Vintage Indiana 2015 for Hoosier Winos

I haven’t been posting frequently because birthday party and engagement party and birthday party and wedding planning and life. I don’t believe in excuses, but I just haven’t had the time to edit photos and put an entire party post together. I have lists and lists of what I need to post though. Until then, I have a very HOOSIER event to share with you – Vintage Indiana 2015: a festival of wine, food, and fun!

Did you know that Indiana has 80 wineries with the 81st opening later this year? There really is more than corn in Indiana! Indiana wineries produce more than 1.25 million gallons of wine each year. Vintage Indiana is the state’s largest wine festival featuring locally crafted wines. This year 30 of Indiana wineries will offer samples of over 300 wines to festival attendees.

That is a lot of vino – for just the cost of a single bottle: tickets are $25 in advance online or at Marsh Supermarkets, or $35 at the gate. Designated Driver tickets are only $10 and include unlimited soda and water. There are also 1000 special Early Admission tickets for $50 each which provides early admission by 1 hour, a special wine glass, and more. No one under 21 will be granted admission, so book your babysitter now for June 6th.

  • What: Vintage Indiana 2015
  • When: June 6, 2015, noon-6p
  • Where: Military Park, downtown Indianapolis
  • Cost: $10-50

There will also be performances by Zanna-Do, Living Proof, and Jennie DeVoe. Vintage Indiana is brought to you by Indiana Wines, Marsh Supermarkets, WZPL 107.9, WTHR and Indiana’s Turkey Farmers. This post is brought to you by Indiana Family of Farmers who provided me with all the information and two admission tickets. See you there!

Check out Tips from a Vintage Indiana veteran at Mom For Less.

Find out more on Social Media



$50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway from Sunshine Rewards


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$50 Amazon giveawayDo you budget for parties? Kids birthday parties are an expected expense, but what about the random summer barbecue with friends when the weather is just perfect? I’m generally the type to keep a slush fund, but with wedding planning that has been set aside to pay the caterer. I still have a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle’s 4th birthday to help with and my friends always want to have a Memorial Day cookout, so I am on the lookout for small ways to save or earn money. My friend just told me about Sunshine Rewards, and I am excited to use them to shop for wedding supplies!

Sunshine Rewards is a website that offers coupons, cash-back, and survey opportunities to earn money. You have a lot more control over what you earn than you might through Amazon. It is a family owned and operated company that has been in business for ten years. With so many surveys, you can earn money every day. Sunshine Rewards pays out through PayPal or gift cards and you only have to be a member for 45 days.

Rather than googling for coupon codes, you can just shop through Sunshine Rewards. They have special shopping sections for so many different things: wedding planning, Mother’s Day, jewelry for Mother’s Day, back to school shopping, quick gifts, Pharmacy… if you can think of it, they probably have a cashback deal. I have already spied a few cash-back deals I will be using for wedding planning and more.

As I dive into Sunshine Rewards, they are offering one of my readers a $50 Amazon gift card! Disclosure: I was also offered an Amazon gift card in exchange for informing my readers about Sunshine Rewards. My opinions are always my own. Don’t miss your chance to win. I don’t know about you, but a little Amazon cash is always appreciated! If you don’t see the Rafflecopter widget below, just click on the link.
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For additional chances to win, check out Mom for Less who is also hosting a Sunshine Rewards giveaway.

Everybody is Polish on Dyngus Day


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Tonight, my sister-in-law prepared some traditional Polish foods for us to celebrate Dyngus Day! She grew up in Northwest Indiana where entire towns celebrate Dyngus Day. When asked to explain Dyngus Day (the Monday following Easter), she described it as a day of indulgence following Lent, much like Fat Tuesday is a day of indulgence prior to Lent or St. Patrick’s Day is a free pass from the Pope in the middle of Lent.

dyngus day perogies

She also mentioned that it was a day to play jokes on your friends and most people carry around squirt guns, which seems to be more closely related to the origins of Dyngus Day described at wikipedia. The traditions of soaking each other to bring on the essential Spring rains is not something that sounds worthy of celebration to me, but I might get squirt guns for the kids’ Easter baskets next year.

Easter Eggs HPG

There is a loose tie to Easter in that girls could save themselves from being drenched by offering a “dingnis” or ransom of a brightly painted egg. I’m happy to share the left over Easter eggs to avoid being drenched and to enjoy a feast of Polish sausage, sauerkraut, and perogies.

Polish sausage and sauerkraut

Birthday Pancakes and Icing Recipe


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birthday pancakesI’m not going to deceive you, I did not make fresh pancakes for his Monday birthday. I pulled some from the freezer from the last time I made them on a weekend and warmed them up in the toaster oven. I did make the icing from scratch though, added sprinkles and a candle, and woke him up early.

birthday in bedIcing Recipe

You should also be aware that most of my cooking is done by adding a little of this, adding a little more of that. I am absolutely estimating measurements here. Briskly mix together with a fork or whisk until well blended, approximately:

  • 1 TBS shortening
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 c milk (coconut, almond, dairy, etc.)
  • 1/2-1.5 c powdered sugar

Add powdered sugar or milk until you get the consistency you like. I made this smaller, more ‘dripping’ version from one of Heather’s recipes which gives you enough for a whole cake:

  • 3/4 c shortening
  • 1 tsp buttravan
  • 3 TBS water
  • 1 pound powdered sugar



Easy Irish Crock Pot Corned Beef & Roasted Cabbage


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I’m an Irish Girl. I love St. Patrick’s Day and especially because it generally signals the first time we really enjoy being outside for the year. I’m a little too excited about my new manicure courtesy of my college roommate who is a Jamberry consultant.

St. Patrick's Day nails


Now that the gala and the kiddo’s birthday party are done, I can fully focus on all things Irish. I may not make any Irish Cream this year, but we will definitely have corned beef and cabbage – and a bit of a family party because the corned beef easily available at the grocery is always so large!

crock pot corned beef & cabbage

(I  hope to update the pictures, but I wanted to get the recipe out there for those of you wondering what to do with corned beef).

Easy Crock Pot Corned Beef

Chop 1 onion, 1-2 carrots, 2-4 potatoes (you can also include celery or turnips – whatever veggies suit your fancy) and place in your crock pot.

Irish Veggies

Add your corned beef brisket and the seasoning packet on top of the vegetables then add 1 cup broth/stock (beef, veggie, or chicken). Some people also add Guinness at this step.

crock pot corned beef

Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

roasted cabbage

Roasted Cabbage

Slice a head of cabbage and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle it with melted coconut oil and sprinkle with Celtic sea salt and red pepper flakes. Roast at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, then turn and continue roasting for another 10-15 minutes.

I also really love the cabbage recipe I used on New Years, but this one feels just a little fancier. 

What are your favorite Irish recipes?


Havana Nights Black Tie Gala


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I was honored to be asked to be a chair for a major school fundraiser this year and head up the decorations and theme implementation. This black tie optional event raised over $73,000, approximately $10,000 more than last year! It’s such a fun event and one of the fanciest I attend, so the pressure was on. The committee voted for a Havana Nights theme, so I set out to create a night in old Havana for us.

Havana Nights bunting

The simplest thing I did was create a welcome bunting for the check-in table. Bienvenidos a Havana (Welcome to Havana!).

cuban travel posters

I also got some vintage Cuban travel posters, and mounted them on foam board to add to the ambience. You can also see some of the palms (with coffee bean bags covering the pots) in this picture.


A bongo player was also waiting in the lobby to set the mood.

cuban bar

More palms in coffee bags and vases of lemons and limes decorated the corners of the bar, with palm fronds in any empty spaces. There were palm fronds on all of the tables as well.

edible cigars

The edible cigar appetizer was the caterer’s design, but I LOVE it! Wrapped in a collard green with pepper “ash” the inside was something red and scrumptious!

cuban cigars

There were also plenty of chocolate cigars to go around.

cuban salad

If you’ve never had a roasted romaine salad, you should try it. This one had black bean and corn relish, lime tequila dressing and a flour tortilla crisp. There was a fabulous beef and chicken entree but I didn’t waste time taking photos.

Havana Night Ceterpieces

My favorite part of this was probably the centerpieces. We filled 33 cigar boxes with coffee beans and 2-3 votives per box, set them on top of palm fronds and burlap runners on white linens. It couldn’t have been more Cuban unless each seat had a mojito.

HPG feeling fancy

Things might have gotten a bit silly at some point, but it was a fabulous evening and my fiancé made me feel like a million bucks.

Pi Day Pie Fight for a Cause


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Pi Day Pie

Image from Buzzfeed – original source no longer available

Pie on Pi Day (March 14th as in ∏ = 3.14…) is nothing new. My family loves pie and obscure jokes like math jokes. Having a pie fight on Pi Day sounds like a fun new twist. A local group that has raised money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society each year through the East Central Indiana Walk MS is upping the ante this year to make a bigger donation. Their goal is to raise $1000 before participating in this year’s walk. They are raising this money by putting on a big messy pie fight.

You can donate here to help fund MS research. If you are in central Indiana, you can join in the pie fight on Pi Day at Central Christian Church in Anderson (923 Jackson Street 46016). There will be a raffle for the right to Throw the First Pie. After the pie fight, you will want to have some cash to get your chance to throw pies at the seated team members. You can find out more on Facebook or on the booster page. Be sure to use the hashtag #MandisPiDay to help them build some social momentum.

Multiple Sclerosis is a neurological disease that is important to me personally. It is an unpredictable disease that can be devastating for all even if the symptoms are different for every person. Research is needed to better understand this disorder and develop new treatments.

Mandi's Pi Day

Pi Day Pie Fight for a Cause

We still have plenty of blueberries left, so I will probably make a blueberry pie on Pi Day. I can only hope that it looks as lovely as the one pictured. What kind of pie will you serve on Pi Day?

Gluten Free Dairy Free Vasilopita: Greek New Years Cake


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I am blogging this not because I have the perfect recipe, but because I want to perfect the recipe. I only make this once a year and in 364 days I won’t recall what tweaks I want to make. (I started from this recipe, but made some variations due to my food allergies.) Vasilopita is a Greek New Year’s tradition. gluten free vasilopita HPG

• 3/4 cup of butter or dairy-free sub (room temperature)
• 1 1/2 cups of coconut palm sugar (coconut palm sugar gives a slight-carmel flavor to foods)
• 6 large eggs
• 1/2 cup of brandy or rum
• zest of 2-4 oranges (can sub some lemon zest)
• juice of 2-4 oranges
• 3-4 cups of Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Artisan Flour Blend (I used Pamela’s Products Baking and Pancake Mix, but it is not entirely dairy-free and I think the Artisan blend will give a nicer texture)
• 3/4 cup of canned coconut milk
• 1 coin wrapped in foil
• confectioner’s sugar (optional)
• grated coconut (optional)
• marmalade (optional sub lemon curd)

Pre-heat oven to 390F. Butter and flour two 9″ round cake pans.

This is one of those recipes where you are very thankful for your Kitchenaid. Cream the butter substitute, then slowly add the sugar, eggs, brandy or rum, zest, juice, milk, then flour. (I might consider adding a bit of cinnamon next time)

Divide batter between two cake pans. Bake for 20 minutes then carefully insert foil-wrapped coin parallel to where you might slice the cake. Bake for another 20 minutes. Allow cakes to fully cook (up to four hours).

Layer cakes with marmalade between the layers and on top of the cake. Decorate with powdered sugar and grated coconut. Get creative! I have also seen versions with a thick brandy icing poured over the top of the Vasilopita.

Just after midnight (or in the morning if you have little ones), the head of the household cuts the Vasilopita, wishing good fortune in the new year to all who are present. Pieces are handed out from eldest to youngest. Whoever finds the coin in their piece of Vasilopita is said to have an extra measure of good fortune in the new year.

coin in new years cake HPG

What Are You Doing New Years – New Years Eve?


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I have always loved that song and New Years Eve has always been one of my favorites. Perhaps it is the new start, the fresh page on the calendar. Over the past several years, I have integrated more and more traditions from various cultures to start off the New Year on the right foot. I think it all started when I learned about the Italian tradition of breaking dishes at midnight. I am generally limited to how many of these traditions I can integrate because I’m traveling or attending some party, so in 2014 I decided to throw a dinner party and include as many as I could.

NYE tablescape

Decorating was easy with a couple of gold fringe curtains, pre-made New Years Eve banner, gold, silver, and black glitter noisemakers, and some party hats, I picked up on at a chain party store. I kept to the color scheme of gold, silver, black, and white. I used gold pipe cleaners to make napkin rings (and a cake topper), and I set each plate with a menu and educational materials.

NYE place setting and menuThe menu included:

  • Black Eyed Pea Hummus (recipe here)
  • Red Lentil Soup – a crowd-pleasing, easy, large-batch recipe (here)
  • Rosemary Pork Chops braised in Sweet Apple Cabbage (recipe here) – While we enjoyed this recipe, my preferred pork chop recipe is below.
  • Cabbage (recipe below)
  • German Chocolate Fudge Balls (recipe here)
  • Vasilopita – Greek New Years cake (recipe here)
  • Champagne (of course)
  • Wassail

NYE menu and traditionsYou can get a word copy of the menu and education materials here: NYE lucky traditions. This year may be more low key, but I will still shop for new underwear, I will still make pork and cabbage and black eyed peas and vassilopita, I will toast at midnight, and I will break a plate or a mug.

Savory Prosperity Pork Chops

Season both sides of pork chops (preferably about an inch thick) with:

  • Sea Salt
  • Paprika
  • Allspice
  • Thyme
  • Optional Sage
  • Optional Garlic

I don’t measure things, but season well without adding too much salt. All the chops to rest while you melt bacon lard on high in a cast iron skillet (butter will also work).

Cook chops on both sides for 1-3 minutes then turn heat to medium or medium low and cover the pan. They will cook for 5-15 minutes depending on how thick your chops are and how done you like them.

You can also chop up some onion and apple and allow it to cook with the chops while they are on medium heat. You can do this simply in the juice of the meat or you can add up to a quarter cup of apple cider.

Lucky Cabbage

  1. Use a serrated knife to shred a head of green cabbage
  2. Place in collander with 1t salt to “sweat” the cabbage for 30 minutes
  3. Squeeze excess water from the cabbage with paper towels
  4. Melt 1T bacon lard in a large pan on medium heat
  5. Add 1 small onion chopped
  6. Add cabbage and cook to desired consistency
  7. Optional add red pepper flakes 1/2t

A Football Fan Giveaway from XFINITY


My love for football is well established. Sundays, I am often camped out in our family room with the big screen tuned to the Colts game and the smaller screen tuned to the Bears game. My family doesn’t mind as long as I fold the laundry while I watch. XFINITY also loves football and football fans. They sent me their ultimate game watching supplies and an extra fan pack to giveaway to one of my readers!

  • Football Fan GiveawayFootball Stress Ball because being a Bears fan hasn’t been very exciting this season. As a bonus, it is small and soft enough to throw at the tv when the refs make a bad call for those of you who might be so tempted. I haven’t tried it myself, no really, I haven’t!
  • Team Color Snacks I loved the local Just Pop In Colts Blue popcorn and you will too. XFINITY suggests keeping snacks on hand, so you never miss an important play.
  • Koozie to keep your favorite beverage cold – if you like beverages that come in bottles – because games are long
  • Remote What would you do without being able to back to see that touch down again or switch channels to check out the other games on commercials? XFINITY is giving away remotes branded with your favorite Hoosier teams: Colts, IU, and Purdue. To get one you just have to sign up for SurePrice Double Play or higher. Or just enter the contest below. You can also enter at Chaos Is Bliss.

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