2011 In Review

As this year draws to a close a sigh of relief slips out of my lips. 2011 was most certainly the most difficult year I’ve ever had in my life thus far. It included several ER trips for me and Tyler, a lifeflight and ICU Stay, my husband’s 7 month deployment to Cuba, the loss of my dear Grandpa to cancer, and many internal personal struggles with the changes of life and relationships. There were also 3 cross country relocations as we hopped from place to place while my husband was gone. The times when I felt I needed others the most were the times I felt utterly alone. It was a year full of grief, pain, sickness and tears.

When I look back at this year I will not remember the pain alone. Through it all there were bright shining moments of pure happiness. Through the sickness there was the amazing joy of watching God answer prayers before my very eyes in a miraculous way. Through the tears bawled into my pillow while I was crying myself to sleep at 3 a.m. there was the feeling of God wrapping His very arms of comfort around me and whispering that it was all going to be ok. Through the separation of the person who is dearest to me in all the world there came out a new renewed and more deeply devoted love and appreciation than we have ever known before. Through it all I came away with a deeper understand of life, of self, and a sense of maturity and perspective that I know I lacked before. There was lovely time spent getting to know my in-laws better, fun adventures with my wonderful and crazy family, precious memories built with many hours spent with both of my Grandma’s, and the warmth that comes from connecting with old friends and making new ones. My good friend From Tracie did a year in review of pictures along with some bloggers, and I would like to do one too-because when I look at the pictures from this year I see only the joy that I want to remember. Looking at them reminds me of how many wonderful and fun things we got to do and experience this year. I trust that in years to come the goods will far outweigh the bads in my mind and heart.


Full of fun playdates with friends and the normal every day to day life we live while in Boston


Saw Amber’s 3rd birthday and lots of family time while we could still spend it together


You can tell by my pictures that March is when things began to get a little overwhelming–I only took 8 pictures the entire month (most months the minimum is 100 photos–no joke) I did manage to snap this little gem–at this point they only adored each other and never fought.


Marked our voyage down to spend a little over a month in Tyler, Texas. One of the highlights for everyone was the trip to the zoo there.


We spent almost the entire month of May in Texas and continued to have so much fun with Bob’s family, my favorite thing was visiting the Texas Rose Gardens


June marked the first month with my family in Wyoming. We took several fun trips out to all my favorite gorgeous and breathtaking Wyoming spots. This picture was taken at the beautiful Green River Lakes near Pinedale, Wyoming.


Marked my 26th birthday and Tyler’s 1st a wonderfully fun camping trip to Red Cliff Bible Camp and Yellowstone National Park.


Was filled with more wonderful times together with family and trips into the Wyoming wilderness–along with the revelation that empty pop cans and dirt are really the best toys EVER for babies.


We took a trip up into Montana to spend a few days with one of my very best friends and her lovely family. She was my rock and go-to gal the entire deployment and it was amazing to spend face to face time together again after 2 years apart.


 Saw lots and lots of family time as our 6 month stay in Wyoming drew to a close. There were many trips to the park and lots of playing in the leaves!


The love of my life returned home at last!!!!! Thanks to my beyond sweet and wonderful Mother in Law we were able to go on an overnight incredibly romantic getaway in downtown Boston. It was something I will never forget!


December of course means Christmas! We made Christmas a fun 2 day event which started on Christmas Eve. Amber loved helping me bake special Christmas Cookies this year.

Swingline SmartTouch Stapler *Review*

Hubby is an office supply geek. Anytime we go shopping for office supplies in a store or browsing online on sites like Shoplet.com his eyes light up like a little boy on Christmas Day. He just loved pencils, notebooks, organizers, and desks. I knew he would love it if I started reviewing office products and here is our first one! The Swingline SmartTouch Stapler was definitely a great way to start out. It has a 25 sheet capacity and is ergonomically designed to make it easier to staple more with less resistance than other staplers. I really love the feel of the smooth rubber grips and the way it fits in my hand makes it seem like it really would reduce things like carpal tunnel due to the ease of using it–and believe me–as someone with an Office Information Systems degree I’ve definitely done a fair bit of stapling things in my day! An extra bonus is that it looks uber cool as well. We did have a tiny bit of trouble getting the staples in at first and hubby had to fanagle it a bit before he figured out how to do it–but once they were in it has worked beautifully ever since. A very nice, high quality product and I would recommend it! The Swingline Premium Chisel Point Staples are very nice too–super heavy duty without looking like they’d tear the paper at all.

Interior Decorating

Fougeron Architecture contemporary dining room

When I was trying to decide what I wanted to be “when I grew up” one of the things that really interested me was interior decorating. My cousin actually went on to get her degree in Interior Design and is now working for a company using her talents, and I was able to talk to her a little about all that it involved. Although I love decorating when I found out that there was a lot of sewing and literal design work involved in a degree in that field (figuring out how to create a room so that the outlets fit in wasn’t too appealing to me) I decided that my talents lie elsewhere–at least as far as a career was concerned.

I still love to watch interior decorating shows–HGTV is my ***favorite*** channel of all time! I also enjoyed working alongside interor decorators and picking up tips when I worked at the furniture store. Some of my favorite blogs and magazine focus on interior decorating and home design. I’ve discovered that my tastes are very electic, I love modern design mostly but things like my very victorian dresser and more classic kinds of art appeal to me strongly as well. Some day when I’m rich *winks* I will be able to indulge this side of me.  For now I will continue to glory in the fact my apartment has granite countertops and silver fixtures and hang my pictures in off set groups of odd numbers.

Have you ever considered a career as an interior decorator? Do you enjoy design shows? Which ones?

Digital Scrapbooking Freebie

I have a great offer for you! Thanks to MyMemories Software (remember I just did a review of them *here* ) I will be bringing you some great digital scrapbooking freebies weekly! I’m excited because I’ll be downloading them for myself as well! 😉 The really great thing about them is that they are in png format so no matter what digital scrapbooking program you use these will work with it!

Remember if you use My Memories Software coupon code STMMMS65515 You can get the great deal of getting $10 off the software and $10 in free merchandise from MyMemories.com!! Since the software is only $39.97 you will be getting a great bargain! This would make a wonderful Christmas gift! You can purchase the software Here.


Click HERE to download (includes 5 Page Elements 2 quick pages)

Rugs USA *Review*

I never used to think much about rugs until I started working at the furniture store. I was impressed to learn from the interior designers how much a rug can do for the feel of a room–and many times they picked the rug first and built around it. Another thing that I had never realized was how expensive a good quality rug can be! Especially if you go in and order from a traditional furniture store. Thankfully the beautiful thing about today is that you can buy pretty much anything, including rugs, online–which gives you a much better chance of getting it for a better price! We were sent the  Spectrum Modern Damask Sand Rug in 4×6 from Rugs USA to review. We’re in an apartment and I never understand why any apartment complex would put light carpeting down–but it seems they always do! Between the kids and my clutzy ways it’s never long before the light carpet looks not so great–I knew a rug would be perfect way to add some flair to the blah carpet–while protecting it all at the same time! I love the beautiful damask print and the coloring is just dark enough that it pops without clashing. As you can see from the picture we still have some bumps from where the carpet hasn’t smoothed out all the way yet. I think this was just due to it being rolled up so tightly for shipping, and think that once it’s been down for awhile they will go away–I plan on putting our footstool on it to get out the stubborn bumps and then it should perfect! That’s about the only thing I’m not happy with as far as the rug is concerned. It is super plush and soft and the kids love playing on it–Amber has been pretending it’s a ship and the rest of the carpet is water 🙂 If you are looking for a good quality, affordable rug I’d suggest checking Rugs USA out, they also have customer reviews for each item which is always a great thing!

Influenster Holiday VoxBox

I hope that you all had a very wonderful Christmas! Mine was a little sweeter with this awesome Holiday Voxbox full of stocking stuffer type goodies I was sent from Influenster. I’m digging the NYC gloss so far and can’t wait to use the masque tonight during my bath–I need it after all the cleaning, decluttering, and organizing I’m doing today! The imPRESS nail polish looks pretty sweet too–very interested on how well it will work. I’ll be posting updates on the individual products as I get the chances to use them and give you the scoop on them! Excuse me now though, off to go pop some of those Mentos into my mouth and get back to organizing!

Did you get a stocking this year? If so what was in it? Would you want any of these as stocking stuffers?

Find a Better Night’s Sleep ~ Guest Post

Find a Better Night’s Sleep
There are various reasons for a poor Night’s Sleep, of which include a poor diet, lack of exercise or a sleeping partner that snores. All of these problems can be fixed to improve your sleep; however, one, often overlooked, problem is that of the mattress you are sleeping on. If your mattress is over five years old it is time to start shopping for a new one, because your old mattress could be contributing to a poor night’s sleep. (((There are many awesome mattress buying guides out there that you can read and I highly recommend it. Keep in mind that there are different types of mattresses depending on the way you sleep. For instance, if you sleep on your side you should educate yourself on the best mattress for side sleeper that way you get the right type of mattress that fits the way you sleep.)))
The best way to find the mattress of your dreams is to search “compare mattress.” Sometimes the best way to start shopping to start your comparison shopping online. This way you will be able to educate yourself on every mattress on the market with just a few clicks of the mouse. Once you have shopped the internet you will have to hit the furniture or mattress store, where you can try out all of the mattresses you are interested in. Some mattress companies will even allow you try a mattress for 30 days before you commit to keeping it. Once you find the mattress of your choosing you will be one step closer to a better night’s sleep.
Keep in mind when shopping that mattresses are expensive, but some of the more expensive, newer models last longer, which prolongs your next mattress purchase in the future. As with everything you buy, shop around before you buy and look for sales. Never pay full price for a mattress, or anything else for that matter.

120-Day Get Fit Giveaway

With all the opportunity for indulgence during the holiday season, it can be hard to stay in a healthy mindset. Although we shouldn’t resist treating ourselves to some of our favorite seasonal confections, it’s important to indulge wisely so we don’t find ourselves in damage-control mode on January 1st! Extra® Gum knows that maintaining a fit lifestyle takes a little more willpower during this sugar-laden season, which is why they’ve launched their 120-Day Get Fit Giveaway!
Throughout the holiday season and as New Years’ resolutions approach, Extra Dessert Delights® gum is the perfect ammo to have on hand as an easy alternative to high calorie snacks, and now they’re offering even more ways to bring everyone a little more support during these crucial times. With the 120-Day Get Fit Giveaway, fitness buffs and gum chewers alike can enter once a day to win unique fitness-focused prizes that will help keep your New Years’ resolutions on track. From now until March 29th, 2012, you can visit http://www.extragum.com/ for daily prize giveaways and the chance to win the Grand Prize- a fitness adventure trip to Red Mountain Resort in Utah. Prizes change daily, so be sure to check back each day to see what the fun new prize will be.
Disclosure: I was entered for a chance to win a gift card in exchange for this post.  No monetary exchange took place
Extra Dessert Delight Key Lime    Extra Dessert Delight Mint Choco    Extra Dessert Delight Strw Shortcake

CampusBookRentals.com Partners with Operation Smile

CampusBookRentals.com Partners with Operation Smile
Every three minutes a child is born with a cleft, often they are unable to speak, socialize or even smile. When born in countries and circumstances where this condition is misunderstood and not easily treated, these children can be shunned or even rejected, as often their parents cannot afford to give them the surgery that would forever change not only their face, but also vastly improve their lives.
A team of over 5000 credited medical volunteers has been restoring the smiles to these children’s faces, through an international charity providing the much needed surgical services. Since 1982, Operation Smile has provided over 2 million patient evaluations and over 200, 000 free surgeries, bringing smiles back to the faces of children and young adults, allowing them to lead happy and normal lives. Operation Smile is one of the most prominent children’s charities in the world working in over 60 countries by restoring children’s smiles it gives them hope for a brighter future Apart from providing surgeries Operation Smile trains medical professionals throughout the world so that they can bring back their skills into their community.
In 2011 Operation Smile has partnered CampusBookRentals.com and their Making a Difference Program, which has committed to donating a minimum of 1, 000 life changing surgeries, throughout the world. There is a way you can help too! For every book that is rented, starting now, CampusBookRentals.com will donate a portion of the proceeds to Operation Smile.

A book can add a smile to yours and now a children’s face as well

Colors & Shapes Write-On Wipe-Off Workbook *Review & Giveaway*

Ever since she was itty bitty Amber has been a *huge* Sesame Street fan! She will sit mesmerized any time it comes on! I’m a fan of it too–it’s super cute and educational, always a win in our house! Now that I’m getting ready to get more focused on preschool with Amber I’m always keeping my eyes open for fun and educational workbooks. I’m super thrilled with the Sesame St. Color and Shapes workbook from Twin Sister Productions. You really can’t beat the $3.99 price tag either! Such a great deal for a workbook that can be used over and over again (gotta love wipe off work books!) Another thing I love about it is that even though “shapes and colors” sounds pretty basic the fact that it is tracing and the shapes are ones like pentagons and the colors are focusing more on writing the color words it is definitely pre-k level!

One lucky winner will win a $10 Gift Certificate to the Twin Sister Productions website–with such great prices this could go a long ways!

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