Latest Posts

Reflection

You-may-encounter-many-defeats

“We spend precious hours fearing the inevitable. It would be wise to use that time adoring our families, cherishing our friends and living our lives.” ~Maya Angelou~

 

  Those of you that know me know I am a very private person (she says as she blogs… lol) , however today I am yet again stepping outside of my box as I want to pay well overdue homage to a couple of special ladies.

  I got a call this morning from a friend asking if I wanted to pop out to an event in the city, so off we went.  While there we ran into another old friend that I haven’t seen in way too long of a time.  It was interesting, in an ironic way, that today of all days I should see both these ladies.  I don’t know if they realized it on the onset of seeing one another but today marks the anniversary of a life altering event I experienced some time ago.  And when this event happened these two gals, more than any other, were the ones there for me, caring for me, protecting me, supporting me, loving me and standing by my side through my long physical, spiritual and emotional recovery.  They were my gate keepers, my strength, my cheerleaders, my shoulder to cry on…my true friends.    

  I think that as time goes by, as life happens, as wounds heal … we often forget.  I have never forgotten that time in my life or its effects on me, but today was a reminder that I have not been as mindful as I’d thought I had about the importance of the two gals and how that experience marked them in their own way; way I can’t ever begin to identify.  I believe that it all took its toll and was the foundation of a fracture and a test of the strength of friendship; resulting in a regrettable distance between us.  But I also believe it’s not irreparable.  

  I will forever be grateful and love these gals and be grateful for their roles in my life and the bond we share. 

 

Signature 2

Wonton Wrapper Spinach Lasagna

Dinner

Ok I have to start this by saying this is equivocally one of the best lasagna dishes I’ve ever had let alone made!

I find that most lasagna with noodles (gluten-free or not) are very heavy as it is with pasta dishes.  Oh and by the way this particular one is not gluten-free but could be modified easily.  So because they are so heaving and I always feel cruddy afterwards; I virtually don’t eat pasta much at all.  It’s high in fat and a pain to make but this!

So lately I have been trying more and more recipes with Wonton wrappers and this by far is the best I’ve played with yet!  In taste and consistency you’d be hard pressed to know the difference if it was served to you and you hadn’t been privy to the prep of it.  Lasagna as a whole can be a tedious project layering unless you go with the noodles that don’t require pre cooking; and this is exactly the same idea as that but is even easier.  I have done other Lasagna recipes that Ill post as we go along but I can not stress enough that this in all facets is easier especially if you have a family to feed and will go through a fair bit in a sitting.  As opposed to the Lasagna cupcakes that I do; which are a great idea for portion and packing for meals.  Stay tuned for that one.  ;)

What you’ll need can be changed according to your likes and dislikes of course but this is a dish to get some of those yummy veggies into your kids, or spouse for that matter. :) But in keeping it relatively basic I’ve opted not to add a bunch in.

So let’s have at it!

Wonton Wrapper Spinach Lasagna

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3 medium sized onions
  • 12 ounces fresh spinach
  • 1 package ground beef (or a meatless substitute for us vegetarians)
  • 2 packages of wonton wrappers
  • 1 24 ounce canned tomatoes
  • 3 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese (regular mozza or I use the fat-free mozza)
  • 2 pounds of cottage cheese (Or ricotta if you prefer)
  • 1 egg
  • Parmesan cheese

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Chop onions in a med fine-cut
  2. Begin by heating 2 tbsp oil in the skillet over medium heat and once it’s warm add the garlic thyme and oregano.  Saute for about 3 minutes.
  3. Add onions to saute and continue to saute until onions are golden brown; about 15 minutes.
  4. Add your meat or meat substitute and stir until cooked (For substitutes this is usually about 10 minutes).
  5. When done put in a large bowl and add in the canned tomatoes (or sauce)and stir well.  (Tip: freeze and unused sauce/tomato in ice-cube trays and use next time.  I added tomato sauce to my tomatoes for texture.  That is what the red frozen bits are in the bottom left photo)

Sauce

  1. Using the same pan add 1 tbsp of oil and when warm add the spinach and stir until it is barely wilted (About 2 minutes)
  2. Remove from heat and set aside
  3. In a large bowl whisk the egg, salt, nutmeg and oregano and stir; then add the cottage cheese and stir well.  Add the spinach  and stir until ingredients are all combined.  If you find the spinach didn’t break up enough you can add pulse it in the process or I use a my hand blender)

Filler

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a 9 x 13 pan spread a little of the tomato mix in the bottom of the pan.  Layer with wonton wrappers then about 1/3 of the cheese and spinach mixture and then more tomato sauce (to your taste) and 1/4 of the mozzarella cheese.  Repeat once or twice more (can do twice as the wrappers aren’t as thick as lasagna noodles).  Be sure to end with noodles, sauce and mozzarella.

Layers

  1. Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes.  Remove foil and when you remove the foil you will see the wrappers have puffed up a bit; just give them a poke with a fork and they’ll go back down.  Sprinkle with Parmesan and continue cooking uncovered for 10 – 15 minutes until brown.
  2. Let stand for 10 minutes so the dish can set and serve

DoneIgnore the extra pan in this picture as I made a lager batch to freeze and you can do the same if you have left over.  It freezes great!

Dinner

I would love to hear if you try it and what you think.  I kid you not that it is amazing!!

 

Enjoy!!

Signature 2

Back on track

Family

 

  This first post back I want to touch base about my recent pause from blogging and where I’ll go from here.. But before I do that I have to acknowledge that today is National Adoption Day. “National Adoption Day is a collective national effort to raise awareness of the more than 100,000 children in foster care waiting to find permanent, loving families “My adoptive parents are my parents. When writing I refer to them as “Adoptive” simply so that you may more easily follow the bouncing ball of he family tree. Because trust me; it’ll bounce! ;) So as you may know my adoptive father died when I was a little girl and my Adoptive mom is still alive. Despite the curve balls life has thrown us they are my parents and I will always hold close to my heart the family life they were building for “H” (my adoptive brother) and I. The link above has some really great stats on it and adoption resources. Do take a peek and feel free to pass it on; not just today but any/everyday with the hopes tha we are somehow aiding in the lives of children in need of a family.

Mom Dad Henry and I at 1 yr

   Ok so with the blog I found myself like so many of us, overwhelmed with just life as we know it. As you know I’m an Entrepreneur and that in itself is a full time job: however I also work outside the home as well as chair a non-profit organization re-uniting birth families. And as well of course I have my 2 buds (a.k.a my Weims ;) ) that require much attention and exercise. At some point I became so immersed in all these aspects of my life that I forgot to come up for air. I certainly don’t say this begrudgingly, quite the contrary as I take so much joy in all of these and am fortunate enough to love what I do. However at some point when I wasn’t looking it all took on a life of its own. It wasn’t until I realized I hadn’t fulfilled one of my biggest passions in a very long time…and that is to travel. So I had some unfinished business (figuratively speaking) in Holland and I decided it was time to tend to that and to go spend some well needed time with family, friends and myself. That time away allowed me time of self reflection and it was then I gave further thought as to what was holding me back from blogging and not only from blogging but from making the content CharsJargon what I wanted it to be. In a world of social media and blogs everywhere that are primarily used for business purposes a part of me felt that perhaps I as a blogger was less. Because my goal was not financial gain and/or not for business,  instead it was a place for me to share my experiences and my passions …cooking, genealogy, the world of adoption and my place in it and now reacquainting myself with my dearest friend “Travel”. I also questioned myself and my ability to be 100% forthcoming with those of you reading my blog for the adoption related posts. Yo those who have contacted me and I am grateful that you trust me and feel I am a place of comfort and I still look forward to hearing from you again along the way.

   I realized for me to be my best me in something that is not only a part of my life but is who I am that I cannot hold back and filter myself because of concern as to what others may feel. I will not tell any untruths and I will not knowingly or unwittingly with malice hurt anyone. But I will along the way share my story and my truth. I reminded myself recently how I expressed to my biological father that I hated being their dirty little secret and that I wasn’t going to be a part of that anymore. And I’ll be darned if I didn’t digress and fall right back into it by trying to protect others. He is gone and yet I am carrying the secrets of my father and perpetuating them by giving over the power of my freedom of speech. And in the process I and only I, am the one hurt by it. On my hiatus I came to the conclusion that I am only doing a disservice (to other in the triad and myself) by perpetuating the secrets behind adoption and my story by letting the intimidation take over. I have recently been reminded that I am not responsible for another person’s doings, decisions or whereabouts; ergo “I am not my Brothers Keeper”.

  So my friends there you have it. The look of the blog will be undergoing some changes but the content will be virtually the same. I’ll write about what comes to mind and I hope that you’ll join me on my journey.

 

Signature 2

Regroup time

Regroup

Regroup

I thought I would pop on and touch base as it’s been quite some time since my last post.

With many things going on I’ve had to step back, refocus, regroup and re-energize.  I hope to be back up and at it really soon and thank you so much for your blog inquiries and for checking in.   Please do come back and stay tuned in.

In the meantime over this crazy busy time of year please take time to breathe.  ;)

 

Charlene

Gluten Free (or not) No Yolks dish

No Yolks Gluten Free dish

This is one of those open the fridge, pull things out and hope for the best.   And if I do say so myself this was seriously tasty!

Although I would’ve like a few more ingredients such as maybe some peas and tomatoes, I figured what I had was a good jump off point.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Onions
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 box baby spinach
  • Veggie Chicken substitute (obviously you can use regular chicken)
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • Oregano
  • 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVO) or butter
  • 4 cups No Yolk Noodles

Directions:

  1.  Chop/cube carrots and cook for 10 minutes.

  2.  Remove and put in a large bowl and set asideDiced carrots  3.  In large pot steam spinach.  I used the entire packaged because as you can see once cooked it equals about 2 cups.

Spinach

  4.  In another frying pan saute the onions in the EVO (or butter) and once they begin to soften add the Veggie Chicken.  If you are using regular chicken I would start cooking it first and add the onions to saute 15 minutes before you feel the chicken would be done.  Or you can cook them separately but I as a rule like the cooking flavors to mesh.

5.  Add all the spices at the same time as the veggie chicken, cover and cook on med heat.  Be sure to mix up periodically as to prevent sticking.  With using a lid the dish will cook in the minimal butter/oil used as we’ll as its own juices.

6.  While that’s cooking cook noodles according to package directions.Sauteed onions and veggie chicken  6.  When cooked remove from heat and cut chicken into bite size pieces

  7.  Once all ingredients are cooked place in the bowl with the carrots, mix well and serve.

DinnerEnjoy!

Charlene

Dog blog….you knew this was inevitable! :)

Oma

Ok so you knew this was coming sooner or later…more of the dog blogs :) 

As many of you know I have always loved dogs and been a fan of this breed and prior to having my current 2 Weims Pip and Savannah I had Miss Chelsea.

When I first got Chelsea I took some flack because I wasn’t training her to hunt, I didn’t want to breed her, nor did I want to show her.  To many of those in the purebred Weim world this was as much as sacrilegious.   But that wasn’t important to me; what was important was to give a long healthy life to a buddy; and she had just that.  Bless her wee heart she made it to 15 yrs old and up to the end she would walk up to 7 km a day and not miss a beat.  She was a traveled, brilliant, funny, playful dog for 15 years. OmaAs time went by Pip came to live with Chelsea and I and then after Chelsea passed Savannah joined our fold.  I thought adding to the brood would be good and that Chelsea could teach and have a house/playmate.  Just like any pet Chelsea could never be replaced and had a personality all her own.  She gave me all she could and I loved her dearly, and she spoiled me into thinking all would be as fabulous as her!  I think we make the mistake of assuming that when you know a breed; you know a breed and it’s all good.  All that goes out the window and “knowing “a breed doesn’t mean a thing when you bring in a rescue of that breed or any other.  I highly underestimated and was not prepared for what was coming my way in doing rescue:  Pip gave me a wake up call to that very quickly!  Here I was with this fabulous, placid, stoic, brilliant beautiful old gal and in comes “Pip” a.k.a. Cujo.

It was a whole new world I had embarked on and yet it’s interesting because in keeping in touch with the rescues and foster parent I don’t get that she was problematic at all.  I very quickly became a trigger for Pip and she would try to dominate me and if she felt threatened by Chelsea she would go at her.  When that happened so may people said to me that she was a write off.  A very prominent local dog trainer told me she “couldn’t be fixed” and “needed to be put down”.  Ive heard similar opinions along the way because it took awhile to work with her and she had issues to say the least.  I would never visit the notion of relinquishing her or worse yet putting her down.  When I rescued I was in for the long haul; barring injury to a child or adult, she wasn’t going anywhere.  Before I brought her home I knew in doing so I was a making a commitment and it just turned out to be a challenging one.

Savanahh wasn’t quite as volatile but she had her own stuff going on.  I remember on the way home she snapped at my friend “S” who was in the backseat with her.  And “S” had been bitten years before so needless to say I wound up in the back seat and she drove home; all 14 plus hours.  All the while Im thinking…..”oh Lordy Lordy Lordy….here we go again: but this one is actually snarling and snapping at people”! There were a lot of issues she came with and there are still some residual problems like her fear of storms or even flickering TV’s.  But she has come so far from the chewing Weim with separation anxiety, terrified, spoiled and stubborn to still stubborn (but that Im sure is the Weim thing), afraid of storms, trainable, cuddly and socialized.Bark in the parkThe motley crew of agility ;)

YouTube Preview Image

People are quick to assume Pip and Savannahs problems lie from their deafness and I am here to tell you that’s not true.  On the contrary as you can see they are still just as capable as a hearing dog, learning everything from ringing a bell to go out to running agility courses. Clearly being deaf adds elements and learning curves that you wouldn’t otherwise have with a hearing dog.    But it doesn’t make them fearful to the core, it doesn’t make them vicious, and it certainly doesn’t make them “less”.   These attributes are part of their history and experiences that brought them to rescue.  Lotsa love, patience, training, consistency and commitment to them will help them turn around and see life in a new light.  You can only hope that one day they will be happy, and I now believe they are.

YouTube Preview Image

My hope in my pipe dream world would be for others to have just even a molecule of understanding and acceptance for dogs (much like people) that you believe are different.  Show them the same love and kindness you would with your own whether they are from a breeder or rescue.

I no longer question (nor have I for a very long time) my decision to bring these gals home.  When I see where they have been and where they are now with the bounce in their steps and the wags of the tails…it makes me smile and I like to think they do to.

Pip and SavannahPip and Savannah I would do it all over again in a heart beat!

A big shout out of thanks to all the ladies in rescue that helped me in so many ways along this journey!  (Chris and Jean Michigan Weimaraner Rescue and Liette of Weimaraner Association of Canada )

Charlene

Vegetarian Cabbage Casserole with Quinoa

C C DONE

 “Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all” ~ Harriet Van Horne

Rainy, cool, dark days like this I find myself seeking these creature comfort foods.  But then with my European upbringing any excuse is a good one for cooking.  :)

 Ive done regular cabbage rolls which are pretty much the same as this but as everyone knows it’s quite a tedious undertaking to make them.  And really of course the casserole tastes just as great and is the same thing with a whole lot less fuss and muss.

 You can easily modify this to not be the vegetarian version if you prefer; however I certainly can’t advise how to do a gluten-free option.  As a rule I eat gluten-free as much as possible just simply because I can and I feel so much better.  However I had the ingredients for this in the house and didn’t even think until after the fact I should’ve maybe looked up a gluten-free option on-line.  Note to self to do so.  lol

  None the less I’ve made this dish several times before and love it as I hope you will!  The Quinoa really adds a great taste to it and it’s so much lighter than using rice.  And I love the fact that it freezes really well if there are leftovers and I actually did this recipe as an over sized batch so that I could freeze it.  It was done in a larger oval roaster. (15 pound one) Keep in mind as well when you choose your roasting pan that you need it large enough to accommodate all the cabbage that goes in last.

 The ingredients below are what I prefer but you can certainly mix it up and play with it.  Also I apologize a not all ingredients are in the picture ( I got multi-tasking…imagine that!)  So please refer more to the list than the picture.

C C INGREDIENTS

 So here we go….

 Ingredients

  •  I large head of white cabbage (5 lb)
  • 2 large sweet onions – chopped
  • 2 dozen cap mushrooms
  • 2 packages textured vegetable protein (meatless hamburg)
  • 2 28 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 5 zucchini sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa (uncooked)
  • 1 box vegetable stock
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • Garlic (to taste)
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp crushed caraway seeds
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 bag small carrots – (or 4 regular garden carrots)

Prep Directions:

 Cook 1 ½ cups quinoa as directed and when done set aside to cool.

 Also if you are using real hamburger cook it and set aside as well.  The vegetable protein is pre cooked so it does not require further prep for recipe.

 Chop up head of cabbage in 1-2 inch cubes and rinse in colander and set aside.

.Preheat oven to 350 degrees (175 degrees C)

Cooking  Directions:

- In a Dutch oven or the roasting pan heat on medium setting 2 tbsp oil.

- Add sliced onions and cook until golden brown

- Add garlic and cook about 3 minutes

- Add sliced/diced carrots and zucchini until tender (about 15 minutes depending on size of batch you are making).

- Add thyme, caraway, oregano, salt and pepper

- Add mushrooms and continue to cook covered for 10 minutes.

- Add the vegetable protein and stir to mix ingredients up well.

- Pour in 1 can of the diced tomatoes and water and again mix well.  (keep other can as you’ll use it later)C C INGREDIENTS 2Now stir in the quinoa you had set aside:  Should be about 5-6 cups of cooked quinoa.C C INGREDIENTS 3 If you have been doing this on the stove in a deep fry pan or haven’t already done this is the roasting pan now is the time to transfer the over to your oven ready dish.

Once transferred to your oven safe dish put the cabbage chunks on top of the mixture.C C IN DISHIn a separate bowl mix the vegetable broth with the other can of diced tomatoes.  Once you’ve mixed that up a bit you want to pour it over the entire dish but do not stir again. 

If you find you like it less dense than just add more water or tomatoes.  Just be careful not to water down.

Cover and cook at 350 for about an hour and a half; until cooked through and cabbage is tender.

Remove from oven and let cool for 15ish minutes.

C C DONE

Just a guesstimate, this makes about the equivalent of 24 cabbage rolls.  As I say freeze them and you’re good to go for dinner for another evening or 2 or 3.

Enjoy and let me know what you think.!

Charlene

Peanut butter and banana smoothie

PEANUT BUTTER BANANA

Like many others I have gone on a smoothie kick and as much as much as I have cringed from time to time when adding ingredients I have to say that so far (operative words here…”so far” ;) ) they have all tasted amazing!!

I am a huge proponent of smoothies as a snack for your little ones as it gives them all that good stuff they often don’t want to otherwise eat.  And if they like Peanut butter and bananas….you’re in like flint with this one!

One thing I like to do because I like thicker smoothies and not watered down ones; instead of using ice I freeze the yogurt in ice-cube trays and pop them out as I need them.  And maybe keep one aside to just drop in at the end if I want that added chill.  You can use whatever yogurt you like but after trying a few different ones I find that I prefer Greek yogurt 0%.

I also chop up the banana ahead of time and on a parchment lined cookie sheet I slice them up and freeze them.  Once frozen I transfer them to zip bags in the freezer.  It is by far the easiest way to get to the banana for smoothies.

I almost feel like Im cheating a bit when I make this one because it is so tasty!

PEANUT BUTTER BANANA

This recipe makes one smoothie – adult size as in the picture.  For your little ones you’d be good to separate it.

  • 5 frozen yogurt cubes ( or 1/2 Greek yogurt)
  • 1 small sliced frozen banana
  • 1 cup of almond milk
  • 1 packed cup of baby spinach
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter

Directions: Add all ingredients to your blender and blend like mad!!  I personally don’t like is a lumpy smoothie so in order to break up the banana and the frozen yogurt I realllllly blend it.  :)

Enjoy and I’d love to hear what you and/or your family think!

Charlene

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

Well I took the plunge and came into this millennium and did this post via Vlog.

My way of giving thanks to all of you for your continued support in my personal and professional life.

My Thanksgiving gift to you is a word of advice…..Don’t forget to put on your eating pants!  ;)

YouTube Preview Image

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!!

 

Charlene

 

Your story “will” heal…..

Iyanla-quote-sharing-your-story (2)

 I start off with a heartfelt Thank you to those of you who reading this blog and to those who have had the courage to step forward and message me about the adoption related posts.  You have taken the time and energy to step out of your comfort in touching base with me and sharing your stories.  I started Adoption related postings; with the hopes that you may find even a small part of yourself here.  I am touched to know as well that there are others out there who have connected with the post(s) that are not part of the adoption triad.  Thank you again to all!

I left off talking about those ever so important documents that my A.M. shared with me.  I truly believe they were a saving grace for me and they were something for me to hold onto while I bide my time waiting for my non-identifiable documents to arrive.  While waiting I continued going to the local search and support group meetings and tried to arm myself with as much knowledge as I could so that I would know how to best move forward when this information arrived.  And keeping in mind I wasn’t giving it the thought process it deserved; I really wanted to be ready to “GO” when they came in.  More importantly was the support I received from the group and the stories I was able to take part in and listen to.  These groups were for the triad as a whole and although we didn’t have too many A.P. there we were fortunate to have many adoptees and B.P.  As time would go on it opened my eyes to the other side of the story; the story that for so long I could only see from my view; the only perspective I had.  I was always of the mindset that “groups’ weren’t my thing.  I imagined people wallowing and sharing miseries and instead what I found was a loving group of people who welcomed each other shared their pain and their joys.  It was they that gave me the strength to forge ahead and be prepared for the many different outcomes I could be facing in trying to locate and connect with, my biological family, The group and it’s then chair “Jim”, for many years not only became my friends but very much my family.  We could talk about and share our situations and feelings with one another, and not with pity or judgement but with understanding, love and shared tears.  Birth parents were brave enough to trust us with their experiences that lead them to relinquishing their child(ren).  I thank them to this day for opening their hearts and being vulnerable to the judgement they would fear facing in that room.  I thank the Adoptive parents that were strong enough to come into the meetings with and without their adoptive children to talk about how they were affected by various situations.  There were some who came for the support of dealing with their adult child searching; some trying to find a way to tell their child (as well as adult children) they were adopted, and some dealing with the fear they were being replaced and the shame they harbored of not wanting their child to search.  I can’t say that I accepted all that I heard or that it took away my anger or my situation but I can say that it did lessen it .  (Not all my misgivings came from being adopted.  To clarify circumstance (which I’ll share another time) stepped in and I wasn’t raised by both my adoptive parents.  I know I would have felt differently (in a positive way) had my adoptive father not died.) 

 Feeling, seeing and hearing the pain of others first hand gave me the ability to grow and accept things that I know could not have happened otherwise.  Yes…it truly was a place of shared experience, emotional growth, empathy, sympathy and love.

Charlene

%d bloggers like this: