September 2013Back Home Again: September 2013

Monday, September 30, 2013

Fall is in the Air!

Happy Monday everyone!

It's officially been fall for over a week and I think fall weather may finally be here to stay in Southern Indiana! We went to the fall craft show on Saturday and it was in the 80s and hot. Blah! Then this morning, we woke up to rain and 65 degrees. I could do without the rain, but I will take the cooler temps!

Because it's definitely feeling like fall around here, I decided to decorate the house with all the goodies we bought at the craft show on Sunday. I don't like to decorate for Halloween until October because I feel it's overkill. But, October starts tomorrow so it's ok, right? :-)

Here's the overall effect (Pardon the slightly blurry photo, I had an eleven month old wanting to play with the camera!):

Here's the wreath:

 And my foyer table:

These are just a few of my fall decorations for my favorite time of year. I love it!

What are you favorite fall decorations?

Friday, September 27, 2013

Eleven Months!

Cecily turned eleven months old on Wednesday. In less than a month she'll be one!

She is such a big girl, I cannot believe it. She's been crawling for what seems like ages, but she's standing and cruising everywhere. I don't know if she'll be walking by her first birthday, but I won't be surprised if she is! She's also talking! She says bye bye and mama and I think she says hi, but it's not very clear yet. I attempted to take a poorly lit video of Ewan and I trying to get her to say bye bye.

She adores her big brother and I absolutely love watching them play together. I know them getting along probably won't last forever, so I am enjoying it while I can!

While I'm really really excited to finally be planning her birthday party for real, it is definitely bittersweet for me since she is likely my last baby. It's just so hard to believe that my baby girl will very soon be a toddler!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Great Blogging Opportunity!

Raising Reagan | Blogger Opportunity - Christmas Cash Giveaway Event   

It's time to start prepping for the Christmas holiday! That means thinking about all those fantastic presents that Santa is going to bestow upon our little ones. Maybe it means putting together an awesome holiday party. How would you like to make that happen a little easier for one very lucky person? 

Join Lanaya at Raising Regan with her great blogging opportunity! It's a Christmas CASH Giveaway Event and I would LOVE your help! 

The giveaway event will run from Nov 1st – Nov 22nd with the winner receiving their cash on Black Friday once entries have been verified so they can start shopping for Christmas!

She's aiming for a CASH GIVEAWAY of $500 or more {depending on the number of participants.} The giveaway will run similar to my one year blog anniversary giveaway – with co-hosts and sponsors and will be a fantastic event! As you all know my one year blogiversary was a HUGE success and it turned into a ton of new followers to the blog and social media outlets as well as a nice spike in traffic for everyone. 

Here is the link to participate: 

Sign-ups end Oct 20th.

Please tell Lanaya that Back Home Again Sent You!!

Once you sign up, please email if you would like to post the event opportunity on your blog. {Think REFERRALS!!}

Travel Thursday: Serpent Mound and Fort Ancient

I've always had an interest in Native American earthworks. I think they're fascinating. Why were they built and for who?  I am lucky to have Angel Mounds almost in my backyard, literally. One of the earth works that has fascinated me the most is Serpent Mound in Southern Ohio. I remember learning about Serpent Mound in college and I have always wanted to see it in person. So, one beautiful fall weekend while I was in grad school, I decided to make a visit. 

Mounds 006

Mounds 007

Serpent Mound is the largest surviving effigy mound in the world, at over 1300 feet long. However, it's purpose is unknown. 

Mounds 001

It was constructed by the Fort Ancient culture, which flourished in this part of the country and is named after Fort Ancient, a site not too far from Serpent Mound that was constructed by the Hopewell and later inhabited by the Fort Ancient peoples. It is situated atop a plateau and is comprised of earthen walls and mounds.

Mounds 012

Mounds 011

Mounds 013
Looking out over the gorge. The bridge in the distance is I 71.
It was a very cool and educational trip and something that I highly recommend seeing if you're interested in this kind of stuff!

Don't forget to check me out on Bekah's blog today!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Day I Stopped Traffic

As I'm getting ready to go speak at the annual Humanities Night at my alma matter tonight, I got to thinking about all of the great times I had while in college. Probably one of the weirdest, yet most memorable was the time my friend Sheena and I stopped traffic on the road that runs through campus.
Sheena and I playing in the snow at 2AM with friends
Sheena and I were close friends and dorm neighbors and were walking out to one of our cars from the dorm. While we were waiting to cross the street, this guy slams on his brakes to let us cross and gets rear ended! We both just kind of stared like "what do we do?!" and then cracked up. The guy must've been really embarrassed because he told the other driver it was fine and drove away in a hurry. We've joked ever since that we were so hot that we stopped traffic and to this day, I get a little chuckle when I drive by the scene of the crime. 
Still hot a few years after graduation!
Ahh, college memories!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Have you ever wanted a surefire way to ensure you stay within your budget while shopping? If you're anything like me, I always start my shopping trips out with a set list and budget but somehow seem to end up putting things in my cart that weren't on the list and either going over budget or taking other things off the list. I have said numerous times how nice it would be to have a surefire way to not go over my budget. is my answer.

Visa prepaid cards from
Visa prepaid cards from
You can put a set amount on your card and it won't let you overdraw so there's no way I can go over budget. I have now started using my card whenever I do my grocery shopping and it has greatly help to ensure that I no longer spend my grocery budget on super cute baby clothes. My daughter's first birthday is coming up and believe me, everything was so tempting! Due to my prepaid Visa debit card, I was able to stay within my decorating budget.

Just a few of the great things about

  • Free to order, activate and load
  • Free app and check deposits from your smartphone
  • Free direct deposit
  • Free card-to-card transfers, any time, anywhere, in seconds
  • No overdraft fees -- never goes negative!
  • Safer than cash - 24/7 support, Visa fraud protection and 100% FDIC insurance on funds
  • No debt, financially responsible, no interest/credit/APRs
  • No credit check and approval in seconds
  • 22,000 in-network ATMs
  • Thousands of cool, unique card designs to choose from, including brands like: Garfield, Popeye, Betty Paige, James Dean, Care Bears, Walking Dead, Star Trek, Autism Awareness, Breast Cancer Research, Shark Week, Where's Waldo, Doodle Jump, Three Stooges, Nancy Drew, etc.

I love that you can choose your design and of course I chose the Parliament Building and Big Ben in London and there are so many designs to fit everyone's tastes. Here's another one of my favorites.

CCA logo

Probably my favorite thing about my card is that once my balance is at zero, I can't overdraw. It's that simple. If you're wanting an easy way to budget or a way to make your current budgeting even better, then I suggest signing up for your own card at

I was compensated for this review. However, all opinions are my own. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Letting Go

You may have wondered why I stopped updating my weight loss. Well, that's because I have fallen off the wagon, down the hill and rolled across the street. I've only gained about five pounds back, which may not seem like a lot but when you've got 50+ to lose, it's devastating.

Before I went on my work trip, I saw my SAI little at Target. I smiled at her but before I could even say hello she gave me this look like "Wow, have you let yourself go" and quickly hurried into another aisle with who she was with. I didn't say anything to Alan, but I was really really upset. While we weren't super close in college or anything, that really hurt my feelings. That she was embarrassed to know me.

But the truth is, I have let myself go since getting married and especially since having kids. I remember saying before Ewan was born that I wasn't going to be one of those women who started having babies and stayed ginormous, yet I have. Not only that, but I barely even make an effort to put myself together anymore. I've never been one of those girls who can't leave the house without being absolutely perfect, but, I at least made some effort. Lately I couldn't care less what I leave the house in. Someone posted in one of the Facebook groups I'm in that they feel like people look at her husband and think "Why is he with her?" That about sums up how I feel. 

Holiday party in grad school...much skinnier times
I'm tired of those looks. The "Oh wow, you've let yourself go so much." or the "Holy cow you've gained so much weight!" looks. I get them all the time from people, especially from certain members of Alan's family and most definitely from those that haven't seen me in awhile. They may think they're sly and that I don't notice, but I do believe me. I've just gotten really good over the years at ignoring them.

A lot of my friends have had babies around the same time as me and they've all lost the baby weight and kept it off. Even the ones who gained 60 pounds. It's incredibly frustrating to be the one who is still gigantic. If you've been around awhile, you may remember that I hurt my back doing yard work back in March. While it's a little better, it still is excruciating most days and I have very limited movement still. I have been going to the chiropractor but with little results and I have a doctor's appointment for it...but the earliest I could get in is late October. So, while I am trying to do something about my back, I have been using it as a crutch as to why I can't exercise. I can still walk, and I will start there.

So enough. It ends begins today.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Crockpot Vegetable Beef Barley Soup

One of my favorite things to do, cooking-wise, is to make huge batches of soup and freeze them for later. I usually do this in the fall and since we got a taste of it last weekend, I decided to use up some of my CSA veggies and make vegetable beef soup with barley. I based it off of this recipe from Skinnytaste, my favorite go-to site for healthy recipes, but I did alter it a bit since I let it cook in the crockpot while we were out enjoying the day. This was amazing and a new fall and winter soup staple in my house.

1 tsp oil
1-1/2 lbs lean beef round stew meat
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 cayenne pepper, chopped
1 cup chopped kale
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, chopped
7 cups water
1 - 2 tsp kosher salt, to taste
2/3 cup dry barley
fresh ground black pepper

Heat a large heavy pot or dutch oven on medium heat. Add oil and beef, season with a little salt and brown meat a few minutes then place in crockpot. Add remaining ingredients and cook on low for 6 hours. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Boy Behind the Blog: 4

I took a break from Food Week to bring you one of my favorite monthly link ups!

1. If you were an animal, what animal would you be? I will let Holly answer... His favorite animal is an eagle, but for the longest time I thought it was a raccoon. That was even my answer at my bridal shower, to which his answer to the question was that I was going to say raccoon even though it's really an eagle!
2. What is your favorite meal? Burgers, bc I'm simple.
3. Do you use any forms of Social Media? What is your favorite? Just FB and barely. He doesn't like social media and doesn't get why I'm constantly utilizing it.
4. Beer, wine, liquor, other, or none of the above? Mtn. Dew? And diet I suppose bc I'm all healthy now (or attempting to be)
5. Complete the sentence: "Never have I ever..." ...liked this stupid game. I took this as he didn't like the Boys Behind the Blog meme, but he really really dislikes "Never have I ever!"

Boys Behind The Blog


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Lactation Cookies

Since I've been out of town this week for work, I made a big batch of lactation cookies to take with me to help me keep my milk supply up since I have to pump the entire time I'm gone to replace the milk Alan uses. I know it sounds crazy, but they really do work! They're also full of things that are super good for you and taste great so they're also great if you just want to eat them and don't need to improve your milk supply.

1 cup self rising wholemeal flour (if you have plain flour, add 1/2 tsp baking powder)
1/2 cup coconut oil
3/4 cup brown sugar (if wanting to reduce sugar, you could try just 1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal Did you know that 1tbs mixed with 3tbs water can be used as an egg substitute? Who knew! 
1 egg
2 tablespoons of water
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1-2 tablespoons of brewers yeast (do not substitute with bakers yeast or any other yeast).
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 & 1/2 cups oats 
1/2 cup chocolate chips I used carob chips, which have a slight coffee flavor to me. This is my first time using them and they are now a permanent chocolate substitute in my house 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar then add the egg and vanilla. Mix well.
In a separate bowl, combine the flaxseed and water, let sit for a few minutes before adding to mix.
Add the dry ingredients (apart from the oats and your additional ingredients) and mix well again.
Finally, stir in the oats and your additional ingredient.
Make the biscuits (I use a desert spoon as a rough size guide) and place them onto a lightly greased or lined baking tray. Flatten them a little with your fingers or a spatula – if you like a soft centre, don’t squish them down too much. If you like you can just make them into balls – I do this and love the soft centre!
Bake for around 10-12 minutes depending on how well cooked/crunchy you like your biscuits – I prefer them a little soft and lightly cooked.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Millions of Peaches!

Back in August, I was able to get a 10 pound box of peaches. Yes, TEN POUNDS. That's a lot of peaches! While we canned some of them, we actually just ate most of them. 

I also put them in several recipes, even though I didn't take very many photos!

I know that peach season is over in my area, but these are definitely keepers for next summer!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Yellow Squash Casserole

I'm out of town this week for work so I decided to designate it food week on the blog and catch up on all the recipes I have been wanting to post. First up is yellow squash casserole. Enjoy!

One of the veggies I was most looking forward to from our CSA was yellow squash. I love it and zucchini and will just roast it with a little olive oil and some salt and be good to go. When a friend of mine posted a yellow squash casserole recipe on her Facebook page, I decided to give it a try. I served it with baked chicken on top of couscous cooked with chicken broth and Sun Gold tomatoes.

4c sliced yellow squash                                 3/4c milk
1/2c chopped onion                                      1/4c butter, melted
35-40 Ritz crushed Ritz crackers                  1 tsp salt
1c shredded Cheddar cheese                        2 tbs butter
2 eggs                                                          salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). 
Place squash and onion in a large skillet over medium heat. 
Pour in a small amount of water. Cover, and cook until squash is tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well, and place in a large bowl. 
In a medium bowl, mix together cracker crumbs and cheese. Stir half of the cracker mixture into the cooked squash and onions. In a small bowl, mix together eggs and milk, then add to squash mixture. Stir in 1/4 cup melted butter, and season with salt and pepper. Spread into a 9x13 inch baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cracker mixture, and dot with 2 tablespoons butter. 
Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned.

This made a huge amount and we wound up eating it as a side for several other meals during the week. I personally thought it tasted 10 times better reheated!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday's Letters

Dear Fall: We have been given a taste of you and I am so excited for you to stay!

Dear Friday: It's Friday the 13th! Let's not have anything crazy happen today, k? Thanks!

Dear Facebook: I don't think I will ever try to sell anything on your yard sale pages again. One of the first things I tried to sell resulted in someone riding the crazy train going off on me because she no-showed to pick up the item...don't think I want to deal with that drama!

Dear Readers: I realize that I didn't acknowledge September's not out of disrespect, but rather that the images have always disturbed and upset me so while I will never forget, I prefer to show my respect privately.

Dear Elyse: I'm so glad we had our blate this week! It was really great to finally meet you and I hope that you enjoyed it as well.

Dear Ewan: What is your deal lately? Why do I have the feeling that this is only the tip of the iceberg of the terrible three's?

Dear Cecily: I ordered your first birthday invitations this week. What?! You cannot possibly be turning one in just over a month. It seems like it was yesterday that I was in the process of switching doctor's at this time last year.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Travel Thursday: Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire

During the summer of 2009, Alan and I ventured to the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire.  It's right off of the PA turnpike and we kept seeing signs when we would drive back and forth to Indiana. Since it was only two or so hours away from where we lived in Philly, we decided to go. I remember going to one in Wisconsin when I was in middle school and loving it, so I was so excited!


We drove through Lancaster County on the way there, which is Amish country. There are plenty of Amish in Northeast Indiana, where I grew up, but I still couldn't resist getting the requisite buggy photo.

The day at the faire was HOT, sweltering hot. But, we still got to see jousting, and my personal favorite medieval weapon, the trebuchet.




The trebuchet is seriously cool. It's like a catapult, but can hurl large items weighing up to 300 lbs about 300 yards. That's a piano being thrown three football fields! It was the seige weapon of choice in the Middle Ages and it's easy to see why...and now you're seeing what a history nerd I really am... :-)

Mount Hope Winery is located adjacent to the faire so of course I had to stop as it was the perfect ending to the day. I still have the bottle I bought in my wine rack. That's what being pregnant and/or nursing the last three years will do. Maybe one of these days I will open it!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Kashi Hummus Crisps

I was given the opportunity to try Kashi Hummus Crisps through BzzAgent recently and I will admit I was skeptical at first. I'm not a big chickpea fan and definitely don't like hummus. However, these crisps were awesome!

The look like mini rice cakes with the consistence of puffs baby cereal. At 27 crisps, 3g of fiber and 5g of whole grains per serving, these are definitely something I will keep in the pantry as a snack. They contain no hydrogenated oils or high fructose corn syrup, things that I am trying to keep out of my house, which makes them even better. The crisps come in three varieties, Sea Salt & Olive Oil (what I received), Carmelized Onion and Sun Dried Tomato Basil & Feta. I can't wait to try the others!

I have several coupons available to try these out. If you're local let me know if you'd like one or a few!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

How My Kids Got Their Names

I was catching up on blogs the other day and this post by Ashley gave me an idea. As you know, my kids' names are definitely not the norm. And, well, I have an obsession with names. I love learning the meaning and origin of names and I especially love finding out what people are going to name their children. So, I thought I would tell you about their names!

Ewan: Scottish, born of yew.
I fell in love with the name Ewan when I studied abroad in England during college. Ever since, I said that if I had children and had a boy, I wanted to name him Ewan. When Alan and I started dating and we talked about baby names, he liked it too, so when we found out I was having a boy, there was no discussion. Ewan's middle name, however, is another story... :-)

Cecily: English, blind of self beauty
Alan and I actually had a deal when I was pregnant with Ewan that if he was a boy, we would name him Ewan and if he was a girl, we would name her Cecily because Alan loves the name. When we found out I was having a girl the second time around, we threw several names out there in addition to Cecily - Madeline, Amelia and Fiona - but we kept coming back to Cecily. She fits her name perfectly!

My kids' names are unusual and I wouldn't have it any other way. I was one of two Holly's in my school growing up and I loved the fact that I wasn't "Holly R" like so many other kids were because there were three with their name in my class. There are names out there, like Liam for example, that I really like but I would never name my child that because it's become so popular. Some may think I'm trying to be "trendy" but I'm really not! I love the fact that neither of my children's names have been in the top 1000 names of the last 13 years in the US according to the Social Security Administration's popularity search.

Why did you pick your children's names?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Sunshine Award

Ash from A Step in the Right Direction nominated me for a an award on Sunday! 

About the award:
The award is circulated to those bloggers to let them know that their posts brighten your day.
The Rules:
 1. Include award logo in a post or on your blog (above).
2. Link to the person who nominated you 
3. Answer 10 questions about yourself.
4. Nominate 10 bloggers to receive the award. Link your nominees to the post and comment on their blogs letting them know they've been nominated.

1. What is your guilty pleasure snack or meal?
Thin Mints. If they are in the house, you can bet they will be gone within a few hours.

2. Why do you enjoy blogging?
I enjoy sharing my little corner of the world with others and the comaderie involved. I especially like learning new "crunchy" ways. 

3. What is the 31st photo on your phone?

A super blurry photo of my cat, Domino, chillin' in my kids' toy box.

4. Last vacation you took? When & Where?
We went to my uncle's lake house in Northeast Indiana. You can read about it here. Unfortunately it didn't turn out the way we had planned!

5. What is your favorite workout?
If I'm outdoors, I love to rollerblade. If I'm at the gym, I love the elliptical.

6. A book or two you would recommend to a friend.
Anything by Alison Weir. She writes biographies of Plantagenet and Tudor Kings and Queens. Yes, I'm that much of a history nerd :-)

7. What is your occupation?
I'm an architectural historian for a cultural resource management firm. I don't really write much about my job because our projects aren't always public knowledge.

8. Favorite thing about fall?
I don't even know where to start. The cooler temps, changing leaves, bonfires, anything and everything pumpkin, Halloween, hay rides...I can go on and on

9. What is your favorite quote?
"We don't inherit the land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children." - Native American

10. What is one thing you are looking forward to this fall?
My daughter's first birthday in October!

Rather than tag 10 other bloggers, I decided to ask all of my readers questions. Feel free to comment on any or all of them!

My Questions to You:
1. What's your favorite animal and why?
2. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
3. What's your favorite day of the week?
4. What's your favorite flower?
5. What is your preferred social media and why?
6. What was your favorite childhood toy?
7. What is your dream job?
8. Are you a summer or a winter?
9. Where did you meet your significant other?
10. What are your passions?

Yard Sale!

This past weekend we had a yard sale at our house. Now, I have been to yard sales and even put stuff into a yard sale, but never actually had one before. Holy cow that's a lot of work! We invited three other families to take part and it turned into a huge sale.

 With a ton of baby stuff.

While we had a good turnout, it wasn't as good as expected. Why you ask? Well, we picked a weekend that there was not one, but two kids consignment sales going on. Oops! We still made almost $600 between all of us though. I put a couple of the bigger baby things that didn't sell on the local Facebook selling pages and the people on there are out of their minds! I had this one lady message me wanting to pay $5 for our baby swing. I don't think so! I'm all for getting a good deal, but 95% off? Not a chance lady!

Lesson learned though. Next year we'll make sure there's not a consignment sale going on the same weekend!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Travel Thursday: My First Visit to NYC

In January after we got engaged, one of my oldest friends (I've known her since I was three!) came out to PA to try on bridesmaid dresses and do wedding stuff. 

Since we were so close to NYC, we decided to make a trip. We went on Bolt Bus, which allowed us to go for super cheap, like $20 round trip. Sarah has friends that live there so we hung out with them for the day and we did things like go to the top of the Empire State Building.


Where we had great views of the city. It's somewhere Alan wanted to go with me and he refused when we made our own trip later that summer. Silly guy!


We also hung out at Central Park, although we didn't have time for skating.


I got to sit in my favorite chair ay Macy's.


And see Times Square at night.


We also rode outside on the free ferry to Staten the winter. While the photos were spectacular, it's not something I recommend because it was COLD!


I only had one day there for my first trip, so we tried to pack as much as we could into it. A lot of people I know say that New York has this magical quality about it, and it does. It is definitely somewhere I would like to visit again. However, it's not London, which holds a special place in my heart. One of these days I will tell you more about my love for that city...but you'll have to stay tuned to find out when!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Homemade Grape Juice

 A few weeks ago, I got ahold of a TON of locally grown grapes and decided to attempt to make my own grape juice. I used this process and it was surprisingly easy, even though it did take two days.

The first thing I did was to take the grapes off of the vine, clear out any stems and then wash them. Then I used a potato masher to crush them since I don't have a juicer.

I let them simmer for about 10 minutes to loosen the skins and then strained them. I just used a regular mesh strainer and not a cheese cloth as recommended. It worked just fine. At this point I let the juice sit in the fridge overnight before I further filtered it with a coffee filter (which didn't work!). I didn't can the juice because I intended to drink it right away. I wound up diluting it with a cup of water because it was pretty strong for me. But, it was so good!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Labor Day Weekend

This past weekend wasn't what I hoped it would be. At all. After what should've been a six hour drive, but turned into an eight hour one due to a fussy baby and driving 30 mph in a torrential downpour, we finally made it to the lake house around 2AM. Then, we waited around all day Saturday for my mom to get there and when she did, she had some bad news for me. My grandmother is in the hospital and will be moving to a rehabilitation center then to a nursing home. It's actually today sometime. So, with all of that going on and then some, let's just say that instead of a relaxing weekend at the lake, it was incredibly, incredibly stressful. 

Since I have a lot going on this week and honestly don't know how much I will be able to post with the exception of things that are already scheduled, I will share a couple of the good moments we had playing mini golf.

He was so excited it was a pirate themed course. 

The kid cracks me up, he thought we were at Jake's hideout :-)

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