Family Time

What a fast summer!!  I still cannot believe it is over and we are going on our second week of school. Although fast, it was jam packed with fun.  The highlight of which was our annual family date weekend.

We started this tradition two years ago and have looked forward to it every year since.  This year we decided to enjoy our weekend right here in our beautiful city of Indy!  So many places to see and activities to do.  It also ended up being very budget friendly and nice to come home and enjoy our own beds before heading out again.  Not that the idea of 5 of us in one hotel room doesn’t sound relaxing and fun😬😳. 
We started off our date day at the beautiful IMA Hundred Acres.  The last time we went there Liesel was 10 days old!  Cannot believe it has taken us so long to go back, amazing trails, beautiful outside sculptures and picnic areas. 

        
    
   

We enjoyed lunch at the Circle Centre mall where the girls danced to live music and even got to watch drumline battles! After which both girls decided they were going to play drums  when they are older! 

  

Then we took the rest of the day and explored downtown.  Civil War Monument (thank you Conner prairie for making this easy for the girls to enjoy), the Circle, the downtown library, and the Canal. 
   

   
    
    
 

Day 1 ended with our annual stop at the Old Spaghetti Factory and of course ice cream at Brics on the Monon in Broad Ripple. 

    
   

Sunday started with everyone sleeping until almost 8am (incredible).  We then spent the day at the Children’s Museum, lunched at Bazbeauxs in Broad Ripple and finished the day swimming in our pool at home.  A truly perfect weekend, one that recharged us and bid a fabulous summer farewell.    

   
 

 

Peppermint Mocha- RFS!

Well, I did it! After searching and searching and tweaking, I finally found a recipe for peppermint mocha that is free of refined sugar AND absolutely hits the spot! I truly had my doubts and was starting to believe I’d have to live the entire season without one. Praise Jesus, I do not!

Now, I’ll be honest, it does not taste identical to sbucks. However, the flavors are perfect and there is even a hint of sweetness that leaves you wanting more. I am hooked and you will be too!

Ingredients
1.5 T cocoa powder
3 T pure maple syrup
1 tsp raw honey (optional but adds a touch more sweetness)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk ( could also use coconut milk or regular)

In a medium saucepan mix powder, syrup, honey and milk together over medium heat. Continue to heat until completely mixed and warmed. Then, remove from heat and add in extracts. Allow creamer to cool to room temperature and store in an air tight container for up to one week.

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While mixture is cooling make your espresso. I made two shots of espresso. Pour into mug and spoon 3 TB of peppermint creamer and mix. I then steamed about 3/4 cup of almond milk in my frother and poured on top. You could also just add your creamer to a cup of coffee. Either way, it’s a perfect Christmas treat without all the yuckiness of refined sugar and other mystery ingredients.

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Bubbles

Not sure about your house, but at ours the new store bought bubble container lasts maybe a day before it looks like this

20140610-160635-57995187.jpg Yes, for some reason all bubble containers inevitably end up dumped out on the driveway (whether on purpose or by accident…) I found a homemade recipe on Pinterest and cannot believe I’ve never made them before?!!!

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1/4c dawn dish soap
1c water
2 TB corn syrup

Mix together in jar and there ya go! Easy Peasy! And let me tell you, they worked great. Waaayyy better then the bottle I bought from target! Win for me, win for my girls!

We enjoyed a great afternoon outside thanks to these homemade bubbles. Hope you enjoy them as much as these two did😃

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Tinkerbell Birthday Cake

In January MJ was adamant about having a Tinkerbell birthday. I think this is due to the girls Halloween costumes

20140214-133837.jpg. Considering that both girls have only watched Peter Pan once and neither have seen any Tinkerbell movies. Either way, Tinkerbell was the plan and I quickly began thinking of cake ideas.

Pinterest had some great ideas but a lot of them involved fondet frosting or cupcakes. Finally after much searching I came across an awesome blog post. The cake was exactly what I invisioned and I felt it was one I could probably due. I was extremely pleased with how it turned out!

For the cake I cheated and used Betty Crocker’s, rainbow chip ( not to be confused with pillsbury funfetti). Rainbow chip is an all time fav! Using two 8inch round pans I baked the cake. In addition I made another box of the mix and put half in my glass Pyrex mixing bowl and the remainder in cupcake tins.

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After a cutting a whole in the middle of the cake, I slid Tinkerbell in the cake and frosted her into place. Using buttercream frosting I frosted the outside. I let the cake sit overnight and then finished the decorating in the morning. Here is the finished cake,

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We kept the cake hidden until the party. Moira loved it and yelled Tinkerbell when the cake appeared.

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Moira Jane turns 2

I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that Moira is turning 2!! I keep thinking, last year at this time…she was just learning to walk, just learning to say mama and dada. Now she is speaking in sentences, running around, keeping up with her older sister, and taking care of her baby sister.

From the moment Moira entered our family our lives were blessed. She was such an easy baby. Just a joy. Her little smiles came so freely and her sweet spirit shined through daily.

This past year has been one of many changes for MJ. She started sharing a room, moved to a new house, gave up her beloved paci, and welcomed a new baby sister. Moira has adapted easily to all of these changes.

I cannot imagine a world with out my sweet MJ. Her smile brightens anyone’s day. Although she is quiet, she is strong willed. She is a girl who knows what she wants, and is not afraid to say no. Here are a few of Moira’s favorites:

song: twinkle twinkle little star and Jesus loves Me
color: pink
toy: baby dolls. Borderline obsessed
food: granola and hummus sandwiches
book: Where the Wild Things Are ( read multiple times daily, she could recite it by heart)
activity Conner prairie! she asks to go every day

I cannot wait to see what this next year brings, Moira Jane. This past year has been the best! You are a blessing to our family. Mommy and daddy are so proud of the girl you are becoming. We love you with all our heart and thank God he chose us to be your parents!

Happy birthday my sweet Moira Jane!

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Surviving with One Car

Yes, you read that right, we have officially been a one car family for almost 6 weeks now! To say I was excited about our decision to junk my car

20130329-201755.jpg and live life as a family of four with only one vehicle, would be far from the truth! I’m going to go crazy stuck home all day, how will we get our errands done each week, we are never going to be able to see our friends were just a few of my doubts/ concerns about living life with only one car.

Now that we have made it through 6 weeks, I can honestly say, it hasn’t been so bad. really. I’ve almost even enjoyed it, gasp. Crazy, I know! Truly, it has not been bad at all. For starters we never have to transfer those ridiculous carseats from car to car!!! Ah, that task alone was going to be the end of me;).

We also have definitely been saving money. Not only through insurance and gas but also on groceries! By having one car I only go to the grocery store once a week. I never realized how much extra money I wasted spent on those frivolous trips to the store. We have proudly been under budget for groceries each week since going down to one car. Another bonus has been the increase in communication between Eric and I. We faithfully have been sticking to our weekly check-in meetings! If for no other reason, to get our schedules in order for the upcoming week. Due to the nature of Eric’s job there is some flexibility when it comes to the car. He does not have an 8-5pm job. Some nights he is gone until 9 or even 10pm. So he can sometimes come home for lunch or go in to the office later. Now that we are down a car we have tried to make a few mornings ( usually Tuesdays and Fridays) work from home days. That way the girls and I can run to a friends for a play date or get out of the house in one way or another, and Eric can set up office from home. This has worked out extremely well.

Don’t get me wrong having one car has also been difficult. For example if we get one more snowstorm you just might have to admit me somewhere!! I definitely have a strong case of spring fever. And that mixed with not being able to get out of the house whenever I want is getting old! But I rest on the fact that we are possibly days away from 50+ degree sunny weather ( on a regular basis) and then the girls and I can walk to numerous parks, stores, and various other outings that do not require a vehicle. Although I would not want to live like this forever, we are making it work and life has been a lot simpler, which we are all loving!

Baked Potato Soup: Comfort food at its finest

So, I found out that tackling, making, and eating one soup a week is a bit much. For starters, we as a family of 3 and a half (eaters) can not eat all the soup in one week! Even with at least two days of leftovers we still have soup for the next week. So realistically I think 2-3 soups a month is plenty!!

This week I tackled Baked Potato Soup. Yummy! Talk about comfort food!! This is delish. I actually had never had baked potato soup, but it is one of Eric’s favs so I thought I should learn how to make it:) The recipe I followed you can view here

This recipe definitely gets our stamp of approval! Perfect on these long, cold and dreary winter days.

Ingredients

1TB Olive Oil
1 medium onion ( chopped)
2 garlic cloves
5 Potatoes ( peeled/ diced)
30oz chicken broth
1/2 cup water
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 TB butter
3 TB flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup shredded cheese
1 cup sour cream
Bacon and cheese to garnish

In a stock pot or Dutch oven, heat oil on medium heat. Add onions and cook for 5 minutes. Then, add garlic and continue cooking for an additional 2 minutes. Slowly pour broth, water and potatoes

20130226-204235.jpg to the pot. Bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat back to medium and cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Or until potatoes are tender.

Reserve 2 cups of cubed, cooked potatoes and hand mash the rest in the pot. In a separate saucepan melt butter and whisk in flour. Slowly add milk and continue cooking on medium until thickened. Then add mixture to mashed potatoes. Add sour cream, cheese and spices and mix thoroughly. Lastly add cubed potatoes and dinner is served! I added bacon on top and served with a spinach salad and ciabatta bread. Perfection.

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