Mousing Around

My mom was down visiting and we decided to go visit…where else? Disneyland.

My mom bought the boys bubble guns. Aram wouldn’t put his down the entire day. Samuel preferred to be in the center of the bubbles, rather than be the bubble-maker.


"Big Thunder Mountain"-I told Samuel to pretend he was scared in line

Aram says he's never scared. I'm betting his future career will entail deadly animals and firearms.

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#9, Check!

Well, I can check number 9 off the Pre-30 Bucket List:

See Adele in concert!

That may not excite you, but after cancelling her concert we had already planned to be at and knowing she has debilitating stage freight, we thought we may never see her.

Well, we did it!

We saw her at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley that I LOVE. I only want to see concerts there from now on. Now that I don’t live in the Bay Area I’m learning to appreciate Berkeley in a whole new way. I think Adele fans are really fun, but Berkley Adele fans are even more fun to be with!

Since this was on our bucket list, we felt the need to document everything:

Here we are getting ready to leave for the concert...pretty excited! Oh, FYI the picture hanging in the background is scary Pinecrest.

Brian was clearly over-excited. Don't tell his friends.

Okay, we only have Brian’s half-working Iphone to take pictures at the concert. So I apologize for what you are about to see….

We made it!

I wanted to get a shot from the lawn. We didn't sit up here, but I think next time we will do lawn seating. It looked like a lot of fun and they still had a good view.

The wine guys, I liked them...

Wanda Jackson (The first female rock and roll singer!) opened up for Adele. What a sassy lady. She had some really good stories about Elvis.

Adele Opened with Hometown Glory.

She then went on to give a great concert. I’m not kidding. Brian said it was the best one he’s ever been to. I think I agree….



Well, none of my Adele pictures turned out. So I’m stealing one from the same night, thank you Wanda:

 

 

 

 

 

Little Boys

So long my pacifist ways. The male population of my house is NRA membership-worthy. They always like to shoot the "bad guys" trying to get me. I'm okay with that.

When I was little up until I had Aram, I wanted a girl.

I would like to say when I was pregnant I didn’t care what the gender of my baby was, but that would be a lie.

I think I was completely freaked out when I found out Aram was a boy. I knew nothing about little boys.

My mind consists of pink sparkly princess thoughts. What they heck are little boys like?

Then Aram was born.

I found out little boys like to make loud noises, break things, take things apart to see how they work, and NEVER SIT STILL…EVER.

They also have a bond with their mothers that you can’t replicate in any other relationship.

Little boys love their mommies. Period. They will protect them with every little ounce of strength they have. Although, it is the mothers that mainly do the protecting at this stage.

When we started the adoption process Aram was still a baby and we decided we should specify we wanted to adopt a girl so we could have “one of each”….

Deep down we felt like our family was missing another son.

We decided to change out preference and leave it up to God. A few weeks later we received Samuel’s referral.

And so, I am now the mother to two ridiculously gigantic boys. They are a lot of work, but I couldn’t imagine it any other way.

I also think there is something nice about only having one estrogen producing female in the house. There are definitely perks to being the only girl.

I imagine when the boys grow up, if they are as protective as they are now with me, we will look a little like this:

If we were to have five more children I would want boys. That is how great they are.

I’m not trying to slam little girls. I can’t really say anything about them because I don’t have any, but I can say I do love little boys.

My hope is that my boys give me some granddaughters so I can play sparkles and princesses with them, and not have to raise them as teenagers 😉

African Thoughts

It is coming up on my five-year anniversary of the summer I spent volunteering in west Africa.

I can’t believe it has been that long.

Not because it was trip full of happy memories.It was one of the hardest trips of my life. I ended up getting severely depressed and had to face some really scary existential questions while I was there.

I began realizing the underlying motivations behind international volunteering.

Top: Lauren, Morag, Me. Bottom: P (daughter of a volunteer)


We go there for selfish reasons.

We go  to meet people different from ourselves.

Our wonderful cook (in the kitchen), Constance.

We go to see beautiful scenery.

Highlife music with our tour guide/musician.

Lauren, me, Sohini, and another volunteer (FYI: we did not pick out our bathingsuits)

Togo

Me and two monkeys (foreshadowing of my life)

We go to find humor in things we don’t understand.

Me and Lauren in our net.

At a residence in Woe. Promise, a turkey, and another volunteer.

We go to see disgraceful things of our past so we can say they are disgraceful.

waterfront slave "castle"

We go and see beautiful people of the country’s future and capture what we want to see.

But we leave them there in peril, taking what we wanted to see and feel out of the experience and leaving them with the truth.

Seeing the awful state of Ghana, one of Africa’s more “together” countries, made me so sad. And the feeling of powerlessness or distance from the volunteers to aid the people was remarkable.

That was when I had to come to terms with the fact that I absolutely loathed and loved the entire continent. It was obvious at that point that Africa and I were not going to be ending out relationship, but I had no idea where it was going to go.

Soda

Soda grosses me out.

Regular soda is so sweet it makes me sick to my stomach, and diet soda has strange chemicals I wish not to put in my body.

Unfortunately, water and tea can get pretty boring.

My new obsession is Drysoda.

It only has a few ingredients (all that you can pronounce) and tastes (in my opinion) how soda should taste (slightly flavored carbonated water)…..

My favorite flavors are Lavendar and French Vanilla.

YOU HAVE TO MAKE THIS!

I stole this post because everyone reading my blog needs to make this!

Here is the original link:

http://www.amateurgourmet.com/2008/11/the_best_brocco.html

The Best Broccoli of Your Life

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You know you’ve done something right with broccoli when the person you made it for describes it to someone else the next day as “better than biting into a steak.”

Those were Craig’s words and they were a marked change from the first words he uttered about the broccoli, before he bit in: “You made broccoli for dinner? Broccoli and sweet potatoes?”

Then he did bite in and his eyes lit up. “Oh my God,” he said. “This is the best broccoli I’ve ever had in my life.” Later he said: “If parents made this broccoli for their kids, kids wouldn’t hate broccoli. They’d beg for it.”

So what did I do to the broccoli to make it taste so good?

I can’t take any credit. The credit goes to that formidable force in my foodie life; namely, The Barefoot Contessa. From the very beginning, when I used to go to book stores and copy recipes out of her books on little index cards that I kept in my pocket, Ina Garten’s recipes have proved to be that perfect combination of simple yet sophisticated; she maximizes flavors in ways that are both ingenious and incredibly replicable. Anyone can do an Ina recipe yet when you taste the finished product, it doesn’t taste that way; it tastes like it was made by a pro.

I’m going to have a hard time this week not posting all of the recipes from her new book, Back To Basics. In the past few days alone, I’ve made her roasted pears with blue cheese and walnuts; her roasted sweet potato wedges (which I wrote about in the previous post); and from her “Parties!” book, her butternut squash soup and her roasted pork loin. As you can tell from these recipe titles, The Barefoot Contessa loves roasting.

Specifically, she loves roasting vegetables at a high temperature until they caramelize. That’s the basic premise of most of her vegetable recipes in most of her cookbooks and that’s precisely what makes her broccoli recipe the best you’ve ever had.

Normally, broccoli gets squishy when you cook it. Not this broccoli; it develops an amazing brown crust in spots. Then you toss it with lemon juice, lemon zest, and Parmesan cheese and you’re in heaven.

Seriously, this recipe is so easy I can recite it without looking at the book. (Ok, I’m lying, I’m about to open the book just to double check….)

You preheat the oven to 425.

Take 4 to 5 pounds of broccoli (I just got two large bunches), cut into florets (but relatively big ones.) Here’s the key that she doesn’t mention in the recipe: dry them THOROUGHLY. That is, if you wash them. I saw an episode of Julia Child cooking with Jacques Pepin once when Pepin revealed he doesn’t wash a chicken before putting it in a hot oven: “The heat kills all the germs,” he said in his French accent. “If bacteria could survive that oven, it deserves to kill me.” By that logic, then, I didn’t wash my broccoli; I wanted it to get crispy and brown. If you’re nervous, though, just wash and dry it obsessively.

Now, it’s easy. Put the broccoli on a cookie sheet. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. (She says 5 Tbs olive oil, 1 1/2 tsps kosher salt, 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper, but I just eyeballed it.) Now add 4 garlic cloves that are peeled and sliced and toss them in too.

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Roast in the oven 20 to 25 minutes, until “crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned.”

I shook the pan around a bit as it went, but not sure that’s necessary.

When it’s done, take it out of the oven–and here’s where it gets really good–zest a lemon over the broccoli, squeeze the lemon juice over the broccoli, add 1.5 Tbs more olive oil, 3 Tbs toasted pine nuts (I left those out), and 1/3 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. She also has you add 2 Tbs julienned fresh basil, but I left that out too.

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You won’t miss it: the magic combo of the crispy broccoli, the garlic, the lemon and the cheese will make this the best broccoli of your life. I guarantee it; you will go ga-ga over it. I’m so ga-ga over it that I would seriously consider a trip right now to the store just so I could make this for lunch. Broccoli for lunch? After trying this, you’ll never want to eat anything else for breakfast, lunch or dinner ever again.

Things That I Love- Disneyland

I almost decided not to post this because it seems a little redundant at this point. However, I have to pay homage to my home-away-from-home: Disneyland!

Reasons I love Disneyland:

1. It is the happiest place on earth

2. I got cast as Snow White, Aurora, and Belle face characters at Disneyland (so they don’t think I’m ugly!)- ask me about the audition (the guy totally predicted my pregnancy with AT!)- I am pretty bummed out and still slightly bitter that I am not currently working there for minimum wage around a bunch of germy kids.

3.  The Lost Bar

4. Bengal BBQ

5. Club 33

6. The Baby Center!

7. Where else can you take a ride in a horse-drawn anything and never see poop- EVER?

8. Basically every magical ride is worth mentioning, but I’ll just cover all my basis with #8

9. Disney Dream Suite

10. Grand Californian Hotel- NAPA ROSE

And that is just the tip of the iceberg, my friend.

Things that I Love- Dolly Parton

Well,  our biometrics appointment still hasn’t come.

Soon we will be playing the “waiting game” – to pass the time I will be periodically posting about non-adoption or family related subjects.

So, here is the first of many things that I love. Actually, she’s a person- Dolly Parton.

Many of you know my love of Miss Parton, and here are a few reasons why:

  • She is always herself- She says that she just likes looking “overdone”- It’s not for anyone, but herself and I totally get that. I like it, too!
  • She has a huge gay following and is not quiet on her Christian beliefs, but still loves and appreciates people for who they are.
  • She has her own  theme park!
  • She came from humble beginnings.
  • She loves what she does for a living. Even though she has enough money to retire she doesn’t want to.
  • She keeps her long-time marriage quiet from the public
  • She is a great business woman
  • She reminds me of my Grandma (anyone who knows her will understand)
  • She openly talks about her plastic surgery

Well, that about sums it up!