Monday, October 30, 2006

Maine Weather - Florida Style

Hi! My name is Salty. Sometimes I go by my full name Salty Dog. I just had to share with you what today was like. It was like a crisp, sunny Maine day except this is Florida. You would not believe how my "owners" (what a joke, I control them) loved today's weather. It was great...

No humidity. No sweating. Still sunglasses weather but absolutely FANTASTIC! Geez, I have got to get the "Owners" out more often...

Nice. So nice...

Sunday, October 29, 2006

New Family Pictures

Picture of Kilee helping Nana "walk the dock".

New Grand-Nephew in Maine; he's one month old in this picture and ready for Halloween!

Grand-Daughter #2 is so cute and on the move; she loves playing with her feet and tries to join in most conversations now. She's 6 months old - amazing how fast time flies.

We have had lots of family pictures from the past month. We have pictures of new grand-nephew, BJP; pictures of visits with Grand-daughters # 1 and #2; plus more quilt squares from family and friends for Lizzy's OHGWQ.

With Adoption news very quiet,everyone is expecting referrals this week for those LID in August 2005, we just don't have any exciting news.

Plans for a BIG Thanksgiving dinner is in the works with hopes of up to 30 family and friends to come to our home this year. WOW! Turkeys and more turkeys, roasting and smoking! Yummy.

Friday, October 27, 2006

So Long Old Friend

He drifted into the neighborhood sometime in the early 90's. We fed him as did our neighbors Mr. Fount & Miss Betty. Eventually it became obvious that the big red cat was not leaving. The question became who "owns" him now? And the vet bills sure to follow. Since we had cats my hope was it would be our neighbors to take in the happy wanderer.

Alas, while working outside one morning Fount asked me if I had seen Chester? I didn't know a Chester. Who's Chester I asked him? And with that the big red cat had a name and a home...

We lost Fount a couple of years ago. I truly miss that man. He was more than my neighbor. Much more. Last week we lost his big red cat Chester. After Fount passed away and Miss Betty went to live near her son in Orlando we "inherited" Chester. We were his new caregivers. A couple of months ago Chester suffered a wound. We did the vet thing and kept him on our screened porch. Pumped the antibiotics into him and did our best to make the old boy comfortable. Last week the vet said we had done all we could do.

So, we say goodbye to a cat. A big red cat. That which was a visible reminder of a time past has now past as well. So long old friend. Like your previous caregivers, you will be missed.

FWIW, Chester and Mr. Fount are buddies again. That's all I'll say about that...

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Latest Trip To The Wine Warehouse

It's easy buying good wines. It's easier still buying great wines. Simply open the wallet and lay down the green (or plastic). Sometimes you pay a lot. Other times you pay a lot more...

We try to find decent everyday red wines to have with dinner at prices that will not break the bank (budget). If it's under $20 dollars we give it a good look. If it's under $10 we pick it up, and if still interested after reading the description, we take it to the Warehouse folks and ask for their personal take. Usually they have tasted it and offer feedback using wines we like for comparison.

Some we really like and buy on a regular basis. Others we like and buy a few times and then move on. Still others, we never buy again. The thing we have noticed is our taste preferences change subtly but the variation in what we like is relatively consistent. A heavy tannin Cabernet ranks highest but can be hard to find under $10. The problem is they start under $10 but as they are discovered, their price soon moves into the teens. And up and up... So we explore the Merlots and the blends and (the Cabs) always looking for the next best "value" red.

Our latest purchases are coming from Argentina and Spain more so than California. Italy is still finding its way to the table as well. Do not take this to mean that we do not like California wines. We do. And French, and Portugal, and, well you get the idea. We are having trouble finding Australian wines we like that meet our price limit although some Shiraz or Syrah grape blends are excellent (Shiraz or Syrah are names for the same grape). If you are from Australia and reading this just understand we are not giving up! Australian wines are huge.

Two grapes, Tempranillo and Malbec, are standing out right now and can be found for under that magic $10 price. Vintage years 2002-2005 are very prevalent. They do not have the body of a Cab nor are they as light as a Pinot or as fruity as a Chianti. We would liken them more to a Merlot. Look also for Tempranillo and Malbec's blended with Cabernets and coupled with the Syrah. We expect the price of these wines to climb.

Those darn rising prices. That which prompts our never ending search for the next best affordable, drinkable red. Under $10 of course...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Personal Welcome

My Dad and step Mom have arrived back in Florida for the winter.

I do not like the term step mom. I know Joy (my step mom) is not my biological mother but I don't think my mom would mind if I drop the step.

Joy, I love you and thank you for not only loving our dad but for loving Ben, Bill, Tiffany and me and the rest of this rag tag group of Morgan's. Aly and I love you so very, very much.

Welcome home to Florida. Can't wait to see you (and Dad) come Thanksgiving...


Alyzabeth An... Slow Boat To China.

When we originally started the quest for Alyzabeth An the process was projected to take between 12-16 months total. Total, as in starting the paperwork, receiving the referral, traveling to China and traveling back home with Alyzabeth An. Yep, those were the good ole days...

So for family and friends we thought we would take the time to share with you where we are in our adoption adventure. For all you fellow parents-to-be, we're sure you have had to have this same talk. Indulge us if you will. Thank you.

If you recall what seems like eons ago when we first announced we were adopting, we said we hoped to have Alyzabeth An home before this Christmas. Well you can forget that. We're hoping we have her with us by next Christmas. I wish I were kidding about that last statement. In simple terms, the time line of getting all your paperwork submitted and approved has stayed the same, usually the longest that takes is around 6 months. The slowdown is occurring from that period of time between LID (the Logged-In-Date) and the Referral. The LID is nothing more than the official recognition by the adoption agency in China formerly acknowledging receipt of your request to adopt. Once "logged in" and processed through the Review Room, where the Chinese adoption authorities determine everything is A-Ok, the referral would have followed within 4-6 months and you would have traveled 6-8 weeks after that to China. Those were the good ole days. Total time line once again, between 12-16 months.

Things are different today. I'll not drone on about all the reasons being speculated as to why things have slowed down like they have. It's nothing we can change anyway, so we live with it. Each. Slow. Agonizing. Day.

So, back to where we are today. We were LID as of January 27, 2006. We are presently in the Review Room. This is more than a little nerve wracking. The Review Room is where it can all come to an end. The Chinese adoption officials can, for whatever reason, decide to deny our adoption request. We have been in the Review Room for over a month now. We could be there for a few more days or a few more months. This too has slowed and this too is something we have zero control over. So we wait. Clueless as to what is going on. Nothing we can do but wait and pray we make it through. This is a good time to remind you why we are somewhat antsy. We are on the outer band of "age qualification". In other words. You can't get any older and still adopt in China if you are Ford. Alyson, being younger, gives us lifted hope.

Now, saying we make it out of the Review Room (and you'll know when we do because that roar you hear from Florida will be us, not a Gator, Seminole or Jaguar stadium celebrating a touchdown), we will then progress to the Matching Room. Talk about slowdown... This is where the Wait has taken on an all new proportion. What was taking 4-6 months in the ole days is now taking upwards of 16 months with projections of up to 24 months following your LID date. Remember, our LID date is January 27, 2006. Add 16 to 24 months to that date. That is when we can reasonably expect to have Alyzabeth An home with us.

Click on this Referral Estimator developed by our good friends Dave and Sandy at Wren's Story (and shared with the infamous Rumor Queen) to see an easy to read projected referral time line based on your LID.

As you can see from the Referral Estimator, how long we have to wait is dependent upon how many days are included in the monthly referrals determined by the China Center of Adoption Affairs. The number of days included in a referral can range from 1 day to a full month. Once again, this is something that is totally out of our control. The number of referral days issued do not follow any kind of pattern or rhyme nor reason what so ever. It is what it is. So we wait...

And that's about it. To summarize. We're in the Review Room. Hope to be out soon. Then we wait for the Referral. Once we have the Referral we wait for the TA (travel authorization) and then we head to China. Adopt our daughter and head back home.

Until then, we Wait...

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Our BEST Smoked Turkey EVER

This is one of those times where the picture really does not do justice to the subject. The subject being a smoked turkey in this case.

I have smoked my fair share of turkeys but this was without a doubt the absolute BEST turkey for tenderness and taste EVER. We love it. It was so tender it literally fell off the bone while retaining its tasty bronze skin.

We wanted to present it all pretty like on a platter but we snapped the picture while it rested in the drip pan used to smoke it in. We saved the onions and dripping to make a gravy for later on.

L & C will be getting the breast portion.

We get to keep the rest! Just in case you missed it. Here is the recipe once again, along with the few things we added.

Smoked Turkey Recipe

I soaked the fresh turkey overnight in a brine. I used 2 cups of kosher salt, 1 24 oz bottle of Goya Mojo Criolla Marinade and enough water to cover the entire bird. I did heat the solution up just enough to dissolve the salt and then let it cool before putting the turkey into the brine. For this recipe, our turkey was 12 lbs. We used the 2 tablespoons of seasoned salt on the skin of the turkey but omitted the 1 tablespoon of salt that would have gone into the cavity. After the first two hours of smoking, I removed the foil over the turkey and began adding hickory chips for smoke and began the basting. I basted a total of 3 times and added chips only twice.


Friday, October 13, 2006

Cooking - My Time To Relax & Enjoy...

I enjoy cooking. I'm not a great cook. I'm not a bad cook. With that said, I enjoy cooking because for whatever reason I arrive joy from it and it helps to release any tensions that have build up over time.

I thought I would share a couple of recipes that I prepared tonight. The dessert we plan to take down to Justin, Kelly & Kilee and Leaa, Jesse & Liv tomorrow. It's a banana pudding recipe that is simple to make and best of all - NO BAKE. You will love this recipe. Make it. Enjoy it. Share it. This is one of my favorite simple dessert recipes and one that always brings forth a request for the recipe.

The second recipe is a simple smoked turkey recipe that I plan to put on the smoker tomorrow morning. One of our long time dear friends is in the hospital and hopefully will be released tomorrow to go home following surgery. C and her husband L love turkey so it only made sense to help ease the transition home with a meal they both enjoy.

Banana Pudding Recipe

I add the whole container of Cool Whip. I crumble wafers for a topping and I use 1 package (3.4 oz) of French Vanilla and 1 package (3.4 oz) of Banana Cream pudding instead of the 5 oz. instant package in the recipe. I also use a 9x13 glass pan repeating the layering. Use all the bananas and wafers you like. Splurge! It makes alot! Chill overnight...

I packed these in tupperware since we are taking them to the kids...

Smoked Turkey Recipe

I pretty much followed the recipe on this one except I added a 24 oz bottle of Goya MOJO CRIOLLO marinade to the brine water. I'll be sure and post a picture of the finished bird tomorrow afternoon once it has been smoked.

I heated the stock pot only enough to disolve the kosher salt. I did not boil. Once cooled, I added the turkey and began a 4 hour soak.

FWIW, tonight's dinner was Beth's Melt in Your Mouth BBQ Ribs (Oven) Recipe. I have been concentrating more and more on oven and crock pot recipes in anticipation of not having as much preparation time once Alyzabeth An joins us... I should have taken pictures but then by the time I thought about it, only a few rib bones were left :)

BTW, Alyson said this was a keeper!

Peace... fm

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

More Pics of our Maine Trip...

We added a few more pictures of our Maine trip... Just click on the picture below to view the album.

(Thank you Marsha for the idea to do it this way)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Our Maine Trip

We made the journey to Maine to visit with my (Aly's) parents and sister's. All is well along with beautiful fall foliage, getting to see my grand-nephew who obliged us and was born the day after we arrived, enjoying the lake and everything else associated with a New England fall week.
The weather was gorgeous! Sunny and mild, it was perfect. My Mom always has plenty of jackets for us exiled to Florida (and acclimated to the Florida heat).

Just say we had a good visit. Lobster rolls, Italian sandwiches and fresh baked - homemade pies!
Here's a few pictures. I am sure DH will rearrange this post when he gets a free moment.

Maine - New Grand-Nephew

Sister TC's daughter's new son (I like the first one of him sticking out his tongue!!). My sister is now a Grand-Mother!!!

Maine Pictures

Nephew Andrew (MC's son) on JetSki.
Sister MC and Me!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Under $10 - We Call It A Bargain...

Our friends know we love red wines. We could lie and say we enjoy white wines but the truth is... We enjoy red wines. We have friends who will not drink anything but whites. We understand. We approve. We drink red...

We love expensive red wines. Love them. Refuse to buy them. Still love them. Do not buy them. Too expensive.

So we look for wines under $10 and enjoy them or drink them with the thought of never buying them again. OK, we have poured some of them down the sink. We purchase new (and old) wines every two weeks.

Tonight we tasted a new red. We really enjoyed this wine. It was not overtly dry (I love dry) and had a distinct finish that lingered a while. I could go into detail but I'll not try to play wine connoisseur. It sells for under $10 and it would be a great red for a beef or pork dinner. Easily one we would serve with guests.

Enjoy. We certainly did...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

OHGWQ - Quilt Squares

I haven't mentioned the OHGWQ I am planning to make (with lots of help) in awhile. I have over 100 fabric squares and wishes. There are a few people we would still like to receive fabric and wishes from but I will get started with the design, cutting and piecing soon.
I did receive one more fabric in the mail yesterday from our neighbor who has since moved to Orlando to be near her son. These neighbors were the best and the Mister has since passed away. Dear Betty remembered and particularly wanted for them to be a part of the quilt, and we are very happy to be able to share our memories of these fine neighbors with our future daughter!