The Best Gift I Can Give

As we come to the close of the day on this Christmas Eve, I’ve come across many things the last few days speaking to me about the difference in presents vs. presence.  The last couple years, we as a family have been more focused on experiential gifts and being in each others presence, rather than tangible gifts.  Don’t get me wrong, we still give and receive presents, but not on the scale we have in the past.  I love making memories with my family;  it’s, in my opinion, the best gift I can give.  And it’s not just being physically present, but mentally present as well.  I’m guilty of being out with my family and being physically present, but my mind is on the proverbial “moms list” of things that need to be done or even worse having my nose in my phone.

My continued goal for the new year is to be more present with my family.  I’m slowing learning that laundry can wait and dishes will eventually get done, but my son will only be two for a couple more months and my husband deserves my attention when he’s home.

I try to keep this quote in mind:  Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” – Mother Teresa

I also saw this Holiday To-Do List on Facebook yesterday that I just had to share.

holiday todo list

From my family to yours, I hope that you have a very Merry Christmas, a Happy Holiday and wish you many blessings as we move into 2015.  See you next year!


If you have thought about supporting us during our adoption journey, please take a moment to visit our fundraising page.  No amount is too small or to large, $5 to $5000 to help a family bring home our baby girl.  All donations are tax-deductible through the Adopt Together website.


Leftover Remake (1)

When I first left corporate America to be a full-time stay at home mom, I wasn’t the best cook.  Who am I kidding, I didn’t even like to cook.  I could throw a few things together and try to keep us from eating out all the time, but it wasn’t pretty.  The first couple months I started scouring the internet to find meals that my family would enjoy and even took to cable to find a cooking show that could help.  I mean it’s not like my mom didn’t try to teach me how to cook…I just wasn’t interested at the time.  Ask her she’ll tell you!

The first couple shows I started watching were repeats of “$10 Dollar Dinners” hosted by Melissa D’Arabian and “Semi-Homemade” hosted by Sandra Lee on Food Network.  Granted this was before I started moving us away from so much processed food stuff, but it helped me get started and showed me useful ways to make an almost completely different meal out of left overs.  It was a great help to a newly single-family income trying to eat on a much smaller budget.

So let me tell you about this dinner we had.  My husbands department had a Christmas lunch at work last week and he signed up to bring dressing and gravy because no one else had.  Normally I would have made at least the dressing from scratch, but I just ran out of time.  I found a really great organic stuffing mix at Sprouts so I thought I would try that.  I added sauteed celery and green onions and homemade cream of mushroom soup and baked the stuffing in the oven.  I also used a jar of turkey gravy and added extra stuff to that as well.

organic stuffing

Why I’m I telling you this…well even though people hadn’t signed up, there was more dressing at the luncheon than could be eaten so we had more than half a pan of stuffing left that I didn’t want to go to waste.  I’m not even sure what to call this, but my husband described it as the ultimate comfort food that he could graze on all day.  Now I take that as a super big compliment!! 🙂

So here’s what I did.  I took left over gravy and crumbled the stuffing into a large mixing bowl, added a bag of slightly thawed frozen mixed vegetables and a can of chicken and enough chicken broth to make it moist.  Mix this together with your cheese of choice; my husband requested Monterey Jack cheese this time.  Pop in the oven on 375 degrees for about 30 minutes until the cheese is melted and the top is golden brown.  It was delish!!


Over the past couple months of having my blog, one of the hardest things I’ve discovered is trying to take decent pictures of casseroles.  They look like mush on the plate and all together unappetizing in a picture.  It’s a good thing they are so yummy when you take a bite!

I’d love to hear from other bloggers how you take something that looks like mush and make it look so wonderful.

As we come closer to the end of 2014, I want to say a special thank you to friends and family and strangers that have reached out to me to inquire about of adoption journey.  I love sharing our story with people in hopes to encourage others to consider adopting a child.  Although it can be a stressful journey, it is one of the most beautiful journeys.  Without it, I wouldn’t have my beautiful son.

If you have thought about supporting us during our adoption journey, please take a moment to visit our fundraising page.  No amount is too small or to large, $5 to $5000 to help a family bring home our baby girl.  All donations are tax-deductible through the Adopt Together website.

If you are enjoying the blog, please consider clicking on the ‘follow’ button and you will receive an email each time a post is made.  I also welcome any comments and will respond as quickly as possible.  And always feel free to share recipes with your friends and family on social media!

My 21st Century Life – Part 2 – A letter to my son

Although he won’t be reading this for many years, I’m sure, I have some motherly words for my beautiful son.

It seems like only yesterday we received that very special phone call that told your father and I that we were about to become your parents.  You may not know, but we waited long and sometimes not so patiently for you to come into our lives.  You see, although you did not grow in my belly, you had grown in my heart for more years than I can tell you.  I prayed for you, I longed for you and I cried for you for what felt like forever.  I loved you so much before I ever saw your face.  I remember driving in the car, when we still didn’t know if you were a son or a daughter, wondering what your face looked like and what I would feel when I finally laid eyes on you and got to hold you in my arms.  To say that you were beautiful and perfect would be an understatement!

Now fast forward almost three years and my baby is not a baby anymore.  I’m amazed every single day by how smart you are, how quickly you pick things up and by how careful I have to be what I say around you unless I want it repeated.  🙂  You have an infectious smile that can literally charm anyone you meet.  It will be my job as your mom to make sure you never abuse that charm with anyone.

I so enjoy our days together, when we take trips to “go park go play”, and our lunch dates with friends.  I enjoy having you in the kitchen with me where you play with the water in the sink while I cook dinner.  I love that you want to help me bake, and I hope my future daughter-in-law appreciates my teaching you to cook and bake.  While there are times of frustration and angst, our life together is NEVER boring.

I bet you didn’t know that there are nights I lie awake wondering what your future holds.  I’m excited to see what path your life takes; whether you are challenged academically or if sports are in your future.  I’m terrified of the first time you get hit on the playing field and making sure I don’t embarrass you by running on the field to check on you.  I worry whether or not you will encounter a bully at school and if I’ve prepared you with the proper tools to handle that.

I’m not ready to look much past that, so I will end this first letter for now.  But know this, throughout all your years I will do everything I can to help you become the best “you” you can be.  I’m so thankful everyday that I get the privilege to be called your mommy.  I love you to the heavens and back my precious Caleb.



Garlic Parmesan Green Beans

Most often when I read a food blog, I tend to get mostly main dish recipes.  I wanted to change things up a little and share with you a simple and easy side dish.  Garlic Parmesan Green Beans!  I purchased a ton of green beans from the farmers market at the end of the summer so I would have some during the winter.

I love green beans and so does my family, but we don’t like the “squeaky” texture of green beans that often comes with frozen green beans from the store.  I took my fresh green beans, snapped them and washed them and let them dry before I packaged them for the freezer.  When I’m ready to use them, I pull them out and let them thaw overnight in the fridge before using.

For this side dish I added my green beans to a Ziploc bag with a squirt of olive oil and a couple pinches (depending on amount of green beans used and taste preference) of garlic salt and fresh grated Parmesan.  Close the bag and massage the bag to coat the beans in the mixture.  This step could also be done in a bowl and mixed by hand.


Pour beans into a baking dish and bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.  The cheese should be melted and the beans slightly golden.

One of the things I enjoy most about being a first time mom is watching my sons imagination grow.  It changes on a daily basis and over the last couple weeks he’s really started to embrace the super hero “phase”.  We watched the Pixar movie The Incrediables a few weeks ago and it reminded me that a friend had gotten my son and my husband matching super hero capes as a gift.  Well we finally brought them out.  And now when he gets dressed in the morning that’s the first thing he asks for and wants to wear out is his cape.  He is truly my little super hero.  And incidentally, he loooves to borrow his Grammi’s glasses and sport those around.  I truly love this kid and love being his mom!!

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Sandwich Sliders

Sorry for being absent for several days.  Like I said the holiday hustle and bustle is in full swing.  I hope you are enjoying your holiday season so far.  We’re decorated and festive and almost partied out, but looking forward to Christmas day and the weekend with our families.  I’d love to hear about traditions you and your family have that you do every year.

For this post I’m bringing out one of my husbands favorites.  I’m not sure where I found the original recipe, but I’ve adapted it to fit with what my family likes.  Even my 2.5 year old likes these sandwiches!


I typically make these sandwich sliders after we’ve had a meal of pulled pork or chicken because I always have left over Hawaiian Rolls.  I love these rolls, I just wish I could perfect the process to make them from scratch instead of having to buy them at the store.  I’ll share my steps below and then the full recipe at the end.


Start off by cutting the Hawaiian rolls in half and place in a bakine dish (I used glass, but sometime use those aluminum foil pans if transporting).  Spread mayo (I used organic) on the bottom half. Normally I like to cook at least six of these, but we only had five left in the package so we settled for one less…


I added one slice each of deli ham and turkey and topped it off with a slice of colby jack cheese.


Add the tops of the rolls to the baking dish.  Now comes the yummy part.

In a microwave safe bowl, melt the butter, then add the mustard, onion powder, Worcestershire  sauce and brown sugar and mix until well combined.  (Sorry I did not get a picture of this step :/)

Now pour the yummy sauce over the sandwiches and spread evenly if necessary.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.  Then remove the foil and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes until golden brown with melted cheese.

I wasn’t even able to get a plated picture taken before my family was attacking the kitchen to devour the yummy goodness.

The fun thing about this recipe is you can make so many combinations; really any combination of cheese and deli meat you like would probably work.  The measurements for the sauce are also very much up to you and what taste you like best.  You could use different types of mustard, such as dijon or honey mustard.  If you like more of a garlic taste you could add / substitute garlic powder for the onion powder.  The best part is you can really make this recipe your own!


  • 6 Hawaiian Rolls, cut in half
  •  Mayonnaise, to taste
  • 6 slices Deli Ham
  • 6 slices Deli Turkey
  • 6 slices Colby Jack Cheese
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Yellow Mustard
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar


In a baking dish place bottom half of Hawaiian rolls and top with mayo.  Add lunch meat of your choice and 1 slice of cheese and replace the top half of the roll.

In a small microwave safe bowl melt the butter and then add the mustard, onion powder, Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar. Mix sauce until well combined and pour over the sandwiches.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.  Then remove the foil and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes until golden brown with melted cheese.

Hope you enjoy these yummy sandwiches as much as my family does.  Until next time 🙂

Don’t forget if you would be interested in helping to support our family during our upcoming adoption, here are ways you can 🙂  We are so thankful to those that have contacted us to let us know they are praying and for those that have donated to help us.  We’ve raised a little over $1,600 so far thanks to friends, family and even complete strangers.

  • Prayer.  If you are someone who prays, will you pray for us, for our family, for our future birthmom and for the child she is carrying and considering placing for adoption. Pray that our process will go quickly and smoothly.
  • Encouragement. Check-in with us. Help us to remember what the work and wait are for.
  • Financial. We are working to raise $25,000 to cover the costs (agency fees, legal fees, social workers, etc) involved with bringing our daughter into our family.  If you have the financial means to support our adoption, no amount is too small or too big; $5 to $5,000 – any and all funds will help!  100% of your financial support will go toward our adoption costs, thanks to Adopt Together. You can contribute by going to:  We have partnered with this great organization, Adopt Together, which is a non-profit specifically created to help families like ours raise the funds needed for adoption. They are an IRS recognized 501(c)(3) organization and donations are tax deductible.


I’m still here!

Well the hustle and bustle of the holiday season has definitely set in. Hope everyone is enjoying it and trying to maintain low stress levels.

I’m working on several recipes to share with you and look forward to being back with you in a couple days.

Thanks for hanging in here with me!

Cookie Exchange

As is typical for this time of year, I’m attending one of many cookie exchanges in the next couple weeks.  I’m really excited about the cookie I choose for my first exchange.  My favorite cake of all times is German Chocolate cake; homemade by my wonderful mom preferably, but a store bought will on rare occasion do in a pinch.  I love the flavors of the pecans and the coconut and just the right amount of sweet.

So to my excitement, I was searching through Facebook pages that I follow and one had a list of 50 cookie exchange ideas; and there I found it.  This is now my holy grail of cookies.  German Chocolate Cookies!!  They are moist, delicious and have absolutely NO calories in them!! (wink, wink, insert sarcasm)

Chef in Training is one of my favorite websites to get recipes.  I don’t think there is a recipe I’ve tried yet that hasn’t hit the mark 🙂  And now for the cookies.

German Chocolate Cookies:

  • 2 boxes german chocolate cake mix, dry
  • 4 eggs
  • 10 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1⅓ cup sweetened shredded coconut, for drizzle
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 4 oz. melted chocolate candy coating, for drizzle

First combine the cake mixes, eggs and butter.


Next, scoop 1in balls of dough onto either a lightly greased cookie pan or in my case I used non-stick aluminum foil.  Place 12 on a sheet to allow for spreading.  Cook on 350 degrees for 8 minutes.  You DO NOT want to over cook these.


Once done, allow to cool completely.


While the cookies are cooling, start the frosting.

  • Add evaporated milk, sugar, egg yolks, butter and vanilla to a large pan and cook on stovetop over medium heat. Continuously stir until thickened (takes about 12-15 minutes). Once thickened remove from heat and add coconut and pecans. Continue to stir until thick enough to spread.
  • Spread frosting over the tops of cooled cookies.

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The recipe calls for chocolate to be drizzled over the cookies, but I thought these were perfect with out it.

Hope you enjoy and check out other recipes from the websites I’ve included.  I don’t think you will be disappointed!!  Happy cooking.

I’d love for you to share your favorite cookie recipes or websites for your cookie exchanges.

Totally random family picture, but my boys were apparently having a meeting of the minds while I was making cookies last night.


Don’t forget, if you are interesting in supporting our adoption process or want to read more about our story, please visit