July 2013Back Home Again: July 2013

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Birthday Plans - Can't forget Ewan!

I told you about some ideas I have for Cecily's birthday in October last week. But, I can't forget about Ewan! His birthday is in January so it's even further away and since he's turning three, he wants everything he sees for his birthday party.

Here are a few ideas I have come across.

Super Why birthday party 
Spiderman Birthday Party Invitation
Cake Pops-Spiderman Birthday Party
jake and the neverland pirates Birthday partyJake and the Neverland Pirates Birthday Cake

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Adventures in Canning: Part 1

My aunt canned all the time growing up, in fact she has a room in her basement devoted to her canned goods! She would can all sorts of stuff, from jams and preserves to salsa to pickles and green beans. I remember thinking how cool that was and as I got older and more into making everything from scratch (i.e. no processed junk), I told myself that I would learn how to can one day. 

Well, that day has finally come! We got a TON of cucumbers from our CSA so I decided to make and can pickles with them. A friend of mine told me about a microwave bread and butter pickle recipe so I thought I would try it. 

Well, microwaving the pickles to make them worked really well. Canning them in the microwave however? Not so much! I know, I know, you're not supposed to put metal in the microwave. However, you can put it in there as long as it doesn't touch the sides. After doing some Googling on microwave canning, I decided it was worth a try. The jar on the left is the one that was microwaved. It didn't work so well. The lid dented and definitely didn't create a seal. After that fiasco, I decided to can them the old fashioned way. I don't have canning equipment, so I used my large stock pot. Worked like a charm. I can't wait to start canning other stuff the rest of the summer!

Monday, July 29, 2013

July Cara Box

I have taken a break from the Cara Box exchange for several months now, mostly because my husband told me I had to if I wanted to join our local CSA. But, when I saw this month's theme "Sail Away," I knew I had to join. I love anything nautical! Shh! Don't tell Alan :-)

This month I was paired with Jill, who sent me a box and Christianna, to whom I sent a box.

Jill sent me ocean scented candles (thanks for feeding my candle obsession!), a ocean scented satchel, esssie nail polish (I love the color so much that I put it on as soon as I was done take photos!), and nautical striped cloth napkins.

Thanks again Jill!

Caribbean Burgers and a Giveaway!

I received this product for free to review. However all opinions are my own. 

I love to grill out in the summer. Burgers, brats, chicken, corn on the cob, fruit, you name it. So when I was contacted by Red Gold Tomatoes to review their tomatoes, I was super excited. We've been experimenting with adding various veggies and spices to our burgers so when I received my Red Gold sample pack and recipes I couldn't wait to try some of them out. 

We made Caribbean Burgers using the can of Red Gold petite diced tomatoes with lime juice and cilantro. Just mix it into a pound of ground beef, chicken or turkey with salt and pepper to taste, grill and serve with a bun and toppings of your choice. I topped mine with cheese, lettuce, onion and mango slices and served it with CSA green beans and farmers' market corn on the cob. Delish!

Enter the rafflecopter below for a chance to win your own Red Gold sample pack containing five types of Red Gold tomatoes and Mama Selita's jalapeno ketchup. Don't forget to like their Facebook page below to join the Summer Grillin' Party for a chance to win a big green egg grill and one of 5,000 Red Gold aprons. Open to US residents only.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Travel Thursday: Las Vegas

I've been telling you all about my European adventures, but I thought I would mix it up this week and tell you about one my trips with the girls to Las Vegas when I was in grad school. 

Vegas 008

I went with two of my roommates and one of my good friends from Harlaxton flew in to meet us. I had been to Vegas before, but it was a spur of the moment thing and was only there for 24 hours so I remember being super excited that I was going to spend almost a week there this time.

Here are several things we did in Vegas:

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Ride rides at the top of the Stratosphere...I was the weenie in the group!
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Get our drink on
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And do a little gambling. 
Three of us also took a trip to Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon. This was before the bypass was built and the only way to Arizona from Vegas was to drive over the Hoover Dam. I had driven over it at night before but we didn't stop. While we didn't take a tour this time, it was really cool to explore, especially because it's designed in the Art Deco architectural style, one of m y favorites :-) 

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I love this photo because I look so skinny in it!
After stopping at Hoover Dam, we were then on our way to the Grand Canyon. Funny story, I was actually pulled over for speeding on the highway leading to the Grand Canyon, but I got away with a warning. My friend, Mary, took a photo of the moment by getting the police car in the mirror. Fortunately Unfortunately, that image was deleted!  

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We did something you shouldn't do and climbed out to the edge of the canyon!
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Another one of my favorite pictures.
While I wouldn't necessarily recommend Las Vegas for a week, it's a great long weekend. It's yet another place on the list for Alan and I to travel to together.

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Have you been to Las Vegas? If so what's your favorite thing to do there?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Birthday Plans

I know it's only July...but...I have Cecily's first birthday theme figured out!

Here are a few ideas from Pinterest.

Ewan's first birthday had a Curious George theme and we wound up having THREE parties. One here and one for each side of the family. That was way too much. This time around, I want to go all out and have one big party for her here. Not that I want her last few months of babyhood to fly by or anything, but I love fall and cannot wait!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Single Parents

I'm not a single parent, however, my husband and I go out of town on occasion for work so there are times where I am the only parent for a few days. The longest I have been the one and only parent was for two weeks when Ewan was about 8 months old. That was really hard. He was cutting FOUR teeth at once and didn't sleep well at all. I honestly don't remember much about those two weeks, they are a sleep deprived blur.

How cute is baby Ewan :-)
Alan was out of town for a few days while I was on maternity leave with Cecily but this week is the first week that I have been alone with Ewan and Cecily while working. I'm exhausted! I swear, it's like Cecily knows that I'm the only one there because she woke up FOUR times Sunday night. Normally, it's two. She also woke Ewan up last night and proceeded to stay awake for almost two hours! Ewan definitely knows Daddy isn't here and he keeps telling me that daddy is on a rocket ship flying through the sky like Einsteins (which, for those of you in the know, is part of the theme to Little Einsteins, silly kid!). But, Ewan is also being a little terror, mainly because he knows Daddy isn't here. It's a lot of fun, ha!

Single parents, I give you props. Doing this by yourself definitely isn't easy!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Lifeway Kefir: A Review

Thanks to Influenster, I was given the opportunity to try this product for free. However, the opinions in this review are my own.

Kefir is like yogurt, but packed with probiotics - about 3 times the amount in traditional yogurt. Lifeway Kefir can be found in the dairy section of the grocery store as a slightly effervescent smoothie or in the freezer section. I am not really a fan of yogurt so I chose frozen kefir. Both are naturally gluten free and 99% lactose free. I chose pomegranate and while not as creamy as frozen yogurt, it was delicious!

I topped mine with strawberries and blackberries. Yum! It was a very refreshing treat and one that I can't wait to give to my kids.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Friday's Letters

Dear Friday: I haven't written a Friday's Letters post in what seems like ages. Truth be told, I just haven't had time lately. 

Dear Husband: I am going to miss you terribly while you in California. You haven't even left yet and I already can't wait for your return. 

Dear Ewan and Cecily: Please, please be good for me while Daddy is away. I honestly don't think I can handle it if you both don't sleep!

Dear Next Week: Please go by quickly so my husband will be back home again. We are not complete without him!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Boy Behind the Blog...Part 2

Boys Behind The Blog

Being the procrastinator that he is, Alan took his sweet time getting back to me...but...here are his answers.

1. What celebrity would play you in a movie about your life? I don't like this question. 

2. What is your dream car? Ford Fusion. I'm a simple person. 

3. Do you have any tattoos? What, where, why? If you don't know this, something is wrong... (He doesn't like tattoos or piercings. At all)

4. Boxers or briefs? If you don't know this, something is wrong...

5. List 3 random facts about yourself...I'm left-handed; I like grapes but hate things made from grapes or grape-flavored things; as Holly says, I'm "silly" and only pretend to be "quiet." (This last one is SO true!)

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Proof of his silliness from our grad school days :-)

Travel Thursday: My Royal Connection

In light of Royal Baby Fever, I thought I would dedicate this Travel Thursday to my visit to Althorp. Althorp is the ancestral home of the Spencer family, and where Diana, Princess of Wales grew up and where she is buried.

I was a sophomore in high school when she passed away and I remember it was really upsetting. I have always thought she was beautiful, and whatever you may think of her, she did so much for so many people through the various charities she supported. I remember waking up in the middle of the night to watch her funeral and I swore to myself then that if I ever made it to England, I would go to Althorp, even though I thought that that would never happen.

Fast forward five years and there I was, studying abroad in England! I was determined to make good on my promise to myself. The estate is only open to visitors for a few months in the summer and early fall and I happened to be able to go the last weekend it was open. No photos are allowed in the house or at "Diana: A Celebration" so I do not have any to share with you unfortunately. (I also just discovered that this summer is the last year the exhibit will be on display at Althorp and it will close worldwide in August 2014!) I have had the privilege to see the exhibition twice, at Althorp and at the Dayton Art Institute in 2006 with my mom, and both times left me in tears.

Here are some snippets of what I wrote in my travel journal about the experience (pardon the writing of my 20 year old self!):

On Friday, I went to Althorp. Although it was really sad, at the same time it was really cool. How many people get to see where Princess Diana is buried? Not a lot. I remember when I read that the house was going to be opened to the public, I really wanted to go but I never thought I would. Well, now I've been...It was really interesting to see some of her personal effects...My favorite of course is the blue cocktail dress..Then came the flowers that still have a scent FIVE years later, the condolence books and the funeral. It was so incredibly sad...The monument on the island doesn't mark her grave, it just marks the island...It was actually pretty peaceful there.

It was an incredible experience that I am still so thankful to have had. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Holiday World

This past weekend we went to Holiday World, about an hour away from where we live. Unfortunately, I forgot the camera and the only photo I got was this incredibly blurry one of Ewan taken on my phone. 

Holiday World and Splashin' Safari, located in Santa Claus, Indiana, is the place to go around here. It's an amusement park based on, you guessed it, Holidays! The various sections include Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Fourth of July. There's also a small little kids section, Holidogs Funtown. It's a smaller park than say, King's Island or Cedar Point, yet offers something for the entire family (and free soda and sunscreen). While it's not my favorite amusement park (sorry Holiday World, but nothing tops Cedar Point in my book!), I do like the fact that it's so close and not too terribly expensive. We spent the morning in Splashin' Safari, the water park before spending the afternoon and early evening in Holiday World. 

There are many water coasters, but obviously my kids are way to little to ride them. However, there are several pools and activities that they were able to do. Both loved swimming in the Wave, the giant wave pool and Ewan especially loved Safari Sam's Splashland, which contains a splash park and kiddie pool with numerous water slides. Cecily was cracking me up too. She loves the water and was kicking, splashing and trying to crawl around in it!

Surprisingly, Ewan was able to ride six rides outside of Splashin' Safari. The height limit for the majority of the rides is 36" and over so I was pleasantly surprised he was able to ride so much. The rides he rode are the Holidog Express, Doggone Trails, Indian River Canoes, the Star Spangled Carousel, the Lewis and Clark Trail and Salmon Run. 

One thing I don't like is that outside food and drink are prohibited inside the park. I'm not a big fan of paying $2 for an apple or banana and those being the only healthy options. So, I figured out a way to sneak something in :-) 

All in all, it was a great day and definitely doable for those with small children.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Back to School Blast: A $1000 Giveaway

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Welcome to the Back to School Blast!

Getting your family prepared to head back to school, can be difficult especially after a long, fun-filled summer. Here are a few of our favorite Back to School Tips to help you along the way.

1. Back-to-School Supplies Checklist - Backpack? Check. Pencils? Check. Safety scissors? Not Yet. Use the same checklist each time you head out to grab supplies, to keep track of what you have already purchased and the things you still need to. These are also handy if you have more than one child. Simply print 2, 3, 4 list and add their name to the top.
2. If this is the first time your child is going to school, play school to help them know what to expect. 
3. Write your child an encouraging note and put it in their lunch box/backpack on the first day (or any day!).
4. Pack lunches, backpacks and lay out clothes the night before to make mornings less chaotic.
5. Need ideas for lunch? Here are five ideas kids love.
The Back to School Blast was organized by Mom Powered Media.
Please take a moment to also visit our lovely co-hosts, whom without them great things such as these would not be possible: My Vegan Gluten-Free Life, Plum Crazy About Coupons, Capri's Coupons, Downshifting - Your Family, Your Home, Your Life, Jack of all trades, Master of Mom™, Quick Tattletails, Mew Review and Iowa Mom.

One lucky winner will receive a $1,000 Visa Gift Card!

Giveaway ends August 15th at 11:59pm, open worldwide, ages 18+. If the winner resides outside of the US, they will receive Paypal cash. To enter please use the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck.
Disclosure:Back Home Again is not responsible for sponsor prize shipment. Please contact teri@mompoweredmedia.com with questions or to see your business or blog featured on the next big event!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Travel Thursday: Edinburgh, Scotland

I decided to create a new series, Travel Thursday, in lieu of Throwback Thursdays. Since most of my travels are from when I was in college or grad school, it seems fitting that I combine the two. 

This week, I'd like to tell you a bit about my trip to Edinburgh, Scotland. 

I'm sure the guy in the background just loved being in my picture ha!

I've always had an interest in Scotland since that's where my family came from before coming to America. Several family members have a huge interest in genealogy (myself included!) and have done a lot of research so it was really neat to be in the country where my ancestors are from.

Edinburgh is really old world and I loved walking the Royal Mile, the main street between Holyrood House, the Queen's official residence and Edinburgh Castle. It's also where I went on my first pub crawl and got my tattoo! 

There are lots of hills within the city and one of the places I climbed was Arthur's Seat. It is part of an old volcano in the middle of the city. I wound up climbing it alone because none of my friends wanted to but it was so worth it. The views of Edinburgh and surrounding area were awesome!

Edinburgh Castle is on the opposing hill

We stopped at Housesteads Fort along Hadrian's Wall on the way back to Harlaxton and I was so excited. I had just taken a Roman archaeology class the semester before and it was so neat to put my knowledge to use. Hadrian's Wall was a wall constructed by the Roman emperor Hadrian to keep the Picts out of the Roman Empire. It stretches for 73 miles across northern Britain. 

I highly recommend a trip to Scotland and Northern England if you ever get the chance. It's beautiful and somewhere I would love to go back to!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Bare Minerals Passionate for Pastels Giveaway

It is summertime, it is hot outside and I am passionate for pastels. Enjoy this fabulous Ulta Passionate for Pastels giveaway from LeChateauDesFleurs:

Passionate For Pastels includes bareMinerals READY Eyeshadow 4.0 in The Sweetest Thing, Flawless Definition Mascara in Black, Sorbet Blush, Marvelous Moxie Lipgloss in Go Getter and a cosmetic bag.

Kohlrabi Fries

I know, I know, another one of my crazy recipes! But. This one is really good :-) A few weeks ago we received some kohlrabi from our CSA. I've heard of it before, but didn't know what it looked like, much less what to do with it.


What, exactly, is kohlrabi? It's a relative of cabbage, kale and Brussel sprouts and is good raw or cooked. Raw, it tastes similar to a radish. It comes in a white or a purple variety.

We get a weekly newsletter and in it was recipe for kohlrabi so I thought we'd try it. It turned out so well that I thought I would share it with you!

1 kohlrabi, peeled and cut into strips
1/4 c shredded Parmesan cheese (I used mozzarella since we had it on hand)
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Place kohlrabi on baking sheet and spray with cooking spray, sprinkle with salt and pepper 
Bake for 15-20 minutes, take out of the oven, flip and then back for 10 more minutes
Take out of oven and sprinkle with cheese, bake 5 more minutes

Yummy! My very mainstream food in-laws even liked them!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

East Coast v. Midwest

Jenn over at A Traveling Wife did a post on living in the Midwest v. the West Coast a while back and it got me thinking...I should do a post on living in the Midwest v. the East Coast! I've mentioned numerous times about how I miss certain things about Pennsylvania. So, I thought it would be good to do a side-by-side comparison between Indiana and Pennsylvania.

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In Indiana, you have the lakes...in Pennsylvania, you're about 1.5 hours from the ocean.


In Pennsylvania, there's Wawa...In Indiana, there's...well, there's no comparison!

In Pennsylvania, we had Independence Hall...In Indiana, we have the Lanier Mansion.


In Pennsylvania, there was the Delaware...In Indiana, we have the Ohio.


In Pennsylvania, we were all by ourselves...now in Indiana, we have a family!
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