Thursday, October 30, 2014

Best Online Reads


Here are all the links I am loving this week:

1. Cool tricks for applying concealer via Refinery 29.

2. 7 days worth of stylish outfits via Who What Wear

3. Super weird things you never knew about Halloween via Huffington Post.

4. 11 apps that will change your life via Food and Wine.

5. The real reason some t-shirts cost so much via SheKnows.

6. The 8 bad habits to break immediately via Dr. Oz.

7. How to make any job position look amazing on a resume via Business Insider.

8. How to rock your to-do list via A Little Opulent.

9. Hilarious but inappropriate baby and child Halloween costumes via Little Things.

10. You'll want to mix up this yummy cocktail before fall is over via Kitchen Meets Girl.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Hurricane Sandy: Two Years Later #GetReady

Today is the 2 year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy. Many Jersey shore and New York residents still have vivid recollections of the physical and emotional devastation that Sandy caused. Hurricane Sandy cause more than $50 million in damage and destroyed more than 600,000 homes. 162 people lost their lives, and thousands and thousands of people lost their livelihood.

Some of the most affected by Hurricane Sandy were the children. Displaced from homes, daily routines and structure uprooted, these children were suffering. Schools were closed for days, months, with a few still not open two years later.

A recent Save the Children's report included a poll that shows most of us are still not nearly as prepared as we could be to protect our children  and ourselves from disaster. You don't have to live in a hurricane zone to be prepared. Natural disasters can happen anywhere. No matter where you live, you need to be prepared in the event of an emergency.


Was my family ready on that fateful day when Hurricane Sandy made landfall just one mile from where we live? Not exactly. We thought we were ready. We had stashes of extra batteries. We had cases and case of water. We stocked up on non-perishable foods, but we never thought we'd have to resort to eating them. At 5:00 that evening, we lost power. Shrouded in darkness, we held our breath for a few seconds waiting for the power to return.

After five minutes, nothing. After an hour, nothing. Two hours, three hours, five hours passed with no power. We went to bed. Surely by the morning, the power would be restored. As it turned it out, we waited six excrutiatingly long days for our power to be restored. Finally, in the wee hours of the morning on Sunday, November 4th, our power was restored.

These days, we would do it very differently if we were in a similar situation. Thanks to Save the Children, there are checklists to help both parents and care givers in the event of an emergency. These checklists will guide you in putting together a plan for stocking up at home, developing a communication plan, and putting together an evacuation plan. I've printed the parents checklist, and we've put the procedures in place.

Take the PLEDGE to protect children from disaster. When you pledge, you'll receive full access to Save the Children's 2014 Disaster Report Card where you can see how your state ranks in protecting children.

For more information and to become better prepared in the event of a disaster, visit savethechildren.org/getready.

To see my other Hurricane Sandy related posts, click here, here, and here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Obiqo Shower Gel and Body Butter Review & Giveaway

Nothing jump starts my day more than an invigorating shower. It wakes me up and gives me that initial push I need to start the day.

And when I have the perfect bath and body products, it's even better! The right products can amp up your shower and rev your up.

Recently I was introduced to Obiqo, a sea-inspired skincare line created by Kiwi, Phillippa Fletcher. Obiqo combines nutrient-rich sea kelp straight from New Zealand's pristine waters with the fines Europen anti-aging extracts and powerful anti-oxidants of French organic sea lavender. This powerful combination creates a range of products that feed your skin and your soul.

In addition to several different types of facial creams, serums, cleansers and scrubs, Obiqo has a line of bath and body products. Since my facial skin is very sensitive, I chose to receive the Body Wash and Body Butter Duo, a delicious combination that will leave your body feeling fresh, clean, and silky soft.

The very first thing I noticed about the Obiqo body wash was its glorious scent. Its combination of sea lavender, chamomile, and cucumber is light and refreshing. It leaves a clean, no-film feeling on your skin.

After drying off, I applied the body butter. It goes on smoothly and is thick but not so much so that you feel as if it's layered on your skin. In the evenings before I go to bed, I can still feel the body butter on my skin. There was no need for me to reapply it before bed. It deeply moisturizes and lasts the entire day. It has a very light, pleasant scent.



Overall consensus: I loved both of these products. Their effectiveness combined with the top-notch sea-extract ingredients are a winning combo of luxury for your skin at a price tag that's more than reasonable.



WIN IT!

Obiqo is offering one lucky Pieces of a Mom reader the opportunity to win a Body Wash and Body Butter Duo (total value $37).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Receive special offers and stay-up-to-date on the latest Obiqo news by signing up for the newsletter.

For more of the best in beauty this week, be sure to check out #BeautyBuzz hosted by Momtrends, Mama in HeelsSassy Moms in the City and Jo-Lynne Shane! Don't miss it for the best beauty products, beauty secrets, and fabulous beauty giveaways.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary Obiqo Body Wash and Body Butter Duo to facilitate this review. No further compensation was received. All opinions are my own.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Tips for Helping Your Children Avoid Sports Injuries


Last year at this time, we were getting ready to embark on a family vacation to sunny Florida. We were excited about spending long, lazy days at the beach and the pool. There was just one problem.

My youngest daughter Harper had a broken left arm. Swimming was not an option.

It had happened about 5 weeks earlier when she was at a routine gymnastics practice. She was working on perfecting a front flip on the trampoline. She panicked mid-air and came crashing down awkwardly on her left arm. She suffered a compound fracture, and we were left scrambling.

As parents, my husband and I were completely caught off guard. There was the whole physical aspect of her injury. She'd have to adjust to having the use of only one arm for about a month as she wore a full cast from shoulder to arm.

Then there was the whole financial aspect of her injury. We had primary insurance coverage, but we were not familiar with our plan coverage in the event of a major injury. Harper's injury required surgery and an overnight hospital stay. Not only that, but she was transported from the gymnastics facility to the hospital via ambulance.

In addition to being stressed about her injury, I was also growing concerned about mounting medical costs, including follow up visits once she was discharged from the hospital.

Could her injury have been prevented? Perhaps. Many of the injuries that our children sustain are preventable by sticking to a few safety tips while on the field or court:

1. Follow the rules
Rules are put in place for a reason. They protect the safety of the athletes. It's easy to get lost in the moment when you are passionately playing a sport you love, but it's not the time to be a daredevil.

2. Use all provided equipment
Just as rules are necessary, so is the proper equipment. Don't skimp on equipment. If you should be wearing protective gear, be sure to have it on and that it is fitting properly.

3. Follow the doctor's orders
Your child is likely to be anxious to get back out on the field again. It's normal. But it's not safe. The doctor has put together a treatment plan to help your child recover properly so that he or she can be back on field again soon.

4. Have proper coverage
When you have kids, accidents happen. You can be more prepared with supplemental insurance to help you cover out-of-pocket expenses. According to the 2014 Aflac WorkForces Report, 66 percent of U.S. workers could not afford the costs associated with a serious illness or injury. Voluntary insurance plans help provide the peace of mind and cash benefits to help your child get back in the game fast.

Supplemental accident insurance pays the policyholder cash benefits for the unexpected medical and everyday expenses that quickly add up. We didn't have supplemental accident insurance when Harper broke her arm. The facility where she was injured provided secondary insurance, but there were still expenses that we had to pay out of our own pockets.

That’s where Aflac comes in to help. When you have an Aflac supplemental insurance plan and suffer a serious illness or injury, Aflac helps ease the financial stress and provides cash benefits to help pay for out-of-pocket expenses.

Supplemental insurance could help cover such expenses as broken teeth, concussions, ambulatory expenses, and emergency room visits as well as other expenses that may not be fully covered by your major medical insurance.

Speaking of sports and injuries, don't miss Aflac's season-long football campaign and partnership with the Heisman Trophy. Enter to win the Ultimate College Football Experience Sweepstakes.
Three prize packages will be awarded; winners will be announced Oct. 28, Nov. 4 and Nov. 11.

Are you the ultimate college football fan? If so, this #AflacSweeps is for you! Three lucky fans will win a trip for two, a pair of tickets to one of three college football games in November, a chance to meet 

Desmond Howard and more. Enter once per 24 hours on Facebook; for bonus entries, share on Twitter.

Enter today and then spread the word to let your friends know it’s #GameOn!

Each prize package includes:

• Two tickets to the biggest college football game of the weekend.
• Meet & greet with Desmond Howard.
• Round trip airfare.
• Hotel accommodations.
• Ground transportation to and from events.
• $500 prepaid debit card for food and other expenses.

CLICK HERE for entry form and official rules.

CONSUMER NOTICE: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. PURCHASE WILL NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. Open to legal permanent residents of 50 U.S. states and DC, 21 or older, who have Internet access and valid email address prior to 08/28/14. To enter and for Official Rules, including odds and prize descriptions, click here: https://www.facebook.com/aflacduck/app_143103275748075. This sweepstakes is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook or Twitter. For a winner's list (after 11/10/14), visit the Ultimate College Football Experience tab of this page or mail request to Aflac "Ultimate College Football Experience" (Specify Winner List), Media Relations, 1932 Wynnton Road, Columbus, GA 31999. Sponsor: American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Menu Plan Monday :: 10.27.2014

I'm late in getting my menu plan up today. Harper had an appointment this morning at the endocrinologist. The time I usually devote to writing my menu plan post, I spent at the doctor's office with her instead.

After leaving her appointment, I was inspired to continue to make positive changes to our diets to accommodate her diabetes. Her diabetes stays much more under control when we limit the carbohydrates and keep the meals full of lean protein and fresh veggies.

Here's what we'll be eating this week:

Monday - Leftovers - we've got lots from the weekend.


Wednesday - TBD - Hubs' birthday!!!

Thursday - Deep dish taco pie with a side salad. 

Friday - Halloween! We'll get take out after trick-or-treating or we'll make this fun treat.

Saturday - Grilled chicken kebabs with a side of rice

Sunday - Spicy veggie chili with cornbread

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.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday's Fresh Picks: Festive Fall Cocktails

Just as you change up your wardrobe each season, you should change up your cocktails too! I love to take advantage of in season produce and incorporate it into my cocktails. Autumn is the perfect time for this. An abundance of apples and pumpkins makes for some incredibly tasty concoctions.

Pick one or two and try them this weekend. You'll be glad you did!

{Warm your insides with spiked apple cider}


{Take a break from beer and serve up a pitcher of Autumn sangria for football Sundays}


{Fall is synonymous with apples. So, what's fall without a candy apple martini?}


{It may not be better than a sweet, crunchy caramel apple, but a caramel apple martini comes close}


{The trifecta of drink combinations: pear, vanilla, and vodka cocktail}


{Grab the chips and guac and serve them with spiced apple margaritas}


{If you like white Russians, you'll LOVE autumn Russians}


{A hot buttered rum is perfect for a cozy night in}


Friday Fresh Picks are hand-picked favorite items, reviews and highlights from the amazing women you see above.
Visit their websites to learn about other amazing picks from this week!


To view all of my Friday Fresh Picks posts, click here.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Apple Cookies

These cookies are pretty much ideal. No measuring. No mixing. No baking. No cooling.

Just make and eat. This is a great recipe for getting little hands involved in the kitchen. They can help sprinkle the toppings on the cookies.


Apple Cookies

Ingredients

Apples (about 1 per 2 people)
Peanut butter
Chocolate morsels (mini or regular) and/or white chocolate chips
Shredded coconut
Chopped nuts (almonds, peanuts, walnuts, etc.)

Preparation

1. Core and thinly slice apples.

2. Spread a layer of peanut butter on the apple.

3. Top with chocolate chips, coconut, and nuts.

*Note: You can substitute toppings based on your personal preferences. We've used crushed pretzels, granola, and cinnamon. Whatever you like!

Best Online Reads


The links I am loving this week:

1. 11 things you never knew you could do with Pinterest via Business Insider.

2. 8 hairstyles every girl should know via Style Me Pretty.

3. Anniversary gifts your guy will actually love via She Knows.

4. Spend a chilly afternoon whipping up a batch of salty oatmeal chocolate chunk cookies via Barefoot Contessa. 

5. Can making your bed change your life? via Psychology Today.

6. Halloween costume ideas for couples via eBay.

7. Must-have fall fashion finds that are under $50 via HuffPost Style.

8. A seven-day guide to sleeping better via GQ.

9. Family-friendly trips to take with your kids this school year via Triple Threat Mommy.

10. 21 cat photobombs not to be missed via Mashable.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Cooking Tips for Beef Lovers


Beef is one of the most delicious meats out there when cooked properly. If you’re buying a quality cut of beef, then you want to make sure you’re preparing and cooking it properly. This way, you’ll enhance the texture and flavor and make something wonderful.

When Harper was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes last February, we made several changes to our diet as a family. One of those changes was to incorporate more protein, specifically beef, into each of our meals. Since then, I've cooked different cuts of beef many different ways, and I've come up with a few helpful hints for getting it just right.

These cooking tips should give you some great ideas when it comes to what to do with your beef.


Sear Your Beef

You can do this with pretty much any beef recipe you can think of. Before adding your beef, sear it on both sides. This will add to the flavor of the dish and make your beef even tastier. You do this by getting a pan to a very high heat, then adding your beef for around 1 minute on each side. Before you add the beef, make sure you’ve brushed it with coconut or olive oil first. You may also like to season it. Don’t move the beef or be tempted to mess with it. You can then add it to your casserole, stew, or even continue cooking in the pan once you’ve seared it.

Get the Timings Right

Everybody knows that you can eat beef well done, rare, or somewhere in the middle. You should know your timings in order to cook the perfect piece of beef. For rare you’ll only need to do both sides for about 2 minutes, but for well done it could be up to 5 minutes each side depending on the size of your beef. It depends what dish you’re cooking too.

Buy The Right Kind for the Job

Different kinds of beef are suitable for different kinds of dishes. For example, a joint of beef is perfect for creating a roast beef dish, while chunks of beef are great for a casserole. The packaging will usually explain what the meat is good for, so pay attention to it.

Enhance the Flavor

Enhance the flavor of your beef by adding different ingredients to complement it. You may like to add sauces, herbs, spices, or all of them to see what you can create. Peppercorn sauce goes great with steak, for example.

Use Good Knives

If you aren’t using a good set of knives on your meat, or any of your food for that matter, you aren’t doing it justice. Make sure they are sharp enough, and that you aren’t having to hack away at your meat to use it. You should be able to slice through it with no problems. This will not only enhance the texture, but the presentation too.

Make Sure You Let it Rest

In most cases, the meat should be rested before you eat it so you can enjoy it properly. This gives it a chance to drop any juices it doesn’t want and soak back up the juices it does want. If you plop it straight on your plate, it might bleed on there and make your vegetables all gloopy. Yuk.

Now, go ahead and make the most of your beef!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Best Berry Lipsticks For Any Skin Tone

This fall berry-, plum-, and wine-colored lipsticks are HOT! They are the must-wear shade of the moment, but the problem is it's difficult to find a shade that looks good on you.

After doing a bit of lipstick research, aka happily testing out a bunch of shades, I've found 4 shades that will look great on anyone, no matter what your skin tone, age, or size of your lips.


1. MAC Rebel
This shade is by far my favorite out of all of the ones I tried. It is near perfect. If you need a liner, MAC has one that will complement this lip color.


2. Smashbox "Fig"
A combination of plum and berry like a deep red grape.

3. NARS "Scarlet Empress"
This rich, vivid shade of wine adds sexy to your smile.


4. Maybelline "Blissful Berry"
A plum/wine shade that's perfect for the upcoming holiday season.

For more of the best in beauty this week, be sure to check out #BeautyBuzz hosted by Momtrends, Mama in HeelsSassy Moms in the City and Jo-Lynne Shane! Don't miss it for the best beauty products, beauty secrets, and fabulous beauty giveaways.