Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cheesy Spinach Dip

My friend Betty shared this yummy appetizer recipe with me. I brought it to Rachel's China Group's Christmas party last night and it disappeared! A few folks asked for the recipe, so here it is...

Cheesy Spinach Dip

1. Cut 1 lb. (16 oz.) Velveeta into 1/2-inch cubes; place in large microwaveable bowl. Add 1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained; 4 oz. (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) cream cheese, cut up; 1 can (10 oz.) Ro*Tel diced tomatoes & green chiles, undrained; and 8 slices bacon, crisply cooked, drained and crumbled.

2. Microwave on high 5 minutes or until Velveeta is completely melted and mixture is well blended, stirring after 3 minutes.

3. Serve hot with tortilla chips or assorted cut-up fresh vegetables.

Makes 4 cups.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Anyone Remember This Movie?

"The House Without A Christmas Tree" was made for TV in 1972 when I was 9 (OK, go ahead and do the math - I'll wait...). I watched it every year for several years. The story takes place in 1946. Addie, the main character in the movie, is 10 years old. She lives with her grandmother and her widowed father, who refuses to have a Christmas tree because it reminds him of his wife who died when Addie was a baby. It's a wonderful story, and I just love Addie's spunky personality.

I found this movie on VHS several years ago, and just last week, discovered it in the $5 DVD bin at WalMart. Our family watched it last night, and the girls really enjoyed it. It is now one of our Christmas Classics, along with "It's A Wonderful Life" and "A Christmas Story".

Now I need to find "The Homecoming" (the Waltons' Christmas movie) on DVD...

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Cookies With Santa!

Every year, our adoption agency hosts a "Cookies With Santa" event. We always try to bring the girls for this - it's a wonderful way for the girls to visit with Santa in a much more personal environment than the mall. And I get to take a whole bunch of pictures!

They wore the matching sweaters that Daddy bought for them at LL Bean when he was in Maine last month.

The girls are eyeing the yummy cookies and punch!

They had a nice long visit with Santa.

The girls really put Santa to work, peppering him with dozens of questions!

He gave them each a little gift (art supplies)!

Funny story: The first thing Abbie did when she walked up to Santa was to start tugging on his beard. Santa was very good natured about it! After a sufficient amount of tugging, she pronounced, "Yup, he's the real one!"

On our way out to the car, Rachel looked up at me and said, "Mama, now I know he's real!"

You betcha, Sweetie!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Our Little Star

Abbie's dance recital was this afternoon. The theme of the program was Dancing Through the Holidays, and her tap class danced to the VeggieTales' rendition of the 1971 song "I Just Want to Celebrate" by Rare Earth (they were celebrating New Year's Day). It was incredibly cute, and Abbie had lots of fun performing!

On stage at the dress rehearsal the night before the performance.

All dressed up and ready for the show!

We had a little fun with the makeup. I even managed to get some mascara on her lashes!

After the performance. She loved getting flowers!

And of course, Hannah and Rachel were there to support their sister!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Chinese Children's Music

Several years ago, I found this site with 27 Chinese children's songs that you could download. Al made a CD of them, and the girls have enjoyed them so much! Some of the titles crack me up: "Communist Young Pioneers", "Heroic Little Sisters", and "I Love Beijing TianAnMen". A few of our favorites are "Little Swallow", "Jasmine", "Mama Is the Best", and "Mud Doll". The arrangements can sound pretty cheezy, but our family just loves listening to the very "typical" sound of the contemporary Chinese recordings! Enjoy!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Because You Just Might Be Looking For A New Recipe To Use Up All That Turkey!

I have this heating up in the oven right now. The fam loves it!

Turkey Tetrazzini

2 cups broken uncooked spaghetti (2-inch pieces)
1 chicken bouillon cube
3/4 cup boiling water
1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1/8 teaspoon celery salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1-1/2 cups cubed cooked turkey
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons diced pimientos, drained
1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese, divided

Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a bowl, dissolve bouillon in water. Add soup, celery salt and pepper. Drain spaghetti; add to soup mixture. Stir in turkey, onion, pimientos and 1/2 cup of cheese. Transfer to a greased 8-in. square baking dish. Top with remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 35-40 minutes, until heated through.

Notes: I have also made this with leftover cooked chicken with yummy results. I usually skip the celery salt, pepper, onion and pimientos to appeal to the discerning palates of my younger diners. It's still good!

Monday, November 24, 2008

They've Got Art In Their Hearts!

Hannah and Rachel have been taking an after-school drawing class, and are both showing a real gift for art. Al and I are both "artistically challenged", so we're glad they have this opportunity to learn from their talented teacher.

They learned about symmetry at their first class. This is Rachel's drawing of a Native American pot...

...and Hannah's drawing...
Keeping in mind that they are in first and third grade. Pretty good!

Their second class focused on three-dimensional drawing. Here's Rachel's teepee...

...and Hannah's...

Both girls have had a work of art published in the school calendar. Hannah had a work submitted for an Illinois teachers' art show. Hannah also scored a free tee shirt and open gym pass by winning her gymnastics school's coloring contest. And her drawing will be featured on this year's first and third grade holiday concert program.
The best part is that they find so much enjoyment in the creative process. And their confidence and self esteem get a real boost, too!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Happy Four-Year Gotcha Day, Abbie!

The first moment I held you...

With your Daddy at the Civil Affairs office in Guangzhou, just minutes after meeting you...

Sleeping soundly on your first night with us...

Visiting the Yangxi SWI, your first home...
Enjoying the Yun Tai Gardens in Guangzhou...
At the White Swan hotel...
Such a sweet, happy baby...
Our precious girl, four years later...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Chinese Kitchen

Check out this blog post I stumbled upon! The blogger is currently living in China, and shares photos of her kitchen. If you've been to China (and even if you haven't), you'll enjoy reading this!

I Am NOT Happy!

Well, it was bound to happen eventually, but I didn't think it would be this soon.

I got an invitation to join AARP.

I am NOT eligible for this organization for another five years, thankyouverymuch, and I'd appreciate it if they wouldn't try to rush things along.

I'm gonna go do something "youthful" now, like knit... Oh, no!!!!!!

Apple Crisp

Another great fall recipe! I've been making this a lot, too. I've been making quite a few dinners in my crock pot. That frees up my oven, as well as evening dinner prep time, to whip up this nice warm dessert for my family! The five of us can wipe out one pan in an evening, so I'd advise making two if you have guests!

Best Apple Crisp Ever

4 apples - peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. In a 9-inch square baking pan, mix sliced apples with brown sugar. In a large bowl, mix together flour, white sugar, cinnamon and salt. In a small bowl, beat together egg and melted butter. Stir into flour mixture. Spread evenly over apples.
3. Bake in a preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until topping is golden and crisp.

Pumpkin Bars

It's the perfect time of year for my "famous" Pumpkin Bars! I've made them several times already this fall, and have been asked for the recipe a number of times! Thought I'd share it here...

Pumpkin Bars
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

4 eggs
1 15-oz can pumpkin
1 2/3 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (opt.)

In medium bowl, mix dry ingredients (except sugar). In large bowl, beat eggs, pumpkin, sugar and oil. Add dry ingredients, beat well. Spread in ungreased 15x10x1 pan (jelly roll). Bake at 350, 25 - 30 minutes (check with toothpick). cool on wire rack.

Beat together 3-oz package cream cheese (softened), 1/4 cup margarine (softened), and 1 teaspoon vanilla until fluffy. Gradually add 2 cups (sifted) powdered sugar. Beat until smooth. Spread on cooled bars.

Store in refrigerator.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Pardon the Panda

Update: Looks like others like him, too, so he's staying for a while!

When I added that little panda wandering around my blog, I thought he was just going to sit there on my sidebar looking cute. It's probably annoying to try to read a post and have him sit down right on the sentence you're reading. But really, isn't he just adorable? And I discovered that if you click on his bamboo (also floating around the page), it bounces, and he goes after it, catches it and eats it.

It doesn't take much to amuse me these days!

He'll probably be gone by the weekend...

Friday, October 10, 2008

Note to Self...

Do not try to knit a complicated piece while in the same room with children watching Sesame Street!

I was trying to count stitches, but Elmo's counting was louder (and more obnoxious), and I kept getting thrown off...

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Sweet Memories...

Mary at Owlhaven (one of my all-time favorite blogs) posted a little challenge. Go to your photos file, find the 6th folder, then find the 6th photo in that folder and post it to your blog. Here's what I found...

We brought Abbie home from China on Thanksgiving Day. I decided that year to send out a combination Christmas card/adoption announcement. I took a jillion pics - this was one of the outtakes, though not so bad, now that I look at it. Hannah was 5, Rachel was 2, and Abbie was 9 months. I bought those sweaters in China on that trip - yes, those are ladybugs on them!

The cards were red with a gold ribbon tied at the top (I made them myself) - it looked Christmas-y, and it also incorporated the Chinese colors of "good luck". The picture was on the front of the card...

(front) "If you think we've got our hands full now..."

(inside) " should see our hearts!"

I'm enjoying just looking at those sweet babies again. They're growing up so fast!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"D" is for (Play) Doh!

I got a great homemade play doh recipe from Rachel's Kindergarten teacher last year. Abbie and I made some this morning as part of our "D" week! Just wanted to share the recipe with you! (I made a half recipe for each color.)

Homemade Play Doh

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup salt
2 packages unsweetened Kool Aid
2 cups boiling water
3 tablespoons cooking oil

Mix dry ingredients in one bowl. Mix liquid ingredients in another bowl. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients; stir until it forms a ball. This may take a while. As the mixture cools, it becomes less sticky. When completely cool, knead until smooth.

Now, could someone tell me how to explain to a four-year-old that "N" is not for "knead" - "K" is! So then, what's that animal in Australia with the pouch - a Nangeroo???

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My friend, Lisa, did this interview with her children on her blog. I thought it was so cute, I had to do it myself!
Hannah's Answers
1. What is something your mom always says to you?
Hannah, clean up the Little People!
2. What makes mom happy?
Doing what she tells you to do.
3. What makes mom sad?
Not listening to her.
4. How does your mom make you laugh?
Being funny.
5. What was your mom like as a child?
She had very long hair and got contact lenses when she was 8. (Well, actually, I was 16...)
6. How old is your mom?
44 (Only off by one year!)
7. How tall is your mom?
I don't know the answer to that.
8. What is her favorite thing to do?
9. What does your mom do when you're not around?
She teaches Abbie homeschool.
10. What is your mom really good at?
Making dish cloths and egg white cookies and homemade food!
11. What is your mom not very good at?
She's not very flexible.
12. What does your mom do for her job?
She plays in the orchestra and sings in church.
13. What is your mom's favorite food?
Lettuce with dressing. (Obviously she doesn't see me eat lobster very often!)
14. What makes you proud of your mom?
That she makes great homemade food and her food always turns out great. (Now if I could just get everyone to actually eat it...)
15. What do you and your mom do together?
Sometimes she helps me with homework.
16. How are you and your mom different?
I'm more flexible than she is, and my feet aren't ticklish.
17. How do you know your mom loves you?
Because sometimes she makes my favorite food and I don't even notice it.

Rachel's Answers
1. What is something your mom always says to you?
I love you!
2. What makes mom happy?
When I clean up.
3. What makes mom sad?
When I fool around.
4. How does your mom make you laugh?
By tickling me, or telling some jokes.
5. What was your mom like as a child?
She was very happy and cheerful.
6. How old is your mom?
I can't remember. (Good girl!)
7. How tall is your mom?
8. What is her favorite thing to do?
Take long walks with me!
9. What does your mom do when you're not around?
Pay bills?
10. What is your mom really good at?
Loving. And singing. And licking a lollipop.
11. What is your mom not very good at?
12. What does your mom do for her job?
Go to choir practice.
13. What is your mom's favorite food?
14. What makes you proud of your mom?
When she gives me a kiss.
15. What do you and your mom do together?
Go on dates.
16. How are you and your mom different?
We don't have the same color hair, and we don't have the same voice, and she's bigger than me.
17. How do you know your mom loves you?
Because she always says she loves me!

Abbie's Answers
1. What is something your mom always says to you?
I love you! And it's time for school.
2. What makes mom happy?
When I hug her.
3. What makes mom sad?
When Daddy's in Detroit.
4. How does your mom make you laugh?
Tickling me under my chin.
5. What was your mom like as a child?
She had long, dark hair.
6. How old is your mom?
7. How tall is your mom?
This tall. (Holding her hand way up high)
8. What is her favorite thing to do?
Rest. (She's kidding, right?)
9. What does your mom do when you're not around?
Clean up.
10. What is your mom really good at?
11. What is your mom not very good at?
12. What does your mom do for her job?
She cleans up the house, she makes food, she does her computer...
13. What is your mom's favorite food?
14. What makes you proud of your mom?
When she works for me.
15. What do you and your mom do together?
16. How are you and your mom different?
I play and she works. (You got that right, little girl!)
17. How do you know your mom loves you?
She always kisses me!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

First Day of School, 2008 Edition

I suppose I ought to post our First Day of School photos before first semester report cards go out, huh?

A couple of days before the First Day, our school held its supply drop-off/meet the teacher afternoon.

Rachel loves her first grade teacher, Miss Verner. She was thrilled to learn that Miss V swam competitively in college! They'll have a lot to talk about this year!

Mrs. Weaver is Hannah's third grade teacher. She has two high-school-age sons of her own, and seems very tuned in to her students.

Hannah on the first morning, in her cute new outfit (don't tell anyone how tight I had to pull the adjustable waist on that skirt!).

I think Rachel looks like such a darling little school girl in that outfit!
It makes me feel good to know that Hannah is right there, keeping an eye out for her little sister!
The sisters share a big Sister Love hug before saying goodbye in the schoolyard.

If you look really closely, you can see my eyes are a little puffy and red from crying! It's always hard for me to say goodbye to my girls on the first day.
Since Abbie and I were missing the big girls that day, we decided to make ourselves feel better with a batch of brownies - from scratch! Abbie's a great little helper in the kitchen. She and I even have coordinating aprons!

Just because Abbie is homeschooling this year, doesn't mean she doesn't get a First Day picture, too! Here she is, ready to get started!

Monday, September 08, 2008

I love blog entries that give me a little peek into other moms' homes and lives! Here's a peek into mine! For more, see The Simple Woman...
For Today...

Outside my, damp and cloudy. Fall is in the air!

From the learning rooms...Abbie and I are working on the letter "C" - we'll be baking lots of cookies this week, and learning our "C" verse: "Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord."

I am thankful for...the abundance of food in our pantry, refrigerator and freezer. There'll be lots of cooking, baking and freezing going on this week!

From the kitchen...ingredients for egg white cookies, chocolate chip cookies, homemade wheat bread, and a pot roast for the crock pot today!

I am wearing...sage green tee shirt (my favorite color), denim capris, bare feet, and my apron (I need to do a separate post on that)!

I am reading...The Heavenly Man by Brother Yun, in anticipation of his appearance at a local church.

I am hoping...we don't get rained out next Sunday for our annual picnic with Hannah's China group.

I am creating...knitted Christmas gifts, and a little order in my closets.

I am hearing...Curious George on TV in the other room, the washer and dryer both running (they're always running!), K-LOVE on my radio in the kitchen

Around the house...baskets of clean laundry to fold and put away, piles of dirty laundry to wash today (at least they're sorted!), a big bag of stuff to go to Goodwill, piles of library books to return

One of my favorite things...fall! I'm so ready for it!

A few plans for the rest of the week...baking, a trip to the library, Worship Team rehearsal, cleaning the house in anticipation of a visit from my best friend from college this weekend, more knitting and reading

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...

Saturday, September 06, 2008

More Vacation Memories

The girls and I had lots of fun while visiting Nana in Rhode Island!

We take the girls to the Providence Children's Museum every summer. Their favorite part is the water tables! Thank goodness for waterproof smocks!

We took a day trip to Boston and visited the Old North Church and Paul Revere's home.

And we ate delicious pizza at Pizzeria Regina's on the North End (I loved that place when I lived in Boston - oh, how I miss that pizza!).

One evening, Rachel was so tired from the day's activities, she fell asleep on Nana's couch in this position!