Friday, August 28, 2015

Friday's Fresh PIcks: Scenes from Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Our vacation in Rehoboth Beach is coming to a close...sadly. But it's been an unforgettable week filled with lots of laughs and tons of love. Rehoboth Beach is one of my all-time favorite vacation destinations. Not only do I have years and years of memories planted here, but the sunrises are unbeatable. The food scene is comparable to that of a big city. And the beaches are top-notch.

In this week's Friday's Fresh Picks I'm sharing a few of my favorite scenes from Rehoboth Beach and from this year's family vacation.
{Days begin with gorgeous sunrises}

{But first, coffee}

{Selfies on the beach}

{Dinner al fresco with ambience at Beachside Bar & Grill}


{Caramel apples and other sweet treats at Kilwins}

{Dolles is the only place to go for salt water taffy}

{The Paratrooper at Funland lights up the night sky}

{Morning walks with my sisters}

{Brightly colored nightly specials at Catchers}
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, August 27, 2015

Tips For Planning the Perfect Vacation

I am currently enjoying a week-long vacation with my sisters and their respective families. While vacations are wonderful and intended to be relaxing, the preparation can be full of stress and chaos. Planning is a must to ensure that you have the perfect vacation.

Make a To-Do List
Something I have found very helpful is making a to-do list before we go away. Everything from a packing list to things you'll want to do while you are away to initial prep and planning can be put on to a to-do list. Making a list and prioritizing the items is essential to getting everything done on time.

Familiarize Yourself
If it's a destination you've never before visited, you will want to become somewhat familiar with the culture and the layout of the city or town. Many foreign countries have a completely different society and way of doing things than we do, and it can be a bit of a culture shock if it takes you by surprise. You need to be careful that you don’t offend anybody or do or say anything wrong.   I like to do a bit of homework before we go. It's also helpful to buy a guidebook for the area you’re going to. These always have tourist attractions and areas of interest listed.

Choose Your Package
Choosing your destination and vacation package is one of the most important aspects of vacation planning. Think about where you’re going and how long you’ll be there. Do you want to go self-catered or all-inclusive? Will you travel by air or by car? Perhaps you’ll forgo a hotel and stay in apartments. These are all considerations to make before booking.

Save Up
Going on vacation can be expensive depending on when and where you travel. The more money you can save prior to your trip, the better an experience you can have. I like to figure out the sort of experience I want and then make sure I save the appropriate amount of money. You might take the other approach and save for a length of time, and then choose based on your budget. Whichever approach you take you’re going to need to make sure you save the right amount of money for an enjoyable trip.

Pack Early
Packing is quite possibly the most dreaded part of going on vacation. Packing can be tedious and time consuming. I like to create a packing list to help me get the task done quickly. I have found that it has become less stressful now that our girls are older and can do much of their own packing and when we pack early. Packing in advance allows you to take your time and do a thorough job. You eliminate the mad rush associated with last minute packing!

Enjoying a family getaway is one of the highlights of my year every year. I am very thankful for vacations, but it’s a lot of work to get them to go perfectly. But if you plan accordingly, chances are you'll have a vacation that the entire family enjoys with plenty of memories to look back on.

Best Online Reads

The ten stories from around the web that I am loving this week:

1. The sneaker that looks good on everyone via PopSugar Fashion.

2. Ten phrases the worst bosses love to use via Inc.

3. Fifteen inspiring career books via A Cup of Jo.

4. How to stop living with regret via MindBodyGreen

5. This frozen hot chocolate is the perfect summer treat via Smitten Kitchen.

6. Expiration dates you need to know via Time.com.

7. Why debt is the new STD disclosure via NY Post.

8. Ten things everyone needs to know about money via Business Insider.

9. Absolutely brilliant kitchen island DIYs via Redbook Magazine.

10. How to dress like a New Yorker via Elle.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Money Saving Tips for Household Expenses

It can be hard keeping up with the costs of maintaining a home, particularly when they seem to be growing more and more out of control. We try to save money where we can, but at the end of the month the bills can sometimes seem higher than usual. There are a few steps you can take towards lowering your expenses.
Switch To Energy Savers 
Look at the appliances and equipment in your home. Do a quick search online to determine how much electricity they are using. If you have older appliances, it is likely that they are not energy efficient. Consider selling any that are overly high and replacing them with more modern and energy efficient versions. They use less power and are better for the environment. As soon as you replace your current appliances, you will see a large savings in your monthly bills. Take it one step further and replace your light bulbs with energy savers.

Adopt a Few Energy Saving House Rules
This was more for the kids than the adults in the home. My two little girls are still getting the hang of how some simple changes can make a big impact on the bottom line. So, I put up a list of energy saving rules in the kitchen. They are pretty simple but seem to be having a big effect. Also, we’re getting into the habit of switching the lights off in rooms no one is in as well as devices like laptops and TVs that have been left alone. Institute rules that are simple, and you'll be amazed by the impact they'll quickly have on your monthly bills.

Switch Power Providers
Look online at electric rates and compare them to what you currently pay. It's a big decision, but once you decide to do it, the process is quite simple. We recently switched cable providers, and we've already seen a significant savings.

Consider An Alternate Energy Source
The cost of installing solar panels on the roof is quite expensive, but I know in the long run it will be more cost-effective than our current energy source. This usually involves a large initial investment with a slow and steady return on the money you've shelled out. If you plan to stay in your current home for the long haul, this is a good option for saving some cash.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Rocksbox: The New Way to Try and To Buy Jewelry

I love jewelry. Whether it's a statement necklace, a delicate ring or a classic chain link bracelet, I love to accessorize with jewelry. However, just as is the case with fashion, trends come and go with jewelry. I don't like to spend a ton of money on the trendy pieces, but I want to stay on trend with my jewelry selections.
Rocksbox is transforming the way women wear jewelry by allowing them to wear the latest styles and trends for a minimal cost. Rocksbox allows you unlimited access to the best designer jewelry for just $19 per month. We all know wearing jewelry is fun, but buying jewelry is not! Rockbox puts the fun back into jewelry by making it accessible and affordable.

Here's how Rocksbox works:

1. You sign up at www.rocksbox.com. Enter code piecesofamomxoxo for your first month FREE! Create a profile detailing the types of jewelry that you like. Account managers at Rocksbox carefully curate a 3-piece collection of jewelry for you based on your profile.

2. For $19 per month, you receive a 3-piece collection of jewelry delivered to you every month. You wear the pieces. If you love one or all three, you can purchase them. If you're feeling a little "meh" about the pieces, send them back. Rocksbox will send you another set of 3 pieces once your current collection is returned.

3. It's fabulous! You rent high-end jewelry from reputable brands such as Kendra Scott, Gorjana, and House of Harlow for just $19/month.

4. You also have the option of creating a wish list where you can place pieces that you'd like to receive in future boxes.

Here's a look at a few of the boxes I have received from Rocksbox.
I've been receiving Rocksbox for 4 months now, and I am hooked! I've gotten delicate layering necklaces, beautiful bangles, and pretty stud earrings. Each month's selections have been spot on according to my profile. Each month you have the opportunity to review your selections so that your next box is sure to dazzle you rather than disappoint you.



Fab, right? What are you waiting for?

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Family Vacations Are Like Chicken Soup for the Soul

Today we depart for our annual vacation in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. My sisters, I, and our respective families started this annual vacation ritual in 2007. When we were in the early planning stages that year, none of us could have known that this would become a vacation that each of us cherished year after year.

Same place. Same time. Year after year.

As much as I love exploring new places, I have to admit there is something strangely comforting about the familiar. We don't need maps to show us where to go. We don't need a concierge to tell us where to eat. We have our favorite places, and we unapologetically return to them day after day. For some of us it's a favorite ice cream shop. For others it's a pizza place. For some it's a boutique.

I am always surprised when I describe this vacation to people, and they respond with, "Ugh. I could never spend an entire week with my family."

What?

What makes this vacation work is that we respect everyone's boundaries. We do things together. We do things alone. That is the beauty of a family vacation. You're spending time together, but you aren't necessarily always together.

It seems to be working. This will be our 9th year in a row making the trek to Delaware. Some go by car. Others go by ferry boat. But we all end up in the same place.

For me personally, this vacation feeds my soul. It's my one chance in the year to connect with my entire family in one place and share that connection with my daughters.  Family vacations are a source of fond memories for both children and adults, and I want my daughters to look back on these vacations and recall the wonderful memories we have made over the years.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Tips For Making Your Family Home More Attractive To Potential Buyers

Do you plan to sell your family home soon or is your home currently on the market? Making your family home more attractive to potential buyers in not an easy task. Buyers have different requirements and personal tastes, making it difficult to know exactly what your buyer wants. Without narrowing in on each and every buyer that may be interested, there are a few general tips for making your home as buyer-friendly as possible. I recently sat down with my friend Ali who sells real estate. She outlined a few key tasks to do before you put the "For Sale" sign on the yard.

Focus on Curb Appeal 
The front of your property is the first thing buyers will see. Making a good first impression is essential. A fresh coat of paint, a well manicured lawn, and some pretty flowers will up the wow factor when buyers pull up to the curb. Small touches like home address plaques can make your home more homey. You want buyers to drop their jaw to the floor from the moment they encounter your home. The offer is sure to follow.an offer.

Highlight the Positive Features
Buyers have a tendency to zero in on the negative features of a home. As the seller, you want to highlight the positive elements of the home. Perhaps it's an updated kitchen with all the latest bells and whistles or maybe you have a spacious yard or a fabulous location to offer potential buyers. If you reside in a community that is run by one of the top HOA management companies, you must disclose this to buyers. Although locations of that nature are often safer, there are also regulations that residents must follow.

Get the Price Right
Work with your real estate agent to accurately price your property. The last thing you want to do is overprice your property. But at the same time, you want the best deal possible. An agent will value your home and make a recommendation on a selling price. It will be competitive with comparable homes in your area. Always be open to negotiation and make every effort to make decisions that are not based on emotional ties you have to the home.

Keep the Interior of the Home Generic
The less personal effects you have on display, the better.  Psychologists say people are more likely to purchase a home if there aren’t any personal pictures around. It is easier for potential buyers to imagine their family living in the property when there is no reminder that another family has lived there.

Friday's Fresh Picks: My Favorite Clutches

For those rare occasions when I merely need to carry some cash, ID, a cell phone, and some lipstick, I love a structured clutch. They are perfect for date nights and GNOs when the kids aren't in tow. Whether you are heading to a business meeting or a concert, there's clutch that's perfect for any occasion.

In this week's Friday's Fresh Picks, I'm sharing my current favorite clutches.
Here are few that I am currently loving.

{Splurge Alert!! Valentino Rockstud Medium Clutch - $595}





{Lilly Pulitzer It's a Keeper All Nighter Phone Clutch/Wristlet - $38}


{Vera Bradley Harper Clutch - $148}



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, August 20, 2015

Best Online Reads

Here are the 10 stories from around the web that I am loving this week:

1. Why working 9 to 5 makes no sense via Huffington Post.

2. Useful tips for making connecting flights via USA Today.

3. The most expensive college in each state via Business Insider.

4. 6 hacks for the perfect DIY manicure via HuffPost Lifestyle.

5. Fall-flavored items you need to get your hands on via Delish.

6. Five reasons to never wear shoes in the house via PopSugar.

7. A TSA agent's guide to what not to wear when travelling by air via PhillyMag.

8. Five easy ways to score late summer travel deals via New York Post.

9. Pass up the take out in favor of this Greek pizza instead via Cookie + Kate.

10. 142 years of blue jeans in 20 epic photos via Distractify.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Simple Ways To Enhance Your Bathroom

I'm always thinking about the ways in which I can revamp rooms in my home. I've shared a few ways you can update your kitchen, so what about the rest of your home? One room that all too many people neglect is the bathroom. Bathrooms are typically seen as the spaces in our homes where we transform ourselves from dirty to clean. Because of this, it's easy to overlook the bathroom as a place that should be aesthetically pleasing. But there are a few surprisingly simple and inexpensive ways to update this frequently ignored room in your home.

Repaint the walls
Sometimes, when a space starts to look worn, it usually needs a coat of fresh paint. Choose a warm tone such as beige or a light shade of gray. After you've prepped the room, spend a day or so painting the room, allowing the first layer to dry before you add a second coat. The end result will wake up the room.

Replace your toilet
Replacing the toilet could make a massive difference to the room, especially if it's dated (think style and color). Toilets are not as expensive as you may think. It may surprise you to learn that you can get cheap toilets online for less than you would expect.

Scrub the grout
Filthy grout can make your bathroom look old and dirty in no time at all. This surface tends to get dirty and moldy before you know it. To clean the grout well, you'll need a toothbrush, some bleach and some water. You should scrub the grout with a bleach and water mixture, and make sure that you wear rubber gloves and keep the room well ventilated.

Upgrade the shower head
When we moved into our home, our bathroom had an old shower head. You couldn't adjust the water flow, and the water pelted down on our backs. Showers should be powerful and relaxing. When you step into your shower, you want to have a strong flow of water. If your water pressure is weak, you may need a new shower head.


Install a large mirror
Your bathroom should be light and airy. The best way to bring in light is to reflect the natural daylight as much as possible. If you don't have an abundance of natural light in the room, you can accomplish this with a large mirror. A large mirror will also make the space look larger than it is.

Replace the shower curtain
Although this is an inexpensive change, it may have the greatest impact on the room. At the beginning of the summer, we swapped out our dark, paisley printed curtain in favor of a neutral striped one. I couldn't believe how much brighter and larger it made the room appear. The thick horizontal stripes give the illusion of more space and more light.

A few simple changes can make a big difference in a room that seems inconsequential. Have you recently updated your bathroom? What changes did you make and what difference did they make?