Monday, December 28, 2009

Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast


  • 1 whole bone-in turkey breast, 6 1/2 to 7 pounds
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 packet fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves, or 1 tsp. ground sage
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • one lemon, quartered
  • 1 cup dry white wine


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Place the turkey breast, skin side up, on a rack in a roasting pan.
If you do not have a roasting pan, use a 9x13 casserole pan.  Make a bed of vegetables in the pas using whatever you have -onions, celery, carrots, etc.  Place the turkey breast on top of the vegetables.

Mince 1 tbls. of rosemary.  This will go in the paste for the turkey.  Save the rest.

In a small bowl, combine the garlic, mustard, herbs, salt, pepper, olive oil, and 2 tsp of lemon juice (from the lemon quarters) to make a paste. Loosen the skin from the meat gently with your fingers and smear half of the paste directly on the meat. Spread the remaining paste evenly on the skin. Pour the wine into the bottom of the roasting pan.  Place the lemon quarters and the rest of the rosemary in the pan.

Roast the turkey for 1 3/4 to 2 hours, until the skin is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees F when inserted into the thickest and meatiest areas of the breast. (I test in several places.) If the skin is over-browning, cover the breast loosely with aluminum foil. When the turkey is done, cover with foil and allow it to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes. Slice and serve with the pan juices spooned over the turkey.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Day 2009

James and I spent Christmas Day in St. Louis this year because it was my turn to work the Christmas holiday.  I had to work for a couple of hours in the early morning, and then I was on call for the rest of the day.  I did get called back to work at 9:45 pm, but at least it didn't get in the way of our celebration.

Lily got to "open" her stocking first.

She got a hippopotamus toy for Christmas.

She also got a bag of Dentastix.  (FYI for dog owners - these really help with bad dog breath)  She likes these.  Daisy also got a bag of them.  Lily got a new collar, but I didn't put the pic of it up.

Now for Daisy

Daisy got a giraffe toy . . .

. . .and Lily ran off with it!

Lily wants to see what I got.  This was a goodie bag of Burt's Bee's products.

The main thing we got this year was a blue-ray player and surround sound system.  James spent the morning getting it hooked up while I prepared dinner.  I roasted a turkey breast and made rice and steamed green beans, and I warmed some store bought rolls to go with it.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Wild Lights

Last Sunday evening we went to the STL zoo to see their Christmas light display.  We had a good time.  The weather was nice & it wasn't too crowded.  Most of the lights were animal themed.  This is one thing the zoo does charge admission for.  It was $5 a person, which is not bad.  Admission is usually free.

These butterflies were my fav.

Swinging monkeys

Gingerbread house and gingerbread people



We got to see the real penguins too.  These were the only animals out for viewing.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Traditions in Ethiopia

I was curious about Christmas is celebrated in Ethiopia.  I found the following information at World of Christmas

Ethiopian Christmas is known as Ganna. It is celebrated on 7th of January. Christmas celebrations take place both in ancient churches carved from solid volcanic rock and modern churches designed in three concentric circles. Men and boys are made to sit separately from girls and women and the choir sings from the outside circle. Candles are given to people as they enter the church. They light the candles, then walk three times around the church and stand throughout the mass, which may take as long as three hours.

Traditional Christmas dish includes Injera, a sourdough pancake like bread, which serves as both plate and fork along with Doro Wat, a spicy chicken stew served in ornamented baskets. Giving gifts is not a big deal in Ethiopia and children usually receive clothes as presents. On Christmas Eve, people remain outdoors and pray and chant all night. In the morning, a colorful procession marches to the nearby hilltop headed by three young men with whips to keep everybody in line, where a service is held. After the prayers, priests bless the bread and wine and distribute it to everybody. People dance, play games and feast for the rest of the day.


Makes 8-10 waffles (4x4 inch)

2 1/2 cups sifter all-purpose flour
4 Tbs. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3 eggs
2 cups milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil

  • Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt
  • In a bowl, beat the egg yolks.  Add the milk and then add the dry sifted ingrediants.
  • In a small bowl, beat the egg whites to a thick foam and add them gently to the preparation.
  • Batter is now ready, cook waffles according to instructions of your waffle iron.
This is what we had for dinner on Christmas Eve.  Yummy.

Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup sugar
12 ounces fresh cranberries

Bring water, orange juice, and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add cranberries and return to a boil. Reduce heat and boil gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour sauce into a bowl, cover & cool to room temperature. Refridgerate until serving time. Make 2 1/4 cups.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

My Favorite Christmas Movies

I thought it would be fun to share my favorite Christmas movies and explain why I love them.  Here goes, in no particular order:

1. Elf
This is such a funny movie. . .a grown man, who thinks he's a elf . . .searching for his long last dad in NYC.  I still laugh every time I watch him make his breakfast, spaghetti, M&M's, pop-tarts, maple syrup and cereal - all on the same plate in one pile.  All humor aside, it points to the importance of being with your loved ones at Christmas time.

2. White Christmas
I fell in love with this movie as a little girl because of the costumes at the end.  I even wanted my mom to make my Barbie doll a red dress like the girls in the movie wore.  I like it now, for better reasons.  It plays on nostalgia and patriotism, which are not a common combination for Christmas movies.  I like it because it's not about Santa!  The music and fun, and it's always made me want to have a little snow on Christmas.

3. It's a Wonderful Life
Who doesn't love this. Isn't there a George Bailey inside inside of all of us who wishes to travel the world and move on from small town America? And doesn't that George Bailey inside need to be reminded that the grass in not always greener elsewhere? George is reminded that his little life is of value.  I love the small town storyline.  Living in STL is fun, but it is fun to visit James' home town - which has a population of about 17,000, it think.  Even though I'm only there a few times a year, the gals at the local jewelry store/gift shop know who I am, where I currently live and who I'm married too.  It's nice to run into someone you know.  In the year and a half that we've been in STL, I've seen someone that I know at the grocery store exactly twice.  Santa is also not the star of this movie, which is a plus for me.

4. The Nativity Story
This movie helped me understand the political oppression that the Jews where suffering from at the time of Christ's birth. Some of the scenes from the movie where the people are having to costly taxes (sometimes one of their children is the payment) play in my head during the first Sunday of advent. . .longing for a Savior, longing for relief. The movie also made me think about what Mary's life might have been like - what consequences she might have faced in her hometown after the news of her unexpected pregnancy had reached the ears of her neighbors.

5. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
This one is another childhood favorite. I love Dr. Seuss. I like this because it reminds us that Christmas is not about gifts and parties and feasts. It doesn't hint at what Christmas is really about, but I still like it.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Talking with Young Children about Adoption

Another book that we read for our agency was Talking with Young Children about Adoption.  This book was very helpful.  This first part was a slow read because it was full of statistics, and it almost felt like reading a textbook.  It did have some valuable information though.  Here's some of what I found interesting:

·        Children adopted by parents of high socio-economic status scored high than children adopted by parents of low socio-economic status.  Kids that performed highest on IQ tests were born to parents of socio-economic status and adopted by parents of socio-economic status.  This indicated to me, that there is some degree of "catching up" possible for kids who have come from a less than desirable condition.
·        Nature vs. nature – whatever the genetics may be, the environment potentiates them.  Any child will become more musical if he has music lessons, but a musically gifted child raised in a musically indifferent family may never develop his musical talent.
·        Just because a child likes to talk about adoption, it doesn’t mean that he understands it
·        A child’s adoption story should not be romanticized by invoking the motif of the “chosen child” – what has been chosen may be unchosen.
·        Around age 3 children become fascinated with how things are made, including how they were made.  This is when the questions about growing in mommy’s tummy begin.
·        Young children have a desire for sameness, they may get tired of being different.  They might say they wish hadn’t been adopted, only because they wish they were just like their peers.  It is no different than the child saying they wish they had straight hair like their best friend.
·        It is not good to tell a child a that her birthmom gave them for adoption because she loved her.  You love the child too, does that mean that you are going to give her up too?
·        Children may fantasize about being reunited with their birthfamilies, even so much that they become convinced that they cannot join in their adotive family’s plans for the future because they will be returning to their country of origin.
·         Around age 7-8 kids may being to make negative judgments about their birthparents.  Why did my birthmom have to drink to drink while she was pregnant with me?  It is wise for adopted parents to have a positive view of birthparents.  The child will integrate the adoptive parents’ view of the birthparents into his own sense of self-esteem.
·        Some kids may fear being found by their birthparent and stolen away from their adoptive family
·        Some kids long for an image of their birthparents.  Some kids will find comfort in inventing a name for them
·        Kids adopted by parents do not share their skin color, may have times when they really want to look like their adoptive parents
·        It is important to help an adopted child understand that their birthmom’s decision to be a parent had nothing to do with him.  She didn’t even know him,  She had no way to tell if he was a good baby or a bad baby.  Her decision had everything to do with the circumstances of her life.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Connected Child

This is another review of a book that we read for our adoption agency.  I liked this one much better than the first one I wrote about.  This book is called The Connected Child: bring hope and healing to your adopted family.  Here are some of the things that stuck with me.

This book discussed some of the challenges that a child may face after being institutionalized.  Deprivation and harm suffered early in life impact all the ways a child develops – coordination, ability to learn, social skills, size, and neurochemistry.  This is why formerly neglected/abused children are predisposed to attachment difficulties, conduct disorder, depression, anxiety, attention deficits, etc.
Common obstacles to attachment:  child carriers, time-outs, lack of eye contact, TV & electronic games

An infant who is rarely touched or spoken too in the first year of life can suffer mental & behavioral impairments.  Children raised in an impoverished institution may exhibit the following behaviors/characteristics:  food hoarding, crossed eyes (from staring at the ceiling), fear of new places/people, indiscriminate friendliness, self-comforting repetitive behaviors

You can learn a lot about your child by careful observation.  Small details of body language and behavior will convey a message that they child is unable to communicate with words.  You may learn what is behind outbursts simply by observing.

As a result of early neglect, adopted kids have suboptimal brain chemistry.  This can be improved by such things a eating healthy meals at regular interval to keep glucose levels within normal range.  Note that medication solves only about 30% of behavioral problems.  This a nice thing for me to read.  There were times, when I was still working in retail pharmacy that I really wanted to have a talk with a parent about the importance of discipline.  There were so many kids on ADHD meds, some of who needed & truly benefited from the medications. . .but there were those other kids whose parents simply wanted a magic pill to control their child.

Cortisol is a hormone that is activated by an responds to stress.  When children have too much cortisol in their system it can lead to undesirable behaviors.  By helping your child feel safe, you can actually optimize cortisol levels and allow your child’s brain to work better.  Some things that can reduce chronic fear:  alert child to upcoming activities and make their day predictable, prevent sensory overload

Offering a child choices helps them feel empowered.  Offer them two choices, not 5. . .you are not their to be their genie in a bottle.

See misbehavior as an opportunity to teach a child new skills.  Don’t take misbehavior personally.  Offer a “do-over” when a child misbehaves so they will learn what is appropriate.  Maintain a respectful atmosphere. Encourage child to “use their words” when you see a tantrum coming.  To avoid tantrums and meltdowns in public:  establish choices before you get to your destination & rehearse your child for what’s coming

Keep your child close by when they are being disciplined.  Sending a child who has attachment issue to their room or to time-out only reinforces the feeling of isolation. Let the down child easy with the sandwich technique:  surround a corrective statement with two positive statements.
Present a united front at home and at school.  If your child says “daddy said I could ____”, always verify that 1st.  If child says their teacher said something mean, let them you know you take their concern seriously & schedule a meeting with the teacher.  Don’t automatically jump to child’s side – they might be manipulating you.

    Thursday, December 17, 2009

    Twenty Things

    This is a review of a book that we had to read for our adoption agency.  It is titled Twenty Things Adopted Kids wish their Adopted Parents Knew.  The author is an adoptee.  She was adopted when she was an infant in the 1940's.  The adoption climate was different in that time.  Birthmoms were counseled to just pick up the pieces and move on.  Adoptive parents had little information about birthparents.  There were no open adoptions, where birthparents have the option of maintaining some form of contact with the child they chose to place for adoption.  Open adoptions are now highly encouraged by adoption agencies.

    I had mixed feeling about this book.  The first part of it was hard to read through because I felt like it didn't apply to our situation.  She talks about loss and grief a lot.  This is something I could not relate to well because we haven’t been through infertility.  She seems to assume that people who adopt are doing it primarily because they can’t have their own biological kids, and she makes it seem as if she feels adoption as “second best."

    The author discusses the importance of embracing differences – some of which is helpful – “your child needs to realize that he came from real people with real personalities and life stories who made decisions that impacted his life forever”  Some not so helpful – she says that she liked ketchup a lot & her adoptive parents didn’t.  That made her feel weird at the dinner table.  “if my parents had been more enlightened about how to validate my pre-adoption reality they might have concluded that this was a tie to my biological history. . .Who in my birth family liked ketchup?”   Not every little difference needs to be linked to adopting.  I like food and activities that neither of my parents like.

    Chapter 17 is titled “Respect my privacy regard my adoption, don’t tell other people without my consent.”  When we will be in public with our kids, it will be obvious that I didn’t give birth to them.  They will not look like us.  She says that you don’t want to make the child feel different from the rest of the family or weird.  Our kids will be different, and we will celebrate that.  

    In another part of the book, she says to ell your child about their unique characteristics that bring a new dimension to your family.  Celebrate differences.  She says later in the book that making a child feel different may make him feel like he’s not part of the family, so which is it?

    The author uses the term "toxic shame." She feels that adoptees may think they were given up by their birth family because they were a bad baby.  This thinking  may lead to two extremes of behavior – being afraid that they will disappoint you & you will give them up too, so they seek to please you in all they do.  The other extreme is deciding to act like they really are a bad kid which may lead to stealing, setting fires, eating disorders, promiscuity, etc.  My issue with that view is that biological kids exhibit the same problems sometimes.  She goes on to say, "Let your child know that you longed for him before he was even born.  Make a life book for your child, and for  the first page write a letter to him affirming his “welcomeness” into the family.  Let your child know that you blow it sometimes & laugh at yourself.  Show him your humanity.  Help him see that people don’t deserve to be rejected just because they are alive." - This latter part is helpful.

    This book did give me some good things to think about, but it had an overall negative feel to it.  The author has a new book out called 20 Things Adoptive Parents Need to Succeed. Currently, it has one review at Amazon, and it was written by the author herself.  She gave it five stars, of course!  I think that is a rather vain thing to do! Ha!

    Friday, December 4, 2009

    Shrimp Bisque

    This is a slightly "slimmed down" re-make of a recipe my mother-in-law gave me several years ago.


    1/2 stick of butter
    1 bunch of green onions (chopped)
    2 Russet potatoes (peeled & chopped into bite size pieces)
    1 (14 3/4 oz) can cream of mushroom soup
    1 (14 3/4 oz) can cream of shrimp soup
    16 oz can whole kernel corn (drained)
    2 cups 2% milk
    8 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese (cubed)
    1/2 tsp. crab boil
    salt and pepper to taste
    1 tsp. Tabasco
    1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
    2 lbs shrimp, cooked and peeled (it takes about 2 1/2 lbs. of uncooked shrimp)


    Melt butter in large stock pot, add the green onions & simmer until done.  In another pot, boil the potatoes until tender and then drain.

    Once the green onions are cooked, add the rest of the ingredients except for the shrimp.  Stir constantly until everything is well blended and the cream cheese has melted.  Add shrimp.

    Wednesday, December 2, 2009

    Consumer Alert

    I wanted to spread the word about a company of ill repute that I crossed paths with.  On Monday, I had a man knock on my door.  I answered it, with my feisty little dog in my arms.  I've learned to do that because she will bark and snarl for a while and I want to let a stranger know that I have a dog that doesn't seem too friendly.  I don't like door-to-door salesmen.  They disrupt what I'm doing, and I NEVER want what they have.  In this day and age, the whole concept seems rather unsafe.  They might be at your door just trying to get inside so they can assault you.

    Anyway, the name of the company he was with was called "Hague Water."  He said that his company had recently gotten reports about excessive sedimentation in the water.  He wanted to know if he could get my name and number so he could schedule a time for one of his employees to do a free water test.  I thought he might have been a contract worker for the water company, so I gave him the info.  But, I had my doubts.  After moving to the STL area, we did our own reading about the water supply, and found at that it is CLEAN.  The water here is better than I can remember it being anywhere else we have lived. 

    James did some research on Hague Water company.  It is a nation wide company.  A few years, they were involved in a lawsuit with the MO Attorney General's office, and they lost.  They are not interested in doing water quality testing.  From what we've read about them, they will come to your house and work some hocus-pocus with a sample of your water & make you think that it is full of toxins.  Then they sell you a water treatment system for your home - which happens to cost several thousand dollars & is a faulty piece of equipment.

    This morning, I called our water company to let them know about what Hague water doing.  They confirmed that Hague water is not an affiliate, and that there is nothing wrong with the water supply.  They will be mailing a letter to all the water customers in my county explaining what is going on.

    I also called the attorney general's office.  There have been 25 complaints filed about this company recently.  They are well aware of what it going on, but they do not have enough evidence to pursue legal action at this time.

    I also called the senior center in my city.  The elderly are at the highest risk for falling into these traps.  They are home during the day when the salesman knocks on the door, and they may not have the ability to research the company like we did.  They hear that their water might be bad, and decide to buy the $$$$ water treatment system.  I asked the lady at the senior center to post a notice to warn people of the scam that Hague Water seems to be running.  She seemed appreciative of the phone call.

    The people of Hague Water should be ashamed of themselves.  Please warn anyone that might fall victim to them that this is NOT a business to trust.

    Seven Layer Dip

    With Bowl Season just around the corner, I thought I'd share this recipe.  I found it a few years ago on  It is easy, and very good.

    • 1& 1/2 pounds ground beef
    • 1 (16 ounce) can refried beans
    • 4 cups shredded Cheddar-Monterey Jack cheese blend
    • 1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
    • 1 cup guacamole
    • 1 cup salsa
    • 1 (2.25 ounce) can black olives, chopped
    • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
    • 1/2 cup chopped green onions


    1. In a large skillet, brown ground beef. Set aside to drain and cool to room temperature.
    2. Spread the beans into the bottom of a 9x13 inch serving tray that is about 1 1/2 inches deep. Sprinkle 2 cups of shredded cheese on top of beans. Sprinkle beef on top of cheese. Spread sour cream very slowly on top of beef. Spread guacamole on top of sour cream. Pour salsa over guacamole and spread evenly. Sprinkle remaining shredded cheese. Sprinkle black olives, tomatoes, and green onions on top.
    3. You can serve this dish immediately, or refrigerate it over night and serve cold. I think it tastes better at room temperature.

    Tuesday, December 1, 2009

    Christmas Decorations

    After I got off work on Friday, I stopped by Lowe's to get some Christmas lights for the yard.  I was surprised at how little selection was left, but I did find some cute things.  When I got home, I took the Thanksgiving decorations down and boxed them up.  Saturday morning, while we were waiting for the Christmas tree lot to open, we started putting our outdoor lights up.  Then we went to get our tree. Here are a few pictures of our decorations.

    In the kitchen

    In the foyer.  I've been collecting this nativity set over the past eight years or so.  I've been given several of the pieces as Christmas gifts.  I like the simplicity of it.  Mary and Joseph were not rich, and couldn't have afforded the expensive clothing that they are sometimes depicted in.

    On top on the china cabinet.

    The dining room table.  While my family was here on Wed., we went to Old St. Charles, and did some shopping.  I got the tree and the large ornaments that day.

    On our back door.  My mom made this for me a couple of years ago.  It makes me smile.

    The mantle.  Yes, the dogs have their own stockings, and they do get little Christmas presents - mostly just doggie treats and toys.

    Our tree.  It is an 8 foot Frazier Fur.  We had a Blue Spruce last year, and it made a huge mess.  We've had Frazier's before and they hold their needles well, and the needles are soft.  Some of the ornaments are old, some new.  We have a lot of Hallmark ornaments that were a gift from James' parents, but we didn't use those this year.  We used them last year, and I like for the tree to be a little different each year.