Chocolate- Avocado Mousse

Last night I had the special treat of a night out with three good friends.  We all made different dishes and sat around eating, talking, and laughing for five hours.  It’s been awhile since I’ve done that – it was a great break!  We had decided to collect 100 yen from anyone who talked about Nozomi Project/our work during that time.  I think I would have lost the most money, had we really done it, but we did a pretty good job making the evening NOT about work.

I tried a new recipe that I’ve been wanting to try since i’ve seen different versions on the internet.  I looked for the most deliciousy-looking one.  I think I found it!  It contains none of the “bad” fats… and everything about it is creamy and delicious.  My friends could not guess that the secret ingredient, giving it such a creamy texture, is avocado.  I like this recipe with the coffee and coconut oil in it, as well.

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You only need a small dish to satisfy that craving!  I topped mine with crushed candied pecans;  you could also put a dollop of cream or chocolate shavings or fresh fruit… I doubled the recipe, and it would have easily made enough for 6 or more people at the portions I did above (which even for a chocolate lover was plenty). I used a double boiler as I’ve had bad luck in the past with microwaving chocolate.  I also found it tasted better, with a consistency like fudge, after being refrigerated.

Here is the link to the recipe (with more comments)… and the recipe from vegrecipesofIndia below:

TOTAL TIME
10 mins
AUTHOR: dassana
RECIPE TYPE: desserts
INGREDIENTS (measuring cup used, 1 cup = 250 ml)
  • 1 large ripe avocado
  • ⅔ cup chopped dark semi sweet chocolate
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2-3 tbsp organic cane sugar (add less or more to suit your taste)
  • 1 tsp instant coffee
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract or ½ tsp vanilla powder
  • some chopped cashews, almonds and pistachios for garnish
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. in a microwave safe bowl add the chocolate, coconut oil, coffee, vanilla, and sugar.
  2. mix these.
  3. microwave for 45 seconds to 1 minute till the chocolate has melted.
  4. don’t overcook the chocolate as it will harden up.
  5. just melt it and remove from the microwave.
  6. you can melt the chocolate in a double boiler too.
  7. now scoop the avocado flesh in a blender.
  8. add the melted chocolate to it and blend till smooth.
  9. scoop out the mousse in bowls or glasses and serve straightaway garnished with some chopped dry fruits.
  10. you can also chill the mousse and then serve dark chocolate avocado mousse.
NOTES
add more chocolate if desired.
you can also increase the quantity of coffee and coconut oil if preferred.
sugar can be adjusted as per your taste preferences.
this recipe serves 2 people, but you can make more servings by increasing the quantity proportionately.
this mousse can also be made with milk chocolate or sweet chocolate.

Six Family History Rituals that Even Moms Like Me Can Do

One of my “bents” is finding unique ways to celebrate people that I love.  This can mean making a unique cake for friends, surprise parties, even wacky practical jokes.

This interest plays out in our family.  For numerous reasons, I have searched for effective ways to celebrate and remember who we are.  I think in my desire to make up for not being enough of  the-get-dirty-on-the-playground- kind of mom, I have looked for other ways to celebrate with our kids. Also, because we live overseas in Japan, we are mostly separated from our extended families and have a unique lifestyle with the blending of cultures. In particular, because our four children are all adopted, I especially desire to give them a strong foundation in which they  feel grounded, special, and unique. Here are some ways that we try and do that.

Birth-day books:  Each of our children’s stories of birth and adoption is precious and unique.  There was pain and trauma involved, but redemption as well. When we received each child, I bought a simple journal for  and did my best to write  in it the story of their early days. I printed out some of the email announcements and other correspondence we sent out.

Each year since we started those books, my husband and I have tried (!) around New Year’s to set aside a few hours and write in each of their books.  On Monday we finally had a chance to do this at Starbucks – we grabbed a few good pens and the four journals and wrote away!

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We write about memorable events or funny things that child has said;  character traits that we have seen; blessings for their future as we watch them growing up.  I recently pulled out the books because my daughter kept asking me what her first words were (funny how I can forget so easily!);  we laughed and laughed over some of her early antics as I read them aloud!  Tonight she asked me, “Mommy, would you still have remembered that every night I needed you to close the curtains, turn on the bathroom light and turn off the hall light if it hadn’t been written in that book?”  No need to think.  No.  Absolutely not!  Two kids and a lot of life later and I just don’t remember these details.  Thankfully some of them at least are in these books…

We’ve also had a “guest” writer or two.  When my sister Beth visited us once I asked her to write her impressions in the book of each of the children at that stage in their lives.  I know some day they will treasure that letter, and hopefully each of the letters in their book that have been lovingly handwritten over the years by the people who love them most in the world.

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(It’s not too late to start!  As my chemistry professor used to say — better late than never!)

Newsletter/Christmas Card Books –  Part of our role as protestant missionaries includes writing frequent newsletters to those back at home.  We write five or six a year, as well as sending out some sort of creative Christmas cards that we mail out to everyone. In addition to one master clear-file book that I use to keep one copy of all of our newsletters, I started a number of years ago making clear-file notebooks for each of our children.  They will later be able to go back through their own newsletter notebook and read a unique perspective–their parents’– of our family history.

Digital Photo Books –  I don’t have time for scrapbooking, but I do try most years to create a simple $30 digital photo book.  I also do smaller ones after major trips to the U.S. or big experiences, like a move.  Our kids love to look through these! It’s also a great way to help them remember our loved ones who live far away.

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Birthday Story:  This is a tradition that started with  my own mom when I was little.  It is special whether or not you are adopted because all children want to know the story of their entrance into the world.  On the night of each child’s birthday, they have special mom time when I tuck them in.  And I tell them their birth and adoption stories.  As they have gotten older, I have included more information that they may be ready for.  They always look forward to this sweet time, as do I.  It is often a chance, too, as we lay there in the dark and snuggle, for them to ask questions that may be are harder to ask at other times.

Letters to Jesus:  Two years ago we began a new tradition that became more defined last year through this blog article.  On New Year’s Eve (which is a day or two before taking down the Christmas decorations) we gather and each of us writes a short note to Jesus.  The letter serves as a prayer, asking him for help in an area of our lives where we need help this next year.  This past year one child asked for more self-control;  another for patience.  Our youngest asked for help in not being so afraid.  Eric and I wrote our own as well.  Then we shared our notes as we sat in a circle, and the person on the left prayed for the person who just shared.  It was so sweet to see even our five year old praying for his big sister!

When we put away the Christmas decorations, we each put our notes in our own Christmas stocking, and packed them away till next year.  It is fun as we decorate for Christmas to read our notes from the past year and realize how God has been at work in our hearts. I’m looking forward to us growing up with this ritual, and reading over our letters over the year as a testimony to the hand of God in our lives.  (It’s not too late – you don’t need to put yours in the stocking but it’s a great time as the first month finishes to sit down with your family and do this for the coming year!).

Ten-Year Journal:  This last one is for me!  In addition to using one myself (thank you, Claire, for the original gift!), this journal has been one of my favorite gifts for girlfriends over the year.  I cannot believe I am already in my ninth year.

There is space for ten entries on each of the journal’s 365 daily pages where I write down about four line’s worth that somehow summarize my day, or I share one significant memory, challenge, triumph, special event.

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I did not think I could start a new habit and do this every single night – but it’s been nine years!  I’ve missed a few here and there but I really hate missing even a day, and try and go back and write if I miss.  Because reading over what has happened on this day for the last nine years is so amazing!

And there are so many things that I would never have remembered.  It has become a place where:

  • I check now for annual or past occurrences, such as when we usually pull out the winter clothes and heaters, when we had our first snow storm; or when we actually bought our mini-van;
  • in the front, I write down my one-word and/or bible verse for that upcoming year (sometimes, quite honestly, it will take two or three months to decide these.  But it usually happens.)   IMG_0109
  • remember important, non-family member birthdays, holidays, remembrances;
  • keep track of gifts — how many bags of pecans we bought, and how many  tins of candied pecans we gave out for Christmas each year;
  • keeping general track of my weight over the years (for better or worse!).
  • Cakes and bedtimes – On every birthday I love to stay up very late the night before the celebration and make a theme cake  that is unique and will speak to each of them on that particular birthday (see some of them here), I love writing the theme in my book, as well as the time I went to bed for that cake.  (Most recent “Diary of a Winsome Kid” cake:  3:30 am!).
  • In the back, I keep track of all of our family illnesses, shots, etc.  Just recently I recognized an important pattern — that our oldest son gets strept throat every. single. year.  I never realized it before in the midst of six of us getting sick at different times.

IMG_0111  To buy your own ten year journal– you can get them at stationery stores or online in Japan;  I found several different versions on Amazon as well.  For as little time as it takes to write a few sentences, this ritual and journal can become a gift to yourself  – and to your family — as you use it over the years.

What are rituals that you do to celebrate family? I’d love to learn and add to our own family traditions.  It’s really worth it.

The question

“But why didn’t my first mommy want me?”

The other three children were already in bed.  Olivia (four and a half) had fallen asleep on the couch for several hours after her first-ever youchien playdate.  Thus getting to stay up late.  She and I were taking a shower together, Japanese style.  I had just read them a sweet children’s book about a little fox who got adopted (God Found Us You).

In the shower, she pointed to my tummy and said, “But Mommy, I still came out of your tummy, didn’t I?”  I could tell how much she wanted me to say yes.  Of course, I said no – that like we’ve talked about before, she had been born from Miss Yukie, her birth mother’s tummy, but that I became her forever mommy.  I told her again more of her birth story.  And then the killer question.

I hugged her tighter, and tried not to let her hear the catch in my throat.  It was one of those moments of motherhood that may remain frozen in my mind and heart forever.  Her eyes were so wide, looking for answers, as the shower water spilled over her beautiful long hair.

Miss Yukie didn’t have a husband, and knew that baby Olivia needed a daddy and a mommy.  And baby Olivia needed a FOREVER Mommy and Daddy.  So Miss Yukie prayed for a mommy and daddy who could love Olivia forever and ever.  And we had been praying for children who we could love forever and forever since Mommy couldn’t grow babies in her tummy.  So God gave us special Olivia.

She asked if her first mommy’s daddy (husband) had died.  I said I don’t think so.  So what happened to him?  I don’t know, I said (we really don’t).  But Miss Yukie wanted to make sure that baby Olivia would have a Mommy and Daddy who could love her forever.  And that’s us!

Did she meet you at the airplane and hand me to you?  (I think this was adapted from part of Ian’s adoption story, the one she is most familiar with).  I shared with her again how her older brother and sister and Daddy and I took the fastest train in Japan up to Shizuoka where she was at Aunt Sarah’s house.  And how Mommy cried when Aunt Sarah placed her in my arms because I was so happy.

After we got on our pjs, we sat on the couch and looked at baby pictures.  We laughed at this cutest little chubby baby who won our hearts from day one.  She loved the pictures of Owen sitting with her in our genkan;

she wanted to show Daddy the picture of her with spaghetti all over her face and high chair.

She went up the stairs to bed with a big smile on her face;  I melted in the kitchen in tears.

I don’t think any mom is ever ready for this question.

Annie first asked the question on one of the hardest days I’ve had in years, perhaps – August 25th, the day we were flying from New Jersey back to Japan.  It had been a hellacious day on my levels.  Annie and Olivia were in the back seat;  my sister Beth and I up front as we drove towards the airport hotel where we were staying.   Out of the blue, Annie wanted to know why her birth mother didn’t want her;  why she couldn’t meet her birth mom;  why she lived far away and never tried to call Annie; why we couldn’t shout real loud when we got back to Japan so Miss Yukie would know that Annie wanted to meet her and she would come.

Olivia, at that time, was in her own world, singing songs in the back seat.  But tonight she was very much in the present.  I know our children’s losses as babies will surface again and again, ready or not.  We are committed to being open and truthful parents;  praying that God gives us great wisdom each time to say as much as each child needs but not too much.  And being real too… telling Olivia tonight how sad I am that she wasn’t born in my tummy like I had wished.

As I went up a few minutes ago to check on our children, I found the girls sound asleep, huddled together in Olivia’s bed.

Little Fox was glad that he had a cozy home and good food and a mama who loved him very, very much.  And he went to sleep dreaming about the day he came to the big woods…and first smelled his mama… and kenw he was loved… and finally was home.  “When God found us you,” Mama Fox whispered in his dreams, “you made me the happiest mama in the world.”