April 2014Back Home Again: April 2014

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

May Goals and April Recap

My goals for April were:
  • Continue to meal plan every week. I did meal plan for the weeks that I was here, however I was out of town for two weeks for work.
  • Go to the gym/ride the exercise bike/walk around the neighborhood three times a week. I consider this half done. I did exercise when I was home, but since I was out of town half the month, I wasn't able to do as much as I wanted. I did probably walk at least 3-4 miles surveying so that's a win.
  • Stay within our grocery and eating out budgets. Yeah...let's not talk about this...well, actually yes let's do. We blew our eating out budget out of the water. However, we also were out of town for part of the month, so we probably should've planned for that better. 
  • Finish getting the yard cleaned up. We didn't entirely accomplish this because our yard flooded and everything we had done was ruined again.
  • Create the herb garden. Done! If you follow me on Instagram, then you've seen the finished garden before it was planted. Look for a post sometime soon all about it!
  • Figure out our vacation itinerary. I have our itinerary planned in that I know what we're doing on what day, depending on the weather. I just now have to make sure we have tickets for things that need them and make sure we have directions (Yes, I'm old school - I prefer printed directions to using GPS on my phone!)
Aand my goals for May:
  • Budget. Nuff said.
  • Finish planning for vacation.
  • Not be so stressed about my blog. Maybe it's because I've been swamped with work, but I've been finding it very hard to keep up with everything the last couple of weeks. I need to not necessarily take a blogging break, but not get so stressed if I don't get that post out right when I wanted. 
  • Start canning/freezing our CSA veggies when it starts up again. 
  • Eat paleo the entire month of May.
  • Continue to work out three days a week.
So, I failed horribly at my goals for April. May's gotta be better though, right?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Areacode.org is giving away a $50 Visa Gift Card!

Have you ever gotten those super annoying phone calls on your phone and you didn't know who it was from? I used always just Google the number to see what came up, which led to a bunch of different sites, with different info. 

I just got one of these calls yesterday actually and I was so glad that I had heard of areacode.org. It's an area code locator that provides a comprehensive directory of area codes across the US, Canada and anywhere that uses the North American Numbering Plan (some Caribbean countries). It's such a great site because you can find information on each area code, including coverage area, local dialing instructions, area code map and list of cities within each telephone area code. Now I don't even need to bother looking up the whole number to see if it's worth my time because I can easily find the area code. When I worked for a phone company in PA this would've been so handy, I cannot even begin to tell you...

Just because areacode.org is so awesome, they are giving away a $50 Visa gift card! 

Here are the details: The giveaway runs from April 29, 2014 to May 12, 2014 and it is open to residents of the US and Canada. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Back Home Again is not responsible for prize fulfillment. 

Pizza Crust

Awhile back, I posted this post about some of the things I had been cooking lately:

I got such a great response to my homemade pizza that I decided to post the recipe. Here you go!

Pizza Dough (adapted from this Martha Stewart recipe)

1 packet dry yeast
1 tbs raw honey
1/8 c olive oil
1 tsp salt
2 c flour

Pour 3/4 cups warm water into a large bowl; sprinkle with yeast and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

Whisk honey, oil, and salt into yeast mixture. Add flour and stir until a sticky dough forms. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl and brush top with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draft-free place until dough has doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead 1 or 2 times before using.

I then rolled it out onto a greased baking sheet and baked at 350 for five minutes, then took it out of the oven, topped with sauce, cheese and some veggies, then put it back in the oven for about 10 minutes.

What's your favorite pizza recipe?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Bookworm Bundle: Pirates!

When I last posted about the Bookworm Bundle, I wasn't sure if we would get another one because the domain had expired and the Facebook page hadn't been updated. So you can imagine our surprise and delight when we got one in March! (Yes, I'm that far behind...) 

The theme for this box is pirates and Ewan couldn't have been more excited.

We received a Little Golden Book all about pirates and three crafts. We've been so busy that it took us the end of March and almost the entire month of April to make each craft! We started with the color your own pirate vest.

Daddy even got in on it!

The other two crafts were making a pirate hat and a ship. 

We haven't gotten a box for April yet and I really really hope we continue to get these because they are so much fun!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Travel Thursday: Georgia Aquarium

When Ewan was 14 months old, we traveled to Florida for my brother-in-law's wedding. We made a vacation out of it, and on the way back we stopped in Atlanta to go to the Georgia Aquarium.

It's the world's largest aquarium and very neat to go through. We got to see a dolphin show, sharks, whales and all sorts of other marine life. My favorite was definitely the dolphin show. While Ewan fell asleep during the show, he otherwise loved the aquarium!

Look at how little he was!

If you know me even a little bit you're probably asking how in the world I was able to go to an aquarium since I'm afraid of fish. Well, as long as they can't get me, I'm fine. It's when I'm swimming in a lake or the ocean and I see them that I have a problem. Remind me to tell you about the time I attempted to touch the sharks at Adventure Aquarium in Camden once...that's a post in itself...

I'm sure there's a ton of things to do in Atlanta, but if you only have a day and you have kids, I highly recommend the Georgia Aquarium!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Cooking Traditions with Tuttorosso #CelebrateYourTradition

This post was sponsored by Tuttorosso Tomatoes. However, all opinions are my own.

I'll be honest. Growing up, we didn't have many family traditions involving food aside from a giant cookout we would have each year at the lake house. I grew up in a household that relied on processed foods or eating fast food in the car on the way home from picking it up. While we had a dining room table, the only thing it was used for was as a junk table. My mom would probably be really upset with me for saying this, but I have always envied my aunt because she always made home cooked meals using real foods and made sure that everyone ate around the family table. This is the tradition that I have begun with my family and one that I will celebrate for years to come.

I whipped up a yumtastic pasta dish last night that was amazing using Tuttorosso diced tomatoes as the main ingredient in the sauce. One thing I noticed is that the company has changed their labels, which now include some very handy cooking tips. If you've never tried Tuttorosso Tomatoes, I highly recommend them. I'm not really a big fan of canned tomatoes in general because they usually taste metallic to me. However, when I put these in my pasta dish last night, holy cow they were good!

Tuttorosso Tomatoes wants to help you #celebrateyourtraditions and is currently running a contest on their Facebook page. Everyone who enters will receive a digital recipe book with coupons, recipes and cooking tips. One winner will receive a Juliette Serve Bowl and Round Platter, a sauce ladle, a pasta pot set and a Tuttorosso heirloom wooden spoon. The winner will also receive a $300 gift card to create a celebration of their own for a total of $550 in prizes. All you need to do to enter is 1) Like the Tuttorosso Facebook page, and 2) Post who has been an inspiration in your family cooking tradition and how you would celebrate in their honor. The contest runs from April 16 through May 7. Hopefully you decide to enter. I know I did!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Edibles From Your Own Backyard

Did you know that you probably have several edible plants in your backyard? I'm not talking about fruits and vegetables that you plant either - I mean wild plants.

 Wild onions in my yard

As I've been planning my herb garden, I've been learning more and more about medicinal herbs and edible plants. Did you know that there's an herb called plantain that can be used to treat minor cuts, ezcema and can be used to soothe cold symptoms? It's found in pretty much everyone's yard and viewed as a weed. Or that borage can be used to treat gastrointestinal and respiratory issues. Who knew?

What about those purple flowers that are growing all over your yard this time of year? They're wild violets, which are edible and a great source of Vitamin C. And don't forget about dandelions!

While I might or might not ever eat these, I think it's great that there's so much we can eat in our yard or in a field if necessary.

Happy Earth Day!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter 2014

The kids found their Easter baskets on Friday morning - actually I left them out after I put them together not thinking so the Easter bunny came early to our house. 

Saturday morning we went to our church's Easter egg hunt at a local park and the kids had a blast. Ewan kind of freaked out when everyone started running so Alan had to go with him, but Cecily had no problem getting her eggs. The kids actually won some prizes, coupons and outdoor toys, so they were definitely happy. 

We went to Alan's parents for Easter, where we had a lunch and a huge Easter egg hunt.

The kids had a lot of fun, but to be honest, I was pretty bummed yesterday and would've much preferred to have spent the day quietly instead. No offense to my in-laws, but I've been having a hard time lately and it was just a little too much for me.

Regardless, I hope everyone had a good Easter!

Friday, April 18, 2014

If My Children Were in Charge...

...we would have fun adventures like going to the zoo everyday.

...we would read books all day long.

...we would run around the store putting whatever strikes our fancy into the cart.

...we would eat pizza, tacos, pancakes and waffles for every meal.

...we would only watch Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Lego Ninjago, SuperWhy, Daniel Tiger and some really annoying crayon cartoon.

...we would think nothing of playing in puddles and reliving our childhood!

Happy Friday!

Don't forget about this $50 Amazon giveaway

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Boy Behind the Blog: Reader Edition

 My favorite engagement photo. 

1. Your significant other’s blog; a blessing or a curse? Well, when she keeps pestering me to answer questions before their due date... Ugh yes. I forward him the questions each month and give him a date by which he needs to get them back to me. However, I know that he would just prefer if I "forgot" about them so I usually remind him that I need his answers.

2. Do you read your wife's blog? Usually.
3. What is one thing you can do better than anyone you know? Pester Holly. OMG Yes. It's his favorite past time, I swear.
4. What is your favorite TV sitcom from the 90's? Too many. Will still watch Boy Meets World when it comes on TV. Loved the random Nick shows like Adventures of Pete & Pete, Salute Your Shorts, etc. Then, obviously the more typical like Friends, Seinfeld, etc. It isn't from the 90's but he loves Scrubs. It's a good show, but not my favorite, no matter what he says.

5. If you were opening a small business or shop, what would it be? What goods or services would you sell? Other people's junk. This is true. Before Ewan was born, he used to sell on Ebay. Now we don't have the time unfortunately. I wish we did though because that extra income is really nice!

Don't forget about this $50 Amazon giveaway

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Why OOTD Posts Are Not for Me

I am by no means a fashion blogger. While I like looking at fashion, I am way too uncomfortable in my body to show off what I'm wearing or purposely pose for "fashion photos."

What I wore on one of the days I went to the IN Historic Preservation Conference last week.

I very rarely buy new clothes - I think the last time I did was when we went to the outlet mall last summer on our attempted vacation. I used to buy clothes all the time, but now it's a rare occasion. Most of my money spent on clothes is for the kids. Most of my clothes are from when I was in grad school...about eight years ago. 

On top of all that, fat people can't wear cute clothes. Or at least the clothes I would like to wear. I'm working on changing that, but it's a LONG process as I've got about 50-60 pounds to lose. I definitely don't feel comfortable in my skin right now and don't like to show off my ill fitting outfits.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Food Intolerance

 photo foodquote_zps0fd7e801.jpg

Hello Everyone! I'm Sheryl and you can find me on a regular basis at How to Make a Life. I discuss/create/attempt and observe about all of the different pieces that make up our life.  Holly has become one of my favorite people in the blogging world and I am grateful for the opportunity to spend some time on her site today. One of the many things Holly and I have bonded over is healthy eating and I wanted to take some time to explore the subject. 

I'm not here to promote a specific diet but I do want to discuss how you feel after you have eaten? For years I thought I was eating healthy foods: whole wheat bread, cheese and yogurt for calcium and nuts and vegetables. After being diagnosed with hypothyroidism, my doctor suggested food allergy testing and I came back as intolerant to wheat and a few additional items such as chocolate and almonds. After going through a three month elimination diet, I found myself feeling great and realized I was having issues that I didn't even know was a problem. 

I was no longer bloated and puffy, my mind was brighter and overall I simply felt better. Sadly, I began to introduce the items back into my life and before I knew it I was miserable again. However, it was harder to go back on an elimination diet again and I simply tired to not eat as much. Nonetheless, I was still eating the food that was hurting me. 

As this great article describes, eating food which you are allergic to creates inflammation in your body and as a result makes it difficult for your body to absorb any nutrients from any food that is nutritious. When your body is inflamed, you may find that you have muscle and joint aches, skin rashes, feel swollen and bloated and simply lethargic. Inflammation in the body has been linked to issues such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, lupus and heart disease (and many others such as learning disorders in children and ADHD). You may find yourself going to the doctor bur rarely is your diet addressed. 

The most common type of food allergies include: milk, wheat, dairy, soy, eggs, tree nuts, fish and shellfish. Although the most appropriate way of knowing if you have food allergies is to do skin or blood testing, you may also want to try an elimination diet for a minimum of four weeks. During this time it is important to eat as healthy as you can (begin supplements and I certainly recommend probiotics). If your physical symptoms begin to improve you may want to continue as your body will continue to heal itself from the inside. 

After an elimination diet it is suggested that you slowly introduce the foods which have caused issues. It is then that you can discover if you can handle the food and how it affects your body. You may find that you don't want to return to feeling the way you once did. 

It is also important to note that there is the possibility of being intolerant to healthy foods. I have always been allergic to strawberries (and the thought of them always makes me nauseous. I have friends who can not eat broccoli or onions and after having celery in my morning smoothie everyday - recently discovered I shouldn't be eating it.  

As for me, I have truly come to accept that I am gluten intolerant and although I can take traces of dairy, I do not eat it on a regular basis. My body feels better when I provide it with healthy foods and I can immediately tell when something I shouldn't have sneaks into my diet.  After several years of struggling with my dietary issues, I have learned to appreciate the following quote. 

 photo foodasmed_zps759af2da.jpg

I regularly share recipes, articles and my struggles with food intolerance on my blog. I would love to hear about your  thoughts and experiences with food allergies.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Belle of Louisville

This past week Alan and I have been at the Indiana Historic Preservation Conference in New Albany. We had a good time catching up with people we knew in grad school and learning about all sorts of things preservation related, from what has been planned so far for Indiana's Bicentennial in 2016 to interactive visitors' guide maps to the 1848 Cincinnati Panorama to my favorite session of the entire conference, using dendrochronology (as in the study of tree rings) to date historic buildings.

One of the things that all of us attendees got to do is take a dinner cruise on the Belle of Louisville, a 1914 paddlewheel steamboat. We go to Louisville all the time because Alan's family lives there, but I have never been on the Belle. It was a lot of fun, so enjoy the photo dump!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Travel Thursday: House on the Rock

When Alan and I were in grad school, we went to the National Trust for Historic Preservation's conference in St. Paul, Minnesota. The conference happened to fall during field trip week in the College of Architecture so our class made a week long trip out of it. One of the places we went to on the way back to Muncie was House on the Rock in Wisconsin. 

HOTR 008

Alan and I went here when everyone else on the trip went to Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright's studio that was nearby. I know, why would we pass up a chance to go to Taliesin? Because Alan was so excited to get the opportunity to go to House on the Rock.

It's this house designed by Alex Jordan that is built on a hilltop and is all decked out in 70s shag carpet and velour furniture. It has the Infinity Room, pictured above, that extends out over the hill, something like 100 feet below. For the girl that's afraid of heights...yeah. Let's just say it was definitely interesting being out at the end and the room is bouncing!

HOTR 030

The tour goes through the house and then you go into all these rooms of the guy's "collections." It's full of giant beer steins, instruments, stained glass, a calliope and a carousel full of dolls. Personally, I thought it was just full of junk, but Alan absolutely loved it.

HOTR 033

The place did, however, give me a lot of random things to pose with for photos!

Have you ever been to House on the Rock? What did you think?

Meet Dara, who blogs at Not in Jersey

She enjoys knitting, reading and traveling.

She finds herself obsessed with things over which she has no control.

Pickles used to be her favorite food, so much so that "Pickle" was her nickname!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Why I Believe in Non-Intervention

April is Cesarean Awareness Month, so I thought I would share with you something that was posted on one of the VBAC boards I belong to. I was bawling after I watched this and it is the epitome of why I don't believe in unnecessary birth interventions, which contrary to what some have taken away from previous posts, I was educated about before my son's birth - unfortunately I didn't have the right support team.

I will always wonder "what if" with Ewan's birth and be so grateful that I found the strength to switch providers and go for a VBAC when I had so many people telling me I was nuts to do so. Seeing the part where she missed her children meeting for the first time just breaks my heart because that is one of my favorite memories, when Ewan and Cecily met for the first time.

I know that not everyone wants a natural birth, but please please do your own research and not listen blindly to your doctor. As much as I hate to say it, they don't always have your best interests at heart. While some c-sections are necessary and life saving, the recommended WHO c-section rate is around 15%. The rate in the US is 32.8% and the majority of those are not necessary, or only became necessary due to unnecessary interventions/inductions. Trust me, you don't want to be in the position of having to fight for your right to birth the way you want.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Weight Loss Update

Back in January I posted about my New Year's Inspiration: to fit into one of my favorite dresses again. So, I thought I would give you all a weight loss update being that the first quarter of the year is over (what?!)

I haven't been keeping up with updating my weight loss tab on the blog, which honestly isn't because I haven't been weighing myself, but more because I keep forgetting. However, aside from going on the stomach virus diet where I lost five pounds in two days then promptly gained it back, I have been maintaining my current weight and going back and forth between 188-193 pounds. 

I guess I should be glad that I'm not gaining, but I'm also very frustrated that I'm not losing. I finally have a gym buddy so I am going to the gym several days a week and either riding the exercise bike at home or taking evening walks with Alan and the kids a couple days a week. I'm also frustrated because I weigh what I did when I got married, but my body looks nothing like it did then. Two babies and two abdominal surgeries have forever changed that. 

One of my favorite wedding photos - I look so skinny!

I really need to get my eating back under control - I fell off the paleo wagon back in January/February and have been struggling ever since to get back on. I'll do well for a week and then on the weekend it falls apart. This past weekend has made it abundantly clear though that I just can't have sugar and gluten because of how it affects me. I need to get off of it 100 percent. It's all or nothing. 

I guess I'm doing something right though because I have been told by several people that I look like I'm losing!

Don't forget about this $50 Amazon giveaway

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Naturade Vegan Smart: A Review

I received these products for free from Naturade and was not compensated for this review. All opinions are my own.

A few weeks ago, I was given the opportunity to try Naturade Vegan Smart all-in-one nutritional shakes. I received three flavors: vanilla, chocolate and chai.

They are dairy, soy and gluten free and filled with 20 grams of non-GMO protein. They also contain Omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics. These shakes are right up my alley, as they contain everything I could want.

The shakes are super easy to make, all you do is mix one packet with 9-11 ounces of water or non-dairy beverage. Or, you can mix the packets into a smoothie. 

Since I'm not really a fan of shakes, I put mine into smoothies.

 I'll be honest, I was a little scared when I saw how fibrous the powder is. However, when I tried my strawberry, banana, almond milk smoothie with vanilla Vegan Smart I was pleasantly surprised. It was really good! 

I only put a half cup of almond milk in the smoothie, and I thought it was a little thick, so when I made a chocolate banana one a few days later, I used 3/4 c, which was just right. Both smoothies were very filling and I was only able to finish half in one sitting - which meant that I had a great snack later!

You can find Naturade Vegan Smart here and also follow Naturade on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

As always, you should consult your healthcare provider before taking a dietary supplement, especially if you have a disease or medical condition, take any medications or are pregnant and nursing. Keep out of reach of children.
This is a sponsored post from 4sponsor.com with my unbiased thoughts.

Friday, April 4, 2014

April Showers $50 Amazon Giveaway

You know what they say...April Showers Bring May Flowers...after this winter I sure hope so! We actually have flowers in bloom here now and it's glorious. So...how about a giveaway! Good luck!

Welcome to the April Showers $50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway sponsored by Social News Daily and hosted by The Parenting Patch

Social News Daily is the first media reporting website that focuses 100% on social media platforms and news created and supported by social networks. SND fully understands the power that Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and other social networks have on our lives. Find all your social media news and trends in one convenient place with Social News Daily. One lucky reader of Social News Daily and The Parenting Patch will win one (1) $50 Amazon gift card. To enter for your chance to win the April Showers $50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway, simply use the following Rafflecopter form. Good luck! Happy spring!

The April Showers $50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway is open worldwide. An international winner will receive $50 minus any PayPal fees via PayPal in lieu of the specified prize. 

The April Showers $50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway ends at midnight CST on April 26, 2014. One winner will be chosen at random via Rafflecopter. The winner will be sent an email and will have forty-eight hours to respond. If no response is received within forty-eight hours, another winner will be chosen. The Parenting Patch and Back Home Again are not responsible for prize fulfillment.

So This Happened Last Night...

This was after the water had receded some. When I looked out the window around 1AM the entire street had flooded, there was water up to and into our garage and half of our front yard had flooded. It's hard to tell in the photo of our backyard, but there's a water mark almost to the top of the little picket fence on the play house. All the backyards of the houses on the other side of the fence are completely underwater.

We've replaced the weatherstripping on the garage door, evened out the concrete and even put a reusable sandbag down in front of the door last night. Short of replacing the door and hoping that works, we're at a loss.

WHY did my water and trash bill go up for a major sewer overhaul of the city? WHEN are they fixing my street?

I think I want to move...

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Travel Thursday: Nottingham

When I was at Harlaxton, one of the places I traveled to was Nottingham, just a 30 minute train ride away from me.

It was my first trip in England with just friends and no one from the school to organize the trip. I remember how exciting it was to navigate on our own for the first time and I proved to myself that I really could do it..even if we did get on the wrong train back to Harlaxton!

Unless you happen to live under a rock, you know that Nottingham is associated with Robin Hood and Sherwood Forest. One of the places we went was Nottingham Castle and got our photos taken with the Robin Hood statue. One of the places we didn't visit were the caves beneath the city, which would've been awesome

We spent a lot of time walking around the city before heading back to the manor and I wasn't able to get back until right before I came back to the States. I liked the city and would like to go back someday. It's definitely on Alan's list of places to visit since he learned that Sherwood Forest is a real place!

Meet Sheryl

She blogs over at How to Make a Life.

Is exactly 5 feet tall and has finally accepted her Napoleon Complex: she has to drive a SUV.

She's an open house stalker - she and her husband love to go to check out interior designs and floor layouts.

She's also an extrovert and loves to talk. Her husband even tried to play the "quiet game" during a car trip!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

My Weekend in Photos

Ok, so this isn't my entire weekend because I went to a baby shower, Menard's and church and didn't think to take photos. But...it's close enough!

 We went to my friend's son's first birthday party.


Cecily thought it would be fun to sit in the box!

After the party, we went to Menards but I didn't take photos. We then stopped at Hacienda for dinner. 

After church on Sunday, we spent the majority of the day outside playing while Alan did yard work...and ended the weekend with some froyo!

What did you do this past weekend?

I'm part of the #2014BloggerChallenge. Are you?

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