June 2014Back Home Again: June 2014

Monday, June 30, 2014

July Goals and June Recap

How did I do on my June Goals?
  • Budget, budget, budget! We didn't do too bad with this one. We went over our grocery and eating out budgets, but we were under in several other things, so it evened itself out.
  • Eat paleo the entire month. HAHAHAHA Yeah...I wrote about how at the beginning of the month we started the 21 Day Sugar Detox. It went really well while we were on it, but now that we're off...yeah...I've eaten so many sugary things filled with gluten the last two weeks it's not even funny. I know this is an excuse, but it's true. I've been so stressed and overloaded at work and have just taken it out in my eating.
  • Start canning/freezing our CSA and garden bounty. I've been doing this whenever I can since our csa started and am slowly building up our freezer and pantry again. 
  • Sort stuff for our yard sale. Done. We had our sale this past weekend and while we didn't do as well as we would've liked, we still made some money and got rid of several large items that were taking up room in our basement.
  • Register for and train for 5K in August. Ha! This did so not happen this month. I actually hurt my foot at the gym and can't hardly put any weight on my right foot. I will be visiting the doctor this week to see what's up with it.
July Goals 
  • Get a handle on my eating. It sucks but my reality is that I just can't have treats around because I have NO self control.
  • Complete the SAI scrapbook pages I need to do for the last two years since I'm no longer editor. Yes, I'm a bad SAI. I've been editor in my alumni chapter for the past two years and haven't made any scrapbook pages....I really need to get this done before I give all the materials to the new editor!
  • Going along with the scrapbook theme...buy frames and hang all the photos we printed last fall on our family photo wall. 
  • Sell several items that didn't sell in our yard sale on Facebook yard sale pages.
Aaand that's it I think. I'm tired and my foot hurts so I'm going to bed.

Feel free to link up with us to share your goals!


Friday, June 27, 2014

How Do You GiveForward?

Last weekend there were a bunch of us in one of my moms groups that held a yard sale to help another member afford her cancer treatments. There was such an outpouring of support for her and her family, it was unbelievable. From the donation of the yard, to the donations of things to sell, cash donations and time spent from volunteers running the sale. Altogether $1500 was raised for this family, which amounts to about three months of treatment.  

All it took was one courageous woman to ask for help and for another to make good on her idea.

 From our yard sale last year.

Unfortunately, there are so many people out there that may want to help others in need, but don't actually do it. This could be for many reasons, but the feeling you get when you help someone else is incredible. When we lived in Pennsylvania, there was this foreign tourist on the train that didn't realize the train we were on wasn't going all the way to Wilmington. The last stop happened to be our stop and he was stuck. We could've easily just gotten in our car and gone on home, but we didn't. We gave him a ride to where he was trying to go. It was such a simple thing, yet it completely made this guy's trip and it made us feel so good to do something for someone else just because.

There are so many ways to help someone in need. One way to help is to start a GiveForward page. GiveForward.com is an organization that focuses on helping families in need due to a medical crisis. You set up your fundraiser and spread the word for people to donate. However, their administration fees are covered almost entirely by donors, meaning that approximately 99.5% of the funds raised go directly to the beneficiary. 

They have also started a brand ambassador program to help them spread the word about their mission to give others unexpected joy. I can't tell you how excited I am to be a part of the over $107 million raised to help those in need.

So, will you GiveForward?
I was compensated for this post. However, all opinions are my own.

Summer Bucket List: Water Fun

My kids love the water and the past couple summers we've gotten out the sprinkler and the kiddie pool and let them have at it.

18 month old Ewan playing with the sprinkler in 2012...I can't believe how big he's gotten!

Playing in the kiddie pool last summer

We've gotten them a bigger pool for this summer, but sadly haven't gotten it out yet so I don't have a current photos. Alan wants to make them a water table out of pvc pipe too, but that also hasn't gotten done. Thank goodness they have a water play day at daycare on Fridays!

I'm planning on getting the pool out on Sunday if it doesn't rain. Hopefully. 

What all do you have planned this weekend?

Beach Fun

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Travel Thursday: Brandywine Battlefield State Historic Site

When we lived in Pennsylvania, we lived really close to the Brandywine Battlefield State Historic Site, located just outside of Chadds Ford. 


In September 1777, the Battle of the Brandywine took place along the Brandywine River. George Washington was defeated by the British General Howe and the ultimate result was that Philadelphia was taken by the British. 

George Washington's headquarters in the home of Benjamin Ring.

The current historic site encompasses approximately 52 acres, but the site of the actual battle is much much larger. It also happens to be the best preserved Revolutionary War battlefield in the nation. Very cool!


I worked north of the battlefield one of the years we were there and I used to take the back roads home a lot, which went through the battlefield. I always said I wanted to stop some day and get photos of the landscape and I really wish I had because it's beautiful! The rolling hills with farmsteads over two hundred years old...there's nothing like it here in Indiana and that's one of the things I miss most about Pennsylvania - just driving along and coming upon buildings that are 200+ years old. Heck, the Chichester meetinghouse was pushing 300 years old!

But I digress....anyways, if you're ever in the area, or on your way to Longwood Gardens, you should check it out!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

An Average Joe's Pursuit for Financial Freedom: A Review

I received this book in exchange for a review. However, all opinions are my own. 


A quick synopsis:
An Average Joe’s Pursuit for Financial Freedom offers a different perspective on money than what is traditionally taught by our parents and in our school systems. The reason there is such a discrepancy between the wealthy and the poor is due to the difference in the way money is perceived. We are not born with the ability to maintain wealth: it is something that is learned. The knowledge of knowing how to make money work to generate passive income is something that anyone can learn as long as they are disciplined. An Average Joe’s Pursuit for Financial Freedom is based on practical concepts and discusses the problems that the majority of us face with our personal ļ¬nance.

About the author:
Michael Munsey works in the oil industry and resides in Houston, Texas. He received his undergraduate degree from Murray State University in May of 1995. While working to climb the corporate ladder within Halliburton Energy Services, Michael enrolled in the EMBA program at Rice University in 2005. After earning his MBA, he had a major change in the way he perceives money which he is sharing in this book. On a side note, I have found out since reading this book that Michael is from a little town about 40 minutes away from me. Such a small world!

My review:
The focus of An Average Joe's Pursuit for Financial Freedom is on changing the way you think about money by making your passive income work for you instead of working for your paycheck. Having worked in a bank right out of college, many of the points in the book are things I know, such as don't live above your means and making investing a part of your budget so you have additional income when you retire. However, this is very good advice and something we all need to be reminded of. I saw firsthand how some of my bank customers did just this. They made enough income off of their investments that they had more than enough money to live off of each month without an additional paycheck.

While we're currently in the process of paying off our debt and can't follow all of Michael's advice just yet, we're definitely keeping it in mind for the future. As probably my favorite quote of the entire book from one of Michael's old professors says: Make money while you sleep. Yes please!

You can find Michael's book here: ExLibris Amazon (Kindle) Goodreads Facebook Twitter Google+

Monday, June 23, 2014

Buckets and Buckets of Blueberries!

A few weekends ago, we decided to go pick blueberries at a local orchard across the river in Kentucky. Alan and I aren't the hugest fan of blueberries, but the kids love them and we thought that it would be a fun family outing to go pick some since we missed the u-pick strawberries with the exception of the one time at our CSA. Even though we got up super early to get there right after they opened (and I was up til after 1 because I went with a friend to see The Fault in Our Stars - which is really good btw), we were right, the kids had a BLAST!

 Pardon my just rolled out of bed look!

We picked just over two pounds of blueberries, which was about half of one bucket. It may not seem like a lot, but trust me. It is!

I had originally intended to freeze some for later, but we wound up just eating them or using them in several things. As someone who's not really a blueberry fan, these were delicious! The orchard we go to uses very minimal spraying and tries to grow their produce sustainably. Believe me, you can tell!

Here are a few of the things we made with our blueberries. 

 blueberry waffles

blueberry zucchini bread

blueberry no-bake granola bars

Do you visit u-pick places? What do you make with what you pick?

Use the code backhomeagainTA to receive 10% off your order of coffee at Three Avocados! Three Avocados is a non-profit coffee company that donates the proceeds of their coffee to help third world countries receive clean drinking water.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Summer Bucket List: Beach Fun

I posted briefly about this in my vacation recap a few weeks ago, but when we were in Charleston, we went to the beach for a morning. 

While it wasn't Ewan's first time at the beach - technically he was on a beach when his aunt and uncle got married when he was 14 months old - it was his first time playing and swimming at the beach, as well as Cecily's. They both loved it!

Ewan had told us for weeks before we went on vacation that when we got to the beach, we were going to have to throw coconuts at the mermaids. We compromised by telling him we could blow bubbles at them instead :-) Luckily for us, we didn't see any.

They loved playing in the sand, "making cookies and soup" and especially destroying Alan's sandcastle. 

I wish I would've gotten a video of this, but Cecily kept dancing and dancing on the sand. She was having a blast. It was so so cute!

They both also thought it was hilarious to throw sand at me...me not so much! :-)

It's been almost a month since we got back and Ewan keeps asking us when we get to go swimming at the beach again. I promise kid, we'll go back. Maybe next time it'll be along with a trip to see Mickey Mouse! 

There was supposed to be a link up with this, but I don't think I got the right code because it's not working on my blog unfortunately :( Go visit Stephanie's blog if you want to join us!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Travel Thursday: Naples Zoo

In March 2012, we went to Naples, Florida for my brother-in-law's wedding. Even though I was pregnant with Cecily and ridiculously sick at the time, we decided to make a vacation about it. One of the places we visited while there was the Naples Zoo.

It was fairly small, but we got half price admission through our zoo pass to our local zoo as a reciprocal member (which, if you are members of a zoo and don't take advantage of that, you really should!). One of my favorite parts about it was that you could take a boat ride through the lagoon to see all the monkeys that live on islands. 

Ewan was 14 months at the time and of course he chose the boat ride to be super fussy and we were "those people" on the ride. Still cool though!

This was not long after he began walking and he just wanted to go go go and not sit at all. Once we got off the boat, we let him do just that and were able to get this great photo of him. It's currently on our photo wall in the family room. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Bible School 2014

Last week Ewan was in Bible School and I was his crew leader. Three is the youngest age you can be to attend and we knew he would have fun, once he got over his shyness. Which is why I volunteered to be a crew leader so that he would have me there if needed. Please excuse the blurry photos I took on my phone!

There were only three three year olds and three leaders, so they got one on one attention. Once Ewan got over his shyness, he had a blast. He made crafts, played games and had story time. He also picked up the bible verse we learned, 1 John 4:7, and tells it to us all the time. Probably the best part is that he made a few friends...which hopefully means that he'll go to the preschool room on his own!

Volunteering also allowed me to meet people at church, which is one of the reasons we don't go all the time because we feel awkward. While Ewan was a little upset that he wasn't in any of the photos shown to the congregation at the end of the week, I'm glad we did it. We'll probably do it again next year too!

Do you send your kids to a religious summer program?

Use the code backhomeagainTA to receive 10% off your order of coffee at Three Avocados! Three Avocados is a non-profit coffee company that donates the proceeds of their coffee to help third world countries receive clean drinking water.

Monday, June 16, 2014

21 Day Detox Meals

This last week Alan and I have been partaking in the 21 Day Sugar Detox. See, we had his bet going on that he wouldn't be able to go the whole 21 days. I told him he wouldn't make it three. He made it a week and I gave him permission to quit for Father's Day. The main reason being that I had a Diet Coke one night so he said that I cheated....technically true, but it wasn't flat out sugar so I don't necessarily count it... :-) (See, Alan, I admitted it, on my blog even! Are you happy?)

As a recent Facebook status of his said, he didn't know what he was going to do without his Mountain Dew and peanut butter sandwiches. Well, these are just a few of the meals we ate this past week and they were might tasty!

 Ham steak with quinoa pasta and nutritional yeast.

 Tarragon Chicken

 Baked chicken Parmesan with greens.

Orange Ginger pork chops with grilled veggies and green beans. 

Who thought we were going to eat nothing but salads?

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


Friday, June 13, 2014

Ten Years Ago...

A little anniversary slipped by in the beginning of May and with everything we had going on last month, I didn't even realize it.

On May 8, I graduated college TEN years ago.

A photo from my high school graduation since I couldn't find any from college...almost 15 years ago...

Um. What?!

I know that in the grand scheme of things, I'm not old, but the thought that I graduated college that long ago and it's now coming up on ten years since I started grad school makes me feel absolutely ancient. Alan and I recently saw the film Neighbors and we were totally the lame married couple with a kid, but what was even better was that there were some teenagers in there and they were babies when some of the references in the film were popular. Hoodyhoo!

Looking back, I've experienced a lot and changed a lot since college. Back then, all I wanted was to run away to England and marry a hot British boy. I still would love to run away to the British Isles, but I wouldn't trade my husband or family for anything. I would do everything I could to bring England to me since I wasn't able to go back yet. I still add little parts of Britain to my life, but I am no longer as obsessed as I was.

I wanted to go to law school for international law...yeah, well...that didn't happen. I decided to go to school for museum studies, but applied to a couple historic preservation programs just in case. My first choice was the Historical Administration program at Eastern Illinois. While I got in, I didn't get an assistantship so it was going to be a very expensive year. I did, however, get one at Ball State, the school an hour down the road from my hometown that I applied to their Historic Preservation program as a last resort. I decided at the last minute to go to Ball State and not Eastern Illinois. Little did I know how that decision would change my life...I never would've met Alan and wouldn't have my beautiful children.

It always amazes me that a seemingly innocent decision can impact your life in such an important way!

Use the code backhomeagainTA to receive 10% off your order of coffee at Three Avocados! Three Avocados is a non-profit coffee company that donates the proceeds of their coffee to help third world countries receive clean drinking water.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Travel Thursday: Galena, Illinois

The same week we went to House on the Rock as part of a grad school field trip, we also spent a day in Galena, Illinois.

Galena 010

Galena is located in the northwest corner of Illinois and is a very historic town. The photo above is the main street through the town and it's historic storefronts are almost completely intact, which is pretty rare. In fact 85% of the town is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which is pretty cool.

Galena 035

We got to take an historic architecture tour and then were able to venture out on our own. Probably my favorite thing about the town was all the historic houses on the hill above Main Street.

Galena 029

Galena 030

Galena is a great place to go for a weekend getaway but probably not for a longer trip. The town is very touristy and Main Street is filled with little shops that cater to the tourists, but it's still very very cool. This part of Illinois is also very hilly, unlike almost the rest of the state. It was a pleasant surprise to see when we got there!


Meet Bekah. We've been blog friends for quite awhile now and I'm so excited one of my crunchy buddies is finally one of my blogs of the month!

1. She started dating her husband when she was 19.
2. She decided she could go vegetarian after attempting one recipe...that was a year and a half ago!
3. She has almost no hearing in her left ear. A surgery to fix that failed but she may try one more time.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

No Bake Granola Bars

Alan and the kids eat granola bars like crazy. They each have to have a certain kind and we go through two to three boxes a week, which gets expensive. I know several people that make their own granola bars, so I decided to jump on the bandwagon too. 

However, I try not to use my oven too much during the summer to keep the house cooler and our energy bill down. So, I decided to play around with several recipes I found online and create my own, no bake recipe. 

No Bake Granola Bars

2 c rolled oats
1 1/4 c peanut butter I used half peanut butter, half almond butter
1 c ground flaxseed
1/2-3/4 c honey
3/4 c dried cranberries or raisins or whatever fruit you want
1/2 c chocolate chips
1/4 c hemp seeds or almonds or cashews...whatever nuts/seeds you want

Mix all ingredients together and press into greased baking dish - I used my bar pan. Refrigerate to harden - they need to stay in the fridge or they will get really gooey. They're also really filling so I cut them in half.

Ewan has been asking for one all the time since I made them. I'm so glad that I found a way to cut our granola bar expense!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Virtual Blog Hop

My friend Dara over at Not in Jersey tagged me for a virtual blog hop. Every week a different group of bloggers answers the same questions and then tags a new group.

1. What am I working on? 
Our CSA is already getting into high gear and I feel like I'm already swamped with veggies! I spent this entire weekend doing food prep with our CSA veggies, stuff from our garden plus things I have bought at farmer's markets recently.
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? 
In terms of my blog? Well, I write about my family but I also try to throw in various things we do to live more sustainably every now and then. Plus the occasional review or giveaway. I've put a lot of work into growing my blog and even though I'm kind of burnt out right now because of it, I'm so glad that my hard work has finally paid off!
3. Why do I write/create what I do? 
I share my family's adventures because it's a record of what we do. I share recipes because I love to cook and am fairly good at it. I share various ways we try to live sustainably because I feel that everyone should do what they can to ensure the planet is around for future generations. One of my favorite quotes is this: "We don't inherit the planet from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children," So true! I feel that by sharing some of the things we do, we may inspire someone else out there to try it themselves.
4. How does your writing/creating process work?
I have lots of posts with only the title started, which happen as I think of something. This way I can go back to it and finish it as I have time. I write my posts at night after my kids are in bed and if I get a chance I will try to write as many posts as I can on Sunday evenings so that I don't have to worry about it during the week. It seems that things at work and at home have gotten super crazy as of late so I can't be sitting down every night to write my post for the next day.

Now for my tagees. Unfortunately, I don't have anyone to tag because even though I seriously asked probably 10-15 people, they either a) never responded to my email/Facebook post b) said no or c) pulled out after saying yes. So, I hate to be that girl, but I'm gonna be that girl that doesn't pass on the tag. 

I get an E for effort though!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Travel Thursday: Charleston

You may have noticed that I didn't really blog much last week. That's because we were on vacation! We went to Charleston, South Carolina and had a blast! There will be more in depth posts about specific parts of our vacation, but I wanted to start with an overview of what we did.

We had originally intended on making the 10 hour drive Monday, but Alan suggested driving about halfway to Chattanooga, TN Sunday morning and spending the afternoon there exploring the Tennessee Aquarium and the riverfront. As usual, it was a great idea and we had a blast! However, I left my camera in the car so I didn't get any photos and haven't "borrowed" any of Alan's yet. We finished our drive to Charleston Monday and when we got to our hotel we just decided to go to dinner and then take the kids to the pool. They of course had a blast!

Tuesday we went to the Children's Museum of the Lowcountry, which was really really cool!

We then spent the rest of the morning walking around Charleston and the kids and I played in the fountain at Waterfront Park.

 Gotta love Alan's photos!

We then went to see the Angel Oak. This was seriously Alan's favorite part of our trip and I will admit that it was really really cool. 

The tree is anywhere from 500-1500 years old and is the oldest living thing east of the Rockies. It is HUGE!

Our trip wouldn't have been complete without a beach day, which was Wednesday. We went to Folly Beach, which was the closest to our hotel. We later found out that there's a really dangerous undertow there...oops! Even so, we all had a really great morning there and the kids loved their first time in the ocean. Cecily was actually dancing in the water for probably 10 minutes. It was so so cute and I really wish I would've gotten a video.

Several other things we did were go to Charles Towne Landing, so Ewan could see a real "pirate" ship.

Magnolia Plantation so I could visit some gardens

Took a walk along the Battery

And visited Ft. Sumter

There is so much to do in the Charleston area that we didn't get to do so Alan and I have decided that we're going to make another trip sometime, just the two of us. But in the fall or spring because holy cow it was hot at the end of May!
Have you taken a vacation this year? Where did you go?
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