Hoosier-versary!

6 years!! This weekend marked our sixth year in Indy!  I really cannot believe it.

It’s been six years since these two newly weds packed up and left Ann Arbor, the only home we’d ever known.

  

Starting a new adventure in a brand new place, we had no idea all that God would have in store for us.  

  

  

 

An amazing job for Eric.  A church to call home. Many wonderful friends.  And welcoming our three beautiful daughters.  Gods blessings are endless!  

     
 Looking forward to all the adventures yet to come.
Indiana, you are our HOME! 

What will it bring?

As I sit here with my morning tea, I can’t believe it’s 2015! What will this year have in store for me, for Eric, for our family? This past year had it’s ups and downs and was a transitional year. One of learning our way as a family of 5. This new year brings on some much welcomed normalcy. We will be embarking on our second year as a family of 5 (with no plans to expand at this time) and it will be our second year going on year three in our home (by years end it will be the longest time we have lived in the same place for our entire marriage!!!)

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/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/f32/39377069/files/2015/01/img_0222.jpgphoto credit: Sdreevesphotography Continue reading

Christmas 2014

I’m still trying to figure out how this Christmas was somehow busier than last year?! And last Christmas I had a baby!! Our second Christmas as a family of 5, our second Christmas in our own house- it was wonderful from start to finish!

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Here is a look at our Christmas season. The girls loved it all! We kicked off the holiday with our annual trip to Stonycreek tree farm for our tree.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/f32/39377069/files/2015/01/img_2326.jpg. At 8.5 feet it was our biggest tree ever. We felt a little like Christmas Vacation as it took up most of our family room😁😳

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Liesel and Moira school revolved around holiday themes and we enjoyed making a variety of fun crafts.

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One of the biggest differences this year was the baking! Since we have been trying to live life without refined sugars any baking I did was for others. This way the girls and I got to experience all the fun without having all the goodies hanging around to eat. We made cookies for our church cookie walk ( gingerbread, sugar, and peanut butter blossoms)

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/f32/39377069/files/2015/01/img_2355.jpg. And cinnamon almonds as teacher gifts/neighbor gifts. I used this recipe from last year and altered it by decreasing both sugars to 1 cup each and increasing the amount of almonds to 6 lbs. they turned out great!

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/f32/39377069/files/2015/01/img_2354.jpg. We did however still do gingerbread houses and I attempted to keep the candy eating to a minimum🙈

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Emaline’s stocking was perhaps the most time consuming of all the activities ( for me at least). Many of you know that I had made the older girls stockings using the Bucilla Stockings kits. This year I had a late start on miss Ems and had to hustle to finish it in time for her birthday on the 17th. Luckily I made my deadline, but phew it was difficult to say the least.

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Christmas is such a special time to Eric and I. We have always loved the time we spend together, alone. This year we enjoyed our evening Christmas movie marathons with a twist. Eric developed a Christmas movie screen shot contest on FB and IG

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/f32/39377069/files/2015/01/img_2356.jpg. We also created our annual Christmas magic, winter wonderland for the girls

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/f32/39377069/files/2015/01/img_2335.jpg. And we made these frames for our parents and grandparents as Christmas gifts

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/f32/39377069/files/2015/01/img_2341.jpg. We are a great team! I love how the frames turned out!!

But Christmas is much more than just trees and stockings and presents for the girls. They really have a firm understanding of the true Christmas story! They can recite the nativity story by heart with songs. And they loved playing with our nativity set and role playing Mary and Joseph

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/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/f32/39377069/files/2015/01/img_23281.jpg. In the evenings we would all read a family advent devotional and all of us enjoyed this special time! I look forward to making this time grow deeper and deeper as the girls grow and mature.

It was a magical season filled with lots of love, family, and time together. Looking forward to all 2015 has to offer! Blessing to all on this new year, XO

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Summer Blues

Summer is ending and I am not happy about it!!! This is not usually how I am come the end of August. By now I’m usually dreaming of apples and pumpkins and sweatshirts, you name it. But summer has been so so good to us. Maybe it’s the amazing weather we’ve had: weather that allows us to have the windows open nearly every day, weather that allows us to go to the pool or park or take walks whenever we want, weather that let’s Eric and I sit out on the patio after the girls are asleep and reflect on our daily blessings and embrace the new struggles in peace. I have loved every. single. minute!

On Monday our routine comes to a brutal halt. Liesel begins 4 year old preschool. She will be going three days a week and (this is the hardest part) she will be eating lunch there. I am trying ( and failing) to not get emotional. But before I fall completely apart, here is a brief look at our summer adventures.

****warning photo overload****

easy/carefree mornings

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annual trip to Spencer’s for over 10lbs of berries

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trip to Michigan. Fun with cousins and a big 4th birthday celebration

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Fourth of July: parade and (we’re not so sure of you) fireworks

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Family date day downtown Indy

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state fair bliss

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trip to Wisconsin to see our dear friends who we miss TERRIBLy

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and of course more pool and park days than one could ever want

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Such an amazing time with these beauties

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Fall, I know I will love all you have to offer, but for now, I will mourn the end to a perfect summer!

World-Class Ribs at Home

He’s back, the Master Griller himself (my hubs😉), for a fabulous blog on Ribs!! If you missed his first blog on burgers you can find that here. Spring means the start of “Grill Season” at our house, and boy can my man grill! I hope you enjoy these ribs, they were a big hit over here!

Ribs. The crown jewel of barbecue. One would think they are the grill-master’s ultimate test. Well ribs ain’t easy, but with the right setup and equipment, they are within reach of anyone with a grill.

There are two main schools of thought when it comes to ribs: wet and dry. That is, ribs served with sauce on them, and ribs served without sauce on them. Most people are probably used to saucy ribs (hey ribs, behave yourselves), but ribs with a fabulous dry rub are often times at the pinnacle of barbecue flavor. For this recipe, I made both.

Now a word on the ribs themselves. The meat of the matter. There are two main types of ribs: loin (baby back), and spare. Most people are used to loin ribs. They have the curved shape, and can be the most tender. Spare ribs are huge and oddly shaped, and I don’t typically use them. There is a third variety, the St. Louis cut, which is a trimmed down spare rib, and this type is awesome. They are the same size as loin ribs, can be cheaper, and have more meat on them. They also have more fat which can be great for flavor and juiciness for low and slow grilling. For this recipe, I went with the loin rib.

Preparing the ribs starts with removing the membrane on the inside of the ribs. This step is so important! It allows more flavor to penetrate that side of the ribs, and makes them easier to pull apart. In the picture below the top rack still has its membrane, as compared to the bottom rack which has had its membrane removed.

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Then I applied the dry rub to both racks. Both if them receive the rub, even though only one of them will end up being a dry rub rack. You can find a seemingly unending litany of dry rub recipes online, or you could buy one from the store (if you must). An easy recipe that will do in a pinch is equal parts salt, pepper, paprika, and brown sugar. I added some other secret (forgotten, actually) ingredients of my own. Also start soaking two handfuls of wood chips in water at this point.

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Now let the ribs and wood chips sit as you set up the grill. Light your charcoal in a chimney starter and wait until the briquettes on top start to get a layer of ash on them. Then dump out half the coals on one side and the other half on the other side of the grill. “But what do I do if I only have a gas grill?” Two choices: grow up and get a charcoal grill, or stick to making sub-par hotdogs. Only joking; just light one of the burners on one side of the grill I suppose and keep it on low-medium. But seriously, it’s so much better doing this using charcoal. Once the fire is in place, put a drip pan in between the two mounds of coals and fill it part way with water. This will steam the meat a bit. Then place half the wood chips on one mound of coals, then the other on the other. Since they’re soaked through, they’ll smoke as opposed to burn. Yum!

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Next, put your ribs in your handy-dandy rib rack. You don’t have a rib rack? Well then you’re stuck cooking only one rack at a time. Oh well.

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Then you have to mess with the vents to get the temp down. Way down to like 250F. A side note on this: I read on some website somewhere that you should only close the bottom vents. They made the observation that if you wanted to slow your car down, you wouldn’t plug up your exhaust pipe, would you? Well, anyway, partially close your vents, either both or just the bottom, to get that temperature where you want it. I had to close mine almost all the way to get it just right. Then let it go for about three hours. Every half hour or so, start to baste one rack in your favorite barbecue sauce. I used Stubb’s Hickory Bourbon. Delicious. Another side note: basting with barbecue sauce can be tricky to say the least. Barbecue sauce typically has a lot of sugars in it that can burn easily especially if the meat being basted is directly over a hot fire. In this case, however, since the ribs are away from the coals and we have kept the temperature down, it’s not an issue.

You’ll know you’re done when the meat from the ends of the ribs have pulled back from the bone a half inch or so, as you can see in the picture below. Also, the ribs will pull apart with moderate ease. They will not fall off the bone, however. Close, but they won’t. Ribs that fall off the bone are likely baked in an oven. That’s not barbecue. Add one last coat of sauce to your saucy ribs (seriously, ribs, keep it G-rated) then cut them individually if you like so that everyone can have one at a time. Serve them with some Grillin’ Beans, preferably Texas Ranchero, and you’re good to go. Ok, eat some salad if you must, but bring on the meat! Note the pinkish smoke ring on the outside of the ribs. This is not uncooked. The meat turns reddish pink like that once it is smoked. Oh buddy, here we go! Enjoy!

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Date Nights “in”

With three kids three years and under, getting out on dates are rare. Eric and I have really tried to keep our date nights going by having them at home once the girls are in bed. It’s so easy to get into a rut of watching a movie or show ( currently loving Breaking Bad) and having little to no conversations in the evening. Lately we have been making our dates more meaningful and different. Playing a board game, having a nice dinner, reading a book out loud, are a few ways. A friend gave me a great idea a little while ago to have our own happy hour dates! We have been loving this idea, especially with the weather being such that we can sit outside and enjoy an appetizer and new drink of choice!

This past weekend we had a throwback to our Ann Arbor days happy hour! We enjoyed some homemade red sangria, to remind us of one of our favorite spots Dominick’s, and bruschetta, an appetizer we loved to get at Pizza House. We spent the evening reminiscing on old days, laughing about our current life and planning for our future house projects.

If you find yourself in a similar boat, stuck in due to kids or just wanting to save money/ not deal with the hustle and bustle of going out, then I recommend happy hour date nights! It’s a great way to connect with your honey. Here are our recipes from last night, enjoy!

Red Sangria
2 lg juice oranges
1 lemon
1 bottle of Red Wine, dry
1/4 cup Triple Sec
1/4 cup sugar

Wash and slice one orange and lemon. Place in bottom of your pitcher. In your food process grind sugar until super fine and pour over fruit. Crush slightly with a wooden spoon, just until juices start flowing then stir until sugar dissolves.

Next, juice your second orange and add to pitcher. Then add in wine and Triple Sec. Stir and refrigerate for 2-8hours.

20140413-161107.jpg best served in mason jars for true authentic, Dominick’s fashion😉

Bruschetta
1 baguette, sliced
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 TB olive oil
1TB balsamic vinegar
3 basil leaves, chopped
Pinch of salt
8 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced

Mix tomatoes through salt together in a bowl. Taste and alter accordingly. Honestly, I eyeball all of the ingredients adding a little more of this and that. So feel free to as well!

Butter both sides of baguette slices and toast on a griddle until just slightly browned. Add a heaping spoonful of tomato mixture on each piece and place a mozzarella slice on top. So easy and so delicious!

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Here’s our finished happy hour

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So great to reconnect with this man, my love!

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One week in

Well, we’ve survived our first week as a family of five!! It has been a crazy, emotional, wonderful and everything in between, one! I can honestly say it has gone as good as it could have. Especially with the busy-ness that surrounds Christmas.

Emaline Noel has made the transition easy ( one forgets the ease of a newborn- sleep-eat-poop-eyes peak open-repeat). She seems so laid back, but don’t all newborns? Time will tell. She has spoiled us with sleep giving us 4-5 hour stretches at night followed by an additional 3-4 hr stretch. Christmas eve night she even slept 6 hours!! I think we have her 9#14oz size to thank for this😊 Feedings have gone great. She eats about every 2.5-3 hrs during the day. It’s keeping her awake that’s tricky.

The older girls have also adapted this new routine/change incredibly well!! At the hospital Liesel could barely take her eyes off Emaline. She wanted to hold her desperately!

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20131226-143150.jpg At one point Liesel (unprompted) began singing you are my sunshine to her baby sister while she was fussing. Heart broke. Moira was a little more unsure at first. She gave her kisses in the hospital but was far more interested in every button, wire, and everything else a small hospital room has to offer😉 This changed the second day she visited and especially once we came home. MJ has been all about baby Emaline ( as she calls her). The kisses come by the hundreds.

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20131226-143700.jpg And there has been zero jealousy issues, not even a hint!!! I was concerned about this, especially with MJ. As long as Moira can see me she is fine. She could careless if I’m holding, feeding or attending to Emaline, she only wants me close by.

However, the person who has really made this transition go so easily is my husband! Guys, he has been a rock star! Not that I am shocked. Just truly blessed by this man day in and day out. With our other girls we had the luxury of having my mom here the first week. This eased so much of the work load while I was in resting state. Because of schedules we asked my mom to wait and come in January when L would be back to preschool and Eric’s work would be incredibly busy. I know it will be a time we will absolutely need a third person. That being said. Everything and I mean EVERYTHING fell on Eric’s shoulders. And because of Christmas and other peoples busy schedules with visitors etc we didn’t have much help not even many stop bys. Somehow the laundry, grocery shopping, dinner prep, girls needs+my needs were all met! Again, so blessed.

The hardest part of post-partum has been the restriction of stairs! My doctor and nurses were very strong on limiting my stair climb to once a day. This was the first time we’ve lived in a house with stairs and boy it’s been hard! I have felt so much more handicapped and trapped this time around. I am sure it was important for my healing but it did take a toll on my mental health.

Other than that everything has gone really well. My recovery has gone great. Slightly more painful then MJs but definitely easier than Ls. For the last few days I have felt almost completely normal! Just in time for Christmas ( thanks Emaline for allowing this to happen). I will post her 6 hr birth story soon. For now here is a quick glimpse at our first week in.

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Heading home, after 24 hours to the minute, from the hospital.

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