Sunday, September 30, 2007

Love Maine, My DH and Mom!

We had such a great Maine/family visit - you will get so tired of seeing pictures and family stories - but - hey, this is what is happening while we WAIT!!!
Adoption news is very thin. We know that our wait will extend past 24 months and probably be at 30 - 32 months by the time we fly to China. We could be frustrated and blog lots of negative "STUFF" with all the rumors about agencies getting preferential treatment or referrals only going to November 30, 2005, or the lack of babies being abandoned (what???? this is a good thing!).

My Mom, sister Mel and I had lots of hugs from baby grand-nephew Brandon. Mel was babysitting him for a few days so lots of cute pictures - he has big beautiful eyes and always a smile!

And one picture of my DH trying to catch a fish worth keeping in Little Sebago Lake.... lots of fish but most very small. Here's a lucky, little bass that was thrown back!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

L.L. Bean - Our Favorite Maine Store

My Mom, DH and I spent our last day in Maine going through Freeport. We had a good lunch at a new cafe - good food plus the great weather so sat outside. We also checked out the new Leon Gorman Park just a short mile from Freeport.

We love shopping at L.L. Bean for their very practical clothes (a portion of everyone's wardrobe should have some) and checking out new items (I tried on many new slacks) as Mom asks us make a list for Christmas. We know where our gift is coming from! Thanks Mom!

Windy Day in Florida

We just returned from a wonderful 10 day drive to Maine and back - we put 3093 miles on our 2002 P-U truck! The weather was gorgeous the whole trip. We had sun, very little humidity and clear crisp evenings - but no jacket needed. My niece had PERFECT weather for her wedding day.

So here we are back, one day in Florida and the wind is enough to knock me off my feet! If we didn't know it was 85 degrees outside it would look like a blustery, autumn day!

Here's a few pictures of our day back on the river.... can you see how high the water is around our neighbors docks? There is now a sunk barge tied to our dock (left by our dock builder, the last time he was here to make repairs) - it was floating when we left on our trip. You can see where the walkway bulges out due to the barge being tied up. Oh well, it looked like a roller coaster track after the hurricanes from a couple of years ago anyway. One more bulge isn't going to hurt.

Salty and I both loved the wind blowing in our hair so we definitely enjoyed our walk today!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

LID TIME - Just Keep On Smilin'

Left Click Here

Hugs and Thanks to all who continue to follow our journey to Alyzabeth An.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Wedding Congratulations!

We have been in Maine, primarily for niece Jamie and Ryan's wedding. All went very well at the family wedding at North Deering Congregational Church.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

LadyBug Sighting and More!

I had a Lady Bug sighting :) It landed on my hand while standing in our kitchen. I can only imagine the exciting good fortune coming our way...

Our company participated in a 3K HeartWalk event in downtown Jacksonville. We dragged Cousin Carolyn along for good measure. She hardly complained :)

And to prove Cousin Carolyn not only went but that she is a good sport as well, catch this photo of her standing beside one of our friendly gators prior to the heart walk...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Past Weekend Photo Recap

A few photos from this past weekend to share with family and friends...

All of these picture were stolen from Marsha's blog (our DD's MIL). Proud dad Jesse (SIL) snapped the above picture of sweet Livi with his cell phone while enjoying the river with his dad Carl...

Marsha may decide to go password protected if we keep this up :) Below are pictures of Kilee taken at Cara's birthday party this past Saturday

We finish with our unabashed pilfering of Marsha's blog with Livi & her Aunt Cara... And once more, Happy Birthday Cara!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

"The Menu" Weekend Update

A hodgepodge of activities marked this week. By and large we stayed with "The Menu" though we did have to move things around a bit to accommodate for previously scheduled "events" that I failed to remember...

Let's start by sharing a couple of recipes from The Menu. The Slow Cooker Pinto Beans served with a Cole Slaw side and Corn Bread was basic and good. No complaints from my fellow diners. Made for some great leftovers. The biggest compliment was for the cornbread and I would have to agree. On to the recipes:

Slow Cooker Pinto Beans (CrockPot):

2: Smoked Ham Hocks
1: Small Onion
1: Lb Dry Pinto Beans
1: Teaspoon Chili Powder
1/2: Teaspoon Oregano
1/2: Teaspoon Garlic Powder
Salt & Pepper To Taste

Put ham hocks on the bottom of your slow cooker. *(I added 4 smoked pork chops to this recipes for the added meat. I would trim the pork from the bone. Remember to put the meat and ham hocks on the bottom of your slow cooker - with the smoked pork chops I could have eliminated the ham hocks.) Lastly, I would go very easy on the salt, if at all, if you are using smoked meat. And you MUST used smoked meat for flavoring :)

Important - Wash your beans! Soak overnight in cold water. Do not soak with the ham hocks. Drain the beans and dump into slow cooker. Add water to cover beans. Stir in chili powder, garlic powder and oregano.

Add 4 to 5 small whole red potatoes and onion cut into quarters to the beans. Salt and pepper to taste. Add enough water to cover everything.

Cover the pot and cook on High for 5 hours. Reduce to a Low setting for an additional 2-3 hours.

Before serving, I take out the ham hock and cut off the meat returning the meat to the beans, discarding everything else.

Southern Cornbread:

2: Cups of Yellow Self-Rising Cornbread
2: Eggs
2: Tablespoons Cooking Oil or Bacon Grease
2: Tablespoons Butter
1 & 1/2: Cup of Milk (I like to use Buttermilk)
1: Tablespoon Plus 1 Teaspoon of Sugar

10" Cast Iron Skillet

Preheat oven to 425 degrees with the 2 tablespoons of butter in the skillet. Be careful not to let the butter burn.

In a mixing bowl, combine cornmeal and sugar.

In a separate mixing bow, beat the two eggs adding the cooking oil and milk. Mix well.

Add cornmeal/sugar mixture to the eggs, oil and milk. Do Not over-stir. Just stir with a spoon or fork until the lumps are broken up and mixed in.

Carefully remove the cast iron skillet from the oven. Swirl the butter around to coat the bottom. Slowing pour or spoon the cornbread mixture into the skillet. Some of the butter will come up over the edges. That's cool.

Stick the skillet back into the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes at 425 degrees (F). This recipe works well for cast iron cornbread sticks as well.

We are always looking for faux fried food recipes. You know the kind I'm talking about. Prepared in the oven and using your best imagination, you convince yourself it's as good as fried.


Still, we try. And this next recipe, Oven Fried Crispy Shrimp was actually quite good. Good enough in fact that we are going to try it again just to make sure it wasn't a fluke. A very pleasant surprise it was. Of course, having the river full of fresh shrimp this time of year doesn't hurt...

Oven Fried Crispy Shrimp

1: Lb Shrimp, Pealed and De-veined.
1 & 1/2: Cups of Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) or Plain Breadcrumbs
2: Teaspoons Paprika
2: Large Eggs (I needed 3)
1/2 Cup Flour
Vegetable Oil (I used olive oil)
Sea Salt & Pepper To Taste

Brush a large baking sheet lightly with oil. Set to the side.

In a medium bowl, combine panko and paprika.

In another medium bowl, whisk eggs together with salt and pepper.

In yet another medium bowl, combine shrimp and flour. Working with 3-4 shrimp at a time, shake off excess flour, coat with the egg mixture and dredge in the panko mixture. Transfer to baking sheet.

Place the baking sheet (covered) in the refrigerator until ready for the oven.

Preheat oven to 475 degrees (F). Remove shrimp from refrigerator. Lightly dab a bit of oil onto the shrimp. Place in oven and bake until golden and crisp, approximately 10-12 minutes.

*I may add a dash or two of hot pepper sauce to the egg mixture and a 1/2 teaspoon of Old Bay Seasoning to the breadcrumb/paprika mixture next time. I thought it could use a little more kick but the oven-fried taste was very good.


Friday, September 14, 2007

Secret Buddy Gifts!!

The theme this month was books, training, knowledge, learning.... You get the idea. Lots of books to read out loud to Alyzabeth!!

My Secret Buddy sent great gifts, from the DVD to all color coordinated bibs, socks with all the wrappings! I love the bib - notice the ladybug?

Thank you again - I look forward to October!!
Hope my Secret Buddy received the package I sent out. Enjoy!!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Conversations With Alyzabeth


Yes, Alyzabeth.

Where’s mom?

Mom’s at work baby girl.

Mom’s at work?

That’s right.



How come you’re not at work?

My work is being home with you.

And Salty Dog?

And Salty Dog.

Does mom like being at work?

Mom likes me being home with you.


Yes, Alyzabeth.

Is taking a boat ride work?

Get your life jacket.

I like working with you Daddy?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

This is What Retirement Looks Like!! Fun!

I caught DH in the act of enjoying his retirement "time"! He has been up every morning with me, making the coffee, picking up the newspaper and visiting with me. How could I ask for any more? He's the love of my life (that's one reason why we are having Alyzabeth An)!!
Now, if he would catch some fish for dinner.....

Oven Baked BBQ Chicken Recipe

Per the Menu, we had the Oven Baked BBQ Chicken for dinner Sunday night. I really like this recipe and leftovers freeze quite well. The bbq sauce for this recipe is thin as opposed to the more common thicker and sticky sauces. I also enjoy the vinegar twang. The chicken has always cooked up very tender. In other words, this is one of our keeper recipes that we enjoy from time to time. You can easily adjust the recipe to account for a sweeter taste or thicker sauce.

Oven Baked Barbeque Chicken

1/4: Cup water
1/4: Cup plus 2 Tablespoons ketchup
1/4: Cup plus 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/4: Cup apple cider vinegar
1/4: Cup worcestershire sauce
2: Tablespoons lemon or lime juice
2: Teaspoons sea salt
2: Teaspoons dry mustard
2: Teaspoons chili powder
1/2: Teaspoon onion powder
1/2: Teaspoon garlic powder
1/2: Teaspoon cayenne pepper
6-8 : Skinless chicken breasts or 12-16 skinless chicken thighs or a combination.


1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees (F)
2. Using small saucepan over medium heat; stir together all the ingredients. Bring to a low boil. Turn off heat, remove from burner. Cover and let sauce sit for 15 minutes.
3. Place chicken pieces into an oblong baking dish, pour the sauce over your chicken.
4. Cover tightly with foil.
5. Bake at 500 degrees (F) for 15 minutes.
6. Reduce oven temp to 300 degrees (F), bake for an additional 1 hour.
7. Remove foil cover, baste and bake uncovered for an additional 15 minutes.

Enjoy... with your favorite sides. I may have to revisit the Menu. My fellow diners have informed me that they are fearing a certain increased caloric intake that may present a problem. Namely - gaining too much weight! I've been ask to consider more "salad" nights as before. Before, as in, before my retirement... Oh well, Salty Dog and I will just have to spend more time on the river. (as opposed to my to-do list)


Monday, September 10, 2007

(and more) Family Pictures From Justin's Birthday

We took a group picture at DS's birthday of "all the guys" and "all the gals". Like many families, we have done this for years, capturing the many generations at family gatherings. Soon, Alyzabeth An will join the madness we lovingly call "our family"...

More Food, Wine and Family From Justin's B-D!

Pictured above is the minorcan dish prepared by Cathy and Werner for Justin's birthday. Very tasty, wonderfully spiced. The Minorcan's were early settlers in the St. Augustine area who's legacy is still celebrated. This recipe included a local minorcan flavor seasoning - the Datil Pepper!

One of the new wines we sampled was a Gundlach Bundschu that Cathy shipped back from California during a recent vacation trek through wine country... Thank you for sharing!

Of course it's hard to not include a picture of Livi, shown being held by her Aunt Christa.

Happy Birthday - Happy 35th!

Father and Son... Ford & Justin. Ford claims Justin is really only 15. He may be in denial...

The box said "Eat, Spit and Be Happy". No comment. Justin received many nice gifts including a new fishing reel from his sister Christa and Stu that we understand he may have already put to good use. (shameless request - we love fresh caught fish - hint, hint)

As Justin stated: This isn't a "manly" cake but it's my favorite! Alyson made the Strawberry cake from Nana Joy's recipe collection. In fact, Nana Joy's chocolate sheet cake and this strawberry cake always get the top choice award for most requested birthday cakes!

Ford & Werner "sampling" the California wine...

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Friday Night Dinner Review

Well, The Menu, called for Salmon Cakes and that's what we had. It was a new recipe and all in all, they were OK... IMHO, they need more of a kick. More spices. For the record - I did not use fresh salmon. If I'm preparing fresh salmon I'm not throwing it into a salmon pattie. It will be grilled or blackened. Just our preference. Anyway, here's the recipe. And oh yes, Cousin Carolyn who is not a big "fishy" type eater was very kind and said the cakes were very good. (liar-liar pants on fire)

BTW: I know the net is full of recipe blogs but I do enjoy reading this couple's. They have a running banter reviewing the pros and cons of that night's dinner. What We're Eating

1: Can (14.75 oz) can salmon, undrained and flaked
1: Slice bread, shredded
1: Small onion, grated
1: Tablespoon all-purpose flour
1: Egg
Dash of hot sauce
Dash of dill weed
Salt/Pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together.
Shape into 4 patties
Cover with plain bread crumbs
I fried them in a cast iron skillet.

I made a garlic mayo sauce instead of a regular tartar sauce.
1/2: Cup mayo
2: Tablespoons dill relish
1: Clove garlic (roasted)
1: Tablespoon of lemon juice
Dash of paprika

Tonight - no cooking! We're headed to Palatka for a birthday party dinner for DS Justin...

Thursday, September 06, 2007

A Most Wonderful Surprise

So, this box arrives at the house from Amazon with my name on it. I'm thinking -- I don't recall ordering anything. Ah,,, Aly ordered something and shipped it under my name. On second thought, Aly really wouldn't do that.

So, what's in the box and who sent it? And why???

Surprise - Surprise! It was a retirement gift from Don and Be... You guys are way too much. Thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart. And BTW: The pictures are mesmerizing and the music is totally angelic. What a beautiful gift to share with our Alyzabeth An.


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Dave's Referral Estimator Update

Go ahead and take a look - you know you want to. And by the way, I stole this picture of Dave and his lovely wife Sandy to share with you.

Of course, I didn't tell Dave and Sandy I was doing this so you better look quick - it may not be here long!!!

Dave's Referral Estimator

The Menu

You can start laughing right now. I am and I'm the one crazy enough to have made out "The Menu". That's right. I have made out a dinner menu schedule. Shall we take bets on how long this will last? Quiet - please, a little quieter please, your laughing is really starting to get out of hand. I'm willing to bet we don't make it through the first week. Still. "The Menu" is made. I didn't add all the little side dishes and goodies but I did slip in enough to remind me what it is I'm trying to put together for dinner. Did you notice the crockpot dinners? Had to make time for Salty Dog and I to hit the river. Oh this could prove painful. It's OK to go back to laughing out loud at me (and with me). I must have gotten too much sleep last night to have dreamed this up..... I'll report back and let you know how (bad) things went. (snicker- snicker)

The Menu

9/7/2007 Friday: Salmon Cakes III
· Cole Slaw
· Asparagus

9/8/2007 Saturday: Justin’s Birthday Party

9/9/2007 Sunday: BBQ Oven Chicken
· Green Beans
· Tomato Slices

9/10/2007 Monday: Bruschetta

9/11/2007 Tuesday: Joan’s Chicken Tettrizini
· Fresh Salad w/Southern Poppy Seed Dressing

9/12/2007 Wednesday: Slow Cooker Pinto Beans w/Ham
· Corn Bread
· Cole Slaw

9/13/2007 Thursday: Oven Crispy Shrimp
· Baked Beans
· Small Salad

9/14/2007 Friday: Balsamic Marinated Skirt Steak
· Grilled Veggies

9/15/2007 Saturday: Crock Pot Spaghetti
· Spring Mix Salad
· Garlic Bread


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Labor Day Pictures

DD, SIL and DS hosted the Labor Day family meal yesterday. They served BBQ Shrimp and BBQ Chicken Pizza's - very yummy!! DS caught the shrimp himself in the St. Johns River. Hope to have him teach his Dad soon to throw that shrimp net!

Our kids are wonderful and our large extended family surrounds them with lots of love. It is always so nice to be with those you love and actually GET ALONG AND ENJOY BEING WITH :)

In the first picture, Kilee is not trying to strangle little Alivia. Really, she's not. Well, usually she's not...

Key Lime Cheesecake without the garnish of whipped cream and lime slices.......

Poppy with Alivia.......

Grandfather Werner was in charge of watching the pizza's in the oven and a FINE job he did. Check out the pizza's!!!

Gamma Cathy with Alivia.......

We baked desserts for the family gathering. Key Lime Cheesecake, Strawberry Shortcake (homemade whipped cream and biscuits) and Italian Cake (yummy refrigerator cake with ricotta cheese in a yellow and chocolate cake).

Head on over to Marsha's blog and catch Livi playing with the water sprinkler. Too Cute!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Referral Update by CCAA

The CCAA has finished the review of the adoption application documents registered with our office before June 30, 2006.

The CCAA has finished the placement of children for the families whose adoption application documents were registered with our office before November 25, 2005.

Congratulations to the folks getting their referrals. That's the upside. Now for the downside. 4 days..... 4 days. One month of waiting..... 4 days of referrals.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Big Pop's Birthday! & smaller ramblings

September 2 is Dad's birthday. Happy Birthday Dad!!! Looking forward to seeing you once the cool winds breeze into Missouri and you make your annual trek to the southland.

BTW: I noticed Dad and I share a resemblance of mustaches :)

Today is a stormy Sunday. Our DS is out shrimping on the river with his daughter and brother-in-law Jesse. We're hoping the weather is better in Palatka than it is in Green Cove Springs. It's hard to be mad about it raining. Come on rain.

Life is good. It's true. I know we all have hard times. Some harder than others. I never want to forget that. When folks would ask me how things are going I usually respond "Life is good". I also like and use Dave Ramsey's tiding of "Better than I deserve". How so very true.

Blessings to those experiencing the tough times...

The flamingo's have a story behind them but like Las Vegas, we'll just let that be... Somehow or another I became associated with the tacky pink Florida mementos. During my last months at work I would move the birds closer and closer to the main gate entrance. Folks started to notice but didn't quite put 2 and 2 together. I decided to go out the way I came in. No fanfare. No retirement party. Aly and I will host our own at a later time. It just seemed better that way.

I worked with some good people. Hard working, common people. People who gave you an honest day's work and then went home to take care of their families and help a neighbor. They will never be counted as rich unless you count up their bounty in spirit and soul. If I am a better person today than I was years ago, it's in large part because of all they did to help me grow as a person and a friend. I owe them more than I was ever able to repay. I pray for their well-being, their safety and for blessings upon their families past, present and future...