Food & Drink

Food & Drink
Food & Drink

SHOP MY FAVES

SHOP MY FAVES
SHOP MY FAVES

STYLE

STYLE
STYLE

Get Two (2) Exclusive Coupons from Purex

Laundry. It's a necessary evil. Can't live with it. Can't live without it.

There are some days when I am not bothered by laundry. I buckle down and do it. I listen for the timer on the dryer, and I immediately tackle the job at hand. Other days, I swear, I start a load first thing in the morning, and I completely tune it out the rest of the day. And how about those days when you just keep drying the same load over and over again when you've procrastinated folding it.

I do that. A lot.

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Purex is offering 2 exclusive coupons for products when you sign up for its newsletter. Coupons? Sounds like a good reason to be gung ho about doing the laundry.

Go to: http://www.purex.com/newsletter to sign up for the newsletter by Friday, March 29th to be eligible to receive the free coupons. While you're at it, why not download the Purex Laundry App from the iTunes App Store or Blackberry App World?
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Red Envelope: The Perfect Place to Find Great Jewelry

I've been yearning for a personalized necklace, something that honors my daughters. I've been looking around for quite some time now, and most I have seen are either too expensive or are of poor quality. I haven't been lucky enough to find one that falls somewhere in the middle. A personalized necklace that can be worn everyday to do everyday mom tasks but also one that can be worn out to a nice dinner would be ideal.

When I was invited by Red Envelope brands take a look at the jewelry offerings and make a selection for $65, I was delighted. I couldn't wait to take a look at the selection and the prices. I was familiar with Red Envelope, but I had never ordered from the site before. It didn't take me long to hop on RedEnvelope.com and start browsing.

There were so many beautiful pieces to choose from. From necklaces, bracelets, and rings to jewelry trees and boxes, there was something for every jewelry lover.

I zeroed in on the necklaces.

My eyes went directly to the "hand-stamped mother + children" necklace, but I also loved the "Sisters" necklace. That would be the perfect gift to give my three sisters.

I went in for a closer look. I was in love. I could picture my daughters names on this necklace draped around my neck.


The big question was, "How much does it cost?"
The necklace with one disc started at $49.95. I obviously needed a necklace with two discs, which costs $74.95. I was sold! I wanted this necklace, and I wanted it NOW!


I placed my order easily and quickly. The personalization was straightforward and easy to do. I should point out that only lowercase letters are used for this particular necklace. I didn't mind though. I actually liked the appearance of the lowercase letters.

One of the aspects I love about ordering from one of the Red Envelope brands is that the buyer can specify the exact date on which the item is received. This is particularly helpful if you want to give the item as a gift but don't want to be hanging on to the item for weeks prior to the gift-giving occasion.

My necklace arrived in a red box. It was so pretty.

I put it on immediately, grateful that I was wearing a v-neck top on the day the necklace was delivered.

I haven't taken it off since.

If you are looking to purchase a gift of jewelry, think outside the box (haha! get it? outside the jewelry box). Look beyond your typical big name jewelry stores and try Red Envelope instead. The selection may be smaller than the big jewelry stores, but I am overwhelmed in those stores. Too many decisions to make. Red Envelope has just the selection and the quality that I am looking for.

If you find something that you just must have, you can find coupon codes here. They include everything from free shipping to 25% off your order of $75. Some really great coupons, so be sure to check them off before you make a purchase. If you do buy something, please come back and let me know what you bought. I'd love to know!

Disclosure: I received a $65 credit to shop at RedEnvelope.com. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.
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Just Say No To Drugs: D.A.R.E. Graduation

It's never too early to teach the dangers of drugs.

On Thursday, Emma graduated from the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program at her school. All 5th graders are required to participate in the 2 month educational program designed to teach children the dangers of drugs and how to resist temptation with confidence.

We all know that sounds easier than it actually is. The police officer who spearheads the D.A.R.E. program quoted statistics that, quite frankly, were mind boggling. To hear that 6% of eight graders has tried alcohol is very discouraging. But, there is a silver lining. The 5th graders are taught how to resist temptation and peer pressure with confidence.

I loved that the dangers of drugs and alcohol were not the only emphasis of the D.A.R.E. program. The officer stressed the importance of using an assertive tone to refuse drugs and alcohol. He taught the children to confidently walk away from an offer to try drugs and/or alcohol and to be strong enough to stand up to friends who try to tempt you.

I have to say that as a parent, the D.A.R.E. graduation was a proud moment. You never know what the future brings, but at least I know that my daughter has both the education about the dangers of drugs and alcohol and the confidence to refuse them.

For more information about D.A.R.E., visit the official Web site.

Accepting her graduation certificate...a proud moment for all of us.

Looks like someone forgot to inform her of the dangers of the antics of her classmates! ;-)


Singing "United We Stand" with the 5th grade class.

Do you have a D.A.R.E. program in your community?
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{BOOK GIVEAWAY} Rich Food Poor Food: The Ultimate Grocery Purchasing System

Two years ago I was invited to a luncheon hosted by Stonyfield Farms. The featured speaker was Robyn O'Brien, a concerned mom, an author, and a food activist. This luncheon turned out to be a light bulb moment for me. It was an awakening of sorts. You can read all about it here, but in short, I learned some disheartening facts about the American food supply.

I left the luncheon wondering not only about the damage that I had done to my own body but to my children's bodies as well. I was overwhelmed. The entire ride from Philadelphia back to the Jersey shore was consumed with thoughts of how I could move forward and feed my family the foods that would be most healthful to them.

Ever since this luncheon, I've been on a quest to learn more about the food that I eat. I've given up processed foods in favor of a diet comprised of real, whole foods. I've switched to primarily organic foods, especially dairy products. I've made considerable changes. Some met with resistance from my family, and others have been welcomed changes all the way around.

It hasn't always been easy an easy road to travel. Old habits die hard. But I know that more we know about our food, the more we want to eat the foods that are truly good for us.

Most of the foods found in our conventional grocery stores are processed foods. They are filled with chemicals, additives, preservatives, and artificial colors. Yes, even sour cream has artificial colors in it. How do I know this?

Well, I've been reading Rich Food Poor Food: The Ultimate Grocery Purchasing System (GPS) by Jayson and Mira Carlton. This book is both a guide and a resource for everyday grocery store shopping. Whether you are trying to shop more wisely or you've recently adapted a new diet, this book offers valuable advice for navigating your supermarket.

I received this book as part of my participation in the Stonyfield "Yo-Getter" brand ambassador program.

The book is divided into "Aisles". Just as you would navigate aisles during a typical shopping trip, you can do the same when reading this book. But before you start reading, the first few chapters offer helpful insights into the dangers and traps found in your grocery store and how to avoid them and the sneaky culprits lingering in our foods such as food dyes, chemicals, and synthetic hormones.

Once you hit the "Aisle" chapters, the book offers alternatives to purchasing store-bought foods, such as recipes. Have you ever made your own mayonnaise? Now would be a great time to start! There's a recipe for mayo in the book.

There are "STEER HERE" AND "STEER CLEAR" suggestions for what to buy (Steer Here) and what not to buy (Steer Clear) and why, including the harmful ingredients found in the Steer Clear items and the healthy ingredients found in the Steer Here items. This book proves that not all ketchups, rices, broths, meats, dairy products, are created the same.

This book identifies 150 common and often hidden poor food ingredients so that you can avoid those and choose a healthier alternative instead. We should know what we are eating. We should know what's in our food, and since the American government does not require food manufacturers to place warning labels on food when certain ingredients are used, this book is a great place to find the information to need to arm yourself when shopping.

WIN IT!

Pieces of a Mom is giving away one Rich Food Poor Food book to one lucky winner. Also included with this giveaway are five (5) coupons for free Stonyfield Greek yogurt. The book has a retail value of $24.95, and can also be purchased through Amazon.com (see button below Rafflecopter form to order).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Just can't wait for the giveaway to end? Order your copy of Rich Food Poor Food now!



Stonyfield provided me with a complimentary copy for myself as well as one to give to a lucky reader. I was not compensated to write this post. All opinions on the book are my own.

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My Adventures in Gluten-Free Eating

If you've been hanging around this little ol' blog for some time, you are well aware of my constant struggle with rosacea.

Since being diagnosed almost 10 years ago, I've tried everything to ease the redness. Prescription meds, OTC creams, cleansers, gels. You name it. I've tried it.

I've kept detailed food and beauty journals, chronicling everything from what I ate and drank to what products I applied to my face. I've eliminated common triggers such as spicy foods, red wine, tomato sauce, and caffeine.

I've followed all the advice of my dermatologist, but to no avail. Ten years later, and my redness is still prevalent. It's incredibly frustrating still having to deal with this after 10 years of putting so much effort into trying to control it.

Finally, I decided to take matters into my own hands and do some research on my own. I scoured the Internet for everything I could find about a possible link between gluten and rosacea. I discovered that gluten is often a culprit for aggravating rosacea and causing flareups. While there isn't much scientific proof to back this up, there have been plenty of people who have eliminated gluten from their diets and have had success with calming and controlling their rosacea.

It has never been easier to eliminate gluten from our diets. Many restaurants cater to the gluten-free population, and there's a wide variety of gluten-free products available that are suitable substitutes for their gluten counterparts.

I decided to do a gluten-free eating experiment. I am going gluten-free for 2-3 weeks to see if it makes any difference in my face. I have read that protein in gluten can linger in your body for months after you've gone gluten-free. I'm not sure how much of a difference 2-3 weeks will make, but I'm willing to give it a try.

I've been gluten-free for 5 days now. And I must say that apart from my face, I am feeling better in other ways that I hadn't expected. My stomach is flatter, and I don't feel bloated after every meal. I don't get that "stuffed" feeling after I eat. And since I haven't invested any money in gluten-free foods such as cookies or pretzels, I haven't been snacking as much. I've been eating veggies, fruits, meats, and nuts at every meal. I feel lighter. I know that sounds ridiculous, but to those who are gluten-free, it makes complete sense.

We went out to dinner on Friday night, and I felt great when I got up from the table to leave. Meanwhile, everyone else in the family was complaining about how stuffed they were. Hmm. Could it have been all the pre-dinner bread that they ate and the pizza that followed it? Quite possibly.

I don't know if I will find this diet to be helpful to my rosacea, but I do know that I like the way that I am feeling and am anxious to see how I feel and how my face looks at the end of the 3 weeks.

Stay tuned for progress reports.
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Wordless Wednesday: Making A Wish

Is there anything more spectacular to a child than blowing out the birthday candles and making a wish?

Quite possibly. But birthdays rank up there with ice cream for dinner and dancing in water puddles.

When I snapped this photo, I couldn't stop wondering what Harper was wishing for. I love that she thinks the sky is the limit and wishes well beyond it.

Here's to hoping all of her wishes come true.


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Since When is an RSVP Optional?

Did I miss a memo or something?

Was my head stuck under a rock?

Is it not proper etiquette to respond to invitations anymore?


I sent out invitations to my youngest daughter's birthday party 2 weeks ago, asking recipients to reply within one week. I know, that's not a whole lot of turnaround time, but my hands were tied as the party venue had limited availability due to St. Patrick's Day. And seriously, you're either available or you're not. Which is it?

I couldn't have made it any easier. I included my phone number and my email address. I realize people have phone phobias. It's the age of technology. People don't want to interact. So, send me an email. I'm so cool with that. I'd prefer to reply via email as well. But when I can't, I do make a phone call.

Why? Because it's polite. And it's requested.

As of the RSVP date, I still hadn't heard from over half of the invitees. Nothing. And I mean, nothing bothers me more. Now, almost one week later, and I still don't know if 3 people are coming...and that's even after a phone call.

What is wrong with people?

I have goody bags to prepare, and I don't mean penny candy stuffed into a treat bag. I have goody bags for a cooking party. Aprons, chef's hats, spatulas. I can't just throw a bag together "just in case" someone shows up.

This party. It's a big deal to my little girl. She hasn't had a proper friend party in a few years. She just wants to know if her friends will be there.

So, if you are the "not responding" type, keep that in mind the next time an invitation comes your way.
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{GIVEAWAY} Tin of Chocolate Covered Oreos (16 count)

What's better than an Oreo? A chocolate covered Oreo, of course!

The Oreo is my favorite cookie. I don't eat them often, but when I do, I savor the taste. The combination of crunchy chocolate cookies and a smooth and creamy center is a delight for the taste buds. Take that cookie and submerge it in melted chocolate, and it's a party in your mouth!

CookieGiftBaskets.com takes the classic Oreo and makes it even better by dipping it in either decadent milk, dark, or white Belgian chocolate. Just when you thought the Oreo couldn't get any more delicious, CookieGiftBaskets.com makes the impossible possible!

And to take it one step further, the artisans at CookieGiftBaskets.com hand decorate each and every cookie with expert precision. Using themed or colored confetti, sprinkles, and candy balls, CookieGiftBaskets.com turns an ordinary cookie into an edible work of art. Pink and red hearts cover chocolate covered Oreos that are placed in a red box with a heart-shaped window is the perfect way to show you love that special someone.


Served in gift boxes, gift baskets, or tins, CookieGiftBaskets.com is just as focused on the presentation of the cookies as making the cookies. 

WIN IT!
I am teaming up with several other bloggers to offer this fun and tasty giveaway! Three (3) lucky people will each win one (1) tin of 16 chocolate covered Oreos with multi-colored confetti.

You must be 18 years of age or older to enter. You must live in the continental United States (e.g. lower 48 states).

To enter to win, use the Rafflecopter widget below. Please pay close attention to the entry options, especially the mandatory entry. Once you've completed the mandatory entry, optional entry choices will be presented to you. You have lots of opportunities for multiple entries. All entries will be reviewed, and duplicate and incorrect entries will be eliminated. Good luck!
The winners will be chosen at random and will be notified via email. Be sure you provide a correct email address. The winners must respond to the email within three (3) days of being contacted to claim the prize and provide a shipping address. If winners fail to do so, replacement winners will be selected.

This giveaway will remain open until March 17, 2013 at midnight ET. Winners will be announced by March 24, 2013.

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Ocean Spray Diet Sparkling Cranberry: A Great Alternative to Diet Soda

Every year I give up Diet Coke for Lent. It's never a struggle, really. I don't experience withdrawal. I don't get cranky. And I often wonder why I can't give it up for good. When not observing Lent, I usually limit myself to one can per day, so a true addict I am not. But I do savor the taste of it, and sadly, there are times when it's just what I need to put me in a good mood.

But now that I can't have it, I've been scouring the stores for suitable, and possibly even healthier alternatives. And I've found one!!

Ocean Spray Diet Sparkling Cranberry is a juice beverage that is made from concentrate using real fruit juice. I love the hint of carbonation, and it hits the spot every time. If you are looking for an alternative to or a substitute for diet soda, this is the one! And I'll bet it would make for some tasty cocktails, too!

Ocean spray Diet Sparkling Cranberry


You can find it in grocery stores. A 4-pk of 8.4 fl. oz. cans sells for $3.80.

I was not compensated for this post. I just love this product and wanted to share it.


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