Monday, November 24, 2008


More soon. Laundry first.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tamale Recipe!

It's that time of year again, my friends. I've had several requests for my tamale recipe so I thought I'd put it up here for all the world to see :) For those of you not accustomed to Guatemalan traditions yet, tamales are traditionally served on Christmas Eve (at midnight!) with a cup of hot chocolate and a slice or two of crusty bread.

This recipe is a combination of three recipes - one part from our housekeeper in Guatemala, one part from the book "Favorite Recipes From Guatemala", and one part from the Maseca recipe on the bag of masa mix. I tried to keep it simple but authentic and delicious. I hope you enjoy them!

Tamales Colorados

4 lbs of tomatoes
1/4 lb tomatillos
2 onions
6 red bell peppers
4 chile guaques (can substitute chile guajillos)
1/4 tsp achiote (annatto)
3-6 tablespoons of lard or shortening

Place all vegetables and chiles in water and bring to a boil, then simmer for thirty minutes. Then take the vegetables out, strain, and add to blender. Puree. Add 3 tablespoons of lard or shortening to a large pot, heat over medium heat until melted. Pour in vegetable puree and cook over medium heat for fifteen minutes. If your sauce is not very red and you would like it redder, add the achiote. Salt to taste. Also add additional lard or shortening to taste. Can be prepared a day in advance.

4 lbs banana leaves frozen or 14 fresh banana leaves (can substitute foil if you cannot find banana leaves)
Kitchen twine
3 lbs raw chicken, turkey, or pork
2 red bell peppers, sliced

-Masa Dough-
(instructions on the bag of Maseca for Tamales)
2 cups maseca (corn flour)
2 cups broth
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2/3 cups lard or shortening

This dough recipe is only a partial recipe, taken directly from the Maseca bag. You must increase it depending on how many tamales you would like to make. I lost count of exactly how many times I made this recipe! It takes exactly one bag to make enough tamales for the above sauce recipe, but I don't remember how many cups are in the bag- sorry! :)

Put corn flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Mix well. Beat lard or shortening until fluffy. Add dry mixture to lard, add broth, and mix with your hands to remove any lumps. Then beat until the dough is a spongy texture. Chill for at least an hour.

Prepare your banana leaves by tearing into 12" squares and placing in hot water for ten minutes to soften them.

To assemble the tamales:

Place two leaf squares in front of you, smooth side up. Put one cup of dough in the center. Make a well in the center of the dough, building up the sides. Spoon 1/3 cup sauce into the center of the dough. Place raw meat in the sauce and place two bell pepper strips on either side of it. You want your tamales to end up rectangular, so you will fold your tamales in thirds. Fold the bottom leaves up and over the dough, snugly. Then pull the top section down, over the first. Then bring in your sides- just a simple fold up. The folding needs to be as snug as possible. Now take your twine and wrap it around the middle section, turn, and wrap lengthwise and tie a knot just as you would a brown paper parcel. If you have no leaves, use foil and seal your ends with double folds. You will not need twine.

Once the tamales are assembled, place in large pot- stacked however you can get them in, as tight as possible. Fill the pot 2/3 full of water, cover, bring to boil, and then simmer on medium heat until meat is cooked (1-2 hours depending on how many tamales are in the pot, how tight the seal is , etc.) Freeze or serve immediately. If you freeze them, reheat by steaming.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Autumn Leaves

I've said it before, but it's worth repeating; I love the fall! I love the crispness in the air, the gorgeous trees, the harvest fruits and vegetables... I'm a happy girl these days. 'Tis the season for soups and other comfort foods that warm you up from the inside out. Today it was a creamy tomato bisque for lunch. Mmmmm....

Helping Daddy

Ashes, ashes, we all fall down!

Where's Bella?
A very tall mound of leaves...
with a Bella inside!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Family Day

I cannot believe that we have reached this milestone. There were so many days during our extraordinarily long adoption that I wondered if this day would ever come. When Greg and I signed with our adoption agency in February of 2006, most Guatemalan adoptions were processing in 4-6 months. Two months into our adoption, I moved to Guatemala to be with Bella for the next "couple" months while everything was completed. Little did I know at that time the journey I was actually embarking on. To say we hit a couple roadblocks along the way is a dramatic understatement. From the week I moved to Guatemala, there were serious complications with our adoption that made every single step more difficult. And beyond those complications, our file kept getting stuck in bureaucratic red tape. Guatemala is famous for "changing the rules" as they go along. One of those changes caused our file to get stuck. Really stuck. So stuck that our agency was concerned our adoption may not be possible to complete. All the while, I was living with this baby and loving her more each moment we were together.

2 Corinthians 10:5
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Each day was a battle against the enemy and his lies. Each day I had to capture all the thoughts of "What if they can't fix this problem?" and "What would I do if they come to take her away?" and other horrible thoughts like that. Each day I had to reaffirm my faith that God is in control. I had to willingly choose to trust and believe. The thoughts came back over and over again, but every single time I would take them captive, God blessed me with peace. What a gift that was during those long months.

All together, our adoption took a little over seventeen months to complete- MUCH longer than we had anticipated. I lived fifteen of those months in Guatemala, apart from my husband and support system. Needless to say, the day that all four of us got on a plane in Guatemala, heading for the United States, was an emotional day for us. We were victorious! Never have we felt so elated, so exhausted, so emotionally raw, and so, so relieved in all of our lives.

We celebrated our first anniversary of that day yesterday. We're calling it Family Day. It was fun to reminisce about what we were doing this time last year and how we were feeling. We went to our favorite Mexican Restaurant for dinner and then came home and had some cake. It was pretty low-key. I've been telling Bella her story of how she came to be part of our family for a while now. She doesn't really understand it yet, but I don't think we're too far away from the first bits of understanding. In the future, we'll spend more time on Bella's Family Day looking at pictures and talking about the journey.

November 9, 2007
At the airport in Guatemala City


Plane number one

Layover in Houston

At Cracker Barrel that night for dinner on US soil!

November 9, 2008

We are so blessed!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Check this out!

From the company's homepage:
Now that 45 percent of U.S. children under age 5 are part of a minority group, and as Americans become more attuned to their heritage and less likely to speak only English, demand is increasing for culturally relevant toys and products for Hispanic Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans and increasingly Central and Eastern European Americans, (CEEA).

JamboKids dolls and storybook characters represent a range of cultures — Asian, African, Hispanic, North American, and Russian — reflecting the growing cultural diversity of U.S. society. Through their adventures, JamboKids inspire kids to appreciate differences that they may encounter in our own culture and prepare them for a global world by modeling life skills and values that promote cognitive development, emotional maturity, social awareness, civic mindedness, and other virtues that are universally valued by people across the world.

Now, as a disclaimer, I haven't read any of the books yet so I can't tell you about content, but I think the concept here is great! I will definitely be getting Bella one for Christmas. To learn more and shop for these dolls and books, go to

Thursday, November 6, 2008


We've had some very frustrating computer issues for the last week and I have really gotten behind. I apologize to everyone who has been itching for some Bella Halloween pics. Without further ado:


And one from last year:

Fun with stickers:

And just for fun, from one year ago today:

Something slightly deeper coming soon. With some amazing pics. Wait for it.