Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A New Year and A Giveaway!

Woo! It's New Years Eve. Time to reflect on 2013, look forward to 2014,  and sip champagne :)


In honor of good cheer and the new year (oh! And the fact that I just rhymed), I'm hosting a little giveaway :) Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below and 2 lucky winners will receive a little something from my favorite handmade soaper, One In A Mel'lion! Contest ends on January 8th, 2014 and is open to US residents only who are 18 and older. Good luck!

Don't forget! You must comment on this blog post, not the Rafflecopter widget, as a mandatory entry! Once you've commented, hit the "I commented" button on the Rafflecopter. Otherwise I can't see it!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013: Our Year in Review

This year has brought some of the highest highs and lowest lows. It's pushed myself and my little family to believe in our love and find strength in each other. It's taught me lessons about myself and my capabilities and it's brought along the chance to continue watching my amazing little boy grow and learn each day. What a year!

January was a long, exhausting but oh-so-worth-it month. As Conner and I continued to push through the deployment we were several months into, we returned from an extended stay with family only to pack up the apartment we were living in and move to a home located on our Military base. With the help of an incredible friend, a wonderful moving crew and an unusually patient Conner, we had a relatively easy, quick move to a beautiful home which happened to include a neighbor who I would learn was from my hometown....and who quickly became a great friend. Conner and I finished out the month enjoying our new house, though still missing Daddy, and working our way around being a twosome.

February brought a month of personal challenges for me. After a several-month battle with sciatica that just wouldn't quit, things came to a head when I found myself in incredibly excruciating pain and still being without any help in caring for Conner. Finally, on my fourth appointment with a doctor to help deal with my pain, I got an answer. A doctor on base determined the cause of my pain was from piriformis syndrome...an injury to my piriformis muscle which can be very difficult to help heal. With some gentle osteopathic manipulation I was back on my feet and had my faith restored in gentle healing. Meanwhile my thoughtful husband had plotted a very sweet delivery to me on Valentines day...which restored my faith in chocolates and flowers :)


March was the month where we celebrated Daddy's birthday via Skype, enjoyed improving weather, saw a dim light at the end of the deployment tunnel and spent Easter enjoying the company of our Army family. 

April was a month that brought the calm before the storm. As spring swung into full bliss, I enjoyed beautiful weather and a visit from Derek's parents which brought me a much needed break. For the first time in a while I enjoyed a little extra sleep and a pedicure and Conner got to spend some quality time with his grandparents. Their visit also marked my final milestone for the deployment...We now had an upcoming homecoming to look forward to!


The beginning of May was a slightly challenging start. As my husband began to make his way home from an eight month deployment, I experienced the incredible excitement of knowing he'd be home....only to be dashed hours before his supposed arrival with a delay that would keep us on our toes and anxiously waiting for three extra days. When the time finally arrived, Conner and I greeted our Soildier with full hearts and so much excitement that he was finally home. Conner treated his daddy like he had never left, and I very much enjoyed celebrating my birthday and Mother's Day with both of my men.

June presented the chance for us to begin a new chapter in the life of our family. After much consideration, Derek and I decided it was time to purchase our first home. After a phone call to a realtor friend we began househunting...and after getting outbid on what we thought would be an amazing family home, another amazing property came our way and fate was on our side!

With our home buying process well underway and our house on base being slowly packed to move, we paused everything to make a trip home to visit family. Derek and I even had the opportunity to spend a night alone to celebrate our wedding anniversary in Atlantic City. While home we enjoyed our favorite foods native to Philadelphia (hello, Italian hoagies), swimming in the pool at Derek's parent's house and lots of good quality family time. When we returned to the West Coast, home buying was in full swing. We closed on our home just two days after our trip and with the help of family and great friends, we officially moved into our first home!

As the summer slowly wound down, we enjoyed spending August getting settled in our new home. At the end of the month we celebrated by warming our home with great friends and some of the people we consider family out here. We couldn't have enjoyed it more!

September brought a milestone moment for my husband and son. Derek is an avid Philadelphia Flyers fan and played hockey as a kid through high school. Even as an adult Derek seizes any opportunity to hit the ice and play. We were invited to a birthday party for the son of a friend of ours who we adore, and his party happened to be at a local ice rink. Derek was so excited...dressed in jeans and matching Flyers jerseys, Derek laced up a pair of tiny skates for Conner and my men took to the ice. Watching them out there was simply heartwarming...you could just see the sheer meaningfulness in Derek's eyes as he held our son up and skated him around the rink.

October sent fall into full swing and this year we had trick or treating to look forward to! Last year Conner spent his first Halloween flying with Derek's sister and I after having been stuck in Denver due to Hurricane Sandy. This year, dressed as the cutest Supeman ever, we enjoyed taking Conner to Derek's unit's annual Trunk or Treat followed by trick or treating in our neighborhood. We had an absolute blast and Conner certainly enjoyed all of the "punkins" and m&ms :)

On November 6th my baby boy turned two! We celebrated with a baseball birthday party, yummy cupcakes, a wooden Thomas the Train set and lots of hugs and kisses for our little dude. Later in the month we celebrated Thanksgiving by enjoying an incredible meal with our Army family...and hanging the Christmas lights up the next day!

Looking back on this final month of the year, it's been a great one. Derek and I enjoyed going to my first Military ball which was an absolute blast. We also very much enjoyed Christmas shopping and preparing for celebrating Christmas in our new home. For the first time we were able to buy Conner gifts without worrying about having to mail them across the country, and I fully decked out then house with all things gold, green, red and sparkly! On Christmas morning we woke up to witness our wide-eyed little boy so excited to see that Santa had arrived. We spent our morning opening presents, putting together toys, enjoying eggs Benedict made by hubby and sipping hot coffee. That evening we shared a meal with friends and sipped mimosas....what a wonderful Christmas!

As things wind down and the New Year approaches I can only imagine what 2014 has in store for us. So many things to look forward to, and so many blessings to continue to count! I want to wish you all a safe and very happy, prosperous New Year, and thank you for following along our family journey! I hope you continue to enjoy reading This Whole Mommy Thing as I continue to enjoy writing it.

Many blessings to all!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Fancy On The Fly: Chocolate Spoons!

This Christmas, I've decided to do a little hot cocoa bar as part of our Christmas night feast. As part of that sweet yumminess, I decided to add a little touch that looks super fancy, is fun to make and incredibly easy: chocolate spoons!

For this craft, you will need:
Candy pellets (I like the Wilton brand candies, available at Michaels)
Plastic spoons
Sprinkles and/or candy, nuts etc
Lollipop bags

I bought different flavors of Wilton Candy Melts at Michaels for this craft. I planned to do peppermint, mint chocolate, chocolate peanut butter, milk chocolate and white chocolate spoons. The candy melts run about $3 a bag (or less with a coupon!) and are so easy. You just melt em in the microwave! I also bought some fun sprinkles for the spoons.

After melting the candies, I took cheap plastic spoons (mine are from our commissary and ran less than a buck) and dipped them into the different melted candies. Before the candy cooled and hardened, I topped them with sprinkles and then laid them on wax paper to set.

Once they set, I wrapped the spoons in plastic lollipop bags. Done!

These are super easy, and are good in cocoa and even coffee! I also love to pass bunches of these out to friends as gifts :)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Conner's Cookie Plate!

So I recently featured an absolutely adorable DIY cookie plate from my friend Cari over at Adventures of the Roberts. I loved the idea so much that I decided to make one for Conner, because seriously, who wouldn't love to put out cookies for Santa on a special plate?!

For this craft, you will need:
A plain ceramic plate
Paint pens (any brand will do. I used CraftSmart pens from Michaels)
Rubbing alcohol
A baking sheet

Cari did her plate using Sharpie markers and it turned out AWESOME. I, however, have attempted the Sharpie craft before and failed miserably on a couple of mugs. I've heard mixed reviews about using the Sharpies...they work great for some and not at all for others, and since I apparently don't have the magic Sharpie touch, I decided to give something else a shot. I know from my sister-in-law's glass painting (she does custom painted glasses that are absolutely adorable) that craft paint will bake well onto a glass or ceramic surface. I really didn't want to get into the mess of paint and brushes, so I decided to give paint pens a shot! I read up around Pinterest and saw that other DIYers were having success with them, so I figured what the heck!

I grabbed a plain, white ceramic plate at Target for $4.99 and I already had a set of Christmas colored CraftSmart paint pens at home (these are available at Michaels and run between $3-10 or less with a coupon!). I washed the plate, dried it and then wiped it down with rubbing alcohol to make sure the surface was clean of any soap residue or dust. Then I drew on the plate with my paint pens...

I set the plate on a cookie sheet, and put it in the oven while it was turned off. I set it to 350 degrees for 30 minutes and then went to bed when I turned the oven off. In the morning, I pulled the plate out of the oven and hand washed it (just to see what would happen to the paint) and WOO! The paint held up and the plate is adorable. If you're wondering what the deal is with putting the plate in the oven before you turn it on and leaving it in there overnight, it's because you want the plate to heat up and cool down slowly to prevent cracking (or worse). It needs to gently heat up with the oven and slowly cool down completely or you risk having a split plate or one that pretty much shattered.

Keep in mind that once you're done, your plate is hand wash only! The dishwasher will totally kill your beautiful artwork, so grab a sponge and scrub gently!

Whether you use Sharpies or paint pens, I'd love to see your cookie plates! Post your pics on my Facebook for all to admire ;)

Merry Merry!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Featured Craft: Christmas Cookie Plate by Cari!

Today I'm featuring an easy, super adorable Christmas craft done by my friend Cari who writes the blog Adventures of the Roberts. Cari is a personal friend of mine who I've known since we were both engaged and planning July weddings in 2010 :) She's one of my Knottie loves!

Cari has a sweet little girl named Bre and created an adorable plate for her to put out Santa's cookies on for Christmas Eve. The end result of her craft was soooo cute

I'm going to do a similar crafted plate for Conner this year. It's just too cute! 

You can find Cari's post for this craft here. It's got simple, easy to follow instructions, which are always wonderful!

Happy crafting!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What's Cooking Wednesday? Semi-Homemade Pizzas

It's link-up day with Young from The Mrs. Diaries! And today I'm talking pizza :)

One of our favorite dinners is make-your-own pizza night in our house. It's the chance for hubby and I to get crafty or classic with our meal. Recently Derek got crafty with an alfredo based pizza, and I stuck to the classics making myself a nice, cheesy pepperioni pizza. YUM.

We always start out with Pillsbury thin-crust pizza dough. It's easy, yummy and a staple in our fridge for those nights when we are at a loss for dinner ideas.

For Derek's pizza, he started out with a light layer of mozzarella cheese

Then he spooned on the sauce, which was Classico Light Asiago Romano Alfredo

Then came the grilled chicken and more mozzarella....

And the kicker...Siracha!

I went more classic with my own pizza. Since I was sharing mine with Conner, we did extra cheese and half pepperoni! I started with the sauce...I like Bertolli Olive Oil and Garlic sauce on these pizzas.

Then the cheese, a quick sprinkle of ground black pepper, and the pepperonis

In the oven they went at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes. Now, the directions say to pre-bake the dough for 5 minutes first, but we didn't see that until after the fact...and truthfully I doubt it makes much of a difference. Our pizzas turned out awesome!

If you're a blogger and want to join in on our little link up, grab the button below, write up a recipe post, link This Whole Mommy Thing and The Mrs. Diaries and comment below! We'd love to hear what you're cooking this Wednesday :)
This Whole Mommy Thing