Thank you..

Santa was very good this year. He told our parents what we wanted and needed and Daniel and I each got a kindle!Yay! We are so excited! We are so grateful for all the thoughtful gifts that family and friends gave us. It has truly been a good Christmas for us. Thank you for those gifts.


Oh, the list...

Have any of you thought about all of the little things you would have to deal with and take care of if you were to leave the country for 18 months? I hadn't. Until now. Besides wrapping up the usual for the year end, we get to plan our Utah end.... so to speak.

Here is a glimpse of what is going on in my head...
House- Rent? Sell? Depends on dogs.... Could we sell, given the market? Probably not. What do we do with our stuff? Most will go into storage.

Then I guess I need to buy rubbermaid bins and garbage sacks to protect my stuff while it's in storage. Books are important - we have a few hundred and they need to be protected.

Depending on who we rent to - what stays, what goes, how much do we charge, do we make it a sweet deal because we are asking them to take the dogs? What if no one will take our dogs for us (I wish they could invent cryogenic freazing successfully....) we can't take them with us... I love my puppies.. will anybody be able to love them like me....?

Then the cars - sell, lend?, what about when we come home... what do we drive... Car insurance - don't need it...
Cell phones - I want to keep my number but I'm not paying full service charges for a phone I can't use... will it port to the internet... like google voice?

Food - what about the 200 pounds of meat in our freezer? Oh gosh - I'm going to miss good beef.
40lbs of rice, 30 lbs of flour, our food storage...

25 quarts of pickles I put up to enjoy can't go with us. oh, the washer and dryer are in there too... will the renters use those? will they be nice to our things... we need to be picky here. How picky can we get...?
Do I need to take kitchen stuff... there are no ovens in China... I guess I won't bake. I love bread. Can I buy bread there? I'm going to lose weight given the foreign food .. but wait, they have rice and noodles. Hello Carbs.

I need to buy a kindle - since I can't get english print books there. We need an external hard drive so we can save our stuff when we give the work laptop back in 2 years... can we get wireless internet in our apartment?

How big will our aparment be? Fully furnished? Can I take my sewing machine? What am I going to do? I could teach English... where? I need a Chinese cell phone. Gosh learing that language is going to be hard - even if I am smart like people say....

No more American TV! AHHHHHHHHHHH! We need to buy the next season of all our favorite shows on DVD so we can catch up when we get home. Are we allowed to get Hulu over there? I know we can't get facebook - stupid Great firewall of china... internet regulations. I'm going to miss America.

Maids? What - we can get cheap maids? and have our laundry done? Sweet. Massage therapy? What? it's only 10$ an hour? I need that. Crap - it's going to be hard to come home. Tailored clothing? cheap? you're kidding! Wow. I need to lose weight and get to be my perfect self. That won't be hard given the food over there. I'm going to miss Mexican food. I don't want to eat Asian food while in the US - I'm going to have that fresh for 18 months. Seafood is yummy. I hear there is tons of great seafood in Xiamen.

Travel... I have always wanted to see the Terracota warriors, and they arein Xi'an and Beijing. I hear Beijing is pretty and has a billion people. I don't like crowded cities! Oh S***! I hate crowded cities and I'm moving to the most crowded country in the world!!!

I hear the Philippines are close... they are pretty. I should research where to go. We need to negotiate for Daniel's time off. I'm so glad he gets to work American hours. We will have Saturday's off. So much to see and do. I wonder how much we can travel. Gosh, we need more money.

Income tax? what? We have to pay Chinese imcome tax while on a working visa? and in the US? We really need more money then. Talk to people about that.
Wow. I need chocolate and a nap. I can't sleep - I have so much to do! Chocolate? how am I going to reach my goals for weight if I keep eatnig junk food! 7 layer dip for lunch was a bad idea. But it was so good. I wonder if they sell cheese over there? I hear they don't use many, if any dairy products.

Good grief. At least my passport application is in and on it's way. I hope that doesn't take too long. I need to get my travel visa and my work visa. I'm going to miss the piano. We can't get one over there. Maybe I'll buy a keyboard. Should I take some music? I understand that there is an app on the ipad that is sheet music... I need an ipad. (see previous post.)

Panic... panic...panic... panic...panic...panic...DEEP BREATH. Remember - you are excited to go. Amazing opportunity. New food, new culture - travel, beauty. A special experience that few will get to have. The Lord said we're supposed to go. This will all work out.

If you read this at a fast pace you now know what ADD is like. At least for me.
If there are any things in here that you have an answer for, let me know. We want to be prepared to have a wonderful experience while we are there.


Dear Santa....

Since we are moving to China, most likely anything you give me will be packed away for 18 months or so while we live there. So how about you get me something useful, something that I can take with me for entertainment or documentation purposes.

Like one of these - because I will need to blog and skype while there.

And I need this because you can't get english print books over there.....

And I need one of these to watch my netflix streaming movies on.

and I have to have this so I can well document all the beautful visuals I will be taking part of whilst living there.

Any one or all of these would greatly appreciated. Or the money to buy them too. Please help me be able to make the most of my experience in China?
And I could also use some pretty and tropical like clothing for living there, since the weather is nice there all the time and all.
A very well behaved Ashley and Daniel.


Our Big Adventure!

Daniel got a new position at work and that job entails us moving to Xiamen, China.

We are very excited. There is so much to think about and prepare for but we know we are supposed to go and that it will be an amazing opportunity and adventure.
This will also help me acheive that dream I have of going to all of the Disney parks. We will probably get annual passes to Disneyland Hong Kong (because they are cheap and Hong Kong is a short flight away) and then when we get the opporunity to go to Japan for the cherry blossoms (for our anniversary/my birthday) we will also visit Disneyland Tokyo and Disney Sea Tokyo.

I am so excited. Because we won't be able to access facebook blogs will be all I have so check back frequently and even become a follower so you can follow our adventure while we are living in China.


I have a dream....

To visit every Disney park . Bored on a Saturday morning I decided to investigate the international Disney parks. Disneyworld has the most stuff. Disneyland is classic. The others? Cool. I can't wait to go to Disneyland Paris. The castle is AMAZING!! Look at this! So there you go. That's what I'm thinking about on a December morning. Anyone want to join me in my international travels?


Winston the Rat Dog

My little Winston dog is a bonafide rat killer. A couple of weeks ago we went to Idaho to visit my aunt and uncle and in their woodpile the morning we left their dog found a rat. So Winston and their dog (Sadie, the crazy white one) kept going for it and once we had dug out deep enough for Winston to get at it - he did. This is what happens when a natural born killing dog gets a hold of what he's supposed to kill. It was crazy. He was so proud of himself.


For Kenneth

Brine:1 1/2 cups kosher salt
1/2 cups dark brown sugar
One 6-ounce container of frozen OJ concentrate1 gallon water
One 16-18 pound turkey (thawed)1 gallon of ice cubes
Canola Oil
Hard ware
1 large pot
1 large cooler with lid
Paper towels
Roasting rack
2 disposable aluminum roasting pans
heavy-duty aluminum foilprobe thermometer

Recipe: To brine the turkey: dissolve the salt, sugar, and juice concentrate in 1 quart of hot water. Cool the solution with 3 quarts of cold water. Remove the giblets (and any ofter foreign matter) from the turkey interior and place in cooler (Breast down). Pour in the brine mixture to cover. If the bird is not completely submerged. add more liquid. (Since I don't want to weaken the solution, I use canned chicken broth.) Cover with ice, close the lid, and soak the turkey for 6-8 hours. (Exact soak times will vary per your taste. Start with 6 hours and make changes to later birds.) When the bird has about 30 mins left to soak move the oven rack to the lowest level and preheat the oven to 500 F. Remove the turkey from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Rub the turkey liberally with canola oil. Discard the brine and thoroughly wash the cooler. Place the turkey on a roasting rack inside 2 disposable aluminum roasting pans. Roast at 500 F for 1/2 hour. Remove the bird from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 350 F. Cover the turkey breast with a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil folded into a triangle. Insert a probe thermometer into the thickest part of the breast (push it right through the foil) and set the thermometer to 161 F. A 16-18 pound bird should arrive at the target temperature in 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Remove the turkey from the over, cover the bird and pan loosely with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 15 minutes before carving.


New Shapes!

As I said in my previous post I will do custom shapes for 16$ and up.

I also have new pre-cut shapes!

I have flowers, three different types, #1


and Bugs!
I will soon have mittens, winter caps, angels, snowmen and snowflakes.

I will also be doing a batch of Tie-dye on November 6 if anyone wants to order one with a specific color.

Please help me make this work!


More for sale

My sister in law calls her little baby boy Shark Baby. So I made him a onesie of a shark.I can do custom shapes, just nothing copyrighted - like logos and stuff. I only do shapes - outlines. A custom shape is $16 and up, depending on the difficulty. The shark would be $17.

If anyone is interested in a custom shape and color, please let me know. I have short and long sleeved onesies 3 mos to 12 mos in stock.



I know you're there. See if you look down, down, yes just a little further, over ---> there? See it? It tells me you've been here. Who are you? I want to know. You sound interesting being from __(insert current town here)__. I would love to hear from you. How did you find me? What intrigues you? Are you a regular or a visitor? What do you think of my Adopt a Onesie program? I like it. Let me know. I'm giving you cyber candy bars for telling me. I like to make new friends and apparently I have some that I did not know about.


Let's start the bidding...

Or buying. Please?

So I seem to be unable to get a job. I am wondering if it's the job market or God telling me I am not supposed to report for duty. Hmm. So I have been thinking of things and ways to earn money. It's rough I tell ya.

Idea one: teach piano lessons. That worked last year, however my one returning student isn't starting for another couple of months. I'm working on getting more.

Idea two: post quilt binding by hand on KSL. Nothing. Notta. Not even a call. Spread the word - I like doing this and my prices are pretty reasonable.

Idea three: Ask you all if you would be willing to buy stuff from me. Haha. No seriously. If I can get my little business started then I think it will really work. So here it goes:

Onesies and T-shirts. What? Yes. But I do something special to them - I put pictures on them! I'm offering the ones you see here except the letter ones. Those you can custom order. As I gain capital more sizes and options will be available. After October 15 you can order Tye-died options with general color families.

Let's call it my "Adopt a Onesie" program. Because to be honest - I need to start saving more money for our adoption. It's going to be a lot of money upfront.

Here we go!

#1 Shirt size 2/3 from Carter's. With an appliqued truck. $12.

#2 Shirt size 2/3 from Carter's. Orange airplane. $12.

#3 Long sleeve 9 mos onesie from Carter's. Blue Airplane. $12.

#4 Tye-died onesie from Gerber size 3-6 mos. Blue car. $13.

#5 Tye-died onesie from Gerber size 3-6 mos. Pink heart. $13

#6 Tye-died onesie from Gerber size 3-6 mos. Yellow heart. $13

#7 Tye-died onesie from Gerber size 3-6 mos. Purple/pink heart. $13.

#8 Long sleeve onesie from Carter's size 9 mos. Blue and pink. $13.

#9 Shirt size 2/3 from Carter's. Two cars. $13.

#10 - SOLD - can custom order size, letter and color. 15$
Different fonts available for letters. Colors will be general according to color ordered. No gaurantees on specific fabric.

#11 Letter shirt with sleeve embellishment $16.
I use high quality adhesive and sew tightly around each edge so there is no fear of your picture falling off. If something does happen and it does come off completely (not likely, I tell ya) send it back and I will send you a new one.

Shipping is $3.00 for one, $4.00 for two and $5.00 for 3-5. Bargain? Yes.

Now let's be honest. I don't have paypal yet. I will set one up after I get going. You're just going to have to trust me and me you. Will a check work? After I get some inventory I will open on Etsy. Support and suggestions are greatly appreciated!m Only nice things please.

Thank you all. If you don't feel comfortable using the comment section you can contact me via e-mail - ashleyallen15 @ gmail . com



I was talking to a friend about creative ideas and she shared with me some of her inspiration. Wonderful site! and from there I have found two more.

Home decor inspiration:

All Things Thrifty - I am so excited about this. I love that she painted her piano. I am so going to do that! Guess what color! RED!! How fun is that?I probably won't be able to do that until spring but I'm excited for it!

infarrantly creative - She has so many ideas AND the tutorials! I am excited to see what sorts of inspiration I can receive from this website!

And the third is food. You all know I love food. Because, honestly, who doesn't?

Envy My Cooking - I saw a sandwich pocket and I can't wait to try that! I am looking forward to projects to come.

Side note: while writing my last post I was complaining about my inability to get a job (I have applied to like 20 places) and then when I hit publish, I went back to my inbox and low and behold I had an email for an interview! My interview was Friday and went well. I should know tomorrow or Wednesday whether or not I got the job. I will certainly let you all know.


In the mean time... Limbo

No, not the limbo, but Limbo -the middle time Catholics believe you spend your time in before judgment. Now you just learned something. We are in a big "in the mean time..." right now. At least I am.

Do you ever feel like your hands are tied? I do.

Conundrum: If I get a job, then we'll get a baby and I will need to stay home. If I try to further my education - we'll get a baby and I won't get anywhere. But we don't have a baby. But I am afraid to start anything for fear of being interrupted. So in the mean time I am trying to come up with inexpensive entertaining things and projects.

I have been cross-stitching a panel for a baby boy's room.

I went to the Zoo with my friend and her kids. Like my surrogate children. Love them.

Power-washed the house.


Planning painting projects.

Anyone have other ideas that don't cost much, or any, money? Or that doesn't involve making treats I can't consume on my own. I am not allowed to gain weight. No really. Things are bad.

To follow: pictures of some of the things I've done this summer.


Bountiful Backyard

This evening's harvest. I've had tons of beans so far. I had a lot of peas but I ate them before I thought about pictures. The carrots are kinda small, but that's because I'm thinning them. I think I'll do carrots every year now. Yummy! I love fresh produce in the summer! It's the only reason I put up with the heat!


Cherry Jam

It tastes reallllllly good. I am excited to eat it with toast and waffles tonight.

From the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

4 cups finely chopped pitted sweet or tart cherries
2 tbsp lemon juice (only if using sweet cherries - needed for the acidity and preservation)
6 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 pouches liquid pectin

Prepare lids and jars as in this post.

In a large sauce pan combine cherries, lemon juice and sugar. Add the sugar in slowly of medium heat, stirring it in as you go. Bring to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Then add the pectin. Boil hard for 1 minute. Remove from heat and skim off the foam (If you don't you get jam foam that tastes funny.)

Ladle the hot jam into hat jars and add hot lids. Screw the rings on finger-tight. Water bath in a rolling boil for 10 minutes.

Oh, So, Good.


Blueberry Sauce

This tastes so good. I can only imagine it on vanilla ice cream, cheesecake or with yogurt.

It's pretty runny but very potent. So yummy.

7 cups blueberries
2 3/4 cups unsweetened apple juice. (Western Family makes some - can't be from concentrate)
1 TB grated lemon zest
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
2/3 corn syrup
1/4 lemon juice

Prepare you jars and lids like with this recipe.

In a large pot combine berries, apple juice and lemon zest. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat crushing the berries with a potato masher. Then slowly add the sugar until it's dissolved. Then slowly add the corn syrup and lemon juice. Then bring to a rolling boil for 15 minutes. (At this point it will bubble up pretty seriously.)

After 15 minutes, turn off heat and ladle into jars leaving 1/4 in. headspace. Screw the rings on finger tight. Water bath with rolling boil for 10 minutes.

Makes 6-7 8 ounce jars. Use on anything.

I got this recipe from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.

Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate

I made a batch of this this afternoon. It smells so yummy. I can't wait to mix it up.

Here you go:

6 cups hulled strawberries
4 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice (I just used a 32 oz. bottle of Western Family lemon juice - no additives or concentrates)
6 cups granulated sugar

Prepare your jars and lids before hand. Clean your jars in a hot wash in the dishwasher. Then place them in the over at 170* or however low your oven will go. Put your lids in water and boil them so they are hot when you place them on the jar.

Puree the strawberries in a food processor till they are smooth. Transfer them to a large stainless-steel pot. Add the lemon and sugar as you heat it up on medium until 190*. When you reach temperature turn it off, ladle the concentrate into the jars. Water bath the jars at a rolling boil for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let rest for 5 minutes. Then pull them out to cool and then store.

To use add water, soda, ginger-ale, etc. at a 1:1 ratio.

It makes 5-6 16 ounce jars.
I got this recipe from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.


A Grave Day...

Today I had the opportunity to spend the first half the day with my grandfather placing flowers on graves. It was a neat opportunity in many ways. I got to spend 2+ hours with him while we drove between three cemeteries in Ogden, and one in North Ogden. I learned about my personal history, where my family was raised (for generations back), about the immigration of some of my ancestors and how much my grandfather remembered from so many of them. He knew many of the people who's graves we visited. In fact I knew many of them, great aunts, great uncles, great grandparents, etc. We talked a lot about many of them while driving around. I have a rich heritage, and I'll bet you do too. Do you know about it? You should learn. I have learned so many things about what I have come from and why I have some of the emotional connections and interests that I do. Find out about your own history and where people are buried so you can be the one to tell your children about their ancestors when your parents and grandparents are gone. Here are some of the headstones:

Asael and Jennie Farr - My grandpa's, mother's parents. My great-great grandparents.
Connie and Jim Underwood. My Grandma Budge's parents. My great grand parents.
William Arthur and Jennie Budge. My grandpa Budge's parents. My great grandparents.
Ezra Granger Williams - My great-great grandfather.
Henriette Crombie Williams -wife of Ezra Granger Williams. My great-great grandmother.

We placed flowers on a total of 18 graves. It was a neat experience and I challenge you all to do it too. Learn about more than your parents and grandparents. There are generations upon generations to learn about.



Daniel's new little friend. Tuesday night he went in for an overnight sleep study to see if he had sleep apnea. He does. It was bad enough that halfway through the night they hooked him up and he slept really well. We got a taste of the energy and good mood it will give him. Hopefully in the next two weeks we get the home machine and everything taken care of. I'll let you all (all 3 of you ;) ) know how it goes once we get it.

If any of you suspect your spouse other of sleep apnea - GET THEM TESTED! It can cause horrible problems with your mental health, heart health and many other things. A quite machine it at night is worth better health!


Are you willing to help?

They Came!!!!
500 adoption pass-a-long cards were on my door step when I came home for lunch! They have our picture, our names, and how to find out more about us.

Talking about adoption and sharing what you know is the best thing you can do for adoption!

If you want some cards to give out just e-mail me your address and I will send them out this week.

ashleyallen15 @ gmail . com


Recent Food Experiments

I have been having fun doing some home made foods. I got a pasta roller for Christmas and have been having fun with it. I made 3 cheese and spinach ravioli. They weren't pretty but they tasted pretty good.

I wilted the spinach in olive oil.
Then added it to the cheese - ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan.
I rolled out the pasta in sheets and then I put the filling between the sheets.
These are the best looking ones of the bunch.
Daniel mostly approved. They tasted good, but I need to work on my skills. I have to time the cooking better, but I'll get there.

Saturday I made Kiwi preserves. It only takes 5 ingredients. Pineapple juice, lime juice, 4 kiwi, liquid pectin and sugar.

You slice the kiwi thin (peeled of course!) and then boil it with the sugar and juices. When it gets to a rolling boil you add the pectin and boil for a full minute.
Then you put it in hot jars with hot lids and process them for 10 minutes. I added some food coloring. I think a little too much. But it looks pretty. It tastes pretty yummy, but you can definitely taste the pineapple. It's more a pineapple-kiwi jam. I think it was a success.