Posted by: Carrie Rheingans | October 16, 2017

Autumn’s Birth Story (all 13 days!)


Before I got put on magnesium and couldn’t leave the bed

One year ago today, Matthew and I checked in to the University of Michigan Von Voightlander Women’s Hospital in the evening to begin getting induced to have our first child. We didn’t know that that was the first of thirteen nights and fourteen days we’d be there! We had packed a bag with about four days’ worth of stuff, and we were hopeful that we’d be home in about three or four days, tops. It was the first day of week 37,  I wasn’t dilated at all, and the baby hadn’t really dropped at all, so we knew it would likely take more than 24 hours for the induction to work.


I had to get induced early because I had been having high blood pressures for about three weeks. My OB told me on 10/5/16 that I was not to return to work, and to stay home and work on keeping my blood pressure as low as possible while growing our little pumpkin as much as possible until 10/16. We had three scares before 10/16 and had to go to the maternity triage (which is actually a type of emergency room) to get my blood pressure monitored, and if it didn’t go down, they’d induce that day. Luckily, we could grow our little pumpkin as much as the OB wanted. When we checked in and they ran the first set of tests (blood, urine, blood pressure, etc.), the care team decided to diagnose me with preeclampsia, which is a condition of high blood pressure that can result in seizures of the mother. Luckily, we had been monitoring things well until that point and I was not previously at risk.


Matthew slept on a hospital couch for 13 nights in a row – what a guy!!

They put me on an IV of magnesium, which relaxes the blood vessels and reduces the risk of seizures. It worked just like it was supposed to, but it stunk that I was then not allowed to leave the hospital bed, because the magnesium made me woozy and I may have fallen and hurt myself or the baby. I also had a catheter and was restricted to only eating liquids until 24 hours after the baby was born and the magnesium IV was removed. I was a little worried about how I would push out a baby after potentially days of only a liquid diet!


SONY DSCIt DID end up taking days… it wasn’t until Wednesday morning, 10/19, when the doctor came in and told us that this was a “failed induction”. My sister had taken Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday off to be in the hospital with us, and luckily, Autumn was born while she was there! Matthew and I had written up a birth plan that included me avoiding pain medications as long as possible, being active and walking around or being in a hot bath during labor, and having Matthew tell me the sex of the baby. It turns out, the only part of our birth plan that happened is that Matthew told me it was a girl!

During the three days of being induced, I only ever dilated to 3cm, and the baby only dropped a tiny bit. They didn’t feel comfortable breaking my water in the end, because the umbilical cord could have slipped out with the amniotic fluid and either strangled the baby or been pinched in the vaginal wall and suffocated the baby during delivery. So, they recommended a C-section, and said that they’d come get me in about an hour. Well, after three days of barely any action, one hour seemed like a blink of an eye! They wheeled me back to get me anesthetized and would go back and get Matthew shortly thereafter. dsc00706.jpgWell… it took a bit longer than that. When we went back, they had trouble getting me a second IV in the other arm (I still had magnesium in the one arm), and the blood pressure medicine they were giving me all the while made me light-headed during prep. I almost fainted! They eventually stabilized everything and Matthew came back for the surgery. A few short minutes later, we heard Autumn crying and they showed her to us before cleaning her off. Matthew went over to bring her back to me while they were stitching me up. He was singing “Banana Pancakes” to her when he brought her over and set her on my chest the first time for skin-to-skin. She latched right away and started breastfeeding less than a minute after she was on my chest. I was glad she knew what she was doing, because I had no idea!!

SONY DSCWe got wheeled to a recovery room that would be our home for the next 10 days. We were hopeful that it would only be the regular 48 hours after a c-section, but we didn’t know what was in store. My blood pressure didn’t stabilize for the first few days, then I ended up getting these really weird shivers and high fevers for two days straight. We couldn’t figure out what was the cause of the fevers even after blood cultures, urine cultures, x-rays of my chest/lungs, and ultrasounds of the veins in my arms and legs to see if there were blood clots. To this day, we still don’t know what caused the fevers and shivers, but I think it may have been my body re-balancing its hormones.


First family photo!

I was in a surprisingly good mood for being in the hospital for 10 days post-birth. I think I realized how lucky Autumn and I were to both come out of the experience healthy and I understood that it could have been much, much worse. I was also so thankful that I had time to recover from the surgery and I had professionals to monitor my blood pressure and my multiple medicines. When we left the hospital, I was on pain meds for the surgery, an antibiotic, and three blood pressure medications! And of course, they were not on the same schedules… I also had a lactation consultant stopping by every day, so by the time we left, I was completely comfortable breastfeeding. We also had a pretty steady stream of visitors to keep us company and it really helped pass the time. So, I had a lot to be thankful for while we were in the hospital!

dsc00836.jpgSome other stuff happened while we were there. Matthew could leave our floor, so he would go to the hospital cafeteria most mornings for a custom omelette at the omelette bar. He loved them! To this day, he still talks about going to get one on weekends. We also were there for the peak of fall, and had a pretty good view of the Arb near the hospital. But, I wasn’t allowed to leave the floor, because I had an alarm bracelet connected to Autumn’s, and she couldn’t leave the floor. So, I missed two full weeks of my favorite season… if I seem a little extra over the top this year, that’s why. I have pent-up demand for fall euphoria!

SONY DSCWe’ve shared bits and pieces of this two week ordeal with friends and family, but we can’t remember what we’ve told any individual, so we wanted to write it down to share with everyone. We didn’t share a lot of details when we were in the hospital, because we didn’t know what was going to happen next or how much longer we’d be in the hospital. We had quite the ordeal, but every intervention worked how it was supposed to, to keep us safe. The only thing that didn’t work was the inductions, but honestly, after three days of not eating, I didn’t even want to try for a vaginal delivery anymore. I was too weak and scared from the stress. We’re very glad all that is behind us and that we have a happy, healthy baby girl!!


Posted by: Carrie Rheingans | August 17, 2016

My Remarks for my Mom’s Memorial Service (July 28, 2016)

The alter at the memorial service

The alter at the memorial service

some mom pics_Page_2I’m Carrie Rheingans, the oldest child of Cynthia G. MacDonald. I want to tell you a little about my mom’s life, and the impacts she has had, and will continue to have, on me. I also want to say thank you to all of you here, and all of you who couldn’t make it tonight, but who have helped my grandmother, sister, and me through this very difficult week and a half. We wouldn’t be here tonight if it wasn’t for the support and generosity of the wonderful community that surrounds us, both near and far.

My mom was born Cynthia Gay Allen on Friday, May 27, 1960. She was the oldest child and only daughter of my grandma and grandpa, Valerie and Thomas Allen. My mom was born on her grandmother’s birthday. Mom grew up with her younger brother, Michael, in the Davisburg and Holly area. She would tell us stories of her childhood in a house on a hill in Davisburg. Grandma and grandpa had a lot of land around the house, which used to be cow pastures, with lots of ponds and hills. She said they would go sledding and ice skating all winter, and wander the hills playing all summer. She and Uncle Mike told all their kids about those fun times, and my mom even took Chrissy and me there a couple times when we were younger.

mom HS graduationMy mom graduated ninth in her Holly High School class of 1978. She was always a good student, and did do some community college classes later in life, both in Kennesaw, Georgia, and here at Mott. She was really organized and worked at a bank and as an office manager for a land surveyor. She lived in Linden and Argentine for over 20 years, and was in Fenton the last few years, so she’s always been in this general area. She had me when she was 21, and my sister just three days after turning 23. She really loved being a mom, teaching us manners, grammar, cooking, and all the little things that moms teach their kids. She was happy to have two more kids added to the moming duties when she married our step-dad, Lynn, who had two young kids, Mishelle and Ian.

IMG_20160725_0028My mom was really organized in those years of four kids. With four kids, there was plenty of fun and chaos in the house. Mom and Lynn surprised us in Christmas 1992 by getting a dog, Macs, which just added to the fun and chaos! That also meant that we got to share the chores. Mom made chore charts for us, and had us do chores appropriate for our ages. At the time, as the oldest, I was not amused that I had the most complicated chores. Also as the oldest, I was the first to be punished by having to write sentences. I also was the first to try to cheat, and therefore, there were more rules for when the younger kids had to do it. I thought I was so smart when I wrote across the top of the page, “I will not hit my sister” and realized I could write one “I” down the whole left-hand side of the paper. Well. My mom was NOT impressed, and I had to rewrite the whole page! Now I know that I should do things the right way the first time!

some mom pics_Page_1With all these kids, and fun and chaos, my mom made these color-coded calendars showing when which set of kids would be at their house, and when whichever kids had whatever sports – there was a time that my sister and I both played five sports in one year! That’s some mighty car-ride juggling! For those of you who saw my planners in high school or undergrad, or are my co-workers now, you know this calendar color-coded practice has rubbed off on me too. My mom was always taking pictures, and she loved going to the Michigan Renaissance Festival. She even worked there with her friend Cindy before!

IMG_20160725_0050There are a lot of other things that my mom did that have rubbed off on me, too. Some things I do nearly daily, like use a safety pin to separate my eyelashes after putting on mascara. I always think of my mom when I do that, so I get to have that reminder of her all the time. She was also really practical and always wanted to keep boxes in case there was some use for them in the future. I do this now, too, much to my husband’s chagrin. It comes in useful each Christmas, though, when I’m wrapping gifts. That’s another thing that my mom influenced me about – I LOVE wrapping Christmas presents, with tons of glittery, patterned paper and matching ribbons and bows. She would always buy the coolest papers from our school fundraisers, like the one year we got sparkly, under-the-sea paper and matching purple, orange, and teal ribbons. She also really loved Bob Segar, the rock and roll artist from Michigan. Going through her photo albums the past week and a half has only reiterated that – she had photos from many Bob Segar concerts! She also kept listening to 70s and 80s rock, which is now called “classic rock”, and that rubbed off on me too: I love classic rock! My mom and Lynn even took me with them to an Aerosmith concert when I was in high school, and it was a blast. They were surprised I knew many of their songs just as well as they did!

some mom pics_Page_3She also always try to make our birthdays special, and even continued to do so when I was down in Ann Arbor at college, baking cakes and driving all the way down to take me out to dinner. Now, my sister and I try to do this for our friends and family. I’ll also try to do this for our kiddos, one of which will be having its actual BIRTHday sometime in late October or early November. I’m sad that my mom won’t get to meet her next grandbaby soon, and sad that our child won’t get to meet his or her grandma. But our child will know their grandma by the ways she’ll live on through the stories my grandma, sister, and I will tell, and the actions of love that we’ll show.

Like my sister said, my mom did have struggles with health issues over the years, including these past few years. It is comforting to know that she’s no longer suffering, and that she is at peace. No matter how hard it was for her with her health, she always loved us and showed us the best ways she knew how. We always loved her, too, and we still do. We’ll miss her at each birthday and Christmas, but we know she’ll be there when we see homemade birthday cakes and really pretty Christmas presents.

IMG_20160725_0012I want to conclude by saying thank you from my grandma, sister, and me. It has been a difficult week and a half since my mother passed on Sunday, July 17. I expected to be sad and shocked, but I did not expect to be so incredibly overwhelmed by the support, love, and generosity of each of you, and of our community who are not here tonight. To the members of this church, thank you so much for opening your hearts and homes to support my grandma. She is so blessed to have such a wonderful church family to hold her up during these difficult few months. My grandma, sister, and I appreciate all the visits, flowers, cards, kind words, and help with this service tonight. We’ve also been helped in many other ways the past few days, by offers to do tasks for us, help pay for all the unexpected costs, and by so many hugs and words of kindness and support. I haven’t had to cook or buy myself food in over a week because of the support of our Ann Arbor friends! Thank you to each of you here tonight and here in spirit tonight. We truly could not get through this without you.

In that spirit of support, we invite you all to join us in singing Amazing Grace, a song that we think fits well for our mom. We love you mom, and always will.

carrie wedding hug

Posted by: Carrie Rheingans | December 6, 2015

THANK YOU for all the wedding help!


We’ve enjoyed our first three months as newlyweds, and we’re still getting compliments on how much of a good time people had at our wedding. The thing is, we’re not the only ones who should be hearing all the praise! We had TONS of help, and we  l i t e r a l l y  could not have done it without so much generosity from our family and friends. From the people who put in manual labor and money, to those who let us borrow lights, decorations, and equipment, we thank you! We’ve attempted to thank each of you below. Apologies if we miss anyone – there were so many people doing so much work that there was help that we received that we didn’t even KNOW about! We also want to thank friends and family near and far (North Carolina, California, Washington, Alabama, Massachusetts) who traveled to be with us on the best day of our lives!!

Aunt Carol action shot

Aunt Carol, running the decoration show 

Aunt Carol, thank you for all the work you did leading up to the wedding: pick up rehearsal dinner, design all the tabletop decor and order, arrange, and set up the flowers, and for going back the day AFTER to be there for the rental pickup. You helped set up tables, hang the ceremony decorations (proof! –>), assemble all the bouquets and boutonnieres, secured all those lanterns and vases for the tabletops, and even bought decorations and flew them up in your luggage from Florida! You probably did even more than all that too! Thank you and we love you! 

Patty action shot

Patty facing her fear of heights, all in the name of wedding setup!

Patty and Jerry, thank you for hosting and doing so much work to get everything ready on the property!
And thank you for being “marriage mentors” for us while we tried not to kill each other or anyone else during yard work, setting up, and cleaning up. We hope we proved ourselves enough so that we can come up and help out on the property in the future.

Katie, thank you for officiating our wedding ceremony! You knocked it out


Hard to tell it was her first time!

of the park, especially as a first-timer 🙂 Thank you for being our “Ann Arbor mom” and for using your knowledge of us to make the ceremony truly meaningful.  Thank you also for keeping Carrie calm and cool (literally, in your car’s air conditioning!) right before the ceremony, too! Thank you to Chrissy and Josue for signing our marriage license during the ceremony.

Thank you to the TomToms for so much work put into our wedding! CunninghamRECP-232You wrote us two new songs for the ceremony (we LOVE them!), you let us borrow your sound equipment, and you really kicked off the party during the happy hour. Many people have asked us when/where you’re playing – folks, there are a couple ways to keep up with the TomToms! Subscribe to their blog on their website, or follow them on facebook. They also list their upcoming shows on their website. You can also listen to them on Spotify or Soundcloud, but you should probably also download their music from iTunes or buy an album directly from them!

PeggyPeggy, thank you for preparing us for marriage as our pre-marital counselor. We really value the discussions we had in the year leading up to the beginning of our marriage, and we’re thankful for your help in getting us to reflect on who we are as a couple and how we want to work together going forward.

Thank you to Mishelle for doing Carrie’s hair, along with the other sisters and flower girls!  CunninghamPreCMNY-42Thank you to David Cunningham for ring bearing. Thank you also to our parents for helping us financially with some of the wedding costs. Thank you to our vendors, too – Larue Photography, Beale Street BBQ in Fenton, Jared Hunter as the super awesome DJ, Fabiola Giselle for makeup. Thank you to Travis for helping secure DJ Jared!

Thank you to Carrie’s cousins, near and far, for all the help! Thank you Courtney for letting Carrie wear your dress, andCunninghamFMLY-21 for letting us borrow those awesome window panes for the food and bar menus! Thank you to JoEllen for making the beautiful flower girl dresses – by hand! They went perfectly with Chrissy’s Maid of Honor dress, and Matt Keway’s tie. Thank you Angela for making matching bracelets for all the bridesmaids, the flower girls, and the bride. They looked great with everybody’s dresses!

Thank you to our behind-the-scenes crew for the days leading up to the wedding, and the wedding day itself (and the day after!). 11991064_10206168564827939_1789015923_oThank you to the awesome and efficient bartenders (Andrea, Anne, and Toni), Doug and others manning the golf cart, and anyone who helped empty the trash and take it to the dumpster the next day.
Thank you to the people setting up the days before the wedding – y’all did a TON! Thank you Aunt Carol for helping set up AND take down the tables. Many helped set up and take down tents outside: Tom, Charo, Dave, Jerry, Alicia, Matt W, Shoshana, Matt K, and more. There was a ton of other decor set up the night before the wedding, too, by Chrissy, Mishelle, Shoshana, Rachel, Alicia, Tom, Jim, Matt W, and more people than we even know! 11987005_10105692354387993_7262368562625835883_nWe also had a lot of help setting up the day of, much managed by our Aunt Carol. Thank you Alicia, Will, Negin, Ekjyot, Zach, Brittany, Chris, Laura, Joey, Kelsey, JJ, and groomsmen, and others we don’t even know about!  Thank you to Dave, Zach, Doug, and more who moved the ceremony chairs back inside for dinner. Alicia Bullock also took photos the whole night of the rehearsal, gave us wind chimes for the ceremony, and made an extra beer run during the wedding! Dave George also made an extra water run, too – thank you!

CunninghamRECP-17Thank you to our friend David Zeman for brewing us a special wedding beer, using hops that Jenny sent us! Thank you to the Ann Arbor District Library for letting us use their giant lawn games. Thank you Wanda and Mike for helping to keep Allie and Anna involved when they were supposed to be. Tons of people gave us or let us borrow decorations – thank you Wanda, Katie M, Laura McA, and Susan for letting us borrow lights, Colleen for letting us borrow lanterns and vases and store all the flowers in your space, Sheila for vases and the bamboo poles that Joey made into an awesome bridal table backdrop, Mishelle and bridesmaids for making all the bridal shower decor able to easily be used as wedding decor, Beth for all that burlap and pie stand boxes, Leah and David for tons of ribbon and other decor, and Veena and Sonya for more ribbon.11885690_10105604432638883_8831462507289308770_o Thank you also to all our friends who helped with crafting leading up to the wedding: Rachel P, Sara, Carryn, Nick, Brittany, Laura, Rachel H, Joey, Claire, and others. Thank you for the delicious pies, Jodi, Carryn, Nick, Brittany, Amanda, Alex, and thank you Brittany for managing setting them out right before the ceremony.

Last but not least, thank you to our bridal party for helping keep us calm and helping us have FUN allllll weekend! We love you!


We are truly grateful to have such a great support system. THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF OUR HEARTS!

Posted by: Carrie Rheingans | November 24, 2014

Pumpkin Pie Recipe with Fresh Pumpkin and Ginger, and Maple Syrup

Pumpkin pie with fresh pumpkins and ginger, and maple syrup

Pumpkin pie with fresh pumpkins and ginger, and maple syrup

I made up my own recipe, using these three as my inspirations:

  1. Recipe that used fresh ginger
  2. Recipe that used maple syrup
  3. Recipe to make pumpkin puree 

For the crust, I used the Betty Crocker basic pie pastry recipe with some modifications (see below). I made enough for two 9″ pies. The quantities below reflect the recipe for BOTH pies (and then some!)

Pie Crust

  • 2 cups flour (white works better than whole grain for pastries)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cups plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons cold vodka
  • 3 tablespoons cold water


Verbatim from the Betty Crocker recipe, but I used butter instead of shortening, and vodka for half the water. The alcohol evaporates and makes for a lighter, flakier crust.

“Baked Pie Crust: Heat oven to 475ºF. Mix flour and salt in medium bowl. Cut in shortening butter, using pastry blender (or pulling 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions), until particles are size of small peas. Sprinkle with cold vodka, then water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost leaves side of bowl (1 to 2 teaspoons more water can be added if necessary). Gather pastry into a ball. Shape into flattened round on lightly floured surface. Wrap flattened round of pastry in plastic wrap and refrigerate about 45 minutes or until dough is firm and cold, yet pliable. This allows the shortening to become slightly firm, which helps make the baked pastry more flaky. If refrigerated longer, let pastry soften slightly before rolling. Roll pastry, using floured rolling pin, into circle 2 inches larger than upside-down 9-inch glass pie plate. Fold pastry into fourths; place in pie plate. Unfold and ease into plate, pressing firmly against bottom and side. For pie, trim overhanging edge of pastry 1 inch from rim of pie plate. Fold and roll pastry under, even with plate; flute as desired. For tart, trim overhanging edge of pastry even with top of tart pan. Prick bottom and side of pastry thoroughly with fork. [Here, I covered the pie crusts with a double layer of tin foil and weighted the foil down. This prevented burning, but allowed the crusts to be more solid when I added the filling later.] Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown; cool on wire rack.”

Pie Filling

Pumpkins after roasting

Pumpkins after roasting

Pumpkin Puree

Verbatim from the Kitchn’s recipe.

“Look for small sugar pumpkins, or “pie pumpkins.” The large jack-o-lantern types are too stringy and watery.

First, split the pumpkin in half and scrape out seeds and strings with a spoon. Reserve the seeds for toasting!

Spray the two halves with baking spray oil, then put them upside down in a baking dish. Bake at 350ºF for about an hour, depending on the size of your pumpkin, until the flesh inside is very soft. This can take up to 90 minutes. Scrape the flesh out of the halves and run through a food processor until smooth.”

I used two pie pumpkins, and ended up not having to use one of the halves. That’ll be added to a soup later this season!

Pie Filling

  • 4 cups pumpkin puree
  • 5 large eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 cups 2% milk
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup (must be real syrup! no high fructose corn syrup!)
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 teaspoons fresh grated ginger + its juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Fresh grated ginger root

Fresh grated ginger root

The above is what I actually used, since I had some limited ingredients. I only had 1 cup of heavy whipping cream on hand, or I would have used 2 cups, and then reduced the milk to 2 total cups. I only had a little light brown sugar on hand, so I used what I had, then used white sugar for the rest. The maple syrup added enough flavor for those two less flavorful ingredients. I couldn’t decide on which spices to use, so I used them all!


Put maple syrup to a small bowl and add the sugars. Hand mix until it’s a grainy, somewhat liquid consistency.  Whisk remaining liquid ingredients (eggs, yolks, heavy whipping cream, milk, and vanilla extract) together in a large bowl. In batches, mix together in a food processor 1 cup or so pumpkin puree with 2 cups liquid mixture and about a third of the maple syrup/sugar mix. As you finish blending the batches, put them all together in a large bowl. Once all the blending is complete, mix well. Sprinkle all the ground spices and the ginger on the top and mix well with the pie filling mixture.

Place each pie plate with its still-warm crust on a baking sheet, so it can catch drips if there are any, both while baking and while pouring the filling. Pour pie filling into each crust until it is about 1/4″ from the top of the rim. Cover the edges of the pie crust with strips of aluminum foil to prevent burning. Bake at 350°F for 50 minutes. Remove aluminum foil and bake for 10 more minutes. Pies should be firm with only a very slight jiggle in the center. Check if they’re done by using the toothpick test or a clean, dry knife. Let cool for at least two hours before cutting, to allow the pies to set completely. May be served with whipped cream (homemade is best).

Finished pumpkin pies with fresh pumpkin and ginger, and maple syrup

Finished pumpkin pies with fresh pumpkin and ginger, and maple syrup

Posted by: Carrie Rheingans | November 5, 2012

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving – 2011

This is my running list of what I posted to facebook throughout November 2011. So much to be thankful for!

November 30th

What! It’s already the end of November?! But 30 days of giving thanks isn’t enough!! There are so many more things to be thankful for… being able to read and in multiple languages, having good teeth, having my vision corrected so I can clearly see, covered parking at work and home, a beautiful winter wonderland, the ability to hear Christmas music, electricity, toothless grins of babies, big hugs from friends, peppermint mochas, internet… the list could go on for hundreds of days! I’m thankful to have so many things to be thankful for.

November 29th

Today, I’m thankful for Shoshana! From sports (observing or playing) to arts (participating or facilitating) to eats (making or eating), we get to do lots of great stuff together, and often get to hear about the next exciting thing each other’s doing. Everyone who knows her knows how thoughtful and caring she is, and how she has this amazing ability to remember your extended family (including names!) when you’re telling stories! She’s a great cook, listener, photographer, leader, puppet-wrangler, behind-the-scenes event setter-upper, Michigan fan, daughter/granddaughter/niece/cousin/aunt and FRIEND! I think we’re ALL thankful for Shoshana today. And all the other days, too ♥ 

November 28th

Today I’m thankful that it’s World AIDS Week at the University of Michigan – and that World AIDS Day is coming up on Thursday. Numbers of new HIV infections globally have been decreasing, and we have the tools we need to end the epidemic. I truly believe it’s only a matter of time until the epidemic is over, due to the work of a great number of people around the world – scientists and doctors for sure – but also courageous people who talk about living with HIV, and activists who push the political agenda in the direction of what’s best for PEOPLE, not profits. Kudos and thanks to all you who are working, privately or publicly, towards ending this epidemic! Remember your red ribbons on Thursday – and consider making a donation to your local HIV or AIDS organization. Here in the Ann Arbor area, that’s the HIV/AIDS Resource Center.

November 27th

Today, I’m thankful that I became an ordained minister and can officiate weddings! It’s such a fun time – everyone is happy, it’s a celebration, and the couples are so in love. If there’s one thing this world needs, it’s more LOVE!

November 26th

I’m thankful for college football rivarlries today! And that I got to rush the field at the big house again 🙂

November 25th

Today, I’m thankful for crowd-sourced solutions to problems – my phone was having a technical problem, so I found a forum about it online, tried their solution, and it worked! Yay to freedom of information!

November 24th – Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving, the whole reason I’ve been doing this all month.  I have SO many things to be thankful for, as listed below and above, so it’s hard to pick just one thing for today. I think today I’m most thankful that our country has a holiday dedicated solely to gratitude. Not many countries have a national holiday dedicated just to being thankful, and it’s nice to have time specifically to remind you how thankful you really are. Excited to see family today and tomorrow, and to Skype with some other friends and family around the world soon!

November 23rd

I’m thankful for a short work week today! Yeah, yeah…I DID just start, but it’s nice to have two days ahead of me where I’ll still get paid to be with family, relax, and eat traditional foods.

November 22nd

Today I’m thankful for dinners with friends. It’s nice to get away from the daily grind to have a nice, homecooked meal with friends.

November 21st

I’m thankful that I have a job (at all!) that I can leave at the office and not take the work home… so I can go out at night and enjoy myself! Pub trivia, here I come!

November 20th

Today I’m thankful for getting a chance to see some ladies I haven’t seen in a while and hang out! Thanks for organizing the gathering Lindsay!  I’m also thankful for some delicious homemade pies with good company 🙂

November 19th

Today I’m thankful to gain another sister and see lots of family! Congratulations to Chris Day and Kayla MacMillan – I’m so glad the time has finally come!! Excited to see out-of-towners Mishelle MacDonald, David Danner Day II, Elaina Day and Neal and Rhonda Hollingsworth and dance to some Sir Mix A Lot with Kristie MacMillan 😉

The happy wedding party!

November 18th

Today I’m thankful for another tool that helps me do good work – my car!  I’ve had her a little over 2 years, and she’s been to a lot of places.  I’ve driven her to Louisiana, Washington DC, and North Carolina, as well as lots of locations across Michigan. She allowed me to get to job interviews, and helps me see my family.  She even tells me how to get places if I ask!

November 17th

Today I’m thankful for tools that help me do good work – like my computer!  I use it nearly every day and it helps me stay in touch with friends and family, share my opinion, and seek information.  I’m very fortunate to have such tools to make an impact in the work I do.

November 16th

Today I’m thankful for technologies that let me stay in touch with loved ones – especially Skype.  Skype dates please!

November 15th

I’m feeling very thankful today for those who choose to make less income but make a great impact on people’s lives. I still don’t understand why those who risk their lives for the rest of us (armed services, emergency responders), those who prepare our children for our future, or those who serve others (mental health professionals, community development workers, faith leaders, etc) get paid so little in exchange for their very important work.  All these professionals need so much training and educational investment!  It continues to blow my mind, but I am very thankful to those who choose these lines of work knowing that going in.  Thank you!

November 14th

Today, I’m thankful for my travel experiences (and especially that they’ve mostly been paid for through school!).  Through these experiences, I’ve learned about people from all over the world, improved my language skills, worked on projects to improve lives of people in various locations, seen the most beautiful things in my life, and made great friends.  I’ve also become more patient, able to laugh at my mistakes, and realize how much I DON’T know.  I wish we could have a mandatory trip abroad for every school pupil in the US – our world is globalizing and we need to have a broader worldview to compete.

November 13th

Today I’m thankful for my mental health.  I’m currently in a healthy mental state, and now have health insurance to be able to access preventive care or treatment if needed.  There’s a lot of room for improvement with healthcare plans to treat mental illnesses like physical illnesses, so I am also thankful for those who are working for improved access to prevention and care for mental illnesses.  Keep up the good work!

November 12th

I’m thankful to be a Michigan Wolverine today! U-M has consistently been ranked one of the best public institutions in the world, but we’re also pretty cool too – I’ve met Wolverines across the country and globe.  In Beijing, I heard a “GO BLUE!” from across the subway platform, and Wolverines have visited the moon.  In addition to sports, we’ve done some other pretty cool things, like kicked butt at student-made solar cars, supported public art, and even have a beautiful campus (see a video of the fall colors on campus here:  We even risk our lives to singing Hail to the Victors at OSU:


November 11th – Veteran’s Day

Today, I’m thankful for the service of the various branches of our reserves and armed services, and especially thankful for the gift to have my family returned home safely. Thank you Ian MacDonald, Nikki MacDonald, Becky Boyce, David Cunningham, Mark LaSerra and also all those who voluntarily serve(d)! 

November 10th

Today, I’m thankful for technologies that remind me of happy memories… I just scanned a couple hundred pictures from a bunch of stuff from about 2001-2005 and it was SO FUN reminiscing about visiting friends and family!  It also reminded me that I’ve been so lucky to meet so many wonderful people in undergrad and get to do so many awesome things (drive to the Rose Bowl, see my younger siblings graduate high school, visit with family from Germany, go to northern Michigan and cross-country ski, have my sisters come visit for Siblings Weekend, and so much more!)  Check them out and tag away (or remove tags, ahem):

November 9th

I’m thankful that I grew up and get to stay in Michigan, with its four seasons (especially FALL), two peninsulas, abundance of fresh water, variety of landscapes, borders with Canada, outdoor activities, small towns, large cities, political diversity, pro sports teams, hard-working people, innovative artists, engineers and business people, and especially my family 🙂  Give me a high five if YOU also love America’s High Five!

November 8th – Election Day

Today, I’m thankful that I have the right to vote, and I am proud to say that I’ve voted in every major election (presidential, mid-term) since I’ve been 18, as well as a number of smaller elections… I’ve missed a few, but mostly made it to the polls.  Now, off to the polls!

November 7th

I’m thankful today for my education and that I have the desire to be a lifelong student.  There’s a monetary value that has been assigned to my education (which is VERY HIGH haha), but I think the true value far exceeds it – for example, I ended up studying two professional fields that I didn’t really know existed back when I started undergrad!  Through my education, I’ve learned to view the world a bunch of different ways, especially through my travels and language learning.  I’ve been all over the world for school, and met people from most of the rest of the places I haven’t been.  I value research and the wonder of curiosity more than before, and the vision of how we can all work together for the betterment of all is clearer than before.  Another great thing about my education is that nobody can ever take it away and it’s with me for life 🙂

November 6th

Today, I’m thankful that I got to spend an extra hour with my sister when Daylight Saving Time ended.  We had a great sisterly talk last night, and I was again reminded how awesome she is – she keeps smiling all the time, she’s a great mother, she does whatever she can for her family at any time, she makes funny jokes (and is great at Rheingans-family humor), and anyone that knows her knows how lucky they are.  She is truly a wonderful inspiration!  If given the choice to sleep an extra hour or spend it with my sister, I’d pick Chrissy EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.  I love you!!!

November 5th

Today I’m thankful for my physical health.  I’ve been fortunate to have health insurance to get two ACL reconstruction knee surgeries, and to cover preventive dental visits.  I’ve got some room for improvement, but I’m currently pretty healthy and have a good immune system!

November 4th

Today I’m thankful for babies 🙂  Especially my two favorite babies: my niece Allie and my nephew Landen!  I also got to babysit two super cute boys across the street for a few hours yesterday, and it was a lot of fun.  I love thinking of how they must be looking at the world, and it’s so fun to celebrate all their milestones – walking, talking, learning to kiss properly 🙂  Being an auntie is so great because I get to enjoy all the good stuff (cuddling, wrestling, giggling), with not much of the not-so-good stuff (diapers, crankiness)!!  Seeiing how they react to new tastes (Vernor’s, lemons) makes me smile, and they’re a blank slate into which I can only see a hopeful future.  THESE are the ones that our future is made of, and all I see is goodness!

My favorite picture of Landen and Allie! He’s being a good big cousin and helping her with his toys – and being such a sweetie ❤

My second-favorite picture of Landen and Allie – we got the MSU/UM rivalry started early 🙂 In football, MSU’s been dominating all their lives so far, but it’ll only be a matter of time til UM’s back!! GO BLUE!!

November 3rd

today I’m thankful for… MY NEW JOB!!!  As of November 14, I’ll be the Project Manager for the Washtenaw Health Initiative (, a county-wide collaborative of over 50 people who are working together to make sure Washtenaw County is ready for the American Care Act (‘health reform bill’) to be fully implemented in 2014.  It’s based in Ann Arbor, out of the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation (, and I’ll technically be a University of Michigan employee.  Thank you to all those who wished me luck, prayed, and supported me since graduation!!  I am very thankful to have friends, family, and mentors like you!!!

November 2nd

I’m thankful to have two job interviews today!  They’re both for jobs I’d really like, and I could stay in Michigan, where I’d be close to a lot of family members (see Nov 1st…).  The job search is a long process for many, especially in Michigan, and I’m thankful that of the last 16 jobs I’ve applied for, I’ve been interviewed for 12 of them – some people don’t even get any interviews!  And I’m becoming an interview and cover letter-writing master! haha Fingers crossed!!

November 1st

Today, I’m thankful for my family! It’s a hard family to explain (for example, my ex-stepdad’s step-son is getting married on the 19th, and I’m going to my ex-stepdad’s step-son’s fiancee’s bachelorette party on Saturday!), but all the quirks make me thankful.  We’ve got funny ones, enterprising ones, brave ones, cuddly ones, studius ones, sarcastic ones, beautiful ones (wait – ALL are the last two) in this family!!  We’ve got all sorts of generations and half-generations – for example, growing up, I thought a number of my cousins were my aunts and uncles…  We’re all over the place too: Michigan, Illinois, Montana, North Carolina, New York, Florida, Arkansas, Mississippi, California, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Colorado, Ontario, Texas (during some parts of the year), Germany, and I’m probably forgetting some!  I LOVE YOU!!

Every day until Thanksgiving (and maybe after), I’ll post something I’m thankful for.  I’ll keep a running list in this note, so I can look back any time at all the things I’m thankful for!

Posted by: Carrie Rheingans | July 23, 2012

Cucumber Dill Salad Recipe

I’ve gotten many requests for this recipe, so I’ve attempted to track the amounts of the ingredients here.

Ingredients (I doubled this for the images below):

cucumber dill salad ingredients

cucumber dill salad ingredients

  • 1 large cucumber
  • 4 tablespoons mayonnaise (can substitute Greek-style yogurt)
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1/2 medium red onion
  • 1/2 cup diced fresh dill
  • salt & pepper to taste

Instructions (can go in any order for the most part):

  1. Whisk mayonnaise and vinegar together until smooth. The cucumbers add a lot of liquid, so it’s ok if this mix is a little thick.
  2. Crush fresh garlic into the sauce.
  3. Dice red onion, add to the sauce.
  4. Rinse and dice the dill, add to the sauce/onion mix.
  5. Wash and partially peel the cucumber(s) – the skins have some nutrition. Chop in half for easier handling, then slice each half into quarters lengthwise. Slice these long triangles into 1/4″-1/2″ slices and add to the rest.
  6. Add salt & pepper to taste.
cucumber dill sauce

cucumber dill sauce – note the consistency

cucumber dill dicing the onions

cucumber dill dicing the onions

cucumber dill cucumbers with partial skins

cucumber dill cucumbers with partial skins

cucumber dill salad

cucumber dill salad (doubled recipe)

This doesn’t usually take very long to make, and it’s pretty easy. I really want to try it with yogurt instead of mayonnaise, and I might try adding mint someday. It’s ok to use dried dill, but you’ll need less (dry herbs have a stronger flavor than fresh herbs). This is a recipe that you can take and make to your own taste in a variety of ways, so be creative!!




Posted by: Carrie Rheingans | May 9, 2012

Comunicado de prensa en español. Fue un gran equips que lo hizo posible – AATA/TheRide, the Washtenaw County Public Health Department, University of Michigan Health System Interpreter Services, Olas Translations y Casa Latina!

Casa Latina

The RideCasa Latina

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – El uso de transporte público será más fácil para personas hispano parlantes con la primera traducción del folleto rutas y horarios de Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (TheRide) llamado Guía del Ride (RideGuide).

El desarrollo del primer Guía del Ride en español ha sido un proyecto iniciado por Casa Latina, una organización sin fines de lucro fundada en 2010 para promover y apoyar la plena participación de Latinos en la comunidad. El trabajo de Casa Latina es apoyado por un otorgamiento del Departamento de Salud Comunitaria del Estado de Michigan por medio del Departamento de Salud Publica del Condado de Washtenaw.

Al anunciar la nueva guía, Charo Ledón, Directora Ejecutiva de Casa Latina, dijo, “Este esfuerzo le ayudara a muchos miembros de la comunidad a usar el sistema de autobuses para viajar al trabajo, escuela y comercios. Es un gran paso para que los hispano parlantes puedan…

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Posted by: Carrie Rheingans | May 9, 2012

This is the English press release. It was a great partnership that made this possible – AATA/TheRide, the Washtenaw County Public Health Department, University of Michigan Health System Interpreter Services, Olas Translations and Casa Latina!

Casa Latina

The Ride Casa Latina

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Use of public transit will be easier for local Spanish speakers with the first translation of the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority’s (TheRide) route and schedule book called the Ride Guide.

Development of the first Spanish Ride Guide has been a project initiated by Casa Latina, a non-profit organization formed in 2010 to promote and support the full participation of Latinos in the community. Casa Latina’s work on this project is supported by a Michigan Department of Community Health grant through the Washtenaw County Public Health Department.

In announcing the new guide, Charo Ledón, Executive Director of Casa Latina, said, “This effort will help many of our fellow community members effectively use the bus system to get to and from work, school and the grocery store. It’s a big step for Spanish-speakers to be able to fully participate in our community.”

The first Spanish Ride…

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Posted by: Carrie Rheingans | February 3, 2012

Say Africa – Vusi Mahlasela

Vusi Mahlasela sings the title track from his new album. Great song! Lots of references to South Africa, where he’s from… makes me miss it. I want to go back!

My favorite line: “…Africa – you know, it’s a big continent with the great gift of ubuntu”. Vusi describes ubuntu at the beginning of the video as “humanness” and “a person is a person because of other persons”. Love it!

Here’s a picture of me with Vusi at The Ark in Ann Arbor in 2008.

Carrie & Vusi 2008

Carrie & Vusi 2008

Sweet potato, greens, beans, and stewed tomato soup

Sweet potato, greens, beans, and stewed tomato soup

I made this soup this weekend. I knew I wanted to use these ingredients, but there weren’t really any recipes that I found that I liked, so I just tried it out to see how it would work. It’s pretty yummy and savory, but there are a few changes I’d make next time.

2 sweet potatoes, 1″ cubes
large bunch mustard greens, chopped (you can use any sturdy greens, I wanted kale)
2 leeks, sliced in 1/4 slices
1 large can stewed tomatoes
2 15-oz. cans butter beans (can use any, I wanted great northern)
1/2 large red onion, chopped coarsely
finely chopped garlic (to taste – I used about 2 tbs)
oregano (to taste)
seasoned salt (to taste)
fresh-ground pepper (to taste)
water or broth (I used 1 part veggie broth, 1 part water – about 2 total liters)

1. start heating veggie broth, scrub sweet potatoes, chop into 1″ cubes
2. add sweet potato cubes to the broth, bring to a boil
3. while the sweet potatoes are heating up and boiling, slice and chop the leeks and red onion and sautee with spices to taste, garlic and olive oil. Allow some of the onions and leeks to get somewhat toasty and blackened to add flavor
4. while the potatoes and onions are cooking, rinse and tear/chop the greens into bite-sized pieces
5. add the greens, onions, and stewed tomatoes (with their juice) into the pot with the potatoes
6. rinse the beans if using canned (to get rid of some of the fart risk :-)) and add to the pot
7. allow everything to simmer, add any further spices to taste

It made a lot, probably about 12 servings. It’s completely vegan, and contains a lot of great nutrients (potassium and Vit A and C from the sweet potatoes, iron from the greens, vit C and lycopene from the tomatoes, protein from the beans).

Things I’d change next time:
– use kale, because it’s sturdier
– add another leek
– add more tomatoes
– use great northern beans, and add another can
– use all veggie broth, not half broth/half water

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