Friday, December 28, 2012

Bake Sale Report + the recipe for the Best Cream Scones

A few weeks ago we had a bake sale in our driveway to raise money for our adoption.
We were given a total of $1,450 by generous friends, family, acquaintances & strangers!

We were blown away!  What a blessing!  Thank you to everyone!

And, here's a recipe that many folks have requested.  Cream Scones.
These are from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking,
which is a super awesome cookbook.  I highly recommend it.
These scones are so good because they have a high fat content.
And, I think it matters that there are no eggs in these.
All other recipes I have found online have an egg or two in them.
I believe adding an egg to your scone is a bad choice.
Have your egg on the side, scrambled or however you like it.
But don't put it inside.

Best Cream Scones

2 cups Flour
1/4 cup Sugar
1 tablespoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 teaspoons grated Lemon Zest
6 tablespoons cold Butter, cut into small squares.
1/2 cup dried Currants OR dried Apricots OR Chocolate Chips OR whatever
3/4 cup Heavy Cream

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Combine your dry ingredients (1-5) until well mixed.
Cut in your butter until it forms large, coarse crumbs about the size of little peas.
Scatter your fruit or chocolate or whatever, over the dough.
Pour in the cream and mix until you form a moist mass.

Turn your dough out onto a lightly floured counter and gently press it into a ball.
Press your mound down into a round that is about 1/2 high.
With a large knife, cut your round into 6 - 8 wedges.
Place the wedges onto your cookie sheet,
leaving about 1 inch of space between the scones.

Hopefully you have a little more Heavy Cream left.  About a tablespoon, or so...
Brush the tops of your scones withe cream.  Then sprinkle with sugar.

Bake in your 425 oven until lightly golden brown on the tops, about 13-17 minutes.
Let cool slightly.  But, these are good warm!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

P.J.'s in Wonderland

We went hunting for awesome Christmas lights.
Or, as Moira said, we were looking for Wonderland.
We found it!
(Drive up Hilltop off of San Jose Soquel and you may find it, too.)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

He Knows

I haven't been on the blog much.
I don't know what to say about some of the hard things that are around us all.

The shooting at Sandy Hook - what a heartbreak. What a massive heartbreak.  Why?

My friend Ian, who was suddenly diagnosed with a very serious form of Leukemia.
How can this be?  He was so healthy. 

Darling little Daisy, at age 8 diagnosed with cancerous tumors 
for the fourth time in her life.
How?  She's so young.

This is the real hard stuff of this world.  I really don't have any words for it.
I mostly just pray.  And even then, I usually don't know the words.

"Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. 
For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, 
but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words."
Romans 8:26

I remember a story about a little 2 year old girl, teaching her own grandma about prayer 
in times such a this.  When you don't know what to say, 
it is okay just to give their names to Jesus.
I learn from her too, and I offer up names.

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, 
but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, 
that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."
Hebrews 4:15-16

He knows.  He knows my heart.  He knows their needs.  He knows the pain.  
He is able to sympathize with all our big, ugly, confused feelings.  
So, even in my lack of words, I can come boldly, in faith.

He knows His good plan.  He knows how to accomplish it.

Jesus, Ian.  Jesus, Daisy.  Jesus, Laura.  Jesus, Karen.  Jesus, Arielle.  Jesus, John....

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Gathering

I printed these for the kids and decided to color one myself.  Just so, so cute.

Paper Nativity - Made by Joel
Source: via Erin on Pinterest

Way, way, cute telling of the Christmas story.  This is a must see, must share.
We watched it at Scott's company party.
And, I've watched it a couple times at home with the kids.  Watch.
(Doesn't the sheep look like Moira?)

The Christmas Story by St. Paul Art and Media

Can I get a raise of hands for everyone who loves the Jesus Storybook Bible?!
Watch The Nativity story video here.

We checked at the library for a CD of the Nutcracker music.  NOTHING.
What?  Are you kidding me?  I came home and Googled it - Bam.
Free Nutcracker audio downloads

I'm hoping to make some of these little treats.  Tonight?

Sea Salt Caramels

I did so much baking for our adoption fundraising Bake Sale
(which was a smashing success, by the way),
that I wasn't planning to bake anymore.  But, maybe these again.
They are just SO tasty.

Chewy Chocolate Chunk Ginger Cookies

Saturday, November 24, 2012

How to Help a Couple after Infant Loss

“I thought I could describe a state; make a map of sorrow. 
Sorrow, however, turns out to be not a state but a process.”
C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed 
Happy to be pregnant with Gabriel - spring 2005

We look at each other.  Tired eyes.
Tremendous love and sorrow mingling together.
We both somehow know it is time.  
We ring for the nurse & hand over our baby,
knowing we will never touch him again.
Good bye, little baby boy.

We leave the labor & delivery wing of the hospital,
no baby in our arms.
There is no need for a safety check on our infant seat.
We don't need any of the baby stuff we prepared.
All we needed was the baby casket.
Hello, outside, scary world....

Finish reading over here.
I was given the honor of writing a guest post for 
Stephanie Sheaffer at her blog Writing for Good.  
Will  you go over there & give her some comment love?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

It feels real

It's the Holiday Season.
I can feel it.  

This year seems to have been flying by.  
In a way, it is hard to believe November is almost over.
But, really, everything feels like November. 

All the anticipation, beauty, stress & worry colliding in my head.
There are all the plans made & plans let go of.
There is my husband working a ridiculous amount, like happens in his job every fall.
There are the movies coming out that are a MUST SEE in theater.
(The Hobbit & Les Misérables!  Am I right?)
There is the taking the sewing machine out of hibernation to find that it is broken.
There is the house being a mess, with stuff everywhere 
& it is hard to shake the feeling that you shouldn't be buying anymore stuff.
There is the serious thought to myself that I would love to make 
the whole month of December a school-break month.  Just close up shop, you know?

I do love this time of year.  
But, not so much, if I don't remember to breath deep & lower my voice.
Calm, calm, down.
Read a book, have some tea (or wine), buy some flowers.  
Take the kids to visit the elderly neighbors.
Keep eating the leftover chili & minestrone every night for dinner.
Just calm down, self.

Scott was working away from home for a total of 5 weeks over the last 6 weeks.
Yep.  You read that right.  
I think he only has one more week away from home coming up in the near future.

Morocco - One of Scott's destinations

Apparently the Coke and Fish heads were tasty

It makes me feel like we should take a vacation.  
But then, adoption money & property taxes & Christmas make me think otherwise.
At least some out of the house date nights.
I need to find us an awesome babysitter.  
You know, fun, responsible & not busy.  
After the time change, it always feels like date night season to me.
I don't know why.  
The darkness coming in so early makes me want to grab my man & run for Cafe Cruz.

We are also due for updating our homestudy for the adoption.
So, we will be running around getting fingerprints taken and physicals done, 
and not so much dining in a cozy restaurants.

(I'm going to sign off and go on a babysitter hunt.)

About the Web {for the love of little ones}

November is National Adoption Month.
All my links will be about loving the vulnerable little ones.

An online auction for A Child's Voice {advocacy for Africa's Children}
running now through November 29th.

On Earth as it is in Heaven - by Katie Davis (just won Glamour magazine’s Woman of the Year!)
“The hurt doesn't stop…  Who is God on the days when love just doesn't feel like enough?”

Seen in my facebook feed –
 “NATURAL CHILD: Any child who is not artificial. 
REAL PARENTS: Any parent who is not imaginary. 
YOUR OWN CHILD: Any child who is not someone else's child. 
ADOPTED CHILD: A natural child, with a real parent, who is all my own."

Selah by Shannon Church

“His grace is sufficient. His love is pure.
This hasn’t just been a journey for a little girl to find her forever family –
but a journey of sanctification in all of our hearts.”

My friend Anastasia has been posting every day this month on the subject of adoption.
Today there is a  little guest post from a member of a bio family.

::Connection::  by Lovelyn Palm
connect now.  hold tight now.  stay in the now.
steadfast with each of them because it really is true how quickly it slips by.”

the only one willing to clean up with a happy heart today...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Passion and Guts

The question was posed to a group of couples -
"What did you do differently to care for each other,
back when you were first in love than you do now?"

(The question bothered me because it presupposes that you have fallen out of love over time.
Some people do.  But, I wish we wouldn't act like this is a given.)

Regardless of that, it is a valid question to pose -
"What kind of things keep the passion burning?"

Am I trying to hide my nervous giggles?

What comes to mind is guts.  It takes a lot of guts.
Love is risky.  Love requires us exposing ourselves.
It takes guts to put your heart on the line for someone else.

Going back to the early days for us,
Scott had to have a lot of guts to win my heart.
I put up a little wall and my body language screamed, "no!"
He still stood close by.
I trampled his courage down with a cold shoulder.

Then God started to open my eyes to who this guy really was.
And I started falling in love with him.
(And beating myself up for being such a jerk.)
Now it was my turn.
I had to humble myself and expose myself & my remorse.
Now I had to have the courage to take a posture of openness.
(Like what Ruth did with Boaz by laying at his feet, maybe?
I didn't do that one.  I did bring him cough drops when he was sick though...)

Again, Scott had to take a chance, hoping he had read the signs correctly.
This time in a bigger way.
He showed me all his cards and told me really how he felt about me.
He laid open his heart to me.

He could have walked away with more disappointments.
Nothing was sure in this.
Except the fact that we would not be in love now,
if there was no risk taken.

I wonder if for love to stay strong,
we have to accept the fact that it will require guts,
throughout the life of that love.
We've got to have the courage to expose ourselves to the other, again and again.
We have to be willing to risk being hurt or disappointed.

Maybe it is right to say we shouldn't get too comfortable in our marriages.
The very foundation of actively loving is moving out of our comfort, right?
Don't wait to love your spouse until it seems like it is totally safe.
Just throw yourself out there.  Get some guts.
Waiting for safety means your going to miss out on the passion.

What do you think?  Do you think this is off?

(I have to admit I am hesitant about hitting "publish".
I am not advocating subjecting ourselves to people who are proven
to be unsafe and abusive.)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Time Slips Away, Let's Be More Than Just Friends, Peace & Quiet is Healthy + more

About the Web  -
If you look at links I post on Facebook, these have mostly all been there.
A few are new.  All are thought provoking.

Why I Stopped Living Each Day as if it were My Last by Elizabeth Esther
"As adults, we know how to live in chaos. We know how to manage and juggle and try to keep everything from falling apart."

Identity.Crisis by Jami Nato
"under my bright sweater, i had a whole jacket full of little idols i worshipped."

Be Present  by Humble Beast
"Keep her by your side"

The Hardest, Greatest Lesson I've Learned in Marriage by Lauren Nicole
"i missed out on living life with another real person, because i thought i simply needed to learn how to live successfully with ‘a man.’"

The Trouble with "Just Friends" by Brian Kammerzelt
"Yet if we insist on our interactions being driven by modern dating practices and romantic qualifiers, we are choosing to needlessly segment the body of Christ and deny one another the familial unconditional love and support that each of us need and the world was meant to see."

The insane amount of cuteness here is hard for me to handle.  

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Well that is Full {draw your love here}

"Love you neighbor as yourself"

The command is simple.
There are only a few words and they are simple to understand.

But, the command is, oh so very hard.
I mean, really!  How ever could we come even close to living by that?!

The one who is different from me -
I just can't get the things they say and do.
The one who has hurt me, perhaps more than once.
The one who irritates me.
The one who acts superior to me.
How?  Love that one as myself?!

There is a well from which we can draw up love.
A love never ending.
If my cup is running dry,
it is because I have neglected the commandment that comes first -

"And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart 

and with all your soul 
and with all your mind and with all your strength"

Only when I love God first, can my cup be filled up to overflowing.

He is a well that does not run dry.

It is the paradox of loving others well - Love God first.

In loving God first, I am free to love others immeasurably more.

God is a good Father, who gives freely to His children all that we need.
If my love well has run dry, I know who to ask.

"When I have learned to love God better than my earthly dearest, 
I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now."
-C.S. Lewis

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Hilarious & Scary

She was allowed to play cut the rope on the ipad yesterday.  
Watching a not-quite-two year old so into a video game is hilarious and very scary.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thanksgiving {#8} for Provisions & for You All

I am grateful for every single person who has helped us in funding our adoption.
We are so blessed by seeing our friends and family pull together with us!
I am planning a December Bake sale.
I think it should be fun.  I'll let folks know the details, soon.

Do you see the little adoption fund thermometer on the sidebar?
We are $706 away from $12,500.
Once we reach that dollar amount,
we have a promised gift of $5,000 that will be added!
$17,500 is super close to our goal.  Wow!

If you want to give to our fund, there are a couple ways.
See our page "Ways to Care".
At the top there is a link to our fund kept by Lifesong for Orphans.
You must designate with our name and fund number - Adams #2627
If you donate to this fund, you can get a tax deductible receipt.
If you want that for your 2012 tax return,
be sure to get it into Lifesong prior to December 31st

Another way to help us fund our adoption is to buy coffee or hot chocolate
from our storefront with Just Love Coffee.
For every bag of coffee you buy, they send $5 to our adoption fund!

The current news on our adoption is, we are still waiting!
We have had our dossier waiting in country for just over 12 months now.
We will start to update all our paperwork in the coming months,
since it expires at the 18 months mark.

We can't have a good guess as to when we will receive a referral of a little child.
It could be another year.  Or it could be a good deal shorter than that.
We continue to ask God to prepare our hearts and minds
and our little family for this blessed addition.

Photo Source - via Erin on Pinterest

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Day #7 Thanksgiving

I am thankful for the humble, and yet awesome meal -
Hainanese Chicken and Rice

Everyone eats this food.  Every single kid.

Tomorrow night's dinner is easy.
The night after Hainanese chicken we always have "leftover soup".
This is where you throw the chicken and rice into a pot and cover it with water.
Stir in the leftover ginger & pepper sauce.
Chop up a green, such as chard, bok choy or cabbage, and throw that in the pot.
When it is hot, serve it.
Toss some fresh cilantro, basil and/or green onion over the top.

Dinner for tomorrow is pretty much done.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Day #6 Thanksgiving

Today I am thankful for my man's long awaited
winter-blooming Salvias starting to show color.

And, I am grateful the election is over, too.  Kinda nice to be done with it, at least.

Thanksgiving Day #5

I am thankful to
-have my kids at home for their schooling.
-cool online resources like Made by Joel and his Paper Cities.
-our once weekly support classes at CFT.
Gillian is learning some basic French language & culture (from her Grandma!)
She is learning drawing skills & calendar skills.
She gets to share all her scientific discoveries with other kids.
We get introduced to great books.
She loves her lovely, youthful teacher, Mrs. Jensen.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Thanksgiving Day #4

Thanksgiving today for

- a day to worship together with our church family.
-Scott discovering these great banjo boys.
-my guy back in his garden, contentedly tending.
-Sunday dinner at my parent's house.
-finally attempting to make S'mores Cupcakes.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Day #2 Thanksgiving

I am thankful for our firstborn girl.
Gillian is such a classic big sister.  And she is learning to be a great one!

I am thankful for country farm adventuring opportunities for my kids.
They are crazy happy about all the cool stuff they discover every day.
 We have massive rock collections to tote home with us.

I am thankful for the great clothes from the UK.
Adorable, right?  They just have good style over there.
Gillian's dress and footless tights are from Mini Boden.
Her rain boots are from Hatley.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Day #1 Thanksgiving

Giving thanks for being together in Macdoel.

Loving this big belly baby who is 21 months old now
and cracking us up with her words and facial expressions.
Also, she is still a big snuggle, "hold me" girl.
I am thankful for that, even though sometimes I get tired of holding the big chunk of love so much...

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sex and Duty and Bitterness

Have you heard the "Never Say No" rule?
This is often taught in Christian circles in regards to having sex in marriage.
The idea is, it is the duty of the spouse to meet all the sexual desires of their spouse.

I believe sex is a gift to marriage.  For man and wife.
Sometimes it seems people think it is just for the man.
The honest look at relationships seems to make many men and women
both believe that sex is the gift/burden for men.
Often we look at this assessment and say,
"We know that the wife is not that interested.
So, she should just do it out of duty to her husband.
She should act to meet his need."

May I wonder out loud with you all for a moment here?
I wonder if this policy for sex in marriage
can sometimes create more of a rift, than a connection?
Yes, give yourself as a gift, to your spouse.  But not grudgingly!

What if a couple has been applying the policy of sucking it up and having sex,
but, not abiding by, "Let not the sun go down upon your wrath"?
(Remember this "policy" is in the Bible.)
What if there are unresolved issues.  Things that are festering.
Bitterness and hurt that is making the wife very uninterested in sex.
If they don't get them out and deal with that and break down the wall of bitterness,
then they will not know the healing, restorative power in their sexual union.
He will just think she doesn't like sex because
that's the way things supposedly are for a woman.
She will become more resentful, feel used
and the wall of bitterness between them gets thicker.

That sexual union becomes just a physical act.
They cannot enjoy the connection, beauty & healing that should be there.
The wife is there in body, but not in spirit.
And, they can both see that she doesn't seem to like sex that much.

Live and love together in a way that your heart is ready to say "Yes!".
(Though, sometimes your body may still have to say "No.")

Do not accept a gift given grudgingly.
First seek to find out why there is no joy.
It will take work, humility, forgiveness and patience.
That's love!
The higher the wall is between you, the harder it will be to tear it down.

Don't leave a wall of bitterness in your marriage.
Don't let the sun go down on your wrath.
No matter how foolish you feel, be honest about the seed of bitterness.
Deal with it and root it out.
Come together in healing and forgiveness and praising God.
God loves a cheerful giver.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Pumpkin Patching

I need to post more pictures from our pumpkin patch visit.
Pumpkin patch pictures are one of the best things about Fall, right?
Plus, we've been apart from the daddy for too long.
He needs a reminder of what we look like.

Good times at Rodoni Farms, Santa Cruz.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Power of an Understanding Embrace

As we were finishing our dinner,
the children started asking me about the post dinner treat.
Had they eaten enough food, would they be getting the treat, what was the treat, etc.
One of the children had lost this privilege the day before, 
based on some repeated bad choices.
When I repeated the consequence, the wailing immediately began.  
"WHAT?!!  It's not fair!!"  Over and over again, screaming.
This was no surprise.  I expected this reaction.
The thing I didn't expect was the way I responded.

I took my child in my arms and said, 
"I know it is hard.  But, I cannot give you this privilege back."
My voice was soft and sympathetic.  My embrace was sincere.
My little one?  Calmed down.  The fight did not continue.
I was amazed.

My typical response would be a stern eye & a harsh tone saying, "well, I warned you!"
And the wailing and fighting would've continued.

Not this time.  Calm.  Listening.  This child felt understood.
I really shouldn't have been surprised by the power of a gentle answer.
I've know what Proverbs 15:1 says for 25 years.

"A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger"

Really sweet faces can turn away wrath, too.  I couldn't resist posting this one of Gillian from when she was 2.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Earth is His Footstool

{Santa Cruz Tide Pools}

"Thus says the Lord: "Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool;
what is the house that you would build for me,

and what is the place of my rest?

All these things my hand has made, 
and so all these things came to be,
declares the Lord.
But this is the one to whom I will look;
he who is humble and contrite in spirit
and trembles at my word."
Isaiah 66:1-2

Sunday, October 14, 2012

It was her golden (and pukey) birthday

Gillian turned 6 years old last weekend.
We also had sickness strike our household and spoil her party.
We attempted the pinata and games regardless.  
But, the kids were all dragging.
She ate her requested Caterpillar cake 4 days old.
She was very good natured about it all.

She's been six for a week.  
Her highlight of being six so far was getting to eat her cake.  
(although, she didn't really eat it.  4 days old, not very tasty, in truth.)

Her best memory of her 5th year of life - 
Fairytale Town in Sacramento. 

Rainbow snowcones in the heat of the Sacramento summer

But, since she wasn't actually 5 yet when we went to Fairy Land, 
she thought a second time about her best memory of being 5 - 
And decided it would be the Bay Area Discovery Museum 

The museum is at Fort Baker on the north side of the Golden Gate.  Awesome location.

Gillian's biggest dream for her 6th year of life is that she could learn to ride a horse.
Apparently she has wished for along time that she could ride a horse.
Perhaps this will be the year?  We'll see.

She did already get her dream of going to the Henry Cowell swimming hole for her birthday. 
(Prior to us realizing that we all had a stomach flu churning in our bellies.)

She (and we) got a sweet, surprise day with Daddy 
where we went to Gayle's bakery for breakfast 
& romped across Rodoni Pumpkin patch on the coast.

And, she has her first year of going to a school class.
Gillian is loving school.
(CFT is awesome and so is my sister, founder and director and teacher)
She sure is growing up!

Here's to being six years old, Gillian!