Gotcha X 8 and Halloween

Eight years ago this afternoon we sat in a steamy waiting room in Guangzhou, China waiting to meet our Katherine.  We were nervous and excited and couldn't wait to hold our baby.  Steve said he felt like a kid on Christmas morning, waiting to see what Santa brought.  Eventually, an official called out "Yang Guo Dan" and we stepped to the doorway.  Suddenly, someone shoved a tiny, sweaty, impossibly sweet 9 month old baby into may arms.  She looked up at us and smiled.
And just like that, she was ours!  That was the sweetest, most amazing day of all of our lives.  And it changed Halloween forever at our house!

Our family's tradition is that on Gotcha Day, the Gotcha Girl gets something from China.  This year, Katherine's gift was this beautiful hair clip.
I remember that Steve picked out this clip.  We had been shopping, looking for little presents we thought baby Katherine might enjoy as she grew.  It was kind of hard, because we didn't know what she would be like, what she might use.  And how old would she be when she wore this bracelet or opened that book?  This hair clip seemed like such a grown up thing, but it was beautiful.  It was impossible to imagine my baby ever wearing it.  How old would she be then?  Would she even have long hair?  Last night I dug out the Gotcha Gift box and rummaged through the presents.  I found the clip and it seemed the right time to give it.  It still seems rather grown up, but then my Katherine has somehow become rather grown up.  And she has long, thick, dark hair - perfect for a pretty hair clip. I know when she wears it, I will always remember the sweet baby she once was and all the hopes and possibilities she has come to fill. 

October 31st means Gotcha, but it also means trick-or-treat.  The weather was perfect tonight, so my owl and my Rapunzel had a grand time knocking on doors and collecting candy.
Happy Halloween!

Zucchini Stuffed Tomatoes by Nadia

Okay, so if you've been to this blog a few times, you may know that I'm a teacher. To be more specific, I am an elementary school English as a Second Language teacher. The students on my roster learned another language first at home, and now they're becoming proficient in English speaking, listening, reading, and writing. One of my favorite parts of my job is co-teaching writing in a fourth grade classroom. The regular teacher and I share the responsibility of teaching writing to all of the students. (Before I was an elementary ESL teacher, I taught middle school English and almost every summer I teach at Young Writers' Camp on the campus of Long Beach State University.) 
Our first unit of the year was about "the writing community" and "the writing process," and students got to choose what they wrote. I love that. One native English speaker, Nadia, chose to write a recipe. When I was emailing her mom to get permission to post Nadia's recipe, she said that Nadia started helping her cook at the age of 3, and by 6, Nadia was making omelets for herself. Amazing. She's been experimenting with vegetarian dishes recently due to some dietary concerns, and this is one that she came up with. Mom also said that Nadia is planning to start a cooking show that she will post on YouTube. I'll keep you updated on that.
This is a great recipe for tomato & zucchini lovers, especially when there are garden-fresh tomatoes available. It was easy to make and as Nadia told me, you can adjust the amount of cheese and bread crumb/crouton mixture to suit you. I scaled the recipe down for my vegetable-fearing family, and I made only 3 tomatoes--relatively large ones, and I used one medium sized zucchini. I had lots of crumbs left over, but I plan to use them on something else soon.
What you see below after the pictures is just what Nadia wrote (typed by me). In her school draft, Nadia included some awesome icons, a knife and a spoon, to indicate which steps were dangerous and needed adult assistance, and which were kid-friendly. I couldn't find anything to substitute, so you'll have to use your own judgement. I hope you enjoy this recipe from 4th grade Nadia. I know that I am looking forward to how she develops as a foodie as she pursues her cooking show and recipe development.

Zucchini Stuffed Tomatoes

How to Make Tomatoes & Zucchini Beautiful

Bam! There that idea was just sitting in the back of my head. Just sitting there. I couldn't think because of this. It was so heavy I thought it would take up all the space in my brain and I would forget to breathe.
My Idea

Ingredients/What You Need
  • Eight sturdy, fresh, red tomatoes (preferably fresh garden, but store bought are fine. Make sure they are hard, but look and smell nice.)
  • Parmesan Cheese & if you don’t like parmesan, apple wood smoked cheddar will work fine.
  • Zucchini, not yellow summer squash; green summer zucchini (two totally different things). If you get store zucchini use within 5 days, garden in 1 month.
  • Croutons & bread crumbs. Please get Italian bread crumbs and New York Texas Toast croutons.
  • a non-stick cookie sheet
  • olive oil

1. First line up the tomatoes in a row on a paper towel, then get a knife & cut off the stems and all the tomato around it. Do this with the other 7.
2. Ask an adult or someone responsible with the stove to get a small pan and the olive oil. Put one cap full of olive oil in the pan and spread it around. After that put the stove on 1 and put the pan on until it starts to sizzle. This should give you enough time to do #3 & 4.
3. Get the zucchini and cut the ends off. Then cut it vertically in half, you should be able to chop the zucchini horizontally into small, bite size pieces. Then get a bowl for number four.
4. Get a big wooden spoon, trying to be careful not to damage the insides. Take the spoon and get the bowl. Dip the spoon in the tomato and get all the seeds and the insides. Then put it in the bowl. IF you didn’t get all of it, leave the rest in the tomato. Put the bowl to the side.
5. Put the zucchini in the pan with the tomato insides. Turn the stove to 3 and let it cook for 5 minutes. After it’s done cooking set the pan on another burner.
6. Get a meat tenderizer and put the croutons in a small quart size bag then put the quart size bag in a gallon size bag. Now don’t start pounding away yet, you need toknow one thing and do another; first use the flat side to pound the croutons, then put the oven at 385° for the tomatoes to bake. Then start smashing the bags until there’s no big chunks left. Take out the quart size bag from the gallon and open the bag, the quart size, then put a one-fourth of the Italian bread-crumbs in the quart bag, now put the quart bag aside for now.
7. Get the Parmesan (or smoked cheddar), a cheese grater, and a bowl (better yet, wash the bowl you already used and use it). Hold the grater in a slanted direction and put the bowl right under it, right by the end on the counter. Then like you are looking right over it, try to grate the cheese only over the bowl. Then when only half of the block is left, put the solid half in a container or a zip-loc bag. You’re done with cheese for now.
8. Okay take everything you’ve done; cut the tomatoes, cut & sautéed the zucchini, crushed, smashed, pounded, and pulverized the croutons, and grated the cheese. Now we put it all together. First put the zucchini in tomato’s hollow shell, just 4 or 5 pieces. Now put 1 layer of cheese, then croutons and breadcrumbs. Just try to put enough but not too much. Surprisingly you need to put another layer of cheese on and now put it on the cookie sheet and get it ready for the oven. Please try and do it right, now you can do it with the other 7.
9. Now it’s time for the ending of this recipe. I wrote this book so you can enjoy your food and I can enjoy remembering this lovely book. Now for the next step, pu the cookie sheet in the oven and let it bake for 7-10 minutes. Have fun eating this Stuffed Tomato. PEACE-OUT!
From the Author,
Nadia Emelinda-Herrera Adams

my random day

a busy morning. a busy week.
got my little lady dressed in her halloween costume and stopped by her school during her party.
went grocery shopping.  it seems like my days revolve around it, fix it, eat it...repeat.   can't we just not eat for a couple of days???
went to the library.
made lunch.
made granola and bread.  see what i'm talking about...

i've got the holidays on my brain.
i'm speaking tomorrow at my MOPS group..."Plunge into the holidays without drowning."
i'm looking forward to it!

since i've been thinking about the holidays, here are some fun things i've found...

i just love these utensil holders.  i've already printed them off and have them ready to go!

easy and cute thanksgiving garland.

we have to make this turkey!

what kiddo wouldn't love to doodle on these cute placemats!

i just watched this yesterday.  my cousin is an amazing designer in new york.  check it out!

Boo !

Happy Halloween to all !

Our pumpkin family - guess which one is which ?

Ice ice baby !

One of the highlights of our trip to The Eden Project was going ice skating. This was the first time that Little T and Little O had ever tried it and the first time in quite a while for myself and Mrs K/C/KC.

Little O was not so sure initially but battled on regardless, without falling over. He did describe the day as 'excellent' so it must have gone down fairly well.

Little T did remarkably well on her first attempt and soon lost the penguin stabiliser and progressed through holding hands to skating on her own, again without major incident.

Halloween 2012 @ The Eden Project

Today we went to the Eden Project in Cornwall, but unfortunately were not blessed with such beautiful weather. As a result, it was a little busy inside the Biomes. However, we still had a lot of fun traipsing around the Rainforest Biome and picking out which chilli plant was the hottest in the Mediterranean Biome !

Plenty of coffee, snacks and ice creams were on hand to ensure the day was not spoiled by the rain.

The Bakery @ Eden Project

Enjoying some local olives in the Mediterranean Biome

A Green Halloween

Actually a little bit of red too.

  Vampire, Frog Zombie Man (frog was once used for a rainforest party), Robin Hood and "Green Girl". I showed Mr Bowerbird the photos and he laughed wryly, "Oh I hope that one's going on your blog"!

 Of course it's going on the blog!

Checkout how much those kids have grown since Halloween 2010. The Big Bowerbird is getting some good mileage out of that costume. A bit of green and red that year too.

The little Bowerbird put on this face for me before she left, but it was out in full force come bedtime, the post sugar slump is never good.

  Frog Zombie Man stole my children
 Robin Hood back from the dead
 Someone had to stay home to hand out the cakes. One of my Vegie Group friends snapped this of me, where would I be without that magnet fly-screen?
 All lovingly prepared by the children and my mum.  
Choosing which monster cake or biscuit you were taking home was a serious decision for visiting trick or treaters.

Even more serious was the examination of the lolly loot when the kids got home.  I am not showing this picture to our dentist. Some very serious tooth brushing this week.

Came across this via Mamabake's Facebook page, perhaps next year.
Do you celebrate Halloween?

Halloween Preparations

Since the girls decided quite some time ago what they wanted to be for Halloween, and we decorated the house back in September, the only thing left to was carve some pumpkins!

Lola took a picture of me and Ellie carving pumpkins
Here is Ellie's pumpkin she named her "Punky"

Lola wanted to wait for Poppi to come to carve her pumpkin,
 Lola decided on a happy face for hers and then she named her pumpkin "Pops"
for some reason I did not get a picture of Lola's finished pumpkin

Tony and I decided not to carve our pumpkin this year and with the help from our little ladies we made a witch with a pumpkin stem nose for our 2012 pumpkin!

The Halloween "Spook" was preparing for the upcoming day and left some treats for our little goblins. The girls were so excited to find these little baskets full of goodies waiting for them when they woke up from their naps this past Saturday.  The cool thing is once you get booed you have to pass it on! So we get to Spook and Boo someone else. 

In preparation for Halloween we needed a little trick-or-treat practice and of course a little taste of Halloween fun. So we did a Halloween dress rehearsal and headed to a Halloween festival at cousin Aiden's school last weekend. 
Lola, my nice Witch and Ellie, my little Yoda! 
These little ladies had their heart set on these costumes ideas and once they decided there was no going back. I will say I love their choices and can't wait to add all the bells and whistles to their costumes on Halloween.

These girls can't wait for Halloween they are so excited and counting down the days!