October 2013Back Home Again: October 2013

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tuttorosso Wooden Spoon Giveaway

I received free product in exchange for this post. However, all opinions are my own.

https://www.facebook.com/tuttorossotomato

I'll be honest, while I love to cook, I never liked cooking with wooden spoons until we got our nice non-stick pans when we got married. I didn't want to scratch them so I started using wooden spoons. I'm so glad I did! I love that they don't scratch my pans and they don't get hot when left in the pan. Plus, my spoon obsessed son absolutely loves to play with them. So, when I heard Tuttorosso was giving away 3000 spoons over three weeks beginning on October 22 to celebrate the nostalgia and heritage of the wooden spoon, I was super excited and definitely wanted to share it with you all.

Here's the deal:
  • One thousand (1000) winners will be randomly selected each week (for 3 “Weeks”) of all eligible entries (1 per household, while supplies last).
  • One (1) Prize One Grand Prize Winner will receive a Signature Cookware set, including one (1) one personalized Tuttorosso heirloom wooden spoon and one (1) 6 piece Signature Cookware set by Le Creuset®, having an MSRP of approximately US$ 700.
All you have to do to enter is like Tuttorosso's Facebook page and provide your contact info. Way too easy! 

Tuttorosso is owned by Red Gold, a family-owned company that has been around since the 1940s focused on growing local in the Midwest where true seasons impact the flavor of tomatoes. The company is headquartered in Indiana, about an hour away from my hometown, which makes them all the more appealing to me since I love supporting businesses from my state. The Midwest, while it's cold in the winter, has the perfect growing season for tomatoes, perfect angle of the sun, perfect temps -- and even the winter is perfect for tomatoes, as it breaks up the soil for tiny root systems. Few places in the world can you grow such tomatoes.

Travel Thursday: Bonfire Night

Yes, I know that today is Halloween and that Guy Fawkes Day is November 5th. But, today is also Travel Thursday so I wanted to share with you what is more popular this time of year in England. Also, since we were a bunch of Americans, we celebrated Bonfire Night on Halloween :-)


You may have heard of Guy Fawkes if you've seen V for Vendetta. Just in case you haven't, he's the guy that tried to blow up Parliament in 1605 in the Gunpowder Plot. Nowadays, Guy Fawkes Day is celebrated by burning a scarecrow (Fawkes) on a giant bonfire that is usually accompanied by fireworks, hence the name Bonfire Night.  

I thought I was so cool with my
French Connection shirt...






During Bonfire Night at Harlaxton, we bobbed for apples, roasted marshmallows and just generally enjoyed each others' company around the fire. It was a great time, even if I ran away when my name was called to bob for apples - it was cold and there was no way I was sticking my head in a barrel of water! 














One thing I love to do in the fall and never get to is hang out around a bonfire. There's just something about the smell of fire in the fall that gets me. I just love it!

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Slow Cooker Potato Soup

A few weeks ago I bought 5 pounds of potatoes from an Amish farmer, which I have slowly been using. Then, we got a bunch more potatoes from our CSA this past weekend. We're swimming in potatoes at my house. What else could I do, but make potato soup!

Now, white potatoes aren't exactly paleo, but I wanted to make my soup as paleo-esque as I could. So, I used unsweetened almond milk instead of milk. I also had a bunch of kale from the previous week and added that as well as some cooked bacon. The end result was some super yummy soup that I can't wait to enjoy on a chilly fall or winter day.



4 large potatoes
es, roughly chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
4 oz cream cheese
1 1/2 c unsweetened almond milk
32 oz chicken/vegetable broth
salt, pepper, rosemary, parsley etc. to taste

Combine ingredients in slow cooker and heat on low for 5-6 hours. Then puree with an immersion blender or food processor to desired thickness. I like a little chunkiness to my soup so I only pureed about 3/4 of it.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Survival Tips for When Your Husband is Out of Town

November is going to be a crazy month at my house. Because of the government shut down, a bunch of our projects got put on hold. Since the Federal government is again up and running, all of those projects are now getting squished together, which means that Alan or I will be going out of town a lot in the coming weeks. 

I remember how crazy things were as a single parent when we just had one kid. Now that there are two of them, it's so easy to go crazy when you're by yourself. So, with that in mind, I thought I would share my favorite ways to make my time as a single parent a little easier. 

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1. Plan ahead: This may seem like a no-brainer, but if I lapse on anything the night before, then it's all over. I make sure that my lunch is packed, the breastmilk bottles are made, the daycare bag is packed and their clothes are laid out. Our mornings are crazy enough as it is with two parents and I know there's no way I can get everything together and out the door and still be on time to work if I didn't have everything ready the night before. 

2. Shower at night: Again, another no-brainer. I prefer to take my showers in the morning because my hair looks much better and I just feel cleaner in general. However, there is no way in the world I am able to shower in the morning with two kids that wake up between 5-6 every morning and who sleep with me. Even if I'm able to get one of them to sleep in their room while I'm in the shower, the other will scream and wake the other up. 

3. Eat simply: With two kids two and under, there is no way I am able to whip up a gourmet meal by myself. I love to cook from scratch and make family dinners almost every night but when I'm alone with the kids, I break out what I have in the freezer. I saved it for a reason right? 

4. It's never too late to call Daddy: With Ewan, this is a must. The kid is such a Daddy's boy that if he doesn't get to talk to him before he goes to bed, he flips out. I have actually called Alan in the middle of the night when he's been on a work trip because Ewan was hysterical and wanted his Daddy. I may wake him up, but it's necessary for our sanity!

5. It's ok if nothing goes to plan and chaos ensues: This took a long time for me to realize, but it really is, I promise. There have been times when I've been home alone with the kids that nothing has gone the way I wanted it to or I didn't get any sleep. For a planner like myself, this is really hard to deal with. However, I just say "That's it. Time for Starbucks!"

What are some things you do to cope by yourself with the kids?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Cecily's Birthday Party

Saturday afternoon was Cecily's birthday party. It was a success! I had posted way back in July about possible ideas for her party and let's just say that everything I did do turned out really well!



We had a pumpkin party since I love fall. I didn't completely go all out because her party wasn't huge, but I loved what I did do. Probably my favorite things are the favors and the acorns. All of the food was related to fall. Nutter butter acorns, apple stuffed crescent rolls, a cheese ball in the shape of a pumpkin and pumpkin spice cupcakes, plus a few other things. 












I was incredibly proud of my pumpkin cheese ball.
Cecily received lots of presents, and Ewan did really well with her too. He doesn't really understand that the presents are for her and not him, but he did a really good job just handing me the presents. Almost too good because we were swimming in toys and wrapping paper!
I also finished her baby book in time for the party, something I still haven't completed for Ewan. 
Cecily did not like the tutu, but she loved her cupcake. Oh well, we have a couple weeks till her one year photos...maybe she'll get used to it!

I can now get to work planning Ewan's party in January...right? 



Friday, October 25, 2013

$200 Target Giveway!

This is such a great way to get a little extra cash just in time for holiday shopping. Good luck!
Hosted by:

Co-Hosted by:

One lucky winner will win


$200 Target Gift Card

Dates:
October 25  12:01am to November 14  11:59pm

US resident only

All entries are optional

We appreciate the support of our co-hosts, please show your support by following them on their social medias pages.


Disclaimer: NYSavingSpecials is responsible for the awarding of the prize, not Back Home Again.  If you have any questions about this giveaway, please email the host at nysavingspecials@gmail.com

Happy Birthday Cecily!

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My beautiful baby girl, today you are ONE! Where has this past year gone? A year ago today, at 5:34 PM, you helped me prove to everyone (and myself) who doubted us that my body was in fact not broken. For that, I will forever be in your debt. My life changed forever that day and it's because of you. You have helped to heal me somewhat from the traumatic birth of your brother. It's because of you that I realized it doesn't have to be that way. 

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Little girl, you have brought me so much joy and shown me that there is room in my heart to love two babies. I have enjoyed so much watching you grow and getting to know your little personality over this past year. I love your smile, the way you light up when you see me at daycare, how your eyes always seem to find mine when we're nursing, and your snuggles. I love how you crawl over to the corner of the couch after nursing to sit and smirk like you're the Queen, how you look up to your big brother and how you hold hands with him in the car. I love everything about you.

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While I am sad that you're quickly moving into toddlerhood, I am also so excited to see what the future brings to you. I am so excited for you to experience life and find your passions and to support you with whatever you do.

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I love you my princess!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Four Years Ago Today...

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...it was a cold and blustery day, much like today. In fact, it was actually sleeting. 

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But, I didn't care. It was my wedding day. 

While everything didn't go exactly how we planned, it was perfect. I absolutely love looking back at the photos from that day.

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I absolutely cannot believe how fast four years since that day have flown by and how many things have changed. But, I wouldn't change any of it.


Check out a great giveaway from my friend Dara

Travel Thursday: Anniversary Edition

Since today is our fourth wedding anniversary, I thought I would post a few photos of some of our travels together. 

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Chimney Rock, NC
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River cruise on the Genessee River, Rochester, NY
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Cape Canaveral
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Xunantunich, Belize
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Baltimore
Horseshoe Falls, Ontario
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Columbus, Indiana
Happy Anniversary Love!





Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Dreamsicle Birthday Cake

Here it is. Our annual birthday tradition. Alan's Dreamsicle Cake. It's just too yummy not to share!




Cake:

1 box Orange Supreme cake mix
10 oz Diet Sprite/Sierra Mist/7Up etc.
1 box sugar free orange gelatin

Mix cake mix with diet soda and bake according to directions. Once the cake is out of the oven, poke holes all over it. Mix the box of orange gelatin with 1 cup of hot water, then mix in 1 cup of cold water. Pour over cake. Set in the fridge and chill for 3-4 hours or overnight.

Frosting:

1 tub of Cool Whip
1 c milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 box sugar free instant vanilla pudding
1 box sugar free orange gelatin
Decorations of choice

Combine gelatin and pudding mixes, then wisk in milk and vanilla. Fold in Cool Whip and frost cake. Decorate with sprinkles of your choice.

I have made several variations of this cake, including lemon cake with lime jello and banana cake with strawberry jello, and my favorite is the orange version. So yummy!

Please check out my friend Dara's giveaway here!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Lots of Fall Fun!

One of my favorite things about fall is that there is so much to do outside and it's not too hot nor is it too cold. This past weekend didn't disappoint. We spent Saturday afternoon at our CSA's shareholder picnic, where we had lunch, hung out with our friends and met some new ones. We also went on a hayride through the property and Ewan got to play some games. 

Of course the kids aren't looking. At least it's a good photo of Alan and I! :-)

Sunday afternoon Ewan and I made Alan's birthday cake (recipe coming tomorrow!) and made a haunted house...yes it's a foam kit, but if you know me at all, then you know crafty is something I'm not... :-)

Sunday evening we went to Boo at the Zoo with my brother and sister-in-law and their kids. Maybe I'm biased, but I really do think my kids had the cutest costumes there. I mean, just look at how cute Ewan is in his Super Why costume! He is so wearing that for his birthday...And Cecily makes the cutest cat ever, I think.


Here she is again with her cousin, Cael.


At the end, we ran into our friends and Ewan got to play in the moonwalks with his buddy Stuart.

I cannot wait for Halloween!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Happy 30th Birthday!

Today is Alan's 30th birthday. So, in honor of his birthday, I thought it would be fun to tell you 30 random facts about him that you may or may not know. Enjoy!


1. He goes by his middle name. His first name is also his dad's name.
2. He is almost two years younger than me.
3. He graduated high school at 17.
4. He did car shows in high school and college (as in Fast and the Furious - which cracks me up!)
5. He doesn't like pumpkin.
6. Or anything coffee cake-like.
7. He once petitioned his school principal so he didn't have to take choir.
8. He's very silly, even though people that don't know him well think he's quiet and serious.
9. He also loves to play practical jokes. Just ask him about the time he trashed his friends room for his birthday. 
10. He can't drive a manual transmission (which drives me crazy because I miss my old car that was a stick so much!)
11. He's allergic to dogs.
12. He won't finish the last bite of anything and has to leave a tiny corner of something on his plate.
13. He also can't order anything that someone else at the table has ordered, which is why he always orders last in case he has to use a back up.
14. He doesn't like grape flavored anything.
15. He loves mid-century modern architecture and often says he was born in the wrong decade.
16. His favorite architect is Michael Graves.
17. The only times he has traveled out of the country is when he's been with me.
18. He loves to go to auctions.
19. He's allergic to nature, yet faithfully mows the lawn for me.
20. His first car was a Taurus.
21. He's incredibly artistic.
22. And an excellent cook, even if he doesn't do it that often.
23. He loves Tim Burton.
24. Some of his favorite movies are The Nighmare Before Christmas and Edward Scissorhands.
25. One of his favorite bands is Everclear.
26. He also loves the Discworld series and Terry Pratchett novels in general.
27. His favorite restaurant is Red Robin.
28. He likes all the veggies I don't and vice versa.
29.He used to dress as a monk at his job as a tour guide.
30. He's going to get me back for telling all of his "secrets." :-)

Happy Birthday Love!

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Boy Behind the Blog: Halloween Edition


 Time for my favorite link up again!
The closest thing I have to a Halloween picture...a HP book release :-)

1. Describe yourself in 5 words.
(1)The (2)best (3)husband (4)in (5)the ... My husband, the smartass :-) Seriously though, he really is a wonderful husband and father. He may aggravate me to no end at times, but he is so good and loving to me and our children. I am not ok without him. 

2. What is your biggest fear?
Needles, hospitals, dentists, doctors, and generally anything related to the medical field... He gets nervous taking the cats to the vet. I really don't know how he handled me being hospitalized twice while pregnant and two labors and births.

3. What is your favorite candy?
Reese's and assorted variations

4. What was the best Halloween costume you've ever worn? (include pictures if you have them)
I think you're asking the wrong family member about photos... I don't remember any costumes except being a ghost one year and going to the zoo for trick or treating. He does NOT like his photo taken. At all. in fact, he told me that he was at his lifetime quota at our wedding. 

5. Who is your favorite football team?
Didn't we already do this one? I think so. But just in case you forgot, it's the Carolina Panthers. 



Boys Behind The Blog

 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sausage and Eggplant Tomato Sauce

I know that I posted an eggplant recipe last week. But, we have been getting lots of it at our CSA lately :-) I made this for the first time a few weeks ago and it was so good that I have made it every week we've gotten an eggplant since. I like Eggplant Parmesan, but I don't like it as leftovers because the eggplant gets mushy and then I won't eat it. But, with this tomato sauce, you can't even tell there's eggplant in there and it is absolutely fantastic. Not to mention super easy to make!


1 eggplant, peeled and diced
1 lb sausage
1-2 cups tomato sauce, depending on how thick you want your sauce (here's a quick homemade sauce that I use)
1/2 cup any other diced veggie you want to add (I usually throw in some green pepper, onion and spinach or kale)

Cook eggplant, sausage and any other veggies, then mix in tomato sauce until heated through.

I served it with some whole wheat linguine and it was a success!








Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Utilizing Pinterest to Grow Your Blog

I know similar posts have been posted on bigger and better blogs than mine, but I wanted to personally show you how using Pinterest can work to grow your blog. 

Do you remember this post from two weeks ago? Since my recipes are some of my more popular posts, I decided to start putting them on my Pinterest boards in an attempt to get more traffic to my blog. 


Well, it went viral and got tons and tons of pins. It is now my most popular post and is the number four recipe listed when you search for butternut squash soup on Google. An added bonus is that my blog is being exposed to new readers who otherwise may never have visited. Who knew butternut squash soup was so popular? 

If you aren't already pinning images from your posts to Pinterest, I highly recommend to start doing so. A few other things I would suggest are to periodically change the order of your boards on your profile to make sure that the top two rows are relevant to those who may be looking at them. For example, since it's currently fall, I have my fall board up there and will switch it to Christmas after Thanksgiving. I also make sure that my boards pertaining to things I blog about regularly are up there as well. Pinterest is truly an underused resource. You never know how far it can take you!

Monday, October 14, 2013

More Pumpkin Patch!

I couldn't resist another comparison from the pumpkin patch!




Pumpkin Patch!

Saturday we went to the pumpkin patch, which is probably the thing I look forward to most about fall. The kids had so much fun too. We've always gone to the same pumpkin patch since we've been in Evansville but I decided to mix it up this year. Except, when we pulled up to the new pumpkin patch, we ultimately left because it didn't look like there was a whole lot for little kids. Unfortunately we broke Ewan's heart and he cried the whole way to the place we normally go to. He has been looking forward to this as much as I have and he thought we weren't going. Poor kid!

We ate lunch there and then Ewan ran around and did all the kids activities. He ran around in the hay castle, found diamonds in the corn, went through the tunnel and went down the slide in the middle of the corn maze with his buddy Jack who goes to his daycare and just happened to be there at the same time. He also used a slingshot to throw pumpkins at Captain Hook and Peter Pan, which he talked about the rest of the day. That kids loves anything to do with Jake and the Neverland Pirates!

Quite a difference compared to last year!
The last thing we did was take a hayride out to the pumpkin patch to get our pumpkins. We did a photo shoot with Ewan the first time he was there, so Alan did the same with Cecily while Ewan and I picked our pumpkins. When we came last year, I was 37 weeks pregnant so Cecily wasn't quite around yet.

I'm totally stealing my friend Dara's idea and doing an age progression at the pumpkin patch. Don't worry, she said I could :-)

Cecily at 11.5 months
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Ewan at 9 months
Ewan at 21 months
Ewan at 2.5
The day was made even better by the fact that Ewan stayed dry the whole time and told us when he had to go potty the entire day. I haven't talked about it on here, but we're in the process of potty training him and this was the first time he has done that. So exciting! It was a really great day and I'm so glad both kids were able to have fun. It'll definitely be interesting next year when Cecily is able to run around with her brother!
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