Food & Drink

Food & Drink
Food & Drink

SHOP MY FAVES

SHOP MY FAVES
SHOP MY FAVES

STYLE

STYLE
STYLE

Summer To-Do List

Summer is finally here! Now that the kids are out of school, and we have settled into a routine, I thought it was time to put together our summer bucket list. Usually this list is a mile long, and we never accomplish half of what is on the list. Also, much of the list consists of something like "go for a walk in the park". But I've decided that this year, something like that should be a normal part of our summer...not a bucket list item.

This summer, I'm including things that we have wanted to do for quite a few summers but never got around to or something that we love to do each summer and make a point of taking time out of our busy schedules to do, and a few new things that we've never done before and haven't even given it much thought before now.


1. Enjoy a picnic dinner on the beach.

2. Visit the Statue of Liberty.

3.  Find the perfect bathing suit.

4. Do Saturday morning beach yoga with my daughters.

5. Have a New Jersey staycation.

6. Visit the Philadelphia Zoo.

7. Complete my summer reading list.

8. Finish the master bedroom de-clutter/makeover we've been working on.

9. Have a standing, twice-monthly breakfast date with my daughters.

10. Host a wine tasting party for my girlfriends.

What's on your summer must-do list?

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Menu Plan Monday :: 6.30.2014

I make every effort to try to change up the menu plan. I have a tendency to get stuck in a rut and make the same meals over and over again. Yesterday, I pulled out a few of my favorite magazine and found some good recipes for this week. Let's hope they taste as good as the pictures look.



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

Monday - We'll be at Jenkinson's Boardwalk most of the day, so I'm planning to throw something quick together when we get home. Maybe deluxe nachos.

Tuesday - Dinner out

Wednesday - Black bean, cheese, and spinach quesadillas

Thursday - Fresh pasta puttanesca with a side salad

Friday - Fourth of July

Saturday - Cheesesteak sliders with shoestring french fries

Sunday - Grilled chicken Caesar salad using this dressing

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.
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Objects of My Obsession

The first full week of summer vacation is coming to a close, and it was a glorious one. With time spent at the pool, several sleepovers, and a trip to the beach, I'm already exhausted. But I've got my babies back for the next two months, and I couldn't be happier. On that note, hope you have a happy weekend doing what you love. xx

Here's what's making me happy this week:

{A mid-week treat from my husband}


{Lazy weekends by the pool}


{Friday night snacks: homemade margaritas, guacamole, and chips}


{My morning tea would be perfect in one of these state mugs}

{Sam's early morning sun-bathing ritual}
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Tried and True: Red, White, and Blue #fashionfriday

Independence Day is a week away. Before you start thinking that your only fashion option is a patriotic t-shirt from Old Navy, take a look at a few ways you can stylishly show your American pride.

I'll be wearing this outfit to a friend's barbecue. It's comfortable and stylish, and it's patriotic without looking like the American flag.
Shorts: Banana Republic / Top: Banana Republic (old) / Shoes: Payless Shoe Source (last season), similar here / Bag: Kate Spade

Here are few more options for wearing red, white, and blue depending how you'll be spending your day.

For the pool or beach:

For a garden party:


For a casual backyard barbecue (similar to my look above):


I'm linking up with Fashion Friday.
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Best Online Reads



1. Eleven mistakes you are making at work every day via Huffington Post.

2. 16 spelling mistakes you need to stop making right now via The Muse.

3. Pictures of 25 celebrities when they were young via So Bad So Good.

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Vanilla Wafer and Berry Parfaits

During the summer months, I am always looking for light desserts that I can throw together in a matter of minutes. This one uses one of my all-time favorite cookies and fresh, local berries.


Vanilla Wafer and Berry Parfaits

Ingredients
Vanilla Wafers (about 10 per parfait)
Raspberries
Blueberries
Blackberries
Strawberries, hulled and sliced
Whipped cream (canned or homemade, or non-dairy whipped topping such as Cool Whip)
Mints sprigs as garnish (optional)

Preparation
1. In dessert dishes or small juice glasses, crumble a layer of vanilla wafers (about 3-5 cookies
depending on the circumference of the glass)

2. Layer 2-3 generous dollops of whipped cream on top of vanilla wafers.

3. Top with various berries.

4. Repeat layers until you reach the top of the glass, making sure to end with a layer of berries on top.

5. Garnish with a sprig of mint.
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Paint and Sip GNO

A few weeks ago, I was invited by Corine from Complicated Mama to attend a "Paint & Sip"
GNO. I was intrigued. Painting while sipping tasty drinks. Sign me up! I immediately checked my calendar for my availability on June 20th, and replied to Corine. I was in!

I didn't know the exact details of how the evening would go, but I knew that I had never been to anything like this before, and I hadn't seen Corine in forever. So, I was excited for something new and to see a good friend.

When I arrived, we filled our glasses, had a few bites to eat, and then quickly got down to business. The event was facilitated by Danielle Arno, the owner and creative director behind ArtWorx Events. Danielle gave us an overview of how the evening would flow and before we knew it, we had our pencils in our hands and were sketching.

After the sketching was finished, we began to paint. I have to say, it looked easier than it was. The most difficult part was getting the scale of all the elements in the photo correct. My tree trunks are a lot bigger than they should have been, and my benches are too small.


Danielle was very helpful though. If at any point we were struggling, she came over to help get us through our dilemma. Eventually, we finished our masterpieces and resisted any temptation to keep putting finishing touches on it. And believe me, it was tempting.

Corine and I proudly pose with our masterpieces


Now I know you are all dying to see the original photo. So, here it is.


And here is my final product as it hangs on the wall at home. Not bad, right?

At the end of the night, it wasn't about how much your picture looked like the original photo. It was about how much fun we had. And I loved seeing how differently the paintings turned out and how each of us interpreted it in different ways and our varying uses of color and texture.

Would I do it again? You bet!

For more information about ArtWorx, check out the Facebook page.
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School's Out For Summer {Random Ramblings}

Last Thursday was the last day of school. Summer break fills me with both excitement and dread. As a work-at-home parent, I have a tendency to become anxiety-ridden when I think about how I will juggle my work schedule with the kids summer fun and activities.

I've written before about my weakness and inability to "no" to my children. And during the summer, it's even more difficult as I know their free time is limited to just two months.

Last summer was my first summer working from home, and honestly, I felt like an "all over the place" mess. I had no real work schedule in place. I ended up winging it most of the time. And I never felt as though I had a firm grasp on my personal or professional lives.

This summer, I vowed that things would be different. I wanted to create a flexible schedule where I could please my clients, my children, and hey, just maybe myself too. Wouldn't that be grand?

My plan is to get up somewhat early and get right to work. If I am feeling really motivated, I'll hit the gym in the wee hours of the morning. After the gym, I'll spend a few hours working and getting posts and client obligations out of the way so that I can enjoy the afternoons and evenings with my girls and husband. I am most productive during the early morning and late evening hours, so I thought I'd reserve that time for working and for household chores such as laundry, cleaning, etc. And when necessary, I will do work in the evenings, but I'd like to avoid that if possible.

We have two whole weeks free until the kids start their various camps. Emma will attend a creative dramatics camp on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:30 to 4:30, so I will most likely switch my schedule around on those day to have my mornings free but work in the afternoon. Harper will be attending a tennis camp and will have lessons at our gym as well.

Otherwise, I've encouraged the girls not to become over-scheduled. The pool and the beach have a very strong calling during the summer months, and it's often hard to tear ourselves away to attend activities. Plus, they've been enjoying time with friends and sleepovers. I'm confident that the activities that they've chosen are just enough to satisfy them without making them feel tied down and that they are missing out on their summer vacation.

With that said, commence summer!
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Menu Plan Monday :: 6.23.2014

School is officially out for the summer. I am looking forward to trying new recipes and even taking advantage of the slow-cooker when I know we'll be out for most of the day at the beach or the pool or elsewhere.

If you have any recipes that are worth checking out, please leave a link in the comments section. I am always looking to add some new ones to the menu plan rotation.


Here's what's on the meal docket this week.

Monday - Caesar salad and garlic bread

Tuesday - Steak and potato kebabs on a bed of cilantro lime rice

Wednesday - Our wedding anniversary - TBD

Thursday - Grilled chicken with tangy avocado salad

Friday - Grilled pizza and a side salad

Saturday - Chianti cheeseburgers, roasted new potatoes, and grilled asparagus

Sunday - Ranch chicken sandwiches

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.

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Knowing When To Say "No" and Tips For the Best Way To Say It


For as long as I can remember, I've been a "YES" person. Part of my problem is that I don't want to let others down and part of it is that I honestly think I can take on more responsibilities. From carpooling to co-chairing an event, I am eagerly on it and ready to please.

While I do manage to get it all done, I have to wonder sometimes if I am doing my best while doing it. Am I giving it 110% effort? Or am I preoccupied with the 57 other things I've committed to do?

Sometimes saying 'no' to candy is
much harder than it seems.
Another area where I really struggle is saying no to my children. As parents, we love our children with all our being and want to give them everything. However, we know that's not practical nor is it the right thing to do. But how do we let them down easily and help them understand why they can't have another stuffed animal or a piece of candy?

I've realized that it's necessary to say "no". More importantly, it's OK to say "no". But the big question is what is the best way to say no so that we don't feel guilty or we don't feel as if we are letting someone down?

I turned to the experts at P&Geveryday™ . Under the 'Health & Wellbeing' tab on the P&Geveryday™ site,
I found an incredibly helpful article on tips for how and when to say "no" titled "Learn When and How To Say 'No'".

The article offers suggestions for saying 'no' to 3 of the most important and frequently encountered people in our lives: our children, our friends, and our colleagues. As I mentioned, my kids get me all the time. I get roped into buying them unnecessary things, committing to sleepovers and play dates way too frequently, and making trips to the pool or the park when I know I should be doing something else. I just don't have the heart to say "no".

One of the biggest takeaways I have from this article is that every time you fail to say "no" you are setting a precedent for the future. If you are saying "yes" to sleepovers every weekend, your children will come to expect a sleepover every weekend. My failure to say "no" will only lead to disappointment for my children further down the road.

I often struggle with limiting computer time for my daughters.
My other weakness is colleagues. I say "yes" to every task someone asks me to do. You need a spreadsheet made, I'll do it. You need 100 copies of your presentation made. Yep. I'll do it. You need me to come in early and stay late tomorrow. I'll be there. It's not easy to turn down your boss. Will she remember it when my performance review comes around? Will she turn me down for a big promotion? 

Thankfully, P&Geveryday™ has given me suggestions for handling these situations in the most professional manner. I no longer fear saying 'no". I now have the courage to tackle this difficult task with confidence whether it's with my children, my friends, or my colleagues.

To find more helpful and friendly advice, be sure to visit P&Geveryday™ on the web. You can also find P&Geveryday on Facebook and on Twitter.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
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Objects of My Obsession

The weekend is finally here! Better yet, tomorrow is the first day of summer. We've got a jam packed weekend. I'll be heading to a "Sip & Paint" GNO tonight which consists of some wine and painting. I'm excited for that. Tomorrow night, we are heading over to some friends' house we haven't seen in a while for dinner. And Sunday is earmarked for a day relaxing by the pool.

Hope you all have a relaxing and fun weekend. xx

Enjoy these fun things that I am crushing on this week.

{A new pair of fun, casual sneakers from H&M}



{I can't resist anything in miniature form, and this mini bottle of Patron is no exception}


{I've never been a big fan of rosé wine until I found this one, and now I am hooked}


{Fresh cherries, perfect for snacking}



{Never lose your glass of wine at a party again...or forget someone's name with these fun tags}



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Break Up With Your Makeup and Win a Trip to LA to See the Emmys!

Disclosure: I’m participating in the Break Up with Your Makeup Blogger Contest Sponsored by Galderma Laboratories, L.P. 

I was diagnosed with rosacea 11 years ago, just one year after having my first child. Since that time, I have tried several prescription and over the counter medications, but nothing has seemed to help ease the redness.

From oral medications to topical ones, I've tried everything. I've spent countless dollars on makeup, mainly concealers, that I use to mask the redness. But by the end of the day, the makeup wears off and I am left with red cheeks and a rosy nose.

Rosacea often affects my self confidence and makes me painfully aware of the redness. I see other women my age with porcelain skin, and I am, undoubtedly, envious.

I was excited to recently learn that Mirvaso, the only FDA-approved treatment for the persistent redness of rosacea, is hosting a sweepstakes to raise awareness of the treatment, encouraging people to Break Up with Your Makeup.  Mirvaso works fast, providing same-day results that last up to 12 hours before the redness returns, leaving users red-carpet ready!

I am looking forward to working with my dermatologist to test out Mirvaso on my own rosacea. I've tried to head off triggers. I've even tried a gluten-free diet to see if that helped ease my redness. But so far, I've had no luck with any proposed remedies.

If you have rosacea or know someone who does, you can get more information about Mirvaso, and you can enter to win a trip to the Emmys in Los Angeles. The Emmys!!! Oh, how I'd love a trip to LA to see the Emmy Awards!!


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Glamour Shots: A Family-Friendly Portrait Studio

When you think of Glamour Shots, you are most likely to think of sexy boudoir poses and lots of make up.

But did you know that Glamour Shots is a family-friendly portrait studio that specializes in photos for the entire family? From Baptism pictures to Communion pictures to senior portraits, Glamour Shots can make your special occasion one to remember with picture perfect photos that capture the moment.

Last week I spent a morning touring a local Glamour Shots studio in Freehold, New Jersey. I was treated to hair styling and a makeup application by one of the talented Glamour Shots stylists. I was able to choose my look. Since it was the morning, I chose a natural look, but if it were in the afternoon and I had somewhere to go that evening, I would surely have gotten glammed up. These ladies know what they are doing and definitely made me look and feel great.


After hair and makeup, we were treated to a studio tour and received instruction regarding the services that Glamour Shots offers and the types of packages that are available for purchase.

Glamour Shots offers an array of portrait selections and filters including traditional color, black and white, sepia, and pearlized portraits, collages, calendars, and holiday cards are options as well.. Photo re-touching is available with each session for an additional charge. After each session is completed, the photos are reviewed with a staff member and any re-touching is completed at that time.

Whether you want to be a model for a day, need headshots for professional purposes, or want to capture a special milestone, Glamour Shots will help you achieve your professional photography goals. You bring the clothes, and let Glamour Shots do the rest!

With locations in shopping malls throughout the US, Glamour Shots is conveniently located and offers online booking for your convenience.

To find a Glamour Shots in the New York/New Jersey area, click here.

For more information about Glamour Shots, Freehold and to stay in the loop of store events and promotions, like Glamour Shots on Facebook and on Twitter.

Glamour Shots is currently hosting a contest for aspiring young models. All details are below.


Disclosure: I received a $300 gift card to Glamour Shots as part of my attendance at this event. I was not compensated for writing this post. All opinions are my own.
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Best Online Reads


My top picks for this week!

1. 27 things you won't regret doing when you're older via Buzzfeed.

2. Finally, two celebs send a message to the paparazzi to bug off via Lucky Magazine.

3. How to un-shrink clothes in 5 minutes via Clementine Daily.

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Treat Yourself or Someone Else to Fresh Flowers

You know how much I love fresh flowers. I especially love to keep a vase on the kitchen counter, one on my desk, and one on my nightstand. I just love how easily fresh flowers can brighten up a room.

The most convenient place for me to buy flowers is at the grocery store, but most of those bouquets spoil after a day or so, rendering them more or less useless. I've ordered from several mail order sites, and the quality is good but not great. I want beautiful flowers that last. I want flowers that I can enjoy for days rather than toss after the second day.

After some research online, I discovered TheBouqs.com and was immediately impressed by the products and services The Bouqs™

Here's what you can expect from The Bouqs™:
  • Flowers are cut after you order them rather than being plucked from a refrigerator in a warehouse somewhere.
  • Flowers arrive 2-4 days after they were cut versus 10-14 days from other online floral retailers.
  • Flowers are grown on eco-friendly sustainable farms located at the equator.
  • One flat price that includes no upsell items such as candy, balloons, or stuffed animals. Just gorgeous flowers.
  • A simple 3-step ordering process.
  • FREE shipping on ALL orders.
  • A concierge service for those who want a bit more out of their experience.
After browsing the beautiful selection of flowers, I finally settled on the perfect bouquet for myself: An Elegant Twist, a collection of mini white and purple calla lilies. Since I don't often find calla lilies in my grocery store, I thought they would be the perfect treat for myself.

Yesterday my flowers arrived, and I couldn't be happier with them! Every single flower in the bouquet is perfection.

The colors are vibrant and the stems are healthy. Seriously. This bouquet couldn't have been more perfect. (These pictures are unedited).

Because this bouquet is so beautiful, I decided to place it next to my computer. I want to be able to see it as I work. I am much more productive when I surround myself with pretty things.


Whether you want fresh flowers for yourself or you are ordering them for a special someone or a special occasion, theBouqs.com is worth a visit. With a varied selection including roses, stargazer lilies, calla lilies, ranunculus (one of my all-time favorite flowers), and Gerber daisies, you can't go wrong with theBouqs.com.

I've already lined up the next bouquet that I'm planning to order. I LOVE these ranunculus. How gorg are they??!! They are lush and fluffy, and I love all the white.


Wouldn't you love a big bouquet of these on your table? It's as easy as visiting theBouqs.com! (Shown: Marshmellow bouq)

Or this one is another favorite of mine, another fluffy bouq of ranunculus. So pretty! (Shown: Lush Us bouq)

What are you waiting for? A birthday? An anniversary? How about just treating yourself? Order your Bouqs bouquet today!

To stay in touch, follow The Bouqs™ on Facebook.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary bouquet from The  Bouqs™. However, I only endorse products and brands that I absolutely love. All opinions, as always, are my own. Some links in this post are affiliate links.
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Nine Fabulous Etsy Finds

There are so many amazing items to be found on Etsy. The problem is you can get sucked into a never ending cycle of browsing. You look at the clock only to realize that hours have passed when you thought it had been only a few minutes.

I've compiled a list of my 9 favorite Etsy finds, from jewelry to clothing to home goods to art, here are a few of my favorites.


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June 2014 Birchbox Deconstructed #Birchbox

This month, Birchbox redeemed itself by sending 5 goodies that I am loving. Check out what I received (in no particular order).


1. Perlier Body Balm (Received a sample. Full size, $20)
This fast-acting, everyday lotion moisturizes without feeling greasy or sticky. Nice, light almond milk scent.
My thoughts: I can always use another lotion for my purse or car, and I loved that Perlier had a soothing scent and wasn't oily.

2. Coola Mineral Sunscreen (Received a sample. Full size, $36)
This combination sunscreen/BB cream is made with 70% organic ingredients and goes on smoothly for a non-greasy finish. Make sun protection easy and not so chore-like.
My thoughts: I wear sunscreen daily but usually have to follow it up with a BB cream. I liked Coola because it was both.

3. Folle de Joie Eau de Parfum (Received sample. Full size, $98)
This perfume has both the relaxed and playful vibe of California and the seductiveness and refinement of Paris.
My thoughts: This is a delightful scent, and I loved that the sample had a spray top. 

4. Suki Exfoliating Cleanser (Received sample. Full size, $33)
This organic lemongrass and chamomile-infused cleanser gently gets rid of dirt, oil, and makeup, while gently wiping away old layers of skin with nonabrasive sugar.
My thoughts:  I liked how clean and refreshed my face felt.

5. Coastal Scents Eye Shadow Palette (Received a sample. Full size, $34)
An exclusive collection of four alluring colors from the Revealed 2 eye shadow palette.
My thoughts: The colors were exactly the ones that I normally wear (shades of beige and brown. However, three out of four colors were shimmery, and I don't like a shimmery shadow.

For more information about Birchbox or to subscribe to a monthly Birchbox, click here.
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Menu Plan Monday :: 6.16.2014

I can't believe that half of June is over. It's going by so quickly. I hope time slows down a bit once school is over. There's nothing better than being a kid and having your entire summer vacation ahead of you.

I really wanted to take this week off from meal planning, but having a meal plan in place on a Monday makes the week run more smoothly. And since this is the last week of school, I'll take all the help I can get.



Here's what I've got planned for this week.

Monday - Tacos

Tuesday - Grilled chicken Caesar salads

Wednesday - Cherry tomato spaghetti

Thursday - Chicken stir-fry with rice

Friday - Corn and black bean stuffed peppers

Saturday - Grilled pizzas

Sunday - Hubs in in charge which means something on the grill!

What's on your plate this week? For more meal planning inspiration, be sure to visit I'm an Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

To view all of my menu planning post, click here.


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Objects of My Obsession

School is winding down. After today, there are 4 days remaining until summer vacation. This week there were classroom parties, cleaning out desks and cleaning off bulletin boards. Lots of papers and crafts came home, and lots of decisions made about what to keep and what to toss. Always stressful. Tomorrow we are heading to Philadelphia to meet up with my sister April who is a flight attendant and has a weekend layover in Philly. Sunday, of course, will be spent pampering the Hubs. Have a great weekend. xx

Here are some of the things making me happy this week.

{The "Princess" cupcake from Crumbs, which helped me get through a hump day slump}

{A new favorite piece of artwork: a painting of a poppy field by Harper, trimmed down and framed}

{I've always loved silver jewelry, but lately I am loving delicate gold jewelry like this initial necklace which was a gift from my friends at Aveeno}


{The "SHEILA" heel from Sole Socieity, which I purchased today for a mere $28. Check out the big 60% off sandal sale}

{CoverGirl Outlast has become my go-to nail polish. It's long lasting and comes in tons of great colors. And now they come in "Glosstinis", mini versions in fun summer colors. Color shown: Raving Hot}
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Best Online Reads


Lots of good stuff this week!

1. The secret to baking the best cookie ever via Ozy.

2. The key to keeping strawberries fresh via Good Housekeeping.

3. 25 under $20 drugstore products to fall madly in love with via Refinery 29.

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Sail to Sable Creates Custom Tunic To Benefit Childhood Cancer

It starts at a young age. Girls begin playing dress up. Donning fancy clothes and fun jewelry. They put outfits together and get creative with pairings and combinations. For most girls, this love of fashion extends well into adulthood. At one point or another, many girls dream of designing their own clothes that will be worn by A-list celebrities.

For one such little girl, this ultimate fashion dream came true. Scarlett James had the unique and exciting opportunity to co-design a tunic with New York City-based designer Jennifer Stocker, creator of the clothing line Sail to Sable.

When Jennifer Stocker heard that a friend's daughter was battling lymphoma, she wanted to do something to help and to bring awareness to lymphoma. That little girl turned out to be Scarlett. 

When Stocker met Scarlett she was immediately struck by the young girl's strength and her passion for fashion and design. Upon meeting Scarlett, Stocker knew that her clothing line was the perfect outlet for raising funds to help benefit pediatric cancer research and to aid Scarlett in her personal battle.

Stocker and Scarlett were quick to get busy designing a custom tunic called The Scarlett Tunic, which is available in both children's and adult sizes. The tunic combines Scarlett's favorite color, navy blue, with the color of lymphoma awareness, lime green. Their overall goal in designing the tunic was to create something young girls like Scarlett and Stocker's typical customers would be confident in and proud to wear.

Scarlett modeling the tunic dress that was created in her honor.

Net proceeds from the sale of The Scarlett Tunic will benefit the Scarlett Fund at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

For more details on the tunics or to order yours, visit Sail to Sable.

You can also find Sail to Sable on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest

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