Served On A Silver Platter

Happy 2014! Merry new resolutions and half-ass attempts at healthiness to you all. I for one have not really made any resolutions because they are made to be broken. I just can’t do that to myself this year, it’s exhausting. On the the other hand I have plenty of crafting projects, home upgrades, family events, a back log of recipe testing and last but not least the deepest most pertinent desire to have a little one running around this house! While I have many diversions and tasks to keep my mind from drifting off into the sea of sadness and “why has no one picked us??” thoughts; I am fueled to wholly focus on what needs to be done to become a mom.

Leading up to the fantastic moment I get to become a member of the mommy club and spend my life catering to another beings every need and wish…I decided it’s going to be all about me for awhile. Yes that’s right I’m just gonna do things for me, cook things for me, read things for me, buy things for me and serve everything to myself on a silver platter…literally.

After this last year of waiting to adopt and the pain and the losses and the depressing-ass-shit that all went down we decided (my husband and I) that we have nothing to lose in trying to conceive through IVF. This is a bit of a 180 from exactly one year ago when I was so certain, so very sure that adoption was THE WAY to start our family. I have always felt like we are meant to adopt, that not getting pregnant naturally was a sign. I still feel that it WILL happen but it just won’t happen in the way I romanticized it in my head. I’ve had my reality check. So we are doing this thing backwards, a reverse order of steps that most people take I suppose. We are not putting our adoption plan on hold but we are concurrently doing IVF and waiting to adopt at the same time.

This is how my first cycle of IVF meds came delivered with a cooler pack for the HCG and Gonal-F Injections
This is how my first cycle of IVF meds came delivered with a cooler pack for the HCG and Gonal-F Injections

It’s all happened pretty quickly once we decided IVF was a go. We got our financials lined up to do a multi-cycle plan. Basically we will have the option of up to 2 fresh and frozen embryo transfers that we paid for up front to get what I would sum up as bulk discount. We decided it was wise to plan on multi-cycles since my doctor will only be implanting one embryo at at time due to a condition I have called unicornuate uterus. With this condition I have half the size of a normal one. Carrying one child is already high risk, having twins is not an option and therefore implanting only one embryo. This is combined with my husband’s 1% normal morphology issue and my PCOS…all contributing to the ineffectiveness of natural conception.

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The week leading up to my trial embryo transfer, sonogram and consent form signing I was completely freaking out. I had started birth control which they use to take control of the hormones. My first day of the pill was the day I flew home from California after Christmas, the 27th. The nurse has instructed me to continue taking it until the 6th of January which is today, woohoo. Of course for me, birth control drops my estrogen levels and is a sure-fire way to a migraine. I endured a 3 day hell in which I had a hormonal migraine and had gotten a flu/cold from my family while visiting. Nothing like your head pounding to make you second guess everything you had set out to do. That was a fun pity party and no I was not excited about starting IVF. I was just plain terrified.

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Then I joined a group of women through my fertility med website. http://www.freedomfertility.com There are forums and monthly “cycle buddies” so I can talk with other women going through the same thing as me at the same time. Several of these women have already done multiple cycles and some it’s their first like me. I can not say how thankful I am to have these women, total strangers, to bring me out of my cloud of negativity. They shower each other with wishes for “lots of baby dust”, they are hopeful like me, nervous like me and having lots of emotions like me. It’s so easy to think things are only happening to you when going through such a difficult time. It’s so easy to believe absolutely no one understands what you are going through and you are alone in this crazy, isolating journey while the whole world is happy and couples make babies just looking at each other. It’s so much easier to just not try, I’ve thought, because trying and failing over and over again will break me into a unglueable amount of pieces. These women are doing it though, THEY are trying and they are EXCITED! I’m trying to be excited with them and to let myself believe that this WILL work. We hope for the best and plan for the worst, it’s excitement tempered by self-doubt.

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And so here are all these drugs and needles before me, staring me down. I will serve them up to myself on a silver platter because during this time I want nothing but the best. I want everything around me to be aesthetically pleasing, to be a stress-free zone, a zen sanctuary. I will take them and be thankful that we have a chance to try and try our best. Bring on the 4 times a day stabbings in my stomach, the steroids, the catheters, IV’s and probes. I’ve made up my mind and I’m doing it, despite my intermittent terror. No one dare tell me they know it will all be fine and all work out because the truth is it might not be fine and it might not work out and for a lot of people it doesn’t. It’s life and it’s reality. People just can never think of anything else to say. The point is for me that I’ll give it all I’ve got and there is nothing else that can be done.

Waiting in our Hearts: Our open adoption search begins!

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Dear Friends,

As many of you know Chris and I are growing our family through open adoption. We have finally completed our state approved home study and can now actively search for a birth mom in any US State.

Check out our online profile at http://www.iheartadoption.org/users/chrisandkendra.

Here’s a quick run down of what is going to happen next:
We are working with a nationwide nonprofit adoption agency specializing in open adoption, Independent Adoption Center. To learn more about the IAC, visit their website at http://www.adoptionhelp.org. Their toll free number 1.800.877.6736 is available to call 24 hours a day for expectant women in search of options and they can speak with an intake counselor who can answer their questions and provide free counseling. We also have an adoptive parent counselor who acts to facilitate our communication and meetings with a birth mom once a match is made. A birth mom may be in any term of her pregnancy when she makes her plan for adoption and when she matches with us. She may pick us for any number of reasons but it is by her choice, not the agency or anyone else who makes the match. It is then akin to dating and after getting to know each other we must both choose each other to finalize the adoption once the baby is born. There will be a period of time, varying by state, after the child is born and the paperwork is signed to wait. This is called the reclaim period. In North Carolina it is 7 days and in Florida it is 30 days for example. During this time the birth mom could reclaim the baby and void our match. If the baby is out of state we must wait in that state until this period has passed. Once that time is over we would be the legal parents of the child permanently.

The beautiful thing about open adoption is that we would make a plan with the birth mother, based on both of our wishes to continue a relationship with the birth mom. She may not wish to remain in contact but she has the options to receive letters, emails, phone calls and in person visits. All of which we are open to for the benefit of the child. There are no secrets in open adoption and our child will know they are loved by everyone and that every decision made was one made out of love. This is why we chose open adoption because it is the highest good for the birth mother, for us and most importantly our child.

We need your help to find women experiencing an unplanned pregnancy to let them know about open adoption and to know about us.
You may not think you can be of any help, but a surprising number of adoptions take place through networking: about 50%!!! You may not think you know of anyone experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, but it could be that a friend of a friend, someone through work or distant relative you may come in contact with someone who is considering adoption. Many women do not announce what they are going through but they need to know about their options. They need to have the information that there are people who will love their child like their own and provide what they are not able to in the present time.

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Help us spread the word. If you are inclined, here are 4 easy ways:

(1) Send Emails To Your Contact List
Tell everyone you know, in case they hear of someone considering adoption, that you know an awesome couple ready to adopt a baby. Email specifically people who may work with young women considering adoption for an unplanned pregnancy. Email generally everyone you know and ask them to do the same. At the bottom of this email I have provided some paragraphs you can copy and paste into an email to send to your contacts.

(2) “Like” our Facebook page and share the link on your facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/ChrisandKendraAdopt . Share this note. Encourage others to Share.

(3) Distribute our printed brochure and/or business cards
I have attached our PDF of our Dear Birth Mother Letter. You can print this and distribute (we had it professionally printed on glossy folding brochure paper) or Email me and I will get copies to you. Take them to places where young women might receive health care or health care education, to people who may work with young women considering adoption for an unplanned pregnancy. For instance,
– Your doctor, or doctors’ offices near you
– Hospitals and community health centers
– Your church, bible study, or friends churches. Churches have large outreach and support groups.
– College campuses, especially college health centers
– Pregnancy crisis centers and Planned Parenthood. Sometimes they will keep Birth Mother letters on hand.

(4) Pray and actively talk to others about open adoption
We believe in the power of prayer and the law of attraction. This process could take a few months or a few years. There is plenty of time to help spread the word and to support our intent with prayer or blessing. The more positivity we can surround ourselves with the better!

We are excited about open adoption because we can become parents together, and we can know the birthmom (dad, other family members) and form relationships that serve her, us, and most importantly our child.

We are endlessly grateful to you all. Whether or not you choose to act on this invitation we very much appreciate your support throughout this journey.

Thank you and warm wishes!

Chris and Kendra

=== PARAGRAPHS TO PASTE INTO AN EMAIL TO YOUR CONTACTS ===

Dear Family and Friends,
My friends Chris and Kendra are seeking to adopt a baby and have asked me for help networking. If you are inclined, take a moment to read their message below and then help spread it by passing it on to your network. Your help may bring them one step closer to the contact they need to realize their dream of starting a family.

** Message from Chris & Kendra **
We are creating our family through open adoption. This means a pregnant woman making an adoption plan will choose us to be the parents to her child and maintain a relationship after birth if she chooses. Check out our online profile at http://www.iheartadoption.org/users/chrisandkendra. We need you to get the word out to everyone you know because we want women experiencing an unplanned pregnancy to know about open adoption and to know about us.
You may be wondering why we asked our family and friends to forward this message to you. After all, you probably don’t think you know of anyone making an adoption plan. However, you would be surprised to learn how many adoptions come about from networking with family, friends, acquaintances, and even strangers. You might know a friend who knows a friend who knows someone who is looking to make an adoption plan. This is why we have asked all of our family and friends for help.
We would be so grateful if you could pass on our information. To learn more about our family, see our adoption profile http://www.iheartadoption.org/users/chrisandkendra.
You can email us at LarsenAdoption@gmail.com or call toll-free 1-800-951-2996. We are happy to answer questions and provide more information.

With much gratitude,

Kendra and Chris Larsen
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Making Time Stand Still

Let’s talk family. My family is pretty awesome with a good sprinkling of crazy for added interest. I would encourage  you to celebrate the crazy in your life in all it’s glory. Take a deep breathe in and say “Thank you God for the people you have blessed with me with however different, silly, loud, eclectic, batty, nutty, off-color..without them life would be so dull. Without mine I wouldn’t have this amazing post. Thank you family for being so uniquely you!
Yes, I’ve been absent from this blog for another month but that’s because I’ve been busy living it up, going on trips and visiting family! After my last post from Cincy I almost immediately left for California for a couple weeks. My sister flew back home with me and brought little MacDizzle with her and they stayed for a fun-filled 8 days. The last week or so I’ve been finishing up adoption documents but that is all for another post.

Let’s just focus on my first few hours after I stepped off the plane from SFO in this post. I arrived around noon and my Sis picked me up so we decided to FINALLY go visit my Grandpa Lee  at his house in San Mateo. I probably hadn’t seen him in a couple of years and he had never even met little Macaroni girl! He always has an excuse for us not to come but we were determined and so we did. This post is all about the mausoleum which is his home. My dear Gramma Lillian, whom he called ‘Doll’, died when I was nine. The house is almost exactly the same as the day she passed away and there is a gold mine of conversation pieces my friends. I truly feel like this house was and is well loved. It’s contents are authentic to the people who inhabit it. They were not pretentious or buttoned up tidy people. They were an animated couple who loved to eat and drink and have their good friends over to do both all the time. Politically correct was not a term they were familiar with and swearing was as comfortable as the full length night gown my gramma lived in.

The very first photo with Mac and her Great Grandpa upon their first meeting!

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When we first arrived she was looking around so confused and somewhat terrified. I don’t blame the kid…you’ll see why when you scroll down. I wish I would have taken a better photo so you could see the giant tapestry hanging above my sister with a life size California bear.

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These photos have been above my grandpa’s fireplace since 2000 when I graduated high school. All things considered, relative to the rest of the house, these are still very new. Don’t know what’s up with the coat of arms

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Ok, so here’s a good one! These scary wall-mounted heads are located by the full bar set up in the family room. They spit at you when you walk by…yes that’s right, they spit. There’s a string you can pull and it makes the eyes roll back even more creepily and it laughs at you.

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I’m not sure which one is worse? I call them Hanzel and Gretel. They are so awful I kinda love them and I grew up with these bad boys so they are sentimental eye rolling, spitting mounted heads. I think they are from the 70’s.

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There are, shall we say, very eclectic signs posted all around the bar area and family room. I think of my 8-year-old self reading these signs like it ain’t no big thang.

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Martini time is the Hughes and Hankins family honored tradition. When my brother, sister and I were small we called it “olive and onion time”.  Skewering all the cocktail garnishes was a fun game and thus cementing my love for all things pickled and garnished. I still snack on those damn onions.

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My grandpa must have been playboy of the year in the 30’s? Haha. Parents today would probably not let their children set foot in this house filled with phallic things and foul language. Those were the days.

The “Oh Shit” cat has always been one of my favorites.

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Look closely…didn’t think this blog was X-rated did you?

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Their yard is quite the departure from the inside. It’s lush with fruit trees like these oranges. He also has a really cool cherry tree that we would get sick off of eating so many.

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We picked an orange for Mac but she wasn’t a fan. I think she is too used to canned mandarins.

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What I think I’m really fond of at their house is the humor. Everything is an opportunity for a joke, especially the bathroom!

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This is a photo of my great grandmother who was a Zigfield Folly girl. That’s about all I know about her. I just let my mind run wild of all the Great Gatsby stories she must have had.

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And here’s my Gramma Lil. She was a woman who did what she wanted and loved what she did until the end. Smoking and drinking I’m sure were the direct cause of her young departure from this earth but it made her happy. At least I can thank her for being the reason today I neither smoke or drink. She would definitely call me a party pooper.

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My mom is the naked baby in this photo. What a happy family!

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Some how she got away with wearing kimonos and night gowns as legitimate day time wear.

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Everyone needs this kind of bathroom accessory don’t you think?

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Gramma loved everything Asian. All these figurines are still on display in the dining and living room.

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Moving on to the kitchen area: My grandpa said I could take all the cookbooks I wanted! I was so happy at this offer I practically started to cry. I’m obsessed with cookbooks as you know but doubly obsessed with my grandma’s cookbooks and anything that has old notes in them. I shipped a huge box of them back home and it cost a pretty penny but so worth it. I even shipped boxed sets of recipe cards that I’m pretty sure were subscription based. There are tons of them but I need to come up with a creative way to put them to use.

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Well, hello there random thing hangin on the door which has no purpose at all…are you a pot holder? Stop staring at me!

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And hello there Mr. Chicken hanging upside down above the sink.

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Everyone should have such a potholder collection! A good mix of cute and inappropriate brings balance in life.

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Hmmm, the better to eat you with my dear? This is sitting underneath his coffee maker and it scares me, a lot.

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This scares me too….I think my mom made this in the 80’s. Can’t be too sure. It could have also been one of her fabulous garage sale finds.

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You know I want all of this stuff for my house because it’s all so awesome and weird. Some of these Asian pieces are probably worth quite a bit.

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Yes! An elephant flower pot!

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These zebra, snakeskin or whatever chairs are the bees knees.

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Ceramic cat, bowl of plastic fruit and a floral sofa. Genius.

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Jonathan Adler has nothing on this lamp.

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My grandpa still sleeps in this bed. The ruffles make it.

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These hanging fake plant things must have been all the rage because they are in every room!

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Hey look, that’s me. Aren’t I cute? I was 4 in that picture.

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Another hangy thing. What is this? It’s made of shells and in the spare room/office.

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Oh look what time it is! Olive and onion time! Actually I’m just holding my dad’s martini for the photo op. Wa wa wa.

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My Uncle Ronnie, yes he is wearing a shirt with Mickey Mouse on it. Ronnie still lives with Grandpa and will until the end of days. I have extra prayers for Ronnie.

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Ronnie killed this fox (I think he said it was a fox) which is lovingly adorning my grandpa’s vintage slot machine. Those two things totally go together.

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Oh, too much sharing? Sorry.

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Mac is afraid to venture down the hallway…

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so we went outside for a quick roll down the hill out front. That hill always entertained me as well!

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While the men of the house enjoyed some more martinis. Cheers!

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Then we got hungry and there was only one place to go: Fernando’s! This is a Mexican restaurant that my grandparents went every Wednesday to drink with friends at the bar and eat chile rellenos. My grandma loved them, my mom loves them and I also completely love chile rellenos. It must be hereditary.

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When we were little and picky eaters we always got tortillas with butter on them and rolled them up into little cigars.

This is the free happy hour plate….they gave us three of these!!! I almost couldn’t fit in my chile relleno.

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Then for dessert I went into this place which as been there a very long time but I never went to before. Their cannoli’s were the best I have ever had and I got a a whole box to take back to Monterey with us and ate one for breakfast over the next 3 days with my morning coffee.

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How’s that for a walk down memory lane? I hope you were entertained by my quirky family. That was only Day 1 of my trip, there’s so much good stuff to write about that I can hardly write anything at all! Check back in soon!

My family to yours,

Kendra

Queen City Eats: Jungle Jim’s, Half Day Cafe and Taste of Belgium

Hey guys! I have a SUPER long post for you today. I spent 4 days visiting the in-laws in Cincinnati last week. We had to use our Ultimate Air tix before they expired. Let me tell you that is the way to travel my friends. It’s an executive jet company that only flies Charlotte, Cincinnati, Chicago and New York so if you are in those cities you need to check it out. There is no security to go through, you can show up 10 minutes before your flight, they pour you coffee, they give you freshly baked delicious cookies, there are no middle seats, you get free cocktails and an on board meal or snack. Absolutely easiest and most enjoyable travel experience I’ve ever had and that’s coming from a daughter of a 747 captain 🙂

I’ll be honest and say my experiences with the Cincinnati food scene in the last 5 or so years I’ve visited have been, shall we say, lack-luster. Since I am not a fan of their staples La Rosa’s pizza, Buffalo Wings and Rings, the bastardized sausage concoctions they call goetta or strange chili (although I have caught myself having evil cravings for Skyline chili). This last trip I did begin to appreciate some more of their unique contributions and can see a little bit of culinary expansion in what Banana Man’s cop friends call hipster food. I don’t qualify myself as a hipster by any stretch but I was so happy to see previously run down areas turning into a foodie hubs…areas like the OTR, Over-The-Rhine district which I’ll tell you about a little later in the post.

Our first morning there was a Friday and since all our friends and family were working Banana Man and I had the day to explore and eat! It was hilarious when I picked a breakfast place called the Half Day Cafe in the town of Wyoming and he had no clue where it was. Banana Man was born and raised in Cincinnati and he had never been to this place or any other place in this area which is only 20 minutes from where he grew up. They say West siders never leave the west side and it is so true. He is so lucky he got away and moved to California to meet me! Haha! He needed me to expand his horizons in his own city. His brother happened to be driving behind us when we thought we were almost there. He called us and asked us where we were headed. We gave him the address and he said “good luck, hope you have a gun to protect yourself!” It was pretty shady looking. We were looking for 1 Wyoming St which turns out there were actually 2 streets named Wyoming and the GPS decided to take us to the wrong one…well at least we wouldn’t be needing the gun. Win.

After a few extra minutes of driving we found our way to a charming historic looking area with beautiful Victorian and Craftman style houses lining the streets. I can not wait to go back to the Half Day Cafe as soon as we return to Cincy. I fell in love with this place and everything from their menu, to the people, to the beautiful big windows and most importantly the heavenly breakfast that we savored. First I ordered the broiled grapefruit which had a gorgeous carmelized ginger topping. It wasn’t easy to dig out with my spoon but the flavors did a little dance in my mouth. I have never seen such a thing on a restaurant menu before and I’m totally going to make it at home!

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Chris had this mango rum butter French Toast and it was like finding the pot of gold under the rainbow. He practically licked his plate clean.

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I ordered the sweet potato pancakes with a side of bacon and rosemary potatoes. I love that their menu is a la carte so you can pick and choose everything to your exact liking of combinations. The pancakes were amazing, somewhat thick but so silky. My dreams are made of these pancakes.

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It really was a true Mom and Pop and I was so charmed by Pop coming over and talking with us for a good while. We talked about the Cincinnati food scene and how it is “really growing up”. He told us about some of his favorites which gave me ideas for the next trip, primarily located in that OTR area I was telling you about.

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Happily taking our coffee to go we headed out to a bonified foodie mecca: Jungle Jim’s. It is the Disneyland of all things edible. It’s a magical production of culinary delights and a smorgasbord of of worldly treasures. This is not like any other grocery store or farmers market you have ever been. It is a colossal mega market spanning 300,000 sq ft of deliciousness. It is eclectic and down right bizarre. Watch this history channel documentary of the store to get a better feel for it:

And here’s Banana Man himself posing with his beloved Chiquita banana outside of Jungle Jim’s. The only good bananas are Chiquita ya know! Their offices were based there in Cincinnati for a quarter of a century before realizing they really belonged in the rightfully crowned Queen City of Charlotte last year. (I am probably pissing off a lot of people by saying that) From one Queen City to another.
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I took scores of pictures inside and I just couldn’t decide which to post so here they are all to overwhelm you as I was. A feast for the senses. An appetite on overdrive. From enormous ostrich eggs, to whole pig heads, kangaroo meat, unidentifiable fruits and veggies, butter bar, bakery, fishery, cooking school, cigar bar, hot sauce haven, wine and beer a plenty and yes of course the award winning bathrooms:

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I picked up this trio of salami’s infused with wine. Going to serve them at the recipe club meeting tomorrow!

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Award winning Bathrooms, yes and here they are. You walk through what looks like a single  port-a-potty and into what is actually a full amenity facility. It’s still a bathroom though just hilarious they make such a point of it.

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Saturday morning we went to breakfast at Taste of Belgium in the Over The Rhine area. After talking to Banana Man’s friends I was afraid I would be held at gun point or see some drug deals going down from the sounds of it. We made it out safe and sound, unscathed and very full.
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We sat at the counter and watched the magic happening with the waffle irons and crepe skillets. Every table was packed and a long waiting list was forming. The counter though was the best seat in the house in my opinion. I was so entertained.

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I got chicken and waffles which has long been a comfort food favorite of mine. This was epic chicken and waffles. It was a sweet Belgium style waffle with a fried chicken cutlet smothered in hot sauce and syrup. This is probably not replicable in my kitchen and makes dining out all the more wonderful.

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This odd looking dish is a Cincinnati special. You know how I said earlier that I thought their sausage concoction of “goetta” was really gross. Well Taste of Belgiums version is really really GOOD! Basically what goetta is: sage sausage, pinhead or steel cut oats and seasoning. That’s it. So in this version the goetta is plated on top of Belgium frites (fancy fries) and sauteed peppers. Then a fried egg tops the whole thing. I freaking loved it, go figure! I have promised Banana Man to attempt making goetta at home. It’s going to happen and when it does I will make it like this.

The trip was great, quality family time and discovering new amazing quality restaurants and no kinks in the travel plans. I wish every trip could be so successful! I’m leaving again, this time without Banana Man to fly back to Monterey to see my family. I get to see baby Mac who is almost 2 now!!! My mom is re-opening her new boutique in Carmel and I’m celebrating my dad’s birthday. Amongst numerous other events the Pebble Beach Food and Wine Festival will be going on and I’m hoping to somehow get myself in there at least one day. It’s a world class event at a world class place. I’m just dying to go. I’ll keep you posted!

Friday Favorites: No Cooking Just Eating

Have I told you about my Trader Joe’s obsession? No, well you will soon become familiar. I just wanted to share some of my favorites and maybe they are some of yours too? I always pick up a few new things I haven’t tried to see what I’m missing out on as well. Last week was Banana Man’s long week of the month at work. He’s in accounting so when it comes to month close we don’t really see each other and I take a cooking siesta. Trader Joe’s makes it so easy to be a lazy cook and I mean that in a good way. Sometimes the last thing you want to do after a long day is cook some laborious meal just to scarf it down in 5 minutes. Yeah, I admit it…I have a lot of those days. I love to cook but sometimes I love to NOT cook and there lies the balance of domesticated life. I will never be a pretentious home cook who has to make everything from scratch or balks at people who microwave frozen meals. Sometimes frozen meals are true life savers but you have to smart about it. Banana man used to live on Stouffers and DiGiorrno…umm no, just no. I guess I am balking at those frozen meals.

One thing I always get at Trader Joe’s is their yogurt. It’s rich and creamy and absolutely the best yogurt I’ve tasted. This one is full fat and sweetened with honey which is obviously not the healthiest yogurt. I eat it for dessert with banana’s and dark chocolate chips or with granola. I’m sure you have plenty of ways you like your yogurt but if you haven’t tried this one give it a go. The only other yogurt I buy is Fage, original plain.

Trader Joe's Greek Honey Yogurt
I think this would be great frozen into yogurt pops
Trader Joes' Haul 002
Definitely not fat free
Trader Joes' Haul
These microwave in just 1 minute. That’s dangerously convenient. They are all warm gooey on the inside and rich choclate cake on the outside. It’s not dry at all and the perfect portion size.
Trader Joes' Haul 009
I thought there was no way these could be good but took a chance. You let them sit out over night to rise and bake them 20 minutes in the morning. They are buttery, flakey and not too sweet. Chris ate 2 1/2 in one sitting.
I added powdered sugar after they cooled a bit
I added powdered sugar after they cooled a bit

Almond Croissants

Then there are the Trader Joe’s Apple Blossoms. Oh how I love love love these. I always keep some of these on hand. Again they are perfect individual serving sizes and would please any discerning apple pie lover.

Trader Joes' Haul 011

Tonight Chris and I are excited to see the musical American Idiot based on Green Day’s music! It’s at the Belk Theater in Uptown Charlotte. We are going to dine at Blue Restaurant for the first time and doing their pre-fixe dinner they offer for show goers. I’ve heard all good things so hopefully it’s fabulous to celebrate my darling husband’s 35th birthday. I’m off to go get glammed up for the show! Have a great weekend!

Modern Vintage Circus Nursery

For the last 2 months of being MIA on this blog we have been consumed by all things relating to The Adoption. It has been stressful and scary at times in the process but more importantly very exciting and fun! I am so happy to say how accomplished I feel at the amount of progress we have made in two short months. We have completed all our paperwork and are half way through our home study! Next Saturday our home study will be complete and by the end of March we anticipate “going live” which is adoption speak for officially approved and out there in the world to adopt a baby.

You may have read my previous post on the adoption questionnaire we were each required to answer. It was interesting to read the differences between my husband and I in our responses. He was short and to the point, I was ummmm…the opposite. I was skeptical and frustrated if you couldn’t tell but that is all behind us and once I got past being overwhelmed I was able to enjoy the process.

I have been dying to post all the pictures of the nursery/kids guest room so far. I wanted to have a room all of my little nieces and nephews could stay in when they visit and have the necessary nursery things just in case the baby comes sooner rather than later (I just want to be prepared!)

My 18-month-old niece MacKenzie will be coming with my sister in April so she will get to be the first to break the room in, I’m very excited for their visit. The room isn’t quite done yet. I need to frame a couple of the prints and put cute children’s books on the shelves instead of the ugly baby tutorial books.

The room is intended to be gender neutral and we wanted color in the room without having to paint the walls. Maybe when we actually find out if we are getting a boy or girl we will paint the walls too.

Without further ado, here are the pics. Let me know what your favorite parts are! What else do you think it needs? Other than an actual baby to go in it, haha!

I found the twin beds and night stands at the Metrolina last month. The beds were $100 a piece and the pair of nighstands was $125. The night stands were upcycled from an old armoire and the skinny size is perfect for my small space and they have two drawers for storage. The turquise quilts and tangerine pillow covers are both from Home Goods. Think I spend about $70 total on the bedding
I found the twin beds and night stands at the Metrolina last month. The beds were $100 a piece and the pair of nightstands were $125. The night stands were upcycled from an old armoire and the skinny size is perfect for my small space and they have two drawers for storage. The turquoise quilts and tangerine pillow covers are both from Home Goods. Think I spend about $70 total on the bedding

Circus nursery

I ordered this velour changing pad cover on Amazon for $13. It's really soft and goes with the lamp perfectly!
I ordered this velour changing pad cover on Amazon for $13. It’s really soft and goes with the lamp perfectly!
The rods ($17), curtains ($20/panel), tangerine ottoman ($50) and rug ($69) are all from Target.
The rods ($17), curtains ($20/panel), tangerine ottoman ($50) and rug ($69) are all from Target.
I got the tangerine lamp bases and Ikat shades from Target, mix and match. The giraffe was a vintage find and I love his mid century modern look. He is porcelain so he will be put away when baby starts walking.
I got the tangerine lamp bases and Ikat shades from Target, mix and match. The giraffe was a vintage find and I love his mid century modern look. He is porcelain so he will be put away when baby starts walking.
So a lot of people have clown phobias and think they are creepy and in general I think they are creepy too but this a circus room and it needed a clown. I found him for $10
So a lot of people have clown phobias and think they are creepy and in general I think they are creepy too but this a circus room and it needed a clown. I found him for $10
Mirror mirror on the wall...you are the awesomest of them all! This is my very favorite thing in the whole room. I stumbled upon it while antiquing at Gibson Mill. It is an upcycled find for $75!
Mirror mirror on the wall…you are the awesomest of them all! This is my very favorite thing in the whole room. I stumbled upon it while antiquing at Gibson Mill. It is an upcycled find for $75!
I found this antique upcycled dresser at the Metrolina for $100. I think dedicated changing tables are dumb and ugly to be honest..so I just put the changing pad right on top of it you can easily secure to the dresser for safety.
I found this antique upcycled dresser at the Metrolina for $100. I think dedicated changing tables are dumb and ugly to be honest..so I just put the changing pad right on top of it you can easily secure to the dresser for safety.
I was so ecstatic when I found this lamp at Home Goods, it was only $25!!!
I was so ecstatic when I found this lamp at Home Goods, it was only $25!!!
I got the 4 piece crib bedding set on Amazon for $136. It included the fitted sheet, the dust ruffle, the comforter and bumpers which I have not attached since it's not recommended for infants (SIDS risk). The crib mattress we got at Target which is American made and green certified on sale for $60, extra firm. I did a lot of research on off gasing.
I got the 4 piece crib bedding set on Amazon for $136. It included the fitted sheet, the dust ruffle, the comforter and bumpers which I have not attached since it’s not recommended for infants (SIDS risk). The crib mattress we got at Target which is American made and green certified on sale for $60, extra firm. I did a lot of research on off gasing.
I got these two shelves at Home Goods for $29 a piece. They are actually different colors which I like.
I got these two shelves at Home Goods for $29 a piece. They are actually different colors which I like.
I wanted a crib that was pretty minimalist and I loved the grey color that went with all my antique furniture. The crib was $120 and the canopy was $20!!!! Most cribs I looked at started around $500 so I am very happy with both the look and the price.
I wanted a crib that was pretty minimalist and I loved the grey color that went with all my antique furniture. The crib was $120 and the canopy was $20!!!! Most cribs I looked at started around $500 so I am very happy with both the look and the price.
I loved this vintage find. I love the little boys polka dot pajamas and top hat. It's just the kind of whimsy I wanted in the room.
I loved this vintage find. I love the little boys polka dot pajamas and top hat. It’s just the kind of whimsy I wanted in the room.
This bag I ordered at the last 31 party I went to from the Spring 2013 line. It's $50 so it was one of the pricer things but I figure I will be using it every day and it is extremely functional with a zipper closure and lots of outside pockets for easy access.
This bag I ordered at the last 31 party I went to from the Spring 2013 line. It’s $50 so it was one of the pricer things but I figure I will be using it every day and it is extremely functional with a zipper closure and lots of outside pockets for easy access.
I have no idea what I will store in this tin, maybe little memorabilia but it was a $8 find so I don't really care what I use it for!
I have no idea what I will store in this tin, maybe little memorabilia but it was a $8 find so I don’t really care what I use it for!
I ordered this hippo chair on Amazon for $36! It was the very first thing I bought for the room. Chris and I are totally obsessed with hippos :)
I ordered this hippo chair on Amazon for $36! It was the very first thing I bought for the room. Chris and I are totally obsessed with hippos 🙂
I got this two sided hamper from a 31 party. The center divider is removable and completely folds up. This will be so nice to carry downstairs to the laundry room. It also matches my diaper bag
I got this two sided hamper from a 31 party. The center divider is removable and completely folds up. This will be so nice to carry downstairs to the laundry room. It also matches my diaper bag
Who doesn't love his classic children's books?
Who doesn’t love his classic children’s books?
Turquoise frame from Target and vintage finds. The carousel is musical and I had it from my childhood!
Turquoise frame from Target and vintage finds. The carousel is musical and I had it from my childhood!

Chicken Soup and Stewing on Big Decisions

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(photo by pioneer woman)

Chicken soup is a very good thing. Soup is the only thing that sounds even remotely satisfying at the moment. It’s going on 9 days of this super nasty cold/flu that has me beyond annoyed for several reasons:

1. I had spent the previous 2 weeks back in California (having an amazing time with family and friends) and upon returning home I was to get right on decorating for Christmas, present shopping, baking holiday goodies, etc.

2. I was eager to get right back into my personal training program which I was making fabulous progress with prior to going out of town and getting whollopped by airplane germs. (I’ve lost a little over 10lbs and have had huge strength gains!)

3. There is a mountain of paperwork to be completed to move forward with our adoption plan. Tomorrow is the due date for our application to Independent Adoption Center in order to attend the mandatory weekend adoption “intensive” workshop this coming 14th and 15th.

For all these reasons sickness has had very poor timing. Of course is there ever a good time to be sick? Probably not. It just seems like this last week has gone by with me being an idle lump, accomplishing nothing but a longer list of things I could and should be doing.

Click on Pioneer Woman’s link above to her very simple and delicious recipe for chicken soup.

Today at least I feel human again, thanks to copious amounts of chicken soup, my new humidifier (fabulous little invention) and possibly the antibiotics I begrudgingly started taking yesterday.

With the fog clearing my brain I sat down to tackle some of this adoption paperwork, how bad could it be?

Chris, being the truly amazing husband he is, had already filled out all the basic information they required: address, social security, educational backgrounds, work history and financial status. I just had to fill in a few of the blanks and email it back to him. Done.

Then I delved into the Home Study questionnaire (which thank the Lord we have awhile to complete)….I would like to share these questions here on my blog and as you read them think about how you would answer these questions and the complexity of being honest while knowing a stranger will read your response thus deeming you worthy or unworthy of being a parent…..

1. How would you describe yourself? (personality, strengths and limitations)

2. Describe you spouse’s personality and strengths. What would you change?

3. If you have children, describe their personalities, likes and dislikes.

4. What do you feel are the strong points in your marriage/relationship?

5. What type of goals do you work toward in your marriage/relationship?

6. What are usually the areas of disagreement?

7. How do you handle problems and conflict?

8. Please give a brief statement describing your thoughts about religion and its place in your life.

9. If you are childless, what experiences have you had with children?

10. How do you (or how do you plan to) discipline your children? Give examples.

11. Define discipline.

12. Define misbehavior.

13. What is the difference between discipline and abuse.

14. What aspects of child rearing are important to you?

15. Do you and your spouse/partner agree on child rearing and discipline?

16. What do you expect from your children?

17. What goals do you wish your child to achieve?

18. Why are you applying for adoption?

19. Do both of you wish to adopt?

20. What have been your parents’ response to adoption and response of friends and relatives?

WHEW!!! That’s all. 20 questions. 20 questions that no parent who is bringing a child into the world is ever required to answer, even though, maybe they should, for their own self knowledge.  I’m not even sure how to even begin writing my answers. Yes I can describe myself, my strengths, my weaknesses and describe my relationship with my husband but it feels so weird writing all of it for the purposes of a stranger giving me permission to be parent.

Each of these questions will require a significant amount of time, self reflection, communication with my husband, and editing since I could probably write a novel for each.

This is the beginning and tomorrow is do or die, figuritively speaking. Once we sign that contract we are in this and committed to this path. We have weighed our options:

1. Live a childless life

2. Pursue IVF with the possiblity of health complications and no guarantee of conceiving

3. Adopt: Domestic- Open, Closed, or through Foster Care. International Adoption and infant or older child….

I’ve been stewing on these options for awhile. I’ve seriously considered them all and we have picked open adoption. I want it to feel natural, I want it to feel right but while I read and reread these questions it doesn’t feel natural. Only God knows and time will tell if it is the right decision. I hope he can help me write my answers.

What do you think about this Home Study Questionnaire?