Food & Drink

Food & Drink
Food & Drink

SHOP MY FAVES

SHOP MY FAVES
SHOP MY FAVES

STYLE

STYLE
STYLE

Objects of My Obsession

This week was short, and I was grateful for that. Although I had lots of work to catch up on after the holiday weekend, I also had a chance to step away from my home office for Harper's field day and a quick coffee date with a friend.

Here are some of the things that helped make my week a good one.

{Big fluffy rhodedendrons that will be gone before I know it}


{A new summer doormat sprinkled with morning shadows}


{Harper as the tug-of-war anchor at her field day}


{We caught Sammy taking a cat selfie :) }



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Best Online Reads


Here's what's catching my attention this week:

1. How to turn the word "no" from a negative to a positive via Clementine Daily.

2. Stylish sunnies under $25 via Get Your Pretty On.

3. The 6 most powerful words in networking via Business Insider.

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Meet Me at Jenkinson's Boardwalk! I'm a #JenksAmbassador!

Ever since I first moved to the Jersey shore back in 2001, every summer has included several trips to Jenkinson's Boardwalk in Point Pleasant Beach.

It started out with my husband and I cramming ourselves into a roller coaster car and laughing hysterically. Now, we delight in watching our own daughters ride that very same roller coaster with the same bouts of laughter.

It doesn't get much better than Jenkinson's Boardwalk when you think of the Jersey shore. From the beach to the aquarium to boardwalk games, rides, and fun house, it's a jam-packed day of fun for the entire family. And don't even get me started on the sweet shop.


This summer I am teaming up with Jersey Moms Blog and Jenkinson's Boardwalk to show you just how much you need to include Jenkinson's in your summer plans. This summer I have been invited to be part of the Jenkinson's Ambassador program. I am one of several local bloggers who are committed to showing you how Jenkinson's can create a true Jersey shore experience for you and your family.

I couldn't be more excited about this partnership. I am a longtime fan of Jersey Moms Blog and Jenkinson's. I'm thrilled to be working with them and to share my summer experiences with you.

Are you in need of a beach day? You can sink your toes in the sand at Jenkinson's Beach. Or maybe you need to connect with nature. Jenkinson's Aquarium will get you in touch with your inner naturalist. Are you a foodie? Head to Jenkinson's for the delectable delights of the boardwalk. Personally, I'll be in the sweet shop if you are looking for me.

My girls love the roller coaster. In fact, last summer, they went on it 12 times in a row.

Every trip to Jenkinson's must include the arcade.

Jenkinson's boasts a brand new ride in 2014, the Kite Flyer.

Whether beaching it is your thing or you are looking for a day of adventure, Jenkinson's has you covered. With miniature golf, amusement rides and fun house, an aquarium, a sprawling beach and bath house, souvenir shops, food, food, and more food, you'll want for nothing when you visit Jenkinson's.

Can't wait to go?

WIN A GUEST VOUCHER FOR UP TO 5 PEOPLE


Jenkinson's is generously offering one Pieces of a Mom reader a 2014 Guest Voucher for up to five (5) people (guest wristbands will be issued). The wristbands include complimentary access to:


Voucher is valid Monday through Friday, only. No holidays. It expires on 12/31/2014. The guest voucher does not include parking. Winner will redeem voucher at the Pavilion Office after 9 am or Amusement Park office after 12 pm for wristbands. The voucher is non-transferable and ID is required to redeem.

a Rafflecopter giveaway






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Splurge vs. Save

The Rockstud Valentinos are to die for, but the price tag? Not so much. Luckily, there's a less expensive alternative.


Valentino Rockstud Heels, available here.

Wild Diva Adora-55, available here.
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Avocado Toast

Most weekdays I skip breakfast. The stress of the morning rush puts me in no mood to eat. But on the weekends, I love to indulge in long, lazy breakfasts. This weekend while I made the girls pancakes, I decided to try something a little different for myself since I'm not a big fan of pancakes.

The Hubs had just picked up a fresh loaf of bread from the bakery. I also had an avocado that I was craving. So, I decided to make avocado toast. I didn't have a recipe, just an image in my head of what I thought would taste good.



AVOCADO TOAST (serves 1)

Ingredients
2 slices of toasted bread (any type you prefer)
1 tbsp. olive oil
One half avocado, thinly sliced
1 tbsp. diced red onion or diced shallot
Salt
Pepper
Crushed red pepper flakes

Preparation
1. Toast the break until golden brown.
2. Remove toast from toaster and drizzle with 1/2 tbsp. of olive oil.
3. Arrange the sliced avocado on the toasted bread.
4. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, crushed red pepper.
5. Drizzle with remaining olive oil.
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Menu Plan Monday :: 5.26.14

I wish every week started with a holiday. It's an extra day to get myself together for the week. I spent Sunday evening relaxing rather than rushing around organizing everyone for the week. It was a nice change of pace.

But tomorrow it's business as usual. This week is a busy one with several after school appointments and activities including the dentist, the orthodontist, and horseback riding with Girl Scouts.

Weeks like this throw me for a loop. After shuttling the kids around after school, I never feel like making dinner. I'm hoping this meal plan will keep me on target.



Monday - Memorial Day bar-b-que

Tuesday - Chicken kebabs served over rice

Wednesday - Pasta with quick meat sauce

Thursday - Italian Wedding Soup

Friday - Chicken parmesan with oven roasted tomato-sauce

Saturday - Buffalo chicken sliders

Sunday - Hubs is on dinner duty

What's on your plate this week? For meal inspiration, see my Meal Planning posts and head over to I'm an Organizing Junkie's Meal Plan Monday to see what others are munching on.

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Objects of My Obsession

This week seemed to drag on forever. With a sick child home from school on Monday and Thursday, another one home on Tuesday, and shuttling each of them back and forth between pediatrician visits, I am ready for the weekend. And it's a long one. Bonus! Despite having the kids home, I did manage to squeeze in a pedicure and some late night reading on the iPad.

Here are a few of the things that helped me get through the week. Happy Memorial Day weekend! xx

{A hotel selfie taken during our weekend trip to NYC}


{A pouch to store all of my makeup essentials when I travel. Found at Kohl's, $4}


{Breakfast at the Macaron Cafe: iced tea and a peanut butter and jelly macaron}


{A new Italian bowl perfect for pasta and soup}


{A few new pairs of underwear can make you feel like a million bucks}
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Great Expectations {Random Ramblings}

From the moment we become parents, we have great expectations for ourselves. We want to be all and everything for our children. But sometimes that isn't always feasible. And yet, we still set the bar high for ourselves.

Yesterday was the first day since 2007 that I missed an event at my daughter's elementary school.

It wasn't really a major event such as a classroom party or a show. It was the Scholastic Book Fair for which I have volunteered every spring and fall since my oldest daughter Emma entered kindergarten in September 2007.

Yesterday my youngest daughter Harper's class attended the book fair first thing in the morning, and I was unable to make it due to work commitments.

I was crushed. But I couldn't make it work. Harper was out sick Monday, and Emma was out sick Tuesday. I had to shift my schedule both of those days to accommodate doctor's appointments, make trips to the pharmacy, and to traipse up and down the stairs taking temperatures and administering medications.


Harper hopped on the bus that morning and mouthed "book fair" out the bus window, and that image of her
was stuck in my head all day. For hours later, I couldn't shake the mom guilt. I dwelled on it. I tried to distract myself with my work, but I kept coming back to it.

When she came off the bus, I thought she'd be upset that I wasn't there. I expected puddles on the floor. Surprisingly, she didn't make a mention of it. I asked her how the book fair was, and she excitedly showed me the items that she bought.

I am not going to beat myself up over missing the book fair. I do a lot more for my kids than many parents aren't able to do. I've been a class parent two years in a row. I volunteer for all field trips, and now, with Harper's diabetes, I may be required to attend field trips. Up until now I've made it to every event and often volunteer to help at the events.

I know these things happen, and I also know how lucky I am to work at home and have the chance to attend most of her school events.

Rather than focus negative energy on where I couldn't be and why I couldn't be there, I want to focus my energy on being there when I can and being in the moment while I am there. I want the times that we are together to be so much more memorable than the times we are not.
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My Five Favorite Summer Candles

If you think candles are meant for making cold nights toasty, think again! I love to burn candles all year long. In the summer months, I replace my hearty, musky candles with light, fresh scents.

Here are 5 of my favorite candles for the summer months.


1. Boulangerie Candle in Vanilla & Fig from Anthropologie $16
I smelled this candle over the weekend when I visited my niece's apartment in NYC. It has the exact scent that I love. It's so fragrant with vanilla, a hint of orchid, and black fig. A fresh but yummy scent that I prefer to burn in the kitchen.


2. Oh Soy! Candle in Under The Boardwalk from Things That Make Scents $20
This candle has long been a favorite of mine. It's from a local shop, but she ships nationwide. Almost as good as being at the beach, Under The Boardwalk has a beachy, fresh-air, seaside scent.


3. Jo Malone Candle in Green Tomato Leaf $65
You know that smell of fresh tomatoes just picked from the vine? Yeah, that. Here in New Jersey, nothing says summer more so than tomatoes. This candle definitely brings the garden indoors.


4. Diptyque Candle in Mimosa $60
For a long time, I thought these candles were overpriced and not worth the money. But as soon as I smelled one actually burning, I completely changed my mind. Yes, they are pricey at $60 per candle (minis are $30), but they are worth it. In fact, I recently read that people line up outside the retail store in Paris just to get in to purchase one of these coveted candles. This one has a floral scent combined with the scent of the sea.


5. Tocca Candle in Feu De Touch $38
The Tocca brand is synonymous with simplicity. This simple, delicate candle has a fruity-floral fragrance that's suitable for any time of the year, but especially so in the summer.

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Best Online Reads


Here's what I've been reading this week.

1. The best bras to wear under t-shirts via Huff Post Style.

2. For those of you who have trouble keeping secrets, here's a secret for keeping secrets via Mashable.

3. 10 things organized people do everyday via Mind Body Green.

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5 Must-Sees at the Central Park Zoo

We spent 2 days in New York City over the weekend. Our first day was filled with city exploring and shopping. Our second day was spent at the Central Park Zoo.

I love visiting zoos, and whenever I travel, I make a point to try to squeeze in a trip to the zoo if the city has one to offer. Some of my favorites include Philadelphia Zoo, Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, Denver Zoo, and San Diego Zoo.

Sunday was our first trip to Central Park Zoo. There is something incredible about a zoo placed in the middle of a sprawling metropolis. We loved it so much, we're planning a summer trip to another NYC zoo: Bronx Zoo.

Are you planning a trip to NYC during the summer? If so, pop in to Central Park Zoo. It's a nice 2-3 hour distraction from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Before you go, check out my list of the 5 things you must see when visiting Central Park Zoo.


1. Sea Lions
Located in the center of the zoo, the sea lions are a real treat. Upon arriving, we checked out this exhibit first. The four sea lions were happily swimming and perched on the rocks to sun themselves. We walked around the zoo, and after we were finished seeing all the other animals and exhibits, we circled back to see the sea lions again.

This time they were very active. Putting on a show for the spectators, but there was no trainer to be found. They were jumping, splashing, diving, and even interacting with the audience. As we stood there, we were unaware that it was almost their feeding time. Obviously as their feeding time approaches, they become much more rambunctious than they are otherwise. Their antics are not to be missed!


2. The Red Panda
If you like pandas, you'll love red pandas. They are smaller, cuter, fluffier versions of their big cousins, the panda. They have long, puffy tails similar to those of a raccoon and the sweetest little faces. We, unfortunately, didn't get a head on look at it's face, as it was sitting in the tree like this the entire time.

{Photo credit: Central Park Zoo}
3. Snow Leopard
The elusive snow leopard proved to be just that on the day of our visit. We caught a momentary glimpse of it as it was shifting positions in the sun. But the pictures of it on the zoo literature and Web site are incredible. I would have spent my entire day there waiting to see it, but I had some impatient little friends with me.


4. Penguins
The Antarctic penguins are seriously fun to watch. We happened upon the exhibit just as 4 penguins were huddled together with one of them at the helm. It looked like a conductor leading an orchestra of three. I loved seeing them waddle around. Penguins are among some of the most social birds on Earth, and it was interesting to step back and observe them as they "socialized" with each other. Rarely did we see a penguin standing alone.

5. Your Surroundings
I was in awe of the fact that we were in a zoo and everywhere we looked, we were surrounded by skyscrapers. In the middle of a zoo! Tilt your head back and take a look up when you visit Central Park Zoo. You'll be amazed.

For more information and to plan your trip, visit Central Park Zoo online and on Facebook.
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Cajun El Paso Grill Salad

May is National Salad Month, and when the temperatures start to rise, I want nothing more than to munch on a great salad.

In addition to the Buffalo Caesar Salad, the Cajun El Paso Grill salad is another one of my favorites. I love the crisp spicy shrimp with the creamy avocado.


CAJUN EL PASO GRILL SALAD

Ingredients (Serves 1)

- Romaine
- Iceberg
- 6 pieces of Cajun Grilled Shrimp (use a paprika based spice and a little bit of oil to grill your shrimp)
- 1/4 of an Avocado
- 3 oz Grape or Cherry Tomatoes
- 1 oz Black Beans
- 1 oz Corn
- 1 tsp Cilantro
- 1 oz Onion Crunch (or Crunchy Onions)
- 1.5 oz Pepper Jack Cheese
- Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing

Preparation

Mix all ingredients except dressing in a bowl. Add the amount of desired dressing. Toss to combine.

Recipe appears courtesy of JustSalad.



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Menu Plan Monday :: 5.19.2014

After spending the weekend in NYC with my girls and my niece, I'm feeling refreshed and ready for a full week of cooking. The coming holiday weekend is sure to be filled with barbeques and lots of grilling!

This week's weather is looking great! Perfect for light dinners and salads.


Monday - Grilled chicken Caesar salads.

Tuesday - Creamy asparagus, herb and peas pasta.

Wednesday - Chicken, rice, and Parmesan skillet

Thursday - Lemony orzo soup with baby spinach and peas

Friday - Dinner out or take out.

Saturday - Grilled pizza appetizer. Grilled chicken and steaks with baked potatoes and grilled asparagus.

Sunday - Grilled burgers (beef, turkey, veggie) with orzo with roasted (or grilled) veggies.

We'll also be enjoying s'mores and grilled peaches with vanilla ice cream over the weekend, too!

What's on your plate this week? Make it easy on yourself! Visit I'm An Organizing Junkie's Meal Plan Monday to see what everyone else is eating.

To view my Meal Plan Monday posts, click here.


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Objects of My Obsession

It's been a fairly quiet week around here. Unpredictable, rainy weather has keep me huddled up inside most of the week. But the weekend promises to bring better weather. The girls and I are headed to NYC tomorrow for an overnight visit with my niece, who lives in the city.

Other than our annual Christmas trips to Radio City, my girls have never really spent any time in Manhattan. They are beyond excited to explore the city and spend time with their cousin.

I'll have lots of photos to share next week from our getaway.

In the meantime, enjoy what I am obsessing over this week, and have a fabulous weekend. xx

{The Marimekko capsule collection at Banana Republic this summer, available 5/22}



{With the farmer's market season just around the corner, I'm in need of a new bag. I love this one}


{Perfect avocados that make perfect guacamole}


{Inexpensive makeup that's just as good (if not better) than some luxury brands}


{A champagne bucket makes a perfect vase for hydrangeas}

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Best Online Reads

Since I haven't found a great book to hold my attention for longer than 5 minutes, I have taken to the internet to do my reading. I jump into bed at night with my Nook and I scour my email and my Facebook feed for the best of the day's stories.

And now I'm compiling them into a weekly post for you! I hope you find something here that's educational, entertaining, or useful.

Here are some of the best online reads of the week.

1. To selfie or not to selfie from Clementine Daily.

2. Something surprising happens when a cat finds baby ducks from LifeBuzz.

3. 8 tips to help you live to be 100 from Mind Body Green.

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Today is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day!

I've never met a chocolate chip cookie that I didn't like. Whether it's soft or crunchy, with nuts or without, I am always game for some chocolate chip cookies.

Mrs. Fields is synonymous with chocolate chip cookies and is a family favorite. Every trip to the mall includes a stop at Mrs. Fields to pick up some bite-sized chocolate chip goodies or even a cookie cake if we are celebrating a special occasion!

This National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, Mrs. Fields is celebrating with a special promotion and new products. Mrs. Fields has partnered with Rovio Entertainment, the developers of the incredibly popular app Angry Birds. The two brands have partnered to offer cookie boxes - perfect for an after school treat or sweet picnic dessert - and party size cookie cakes.  The goal with this kids program is to bring families together to create special moments and lasting memories.

The Angry Birds Cookie Cake, perfect for a birthday, end-of-school, or anniversary celebration.

For a quick and fun after school snack or a grab and go treat for the park or a picnic, try the Mighty Milk & Cookies box.

To make National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day even sweeter, Mrs. Fields offering a 20% discount from May 15th through the 20th when you use the code NCCCD when you shop at MrsFields.com.

Make someone's day a little sweeter with some goodies from Mrs. Fields!

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May is American Stroke Month

Yesterday morning as I was watching Good Morning America while getting the girls ready for school, there was a story that immediately caught my attention.

GMA was doing a feature story on stroke, and it profiled a 24 year old stroke victim, Bri Winkler who is also a meteorologist from Los Angeles.

24? Yes. 24.

Strokes can happen to anyone at any age, even infants.

May is American Stroke Month and the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association want you to know the signs of a stroke and how to get help in the event of a stroke.

Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death and the leading preventable cause of adult disability in the US. Each year, about 795,000 Americans suffer a new or recurrent stroke, that equates to about one stroke every 40 seconds.

What is a stroke? The American Stroke Association offers this definition: "A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts (or ruptures). When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood (and oxygen) it needs, so it and brain cells die."

Although the symptoms vary from person to person and among age groups, there are some classic signs of a stroke that should not be ignored no matter your age or your overall picture of health. A simple way to remember the common signs is to memorize the acronym F.A.S.T. to help yourself identify the signs of a stroke.


F - Face Drooping - Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile as a test.

A - Arm Weakness - Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift  or fall downward?

S - Speech Difficulty - Is speech slurred? Are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence like: “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?

T - Time to call 9-1-1 - If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.

Time is of the essence during a stroke. The longer the victim goes without treatment, the more likely it is that there will be brain damage. When you recognize a stroke and immediately call 9-1-1, the person has a greater chance of getting to an appropriate medical facility quickly in order to be assessed for treatment options, like a clot-busting drug and other medical devices.

Know the warning signs of a stroke, and you'll be armed with information that may one day save a life.

For more information, visit these resources:

Download the F.A.S.T. app here.

The American Stroke Association

Watch this video and this video on the warning signs of stroke.
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May 2014 Birchbox Deconstructed #birchbox

Each month I wait with baited breath for my Birchbox to arrive. It's almost like celebrating a mini-birthday each month. I can't wait to open it, and just like gifts you receive, some Birchboxes are great and others are mediocre at best.

I'm not completely thrilled with this month's selection. This is the second month in a row that I wasn't bowled over by my Birchbox. Looks like it's time to update my profile so that I start getting products that I love.


Here's what I received in this month's Birchbox (in no particular order):

1. Beauty Protector Protect & Shampoo (Received a sample. Full size: $21.95)
This sulfate-free shampoo adds shine and volume.
My thoughts: I like the smell, and I noticed a small increase in volume but not shine.

2. Beauty Protector Protect & Conditioner (Received a sample. Full size: $21.95)
This nourishing conditioner with shea butter detangles and protects.
My thoughts: This is a great conditioner for detangling. I used a small amount on my daughter and combed it through her wet hair. Even after rinsing, she had no knots.

3. LAQA & Co. Sheer Lip Lube Pencil in Coral (Received a sample. Full size: $18.)
This high-gloss, semi-sheer lip color glides on smoothly and is perfect for spring.
My thoughts: I liked how smoothly this went on my lips. It felt like butter. However, the color was almost neon. Not at all for me.

4. Supergoop! Everyday SPF 30 with Cellular Response Technology (Received a sample. Full size: $19)
This lightweight cream provides water-resistant, SPF 30+ protection anywhere you need it.
My thoughts: I used it on my face and liked how light it was. It's great under makeup.

5. 32 Oral Care Effervescent Breath Crystals with IsoVoxy (Received 2 packets. Packs of 15 - 60 $10-$30)
These breath freshening crystals attack unpleasant odors for a clean feeling.
My thoughts: Poprocks for bad breath. These are much better tasting than those foul breath strips that you put on your tongue and are filled with alcohol. However, they aren't as powerful.

All items available for purchase at www.birchbox.com

To see all of my Birchbox posts, click here.

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Buffalo Caesar Salad

Salads are one of my go-to meals. They are quick and easy and usually require little preparation. When I am grilling chicken or steak, I like to throw a few extra pieces on the grill and save them for salads during the week.

In honor of National Salad Month, I'll be sharing a few favorite salad recipes all month long.

If you love Buffalo wings, but don't love the guilt, try a salad with grilled chicken instead.


BUFFALO CAESAR SALAD

Ingredients (serves 1)
- 5 oz. Romaine lettuce
- 3 oz. Grilled Chicken
- 1.5 oz. shaved Parmesan
- 2 oz. celery, chopped
- 3 oz. shredded Carrots
- 2 oz. multigrain croutons (optional)
- Light Buffalo Ranch salad dressing

Preparation
1. Combine all ingredients except dressing in a salad bowl.

2. Add desired amount of dressing.

Recipe appears courtesy of JustSalad.
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Menu Plan Monday :: 5.12.2014

I couldn't be happier about the warm weather that has come our way. I'm ready for meals prepared with fresh local ingredients after a winter spent stuffing myself with comfort food.


To get us started, here's what we'll be eating this week.

Monday - Arugula salad with steak and shaved parmesan.

Tuesday - Spaghetti with 100 sweet tomatoes

Wednesday - Taco salads

Thursday - Roman-style chicken (I'm making mine with breasts only)

Friday - Dinner out

Saturday -  The girls and I will be in NYC overnight for a girls day with my niece.

Sunday - Hubs is on dinner duty

What's on your plate this week? Make it easy on yourself! Visit I'm An Organizing Junkie's Meal Plan Monday to see what everyone else is eating.

To view my Meal Plan Monday posts, click here.
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Objects of My Obsession

It's been a crazy busy week. I'm looking forward to a relaxing weekend celebrating Mother's Day and Emma's 12th birthday. It's been a chilly, gloomy week, and I am hoping the weekend ushers in some sun and warmer temperatures. Wishing you a happy weekend! xx

Here are a few of the things that made me happy this week.

{The tastiest made-to-order donuts I have EVER had from Top That! Donuts. I couldn't resist sampling one before I snapped the picture!}


{Confetti filled balloons. Popping is the best part!}


{Delicate gold knot earrings. Purchased here}


{I'm pretty excited about espadrilles coming back around. Love the faux leather detail on this pair}


{Just downloaded this book, and I can't wait to dive into it this weekend. I loved both "Something Borrowed" and "Something Blue" by Giffin}

What's making you happy this week? I'd love to hear.
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