July 30, 2010

lifes a BEACH!

Life is rough. I am telling you all the sun and sand is just wearing me out.

Just kiddin'......

I could live here, I could totally stay here, and never go back to my semi-suburban life. I brought my food processor what more could I need? I brought my iron skillet too, so I got that covered. All my kiddos, and Kenny and I am good to go!
Who needs grass when you can hear the waves crashing on the shore and feel the sand between your toes....

And look at these smilin faces! I know it might get a bit cold in the winter months....but oh the ice on the Lake Michigan is a beautiful thing too.

My oldest is a fish....

a skim boarding....body surfing.....paddle boarding kinda fish...

Whoa, CHILD!

That's my extreme sport kid!

Fires on the beach...smores...kids swimming into the sunset.....

Yippee, yahoo, the waters warmer than is has been in the last 20 years. We are celebrating....hoping it doesn't mean we have a problem, of global proportion....

The sunsets....we love um!

sigh....deep long relaxed sigh...thankful sigh.....
Tonight is our last night...we are doing a shrimp boil...aaahhh sigh....shrimp, fresh corn, taters, crusty bread...and friends....deep big nostril sigh....life is good.

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July 29, 2010

Mozz and TOmaters

For the past four years we have rented a cottage during the summer, for a week, with our good friends the Fribergs (Big D). We have yet to rent to same place twice...but I think this year we finally found a winner. It's fabulous, it's directly on Lake Michigan. I could tell you more but then you might want to rent it and we would loose our spot.

I am keeping it a secret, it's mine all MINE! ah-hah-hah,hahahaha!

(that was a crazy evil laugh)

But seriously if they will have us, we are coming back here again. For one thing the kitchen is big. The kitchen is very important when Big D and I vacation together. Because it is all about the food, my friends. The first year we vacationed together by the third night the boys (our husbands) were begging for mercy. They were so full they couldn't take it anymore. We have simmered it down since that year. We cut out the appetizer course.......

We have a menu planning date for our vacation. Breakfast, lunch, appetizers, dinner, dessert, snacks in between.....OH my HEAVENS it's quite out of control. But it's what we love to do, and that's what one should do on their vacation right? Do what they love to do.....

We haven't been in the kitchen the whole time......don't worry there is plenty of reading, napping and playing in the waves going on.

Today is the beginning of the fifth full day of our vacation....I just thought I would share with you what we have eaten so far....if I can remember it all that is. In short, in one paragraph I will attempt to fill you in on the "min-nuuuuu".

Chicken Fontinella, rosemary bread, salad, cheese platter, marscapone cupcakes with strawberry frosting/white chocolate frosting, french breakfast puffs, deli sammies for lunch, PW's Katies corn salad, guac, pica de gallo, flank steak and chicken on the grill for fajitas, onions and peppers, and all the fixin's for fajitas, Big D's Mexican chocolate sauce for our ice cream(this sauce is TDF! I will be sharing the recipe, pinky swear), big breakfast=bacon, eggs to order, all sorts of breads and muffins that were baked prior and brought with, fajita night redo which turned out to be quesidillas of all sorts, lots of appetizers which include every cheese known to man......and wine for the adults.....pop for the kiddos, hummus and pretzel chips, cream cheese with pepper jelly and crackers, boursin cheese, crackers, bbq ribs, firecracker shrimp skewers, oven roasted potatoes, watermelon salad (which was AmAZ-za-zing, will also share this recipe), plain ol' watermelon slices, green salad with tomatoes and homemade ranch dressings....thanks PW, rosemary rolls, caprese salad.....hmmm seems like I missed something, Steaks marinated in my teriyaki sauce ,with blue cheese on the side, french cheese bread, pan fried potatoes with kale, green beans, cantaloupe, mater and mozz salad, (or caprese salad if you rather call it that), saute'd mushrooms and onions, cherry cobbler, ice cream, chocolate chunk toffee cookies, peanut butter bars.....

Is this called gluttony...

As we speak I am making bacon and Big D is going to make French toast with brioche bread......and of course I did not include the food we have eaten out ie. Pronto Pups, popcorn, and tonight we are planning on Fricanos...one cannot be within 5 miles of Fricanos pizza and not have a pie...I think there are laws against not eating Fricanos pizza while vacationing in West Michigan......we are downing the Lipator as I write in preparation.

What's to come.....shrimp boil, blackberry cobbler, Texas sheet cake, homemade ice cream......heavens to Betsy!

I am feeling sick.....do I have a problem? Don't answer that....I like living in denial.

Mozz and Maters is something we have eaten with every meal....it's easy, it's seems healthy, the kids will eat it....so here is my version...

Mozz and Mater

Toast pine nuts in pan.

Just a little bit so they look like this a cute and toasty....just a little tan.

Here is all the goodies you will need....it's so easy...really my eleven year old makes it.

Basil is a beautiful, wonderful, fabulous thing......I could just sniff it all day long and into the night. I think I actually would like to marry it. Is there a perfume? Hmmm I need to find me some....perfuuume de Basil-poo.

Slice your tomatoes or maters if you are me.

Lay them out on a platter....and make sure your golden retriever is not in the kitchen, or that you don't turn your back on him while you have tomatoes on a platter, if he is a mater eatin retriever like ours....

Then slice up the mozzarella, thin and lay on top, I know I am doing it upside down, I do things topsy turvy often.

Now sprinkle with the chopped basil, drizzle with olive oil, and balsamic vinegar....still keeping an eye on your caprese eating doggie.

Oh yeah baby.....

Sprinkle with coarse salt and fresh ground pepper, and toasted pine nuts....where's the dog?

Oh life is good....yes sir-eee.

The story behind the dog is that one time when I was having some gals over for appetizers and fun....I had made a platter like the above, Jack our golden retriever laying in the corner...sleeping, so I thought....turned my back to go to the door because I thought my peeps had arrived. Seconds later I heard an odd glass slapping on counter top sound, I turned to find my doggie his hind haunches on the floor, front paws parked on either side of the beeea-UU-teeful platter just havin' himself a feast!!!!! "Blast you DEVIL dog" I screamed. He scurried out the door so fast, lickin his chops...stinken beast. I so wish I would have thought to grab my camera so you could have a full visual.

Have a great day!


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July 28, 2010

Chicken FontiNELLA

I always let my kiddos dictate what they want to eat on their birthday.

"Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
They are allowed to bark out orders. "French Breakfast Puffs for breakfast!", "Hot dogs for LUNCH", "and chicken with ham chunks and that rice with black specks in it for DINNER".
I slap my heals together, wiggle my nose, salute to the birthday child and get to work. I really love it. Cause, well you know I love making people happy with food. Especially my little peeps. It's usually pretty predictable what they will want. But this year for Cece's eighth birthday the chicken rice request threw me for a loop. I could not for the life of me figure out what she wanted.

We did the big game of "you mean that one chicken thing I made for.....", "NO", "Oh that one casserole I made when we had so and so over???", "no", "HMMM you mean the one we had a couple weeks ago with mushrooms, I thought you didn't like mushrooms", "NO(whining/irritated with me). "I want the one that's cheesy too!". "Oh yeah with spinach in it." "Yeh only I don't want the spinIsh in it......"

So we were heading to our rental on the Lake Michigan with Big D and her family the day before my babies birthday....and this chicken dish is super easy to make ahead and throw in the oven...so I thought BONUS! Sure that's perfect I can make that and it will be an easy meal to throw in the oven, giving us extra time to play outside and not be messing around in the kitchen. This "casserole", I hate that word, because it says to me canned soup and lots of stuff dumped into a white dish and baked silly. I think casserole is actually French for just that, what I said there in the previous sentence. I have nothing against canned soup mind you, just well....OH forget it.....

So her it is my "casserole" Chicken Fontinella, because of the fontinella cheese.....you can use an italian blend already grated if you like, that would be a time saver if you are not into grating cheese.

Chicken Fontinella
printable recipe
2 box Uncle Ben's original recipe long grain wild rice (not the fast cook)
4 cups of water
6 oz ham steak cubed
1 lb. of chicken breast or ground chicken
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 cup fontinella cheese grated
1/2 cup mozzarella
1/4 cup Parmesan
1 stick of butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup milk
2 cups of spinach washed and chopped finely

There they are the ingredients.

Give your ham a cubin'. I know this is more than the above noted 6oz, I was making enough for 11 people, so I kind of doubled the recipe.

Chop your chicken breasts into cubes getting them ready to saute' in a pan with the butter and olive oil.

Then you can put the rice into a large saucepan, with water, spice packs and a 1/2 of the butter. Cook to the box directions.

When the rice is done scrape it into a large mixing bowl with the ham.

Then because I am frugal with my pan washing I use the same pan to cook my chicken, it's still hot, so throw in the butter and olive oil, let it melt. Then you can add the chicken and minced garlic. Saute until just done, not really browned. My youngest is not really into chicken chunks so if I have it sometimes I will use ground chicken then the chicken is virtually undetectable in the finished dish. Sneaky.

Garlic is a beautiful thing...unless you are my husband who despises garlic breath...then it is public enemy no.1.

When the chicken is cooked through then add it to the rice and ham.....

along with the cheeses and the other 1/2 of the butter...

and the spinach. Which I did not leave out per my child's request...because I don't think she ever knew it was in there until I blew it's cover, doing the guessing game. She never mentioned it as we were eating...Sneaky.

Mix it all together, the heat of the rice and chicken will start to melt the cheese...ooooh so good.

Now you want to add the milk just to give it a little juice help the cheese be cheesier.

There it is ready to take to the cottage along with alot of other baked goodies there as you see in the background. You can freeze it too, just make sure it's fully thawed before you bake it. It's one of those meals that is good to double and then put one in the freezer for a busy day when you know you won't have time to make a meal OR to have just to give to someone you needs a little comfort.

You want to bake it at 350degrees for 30-40 minutes it needs to get all bubbly and oohey gooey looking. I served ours with a crusty loaf and a green salad. Perfecta-MUNdo!

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July 25, 2010


Today is our fourth childs eighth birthday. Eight years ago today a beautiful amazing child was born hours away from the woman she would call mama. Kinda of a strange thought, that you could just be goin along with your day...and your child is born somewhere...and you don't even know it. Takes my breath away....

When I started blogging I thought that adoption would be one of the main things that I blogged about. I don't think I have blogged specifically about adoption once.......Where does one start. The topic is so broad and complex. Everyones story is so personal.

I want you all to know, that I believe with all my heart that nobodies adoption story is better than anothers.....no certain type of adoption domestic or international is more superior. God has a plan for each child and how they come to be in the family they are in.....and that is a beautiful thing to be celebrated, not speculated. So as you read our story know it's just that, our story, no one elses. It's just a story of how one child came to be with her family.

I have sat for hours and and listened to women talk about their labor, and delivery stories. I myself have told the stories (when asked) of how our first three children came diving into this world. But I have yet to during any of those conversations have someone ask, "so how was your fourth child delivered to you". I think people are generally afraid they are going to ask the wrong question, offend, or that maybe it's none of their business. All they while they just listened to very personal stories of farting in doctors faces and puking on nurses, and husband sitting on the toilet because every time their wife went into labor they got diarrhea (that would not be my husband....never...not on your life). I can understand why people don't ask.

I have rarely been offended by questions that people have asked. Except for, of course, the dumb ones. Like, "why would anyone want to give their baby away", "or wasn't that weird taking someone elses baby?". What the heck? Um, no.....it wasn't weird, because I didn't take someone elses baby....God gave me my baby through the gift of adoption. It really almost makes me giggle...but not really....at the things some people say.

I will tell you, that there are some labor pains of sorts for adoption too. It tends to be a analytical labor. For us our hearts told us this is what you are to do. After much prayer...a year...of prayer...we knew it was also what God was telling us to do to. Really when I think about it, my first three biological labors being pretty text book and painless, were not too unlike my adoptive labor. It was slightly painful but we knew that God would work out the details and once the child, that was to be ours, was in our arms there was no lookin back.

Originally, Ken and I started our adoption conversation because 1) it seemed like everyone around us was unable to get pregnant and going through infertility and 2) we had some good friends that were foster parents for infants, so we were always seeing these cutey pa-tooties before they went on to be with their adoptive parents...and it grabbed at our hearts. We decided that if I did not prove to be fertile then adoption would be our path.

Apparently my name should have been, Myrtle, as in fertile Myrtle. Ken breathed on me and I was pregnant! Heavens to mergatroid.....I brought our third child home on our first childs third birthday...three in three. Talk about dumb questions...people would say things to me in the grocery store like "haven't got that figured out yet huh?" "HUH?, nope guess not." I am sure I have asked some doozy questions too....but hokey pete!

So after number three...we decided that someone needed to put a rubber band around sumthin'. And we made a permanent decision to be done having babies.....so we thought....

Adoption would not leave our thoughts or our hearts. So in May of 2002 we called a local adoption agency...the one our friends fostered for, and others we knew had used....and started the ball rolling.

That's the beginning of our story....the end is this.....

well not really the end, cause there is alot of middle I still need to tell you about. But today we have this beautiful chiclet smile. What a spark this kid has put in our lives. From those tiny toes above to her big ol' girl feet today.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Cece....we love you all the way to the moon and back!
Mommy and Dada

I can't wait to share the rest with you!

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July 24, 2010


LOOK AT THAT, just look at how fabulous that is!

I headed on down to the farmers market in downtown Grand Rapids this morning...with Big D...bright and early. It was raining...but it was still the best. I LOVE the farmers market, I could kiss it, hug it, and dance down the center of it. But then, unfortunately I would probably be sitting in the mental ward right now and not sharing these pictures with you.

If you have a farmers market any where near you. GO please. Bring your children. Bring your grandma, your husband. Don't take a shower, just pull on your comfy pants and go.

Oh the flowers.....I restrained myself today. We are headed out to a cottage on Lake Michigan for the week with Big D and her family...so it would be one more reason for my husband to roll is eyes at me as I pack half the kitchen up....."really, you needed to buy flowers to haul out there". I could just hear it, as I am loading up my food processor, iron skillet, muffin tins....oh the list goes on and on. We need to eat people, we are on vacation. So, yeah, I passed these beauties by.

If you are from Grand Rapids, and you do go to the Farmers Market on Fulton, you need to go into the Market office and cast your ballot for it to be picked as the BEST farmers market in it's class in the country! Not sure of all the exact details I was too busy dancing down the sidewalk to my car...but take a second and do it.

Have a great day!

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July 22, 2010

Curry Chicken Salad & a LIST

What is today anyway??? My husband took our third child on their "father/son talk" trip this week. They went to Hershey PA, and Gettysburg. So, I have felt a little off with being down two persons in our household...keep thinking I am forgetting something or someone....which I most likely am.

Phone call at 9:15. "HI Sheila, this is Michelle" "Oh Hi Michelle!" (I have a few friends named Michelle.) "Is Cece coming this morning?"...........in my mind...quick whizzing through where my littlest should be at 9:15 on a Thursday morning....OH MY GOSH it's her teacher!!!!!! EGADS....

"OH my goodness, I am so sorry, yes will have her right there!"

It was her teacher, who tutors her in the summer....thank goodness we live RIGHT across the street from our school...BUMMER my kid was still in bed.

"UP UP UP" pulling jammies off pulling cloths on, her afro all off kilter, sleep in her eyes. Poor baby, her mom is such a numb skull.

Then I arrive home to 5 thirteen year olds sitting at my counter with forks and knives at the ready, the have eaten all night long, NO sleep at all, and now they are hungry AGAIN. I love kids.

So eggs to order, toast,bacon, juice! Bu-bye!

Now back to pick up my baby at tutoring...

Return home, kids getting picked up, lots of small talk...smile, smile....go inside...catch my look in the mirror...AAAAHHHH.

HOLY CRAP....that was scaweee! Shower, primp, primp..

Feed the kids that are in my home that need carbs for Championship Swim Meet today that I need to get them to on time and not get lost.

Make list for thirteen year old of things he needs to do while I am gone....BESIDES sleep.
1. vacuum up ants in basement, that have appeared because of all the food and pop on floor.
2. put out ant trap.
3. take out garbage
4. rinse pop cans out
5 take recycling out
6. feed dog
7. help little sis with homework
8 stay awake so you can babysit little sis

And how does all of this have anything to do with Curry Chicken Salad??? It doesn't really. Except for I know that when I get home tonight from all of this it will taste really good with a glass of Chard, in my jammies of course.

Chicken Curry Salad
4 chicken breasts
Mortons Nature's Seasons
3/4 cup chopped apple
3/4 cup halved grapes
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup finely chopped green onion
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 lemon juiced
1 teaspoon curry powder
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped cashews (or peanuts if you must)

Four chicken breasts in a baking pan, sprinkle with season salt, bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.

Let cool and chop up into pieces.

Here are the rest of the ingredients you will need.

Chop up all the goodies...then mix up your dressing ingredients...I did just skipped the picture of the dressing getting mixed up...was in a hurry...crazy morning remember....?

Chop up your cashews...love that word. Try saying it next time you sneeze. It's a riot!

Oh so yummy, and all for me...none of my kiddos really care for it, so PU-ee on them. You can also make it into a PASTA salad if you so choose, just boil up any noodles of your choice, increase the mayo and yogurt to 1 cup each and Voila! You are good to go. You may want to adjust the seasonings a little bit....taste as you cook, DO NOT be afraid to taste as you cook. I will REPEAT taste as you cook...

Sorry was that annoying? I think I have been around too many 13 year old boys....

You know I luvYA,

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