May 2014Back Home Again: May 2014

Saturday, May 31, 2014

June Goals and May Recap

My goals for May were:
  • Budget. We didn't stick to our budget. At all. However, my car died the first week of May so we wound up getting a new one plus we had to get a new garage door and we went on vacation. So, I don't really count this one. 
  • Finish planning for vacation. Done! We're actually on our way back today.
  • Not be so stressed about my blog. I've lightened up on posts again this month and I'll admit, it's been really nice
  • Start canning/freezing our CSA veggies when it starts up again. I thought our first pickup was going to be May 17, but it was actually May 24, and then we left to for vacation the next day so I didn't get much of a chance to can/freeze anything.
  • Eat paleo the entire month of May. Ahem...I was actually following the Candida Diet until my car died...and then we went to Teppanyaki and it's been all downhill since. June will be better.
  • Continue to work out three days a week. I've been averaging about twice a week.
I didn't meet many goal in May, but to be honest, I'm not surprised with everything that's been going on. I'm doing my best not to be hard on myself because I will get back into the swing of things in June!
  • Budget, budget, budget!
  • Eat paleo the entire month. 
  • Start canning/freezing our CSA and garden bounty.
  • Sort stuff for our yard sale. 
  • Register for and train for 5K in August. Yes, you read that right. I'm going to do my first 5K!



Friday, May 30, 2014

What a Beautiful Lady

On what would've been my grandmother's 91st birthday, I wanted to share some photos that I saw for the first time at her funeral.

With my grandfather. Wasn't he dashing?

Someone wrote on the back of this photo that it was taken in August 1943, at Foster Park. She would've been twenty. I remember spending some time in this park during my high school it's changed!

This is my favorite photo ever of my grandmother and I'm so sad I never saw it until her sister brought it for the slideshow at her funeral. My grandmother was quite the woman about town in her young years and would tell stories about how she would go to the various dance halls with my grandfather and their friends. I loved to talk to her about what it was like growing up in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s and I so wish she was still here so I could ask her about this photograph. She used to always show me old photos she would find at my uncle's house and it was always fascinating to learn who these people were and the stories behind the photos. 

My grandma looks so happy and full of life in the photo above and that's how I want to remember her.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Chronic Pain: Finding Hope in the Midst of Suffering

I'm an Off the Shelf blogger, a program from Beacon Hill Press the leading provider of Christian books. While I received this book in exchange for a review, all opinions are my own. 

The latest book I have been reading is Chronic Pain: Finding Hope in the Midst of Suffering by Rob Prince. Pastor Rob has chronic migraines and suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage, something that should've killed him yet he survived. He gives a personalized account of what it's like to live with chronic pain and uses scripture to remind us that God, in fact, does heal and allow us to live with pain, even if it's not necessarily in the way we would've thought

As someone who has now become a sufferer of chronic pain for over a year now, first in my back and now my foot, I love that he tells you what it's really like to live with pain everyday and doesn't leave out any details. It's nice to know that even a minister, someone who you'd think would be "on" all the time, has days where they just don't want to deal with life.

Also, as someone who believes in using food to "heal thyself" in addition to natural treatments, I love that he addresses alternatives, spiritual and otherwise, instead of just popping pills. If you suffer from chronic pain in any way, I highly recommend this book as you will enjoy it. I recommend it even if you don't!

Monday, May 26, 2014

#DecidetoDrive: Put an End to Distracted Driving

Let me tell you a little story. Alan and I had only been in Pennsylvania for a few days, didn't know anyone or where anything was and he developed kidney stones. I came home from a job interview to him writhing in pain and not knowing what was going on. I was terrified that he was having an appendicitis or something and in the process of trying to find the nearest hospital on my phone, wound up rear ending the car in front of me. Luckily it was stop and go traffic and no harm was done to us or the vehicles. Or what about the time Alan and I were sitting in the car in a parking lot at the movie theater and a girl hit us pulling into her spot because she was texting - she actually had no idea she had hit my car until I got out and started inspecting it because she was looking at her phone the entire time. Or, when I was a sophomore in high school driving home from taking the SAT. I looked down for a second to sneeze and in that split second wound up rear ending the person in front of me who had stopped to turn.

Most people think of cell phone usage when they think of a distracted driver. But, anything that takes your attention away from the task at hand is an example of distracted driving. This could be your kids, eating, Starbucks, messing with the radio, you name it. I can't tell you the number of times I would drive my stick shift in college with my phone in one hand and a Starbucks in the other..definitely not the example I want to set for my children today. I recently got a new car that has bluetooth and have definitely taken advantage of this feature already.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the Auto Alliance want to increase awareness about the risks of distracted driving. Did you know that according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), of the nearly 33,000 roadway fatalities in 2012, there were 3,328 fatalities and approximately 421,000 injuries in distracted driving-related crashes.

Orthopaedic surgeons, you know, the specialists who put bones and limbs back together after road crashes and traumas, along with automakers, would rather help all drivers "decide to drive" each time they get in the car and to keep bones and limbs intact. The Decide to Drive program aims to empower drivers and passengers to speak up about distracted driving, continue the conversation at home, work and play, and reduce distracted behaviors behind the wheel.

The most advanced safety feature of any vehicle is the driver. The AAOS and the Auto Alliance are urging drivers to keep their most sophisticated safety features engaged at all times: eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.

The #DecidetoDrive campaign is looking for a catchphrase to alert a driver that they are distracted. What would you like to see on social media, bumper stickers, posters, logos, campaign materials, etc.? They're looking for something creative, funny, clever or just simply powerful that will “drive” the message home. Please submit your idea here. The campaign catchphrase should be simple and to the point, short enough to fit in a small website badge; perfect for a bumper sticker.

Winners will be selected by a panel of judges based on quality - this is not a random drawing! Top prize is a $1,000 Visa Gift Card (and the potential of having your idea featured prominently in a nationwide Decide to Drive campaign!); two runners-up will receive $500 Visa Gift Cards.

Will you #DecidetoDrive?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Ask Away Friday

I'm participating in #AskAwayFriday for the first time today! This is such a great way to get to know fellow bloggers. Two bloggers answer each others' questions on their blogs each Friday. And since we all know how much I love this type of thing, you can imagine my excitement when I was asked if I wanted to participate!


My first partner in crime is Echo from Domain of the Mad Mommy. We've known each other in the blogosphere for awhile now and her blog cracks me up. She's always saying what I want to say and does it in a way that's hilarious! What I would give for that talent... :-)

Domain of the Mad Mommy

Echo, you asked, so here are my answers!

1. You post "Travel Thursdays" and it seems that you are quite the explorer. What is your favorite vacation so far? Do you want me to answer honestly? Or answer without getting crap from Alan? :-) Honestly, I would have to say living in England for five months in college. It's not a vacation, per se, as I took so many trips while I was there. It was a once in a lifetime experience and I am so thankful I got the opportunity and grateful to my family for helping me make it happen.

2. This goes along with #1: Care to share the details of your dream vacation? I have numerous sticky notes with trips I'd like to take and I've even gone so far as to plan the details, but just haven't booked the hotel or flight. However, my dream vacation would be to take a Mediterranean cruise to Greece, Turkey and Cyprus.

3. Seeing as I am a closet homesteader wannabe and you already do a lot of canning, what is your advice to a first-time canner? Invest in a pressure canner. When I first started canning, I used a giant pot for water baths. This works, but you're limited in what you can safely can - only tomatoes and things with a high acidic content, such as pickles.

4. You recently got part of your dream garden in place, show us a picture and tell us what you have planted! I don't want to give too much of it away because I'm planning a post on the garden - it was supposed to happen in May, but the month got away from me! But, here is a photo I took in the beginning of May. What you can see are marigolds, sorrel, pineapple mint, arugula, mesclun lettuce, marjoram and dill. If you follow me on Instagram, then you've probably already seen many pics of the garden.

5. Tell me about your family! How long have you been married and how old are your kiddos? (Bonus awarded for a family photo!) Alan and I met in grad school, going on eight years ago now, but we didn't start dating until after our first year was over...May 26th to be exact. Our five year wedding anniversary is coming up in October...the day before my daughter's 2nd birthday! Our son, Ewan, is three and our daughter, Cecily, is 19 months. 

Alan is lame and doesn't like his photo taken, but here's one of him and Cecily a couple weeks ago.

And here is one of Ewan.

6. What is the most difficult part of parenting for you right now? My daughter is extremely attached to me and demanding right now, which makes it hard to give Ewan the attention he deserves. She's also started pinching, biting, scratching and we're kind of at our wits end as to what to do to get her to stop.

7. What is the most rewarding part of parenting for you right now? Seeing the look of wonder on my kids' faces when they learn something new. Oh, and playing barefoot in the backyard with my kids.

8. If you could only use 3 words to describe yourself, what would they be? Spunky yet Sensitive

9. Would you rather go into the past and risk changing things or go into the future and know what happens? This is an incredibly difficult question for me to answer because as an historian, there are so many different time periods I would love to visit and experience first hand. But, I would also love to see what humanity becomes 100 years, 500 years, 1000 years form now. However, if you traveled into the future, I don't think you could necessarily go back to what was originally your present because wouldn't you then run the risk of changing the future? Gotta love hypothetical time paradoxes!

10. Where do you see yourself 5 years from now? Still blogging? Hmm...I have no idea about the blog. I enjoy it now, but five years is a LONG time. Hopefully we'll have a third baby (ahem...Alan...) and our debt mostly paid off. 

I hope you enjoyed my answers. I cannot wait to see how Echo answered my questions!

Please make sure you visit the other #AskAwayFriday hosts, grab a button and join in on the fun!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Travel Thursday: Atlantic City

I posted about the first half of my Jersey Shore weekend the last Travel Thursday, when we went to Cape May. We spent the second half of the weekend in Atlantic City.

I was expecting Atlantic City to be like Vegas, and it was. Except that outside of the boardwalk, it's really rundown. I guess you know where all the money goes!

Alan and I spent some time playing slots and walking up and down the boardwalk. It was during this trip that I learned Alan has incredible luck gambling. I was done with my $20 in about two minutes. He made his last for several hours!

Because we went in April. there wasn't much going on on the pier, but I of course had to dip my toes in the ocean. I also collected some shells while there. How crazy is it that I have larger shells from New Jersey than I do from Florida!

I'll be honest, it was my first (and only) trip to the Jersey shore and I must say that I wasn't all that impressed with the hype. Sorry those of you from New Jersey, but I much prefer the beaches of Delaware!

Meet Sarah, who blogs over at Mustard Seed Mommy

- She played the guitar, saxophone and piano in high school and life revolved around music. Now she shares the beauty of music with her children!

- She loves to work in the kitchen, baking and cooking are both so relaxing
and enjoyable!

- Her blog and Facebook chat are pretty much her only source of
adult interaction these days... as a one car family she's stuck at home most days, even though she doesn't mind.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

I've Been Tagged!

My friend Sheryl over at How to Make a Life has tagged me! I actually really love these question and answer posts because it gives you all a glimpse into things I may or may not normally post. Enjoy my answers to Sheryl's questions!
1. What is your favorite season and why? 
Fall! The slightly cooler weather, changing leaves, mums, pumpkins, hayrides...It's by far my favorite season.
2. If money were not an object, where would you travel? 
Antarctica. Actually, I have a huge list of places where I would like to travel, but this is a big one.
3. What is your favorite Television series? 
Friends. I know it's been off the air for ten years now, but it's my all time favorite tv show and tv hasn't been the same since. I actually blew through a final in college just so I could get back to watch the series finale! I got a B in the class for those of you wondering :-)
4. Coffee or Tea? 
Coffee. I like tea also, but I much prefer coffee. 
5. What makes you happiest?
Seeing the looks on my children's faces when they experience and enjoy something I love. 
6. What are three things you can't leave the house without? 
My phone. It's sad, but I freak out if I don't have it on me. 
7. What is your favorite topic to blog about? 
This is a toss up between childbirth and green living. 
8. If you could be any animal, what would that be? 
A white bengal tiger - it's also my favorite animal. 
9. What is your favorite music to listen to? 
This is a really hard question to answer because I have a very eclectic taste in music and it varies by mood. I guess I would have to say jazz followed closely by clarinet classical music.
10. What is your favorite procrastination activity?
Blogging of course! 
I'm going to be lame and not tag anyone. I've got a cold and my brain can't think of some good questions!
Feel free to answer these questions or tell me something about you in the comments! 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Disney on Ice: Rockin' Ever After

Last Thursday we went to Disney on Ice: Rockin' Ever After. My sil had gotten some free tickets for opening night through Macaroni Kid  and asked us if we would like to go. Because it featured the princesses, we weren't sure if Ewan would like it, especially because he's all about differentiating between things that are for girls and things that are for boys (Before you start...we have no idea where he's all the sudden picked this up because it hasn't been from us!).

However, he loved it! He was so excited to see Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy. Cecily was really excited too and kept dancing and dancing...

Until she got completely overstimulated and tired. Then she just screamed and screamed. Alan and I had driven separately to work that day and I wound up taking her home at intermission. Disney Junior Live is coming the day after her 2nd birthday. It will be a great birthday and early Christmas present for both of them in October!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Hair Care

I'm pretty low maintenance about pretty much everything beautywise. I rarely wear makeup and I'm all about dressing for comfort. However, I do actually really care about what my hair looks like. It's probably my favorite thing about my body so I try to take care of it. And if you knew me in college, with my "I got up 10 minutes before class and threw my hair up as I was running out the door" ponytail, you're probably shaking your head in wonder :-) But, it's true!

When Alan and I were first dating, he was blown away that it took me an hour to do my hair because I'm pretty low key otherwise. But I'm a mom now and those days of long, lustrous locks are long gone. Believe me, I would love to spend an hour on my hair, especially because it's wavy/curly and I much prefer to wear it straight which requires me to pick out the curls while wet, then straighten with my hair dryer and then, depending on how poofy it is, use my straightener. I don't have time for that now. I get excited when I actually have time to blow dry it straight, which is maybe once a week. I usually wear it curly, and put in John Frieda Frizz-Ease Dream Curls or Hair Serum or Coconut Milk Organix mousse. 

Maybe one of these days, when Cecily is no longer nursing, I'll get to straighten my hair again. But for now, curly it is!

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

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Friday, May 16, 2014

#SargentoUltraThin Vox Box!

A few weeks ago I FINALLY got a VoxBox from Influenster! I've been whining lately because I've seen so many people get one, even the same person over and over, and the last time I did was August 2013.

So you can imagine how excited I was to finally get that email :-)

I received two coupons to try Sargento's Ultra Thin cheese slices and a really cute lunch bag. I wound up deciding to try the Baby Swiss and Colby Jack slices and while I hate to write a bad review...well...I must confess that after eating raw cheese for so long that this stuff just tasted like crap. It didn't help that the whole time all I could think about was all the added hormones that are probably in it because the milk didn't come from grassfed cows and all the other crap that's been added in during processing.

I tried it with apples, on burgers and even alone, but the Colby Jack was just gross. It was sooo thin that the slices stuck together and instead of eating just one slice you wound up eating about four because that's how many came our of the package at a time...and that's if you were patient enough to pick all the paper out. For a cheese that's supposed to be a super low calorie snack, having to eat four at a time because you can't only get one out of the package doesn't seem like a great snack to me.

The Swiss did fare a little better in that it didn't taste quite as bad, thankfully. But, I can honestly say that my favorite thing about the #SargentoUltraThin VoxBox is the lunch bag. Influenster, how about you test out some organic options next time?

I received this product complimentary from Influenster and all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Boy Behind the Blog: Final Edition

This is the last link up of The Boys Behind the Blog and I am so sad to see it go. It has been by far my favorite link up and I love learning more about my fellow bloggers significant others'!


1. What was your first job? The restaurant at Churchill Downs
2. What is the biggest risk you've ever taken? I only take calculated risks, but us moving back and forth when getting/switching jobs without knowing if we could make it work.
3. What is one thing you can't live without? Caffeine or my family, it's a toss up. He's a Mountain Dew addict!
4. What is your least favorite food? Spinach soup or meatloaf A direct quote from the man himself "The only thing that should come in a loaf is bread!"
5. If you could time travel, where/when would you go? Hill Valley, Nov 12 1955 I had no idea what this was referring to, but apparently it's the date from Back to the Future. Can you believe I have never seen any of those films? 
Aaaand that's it for the Boys Behind the Blog. I hope you've enjoyed reading more about Alan as much as I have enjoyed sharing his "secrets!"

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Butternut Squash Lasagna

This experiment recipe was originally a guest post over at Raising Reagan last winter, but it's so good that when I saw the frozen butternut squash in the freezer while meal planning for this week, I decided to post it on my own blog.

 photo IMG_0525_zps058ef931.jpg

I used butternut squash puree with some water and grated ginger, then added some onion and sausage to the squash and layered the mixture with the noodles and some mozzarella cheese. I decided to serve it with some crescent rolls. The end result was yummy! My husband, who despises all forms of squash, downed it and told me I could make it again anytime. 

In my house, that means it's a hit!
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Butternut Squash Lasagna

2 c butternut squash puree
1 lb sausage
1 onion, chopped
1-2 c mozzarella cheese
lasagna noodles (as many as needed - I used ones you need to cook before making your lasagna)

  • Brown sausage and cook onion, then mix in soup.
  • Spread a little bit of soup on the bottom of your baking dish so the noodles won't stick, then layer noodles, sausage/squash mixture and cheese, then repeat until your baking dish is full.
  • Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes until cheese is bubbly 
Have you entered this awesome Ad Space Giveaway yet? 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Would You Be Offended?

So I just happened to see on a friend's calendar that they were apparently invited to a wedding of a mutual friend and we were not. We both went to school with this mutual friend and neither of us were that close to this person. To my knowledge neither of us really talk to the person in question all that much either. 

So, why am I feeling really slighted and hurt right now? 

Maybe it's something as simple as they no longer have our address or maybe they don't want kids there, but it's still hurtful regardless. Especially because it's 45 minutes from our house, which means that it's not an overnight for us so we could easily find a sitter. And we're Facebook friends so it's not like they can't easily ask for our address. 

Scratch that. I'm actually pretty pissed about it. We invited this person to our wedding and I get it that weddings are serious business and you have to cut people, but you would think that if they decided to invite the person that isn't that close to them and lives a plane ride away, then they would invite us. I would be shocked if the rest of our little group wasn't invited. And how awkward would that be if they come and we get together with them and we're not invited. Or even better, they come and don't bother to tell us. I'm just so pissed because I invited the girl I couldn't stand (which isn't the person in question) in our little group to our wedding because it was the right thing to do not to leave only her out.

I guess I must be a better person. 

People suck. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

What Do You Have in Your Backyard?

Now that my herb garden is finished and going strong (a post about it is coming, I promise!), I've been thinking about the rest of my backyard. There's stuff for the kids, their play house and swing set, but playing in the yard is really my thing. The previous owners of our house had really awesome landscaping but we've kind of let the border go since we bought the house. I was pregnant when we moved in and it was about 100 bazillion degrees that summer, so it got way overgrown. Oops! We keep the jungle trimmed, but I really would like to do something with it other than just keep it tamed. 

Even though we belong to a CSA, I still planted some greens in the herb garden and tomatoes, peppers and green beans in containers. We've been throwing around the idea of putting a raised bed vegetable garden where part of the border garden is since we moved in. It's getting kind of late in the game this growing season though, so if we want to do a raised bed we really need to do it soon. We saw a raised bed kit in the lawn and garden section a couple weekends ago, but we've been debating whether we want to build our own raised bed or just buy it.

I've also been thinking about the back corner of the yard, which is the worst of the jungle. There's some crazy ferns and Lily of the Valley that are growing beneath a Crabapple tree back there, but we've been wanting to dig out the ferns and weeds to put something else back there. I was thinking of putting up a hammock. We had a rope one tied between a couple trees at the lake growing up and I remember hanging out in it and having so much fun with my friends up there. I've got my eye on a couple at but it would definitely have to be one that's on a stand because I doubt the fence would be able to support one. I was in ours when it collapsed once and that was definitely not any fun!

We've also got this really ugly bird feeder in the yard that we want to replace. I thinking making a bird feeder with the kids would be a really fun craft to do with them. I remember making a bird feeder using a pinecone, peanut butter and birdseed as a kid. That's so easy and I know that the kids would have a blast doing it. I also think it would be really cool to use everyday objects to make one as well. Maybe using a yard sale chandalier?

We also have a couple projects for the front yard too, but they're not all that interesting - things like replacing the much and such.

Do you have any yard projects for the summer?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day!

So...we got a car for Mother's Day! I had seen a 2012 Caliber online Friday night and we decided to go check it out Saturday morning, but of course it had been sold. So we looked at a couple other cars we had seen online and wound up buying a 2013 Elantra. It was such a whirlwind thing and I'm still kind of like wow, I can't believe we just bought a car. 

We went to dinner last night instead of today because it was going to be crazy. We went to a local Mexican place that's right down the road from us and got a really nice surprise. Kids eat free on Saturdays! We normally split a kids meal between Ewan and Cecily and it was so nice for them to each have their own and not right over who gets what. Mexican is a weakness of mine so we'll definitely be returning in the future. 

This morning the kids gave me a card and we painted flower pots. We were going to plant some flowers in  them after they dried this afternoon, but it rained so we'll do it sometime this week.

The original plan had been to go to the children's museum and then have a picnic at a local park, but since it rained, we just went to the museum...except that we didn't realize it opened at noon on Sundays. Oops! 

Ewan was devastated because he thought we weren't going at all. Poor kid. However, we just walked around a couple stores and went to lunch waiting for it to open. Once we finally got there, the kids had a blast! A new exhibit recently opened and we hadn't been yet and I think that both kids could've stayed there the entire time and would've been happy. Give them a play kitchen and they're good to go!

We just hung out around the house the rest of the day because it rained on and off, but it was a great day despite the rain!

How did you spend your Mother's Day?

Thursday, May 8, 2014

So Glad It's the Weekend!

I'm not gonna lie. This week has sucked! Monday my car broke down during 5PM traffic on one of the busiest roads in town. Luckily I was able to coast into the median and Alan wasn't too far away so he could come get me. However, my car basically needs a new engine so it's done and we're going to try to sell it for what we can get and use that as part of a downpayment on a new car. 

The best part about all of this? We put $500 worth of new tires on it...TWO WEEKS AGO! We had made the decision to put new tires on it and just drive it until it died so we could pay down more debt before getting a new car. We were hoping to get another year or so out of it. Apparently, we were only going to get a couple weeks. It blows. 

We're also having to get a new garage door because that it the only affordable solution to the flooding problem. Hopefully. So there's another nice chunk of change out the window.

And how could I forget? I freaking have ringworm! You know that crazy ezcema/psorasis thing on my hand I posted about several months ago? Yeah. It's gotten way worse and a few weeks ago someone suggested that it might actually be ringworm and not ezcema like my doctor insisted it was. So, I decided to experiment with breast milk to see if it helped any because of breast milk's amazing antifungal properties. You can imagine my surprise when it started to go away on my hand. I've been applying lotrimin and tea tree oil daily and it's almost gone on my hand...except that I now have a spot on my leg and my foot. Ugh....

We're going on vacation in a couple weeks and honestly, if our hotel wasn't non-refundable, we would probably be having a staycation. Again. It is what it is so we're going to enjoy ourselves, but all this extra money that we don't really have is definitely a dark cloud hanging over our shoulders at the moment. 

I'm just so glad that it's the weekend and we can hopefully put this horrible week behind us.

Travel Thursday: Cape May

One really nice spring weekend when we lived in PA, Alan and I decided to take a spur of the moment trip to Cape May and Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Cape May is named for the Cape on which it's situated, at the southernmost tip of New Jersey. It was a Victorian resort town and is now known for its Victorian architecture.

There was a little festival going on while we were there that we explored and we had some Rita's while we walked along the beach. There are several things I miss about the East Coast and one of them is Rita's...I would be ecstatic if one opened up within 100 miles of me!

We found this on the beach, an abandoned WWII bunker. While you can't get inside, it was cool to see. 

We also went up to the top of the Cape May lighthouse, where we had some incredible views.

 Bonus points if you can spot Noah!

After we spent the day in Cape May, we drove up the shore to Atlantic City, where we spent the night...stay tuned next week to read all about it!

Please meet Stephanie, who blogs over at Wife Mommy Me

She is a Scorpio...along with her husband and son.

 Her all-time favorite movie is Gone With the Wind...and she can watch it over and over again.

She would love nothing more than to retire to the Carolinas one day. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Fun in the Sun May 2014 Giveaway

Guess what?! It's May giveaway time - TONS of ad space! So many wonderful ladies have stepped up this month to put together an awesome package just for you!! We’re so happy to present a sponsors choice. Each of these ladies have put in their own prize to bring you an assortment of cash, ad space and more!

Your Prizes Include:
60 days Let Your Face Shine Ad Space with Shana
30 days Large Ad Space with Holly
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30 days Monthly Ad Space with Angie
30 days The Big Dipper Ad Space with Rebecca
14 days Large Ad Space with Marilyn
30 days Medium Ad Space with Anna
30 days Medium Ad Space with Jasmine
30 days Large Ad Space with Heidi
45 days Large Ad Space with Tranae
$20 Paypal Cash
3 handmade soap collection from Savon Suds and a lanyard from Lanyards365

I want to thank all of these lovely ladies for stepping up and helping put this together! It is such a joy to work with them each time! 

Thank you to all of our readers who follow us, chat with us and share with us! You're what this is all about!

Follow us on twitter with #FunNSunGiveaway So without further ado....

How Do You Aioli? #EasyAioli with #RedGoldRecipes

This post was sponsored by Red Gold Tomatoes. However, all opinions are my own. 
What is aioli? It's that mayonnaise based spread that you find on sandwiches, in dips and even fish tacos. To celebrate spring finally arriving Red Gold tomatoes has introduced ten easy aioli recipes. From savory, to zesty, to bold, to spicy, to global - there's an aioli for everyone. 

So, how do I aioli? I actually don't like mayonnaise, so I make mine with Greek yogurt instead. Super yummy! You can find all of Red Gold's aioli recipes here.

Pizza with garlic aioli using Red Gold Garlic & Olive Oil tomatoes and 1/2 c Greek Yogurt.

Red Gold is launching the "How Do You Aioli?' contest on their Facebook page from May 7-28. All you need to do is select which aioli you like best to enter to win one of three prize packs that includes a Cuisinart Elite Griddler, a Red Gold apron and several other items. I definitely entered because I want that griddler!

Good luck!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Running Tips for Newbies

My friend Emily from Running Like A Mother is taking over the blog today!

We first "met" when she won a giveaway on the blog and you can imagine my surprise when I discovered we're from the same town! One of these days we'll have a blate, but for now I'll let her take it away...

Hi there, Back Home Again readers!

I got into running almost a year ago & man, it has been a journey! I started out just wanting to lose some baby weight after my youngest daughter was born on 12/12/12. I bought myself a treadmill and did a mile everyday. I started out with an 18:50 min/mile. For anyone that doesn’t know, that’s pretty damn slow. But I worked at it and improved my time almost every single day. I’m happy to report that my fastest mile is now 9:53 and I would love to beat that at some point this year! I’ve lost all the baby weight plus another 15 pounds. Running has become so much more to me than a calorie burn, though. It’s an outlet for me to constantly improve myself. To connect with other runners. To set goals, reach them and then set new goals. It’s time for myself, to clear my head. My running world is where I’m still “Emily” and not just “mama.” Even though I really, really, really love being “mama.”

Here are a few tips that I’ve learned over the past year that might be helpful if you’re interested in getting into running!

1. Submerge yourself in the running community. Holly and I both live in the fattest city in the United States, has she mentioned that? It’s true. So you can imagine my surprise when I discovered there is an incredibly supportive running community here! I immediately joined a couple local Facebook running groups, which helps me keep up-to-date on races and other events. There are also running clubs with meetings and group runs -- all kinds of fun stuff.

2. Get the right gear. Okay, now the “right” gear means something different for everyone. All I can do is share my essentials. First off, and most importantly in my book, is my Garmin Forerunner 10. It’s a GPS watch that tracks your distance, pace & calories. And after you get home you can upload your run to and it’ll show you even more info -- route, elevation change, splits, etc. It will store your runs and share them with your friends, if you want.

If you’re going to run with your phone or iPod, you aren’t going to want to hold them the whole time. That gets old after about a quarter mile. I personally use a Nathan Phantom Pak and I’ve been very happy with it. And speaking of phone/iPod, I also use YurBuds earbuds.  I struggled with cheap earbuds falling out of my ears while running for months and months and finally gave in. Best $30 I’ve spent in a long time - they’re amazing!

And you’re also going to need a good pair of running shoes. Head on over to your local running store and have them fit you for a pair. And just a tip, write down which shoes they suggest at the fitting, come home and price them online. It’s very possible you’ll be able to get a better deal! Running can be expensive - pinch pennies where you can!

3. Sign up for a race. It might seem intimidating at first, but register for a 5K. A 5K is 3.1 miles and it’s the perfect race for someone just starting out. There will be tons of other newbies there! Races have such a fun atmosphere.  I guarantee you’ll cross that finish line with a smile on your face. I can also guarantee that you’ll be planning your next race that very same day.

4. Don’t be afraid to walk. When I first started running, walking breaks seemed kind of taboo. Am I really a runner if I walk, too? Jeff Galloway says yes! Galloway is a former Olympian, published author and one of the biggest names in the running world. His teachings encourage run/walk intervals to help prevent injuries, even for the most advanced runners. So no, there is absolutely no shame in walking! If you run, even just short stretches at first, YOU ARE A RUNNER.

5. Only compare yourself to yourself. It’s so easy to compare yourself to others in the running world. When I did my half marathon in April, do you know how fast the winner ran it in? 1:08:57. My time? 2:52:50. I would be a very depressed person if I stared at those numbers for too long. What you need to focus on is yourself. Improving your times and reaching new goals. I’m never going to win a freaking half marathon! I know that. But someday I’ll beat my time. And then I’ll beat it again. And probably again. The only competition you should have is yourself!

Feel free to head on over to my blog for some more tips and lessons I’ve learned during my first year of running! And a big thanks to Holly for letting me guest blog today! I’m trying to get her to sign up for her first 5K this summer, so she should have some good running stories for you soon. Stay tuned for that! ;)

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Workout Rewards

I've been going to the gym more and more lately and am even attempting to run because I would like to do a 5K this year and desperately need to build up stamina. Now, I am by no means becoming a fashion blogger, but I thought I would share some cute workout clothes from Old Navy I'm thinking of rewarding myself with for steadily getting into the 180s.

My current workout clothes consist of threadbare Danskin pants and t-stirts. Oh and some yoga capris that are stretched out from pregnancy and falling off.

Did I mention that these are all almost 10 years old? You can see why I need some new workout gear!

Friday, May 2, 2014

What Music Means to Me

It's ironic that I choose to write this post on the day of one of my Wolfgang Orchestra concerts but that's just how it worked out. I come from a very musical family. My great-grandmother taught piano and played organ in church, my grandmother was a concertmaster violinist and my uncle is a jazz drummer. This doesn't include my relatives that played an instrument in school, such as my cousins and my mother. I have been involved in music since before I was born really.

My kindergarten piano recital. 

I started piano in kindergarten, was in choir starting in first grade through middle school, started the clarinet in second grade, taught myself flute and saxophone in seventh grade and then bassoon as a sophomore in high school.

Jammin' on my tenor saxophone with Friday Jazz Band in 8th grade.

I played clarinet, flute and saxophone throughout college and continue to play my clarinet to this day in a community orchestra. I say this to my husband, who isn't the least bit musically inclined, all the time - that it blows my mind when someone looks at a piece of music and just sees dots and lines. I have known how to read music since I was five years old. Five. That's twenty-seven years. It's a part of my being, my soul. When I go through periods of not playing, I miss it terribly and always come back because I cannot imagine my life without music in it. 

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

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Travel Thursday: Eastern State Penitentiary

The first weekend that Alan and I lived in PA, we decided to go be tourists in our new town. One of the places we visited was Eastern State Penitentiary.


We learned about it in grad school and I was super excited to actually get to visit. It opened in 1829 and was considered a revolutionary new prison design because it was designed to create true regret and penitence through solitary confinement of every prisoner. Cells were tiny, with the only light coming from a skylight above. Almost all prisons in the world were designed based on two prisons, one of which was Eastern State Penitentiary. 


It was designed like the spokes of a wheel, with a central guard station so that they could see what was going on down each hallway from one vantage point. 


The prison operated until it was abandoned in 1971 and is now in ruins. Lucky for us it is open for tours as a preserved ruin. You get an audio guide and go on your way to explore. Very cool!

The former barber shop. This reminded me of something out of Saw. Creepy!

There were lots of famous inmates, but probably the most notorious was Al Capone, who spent several months there. However, his cell was a little more plush than the rest of the inmates.


The prison is now located in Philly's Fairmount Park neighborhood and is an urban landmark. We only visited the one time, but it was seriously, seriously cool!

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