Food & Drink

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SHOP MY FAVES

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Holiday Shopping Online with Fisher-Price®

I can remember running downstairs on Christmas morning so excited to tear into my presents. All the while I was hoping that Santa brought all the Fisher-Price® gifts that I had requested. I loved the Fisher-Price® Little People®. Do you remember them?

If you've got a kiddo in your life, whether it's your own, a family member's or a friend's, chances are that child has put a Fisher-Price® toy on his or her list for Santa. Fisher-Price® is synonymous with children and Christmas.

Now, shopping for Fisher-Price® products can be done in the convenience and comfort of your own home and your pajamas! Fisher-Price's online store stocks all the latest and greatest toys for every child from babies to preschoolers.

Shopping is as easy as clicking on the icon below to get started! Go ahead. Do it. Just take a peek at all the fabulous toys Fisher-Price® makes.
Fisher Price
For holiday themed gifts, try these Little People® sets.

How cute is this North Pole Cottage? It comes complete with Santa and Mrs. Claus!

Or this Tree Lighting in Discovery Park is super, super cute.


I am always a fan of the retro toys. So go classic with these Fisher-Price® oldies but goodies.

 Who can forget the disk camera?
 Or the TV radio?
 And one of my personal favorites...the Chatter Telephone!!!
And if you have little girls, you must have a kitchen! The Grow-With-Me Kitchen™ has an adjustable height feature to grow with your child.
Don't wait until your local store is sold out! Shop at Fisher-Price online to get the best deal and best selection before it's too late!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, Pieces of a Mom receives a small percentage of your transaction. Affiliate links are one means that bloggers use to support the cost of operating a blog and supplying readers with quality content. Of course, we are always grateful when you click on a link to make a purchase. :)

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Wordless Wednesday: Captiva Island Landscapes

I am guilty of two things when I go on vacation to Captiva, Florida:
  1. Overindulging on relaxation
  2. Taking lots of pictures
It's just so hard to put my camera down. There are so many incredible photo opportunities that I fear I may miss just one. So, I always have my camera at the ready.

Here are a few of my favorite shots of the varied landscape.

A quiet path to the beach.

The sun sneaking through the clouds at sunset.

Sailboats in the harbor at dusk.

Kayaks lined up like bananas.

Sunset off the northern-most tip of the island.

Sailing in Pine Island Sound.


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Cypher Kids Augmented Reality Cards #CypherKidsClub

One of the aspects I love about the iPad is how family-friendly it is. There are so many applications that appeal to all ages and interests.

In addition to an abundance of entertaining games, there is a plethora of educational apps for young children. One such app is Cypher Kids Club - Wild Animal Adventures. It is an educational experience that utilizes both the electronic application and printed flash cards.

The Cypher Kids Augmented Reality Cards can be purchased at Target for $29.99. The learning cards are found in the electronics department with the iPad accessories. I made the mistake of heading to the children's book section of Target when I realized that the logical place to find the cards would be with iPad accessories. In addition to Wild Animal Adventures, the cards are also available in Letters and in Numbers.

I had the expert help of my iPad aficionados.

Once we purchased the Cypher Kids cards, we downloaded the free app from the iTunes app store. It was incredibly easy to find simply by searching on Cypher Kids or you can scan the QR code on the front of the box to download the app.


Once installation was complete, it was merely a few seconds before we were exploring the wilderness.

The combination of the app and the learning cards was straightforward and fairly easy to operate. My daughters used a team approach with one holding the iPad and one holding the learning card beneath the device (as if you were taking a picture of the flash card). Occasionally if the card was not directly centered under the iPad, the picture that displayed on the screen was slightly off-center. It took some skill to get the card placed correctly under the iPad.


Once the Cypher Entertainment Augmented Reality card is scanned, the animal appears on the screen in its natural habitat. The animals move around and make sounds. Even my 10 year old loved the animation. She thought it was super cool and much more interesting than seeing a still life photo of the animals.




You have a bird's eye view of the animals. Although animated, Cypher Entertainment does an incredible job at making the action seem real. The colors are vibrant, and the images and action are accurately depicted. My children favored the sea animals such as the penguin, the polar bear, and the walrus. I loved the large cats such as the lion and the tiger.



The Cypher Kids Augmented Reality Wild Animal Adventures cards by Cypher Entertainment are the perfect learning tool for little minds and those who are animal lovers or are inquisitive about animals. My children love animals and they loved learning about the variety of animals that were featured in the card collection. It would make a perfect holiday gift also!

For more information about Cypher Kids Club, visit the Web site, Facebook, and Twitter.

Click here to see additional pictures of our Target shopping trip and our #CypherKidsClub experience on Google+.

Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias and Cypher Kids Club #CBias #SocialFabric. All opinions are my own and are based on my and my family's use of the products mentioned herein.
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Menu Plan Monday ~ 11.26.12

After weeks of upheaval from Hurricane Sandy, an 8-day vacation in Captiva, Florida and the Thanksgiving holiday, things are finally settling down and getting back to normal this week.

I'm looking forward to the normalcy at least until the Christmas holiday brings chaos!

The Hubs is home this week, and although the kids have a busy week with school activities, it's the perfect time to get back to meal planning. Plus, I can't wait to work more soups and hot and hearty meals into our dinners.


Monday - Fusilli with 3 cheeses and red bell pepper (first time making this)

Tuesday - Hamburger Soup

Wednesday - The kids have a school fundraiser at McDonald's. The Hubs and I will have leftovers or I'll throw something together quickly.

Thursday - Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup                  
I recently received Melissa d'Arabian's book "Ten Dollar Dinners". I'll be doing a review and giveaway and want to make 2 recipes from the book. This is one of them.

Friday - Dinner out

Saturday - Make our own pizza & side salad. I buy store-bought pizza, and we roll it out and top it individually and make a contest out of it!

Sunday - The Hubs is on dinner duty!

For more menu planning inspiration, visit I'm an Organizing Junkie or you can view all of my Menu Planning posts.


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Happy Thanksgiving!

Never before has it been so easy to count my blessings on Thanksgiving than this year.


In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, I am well aware of all the goodness in my life and all the suffering that exists in the lives of others. I have a warm home, plenty of food, my health, and a loving family. I have sisters who I know would walk through fields of fire for me and friends who would give me the shirts off of their backs.

Why would I want anything more?

Well, I don't. Not for me anyway. If I want for more, I am wanting for those who have not to have. I am hoping for those who are ill to be well again. For those who are without a home to once again know that comfort of a warm home.

This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for all the little things that add up to a great amount. May be you be as blessed and thankful as I am.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends.
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NJ Women's Expo: I Was a Panel Moderator!

I'm still trying to catch up on the posts that I wanted to write just prior to and after Hurricane Sandy. I have a lot to get through after having lost power for a week, catching up for a week, and then going on vacation for a week. I'm easily a month behind.

The weekend before Sandy tore into town, I had the opportunity to moderate a physician's panel at the New Jersey Women's Expo. Meridian Health was a sponsor of the Women's Expo. I was invited to moderate the physician's panel as part of my work with Meridian Health's Web site, Meridian Momtourage. I was honored and excited to be the moderator.

Here I am pictured with the panel which included three female physicians as well as Olympic gold medalist and U.S. Women's Soccer team captain, Christie Rampone. Rampone is also a spokesperson for the K. Hovnanian Children's Hospital.

The discussion centered around women's health issues and what women are facing today as busy women who often put their own health on hold in order to care for their families first. Christie Rampone spoke to living a life on the road with two young daughters and how she and her husband succeed at providing a healthy lifestyle for them despite their hectic travel schedule.

Of course, I stressed about what to wear. I wanted to keep it professional but casual. I ended up going with this silk wrap dress from Banana Republic. Let me tell you it's a very old dress. Like 8 years old. It turned out to be perfect for the occasion.

When I signed on to write for Meridian Momtourage, I never imagined that I'd get the opportunity to do something like moderate a panel. Although new, this was an incredible and exciting professional opportunity for me. I hope I get the chance to do again!

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What I'm Crushing On This Week: Cover Girl Outlast Nail Polish, e.l.f. Tinted Moisturizer and More!

You know how people are always saying that you go in to Target for 5 things and you come out with 50? Well, I'm guilty. I went to Target on Saturday armed with a list, thinking (and desperately hoping) that the list would keep me in line. It didn't. I came out with more than I planned. The upside: all of it is incredibly useful (at least in my opinion), and I didn't break the bank. Plus, I've got some good stuff to share with you!

1. Cover Girl Outlast Nail Polish
Cover Girl's latest addition to its nail polish product line is a high-gloss, no chip nail polish. Use this polish and you can skip one step: the top coat. CG promises that you don't need it. Available in 15 colors. I bought  "Wine Stain". $4.99 for a .37 fl. oz bottle

2. e.l.f. Studio Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20
As a sufferer of rosacea, I am always looking for non-foundation type product that evens out my skin tone. I've tried many tinted moisturizers. This one is an exceptional product at a fabulous price. The nourishing and smooth formula contains aloe, cucumbers, and vitamins A, C, and E. $3.00 for a 0.7 fl .oz. tube.


3. Arm & Hammer by Munchkin Nursery Fresheners


Although originally designed for a baby's nursery, these little disks work wonders in bathrooms and on pet odors. I am loving them. I use them in the bathroom, by the cat's litter box, in the refrigerator and freezer. Anywhere you have lingering odors, put one! $4.00 for a package of 5.
4. Hamburger Socks
Oh. My. Gosh! How funny are these?? The Hubs loves playful socks. These will definitely be under the Christmas tree for him this year. $10 from www.fredflare.com.


5. The Kindle Paperwhite
There are so many fantastic features. Read my full review here.

What are you crushing on this week?
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Product Review: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

Ebook readers are all the rage these days, and for good reason. They are convenient, portable, versatile, and reasonably priced.

As a member of the Viewpoints Blogger Panel, I had the opportunity to recently review the Kindle Paperwhite, Amazon's newest addition to its line of ereaders. The Paperwhite is by far Amazon's most-advanced ereader yet. With touchscreen capabilities and an 8-week battery life, it's hard to beat the features, functionality, and price of this ereader.

The Paperwhite was not my first ereader experience. I've been using the Nook Color for about 2 years now, and I am hooked. As a lover of traditional books, I never thought I'd say that. I love the look and feel of traditional books. I love the way they look lined up neatly on a book shelf. But, in this age of technology, an ereader is the most practical choice for the avid reader.

I've highlighted what I consider to be the most important features and components of the Paperwhite for the average reader. If you are considering purchasing an ereader for either yourself or as a gift, these details will definitely aid you in making your decision.


Battery Life
Amazon promises an 8-week battery life. I received the Paperwhite a few days prior to the arrival of Hurricane Sandy on the east coast. As soon as I took it out of the box I charged it. It comes with a USB cable for charging. Out-of-the-box, the Paperwhite must be charged via your laptop or computer. An AC charger is available for purchase for $10. I was definitely disappointed that an AC charger was not standard equipment.

Just before the height of Hurricane Sandy, my family and I lost our power. For almost 7 days. Luckily, the battery on the Paperwhite never died. In fact, by the time our power was restored, the Paperwhite still had about 45% of the battery remaining. This was with frequent use. I read 2 books, and my children downloaded several books as well.

I am currently on vacation using the same battery charge that I initially had going into Hurricane Sandy. It's that good. Plus, it's been perfect for the beach and pool.

Book Selection
Let's be honest. Nothing compares to the vast selection of books available through Amazon. The selection of popular fiction, children's books, and magazines was plentiful. As an English major, I've been known to read the obscure book or two. Not surprisingly, I was able to find several little known titles. Plus, a book that I read several years ago in print format that I hasn't been available for download on the Nook was available through Amazon. The prices were comparable to those on the Nook. In many cases, the Amazon prices were cheaper by several cents, with most titles costing under $10.

Amazon promises that the Paperwhite is capable of holding up to 1,100 books. I certainly didn't download that many in the time frame that I tested it, so I'll have to trust Amazon on this one.

Ease of Use
It was fast with easy to read to menus. I like that both swiping and tapping were functions that were recognized by the Paperwhite. I love the touchscreen primarily because it is what I am accustomed to as an iPhone, iPad, and Nook user. The Paperwhite is back lit so it's ideal for daytime reading at the beach, pool, or a park. It also has an adjustable light for nighttime reading. The light is able to be adjusted to a very dim setting, which I loved. I do a lot of nighttime reading, so this was an important feature for me.

Durability
In the time frame that I tested the Paperwhite, I did not place a cover on it. It was passed around among me and my children often. It was dropped several times. I had it in my purse unprotected, and it still came out unscathed. I was worried about durability due to the compact size of the Paperwhite, but it held up well to my test.

Design
I liked the soft, blue light of the screen, and the fact that it is similar in size to an actual average paperback book. It's small, handheld size is streamlined with rounded corners and a sleek, black appearance. It was perfect for little hands too. If you've got a tween or teen, this is the perfect size. Plus, the Paperwhite features parental controls.

Overall Impressions
Would I buy the Paperwhite? Absolutely! In fact, my youngest daughter would like an ereader, and the Paperwhite is my first choice. The price, $119, is just right for an ereader. Many ereaders have tablet functionality, but if you already own a tablet, a standard ereader, such as the Paperwhite, is all you need.

The features I loved most were the battery life and the enhanced lighting. Just to be able to read without constantly looking at the battery icon was a pleasure.

Click here to read my full review on the Viewpoints Web site.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary Paperwhite as part of my participation in the Viewpoints Blogger Panel to facilitate this review. The Paperwhite I received will be donated to a charity of my choice.

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Wordless Wednesday: Captiva Sunsets

There are so many things to love about Captiva Island, Florida. At the top of my list are sunsets. Every day is more beautiful than the day before. This year, we've seen some absolutely gorgeous and vibrant sunsets with pinks, yellow, oranges, and reds. They are breathtaking, and the pictures, though pretty, do not do the sunsets justice.





Would you rather see a sunrise or a sunset?
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Lessons Learned from Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy ripped through coastal New Jersey 2 weeks ago leaving a path of destruction in her wake. The media promised that it would be a storm like no other. And Sandy lived up to those promises.

Structurally sound homes were taken completely out to sea. Lives were lost all along the East Coast. The city that never sleeps was silenced. It was a devastating storm.

As a resident of the Jersey shore, I have seen the destruction first hand, most of it in pictures. And you hear the stories. The heartbreaking stories of loss. My family and I were fortunate to have lost one thing: power. But it was enough to teach me important lessons about storm preparation and otherwise.

I put together a list of what we learned as a result of our experience with Hurricane Sandy. I'd never wish this experience on anyone. But should you be faced with a similar one, you'll be warned.

1. Prepare by buying basic household supplies.
Thankfully, we had plenty of batteries, candles, lighters, water, and food. These were the items that SAVED us when the power went out. We experienced a widespread power outage. There was no power for miles and miles for days on end.

2. Fill gas tanks and cans.
Fill the gas tanks in your cars. If you'll be using a generator in the event of a power outage, fill gas cans too. Fortunately, I didn't have the need to wait in gas lines since we had filled our gas tanks in our cars prior to the storm, and we didn't have a generator.

3. Consider buying a generator.
We don't have one, but we plan to buy one after this storm. Think of them as car insurance. On a daily basis you don't have a need for it, but when an accident happens, a generator will save you.

4. A Smartphone is essential to staying connected when there's a power outage.
Without power my only means of getting information was via my iPhone, specifically Facebook. I relied on updates from friends and local sources of information. I would have been completely in the dark without Facebook.

5. Buy a phone charger for your car.
This was the only means I had of charging my phone. Without the car charger, I would have lost use of my phone after a day.

6. If you live in a flood zone, move vehicles to higher ground.
I know so many people who lost cars in this storm due to flooding. Move your cars if you are prone to flooding. Parking lots about a mile inland were filled with cars. Ask a friend to give you a ride back to your home, and be sure someone is available to drive you back to your car after the storm or in an emergency.

7. Heed the warnings of the media.
The media like to create a lot of hype around storms. It's how they get their high ratings. But in this case, there seemed to be many more sincere warnings than hype. Take warnings seriously. If you are ordered to evacuate, do it! I've heard horror stories of people who had to literally swim out of their homes in 8 foot deep water. I am not kidding. There was a lot of hype with Hurricane Irene and little storm. I heard a lot of people saying that Sandy would be the same. Not all storms are the same.

Meteorologists know what they are talking about. Listen to them.
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