Black Bean Soup, Dancing in the Wind, and Mad Chickens!

August 31, 2011

I thought today might be the first time ever that I was going to miss B&W Wednesday. Luckily, we did not suffer any damage from Irene, but we were without power from 11pm Saturday until 2am on Tuesday.

It was a LONG TWO DAYS.....

As Pat said, "It is kind of like camping, but not in a tent"

I quickly reminded him, that this girl DOES NOT CAMP.

It actually was not that bad. We survived with the resources we had and were able to keep the girls occupied before sheer boredom set in. Nick is on vacation with his Dad, so we were minus one this weekend.

Black Bean Soup From Above BLOG
Obviously everyone knew this storm was coming, so we spent the better part of Friday night and Saturday, trying to prepare. We had flashlights and candles ready. Everyone charged all electronics so that we would at least be able to communicate in some manner. Pat put away all outdoor items that could blow away and I spent a few hours in the kitchen cooking and making sure we would have food readily available.

We have a gas stove, so I knew that we would be able to heat things up even if we lost power. I decided to make a new black bean soup.

The recipe is courtesy of the book, Recipes From A Very Small Island by Linda and Martha Greenlaw. Great book, you may want to check it out. My Mom has the book and gave me the recipe. She tweaks it a bit, so I did too. Here is the doctored up recipe:

Blackbean Soup
4 Large Carrots Peeled and Chopped
1-2 Shallots Chopped
2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
4 16 oz Cans of Black Beans (Undrained)
1 Quart of Chicken Stock(4 Cups)
1 Large Jar of Salsa (or about 2 cups)
2 Tablespoons of Chili Powder
1 Package of Frozen Corn
1 Lime

Sautee shallots and carrots until tender
Place beans with their liquid in the large saucepan.
Using a potato masher or a large fork, partially mash the beans.
Whisk in the stock, salsa, frozen corn, and chili powder.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Add lime juice
Serve with your favorite toppings.
Recipe Serves 8

Black Bean Soup Reflective Stripes BLOG
You can top the soup with any number of things.
In our house we like a little cilantro, lots of cheese, salsa, and homemade tortilla chips!
They also recommend, scallions and sour cream.

Storm Chasers Collage BLOG
The storm actually hit our area late Saturday night. The rain was pouring down and the wind was howling. I could not sleep for fear that we would have a tornado touch down and have to make a mad dash to our basement. I think I managed to stay awake until about 3am and then I finally nodded off. We woke up and there was a little break in the rain about mid morning. Pat went outside to take a look around and before he knew it, the two little ones followed him onto to the deck in their pjs. He yelled for me to come with my camera as they were twirling around and trying to fight the wind and stay in the standing position.

Storm Chasers Giggling BLOG
They were having a great time and were no longer scared because it was daylight.
Just a few minutes after we were out there, the rain began again and the wind really picked up, so we came back in to find something else to do.

Sarah Coloring BLOG SIZED
We went through many arts and craft projects. The girls played in their princess tent with flashlights for a while too. By the time late afternoon rolled around we all started to hit the wall.

Teaching Collage
Thats when I decided it was time to pull out the IPad and let them have a little electronic fun. Pat spent some time playing "Angry Birds" with Sarah and then later on, Sarah began to teach Reagan how to play.

Angry Birds COLLAGE
As you can see, the IPad was a Life Saver!
I typically don't let the girls use my IPad so this was a real treat.

Not only did the little ones enjoy it, so did Pat and I.
After Reagan went to bed each night, the three of us had an Angry Birds(or Mad Chickens as Sarah calls it) competition by candlelight around the kitchen table. It really was fun and I am sure that we will one day reflect on Irene and remember all the things we did together as a family to get through.

I think we were pretty prepared for our little power hiatus, except we did make a few rookie mistakes.

The biggest one......

I was so worried about having food in the house, but I forgot to think about how to keep our food cold when the refrigerators and freezers stopped working.

We had one cooler filled with ice for the essentials(eggs, milk, juice etc)but we ended up losing the contents of our refrigerators and freezers. We had to toss everything with the exception of a few condiments and wine, cause if Mama is forced to "Camp", she needs something to help get her through.....even if it was warm wine, it was still better than nothing!

I know I should not complain about losing food, there are so many who lost much much more.

Hopefully those of you here on the East Coast weathered the storm without harm or damage.
We have family members that still do not have power and we also have friends that have suffered from the flooding and lost things that are irreplaceable. I feel so bad for them and for those that are still trying to dig out.

Be safe everyone and try to enjoy the last official week of summer.

I can hardly believe it is over.

School starts next week for Nick and the girls are about to experience their first week of what we are going to call "School" too. More on that to come.

Black and White Wednesday - "Ruffles, Chucks, and Plain White T's"

August 24, 2011

First Shot BLOG
These adorable outfits have been in my posession since the end of July and I have been hiding them from the girls.....especially Sarah because I knew the minute she set eyes on the pink ruffles and the blinged out plain white T, there would be no stopping the little diva. She is all about the glitz and glam.

It's okay little sis BLOG
The night before we left for Cape Cod, I took them out of hiding. The girls tried them on and were running around the house in all their glory. I managed to convince them both to take the skirts off, but not without a few tears, and then I packed them up for the long ride North.

Take My Hand BLOG
I had grand plans to put the girls in these for sunset photos on the beach, but time got away from us and it never happened. I was disappointed to say the least, but knew I would come up with a plan b.

A Moment Between Sisters BLOG
You always need to have a plan b....right?

Sarah Vertical Collage Close Ups PINK BLOG
We came home and had to jump straight into our crazy work week.....

Over the Steel Bar BLOG
but I knew as soon as the weekend was upon us, those ruffles were coming out of the closet.

Reagan Close Up  Petti and Chucks BLOG
I was not sure the girls would dig it as much as they would had they been wearing these frilly little numbers on the beach.

Vertical Collage Reagan Sucking Her Fingers and Phone BLOG
It took a little coaxing to get them to loosen up.

Pettis Chucks and Hands on the phone COLLAGE BLOG
The littlest diva needed just one more accessory to make her ensemble complete.

Sarah Vertical Collage Walking the Wall BLOG
My IPhone.

Catch me if you can sarah blog
The minute that phone came out, little Reags came to life.

Sarah Vertical Collage BRICK WALL BLOG
Not only did the phone become a prop for Reagan, it was also our radio. It was blaring music thanks to the "I Heart Radio" App, which caused the Pink Princess to start striking a few poses.

Film Strip Wooden Wall with the Phone BLOG
From that moment forward, these two became almost unstoppable.....and QUITE COMICAL.

Vertical Collage Reagan Phone and Sunflare BLOG
The beaches of Cape Cod were far from my thoughts.

One Up on the Ledge One Down on the ground BLOG
I realized that the location made no difference.

Running Towards Mommy Sunflare from behind BLOG
It was not about where we were.

Reagan Running Away down the alley BLOG
and it definitely was NOT about having them stand in the perfect spot for the perfectly composed photo.

Sunflare through the bulidings BLOG
It was truly about capturing the magic thes two create while enjoying the bonds of sisterhood and all things girly.

Whether they are on a beach at sunset or in a back alley, it makes no difference.
Their love for each other comes shining through.

I want to give a HUGE SHOUT OUT and THANK YOU to Kimberley from the Sophia Jane Boutique. The girls LOVE their new ruffles and T's....and I cannot say enough about the quality and workmanship...... not to mention the GREAT customer service. If you have a diva in your house, you must check out her website to see all of the beatuiful things. Click HERE to take a look. Trust me, you will love what you see!

Jewels and Tulle- "Sunday Snapshot"

August 21, 2011

Beads on the bed blog
On Friday, I was lucky enough to work from home. I did not have to go visit any clients, nor did I have to go to our main office, so I got up with the girls, had a leisurely breakfast, and then set them up to play while I got some work done.

Dressing up on the bed Collage
Before too long, I heard the pitter patter of little feet and Sarah said that they wanted to go play in her bedroom.

Climbing over the edge collage
About 15 minutes later, I heard them rummaging through Sarah's closet so I went in to see what was going on......

Sarah Hair in her face BLOG
They were as happy as could be.

Sarah and Reagan at the foot of the bed vertical COLLAGE
Sarah covered in her "jewels".....while still wearing her princess pjs and Reagan, who stripped down to her diaper and put on one of Sarah's tutus.
{Reagan has recently learned how to take her clothes off......even her diaper, which she thinks is funny..... me, not so much. I hope this phase passes quickly.}

My Hippie Chic CROP BLOG
They were having such a good time together.... and once I saw what was going on, I decided it was time for a little "coffee break".....okay, more like a camera break. I got the biggest kick out of the strand of beads around Sarah's head. I kept calling her my Hippie Chic. She ended up wearing them for most of the day.

Being home on Friday, even though I still had to work, was the perfect way to ease into our weekend. It almost feels as though I got an extra day.....and who doesn't love a three day weekend:)

To see more Sunday Snapshots, click the photo below.

Sunday Snapshot

The First Time We Saw Her Face - "1 Year Anniversary"

August 16, 2011

Referral Photo Collage
The first photo of Reagan
It is hard to believe that I am writing this post.......
As it feels like it was just yesterday that we received that long awaited phone call.

Exactly one year ago today at 2:16pm, we found out that we had a beautiful baby girl waiting for us at the Chenzhou Children's Welfare Institute in the Hunan Province of China.

Words cannot describe the range of emotions that were felt that day. We had anticipated and waited for that call for almost 5 years........ and the moment we saw her face, we fell head over heals in love with our baby girl, Chen Wen Yi.

Close Up of our Happy Girl BLOG
The staff in Chenzhou gave her the name "WenYi" hoping she would grow up to have knowledge and dreams, and would lead a happy life.

BW Collage Referral Photo 1 Year
I have big tears running down my face as I sit here reminiscing about everything that has transpired over the last 10 months for our daughter.

Hiugging her HTS Baby Dolls BLOG
It took a while for her to completely come out of her shell and show us who she really is........A smart, funny, beautiful, child that has a lot of love for life and her new family!

Reagan With her HTS Baby BLOG
There are still moments that she will flash me a look that will remind me of those first few weeks in China, when she was so scared and withdrawn. They are few and far between, but I can never forget the road we traveled to get her where she is today.

Family, Where We Begin BLOG
Just shy of one year home with us, I would say there is no denying that this little girl is leading a "Happy Life".

I wish the staff in Chenzhou could see her now......

Reagan has changed our lives in a way that is indescribable and I could not imagine a single day without her.

The journey we took to bring her home has opened our eyes and our hearts in ways that I did not think were possible.

I will forever be grateful to China, the staff in Chenzhou who took such wonderful care of her while she waited for us....... and to her birth mother who had to make the painful decision to give her up. I will never know who she is, but she will always remain in my heart.......and in my daughter.

{It is a busy week for me and I won't have time to post again, so I am posting B&W Wednesday a litle early}

Friday Finds - Jiayin Designs Jewelry Giveaway

August 12, 2011

UPDATE: We have a winner, #11- gghadden!
Congrats Gina! I know you will love your beautiful necklace.

While my friend Kelly was waiting to travel to bring home her daughter from China, her mother gave her a very special gift—a sterling silver charm hand cut by a Beijing jeweler with her daughter’s Chinese name. She wore it everyday while she waited to travel and when she was in China—with no idea of what it would eventually lead to.

Mama Charm
Photo Courtesy of Jiayin Designs

When their dear friends in Beijing, Chinese natives doing mission work, were looking for a way to supplement their income, Jiayin Designs was born. Together, they have come up with a way to not only bless adoptive families through a very special way to celebrate their children’s history, they employ Chinese artisans some of whom have no other source of income and support some pretty great work there.

The direct translation for jiayin is “good and beautiful news,” and it’s the word used in Revelation for the phrase translated into English as “the mystery of God.” It seemed like the perfect name for their new project.

Photo Courtesy of Jiayin Designs

Go check out Jiayin Design’s website to see not only some of the beautiful charms but some of the other things they sell now like handmade dolls from Hunan Province and traditional tiger purses.

AND, just to make this Friday Find a little more fun, I am hosting a giveaway for Kelly. She will be giving away a custom charm of the winner’s choice. You can choose a name, a special phrase or word-the choice is yours.

Click HERE to view all of her beautiful creations.

All you need to do to enter to win is leave a comment.

Giveaway will end Sunday night, August 14th at midnight. I will post the winner some time next week.

Good luck and enjoy your weekend.
{I set this one to autopost before we left for Cape Cod. Gotta love that feature. See you all next week. Hopefully I will have a lot of fun beach photos to share.}

Black and White Wednesday - "Sassy Girl II"

August 10, 2011

Sassy Girl Collage
A few weeks ago we were heading to a neighborhood picnic and Reagan was wearing the same "sassy" outfit, that Sarah wore the summer of 2008!

I normally do not allow my childrend to stand on furniture, but we put Reagan on the coffee table and told her to strike a few poses for us and she happily obliged. I love when she gives us that big cheesy grin.

I have always loved this outfit....
So I thought it would be fun to take a look back at Miss Sarah sporting it.
Click HERE to read the post and see our first "Sassy Girl".
She was just about the same age as Reagan.

Looking back at these photos, It is hard for me to believe that Sarah was ever that little. Gosh how time flies! It is also pretty apparent that those photos were taken before I really got into photography. I believe that was when I first switched to a DSLR, but I was still shooting in the Auto Zone:)

I am totally cheating this week...... Have not had the camera out in over 10 days, so no black and whites, unless you count the spot color shots in the post of the orginal "Sassy Girl". That counts for something....doesn't it??

We are beachbound tomorrow and looking forward to our last hurrah of the summer!!!

Hope you all have a wonderful week. Be back soon~

Inspiration for a Family Photoshoot With a Twist - "Sunday Snapshot"

August 7, 2011

The last seven days have been...... chaotic.

I won't bore you with the chain of bad events that took place this week.
Let's just say that it was not a week we will care to look back on and we are happy to have it behind us. Just hoping that the week ahead will bring all things good.

We do have a lot to look forward to......
Cousin Eddie is on his way down today. Of course the kids are super excited and are anxiously awaiting his arrival. He should be here before lunch. Eddie and Nick will be attached at the hip and they will have two little girls trailing their every move.

Thursday we are heading back to Cape Cod for a long weekend of fun in the sun and the sand. Really, this little trip could not have been planned at a better time. Both Pat and I are in desperate need of the peace and tranquility that Cape Cod always provides.

We have one other major event taking place this week and I am pretty excited about it......

A few months ago, our family was selected by a local magazine called Lehigh Valley Style, to share our story. Since November is National adoption month, they chose adoption as their feature story for their November Issue. They are highlighting two families in the area and we are one of them.

In addition to interviewing us, they also need to photograph us.

The photographer that was assigned to this story called me last week to set up the shoot. I spoke with him briefly to see what he had in mind and he gave me an idea as to what he was looking to do.

I have to admit, I knew this was coming, but I did not think we would need to have the picture taken so soon. The deadline is quickly approaching and he needed to get this done before we leave for the Cape.

My head was kind of spinning already last week...... so now I needed to think about wardrobe for five.

The kids are easy..... especially the girls...... but to get all five of us somewhat coordinated....not so easy.

lola_dresses fixed BLOG
My sweet friend Robin, at Red Thread Stitches, knocked it out of the park again with these beautiful new creations. A few months ago, when she made the girls beach dresses, I had emailed her this pattern that caught my eye as well as this fabric and off she went working her magic. Talk about talent....I wish I could whip up clothes like this! I can barely sew a button on a shirt.

As of this morning, Robin has officially added this pattern to her collection, so if you are looking to get one of these super cute halter style, mod looking dresses for your little one, head on over to her website, she is taking orders. Just tell her you want the Lola dress and pick out your fabric:))

Lola Collage SARAH
The dresses have not arrived yet. They will be here on Monday, but thankfully Robin sent me a swatch of the fabric a few weeks ago so I was able to see the exact colors.....and she was sweet enough to snap this photo of the two dresses side by side before she packaged them up and sent them off on Friday.

These dresses quickly became my inspiration for the shoot and with a little digging through closets and jewelry boxes(thanks Mom) we are all set and I am really happy with the way it has all come together. I just hope the photographer is as happy with what I picked out, as I am.

Tuesday should prove to be rather interesting for me. It is hard for me to give up my spot behind the camera. I am much more comfortable there......then in front of the camera. The one thing I know for sure...... we will be in great hands. You can check out this photographer's FABULOUS work by clicking HERE. He has done some really cool stuff and I am looking forward to watching him in action. According to his website, he is "Team Canon"..... I like him already:)

Taking a break with a cupcake BLOG
I probably won't have time to post again until Wednesday, so I will let you know how it goes. I think everyone will do great...especially since I am not the one with the camera. My kids are usually better for other photographers.

I just hope Miss Reagan decides to cooperate. Fingers crossed.....toes too!
It's always dicey with an almost two year old. I was not sure she understood the art of bribery just yet....... but I guess she proved me wrong. I will have to come prepared.

To see more Sunday Snapshots, click the link below...... and while you are there, say "welcome home" to my friend Stefanie and her beautiful baby girl, Poppy. They just arrived home from China on Friday night.

Sunday Snapshot

Black and White Wednesday - "Three's A Crowd"

August 3, 2011

Last Sunday Pat and my Dad hit the golf course, so my Mom, the kids, and I went to downtown Bethlehem to hit a few shops and to walk around. We all had fun and grandma treated all the kids to something special at the Moravian Bookstore. All three of them love to go in there.

Once we got home, we went outside on the deck. Mom and I cracked open a much needed bottle of wine and we watched the kids play while we were waiting for the men to get back home.

The girls were running around and dancing. Both Sarah and Reagan are really into music, so as soon as we turned on the music, they were totally giddy.

Nick grabbed his skateboard and was doing little "tricks"......and the minute the girls saw him, they made a mad dash for his board.

three person pile up BLOG
Grandma tried to assist so they could attempt to all "ride" it at the same time......

Room For Three BLOG
Eventually, all three got on the skateboard, but it was a tight squeeze.

Reagan and Nick on the sk8board BLOG
Nick suggested that he take each of the girls for a ride, one at a time.
Since Reagan is the youngest, she got to go first.

Skater Kids 2 BLOG
Sarah was not so patiently waiting, while her sister was feeling the wind in her hair.....and sucking those two faithful fingers:)

Sarah's Turn BLOG
Before long, Sarah got her turn..... and now Reagan was crying to get back on.

put your feet up COLLAGE
Eventually, Nick left the girls to their own devices and moved onto something else.

Flying Solo BLOG
It really makes me smile when I watch the girls try to keep up with Nick.....especially when it comes to Sarah!

You know that saying, "Anything boys can do, girls can do better"?

Well, Sarah has never heard it, but when I look at her face, I imagine that is the very thought that is running through her mind.

Don't let her dainty build fool you...... underneath that pretty little exterior, is a tough and competitive tomboy waiting to emerge.