Long Overdue News

Written By: erica - Sunday•April•13•2014

Most of you know by now that our big news arrived in November.
Iris with giraffe
We adopted Little Iris and came home with two days after her birth. She’s such a joy to have in our lives. She amazes us every day. No one is ever prepared for the wonder and tiredness that comes with parenthood.

From the very beginning Iris has worn handknitted things I made before she was born. She came home in a little hat I made after we’d known her birthmom for a few months.
Iris-Coming home

And in the last month or so, she’s grown into one of the sweaters I’ve made for her. There are two more that I can wait for her to wear. In October, I started a little green February baby sweater that I can’t wait to see her wear.
Iris blue and green baby sweater

I started a quilt for Iris before she was born and was working on piecing the back the night before we got the call. The quilt will get done eventually. For now she still has her sock monkey quilt and another special quilt.

Where has summer gone?

Written By: erica - Sunday•August•04•2013

Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve written. Life continues at the little homestead. We’re still waiting adoptive parents and we know it will all happen in due time. At the moment, we’re anxious for the first big tomato to ripen. We’ve had three grape tomatoes which very much on the heavenly side.

About five months ago I started a new job as the youth collection development librarian at the big Kansas City Library in downtown KC. I’ve never had a job that I’ve enjoyed so much and enjoy nearly every day that I’m there (everyone has a so-so day once in a while,right?). My job involves selecting materials for children and teens for the 10 libraries that are part off the Kansas City Public Library system, along with materials for the Library’s Outreach department that serves thousands of children at day cares and preschools in Kansas City, as well as, managing the children’s and teen collections within the system. Every day I learn something new and every day brings a new challenge.

The last few months, I’ve spent a lot of time reading. I figure I need to enjoy our possibly waning days as just a couple and get as much reading done as I can while I have the time.

I’ve been doing a lot of sewing, in January, I finished the sock monkey quilt (Jungle Path quilt pattern) for our own future little monkey. Bianca cuddled with it for about a week before I washed it the first time. I wanted her to be able to imprint her scent on it. It may be time to get the quilt out again for her to snuggle with so it has plenty of kitty scents on it.

Front of Sock Monkey Quilt

Front of Sock Monkey Quilt

Back of the sock monkey quilt

Back of the sock monkey quilt

In February and March, I made my first quilt-as-you-go baby quilt. It was quick and fun, so rewarding, and I used some of my odd scraps. Of course, I had to buy some new fabric, what quilt doesn’t require some new fabric? I thought I would finish it quicker than I finished the sock monkey quilt but I think I finished the sock monkey quilt in record time.

joseph quilt

I’ve also spent the spring sewing other baby things, such as burp cloths, in preparation of the possibility of a baby joining our family in the near future.

Burp cloths

Burp cloths

When I was looking for scraps for the strip quilt, I found a bag of left-overs from the Wee Woodland quilt I made for a friend’s daughter last fall. I had several whirlygigs sewn and other pieces cut, so I decided to make a table runner for our dining room table. It’s a bit fall-ish but it’s on our table and is an incentive to keep the newspapers cleaned up on the table.

Wee Woodland table runner made from scraps of the Wee Woodland quilt from November 2012

Wee Woodland table runner made from scraps of the Wee Woodland quilt from November 2012

I hope the sewing fever continues as I have three quilts in various stages. Two are just in the planning phases with no fabric cut. The third is in the block-making phase and it’s definitely the most time-consuming quilt I’ve ever made. It’s turning our beautifully and I really love the way the batik fabrics look in the blocks. I have just a sample because I don’t want to show off too much before it is gifted.
spring-Rainbows quilt blocks

The long winter

Written By: erica - Friday•January•18•2013

Besides the gluten-free pizza crust I posted on Sunday, I realized I’ve been rather neglectful of the blog.

We slogged through a very hot and dry summer like most of the country. Somehow our tomato plants still produced a fair amount of lovely tomatoes in late September almost two months later than normal. Our pepper plants suffered greatly and we were lucky to get the three peppers we did get, though they were tough and pretty tasteless.

This fall brought an update to our home study for the adoption and I started knitting sweaters for our future child. In October, we signed on with a national referral agency. Of course, the holidays are the slowest time of the year. It was a bit rough to go through the holidays again and still be waiting but we made it through. We spent Thanksgiving in Chicago with my sister and Bryan’s family.

Now it’s January and I’ve found myself at my sewing machine a lot this month. New Year’s Day, I made two pairs of PJ pants, one for Bryan and one for myself. Then another two pairs for myself later in the week.

The next day, I started on a baby quilt for our future child. I’ve this great sock monkey fabric for more than four years from another baby quilt and after finding a pattern I liked, I set off to cut all of the pieces. Sunday it was in pieces and four days later the quilt top was finished. I finished the back last weekend. 20130118-231542.jpg

Our gluten-free pizza crust

We’ve been experimenting for about two and a half years with gluten-free pizza crusts. We’ve bought several at the grocery store, some were good, some were passable, some were down right gross. After making our own very gluteny pizza crusts for years, we went through a bit of pizza withdrawal. About two years ago, we bought a gluten-free vegan cookbook which had a pizza crust recipe in it. I think the whole reason we bought the book was for the pizza crust recipe. It uses chickpea flour which is okay but it still wasn’t our favorite crust. After eating pretty good store-bought crusts, we attempted a crust that’s a combination of two different recipes and we loved it so much we wanted to share it. I first have to acknowledge that without the help of the Flying Apron Gluten-Free & Vegan Baking Book and the Gluten-Free Goddess, our recipe would not have come about. Also the flours I use in this recipe were ground in our Vita-Mix and may not be commercially available.

Gluten-Free Pizza Crust
Makes 2-3  10″ pizzas

2 cups brown rice flour
1 cup millet flour
1 3/4 cup quinoa flour
1 tsp xantham gum
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tbsp dried oregano
1/4 cup maple syrup + less than 1/4 tsp to mix with yeast
1 egg
1 packet active dry yeast
1 1/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp rice vinegar

Mix the flours, xantham gum, oregano and salt in a large bowl.

Dissolve the yeast in lukewarm water with a dab (less than 1/4 tsp) of maple syrup added to the water.

To the dry ingredients add egg, maple syrup, olive oil and rice vinegar to the bowl. Mixing well. The dough will be dry and crumbly at first but with a bit of work it will form a nice sticky ball of dough. Hand kneading the dough in the bowl can help.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Set dough aside in a warm space for 15 minutes.

Divide dough into 2-3 balls. Roll out the dough on a pizza stone or cookie sheet. Brush with olive oil, bake for 20 minutes at 400°F before adding toppings.

Add toppings to the crust and bake for another 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and enjoy!




Surgery and gardening

Written By: erica - Monday•June•11•2012

On May 10, I had an abdominal surgery which has kept me home for the last month from work and I’ll be home for probably another two or three weeks. I have been keeping myself busy reading, watching DVDs and wasting too much time on Facebook. The first week and a half after my surgery, I struggled to read for more than a page or two. The pain meds made me feel really cloudy and I couldn’t remember what I’d read 10 minutes prior. It was a bit frustrating but I found other ways to occupy myself. My mom came over every day to stay with me for the first several weeks, which was wonderful. She drove me to the park to walk and we ran errands. Today was a big accomplishment, it was my first day driving by myself. At first I was so nervous I could hardly get myself to get in the car but once I got going it really was like riding a bike. I’m probably a bit more cautious than normal but I think that’s not a bad thing.

Bee in the lavender
In my time home the gardens have flourished. The lettuces, spinach and chard we planted in March have been keeping us stocked with greens, including our favorite Freckles lettuce.

Forellenschluss (Freckles) lettuce Lettuces

About a week after my surgery, a dear friend and her daughter came over to help Bryan plant our vegetable gardens in the raised beds. The tomatoes are doing well and the peppers are limping along a bit. Sometimes it just takes some plants a bit longer to adjust, plus we’ve been having such hot weather without a lot of rain. The flowers that I’ve planted over the last few years continue to amaze me and make me smile each day.

Shasta daisies Asiatic lilies

In adoption news, we’re still waiting. We’ve sent our profile to a couple of attorneys around the state and have posted our profile on a national website. We’ll see what happens. At the moment, I’m focused on healing. Hope you’re all having a wonderful summer, so far.

Stacks of bags

Written By: erica - Tuesday•March•06•2012

Stack of 13 sets of bags ready for shipping
Thank you to all of you who have ordered bags and are ordering bags. When the idea of sewing these produce bags woke me up at 3am the day after Labor Day, I thought we’d be lucky if we received 10 orders. I’d made several bags for us and for a friend. A couple of months later, we finally listed our fundraiser on the blog and Facebook. In September, we were still preparing for our home study. In October and November, we were preparing our profile book. Monday, November 28th is the day that changed our lives. We didn’t want to get our hopes up when we posted it but I remained optimistic thinking 10 orders would make me happy. Ten orders came in in the first hour. By the time I went to bed at 10:45pm that night we’d received orders for 22 sets and I could no longer guarantee delivery by Christmas. Tuesday, November 29, I was off work since I’d worked the weekend and the orders kept coming in. Thirty-seven to be exact.
Basket of freshly washed bags
As word spread through family and friends and friends of friends, we’ve realized how truly blessed we are. Today, I sent off 13 sets (65 bags) to people that I have never met. They are generous and kind enough to order bags all from blog post written by Gail, a friend of a dear friend of mine.
Assembling sets for shipping
So why am I writing this post? Well, we (Bryan and I) wanted to thank everyone for your very generous support so far on our adoption fundraiser. To date we’ve sold more than 100 sets of bags. I’ve become very comfortable in my sewing area upstairs and have listened to more books than I ever thought I could listen to in a week.

An adoption journey update

Written By: erica - Sunday•December•18•2011

It’s been a while since I gave you a full adoption update. All of our cleaning and repairing and painting paid off. Before our adoption home study visit the house was probably the cleanest it had been in 80 years. We even cleaned out and cleaned up the basement.
Office painted
We finished painting the office a week before our home study visit. After the office was painted my dad brought over the rocking chair that my mom used to rock me when I was a baby. I’ve always loved the chair. We’ve moved all of our furniture back into the office from the family room (we couldn’t take the printer on the coffee table any longer) and it feels like the office only better. And it’s ready for a baby conversion whenever we need it.

On September 30, we had our home visit for the adoption home study. The social worker R was running late due to traffic which gave us some extra time to gather ourselves and drink some tea. By the time she arrived, we were both feeling pretty relaxed and were excited about the home visit. The visit consisted of two interviews, first one with us together, then we were each interviewed separately about things we’d written in our autobiographies. Then we gave R a tour of our house. When she first came in she commented on how much she loved our living room and she kept telling us how much she loved our house, especially our family room with all of the windows. (It’s our favorite room, too.) Then she told us what we should emphasize in our profile book since we’re both such creative people.

October, we spent taking a couple of online classes for us to be part of the domestic agency adoption program, working on the profile book and building raised beds for the garden.
Bryan and Dad shoveling compost into raised beds
Bryan, my dad and I spent a day building four raised beds. Sinking the posts in the ground was one of the most frustrating and time-consuming parts of the process. Everything had to be level and we spent hours trying to get the beds just right. We didn’t think our yard sloped that much until we tried to put the bed posts in the ground. Then the next few weekends, Bryan and my dad shoveled composted horse manure into the beds. It was definitely the “highlight” of Bryan’s October! haha. There were jokes flying as we were shoveling like, “What did you do this weekend? Well, if it didn’t involve a huge heap of horse manure, it wasn’t fun.” And “Who needs dinner and a movie when you can shovel horse manure for a perfect Saturday night!” Once the beds were finished we were very happy with how they turned out. I immediately planted what seemed like an enormous amount of onions. So we’ll see how they turn out. We may have two onions or we could have more than we know what to do with.

Photo for profile book

One of the really nice things about working on our profile was it gave us an excuse to ask someone to take some nice photos of us, which my mom was kind enough to do.

On November 7, our home study was approved, which meant we could move into the next phase of our adoption. Also in November, we finished our profile book and had the books printed. They are beautiful. You can view our adoption profile book on Mixbook. We also put together our online profile that’s connected to our agency. Please share either one or both of these profiles with your friends and anyone you know who may be considering adoption. Help us spread the word!

Also in November, we took two infant classes – infant and child CPR and newborn care. The newborn care class came just a day before I visited one of my dear friends for several days who had a then two-month old in her house. 100_0981
It was really cool to be able to share some of what we learned in our class and she assured me that swaddling does in fact help calm a baby along with the “magic” exhaust fan over the stove.

My parents also have taken a newborn care class for grandparents, so we’re all up-to-date on our newborn info, we’re just waiting for a newborn to try out our techniques on.

Just before Thanksgiving we were listed as officially waiting adoptive parents.

At the end of November, we listed our fundraiser here and had an overwhelming response.
Produce bags
If you’re interested in purchasing bags, please leave a comment on the Adoption Fundraiser post. So far we’ve sold over 55 sets of bags and I’m expecting to deliver bags ordered now (after December 18) in late January/early February. We have been so blessed to have friends who shared the link with friends.

I’ve been asked many times how I’m handling the wait and I just say, “I’m sewing and keeping busy getting bags ready.” I honestly haven’t thought much about the wait as we’re just trying to enjoy having time together, reading, sewing and Bryan’s doing some writing and collages. We know that once we are matched with a baby and expectant mother/birthmother our lives will never be the same so we’re enjoying this time while we have it.

We’re staying in Kansas for Christmas, spending it with my family.

We hope you all have a blessed holiday and a very happy new year. I’ll keep you updated about our journey here.