am almost pathologically disgusted by the taste and texture of fat on meat. As a child, I would dissect my food to ensure not one speck of fat remained. I'm not that bad in public now, but it still makes my skin crawl. I ordered the carnitas burrito bol. It's all the insides of the burrito served in a bowl instead of wrapped in a tortilla. My very first bit of pork included a huge fat glob. That just set the wrong tone for me. It was served with lime rice, black beans, roasted corn & green chile salsa, cheese, sour cream and lettuce. When I read the ingredients, it sounds good, but it just didn't work. The rice was too limey. Instead of complimenting the other flavors, it seemed to overpower. The rest of the carnitas was fat-free, but it also didn't really have any flavor. All in all, the best I can say is it was filling. It also seemed pricey to me. Jim ordered the crispy taco plate and chips & salsa. Add two small cokes and the total was over $15.00. For $15.00, we can go to our favorite local Mexican restaurant that has wonderful food and be waited on. Next time, we'll go back there. I usually prefer to go local versus chain anyway and Chipotle's didn't change my mind.

Saturday, October 21, 2006
Hodge Podge & Baseball

I found this really cool website from another blog. It lets you make your own WeeMee. I think I'm going to put one on the sidebar and change her to reflect my current circumstances. I actually found this over a week ago and was going to post these two to celebrate going to the ALCS games. Blogger wasn't cooperating that day, and I couldn't get the images loaded.

Why, you ask, am I posting them now? Well, ignore the picture on the left and add a gray sky to the one on the right. Yep, Jim headed off this morning to Detroit with a ticket to game #1 of the World Series. What a crazy 17 hours just passed.

This story has to begin with an observation. Have you noticed that when men are friends, they bond by insulting and abusing each other? Jim's best friend called him last night around 7pm to tell him that he wasn't going to need that extra standing-room-only ticket next Saturday because he now had a ticket with an actual seat. He and his boss were going. They work for a local grocery store chain and one of their big sales rep had given them 2 tickets. In the course of this conversation, D happened to mention that the tickets said they were for game #1. Jim then told him that wasn't next Saturday, that was today. D wasn't sure because the date wasn't on the ticket. The play-off and World Series tickets aren't dated. They just list the game number because the dates can sometimes change. D realized then that his boss had a conflict as he was supposed to be heading off to see the Indianapolis Colts play today. He called his boss and his boss decided to stick with the football game and told D he could have both tickets. D called Jim right back and invited him along. So, yes, Jim is off to see his Tigers play in game #1 of the World Series, and the ticket was free! Can you believe it? He was like a boy on Christmas morning. Of course, the sky is gray, the temps are low, and it may even rain a little bit, but nothing can darken his mood now.

What will I do today? I think it's a good day to hit Babies R Us and Target. I see a grande nonfat mocha, no whip in my future today.

I also want to remind everyone about the upcoming meme, Sharing Gifts from the Heart. Have your ideas ready by November 6. I'll have the site ready to take links that day!

Friday, October 20, 2006
Five Ingredients Friday and How We Spent Our Thursday Evening

Wow, I'm late today. My schedule is all discombobulated. Last night was a lot of fun. Jim and I went to a scrapbook party. Yes, you heard me right. Jim came with me. He is putting together a scrapbook of his memories of the Tigers and their season this year. He wrote the most beautiful entry page to our future daughter and is making this for her. He thinks all the embellishments and stickers are "lame," but he's enjoying the different paper. The last game of the NLCS was on, spaghetti was served, and the hostess plus the other attendees at our table all work at his school, so he fit right in. The ladies at the other table were all jealous and asking me how I was I able to drag my husband to scrapbook. I was able to get the first five pages of our 100 Good Wishes Quilt scrapbook finished. I haven't scrapbooked before, but I really had a good time. If you want to see a wild night just put a group of teachers together on a Thursday night when we don't have school the next day. We were wild and daring. We drank CAFFEINE! AT NIGHT! And we stayed out until 11:ooPM!!!! I know, TMI.

Now the reward for reading through the above. This is a truly great recipe. I've brought it in to work and everyone loved it. It's so easy and so tasty. I got this recipe from my friend, Joan, on a cooking message board.

Pumpkin Dip

2 c canned pumpkin
2 8-oz pkg cream cheese
2 t ground cinnamon
1 t ground ginger
4 c powdered sugar

Serve with:
Gingersnaps, sugar cookies, vanilla wafers, or graham cracker sticks

Combine pumpkin, cream cheese, cinnamon, and ginger; beat until well blended. Add sugar; beat until smooth. Serve with gingersnaps or sugar cookies or graham fingers. Yield: 4 cups

This makes a huge amount. I don't see why it couldn't easily be cut in half if you don't need this much.

OW at Overwhelmed with Joy seems to be off schedule, too. [UPDATE: The links are up. Poor OW was down with food poisoning. Yuck!]Go check out the rest of the recipes at her site.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006
It's been a challenging couple of days at work. I hate to be a tease, but I can't share details. Let me just say how sad and frustrating it is when a child reaches out for help and their parent is the one who blocks the way.

I wasn't going to blog today because that's what has been going on with me until I read my emails today. I had a lovely one from another blogger. I went to check out her blog and this post had me crying with laughter.

It reminded me of a story about my sister and I. She is two years younger than me, and we shared a bedroom for most of our childhood. I don't remember how old we were when we got to choose a new bedroom set. I'd guess I was around 10-12, so she'd have been 8-10 years old. We were very excited about this bedroom set because it looked like a living room set in the daytime. It was two twin beds that met at a right angle. There was a large corner table to serve as our nightstand. One bed slid underneath the table to form a loveseat size couch while the other was full length. They had these firm bolster like pillows that were placed against the wall to form the back. The bedspread was fitted over the corners of the bed. It was a very 70's looking piece of furniture.

Being two years older, I was usually up later. My sister would usually be asleep when I went to bed. Even if she was awake, she usually fell asleep while I read. She was a very deep sleeper, but would become easily confused when she was awakened. She later developed a sleepwalking problem. On this particular night, I had just settled into bed when I heard her stirring. She started to get up, I assumed to go to the bathroom. I thought she would find it really funny if I sat up in bed with my hands crossed over my chest and said, "Good Evening" in my best Dracula impersonation. She screamed, fell back into the bolsters that we stacked every night in front of the closet, which was, of course, open. The bolsters collapsed when she fell into them. She and they tumbled into the closet. Clothes, toys, and what-not rained on her head as she screamed and screamed. I was laughing hysterically until my parents came in. Then I was backtracking big time as I tried to explain that I hadn't meant to scare her. I thought she'd laugh. Even though I can see how terrifying it must have been for her in still-asleep mode, I have to confess that the memory still makes me laugh. Maybe I'll grow up someday. I wonder if she's forgiven me for this one yet?

In case you're wondering about why I chose that picture. I have wonderful memories of staying up late and watching movies with my sisters. I always loved that scene in White Christmas when they sang the song, Sisters.

Sunday, October 15, 2006
I'm It
I've been tagged for the first time by Pam from Just the Two of Us. Here goes

1.Things that scare me: heights, something happening to stop our adoption process, something happening to Jim

2. People who make me laugh: my sisters, my husband, my students

3. Things I hate the most: cleaning the bathroom, cleaning anything, not knowing how much longer we'll have to wait to complete our adoption

4. Things I don't understand: physics, how people can be deliberately cruel, how people can see what I see, hear what I hear, and yet come to a totally different conclusion.

5. Things I'm doing right now: blogging, putting away dinner leftovers/cleaning kitchen, and laundry (jealous yet? :o)

6. Things I want to do before I die: Raise our child, visit all 50 states, become a better person

7. Things I can do: cook, figure out computer stuff, play a mean Trivial Pursuit

8. Ways to describe my personality: caring, friendly, impatient

9. Things I can't do: throw a ball, catch a ball, juggle

10. Things I think you should listen to: Rent, people with whom you disagree, me :o)

11. Things you should never listen to: people who only criticize, people who are judgemental, that voice in your head that says you can't

12. Things I'd like to learn: how to sew, how to be a good mom, web design

13. Favorite foods: shrimp, dark chocolate, avocados (not all together)

14. Beverages I drink regularly: water, Starbucks nonfat, decaf mocha, no whip, and Chick-fil-A's iced tea

15. Shows I watched as a kid: Bewitched, Little House on the Prairie, and The Partridge Family

16. Person’s I'm tagging to do this meme: You!

Destiny is
spelled with an Old English D as in

etroit Tigers!

We're World Series bound, baby!! Wow, what a night. I mistakenly thought the A's had given up. They proved last night they didn't want to go down easy. I applaud them for fighting it out to the end. They did not make it an easy win. It was a tense, on-the-edge-of-your-seat night for us.

It started off a bit rocky as half way through the first inning, the occupants for the still empty seats to our right arrived. We knew it was going to be bad when they, and their buddies who were already seated, started yelling to each other from across the section. Three of the four were actually fine. The fourth one, well.....remember the Saturday Night Live skit with Drunk Girl? He made her look like the spokesperson for AA. He barrelled his way down our row, beer in hand, and bellowing for all to hear. His friends suggested he tone it down, and he preceded to tell them, in an extremely loud voice, that he was at the #$%#$%#$ ALCS and he wasn't going to @#$%@#$% be quiet for any @#$%@#$%@#$% one. And then he got worse. A couple of innings later, he left for a refill and bathroom break because you know all that beer has to go somewhere. When he returned, it was to complain loudly that security had been waiting for him outside the restroom door to remind him that this was a family event and he needed to take it down a notch. He sat there fuming and challenging whoever called security on him to tell him to his face. He finally stormed off again. He returned towards the end to get his jacket and left for good. I was just happy that he was missing for most of the game because he was a huge obnoxious distraction.

Back to the game, the A's scored early and took a 3-0 lead. Ouch! What was going on? What was happening to our easy win? Jeremy Bonderman struggled as the pitcher, but battled his way through and held them to 3 runs. We tied them up and there it stayed and stayed and stayed. I was confident that the Tigers would win one more in this series, but I really wanted it to happen last night. I wanted Jim to see his Tigers clinch the league championship, and they did. What a moment.

The game Friday night was a much faster and easier game, but, man, was it cold. I wore three pairs of pants and shirts, and a coat and gloves with a blanket on my lap for Friday's game. On Saturday, I just wore the three layers of pants and shirts, and my gloves. It was much better weather-wise, but both nights I felt like the Michelin baby. I couldn't even bend my knees or at the waist.

Our seats this weekend were nose-bleeders. We were in the second to last row over homeplate in the upper deck on Friday. We were in the upper deck last night as well, but about six rows down from the top row. We were two sections to the right of the big scoreboard. These are the seats that normally sell for $5.00.

We would not have been able to go to the division championship last week or the league championship this week if it weren't for a wonderful friend, Ann. Ann was Jim's department chair when he first came to work at his school. She was a wonderful mentor and friend to him. She's been retired for 4 years now and is active in local government. Every year Jim arranges for a group to see the Tigers play the Yankees in the early summer. Ann is also a huge baseball fan and goes every year on this group trip. When she saw that the Tigers were heading to the play-offs, she got on-line and joined the lottery for tickets. She wanted to do something for Jim as a thanks for arranging those trips every summer. She got tickets to two games in each series. She rode with us both weekends. She has been such a wonderful friend and has given Jim the experience of a lifetime. Jim is overwhelmed with gratitude and disbelief that this could be happening. I am just incredibly grateful to Ann for giving this experience to both of us, but especially to Jim.

And yes, Jim did get a picture of the last play of the game. Here is Magglio Ordonez's walk-off homerun. Jim has an awesome lens for his camera that allowed him to get this shot from as far away as we were.

Friday, October 13, 2006
Five Ingredients Friday and a whole bunch more!
It's Friday the 13th, the one year anniversary of our dossier being registered in China, game 3 of the ALCS, and Five Ingredients Friday! Wow, what a busy day!

First, I'll begin by wishing everyone a happy Friday the 13th. I've always had very good luck on this day. Also, happy anniversary to all my fellow October 13ers. I know we're all struggling with the wait. Who knew we'd ever hit one year and still not have our family together. I'm taking heart from the fact that our dates are starting to show up in the new projections.

The Tigers are back in Detroit for games 3 & 4 of the ALCS. Jim and I will be there shivering our butts off. The high temperature is predicted to be in the 40's. We'll be the ones bundled in three layers of clothing, our winter coats, and a blanket. Why is it that stadiums seem so much colder than other places? Jim is enjoying this season with the Tigers. He has either watched or listened on the radio to every one of the 160+ games they've played except for two. I've reminded him that this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience because next season we'll be parents and he won't have that level of freedom. Muwahahaha!

And, finally, my recipe for today!

Oven Fried Chicken

1 lb. chicken tenders
½ c mayonnaise
2 T mustard
¼ c parmesan cheese
2 c finely crushed cornflakes

Mix mayonnaise, mustard and cheese. Spread on chicken tenders, and then roll in cornflakes. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray. Place tenders on cookie sheet at bake at 400 for 20 minutes

This is the recipe as I originally received it. I didn't use anywhere near that amount of the mayonnaise mixture for one pound of chicken. In fact, I made that amount for 2 1/2 pounds and still didn't use it all. I must put on a pretty thin coat. These are really tasty and a great substitute for the fried version. The mustard and parmesan add a really subtle boost to the flavor.

Vist Overwhelmed with Joy to find more great recipes. I hope everyone has a great Fall weekend!

Thursday, October 12, 2006
Update - Cascade 2in1 ActionPacs

I received another email from the Cascade marketing group. They have provided me with a link to share with you that will get you a coupon for $1.50 off your next purchase. Go check it out!

Cascade 2in1 ActionPacs

Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Works For Me Wednesday!

It seems every year that there are more and more people to whom I owe a holiday gift. Owe isn’t quite the right word as I love giving gifts. My budget, however, does not. I have found the best way around this is to give gifts I make. When you’re doing this, you must go where you talents lay. My talent is in the kitchen, so I make food gifts. There are several different ways of making this work. I’ll share a few.

Find a friend! For years, my best friend and I would plan the “baking weekend.” Of course we were young and single and could easily devote a weekend to this project. Before the weekend, we would make a shopping trip to one of the large warehouse outlets (Sam’s, Costco, or BJ’s) and load up on the basics. We bought flour, sugar, brown sugar, chocolate chips, dried cranberries or cherries, and nuts. We usually found butter on sale for less at the grocery store, so we’d go there for that. On baking weekend, we would start after work on Friday and bake. We would already have our list of recipes and map out what we’d make first. We usually worked on at least two recipes at a time, sometimes more. We used giant potato chip cannisters to store the cookies as we finished them. On Sunday afternoon, we’d then bring out the trays and start assembling them with a little bit of everything. We’d have mini quick breads as well. On Sunday night, we’d deliver them to our friends, and on Monday morning, we’d take the ones we needed to work. I’ve done variations of this theme many times.

Now I don’t have the time nor have a I found a baking friend where I live now, so I’m on my own. I struggled trying to get a variety of things made for my trays until last year. That is when I came up with the solution to several problems. I usually stocked up on cookie trays and tins in the after-Christmas sales, but wasn’t able to the year before last. What I did instead was go buy the large quart sized canning jars and a couple of yards of Christmas fabric. I used pinking shears to cut out fabric squares that I placed between the lid and the ring of the jar. Because the jars held a lot less, I didn’t have to bake the quantity I normally did to create a nice looking gift. And, finally, instead of baking, I made candy. I made two kinds of fudge (chocolate and peanut butter) and some bark with spicy glazed pecans and dried cherres. It was a big hit. It cost me less than usual and took less time.

That always works for me. For more Works For Me Wednesday tips, visit Rocks in my Dryer.

I hope that we can all share our food gift ideas, so please join me with this project. Go here for more information.

Monday, October 09, 2006
Sharing Gifts from the Heart

I've had so much fun joining in on Works For Me Wednesday, Five Ingredients Friday, and the recent Holiday Cooking, Blogging Style that I decided to start one myself.

I know that I've been giving gifts of food since I began cooking. It may be a cheese spread in a clay crock, a platter of cookies, a jar of home-made jelly, a jar with layered beans and a soup recipe, or maybe a tray of assorted treats. I thought it would be fun if we shared some of our favorite home-made food gift ideas.

Please dig out your favorite ideas and recipes, and join me in sharing gifts from the heart beginning on Monday, November 6th.

Feel free to email me for button codes.

Product Review - Cascade 2in1 ActionPacs

I recently read a product review on several blogs about Cascade 2in1 ActionPacs. I was impressed by what these women had to say and left a comment to that effect. I was then contacted and offered a sample to review.

I have to admit that I've very impressed. As there are just two of us, it sometimes takes a few days to fill up the dishwasher enough to run it. Like most households, I much more concerned about rinsing my dish than my husband, so some of those dishes were mighty crusty. The day the Cascade arrived, I popped one in and ran the dishwasher. Wow! It did a great job. My glasses actually sparkled. We have a hard water problem that will often leave the glasses spotty even with a rinse agent. These glasses were spot-free.

I have nothing to gain by telling you my experience with this product, but since I was impressed I wanted to share it with you.

Sunday, October 08, 2006
Yes, I Drank the Kool-Aid
Trust me when I tell you that I hated baseball. I never watched an entire game. I didn't see any Little League games. I never went to my high school's baseball games. I didn't know anyone who played it, and I never watched it. To me, it was the sport that was always on TV and was just way too long. How long does it really take to hit a ball and run around the bases, and why were grown men getting paid lots of money to do this? If I saw baseball on TV, I changed the channel. I went to one game in Atlanta with my family. I had no idea what was going on on the field, nor did I really care. I did love shopping at the Galleria and seeing Elton John in the men's department. That's what I really remember about that trip.

When Jim and I married, I knew he'd played baseball in high school. Why his team even won the state championship, and he played an integral role in that win. I knew he was a Detroit Tigers fan because he told me the stories of watching and listening to the games with his grandmother when he was a boy in Michigan. It wasn't part of our life though, and then it started creeping in. We started going to the local Single A Minor League games, and it was fun. Jim went to a game or two a year in Detroit with a couple of friends. Then he organized an outing for about 25 people to attend the Tigers-Yankees game. The next year, we went for a long weekend and saw three games in three days,and the Tigers were back in his heart. A heart they broke last year when they lost far more than half of their games during the season.

This year his broken heart mended. What an amazing season the Tigers have been through. Without even realizing it, I learned their stories. We'd watch the games and Jim would explain things to me. I learned the vocabulary and started to pick my favorites. I'll admit that my way of picking is unorthodox. I picked my favorite player last year because when everyone else left the field after batting practice, he walked over to the fans sitting in left field and signed autographs for the kids. He stayed and stayed. I told Jim that I liked that. He wasn't having the best season then, but I liked the fact that he was out there making some kids happy when everyone else was back in the dugout getting ready for the game. That player was Craig Monroe.

The Tigers blew everyone's mind this season. They went from being the worst team in the league to having the best record and leading the division for most of their season. Jim went to Detroit last weekend and saw the last two games as they were swept by the Kansas City Royals and lost the division title. What a horrible way to end the season, but the season wasn't over. Though they'd lost the division title, they were still going to the playoffs.

A wonderful friend of ours surprised Jim by getting tickets for the home games for both the division series and the championship series. This is how Jim and I were able to be there Friday night when the Tigers completely shut down the Yankees. The electricity was in the air and you knew you were seeing something special that night.

The next day we were back at Comerica Park for game four. I have never seen Jim more excited about anything in his life. I even teased him that he wasn't that happy at our wedding. We got to the stadium about four hours early, but the time flew. We were finally able to get some pictures in front of the big tiger that guards the main entrance. It's usually mobbed. We then joined fans in the State Bar & Grill across the street to wait for the gates to open. Jim took over 100 pictures last night, but I'll share just a few.

This picture is of Craig Monroe's homerun in the 2nd inning. We already had one run on the board and this brought us to three. You could start feeling the electricity really charge up again when this happened. I'd say it was the start of something big.

The next picture is of the final play, a ground out to 2nd base.

This picture is literally seconds later as the team reacts to the third out in the ninth inning.

There are pictures all over the Internet of the celebration afterwards. I can't even describe it. Usually when a game ends, there's a massive rush to the exit doors. No one left. I looked around the stadium and it was just as full. The music was playing. Everyone was screaming and crying. I was crying. I can't even describe how happy I felt at that moment. I was just so happy for everyone on that team who had worked so hard and come so far. I was happy for my husband whose beloved Tigers had done the impossible. The champagne was spraying and 43,000+ people stood and cheered. Then the team ran around the edge of the field and acknowledged and thanked their fans. It was such a warm and wondrful moment. This last picture is again of Craig Monroe as he expresses his gratitude back to the fans. I wish I had pictures of Kenny Rogers spraying his champagne bottle before handing it to a fan to keep as a souvenir or when he poured a bottle over the police officer's head before embracing him or Joel Zumaya jumping on the dugout and celebrating with the fans seated there. I'm sure those pictures are out there. Find them and see what unbridled happiness looks like.

All this and it's not over yet, we still have tickets for games three and four (next Friday and Saturday) as the Tigers and the Oakland A's battle it out for the chance to go to the World Series. Who would have ever thought a year ago that the Detroit Tigers would be in contention for the World Series.

By the way, the Kool-Aid was mighty tasty.

Supporting Moms
One of the most honest blogs I've been reading recently is Parenting with a mental illness. She is brutally honest and offering a voice to a group that is often feared and/or ignored. She just hit her 100th post and is looking for 100 comments and 100 new readers. I wanted to do my bit to spread the word.

Parenting with a mental illness: Spreading the word one hit at a time

Guess What I Want For Christmas
I was planning to wait until Friday to post this because Friday marks exactly one year since our dossier was logged in, but changed my mind for a few reasons. One is that we won't be home. The reason for that will in a post that will appear soon, possibly later today. The other is because I have been sharing what I learn as I learn it. Why start waiting now? First, a graph from our infamous rumor site.

Let me begin with an explanation of what this chart means. There is a website that began as a blog where people could submit the information they learned to one place. Here one person, known as the Rumor Queen, sorts through all the information and shares it with us. She is able to sort through the rumors and determine if information is coming from one source or if it's coming from several sources. Obviously if it's coming from several sources, it's more likely to be accurate. The site never mentions specific sources or agencies which helps to receive more accurate information. It also helps her determine which sources and/or agencies seem to have the right information the most often.

Another thing she does is crunch the numbers for us. By keeping track of past referrals and using polls on her site, the Rumor Queen gives us some projections. The chart above is the latest projection. The row labels represent the current time. The column labels represent how many days in the referral batch. Over the last 12 batches, the 6 smallest batches averaged 9 days, the 6 largest batches averaged 15 days, and the overall average was 12 days. These numbers are covered in the first three columns. The last three columns represent what could happen if there is the oft rumored increase in referrals.

Have I lost you with my disseration yet? No? Good!

Now, what do all the dates in the middle mean? Those are the dates dossiers were logged in at the CCAA. The CCAA is the office that is responsible for adoption in China. Rumor Queen used the sample log in date of 10/10/05 to illustrate when they might receive their referral. Since our log in date is 10/13, her sample actually works for us with each possibility except the first one. Based on her projections, our earliest possibility of a referral based on past performance would be February and the latest would be May. Obviously, we're really hoping for a speed up, and indications are good there could be one. I wouldn't bet the farm on it, but there is a good possibility. Using her numbers with a speed up in place, our earliest hope for a referral would be December or January. I've been keeping the December (buy a lottery ticket because the odds are about the same) to February as the possibilities. I can't go past February in my head yet.

I don't know if this clarifies what's going on with us or just muddied the water for you. Even though my blog has branched off into my own personal playground, it's original purpose was to keep my family and friends who live far away from me up-to-date with our progress.

Can you guess what I want for Christmas, now? You guessed it, a referral!

P.S. A referral is what we in the China adoption world call the matching process. We are referred a child, hence a referral.

Friday, October 06, 2006
Five Ingredients Friday

I'm loving this week's recipe. I actually am right now as I take a bite and type. I fond this recipe a few weeks ago on a cooking board I've visited for years. One of the regulars, Bill, posted this cake recipe. Honestly, I thought it sounded kind of weird, but interesting. I noticed that it had five ingredients, so I decided to save it and try it out to see if it would work for this. It's awesome! You can actually taste the frosting. I took a big hunk of this cake to work to share and every single person asked for the recipe. You don't even need to ask, it's right here!

The Best Bundt Cake Ever!

1 2-layer cake mix
1 can frosting
4 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 cup milk

Heat oven to 350. Mix frosting, eggs, oil, and milk well by hand. Add dry ingredients and hand mix thoroughly. Pour batter into a well-greased 12-cup bundt pan. Bake for one hour. Cool in pan for 15 minutes. Remove.

Please visit Overwhelmed with Joy for more recipes!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Last night I had the pleasure of meeting three new friends. In case you didn't know, there is a Yahoo group for everyone! One group I belong to is for people in my geographic area who have or are adopting from China. About a week ago, we decided a girls' night out was in order. Only four of us could make it last night, but we spent a few hours together sharing our stories and drinking nonfat decaf mochas with no whip. We obviously like to live dangerously.

We had so much fun that we're hoping to get more to join us next month when we meet for dinner at Max & Erma's. It's fun to make new friends!

MIRL, by the way, means meet in real life.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Works For Me Wednesday!

Have you ever tried to email an attachment that was too big and "fell off" the email? How about being away on vacation, you've saved tons of pictures and have them all saved, but just wish you had one more place to back them up? Well, now you can. You Send It allows you to send large files to an email address for FREE!

Here's the part where I confess that I haven't tried it yet. I was told about this service at a workshop I attended. The woman giving the workshop swore by this service. She told us that she and her husband had used it the previous week to send copies of their vacation photos home. When they got home, there they were. They still had them loaded in their camera, but it was a relief knowing that if something had happened, the photos were safe.

Join Shannon at Rocks in my Dryer for lots of great tips.

Monday, October 02, 2006
100 Things About Me

As I'm making my way around blog world, I'm learning the traditions and mores. One tradition that has been established is to list 100 things about yourself when you hit your 100th post. Believe it or not, it's taken me a week to come up with 100. It's harder than you'd imagine. If you thought my post a week or so ago was all about me, then you ain't seen nuthin' yet. Here goes!

1) I was born in Mexico City, Mexico.

2) My parents were 20 years old and had married at 18.

3) My mother was born Catholic in Chicago and raised in New Orleans.

4) My father was born Jewish in Budapest, Hungary and raised in Mexico after the death of his father in a concentration camp.

5) We moved to the United States when I was three.

6) I had dual citizenship until I was 18.

7) Besides Mexico, I lived in New Orleans, LA

8) and District Heights, MD

9) and Pine Mountain, GA

10) and San Juan, PR (for three days)

11) and Jefferson City, MO

12) and Lancaster & Harrisburg, PA

13) and Panama City Beach, FL

14) and then I graduated from high school.

15) I received my two-year AA degree from Gulf Coast Community College.

16) We lived in a lot of hotels when I was growing up.

17) I have memories of going to the dining room where the waitress would get my bowl of cereal, and the schoolbus would pick me up at the main entrance by the front desk.

18) When we moved to Pine Mountain, the schools were still segregated even though it was illegal by then.

19) We lived there when they integrated, though they didn't really. They just created two sections for each grade. They claimed that one section was for the students with higher test scores. I'm sure it was just coincidence that there were only two black students in section A. The only white student to be placed in section B would today be classifed as moderately disabled.

20) I didn't realize any of this at the time, but in my defense I was in 3rd grade.

21) Even with all the moving, I went to 10-12th grade in the same school. I loved my high school experience.

22) I was not involved with any high school activities other than drama club.

23) But I had the best friends. We had bonfires on the beach ALL the time and just had the best times together. I treasure those memories.

24) My closest friend in high school is also a teacher in the midwest now, and she reads my blog. Hi, Lori!

25) My first paying job was sweeping the floors of the 5&10 after school when I was in 4th grade.

26) I began babysitting for hotel guests at Callaway Gardens when I was 12 years old.

27) At 14, I went to work for Jack's Hamburgers, a fast-food restaurant. I was too shy to work the register, so I became a fry cook.

28) After community college, I still didn't know what to major in so I moved to New Orleans and took a job in the sales department of The Royal Orleans Hotel in the French Quarter.

29) While working at the RO, I went on a girls' weekend with some co-workers to Houston. We were able to get free hotel rooms at our sister property.

30) While there, we ran into a bridal party in the ladies room. We were in bathing suits because we had been lounging by the pool. It was a gypsy wedding. They read our palms in the ladies room. They told me I would not be able to give birth, and I would not marry until I was 38. I was very upset by this. I was 19 years old.

31) I took my next job at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans as a secretary for the catering department. I was promoted to Assistant Food & Beverage Controller.

32) I decided, to my father's huge relief, to return to college and get my degree. I went to Florida State University and majored in Hospitality Management.

33) College was a wonderful experience where I met some wonderful people.

34) After college, I moved back to New Orleans. I wanted to stay, but couldn't get a job. I would go to the human resource department of every hotel. While waiting to leave my resume, I would hear them laying off staff. It was a tough time in New Orleans. I worked as a banquet server to earn some money during this time and lived with my cousin.

35) I stayed longer than I should have because she was getting married and I was maid of honor. I hand-beaded her wedding gown during this time, and made my first, and only, triple-tiered heart-shaped wedding cake for my grandparent's vow renewal. I also watched the Challenger disaster.

36) After the wedding, I moved to Fort Lauderdale. The majority of my college friends had gone there after college. For most of them, it was home.

37) I took a job at a clothing store until I found my first position at a new hotel that was not open yet.

38) While living in Fort Lauderdale, we flew to the Bahamas several times for the day. The flight cost $50, round-trip.

39) I also flew to London and met my cousin who was on her first European business trip.

40) I saw Les Miserables for the first time on my first night in London.

41) I fell asleep during the performance. The cannons woke me up.

42) We spent two days touring London before taking the train to Dover and then the overnight ferry to (I think) Calais. We then caught a train to Paris. The plan was to stay three days in Paris and then return for two more days in London. We stayed in Paris and returned to London the same day I was scheduled to fly home.

43) We stayed at a wonderful bed & breakfast called Napoleon House on Rue Bonapart or was it the Bonapart House on Rue Napoleon? I need to dig out my scrapbook. We saw the Louvre, Versailles, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, and more.

44) This was in November. We ate our Thanksgiving dinner in a Parisienne restaurant where we met two very polite soldiers who were there on leave from Germany. They just wanted to talk to two American girls. They were homesick. We had a nice meal and went our separate ways.

45) While riding the Metro, my cousin had her wallet stolen.

46) When we got off the Metro near our hotel, we went looking for the police. I saw some police in the distance and headed towards them trying to get their attention. I got it. I realized then there was some commotion going on and the police had their riot sticks in their hands. We were in the student section and there was some unrest. It was the 80's, I was dressed in leggings, boots, and a jean jacket. I looked exactly like a student. They realized quickly that I was just a clueless tourist and gave us directions to the police station.

47) We reported the theft not expecting anything to happen. We then contacted American Express to get her a new credit card and traveller's checks. Some time later (I think it was years), she was contacted by the Paris police. They had her wallet.

48) When we got back to London, we went to a fancy hotel for Sunday brunch. We wanted to see the English breakfast we had heard so much about. We barely ate anything. It all looked to weird to us or sounded disgusting. The egg yolks were orange, and they had black pudding and blood sausage??? We've both become more adventurous since then.

49) I headed to Heathrow, only to learn after hours of waiting, that all flights were cancelled due to fog. Being an act of God, I received no assistance from the airline. This was Sunday; I made it home on Tuesday.

50) I worked in South Florida for several years before moving back up near my family, which by then had relocated to the coastal part of Alabama.

51) I have three younger sisters.

52) Of course, I love my sisters, but what's really important is that I LIKE them.

53) I have four nephews and one niece.

54) My youngest sister is due with her first child in November. I will then have two nieces.

55) My second youngest sister is also adopting from China. I will then have three nieces.

56) When I was 18 years old and working as a desk clerk, Hollywood came to town and filmed a made-for-TV disaster movie called Condominium. I saw it on TV once and never heard of it again.

57) I had a wonderful time with the cast and crew.

58) We didn't usually have bellmen at the hotel, but we did when this group checked in. That was until we had one last straggler checked in. No bellman, so I carried her bags to her room. It was Ana Alicia, who was starring in Falcon Crest at the time.

59) I was completely starstruck, but quickly realized they were just regular people.

60) I got to meet Barbara Eden who was very soft-spoken and very polite. Her husband called every day and always asked for her by a different pet name.

61) I also met Dan Haggerty. He was always in a "partying mood," if you get my drift, and always had at least three young girls hanging off of him. I was not impressed.

62) I was very impressed with Richard Anderson. He wanted to know how the switchboard worked. I let him behind the desk and taught him. My boss caught him answering the phone and took me into the office to chastise me. Mr. Anderson came to my defense.

63) I was in my "party" phase of life. Some of the people from the cast and crew would join my friends and I at various local hotspots to dance. My friends and I went out dancing about 4-5 nights a week. Only the young can live with as little sleep as I got then.

64) As thanks, I was invited to watch filming - it was amazing - and to attend the wrap party. The producer gave me his card and told me to call him if I was ever in LA. I never went to LA, but I still have his card. :o)

65) Two years later, when I was living in New Orleans, I saw a report on the local news that the unemployment office was taking applications for film extras. The next day my friend from work and I applied on our lunch break. We filled out applications and they took Polaroid pictures.

66) My friend was 5'10" and gorgeous. She had been a teen model for Seventeen magazine. I was 5'6", size 16, and had a gap between my front teeth. I got the callback. I told her they were obviously looking for realism and not beauty. :o)

67) I had to bring three outfits. I spent the day walking across Jackson Square and sitting at a table at the Court of Two Sisters restaurant. I was paid $60.00 and had a wonderful time. The movie starred Gil Gerard. I never saw the movie and don't know what it was called. They changed the name after filming. After typing this, I did some research. This movie was hiding. It's not even listed as one of Gil Gerard's movies on IMDB. I was able to find the name, however, by contacting a woman who hosts a website devoted to Gil. It was called Johnny Blue.

68) After years of working in the hotel/condominium industry, I became a gourmet food/cheese buyer for a New Orleans retail operation. I took their sales for my department from just over $100,000 to over $1,000,000. They eliminated my position the same week I was planning to request a switch to part-time. I had decided to return to school and get my teaching license.

69) I was unemployed for several months. I did return to college, but this was the hardest time in my life. My confidence was severely shaken.

70) I felt much better when I learned that the person who absorbed my responsibilties with her own failed dramatically. Sales plummeted, and they recruited my former assistant. Said former assistant called to get my blessing and give me this news. I'm a bad, bad person for being happy when someone else failed.

71) Found a position that would allow me to contine my classes and earn enough money to live on.

72) Went through huge flood and lost the majority of my possessions. Boy, when you put out into the universe that you want to start over, you better be prepared for it to happen.

73) Fell in love with my husband whom I met online. The story is here.

74) After living a lifetime (minus two) years in the south, moved to the north.

75) Had to learn to drive in snow, which is easier than walking in it.

76) Realized that along with bad sense of balance, I have a fear of falling on the ice and not being able to get back up.

77) Spent my honeymoon at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island because Jim knew I loved Somewhere in Time and he had fond memories of Mackinac Island from childhood.

78) Within six months, my husband and I married, built a house, and had his mother, brother, and niece move in with us. His mother stayed about two months. His brother and niece stayed for almost two years.

79) My marriage survived that. :o)

80) By the way, did I mention that I got married when I was 38? And that I can't have children? See #30 to see why this is freaky.

81) I became a teacher at 40. I teach business and computer classes. I've never taken a computer class. I'm self-taught. I do, however, have a bachelor's degree in business, plus 20 years experience.

82) I was 41 when we decided to adopt. Because of various delays, some within our control, but mostly out of our control, we're still waiting.

83) I will be a first-time mother at 45. Sometimes I think I've lost my mind, then I look around at the people we know and they all have young children and babies. We're not that unusual after all.

84) I say I'm three years older than my husband. He says four. It's actually three and a half. He's a December baby; I'm a July.

85) I now live about two hours from Chicago, and I'm a teacher. I learned after I moved up here that my great grandmother from Chicago was a teacher .

86) I have opened a restaurant and created all the recipes from scratch.

87) I have judged poultry, cows, and pigs as well as won ribbons in sewing and cooking as a member of 4-H. I was in the 7th grade for most of that.

88) When living in Pine Mountain, GA, I attended the summer recreation program run by the Florida State University Flying High Circus. I've swung on a trapeze and climbed the spider rope. I'm not athletically talented. It took a lot of work on the part of those poor counselors to get me to do that.

89) I am, however, a very good swimmer. I passed the lifeguard test when I was 12 and too young to be certified.

90) This did not translate to waterskiing, which the poor counselors also tried to teach me.

91) On that trip to Houston I mentioned earlier, we went to Gilley's. This was the cowboy bar where they filmed Urban Cowboy. Urban Cowboy had just come out, so it was packed. I was the only one who didn't own my own cowboy hat.

92) I spent the month of November 1994 with my youngest sister in New York City. I had always dreamed of living in NY. I got to experience it for a little while. We saw as many plays as we could afford. We lived at the TKTS booth. We also were invited to a party at the Phantom of the Opera offices off Broadway to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. The parade literally passed below the windows of the offices.

93) I learned how to can foods about three years ago. Okay, salsa. But since then, I've made and canned pepper jelly and strawberry preserves, too.

94) I can't, however, grow the food to can.

95) When I was six months old, I received a rubber set of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. I still have Snow White and five of the dwarves. We lost two of them moving when I was around five or six. I'm still sad about that.

96) My favorite food is shrimp.

97) I can be very picky about food. Mayonnaise, must be Hellman's. Chicken, white meat only. All signs of discernible fat must be trimmed from any meat. On the other hand, I love raw oysters and escargot.

98) My favorite candy is called Baci. It's Italian.

99) In 2000, my aunts found my baby picture in a frame being sold in an antique store. This antique store was no where near any place my family had lived. I have the original photograph. My father was the photographer. He doesn't remember giving anyone a copy of it. There is no doubt it's my picture.

100) I love, love, love to read. The first book I remember reading that wasn't a "baby" book was called Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild. The book actually was out of print, but it came back out after You've Got Mail where it was mentioned by Meg Ryan's character. You've Got Mail is also the first movie Jim and I went to see together, and it's about a couple who first meet online. Ironic, huh?

Holiday Cooking, Blogger Style

I'm joining Overwhelmed today and sharing some of my favorite holiday recipes. This isn't the entire menu, nor do I serve everything everytime. These are, however, some of the most popular ones I've tried. I always serve a few tried-and-true, but I always like to have something new as well.

First, an appetizer:

Hot Crab Spread

1 8-oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1T milk
½ t horseradish
2 T onion, minced
1 can crabmeat
1/3 c slivered almonds

Blend cheese with milk. Add other ingredients and top with almonds. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes. Serve warm with crackers.

Category: Appetizers

Now some side dishes:

Potato Casserole with Caramelized Onions

3/4 cup butter, divided
1/4 cup olive oil
6 large sweet onions, diced
1 tablespoon sugar
4 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup sour cream
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt

Melt 1/4 cup butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil, onions, and sugar. Cook, stirring often, 25 to 30 minutes or until onions are deep golden brown. Remove from heat, and set aside.

Bring potatoes and chicken broth to a boil in a Dutch oven; cook 20 minutes or until tender. Drain. Reserve broth for another use.

Add remaining 1/2 cup butter to potatoes; mash with potato masher until smooth. Whisk together whipping cream and next 3 ingredients; add to potato mixture, stirring until blended.
Spoon 1/2 the potato mixture into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Spoon caramelized onions evenly over potatoes. Spoon remaining potatoes evenly over onions.

Bake at 350° for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden.

Note: Casserole may be prepared a day ahead and refrigerated overnight. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Bake at 350° for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown.
Category: Side Dish

Sweet Potato Casserole

3 c mashed, cooked sweet potatoes
1 c sugar
½ c milk
1/3 c butter
2 eggs
1 t vanilla

Combine above ingredients in a shallow baking dish.


1 c pecans, chopped
1 c brown sugar
1/3 c flour
1/3 c butter, melted

Combine topping ingredients and sprinkle over sweet potatoes. Bake at 350 until brown.

Note: I make this the day before. It tastes even better reheated.

Category: Side Dish

Sausage Dressing

I take a convenience item and make it my own.

2 boxes of Stovetop Turkey Stuffing mix
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ lb sausage, regular or sage-flavored
½ lb sausage, spicy
1 can chicken broth

In large skillet, brown sausage, onions, green pepper, and garlic. Set aside to cool. Make stuffing mix according to box directions and allow to cool slightly. Combine sausage and stuffing mix.

If you like to stuff your bird, let this mix cool to room temperature, or you can pour this into a 13”x9” pan. If you are cooking separately, add the chicken broth to keep the dressing moist. If you are heating this up after you cook your turkey, you can use some of the turkey drippings. This gives the freshly cooked turkey flavor to your dressing.

Category: Side Dish

Corn Maque Choux

6 ears of corn with the kernels cut off
2 T olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 c of diced tomatoes, or 1 can, drained
1 t salt (less if using canned corn and tomatoes)
¼ t cayenne pepper
½ c cream

If you are cutting off the kernels, cut down the cob twice. This releases extra liquid.

Heat skillet with olive oil, and add onions, peppers, and corn. Season with salt and cayenne. Cook for approximately 15 minutes, and add tomatoes. Cook for an additional 15 minutes, or until corn is tender. Stir occasionally. Add cream and heat for a few additional minutes to warm through. Serve.

Category: Side Dish

And finally, dessert.

Everyone has their traditional favorites. Two years ago, I made this Paula Deen for the first time. It was a hands down winner!

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Pie
Recipe courtesy Paula Deen

3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream

6 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream, plus 3/4 cup, whipped soft
6 1/2 (1-ounce) squares premium white baking chocolate, melted
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
2/3 cup roasted, chopped macadamia nuts
1 pre-baked deep-dish (9-inch) pie shell

Garnish: 1 1/2 cups heavy cream 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar 1 to 2 ounces chopped macadamia nuts

Ganache: Place chocolate chips in a metal mixing bowl. Bring cream to a simmer over medium heat. Pour simmering cream over chips and stir until melted. Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature.

Filling: Beat cream cheese and sugar with a handheld electric mixer until smooth. Scrape bowl with a spatula and mix in 1/3 cup heavy cream. Add the melted white chocolate, zest, and nuts and stir just until incorporated. Fold in the whipped cream. Spread into pre-baked pie shell and level off using a rubber spatula. Put in freezer until frozen.

To finish pie, place the ganache in the microwave on low for no more than 10 seconds at a time. Stir after each warming, until ganache pours loosely but is not even close to boiling. Be very careful when warming chocolate, as it will burn very quickly when heated in the microwave. Once chocolate is scorched it is unusable. Spread warm ganache over top of frozen pie, smoothing to the edges with a spatula.

Garnish: Beat cream and confectioners' sugar with a handheld electric mixer to stiff peaks. Transfer to a piping bag and pipe edges of pie with whipped cream. Sprinkle macadamia nuts over top. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

This pie also freezes very well. Make it ahead to the garnish stage, wrap well in plastic, and freeze. Move to your refrigerater 24 hours before serving.

Category: Dessert

To find more great recipes, visit Overwhelmed with Joy.

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