Friday, July 3, 2015

Small Cars, Big Fun in Indianapolis

It's raining today. Again.

This summer has been slightly on the wet side.

It's not ideal weather for summer vacation when you have kids cooped up in the house.

Why not take advantage of a rainy morning (or afternoon) and head to the Children's Museum in Indianapolis?

Recently, I took my niece and nephew to check out the opening of the Hot Wheels: Race to Win exhibit.

We had a great time.

Racing cars...

Testing our skills as a pit crew...

Drinking milk in Victory Lane...

 We even had time to check out the Transformers exhibit too!

The Hot Wheels exhibit is in town until August 16 and Transformers until July 26.

The Children's Museum provided admission into the exhibit but all opinions and photos in this post are my own.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Mint Chocolate Bread Pudding

When life (or a local grocery store) sells you a loaf of stale french bread, make bread pudding.

Or better yet, Mint Chocolate Bread Pudding! 

I'm a big believer that mint is not just a Christmas or Valentine's Day flavor. I love it ALL YEAR LONG. And the addition of mint chocolate chips to this recipe was a hit.

I adapted my grandma's bread pudding recipe to make my version this weekend.

Here it is...

Mint Chocolate Bread Pudding

1 loaf of French bread cut into half-inch cubes (or about 6 1/2 cups of your choice of bread)
1 2/3 cups (10 oz.) dark chocolate & mint morsels OR bar, chopped
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
3 cups milk (divided)
6 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Butter the bottom and sides of a 2-quart baking dish, 9" x 13" pan. (If you choose a deep baking dish, you may need to bake longer.)

Mix the bread cubes and 1 cup of the chocolate, then place in the buttered baking dish.

Over low heat, combine the remaning chocolate, sugar, cocoa and 1 1/2 cups of milk in a saucepan.

Stirring constantly, cook until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth and slightly thickened. Pour into a large bowl (be careful, it can splash) and whisk in the remaining 1 1/2 cups of milk.

Whisk in eggs, salt and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Pour over the bread and let sit for 30 minutes at room temperatures so the liquid can be absorbed by the bread.

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until it's set (be sure to check the middle). 

Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes to allow it to fully set before serving. It is really rich so just a heads up on serving size!

Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream. Be sure to scoop up the gooey chocolate on the bottom of the's worth it!

P.S. We had a little bit left over and it was just as good warmed up the next day (and it wasn't too bad chilled straight from the fridge)!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Conquering the Winter Blues

Every year the same thing happens.

As the days get shorter, I go through a 2-3 week funk that I can't seem to shake.

Dark at 6:30 p.m. & the shortest day is still 5 weeks away.

I can't make myself get out of bed in the morning. I can barely keep my eyes open past 9 p.m. That's not me. I'm the person who is up at 5 a.m. every morning after going to bed at 11 p.m.

I become a hermit (OK, a bigger hermit than normal). I just want to be at home by myself (mainly so I can go to bed by 7:30 p.m.). That's not me. I love grabbing a drink after work with friends, going over to my sisters' homes in the evening and playing with my nieces/nephews or stopping in and saying hi to my parents.

I feel overwhelmed by what's happening at work. I can't concentrate without shutting my door and turning up my music. I get to work later and go home earlier because I'm so tired. That's not me. I'm usually good for 10+ hours at work and then another hour or two on my laptop at home.

I'm sure all of this has to do with the seasons changing and the time change but it's so hard because I'm just not me. I can't imagine if I had to take care of others (children, spouse, pets, plants) right now. I can barely take care of myself.

But I see the light at the end of the tunnel. After a mini-breakdown on a phone call with a friend last night, I think I may be coming through it. I stayed up past 9 p.m. and I exercised while watching hockey (love my mini-stepper). I'm actually looking forward to a night out or two this week.

Bring it on, Winter. I'll survive your cold winds and short days and look forward to better days!

Do you get the winter blues? How do you snap yourself out of them?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Reason 43 Why I Should Not Judge Others

This is what I saw after I dragged my garbage can into the garage on Monday night.

It made me realize what the knocking sound was that I heard while driving home from the gas station a few minutes earlier.

I just shook my head, put the gas cap back on and closed the door.

I was officially one of those people.

The people I have always silently judged as I passed them on the highway with their gas cap flapping in the wind.

"How can you forget to put the cap back on?" "How do they not notice what is obvious to everyone they pass?" "Can't they see the open door in their side mirror?!?"

The next time I pass one of these misunderstood humans, I'll just say a little prayer that whatever was on their mind while pumping gas works itself out and they have a better day.

The next time I pump gas, I'll check twice to see if my gas cap is secured and the door is closed.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Two Years Plus Two Kids Equals My Loves

The photo above was taken almost two years ago exactly from today. Here is the original post.

These are my beautiful, sweet and young nieces and nephews. Oh, how I love them.

The above photo was taken by a professional and she did a wonderful job capturing our family.

A couple of weeks ago, we hosted an event at our family farm and my dad's cabin was decorated for fall so my mom wanted me (a non-professional) to take some new family photos.

I agreed to take new ones of them and their grandchildren. I told her that my sisters and I hadn't changed that much so we didn't need to be in the photos.

At least that was my excuse...I really just didn't want to take a shower and get dressed up after a long weekend!

So, we decided to re-create a couple photos of the kids since we added two new kiddos and the original 6 decided to grow up.

It's not quite as good as the original but I love how it captures the changes two years has brought.

Did you notice that the original 6 are in the same order? Well, except that A is now sitting next to the eldest nephew and not in his lap, but close enough.

While the photos above are precious, the ones below really capture the personalities of these 8 crazy kids...

Two years ago:


Now, those are my nieces and nephews! Love, love, love them!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sunflowers Make Me Happy

Sunflowers are such happy flowers, don't you agree?

My sister has a row of them growing in her garden along one of my dad's soybean fields.

I took a few shots of them last week and decided to do a Wordless Wednesday post (does anyone still do these?) with them.

Here you go!

A little flower among the flowers. 

Can you see the bee? 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Terra Cotta Warriors: A Must See in Indy

I had a couple of MUST DOs around Indianapolis this summer and one of them was to go to see the Terra Cotta Warriors exhibit at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis.

So I took a day off of work, convinced my sister to use her family pass to take her boys, our three nephews and, of course, me.

And it was awesome. My sister and I enjoyed it. Our 12-year-old nephew liked it. And my other nephews - aged 5, 6 & 9 - liked it. The baby seemed to enjoy it too, but who knows with babies.

In addition to all of the history shared in the exhibit - including some of the actual warriors - it had enough hands-on exhibits to keep the boys interested. I could have done without the giant drum that they could play, but that's just me and my ears!

I could only get the two youngest to put on masks and pose...

They were able to put together the pieces of a warrior like the archaeologists had to do. 

Never a serious pose from the redhead...

They could put on armor and post next to a couple warriors.

Not sure these are authentic poses...

They could even put their face on one of the warriors and email a postcard to their mom.

They all got sent but G-man's...luckily I captured a shot of it on the screen...

Here's a collage of the other 4 boys, including the baby.

If I sent out Christmas cards, this would be it!

There is so much more in the exhibit that I didn't capture on camera, including making their own clay Terra Cotta Warriors!

The exhibit is open until November 2, 2014 and this is the ONLY place to see it in the U.S. this year!

The museum is really embracing China with a new Take Me There: China exhibit (see my post about it here) and the Great Wall of China Slide in the foyer (the slide usually only makes an appearance during the winter holidays).

So, if you have a day in Indianapolis, I definitely recommend checking it out. There is an additional charge and timed tickets are required to see the Terra Cotta Warriors exhibit. Find out more here.

I'm definitely going back with a couple of friends - sans kids - so I can explore the exhibits a bit more AND get my own photo as a Warrior!


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