Monday, October 28, 2013

Weekend round up and our week ahead!

Ah Monday. The weekend is over, a new week has begun...and this one is shaping up to be monstrously busy. Which I am actually totally ok with, as long as my teething toddler cooperates with me a bit.

This weekend was fun and a bit low key for us. On Friday we went to our unit's Trunk-or-Treat event which was super cute. We met a group of our friends there which, funnily enough, all of the kids were dressed as super heroes (with the exception of one adorably teeny tiny Eeyore)...and even some adults donned their capes and masks for the event! The kids all had a good time checking out the Halloween-themed events (including a Zombie stress shoot and a Halloween cupcake walk), and most certainly enjoyed Trunk-or-Treating. Thought it took Conner quite a while to grasp the concept that the candy had to go in his "punkin" and that he wasn't going to eat each piece as it was handed to him! It was really cute though and we are looking forward to Trick-or-Treating in our neighborhood this week. I'm holding off on posting a picture just yet (mostly because I didn't get a great one of Conner by himself)...but I will tell you that our little Superman is pretty much the cutest thing. Ever. On the face of the planet.

On Saturday we made the brave journey to Toys r Us to buy Conner's birthday gift, since his party is this weekend! I say brave because I'm pretty sure most parents walk out of that place in a daze from the massive amounts of toys everywhere...and for us, a very upset toddler who was mad he couldn't take the big display train table, and all of it's trains, with us. Seriously, you would have thought the world was ending with how upset he was. Little does the dude know, Mommy and Daddy will be presenting him with a super awesome set of Thomas the Train wooden tracks for his birthday. This kid loves Thomas...I foresee a very excited toddler in my future!

Sundays are always our errands day. Conner was in a mood again yesterday (seriously, these two year molars are killing both of us), so Derek and I agreed that our usual family trip to the commissary would probably not end well with a grouchy kiddo on our hands. So Derek hung home with the dude and I headed out (with a binder full of coupons, of course) and food shopped. When I got home, Derek decided to get some stuff done around the house and since Conner was napping I took the opportunity to give myself a sweet Halloween mani...


For those curious, the black is Black Lingerie by Revlon, the orange is a sugar-coat type polish (no color name) by Julie G and the glitter is Rainbow in the Skylie from Nicole by OPI. I did a base coat of OPI Natural Nail Base Coat and I use Seche Vite as my top coat. Also, the chevrons (which are awesome) are vinyl nail stickers from Etsy. This look was easier than you'd think!

Looking ahead, this week is going to require coffee. And lots of it. In addition to the usual daily stuff I have going on, I'll be crafting and party prepping...and prepping for Derek's parents to arrive on Friday. So I've got banners to make, favors to put together, supply shopping to do (hello, Michaels and Dollar Tree...oh, and Costco. Love Costco), a house to clean and an entire guest bedroom to finally unpack and de-clutter (there's always that one room!). Whew! But it'll all be worth it, and I'm hoping to get ahead of the game early so I'm not losing my mind and asking "what the heck was I thinking??" By the end of the week.

I hope you all had a great weekend, and here's to a great week! Stay tuned as later this week I'll share some crafting and of course a recipe on What's Cooking Wednesday!




Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What's Cooking Wednesday! Pretzal Crusted Chicken

So this week I'm starting up a new feature with my friend Young from The Mrs. Diaries. Young and I are good friends from college who have recently reconnected through our love for blogging...and food! Each week we will be linking up on Wednesdays to share a favorite meal with our readers, and we are calling it "What's Cooking Wednesday!".

So for my What's Cooking meal, I'm sharing what I made for dinner last night: Pretzal crusted chicken with a Velveeta beer sauce and cheesy risotto. Yum, right??

So to start I defrosted about a pound and a half of chicken. It ended up being about three large boneless, skinless chicken breasts which I sliced into six halves. Now, normally I'd use freshly crushed pretzals (crush em first by hand, then into the mini-chop or food processor they go to make a finely crushed coating) but this week I cheated because I had a coupon and buying Shake n Bake's new pretzal coating was cheaper than a bag of pretzals. So I followed the directions on the box for coating the chicken and in the oven it went. Note: the box recommends that you cook the chicken at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Unless you have really thin chicken breasts, I recommend 25-30 minutes.

pretzal crusted chicken, hot out of the oven!

The Velveeta beer sauce is easy peasy and oh-so-yummy. Cut into cubes about a cup of Velveeta. In a small sauce pan, add about 3/4 cup of milk, 1/2 bottle of beer and the Velveeta. Simmer on the stove until cheese is completely melted, then sprinkle a little cracked black pepper and a touch of garlic powder and mix well. You're done! Now this will yield a good amount of sauce, but that's ok! Because it also serves a purpose for the risotto!

For the cheesy risotto, cook risotto as you normally would, though do not add any onion or garlic to the initial saute. Once the risotto is almost fully cooked, pour about half of the Velveeta sauce into the pan and about 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese. Mix it together until the cheese is completely melted and top with additional black pepper. Serve hot!

With this meal I also cooked up some roasted veggies we grabbed at Costo...and viola! Yummy dinner :)

For those of you who are pinners, you'll notice my images are now pinnable! So if you're looking to share this yummy dinner on Pinterest, hoover over the image and pin away :)

If you want to join Young and I on our weekly link-up, please do! Grab our What's Cooking Wednesday! badge below, and please tag and link my blog and The Mrs. Diaries in your post. And don't forget to comment and share the link here for your own yummy meal idea!
This Whole Mommy Thing


Until next time!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Confessions of a Crafty Momma: Birthday Invitations!

So with Conner's party less than two weeks away, I suppose it's a good time to give you all a peek at his invitations...

I happened to have a Groupon that I previously purchased which was a voucher for $70 worth of product on VistaPrint.com, so that's what I used for C Man's invitations and accompanying stationary. I LOVE Vistaprint. I've used them for our wedding Save the Date postcards and magnets, "We've Moved" cards, Christmas cards, return address labels, business cards, stickers...you name it. The quality of their products is really great, their pricing can't be beat, and their customer service happens to be phenomenal (which, in itself is enough to keep me coming back to a company!).

Now, the invitations themselves were designed by...ME! I knew I wanted to do a 5x7 postcard style invitation, so I started by getting the dimensions from VistaPrint and entering them into iStudio Publisher (which is similar to Microsoft Publisher and is available through the Apple App Store for Macs). For the background I started with a white and red striped wallpaper that I had found online, and I added a translucent white layer over it to fade it a bit. The red and white stripes by themselves were a little too harsh and made the fonts on the invitation hard to read and difficult to focus on, so the translucent layer was necessary. For this invitation I used a sports themed font called Brannboll which was great because it gives you the option to add a tail at the end of any word by adding any number from one through zero at the end (and each number is a slightly different tail).



Brannboll was free to download and available through DaFont.com, amongst other sites. The other font used on the invitation was the basic American Typewriter font in regular and bold, which is a standard font on Macs.

Since the party is a baseball theme, I thought it was only appropriate to get creative with the wording for the invite...So I am not officially Coach Val, our house is officially a Stadium, and you're RSVPing to let us know if you're ready to play ball! Cute, right?

My next step with this invitation was to add one of the pictures from Conner's birthday session with Britny Sirotak Photography. The photo alone looked great, but the invitation itself just looked a little unfinished to me, so I set off online to search for some options on spicing it up. Naturally, and as usual, I found a quick, easy solution via Etsy. Angilla's Digital Design is an Etsy shop that specializes in really cute downloadable scrapbook papers and frames. For $5.99, I downloaded her pack of 22 Red and Blue Baseball papers, and for an additional $5.99 I also downloaded a set of 20 Red and Blue Digital Frames. Within a few minutes of the purchase, my files were ready to download and begin using. I took one of the blue frames and matted it around Conner's picture on the invitation. Then once I got into VistaPrint and uploaded the invitation, I also uploaded one of the red digital papers and used that as the design for the back of the invitation. Perfection!

So the invitation itself ended up looking like this....




So cute, I know!

From there I ordered reallllly cute return address lables and matching envelope seals (again, from VistaPrint) which say "Batter Up! It's Time to Celebrate!" I ordered enough so that we could use them again to send out thank you cards after the party, too. Aaaaand, the real kicker? I found baseball stamps in my stash that I had purchased last year to use for a special occasion....win!



So all in all, minus postage and shipping, Conner's birthday invitations, return address lables and envelope seals cost less than $30. Since I had $70 to spend on VistaPrint from my Groupon, I ordered a few other things and the $12 digital downloads from Etsy will also do double duty since I'll use them for other projects and scrapbooking!

Invitation success! Now on to crafting decorations and prepping for a grand slam party!

If you have any questions about the invitations or want to know more (though I think I covered it pretty well, don't you?), feel free to shoot me an e-mail! You can contact me by clicking here or clicking on the "contact tab" at the top of the page and filling out the form.

Much love!
V




Friday, October 18, 2013

Our Little Slugger: Conner's Birthday Pictures

A few weeks ago we had the pleasure of doing Conner's 2nd birthday pictures with Britny, owner of Britny Sirotak photography. Britny is a personal friend of mine, but aside from that she is a phenomenal, and I mean phenomenal, photographer (seriously, no bias! I had seen her work before we were even friends!). Since Conner's party is a baseball theme, Britny suggested we do his pictures at a real baseball field...genius, right?? Before the session, I got crafty with an inexpensive Phillies jersey my sister-in-law sent me and added Conner's name and the number 2 to the back. We went to the session prepared with an accompanying Phillies hat and sweatshirt and a ball and glove. While we narrowly avoided the rain (literally, we were watching the weather all day! We got just enough of a weather break to take the pictures before it started to pour again!), the fields we shot in were lush and green and Britny got some amazing pictures of our little guy. I am so excited and pleased with them!

I was so happy with Conner's pictures that we are going to do a family session with her next weekend that I absolutely can not wait for. If you're local to the area, definitely check her out. Britny does maternity, birth, newborn, child and family sessions. For the quality of her work, I think her prices are incredibly reasonable and she is a blast to work with. It also helps, I think, that she's a momma! So naturally she's excellent with kiddos.

I've got a little slideshow here with a peek at the pictures Britny got of C Man, and an album of all of the pictures can be found on my Facebook page :)


For anyone interested in doing a session with Britny, her upcoming fall mini-sessions are a great opportunity to try her out at a great price! It's also a great way to get some new family pictures before the season for holiday cards galore (for which, ahem, there is currently a $15 for $45 Groupon to VistaPrint...cough cough...)

Here is her flyer for the mini-sessions. You can check out her webpage (which also features a really great photography blog!) by clicking here...or you can check out her Facebook page.


Much love!
V