Food & Drink

Food & Drink
Food & Drink

SHOP MY FAVES

SHOP MY FAVES
SHOP MY FAVES

STYLE

STYLE
STYLE

Best Online Reads


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

1. How to wrap a gift to absolute perfection via House & Beautiful.

2. Why you can't forget your first love via Bustle.

3. Twenty-one ways to turn your leftover Halloween candy into dessert via Better Homes and Gardens.
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The Importance Of Good Lighting In Your Home

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Do you know how important light is in your life? It is a critical element of our everyday lives. Think about it; light tells us what time it is; it tells us when it’s time to go to bed and helps to wake us up in the morning. In the activities we do throughout the day, we might need light to assist us in the workplace, or a dimmed lamp can set the mood for a romantic dinner. Light has such a significant impact on our health and wellbeing that you must get it right in your home.

Natural Light
Daylight is essential as it maintains your daily cycle of activity and sleep - your circadian rhythm which allows you to perform at your best. Sunlight is how your body makes vitamin D, which is essential for your immune system and healthy bones. Vitamin D helps to control the hormones that control many of your bodily functions, and even your genes respond to daylight, which allows you to fight disease.

Ideally, all homes would be full of natural light, as this is the best lighting for everyone and everything. However, in many homes, this isn’t possible, so it’s essential to enhance the light that you do have in your home. You can do this by making sure all of your windows are clean. It sounds simple, but it's easy to let your windows go untouched for months even years. You get used to the dirt, dust, and grime building up gradually, and you won't even notice how diluted the natural light has become. It's a good idea to make a point to clean the inside of the windows at least once every two months. If you live in an apartment building, then ask to have your windows cleaned regularly throughout the year. Also, make sure you open your curtains or blinds every morning to let the natural light in and hang mirrors on walls opposite of windows to help maximize and disperse the light you get throughout the room.

According to a report from 2006, there is a link between sunlight, circadian rhythms, and your mood, and people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) experience depression during the autumn and winter months because their serotonin levels drop due to lower amounts of sunlight. Having less exposure to sunlight can also mess with your melatonin levels and circadian rhythm, and this can cause you to become sleep-deprived and grumpy. The windows in your home are your first connection to the outside world, and natural light will help you feel energized and ready to take on the day.

When looking to buy a home, choose one with large windows and lots of natural light. If that is not an option, look for ways to compensate for small windows: place mirrors on walls opposite to windows so that they’d reflect daylight and create a brighter home.

Bright Light Can Make You Feel Warmer
Studies have shown that bright light can make people feel as though they are warmer, even when the temperature of the room hasn't changed. If you're feeling cold and want to get warmer, then try turning on all the lights in your home, but be aware that brighter lighting and feeling warmer, can also heighten whatever emotion you’re feeling. So, for example, if you're feeling happy, excited, sad, or anxious, then you will feel more of this in more lighting. In the studies, the bright light increased the intensity of the participants' emotional response as well as making them feel physically warmer. However, if you are hot and need to put your fan on, you can also get fans with lights now too, which can add to the ambiance as well as making you cool.

Task Lighting
Whether you need it to apply your makeup, chop vegetables, or to read in bed, task lighting allows you to see exactly what you’re doing, which helps you avoid eye strain and headaches. To get the ideal task lighting in your home, put a reading lamp on your bedside table and desk, and make sure that your bathroom mirror and kitchen counters have good light too.

Provide robust and functional lighting for study rooms and at desks where kids do their homework. Table lamps are usually suitable for such occasions, but overhead lights are necessary as well.

Although many people dislike living and working under harsh, fluorescent ceiling lights, bright lighting is essential if you need to be alert and focused and is necessary to stimulate your brain and increase your serotonin levels, as these can help you to concentrate. If you’re working from home or doing some personal admin, then make sure the lighting in your home is bright enough to energize you and help you to focus. Try getting some halogen, LED, or compact fluorescent bulbs in your home.

Ambient Lighting
For a friendly atmosphere and to reduce electricity consumption, use candles whenever you can: in the dining room during dinners, in the bedroom while getting ready for bed, in the living room while playing games, drinking wine, or watching movies.

You can make your home an expression of your personality, taste, and style by getting creative with your lighting. Apart from just choosing floor and desk lamps in colors and designs that complement your home, think about using additional sources of light such as candles, night lights, fairy lights, or DIY Mason jar lamps with tea lights, which will make your home feel cozy, mellow, and warm.

Dimmer Switches For Sleep
When it’s dark, your brain knows that it's time to sleep, and the pineal gland secretes melatonin, which promotes sleep and regulates your body’s cycle. Spending time in bright lighting in the evening can interfere with your sleep-wake cycle, which can affect your overall health. You can help your brain and body wind down in the evening by dimming the lights and using
energy-efficient light bulbs.
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Best Online Reads


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

1. Why you should never put a hot pan under the faucet via Huffington Post.

2. Why we retain information better when we write it down via NPR.

3. Seven things to do around your home when Daylight Saving Time ends this weekend via Real Simple.
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Weekend Dispatch


We are two days into this week and it already seems like it's been too long. We're wrapping up field hockey today with the last game of the season. It's been rewarding to see Harper learn, play, and embrace a new-to-her sport. And I'm still trying to learn the rules so I can understand what's going on!

Early tomorrow morning, Harper leaves for a field trip to Washington, D.C. with her 8th grade class. So, we've been busy packing and prepping her for the trip. She's super excited, and I'm super excited for her. I can't wait to get her back home on Friday so we can hear all about her adventures. But for now, this is what I'm up to this week:

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5 Fab Finds Under $50: Weekend Bags

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The holidays are coming, and for many of us, that means weekend trips to visit and spread holiday cheer to family and friends. When you're traveling for a few days, a suitcase isn't always a practical option.  They tend to be cumbersome and take up unnecessary space in the car (or train or plane). In this case, it's best to pack your belongings in a weekend bag. Weekend bags offer plenty of space for toiletries and several changes of clothes that you'll use and wear over the course of a few days. Plus, there are so many cute styles and prints that blow any suitcase away.

Here are a few of my favorite weekend bags under $50:
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Best Online Reads


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

1. How to take a mental break without leaving your desk via Domino.

2. The difference between white and orange cheddar cheese via Huffington Post.

3. Eleven first dates that don't involve coffee or alcohol via Bustle.
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Weekend Dispatch


It has become a sort of tradition for us to go out for breakfast on Sunday mornings. It's a great way to kick off the last day of and to bid farewell to the weekend. Plus, it ensures we are up and out the door on a day when we normally might be lazy and linger around the house until 2 PM. On Sunday, we tried Kitchen 35 in Manasquan. It was formerly the Atlantis Diner, which had closed its doors a while ago. I was pleasantly surprised. Inside, it looks like your typical diner, but the food is anything but. I had the goat toast (shown above), and it was delicious. It's a tasty combination of hummus, olive tapenade, roasted red peppers, and goat cheese on perfect toasted Italian bread. I'll definitely be returning soon!

Here's what else I am up to this week:
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Loving Lately: Multicolored Manis


Right now, the trendiest nail color is "all of them". The more colors you have on your nails, the more chic your mani will be. If you're anything like me and find it's an exhausting decision deciding which nail color to choose, you'll be happy to know that it's perfectly acceptable (and incredibly stylish) to  choose 5 colors.

The two manis that are incredibly popular at the moment are the rainbow mani and the gradient mani. The rainbow mani is each nail is painted a wildly different color. The gradient mani is each nail is painted a different shade within the same color family.

Here are a few of my favorite manis:
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Fab Finds Under $50: Products That Support Breast Cancer Research


October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and if you are looking for a way to give back and get something in return, there are a few companies who are paying it forward for this special cause. This week's Fab Finds includes a handful of products that support breast cancer research and give back to a good cause.
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Best Online Reads


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

1. How to fold a fitted sheet via Your Best Digs.

2. Thirty-five coconut oil beauty products you can make at home via FragranceX.

3. Five ways to boost your energy via Fitbit.
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The Books I Read In September


Last month, I made one final push to get through a few books from my summer reading list. I veered from the list slightly after having been given books by friends and family and finding a few bargain books at the store, but I really tried to stick as closely to the list as possible. By summer's end (September 21) I read a total of 13 books with six of those being from my summer reading list. I didn't tackle every book on my summer reading list, but I did exceed my reading goal of 12 books.

Here are the books I read in September:
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How To Draft-Proof Your Home To Keep It Warm This Winter

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Winter is coming! And if you haven't thought about draft-proofing your home before, it's time to start thinking about it. Most homes, especially older ones, have a lot of small gaps that let cold air in. If you don’t plug these gaps around your home, it will be a lot harder to keep the warm air in and the cold air out. Plus, you may have an issue with noise pollution as well. That’s why draft-proofing is one of the best ways to make your home more eco-friendly and create a better atmosphere at the same time. Here are some of the best ways to draft-proof your home.
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Splurge vs. Save: Trending Sweaters

The leaves are turning, and there's a chill in the air. You know what that means? It's sweater weather! Time to stock up for the winter. Whether you are on a limited budget or the sky's the limit, I'm sharing three trending sweaters with different price points to match your budget and wear with anything!

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Best Online Reads


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

1. Which airlines to fly because of the free snacks via Huffington Post.

2. Seven celebrities you never knew were roommates via Apartment Therapy.

3. The food stylist trick for keeping apples from browning via The Kitchn.
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Weekend Dispatch


Last weekend we participated in our sixth JDRF OneWalk to benefit type 1 diabetes. We began walking in October 2014 after Harper was diagnosed earlier that year. The walk supports fundraising efforts to find a cure for type 1 diabetes and was held in Avon-By-The-Sea, New Jersey. It attracts thousands of walkers who share a connection to type 1 diabetes. I love the walk for the camaraderie. This can be a lonely disease, and seeing the support at the walk and meeting other families who have type 1 diabetes is inspiring. This weekend I'll be writing thank you notes for all those who donated to our team's fundraising efforts.

Here's what else I'm up to this weekend:

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Top 6 Gifts to Give Your Mom on Her Birthday


With your mother’s birthday around the corner, you’re growing frantic about what to give her. You love her dearly and want to give her the best gift to remember this birthday and to have a great day. But what should you give her? How should you thank her for all the love, care and concern she showers you with each day? Try retracing the gifts you gave her in the past years and change things up a bit. We’ve compiled a list of the top 6 presents you can gift your mother this year on her birthday.
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5 Fab Finds Under $50: Camo Trend

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The first thing you might think of when you think of camo print is a pair of cargo pants. They are iconic. But this season, camo is popping up on all sorts of pieces from bags to shoes to tees, and more. Here are a few of my favorite latest camo finds.
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How To Return To Work After Having a Baby Without Exhausting Yourself

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Plenty of parents decide that the best thing for them and their family is to go back to work after taking some time off to care for their families. While this might not be the ideal situation for many people, there are people who both want or have no choice but to head back to work when their kids are young. The struggle that many new parents have is trying to juggle work and family. After all, doing either of those things on their own can often lead to you feeling pretty run down. Trying to do both can leave you completely exhausted.

Exhaustion might just seem like a problem because it means that you lack the energy to do the things that you really want to do, and that's definitely true, but the dangers that it presents to your health can be much more significant than that. Exhaustion can lower your immune system, making your more susceptible to illness, as well as causing weight gain, depression, and a whole host of other symptoms.
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Best Online Reads


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

1. Genius couples costumes for Halloween via Good Housekeeping.

2. A simple tweak to your morning routine to make you more productive via Domino.

3. The correct way to apply dry shampoo via Makeup.com
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10 Pumpkin Recipes To Make This Fall


Pumpkin season is here! Some of my may have waited all year for this, while others are turning their noses up at all things pumpkin. I fall somewhere between the two extremes. I love pumpkin-flavored desserts, but I'm not a big fan of artificially flavored pumpkin food items (pumpkin spice cereal, lattes, candy, etc). Big give me a home baked pumpkin pie, and I am all over it!

I've rounded up ten of my favorite pumpkin recipes to make this fall. Here they are, in no particular order.
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Playing Favorites: ShopRite's Wholesome Pantry Snacks


This post was written in partnership with ShopRite Stores.

I'm taking a detour from the regular format of Playing Favorites this month to spotlight a particular brand of food products that I am loving. Ever since I attended a luncheon where Robyn O'Brien was a speaker, I've been on a mission to eat cleaner, healthier. I was so inspired by O'Brien that I came home from the luncheon and swiftly took stock of my pantry and refrigerator contents. Although I didn't toss every bag item in there, I was forced to examine my family's eating preferences and decided to make positive changes.

Eight years ago, most organic foods were of the produce variety. Slowly over the years, more mainstream grocery items (cereals, snacks, soups, etc.) are now available in organic varieties. When ShopRite reached out to me offering a package of a sampling of its Wholesome Pantry line of organic snack products, I was only more than happy to give them a try.

I am certainly no stranger to the Wholesome Pantry line of products. ShopRite is my go-to grocery store, and I've been thrilled with the Wholesome Pantry products since ShopRite debuted them in 2016. To see some of my favorite post-workout Wholesome Pantry snacks, click here.
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Best Online Reads


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

1. Here's what school looked like the year you were born via Good Housekeeping.

2. How to actually clean an oven via House Beautiful.

3. Six tips for waking early, getting sh*t done, and being happy via Elephant Journal.
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How To Improve Your Outdoor Space


Just because summer is over doesn't mean you can't enjoy time outdoors in your yard, on your patio, or on your deck. No matter where you live, you can enjoy a beautiful outdoor space all year round with a few well-placed plants and outdoor items. There are plenty of hardy plants that will last through winter weather as well as lovely flowering blooms that bring bright joy to any yard during the warmer months.

Some of the best Tiki torches, heaters, and outdoor furniture will provide night time light, heat, and comfort during all the months of the year. Choosing the right light and furnishings can be confusing if you don't know the type of weather your area receives each month, or what type of materials are best for the outdoors.

Here are several ideas on how to spice up your yard into a place you will love spending time.
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Weekend Dispatch


Last weekend was like summer revisited. The weather was perfect...low 80s and it was gloriously sunny and mild. Rather than hit the gym, I took my exercise outside and took advantage of the weather. Days like those are few and far between. Just last week I was practically shivering at Harper's field hockey game. Not kidding. This week, I am catching up on everything I put aside over the weekend to enjoy the weather.

Here's what else I'm up to this week:
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Tips For Keeping Your Bedroom Clutter-Free

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It’s common for bedrooms to get cluttered with stuff. Many of us don’t see this as an issue – the bedroom may well be the one room that you don’t allow guests in, so who cares if it’s messy? I am guilty of using our bedroom as a dumping ground for all the things. Books, clothes, extra pieces of furniture. Somehow it all ends up in the bedroom.

Unfortunately, a cluttered bedroom could be causing you to lose sleep. Many people find it harder to fall asleep when surrounded by clutter because the brain subconsciously feels there’s work still to be done. When your bedroom is tidy, you’re more likely to feel at peace and therefore more easily able to get to sleep.

On top of this, decluttering is useful simply for keeping your bedroom organized. You can access the things you need more easily – which can mean less stress when getting ready in the morning.

To help keep your bedroom clutter-free, here are just several steps that you can take.
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The Books I Read in August


August was definitely a productive month for reading. I plowed through four books with ease and knocked a few more books off my summer reading list. It helped that each book I read this month was better than the last. There are four good ones here, so if you are looking for your next great read, you might find it here.

Here are the four books I read in August:

A Curve in the Road by Julianne MacLean    4.5/5 stars
There's a lot I loved about this book, and one of the things is that it picks up speed quickly. The book begins with a shocking car accident and everything unravels from there with plenty of surprises and twists throughout the book. The main character, Abbie, whose life seems perfect and idyllic soon learns that not all is as it seems.
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Best Online Reads


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

1. The most famous hotel in every state via House Beautiful.

2. How to fall asleep anywhere in five minutes via The Chalkboard.

3. Six things that happen to your body when you stop eating dairy via Prevention.
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4 Mistakes Homeowners Make When Selling Their Property


When you put your home on the market, your ultimate goal is to get the asking price for it and to sell it as fast as possible. However, there are some mistakes many homeowners make that could mean a difficult experience in selling their home. The result could be the home that sits on the market longer or sells for much less than expected. Some of the mistakes they might make include the following.

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5 Awesome Gift Ideas for New Parents Welcoming Their New Bundle of Joy


When you're looking for the perfect gifts for parents that are welcoming a newborn, there is a lot out there that. In fact, you'll find that the options are endless. Here are a few of my favorite ways to treat new parents and welcome a newborn. These gifts are sure to make both baby and parents smile.
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Weekend Dispatch


Last week was the first full week of school, and surprisingly, it was an uneventful week. Things ran smoothly each morning. And I'd be lying if I didn't admit that there's a little part of me that's disappointed that my girls don't need me as much in the mornings anymore. I used to do their hair, make their breakfasts, and re-check that they had everything they needed for their day. Now, they do it all on their own. It's bittersweet, but all in, I'm happy for their independence. I have Emma's back-to-school night on Thursday, and otherwise, we are trying to keep this weekend open.

Here's what else what I'll be up to this week:

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Best Online Reads


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

1. Twenty-five ice breaker questions via Know Your Team.

2. Pop songs with surprisingly dark meanings via Ranker.

3. Ten cities that should be on everyone's bucket list via Travelocity.
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Love Your Curves: 5 Fashion Tips for Making Your Body Shape Work in Your Favor


In most cultures, women with curvy body types are considered the pinnacle of femininity. It's only in recent decades that high fashion designers have focused on stick-figure models when they design their clothes. There's nothing wrong with either body type, but curvy women need to know how to dress for success just as much as skinny women do, but they tend to have less guidance from the fashion world.

Don't resort to just wearing the same outfit every day. Instead, learn how to love those curves and find clothes that will look great.

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Happy September ~ Letter From The Editor


Anyone else trying to figure out how it has come to be September already? Whew! Summer sure did fly by. Last Wednesday when I was driving Harper to school, I couldn't help but to think that it seemed as if the summer never happened. Just like that I was back to the morning middle school commute grind. Anyway, it's good to have the girls back into a routine and back into the social swing of things.

September, here at the Jersey shore, is considered the "locals summer". Now that the summer visitors have gone home, it's our chance to enjoy the beaches...uncrowded and unspoiled. The weather in September is some of the best all year long.
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Best Online Reads


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

1. Wedding gifts the recipients will actually use (and love) via Refinery29.

2. How to perfect flat iron waves via The Beauty Department.

3. The best (and worst) airports for cheap flights via Condé Nast Traveler.
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Splurge vs. Save: Bucket Bags

As we usher out summer, we can expect to see darker, sturdier bags for fall. Straw totes will be retired to the closet until next summer. We'll be seeing a lot more bucket bags emerging for fall. Bucket bags are a trend that rears its head every several years, and for fall 2019, it's back. Here are two versions of a very similar bag at very different price points.
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5 Fab Finds Under $50

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Fall is coming, and with it comes a shift from summer's color palette to a richer darker one. Think the colors of falling leaves. This robust burgundy is such a pretty color and is flattering on just about every skin tone, even those with a reddish undertone. This week's 5 Fab Finds includes five unique products that feature this color in some way.
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Simple Ways To Celebrate Your First Christmas As A Parent

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Becoming a parent is the most amazing feeling in the world. It is a time in your life when you will change the way you think, find a new perspective, and finally, find your real place in the world. The first time you become a parent is the most daunting, exciting, and exhilarating time of your life. Having a baby is a wonder, and you will soon be wrapped up in all of those parent cliches. The first Christmas you spend with a baby is a special occasion. Here are some of the ways you can make the most of your baby's first Christmas.
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Best Online Reads


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

1. Ten proven ways to sleep better naturally via Better Relaxation.

2. A list of every pumpkin drink you can get at Starbucks this year via Bustle.

3. Nineteen things you need to do before the end of the year via The Thirty.
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Cocktails That Are Perfect For Labor Day Weekend


Will you be entertaining guests this weekend or heading over to a friend's house to bid farewell to summer? Either way, you'll want to serve or take the cocktail that will become the talk of the party. I've got a few recipes to share today that feature Sparkling Ice, the naturally-made, zero sugar, zero calorie sparkling water brand. Sparkling Ice products make it super simple to make tasty cocktails that your guests will love!
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Weekend Dispatch


We returned from a week in Rehoboth Beach on Saturday evening. After unloading the car, I decided to unpack everything. This is a different approach than I normally take. In the past, I'd set aside Sunday morning to do all the unpacking. But this year, I wanted to go into my Sunday with everything unpacked, laundered, and put away. It was such a nice feeling to know that Sunday was completely wide open to decompress from vacation and prepare to re-enter reality come Monday morning. I'm definitely planning on using this approach when we go to Captiva in November.

Now that the unpacking is finished, here's how I'll be spending my week and weekend ahead:
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What I've Bought Recently

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Summer is winding now, and the summer sales are on! It's the perfect time to share a few of the things I've bought recently since many of the items are currently marked down...considerably. But hurry! These items are going FAST!
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The Books I Read In July


Thanks to an extended July 4th weekend and great weather, I was able to blow through three books this month and get a sizable chunk of my first book for August out of the way. In case you need a refresher, here's my summer reading list. I am trying to stick to it as closely as possible, but sometimes I get books from friends and I need to read that one as soon as possible so that I can pass it along to the next friend in our book group. Two of the books I read last month are on my summer reading list, and the other one was a book I picked up on sale that once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down.

Here are the three books I read in July:
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Best Online Reads


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

1. The salary you need to live alone in every major U.S. city via Apartment Therapy.

2. Life lessons we can learn from our pets via Darling,.

3. How to manage your weight as you age via Chalkboard.
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How I Stay Healthy & Fit While On Vacation


This week I am enjoying a week long vacation in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware with my sisters and their families. While this vacation means a break from work and all the other domestic obligations of home, it doesn't mean a break from my normal exercise routine. Exercise is just as important to me when on vacation as it is when I am not since my eating habits are often more haphazard and relaxed when I am away. For me, vacation is no reason to check my healthy habits at the door. In fact, it's even more of a reason to keep them intact and make them a priority.

Here are the ways I stay healthy and fit while on vacation:
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How To Carve Out A Creative Space At Home

Photo via Paige Cody on Unsplash

If you consider yourself to be something of a creative, you want your home to reflect that trait. One of the best ways to do so is by finding a space in your home to be able to use as a creative area. This could be as simple as a desk in the corner by a window, or it might be an entire room, depending on your needs.

Whatever it turns out to be, having this creative space at home can be one of the most enthralling interior design solutions possible. Here are a few things to consider when carving out the perfect creative space in your own home.
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What We're Reading

Greetings from Rehoboth Beach, my home until Saturday. We are here with my sisters and their families for a week of rest, relaxation, recharging, and family bonding. This is our 13th consecutive August doing this trip, and each year is better than the last. There is so much I look forward to on this trip from the food to the beach to fun, family times, but one of my favorites is just relaxing with a GREAT beach read. I spend a lot of time laboring over choosing a book (or two) for this trip. Part of what makes this trip memorable is the books that I read during our time here.

Here are the books we'll be reading this week:
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5 Fab Finds Under $50: Travel Edition

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Tomorrow we push off for a week in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Since we drive to Rehoboth each year, I always have a tendency to overpack. I load up the car with anything I think I might possibly use (but never do 🤦🏼‍♀️). This year I am employing a different packing strategy and packing only what we absolutely need.

In today's Fab Finds I wanted to share a few of the inexpensive packing/travel essentials that helped me achieve my packing goal.
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Best Online Reads


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

1. Five pieces of career advice you've never heard before via Marie Claire.

2. Things no person over 40 should have in their house via Yahoo!

3. The tiniest town in every state via Elle Decor.
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Augmenting Your Looks: 4 Most Popular Types of Plastic Surgery


Most of us want to look our best at all times and often turn to plastic surgery to achieve that goal. This is true for men and women alike, as more men are now opting to undergo procedures to change their appearance for the better. Yesterday I wrote about the reasons cosmetic surgery could have a positive impact on your life. Today, we are taking a look at commonly requested procedures and what each involves.
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