Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday's Fresh Picks: Nordstrom Half Yearly Sale

It's the most wonderful time of the year...

Now is the time to grab at item (or two) that you've been eyeing up for months. Or if you are looking to replenish your summer wardrobe, the Nordstrom Half Yearly Sale is the best time to do it.
With up to 40% off the best styles for Womens, Mens, Home, & Kids, you can look great without breaking the bank.

These sales can be daunting. Lots of great stuff and not enough time to sift through it all. So, I'm giving you some help today.

For this week's Friday's Fresh Picks, I am sharing my favorite finds from the sale.








Grab the goods fast! This sale ends May 31, 2015.
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, May 21, 2015

Best Online Reads

My favorite stories around the web this week:

1. Amazing travel experiences to have before you die via My Domaine.

2. The nineteen best drugstore beauty products via Marie Claire.

3. Ten things you didn't know about The Cheesecake Factory via The Daily Meal.

4. What the dying want us to know about living via Purple Clover.

5. Serve these frozen blueberry margaritas at your next party via COOKIE + kate.

6. If you're constantly thinking you need a vacation, maybe what you need is a new life via Esquire.

7. Why so many New Yorkers are heading west to become Angelenos via The LA Times.

8. The perfect beach read for summer via

9. Why we are so quick to blame others when things go wrong via Business Insider.

10. How to create the perfect summer party playlist via Real Simple.

May 2015 Birchbox Deconstructed #Birchbox

The highly anticipated Birchbox curated by Emily Schuman of Cupcakes and Cashmere arrived over the weekend. I don't think I've ever been more excited about a Birchbox, and this one certainly didn't disappoint. 

Here's what was in this month's Birchbox:

1. Miracle Skin Transformer FACE Broad Spectrum SPF (Received sample. Full size, $48)
This is tinted moisturizer that color corrects and leaves an almost airbrushed appearance. I am a big fan of tinted moisturizers, and this is definitely one of the best ones I've tried to date. I'm not too thrilled by the price tag though.

2. Kerastase Fondant Chroma Captiva (Received sample. Full size, $26)
This conditioner is a super hydrator and also locks in color for 40 days. I can attest to the hydration but the sample obviously didn't provide enough conditioner to confirm that it extends color for 40 days. I did like the way it helped my dry ends.

3. Kerastase Bain Chroma Captiva (Received sample. Full size, $21)
This sulfate-free shampoo restores hair and preserves color up to 40 days. Again, I can't confirm the 40 days with a sample, but I did like the overall effect this shampoo had on my hair. It felt healthier and more voluminous.

4. Beauty Protector Beauty Cream Body Lotion (Received sample. Full size, $16)
This lotion smells AMAZING. It's a light, floral scent and a smooth, silky finish that is quickly absorbed into the skin. I really like this lotion. Definitely going to buy a bottle.

5. W3LL PEOPLE Expressionist Bio Extreme Mascara (Received full size, $25)
Finally an all-natural mascara without chemicals or dyes. I've been waiting for this! This mascara is further proof that you don't need harsh chemicals for an effective mascara. Love the brush too.

Bonus item: Miracle Revival Mud Mask (Received sample. Full size, $38)
This mask unclogs pores and firms up skin for a fresh, youthful appearance.
All items available for purchase through the links above.

To see all of my Birchbox posts, click here.

To see more of my favorite beauty products, check out my Beauty board on Pinterest

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Top Techniques For Making Your Home Unique

Not everyone wants to put in the time and effort to decorating their house extravagantly. But if you're one of the people who do, you probably don't want your home to look like everyone else's. It's not hard to accidentally make your home look unique when you're a mom. After all, no one has the same pattern of food stains and scattered toys as you do.

But if you want a home that's unique in a more deliberate way, you need to put some thought into injecting your personality, and that of your family. The following methods will help you transform your home into something that suits you from the inside out.


Embellish the Exterior
A lot of people start to decorate their home inside but don't give much thought to the outside. If you pay attention to the exterior too, you can stand out among your neighbors. You might have to be careful about upsetting neighbors who have to look at your house every day, but you can usually get away with most things. If you want to make some small changes, install a weathervane like the ones from Cuckooland, paint your front door an eye-catching color, or install some new porch lights. Or you can make more significant changes too, like putting on new siding or painting the exterior a different color.

Add Some Color
Often when you move into a new house, it's done in neutral colors. One of the fastest ways to turn a house into a home is by injecting some color into all the rooms. Your might decide to paint or put up wallpaper, but you don't have to make permanent changes. You can concentrate your splashes of color in your furniture and accessories, from sofas and curtains to picture frames and pillows.

Display Memories and Experiences
How can you avoid your home looking like just anyone could live there? You need to show objects that are personal to you, so you and your family fill all the spaces in your house. You could hang photos of your family or display items that you've collected on your travels. Whenever you visit somewhere or experience something new, you could bring something back to remind you of the fantastic time you had.

Look for Unique Items
When you buy things for your house, don't just buy things from the same stores and catalogs as everyone else. Instead, go searching for unique items that aren't mass-produced. Find independent artists and people who make furniture by hand, instead of buying from chain stores. You can rifle through markets, thrift shops, and other places where you can pick up unique finds. If you want something that you can guarantee no one has, you could commission something to be made too. It could be a family portrait, a hand-blown glass vase or even a pair of curtains.

Make sure your home is a true reflection of who you are. Let your personality shine through with these easy changes!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Tom and Teddy Swimwear Featured in the Movie "Adult Beginners" {iTunes Giftcard Giveaway}

When I first saw the trailer for Adult Beginners, I thought it looked like a hilarious movie. I loved Rose Byrne in both Bridesmaids and Annie, and I just knew I had to see her in Adult Beginners too. Plus, Bobby Carnavale was smashing in Boardwalk Empire, so he had to be equally as good in this movie.

What I didn't expect was to fall head over heels with the other main characters: the little boy Teddy and his "manny" and uncle Jake. After Jake falls on tough times in Manhattan, he moves in with his sister, played by Rose Byrne, and her family. With no job and no prospects on the horizon, Jake agrees to play the part of Teddy's manny. What we don't expect is the evolution of Jake's love for his newfound role as Teddy's caregiver.

Part of Jake's responsibilities include taking Teddy to his weekly swimming lessons. Jake makes no bones about the fact that he is less than thrilled to take on this task. But he puts on his big boy swimming trunks and takes Teddy for his first lesson. Although the swimming lessons aren't a smashing success, Jake and Teddy do manage to look absolutely adorable in their matching swimming trunks.

After seeing the movie, I was on a quest to discover who made the oh-so-cute matching swimming trunks. Several Google searches later, and I had found my answer. Tom & Teddy is the swimwear brand featured in the movie. Tom & Teddy is an Australian brand which makes matching adult men's and boy's swimsuits. With Father's Day coming up, they make the perfect gifts for special fathers, grandfathers and uncles.

The red and blue octopus trunks were featured in Adult Beginners. In addition to printed shorts, there are also solid colored trunks to choose from. But I have to say, I love the octopus trunks. The colors and the print are too cute.


If you want to get a look at these trunks in play, you must see the movie. One lucky Pieces of a Mom winner will win a $25 iTunes gift card to download the movie via iTunes. It costs $9.99 to purchase or $6.99 to rent it. The balance of the gift card can be used any way you wish!

Adult Beginners is also currently playing in theaters nationwide.

Use the widget below to enter to win the iTunes gift card.

Win a $25 iTunes Gift Card

Disclosure: I received a complimentary iTunes gift card to facilitate this review. As always, all opinions are my own.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Style Alert: JORD Wood Watches {Giveaway}

For as long as I can remember, I've been regularly wearing a watch. Even today when most people are relying on their phones to give them the time, I still prefer a watch. I'm not going to lie, part of what I love about watches is that they make great fashion accessories. When paired with a few
stacked bracelets, a watch can make a great statement.

When I first heard of JORD wood watches, I was intrigued. A wooden watch? The only thing I could think of was the myth of George Washington's wooden teeth. But trust me, the JORD wood watches are much more aesthetically pleasing than wooden teeth.

All JORD watches are made from natural material and sustainably sourced wood from across the globe. Depending on the design and type of watch, some may include more than one type of wood. JORD uses bamboo, maple, sandalwood, blackwood, cherry, zebrawood, and koa in its watches.

I received the Fieldcrest Black JORD watch. This watch is a mid-size watch. I like my watches a bit on the larger size, so I went for this model. I wanted a neutral face so that it would complement any color that I am wearing. The black face turned out to be the perfect choice. I received so many compliments on this watch. Seriously, people I don't know stopped me on the street to inquire about my watch.

I love the uniqueness of JORD watches. And while they stand out in a crowd, they won't break the bank. The Fieldcrest Black watch featured on me costs only $120.

Each JORD watch is designed to be splash-proof but not necessarily waterproof. It is recommended that you not submerge the watch directly in water.

JORD watches can be easily cleaned with a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice applied to a soft cotton cloth.

ALL JORD watches  are delivered to customers in a standard size. Links can easily be removed by using a push pin or a small screwdriver. Or it can be taken to a jeweler to re-size.

For answers to commonly asked questions regarding JORD watches, please see the FAQ.


JORD is generously offering one lucky Pieces of a Mom reader the chance to wear a beautiful JORD watch on your wrist. One winner will receive a $120 gift certificate to JORD to choose a watch of his/her choice.

Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. This giveaway is open to readers worldwide. To see the full collection of JORD watches, click here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received a complimentary JORD watch to facililate this review and giveaway. As always, all opinions are my own.

Menu Plan Monday :: 5.18.2015

The weather has finally turned warmer, and I hope it's here to stay. We grilled and ate on the deck both evenings over the weekend, and it was glorious! I love the ease of healthy summer meals and am looking forward to incorporating some Jersey fresh ingredients into our summer meals.

Here's what's on the menu this week:

Monday - Crispy chicken cutlets with Romaine salad

Tuesday - Fajita chicken kebabs with Mexican rice

Wednesday - Classic minestrone soup with a side salad

Thursday - Grilled lemon Dijon chicken with roasted potatoes and broccoli

Friday - Dinner out

Saturday - Grilled shrimp scampi, rice, and steamed green beans (Hubs will grill a steak)

Sunday - Capellini with vegetables 

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, May 15, 2015

Friday's Fresh Picks: Perfect Bags for Weekend Getaways

The summer travel season is just around the corner, and if you're like I am, you've got some weekend trips planned.

Weekend getaways call for a specific sized bag that's just right for a few days worth of clothes, shoes, toiletries, and accessories. You don't need a bag that's too big, and you definitely don't want one that's too small.

In this week's Friday's Fresh Picks, I am sharing a few of my favorite (and perfectly proportioned) bags for quick weekend jaunts.

H&M Weekend Bag, $99
This canvas bag is not only functional but it's chic as well. With double handles, leather details, and raw edges at the top, this weekender features a fold-over flap with a magnetic enclosure. Its interior is lined and features a zippered inner compartment.

Vera Bradley Weekender Travel Bag, $98 (on sale now!)
Five inner pockets and an exterior zip pocket will keep all your must-haves organized and in their place. There are 2 back pockets that are ideal for passports, boarding passes, and ID cards. This roomy, carry-on compliant bag is roomy enough to hold all your weekend necessities and then some.'s machine washable!

Sole Society LACIE Oversized Vegan Weekender, $85
This ultra-roomy weekender looks expensive but doesn't have a matching price tag. For under $100, you get a gorgeous soft vegan leather bag that will take you and all of your essentials through a weekend.

Herschel Novel Duffle Natural Hemp, $130
Got an active weekend planned? This sporty tote is perfect for the occasion. Features a lightweight design and a crossbody strap for easy lugging. And it's available in 31 different colors.

Canvas Weekender Satchel, $80
This bag had me at "Hello". I mean, seriously, look at the size of it and the classic red and white combination I'm pretty sure I need this bag in my life, and then I need to schedule a few more weekend getaways so I can put it to good use.

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, May 14, 2015

Happy Hour at Home

On Friday afternoons when the clock strikes 5 o'clock, I imagine I look a lot like Fred Flintstone sliding down a dinosaur's tail at quitting time. Nothing excites me more than the promise of a summer weekend ahead, and that weekend usually starts with happy hour.

However, here at the Jersey shore, the bars become mob scenes on Friday evenings. Nothing puts a damper on my spirits faster than an overcrowded bar with overpriced drinks and over zealous twenty-somethings jockeying for a space at the bar to order the next round. No thanks. I'll pass.

I've managed to do a good job of re-creating happy hour at home, complete with yummy drinks, tasty food, and good music. At my happy hours, you wont fight the crowds for a spot at the bar, and you certainly won't encounter a long wait for the women's restroom!

It's really very simple once you have the key components for a great happy hour at home.

1. Start with a signature cocktail
Whether it's a happy hour or a party I am hosting, I mix up a signature cocktail for my guests to enjoy. It cuts down on chaos in the kitchen and you avoid having to mix customized drinks for guests. Whether you mix a pitcher of gin and tonics, margaritas, sangria, or Champagne cocktails, choose one universally appealing drink for your guests.

2. Serve cocktails with conversation napkins
Allow your cocktail napkins to serve as conversation pieces. When I use the napkins shown in the collage above, I ask my guests what their favorite drink is and how it came to be. There are so many great stories behind my friends' favorite drinks!

3. Use appropriate stemware and glassware
There's no need to buy expensive crystal, but it is important to have the appropriate glasses for serving drinks. You don't want to serve Champagne cocktails in tumbler glasses, for example.

4. Serve light bites
Serve a few carefully selected hors d'oeuvres that pair well with the signature cocktail. For added fun, offer guests fun plates for their fun food. Serve the light fare on serving platters and trays.

5. Set the mood
Place flowers in the center of the table and lanterns throughout your entertaining area for ambience.

And don't forget the most important components of happy hour at home: kick back, relax, and enjoy!

Best Online Reads

My favorite stories around the web this week:

1. An easy trick for falling asleep in one minute via Redbook Magazine.

2. The healing powers of cat purrs via QVC.

3. This cinnamon roll breakfast bake is perfect for lazy weekend mornings via The Kitchn.

4. Life changing baking hacks via Buzzfeed.

5. Can trust be regained once it is broken it via Purple Clover.

6. Etiquette rules to remember next time you fly via Business Insider.

7. Ten ways a good workout changes your brain via Mind Body Green.

8. Love this palm print shirtdress for summer via Missguided.

9. How to help your daughter love her body via Real Simple.

10. Why saying no gets you ahead via Fortune.