Saturday, March 22, 2014

Project Mode

I won't say that the paperwork for a subsequent adoption is easier, but it's definitely more efficient, knowing which pieces take longer to come back, and therefore, which items to work on first.

One of the first things we mailed off was our FBI checks, because those take 8-12 weeks to come back.  By the time we have our I-800a packet mailed off, after finishing our home study, we should receive the FBI clearances, and that will be the last piece of our dossier, next to the I-800a approval letter.

Speaking of home studies, we're waiting for one last piece, and it will be finished!  We're done (for now, at least) with trips to the doctor, bloodwork, autobiographies, and -thisclose- to being done with our education (for our placing agency requirements, not for our home study).

When I'm not working on adoption paperwork and I have some time to myself, I'm in DIY mode.  I've just painted our new-to-us headboard in CeCe Caldwell's "Seattle Mist" chalk paint, which I love against the curtains I made for our bedroom last year.

I started working on our kitchen backsplash last month, and now half of the tile is up, I have lots more pieces of tile to cut, and plenty of grouting to do.  It certainly would've been faster to pay Lowe's to install, but there's something so rewarding in looking at a finished project, knowing you did it all by yourself.

Plenty to keep me busy and to keep my mind off of waiting on paperwork.  Thankfully I have all the supplies for my projects on hand, because my "fun money" is now all earmarked for the adoption!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Back to Blogging... And EXCITING News!

Prior to life with five kids, I had a little more time for blogging, but it has fallen by the wayside, obviously.

I know I had friends who followed our journey, so it's my intention to carve out a little time for blogging each week.

The past year has been full of adjustments for everyone, with normal ups and downs, and our life has settled down quite a bit.  Our kids have gotten to know each other, grown to love each other, and life is good.

For my first post of the year, I have WONDERFUL news to share!  We're going back!!!  We're thrilled to announce that we're bringing Stephie into our family!

Our process is moving quickly right now and we hope, especially because of her age, that each step will continue to go at such a fast pace.  We should have our home study in our hands within the next few weeks!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Biscuit Cake! (Recipe)

I was talking to my grandmother and sister, working out the Christmas menu, and my sister said "I don't care what else you make, but I want biscuit cake." I've had several other people ask for the recipe, and I'm happy to oblige!  

The original recipe can be found here.  While this biscuit cake was still not exactly what we had on our trip to Bulgaria last October, it was the closest I could find, and adding Nutella to a recipe is never a bad thing, right?  I also modified the recipe to exclude the alcoholic Bailey's Irish Cream because, well, I was serving it to my kids and it's a no-bake recipe.  I also doubled the recipe to fill the trifle bowl. 

Trifle bowl
2 packages of biscuits (I used a specialty brand I found at Kroger, on the cookie aisle)
2 packages mascarpone cheese (with the specialty cheese)
8 oz. heavy whipping cream8 oz. milk4 oz. Bailey's Irish Cream-flavored coffee creamer1 3/4 c. confectioner's sugar1 tsp. pure vanilla extract1 jar NutellaChocolate (grated for garnish)
Chocolate roses (optional, added for Viktorya's birthday to represent Bulgaria)

1. Whip the heavy cream in a large bowl.  Add mascarpone cheese, vanilla extract, and 1 c. of confectioner's sugar.  Mix well.

2. In another bowl, mix together the milk, Irish Creme-flavored creamer, and 3/4 c. sugar.  Dip cookies in the milk mixture, for 10-20 seconds, depending on the thickness of the cookies.  You don't want them to fall apart, but you do want them a little soft.

3. Place one layer of biscuits in the trifle bowl. Spread a layer of Nutella over them, followed by a layer of the mascarpone and cream mixture.

4. Repeat the steps until the biscuits and cream mixture are used up.  I had probably 4-5 layers. 

5. Garnish with shredded chocolate.

6. Place in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight.  Serve cool.

7. Enjoy!

Ayden's BIG Surprise!!!

It's no secret that Ayden has been incredibly selfless and helpful since our two newest kids came home.  She has really stepped up with what she does around the house, has taken some initiative with school work, chores, and anything else I might need done.

She's turning 10 next week, just a few days before Christmas, which can be difficult for planning purposes, since most of her friends' families are traveling to spend time with their families.  You only turn 10 once, so I wanted to make it a big celebration!

Her favorite animator is Hayao Miyazaki, who made some wonderful movies, like My Neighbor Totoro, Howl's Moving Castle, Spirited Away, Kiki's Delivery Service... the list goes on, and we own all but a couple of his films.

I began brainstorming on Pinterest months ago, and kept everything very hush-hush, and more than once had to quickly close an internet tab so she wouldn't see.  Here's a glimpse at the party, which was so much fun to plan and even more fun to see Ayden and her friends enjoy!

The cake was inspired by "My Neighbor Totoro"

In "Howl's Moving Castle" Sophie finds a scarecrow with his head stuck in the ground. He's nicknamed "Turnip Head."

Cotton candy "Clouds of Lapuda" from the movie "Castle in the Sky"

Oversized flowers, as well as plates that look like buttons, inspired by "The Secret World of Arietty"

The whole tablescape, with string lights to represent "Spirited Away" and glass tiles to represent the symbolism of water in every movie.

"Sushi" made from rice krispy treats, Swedish fish, and Fruit by the Foot.

I ordered konpeito, a Japanese candy similar to rock candy, and shown in "Spirited Away"

Goldfish to represent Ponyo and all her sisters.

Cake pops made to look like soot sprites, from "Spirited Away" and "My Neighbor Totoro"

The birthday girl loved her cake!

I thought I had pictures of all the food, but I missed the "Ohm Eyes," which were cordial cherry M&Ms, to represent "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind" and "Calcifers," which were the meatballs in the crock pot to represent "Howl's Moving Castle."

It was a great party, we played some fun games, like "Pop the Soot Sprites."  Ayden was genuinely surprised, and I'd consider it a huge success!  Happy (almost) 10th Birthday, Ayden!!!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Denny's New Chair

Denny has finally grown enough that he's exceeded the weight limit on his high chair.  I was checking out the new online pictures at my favorite local secondhand shop.  I saw a 50's chair/step stool that needed a little love, called the shop to put it on hold, and picked it up as soon as I could get kids loaded in the van.

That's a red crackled vinyl cover on the seat and back, with a nice tear on the top, accented by burnt orange steps.  I don't dislike the orange, but it doesn't go with my dining room, and anyone who knows me knows that just won't work.

I was taking the kids to play at a friend's house, and I was supposed to bring Christmas stocking fabric to work on while I was there.  I left the fabric sitting on the kitchen counter, so I carried the new chair inside instead.  Tonya is my "finisher."  If there's a project I need to work on, she's my girl.  If I've been putting off doing something, I tell her to hold me accountable, and she'll usually show up in her painting clothes to help me finish (because my projects almost always involve paint and she loves me that much).

Anyway, when she saw the chair and I told her what I wanted to do, she got out some fabrics, found a leather remnant, and we started taking the chair apart.  Within a couple of hours, we had all the old red covering off, the leather on, and I was on my way to the store for paint.

I took each painted metal piece off the chair, cleaned it, and spray painted it.  Spray painting is supposed to happen at or above 60*, but it's cold outside and I'm not patient enough to wait for spring.  Each piece went outside in a box, got a coat of paint, and came inside to dry in my living room.  After drying for a whole how-many-hours-did-the-can-say-? day, I put the chair back together.  Did I mention I'm not patient?

And here it is!  Denny's new step chair, which can also double as a step stool for reaching those hard-to-reach top shelves in my upper kitchen cabinets!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Party Time!

If our kids' birthdays fall during the week, we have a family meal, and then invite friends over for a small party over the weekend. Viki lucked out, and got to celebrate two days in a row!

As she saw me decorating this morning, she got more and more excited, realizing the party from last night wasn't over!  We went back to the cake shop to pick up her cupcakes, then came home and set everything out on the table, 11 red and white swirled cupcakes with a silver tapered candle in each one, and silver platters with dress-up accessories overflowing.

I had the camera ready, got lots of pictures of her blowing out the candles, lots of pictures of her opening gifts from her friends, and went to load them so I could share them.  Well, guess who forgot to put the memory card in the camera?  Yep, me!  Well, here's a picture I took before the party...

And here's a picture of one of the leftover cupcakes...

So, I'm the mom who messed up the party pictures, but I didn't mess up the birthday.  She knows she's loved, and she's had fun.  And we'll leave the decorations up for a few days.  I love seeing the dining room like this!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Viktorya's First Birthday (well, the first in our family....)

Last year, I remember longing for Viktorya to know we were coming, wishing she somehow knew that we would be there in just one short month.  I wrote a poem to her last year on her tenth birthday.

Today, she turned eleven, and she has been excited for weeks!  I wanted today to be special, a day to celebrate Viktorya!  I usually have colors in mind for each of my kids' birthdays, and for hers, it was red and white.

After getting a necklace, bracelet, and some fun crayon rings from a sweet friend, we went to do one thing Viki has requested for months... get her ears pierced!  Every morning, as I choose earrings, she grabs her ear lobe and asks, "Azh?" ("Me?")  She chose a pair of blue-jeweled earrings, which turned out to be the September birthstone!  She is so used to shots, so I explained that this was just two shots, very fast, but will hurt a little.

Well, one earring down, and time for the other.  "NE!  Bee-may!"  ("No! It hurts!")  After a moment of talking to her, asking if she wants me to hold her hand, she agrees and the second earring is done!

After that, we popped in to the new sweets shop uptown and requested some cupcakes for tomorrow, in red and white.  Because we don't just have one day of birthdays here!  We shopped for ingredients for today and decorations for tomorrow, and Viki was most excited about her balloons!  After that, it was "It's my Happy Birthday!" again and again!  Yes it is, sweet girl!

After finishing up everything we needed to do today, it was time for the fun stuff!  FOOD!!!  This part was really important to me; I wanted the dishes to be authentic.

Viktorya's birthday dessert was up first, because it was a cold dessert, so chilling it for several hours was ideal.  Back story:  On our first trip to Bulgaria, Scott and I ate at a small restaurant near our apartment several times.  One evening, we asked if they had dessert.  The gentleman replied (and put on your best East European accent here), "Ah, there is no menu.  We have, ah, yogurt, and ah, biscuit cake."  My thought was "Ah, yogurt is no dessert!" and my response was, "Um, we'll share the biscuit cake."  We'd never even heard of it, but our taste buds were in heaven!  I tried two other biscuit cakes on the second trip, and neither came even close to being that good.  SO, I wanted to make THE biscuit cake that we fell in love with on one of our first nights in Sofia.

I made it in a trifle, and doubled the recipe to make it tall enough.  All from scratch, and topped with fondant roses (okay, those were pre-packaged).  In case you didn't know, Bulgaria produces 70% of the world's perfume rose oil.

I quickly made a shopska salad, or as close to a shopska salad as one can get without having access to Bulgaria's cheese.  Feta would just have to suffice.

Dinner was the most tricky, because it was based on a meal we had while visiting Denny, and neither Scott or I could remember what it was called.  I don't think it's necessarily a traditional Bulgarian meal, but it incorporates lots of things Viktorya loves to eat, so it's a winner.

Bacon, green onions, tomatoes, and cheese sandwiched between the two halves of thinly sliced chicken breasts, and placed on top of mashed potatoes.  I don't care if you don't mix your food, this is ah-ma-zing!  Trust me.

All that was left was to sing 'Happy Birthday' and eat dessert!

She moves much faster than my phone's camera, so there's just smoke left in this picture!  There was no hesitation at all in blowing out eleven candles to get to her cake!  She was pretty much done with me taking pictures today, and just wanted to eat the cake, lick the candles, lick the plate clean....

We also gave her the play pizza I've been working on, and she's sleeping with it now!

This was definitely a hit, and Viktorya had a wonderful day.  I've got leftover biscuit cake, so someone needs to come over and help me eat it.