Friday, March 27, 2015

Liberty Science Center Unveils Its Newest Exhibit: "The Body" {Giveaway}

One of our favorite day trips is a visit to the Liberty Science Center. It's educational, fun, and it's appropriate for the whole family. The LSC offers exhibits aimed at children, but I always seem to leave with newly acquired knowledge and appreciation for the sciences.

Last weekend we were invited to preview the LSC's newest exhibit, "The Body", presented by Sesame Street. Although geared towards children between the ages of 2 and 8, "The Body" was a big hit with my daughters who are 9 and 11.

Check out all the fun we had exploring "The Body" and enter to win 4 tickets to the Liberty Science Center to create your own adventure.


"The Body" exhibit is filled with hands-on, interactive fun that teaches children how the body works and how to stay healthy. This exhibit covers head to toe health in a fun and very colorful way with all the lovable Sesame Street characters playing along with your children.

We adored Ernie's Rub-A-Dub Tub station where children learn the importance of hand washing to combat germs.

Kids are able to pump a simulated heart and breathe air into lungs.


If you've got a little one who loves Elmo, you can get up close and personal with the fuzzy red guy in Elmo's World.

Our legs are good for more than just walking. Kids have a chance to pedal, kick, and jump.

Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?

WIN IT!

One lucky Pieces of a Mom winner will win a 4-pack of tickets to the Liberty Science Center. The tickets include complimentary admission to LSC for up to 4 adults or children during normal operating hours. Tickets do not include parking, or any special programming or IMAX movies. Tickets expire March 14, 2016.

Enter using the contest widget below.
4-Pack of Tickets to Liberty Science Center

Disclosure: I received complimentary admission to LSC for me and my family and a 4-pack of tickets to give away. All opinion are my own.

The Health Benefits of Owning A Cat

Our family has two adorable and pesky cats. Jade is a gorgeous black cat, and Sam is our striped tabby. Our lives have never been the same since we decided to adopt them! They both are tiny bundles of furry joy and a huge part of our family. But, owning a cat is so much more than having something to cuddle. Aside from the unconditional love, there are a myriad of health benefits when it comes to owning a cat. Cats make a perfect pet in any home. Put aside their playful personalities, the health benefits of cats are seemingly endless.


Here is what I have found to be the most beneficial health aspects of cat ownership.

Cats are Perfect Stress Busters
Did you know that stress can be busted when you own a cat? Having a sweet little face to come home to is enough to make your heart melt. But, if you have had a long day in the office or out at work, cats can help you de-stress from the day. Our little black cat is the perfect stress buster. Their purrs can actually help soothe you if you have had a bad day! Plus, the feeling of stroking and grooming your cat is said to be good for your mental health.

Allergy Prevention
Many parents are worried about introducing cats to their children. I know I was a little concerned about the effects of fur and what it would to do my daughters. But, if you are looking at introducing a cat to your home, the best time to do it is before you have kids. We often wrap our children up in cotton wool and as such, we leave them susceptible to allergies. Cat fur already present in the home can strengthen your immune system and help you combat allergies in a more effective way.

Your Heart's Health is Increased
According to the experts at http://www.wormers.co.uk/, cats are a great way to improve your cardiovascular health. Playtime with your cat means that you are getting more exercise. But, unlike dog owners, you are not over exerting yourself in the exercise department. Cats, therefore, have greater cardio properties than a dog. Who knew? It is important that you make time for playing and socializing with your cat to reap the health benefits.

Combating Loneliness
Okay, so this is not something that I have experience with, but according to recent research, those who own cats are often less lonely than those who live on their own. Loneliness can be a terrible thing for one's emotional well being and overall health. So, if you live alone, having a cat can help you combat these feelings. They can be a positive boost to your mental health and your self-esteem. After all, cats are excellent companions in the home. Even if they don’t’ realise it!

Cats are not just lovable companions; they are the best at keeping you healthy. There are physical, mental and general health benefits to owning a cat. They are the best companions to have, and they can truly make your family feel complete.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Bounty With Dawn Attacks Major Household Messes

I love cooking with my kids. I think there are so many positive and educational lessons that can be taught in the kitchen. But those times we spend in the kitchen are not without their messes. For my kids, our time in the kitchen is like a big, messy mommy/daughter playdate. For me, our time in the kitchen is functional and fun. I want food as the outcome, and hey, if we have some fun, even better.

When I am spending time in the kitchen with my girls, I try to make it fun and lighthearted. I have a tendency to take things a little too seriously, so it's great to have them there to keep things fun and carefree. However, whether I am cooking alone or with them, I have one rule in the kitchen.

We clean as we go.

I despise a big mess at the end. Countertops full of mixing bowls, baking sheets, food, supplies, and the spills. Can someone please tell me how kids can manage to create so many spills and drips?

When I was invited to try out the new Bounty with Dawn, I practically screamed a resounding "YES!". This, people, is a game changer.


Bounty with Dawn is water activated. When water hits the paper towel, it activates the DAWN dish detergent built in. Bounty with Dawn is a specially designed 2-in-1 product that combines an ultra-durable Bounty paper towel with grease-fighting power of Dawn dish soap. These paper towels were made for me and my kids and our after school milkshakes.

Making milkshakes is an invitation for a major mess. We put Bounty with Dawn to the test. From the blender to the counter, Bounty with Dawn really "cleaned up".

Just as I had guessed...there was chocolate everywhere.





Bounty with Dawn cleaned up the thick, ooey, gooey chocolatey mess with just ONE paper towel. And the great thing about these particular towels is that you can re-use them. Simply run the dirty towel under warm water to rinse out the grease and dirt, and it's ready to go for round 2.

The big mess of chocolate was worth it in the end when you know you've put a smile on your child's face and a milkshake in her hand!


CHOCOLATE MILKSHAKE

Ingredients
3 scoops chocolate ice cream
2 tbs. chocolate syrup
1 tbs. creamy peanut butter
1/24 - 1/2 cup milk
Whipped cream (optional)


Preparation
1. Mix all ingredients except whipped cream in a blender.

2. Pour mixture in a glass or cup.

3. Top with whipped cream and some chocolate syrup. Enjoy!

This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks/Bounty. All opinions are my own.

Starbucks Will Offer a Birthday Cake Frappuccino for 5 Days Only

The iconic frappuccino is celebrating its 20th birthday, and in honor of this milestone event, Starbucks is unveiling its newest concoction: the Birthday Cake Frappuccino. Starbucks really knows how to celebrate a birthday!

Photo credit: Starbucks

But hurry in to your local Starbucks. Just like birthdays, this frappuccino isn't going to last forever. This limited edition frozen beverage will only be available in Starbucks stores from March 26 - March 30. The Birthday Cake Frappuccino is a signature combination of vanilla bean and hazelnut flavors that are blended together and topped with a pink, raspberry-infused whipped cream.

Cake schmake. I'll take a Birthday Cake Frappuccino instead!

Best Online Reads

All the links I am loving this week:

1. Find out your name's hidden meaning via 7 Apps.

2. Ten books to read this spring via Midlife Boulevard.

3. Ways you can help someone who has a new baby via Kindness Blog.

4. What the US intel actually knew about Adolf Hitler in 1943 via Business Insider.

5. 15 things New Jerseyans love about spring via NJ Monthly.

6. Four things successful people never do on weekends via Oprah.com.

7. A little known grammar rule (even I was unaware) via A Cup of Jo.

8. How to nail the 70's boho fashion trend this season via Bustle.

9. Why choosing an unusual name for your child may harm them via Parenting.

10. Ten reasons dinner time is actually the worst time of the day via Stuff Moms Say.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Celebrate Spring with Tuttorosso Tomatoes {Giveaway}

I love spring! Blooming flowers, planting seeds, and chirping birds make me happy. I also experience a renewed love of cooking with veggies. Whether they are fresh, canned, or frozen, spring time makes me want to eat healthier and cleaner.

Tuttorosso is my go-to brand for canned tomatoes. Whether I am in the mood for a robust red sauce, a light marinara or a hearty meat sauce, Tuttorosso has a canned tomato product that is perfect for whichever sauce I am making. When you combine Tuttorosso tomatoes with fresh spring vegetables such as zucchini, you have a delicious and nutritious combination.

Starting today through April 6, 2015, Tuttorosso is offering a Facebook promotion: "Inspiralize the Spring”. During this promotion, Tuttorosso will give away 650 aprons, 15 copies of Ali Maffucci's cookbook Inspiralized, 60 of Ali's custom Inspiralizers, and a Grand Prize package  that includes an Inspiralizer, a signed copy of Inspiralized, a Tuttorosso apron, and a collection of kitchen gadgets packed in a picnic basket.

Created to help people live healthier, the Inspiralizer tri-blade vegetable spiral slicer is a great way to incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables into every meal. It’s perfect for creating spiral slices or “pasta” strands from firm fruits and vegetables like apples, onions, carrots, zucchinis, cucumbers, cabbages, beets, turnips, rutabagas, cucumbers, and more. 

WIN IT!
Tuttorosso is offering one lucky Pieces of a Mom reader the chance to win the following items:
  • Ali Maffucci's Inspiralize cookbook
  • a selection of Tuttorosso coupons for canned tomatoes to cook up a delicious springtime meal using Tuttorosso tomatoes and spring's freshest vegetables.
Enter using the widget below:

"Inspiralized" Cookbook by Ali Maffucci and Coupons for Tuttorosso Canned Tomatoes

Stonyfield Introduces Oh My Yog! Tri-Layer Yogurt

I love yogurt. It's my go-to breakfast food. Served with a side of fresh berries or a banana, a cup of yogurt fills me up until lunch time. But yogurt gets boring fast, even if you change up toppings and mixings.

Stonyfield recently introduced its Oh My Yog! yogurt. It's a three layer yogurt consisting of a top layer of cream, a middle layer of honey-infused whole milk yogurt, and a bottom layer of ripe fruit or vanilla. When mixed all together, it's divine, and this new concoction is just what I needed to shake up my yogurt routine! These three layers of organic deliciousness in a colorful, striped cup will have you making multiple trips to the refrigerator.



Oh My Yog! is available in 6 exceptional flavors with a robust punch of fruit in each cup. I loved the big chunks of pears and apples. Available flavors include:

  • wild Quebec blueberry
  • apple cinnamon
  • gingered pear
  • orange cranberry
  • Madagascar vanilla bean
  • Pacific coast strawberry

Whether you dip your spoon into the yogurt and nosh away like that or whether you choose to stir it up and combine the three layers well, Oh My Yog! is definitely an adventure for your taste buds. It's a different kind of yogurt experience. At first I wasn't sure if I'd like it since I am not fond of whole milk. But when combined with the yogurt and the fruit, it was rich and flavorful.

I experimented a bit with toppings and mixing items into it. Everything from granola to pretzels to crushed cookies were a big hit. But there's no need to for any add-ons as Oh My Yog! is perfectly suited to be eaten as is.


You can find more information about Stonyfield's Oh My Yog! on the Web site.

Disclosure: As a Stonyfeild Yo-Getter, I received complimentary coupons to facilitate sharing Oh My Yog! on Pieces of a Mom. As always, all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Spotlight on the Jersey Shore: Mermaids Masterpiece {Giveaway}

Welcome to the very first Spotlight on the Jersey Shore. Each month I will feature a local merchant, artist, product, or service that I love from the Jersey Shore area in hopes of spreading the love to you.


Today's inaugural post features Mermaids Masterpiece, an Etsy shop filled with unique home decor and accessories made from items found along the beautiful beaches of the Jersey Shore. I first came across Mermaids Masterpiece while I was browsing Etsy to put together this post. When I decided to start featuring local merchants, products, services, and artisans, I knew that I wanted Mermaids Masterpiece to be one of the first I showcased.

Jeanette Wehner is the owner of Mermaids Masterpiece and opened her Etsy shop in August 2011 and began creating her driftwood masterpieces in 2013. Jeanette happily agreed to be featured in the very first Spotlight on the Jersey Shore feature, and she has also generously offered a giveaway to the Pieces of a Mom readers (info at the end of this post).

I had the chance to catch up with Jeanette to ask her about the inspiration behind her beautiful, Jersey Shore-inspired creations. Read on to get to know more about Jeanette and Mermaids Masterpiece, and be sure to visit Mermaids Masterpiece on Etsy and enter to win a beautiful driftwood seahorse.

Sheila: I see you opened your shop in August 2011. When did you begin creating your driftwood masterpieces? Had you been creating them for friends and family prior to opening your shop?

Jeanette: Although I opened my Etsy shop in 2011, I did not start making driftwood pieces until 2013. I had come across a driftwood and shell sun catcher online and fell in love with it. I have always enjoyed working with beads, and had a large assortment at home, so I started making the sun catchers and posted them on my Facebook, and the response was overwhelming! However, when I was at the beach collecting the shells and driftwood, I saw that I was passing up beautiful pieces of wood because they were either too large or small, so I began searching for other ways to use them. I started by making letters, and soon after, nautical themed pieces.

Sheila: Are you an artist by trade? Who or what inspired you to open your Etsy shop and begin selling your creations?

Jeanette: I have always been creative, which works well in my position as a Special Education teacher. I am always looking for innovative ways to change things up.



Sheila: What do you love most about living at the Jersey shore? What is your favorite month of the year here, and why?

Jeanette: My favorite thing about living at the beach is searching for unexpected treasures year-round. It is something my whole family loves. While I am walking up at the high-tide line looking for wood, my daughter and her father walk the low tide line looking for sea glass and shells. We have found clay pipes, sea horses, arrowheads and other amazing objects. It is fun wondering where these items came from.



Sheila: Are all of your driftwood and sea glass supplies found on local beaches?

Jeanette: Unlike most driftwood wall decor, my pieces are nail-free, resulting in a more natural appearance. I love color and light and am hoping to start incorporating stained glass into my pieces in the near future.

You can stay in touch with Mermaids Masterpiece by liking the Facebook page.

WIN IT!

Mermaids Masterpiece is generously offering a Painted Driftwood Seahorse (retail value $30) to one lucky Pieces of a Mom reader.

To enter:

1. Visit the Mermaids Masterpiece shop at Etsy.com. Take a look around at all the amazing creations.

2. Come back to this giveaway post and leave a comment telling me which creation you like the best.

Giveaway will end on Tuesday, April 7th at 9:00 pm ET. The comment thread will be closed at that time. Winner will be chosen using Random.org.

Please note: Winner must be 18 years of age or older and MUST reside within the United States. Mermaids Masterpiece will not ship outside of the US. Once chosen, the winner will be notified via email and will have 48 hours to respond to claim the prize and confirm a US mailing address. If chosen winner fails to respond within allotted time frame, an alternate winner will be selected.

Any questions about this giveaway should be directed to piecesofamom {at} gmail {dot} com.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Menu Plan Monday :: 3.23.2015

I wasn't going to do a meal plan this week. I'm sort of feeling like I need a break for a week, a week of unstructured meals. But I do like the structure that meal planning brings, and I like not having to make last-minute decisions or trips to the grocery store.



Bang bang shrimp pasta
Here's what's on the menu this week:

Monday - Take out from a local Italian market (pasta, salad, bread, etc.)

Tuesday - Taco cups

Wednesday - Bang bang shrimp pasta

Thursday - Creamy tomato soup with grilled cheese croutons

Friday - Rigatoni with creamy tomato sauce

Saturday - Chicken pot pie soup

Sunday - Hubs is on dinner duty

What's on your plate this week? For more meal time inspiration, visit I'm An Organizing Junkie's Meal Plan Monday linkup.

To view all of my menu planning posts, click here. Visit my What's For DinnerPasta, and Soups On! Pinterest boards for even more ideas.

Win 1 of 50 Bottles of Gazebo Room Salad Dressing

My love of Gazebo Room salad dressings runs deep. My favorite is the Greek Salad Dressing and Marinade. It's my go-to, must-have dressing for all of my salads. It tops all of my favorite salads including warm goat cheese salad, cold spaghetti salad, and couscous salad.

I am partnering with Gazebo Room to share my love of the Gazebo Room salad dressing line with you.

Would you love a taste of Gazebo Room Greek Salad Dressing and Marinade? Today is your lucky day!

Gazebo Room is generously offering 50 bottles of salad dressing to the readers of Pieces of a Mom. To enter to win, click the button below to enter your information and to see contest details and entry requirements or CLICK HERE.