Food & Drink

Food & Drink
Food & Drink

SHOP MY FAVES

SHOP MY FAVES
SHOP MY FAVES

STYLE

STYLE
STYLE

10 Things I'm Loving at Amazon Right Now


Everyone knows that Amazon is the first place you go to find anything. You can find things you need, and you can find things you didn't know you needed. Amazon has so much good stuff in one place that it's easy to fall down the rabbit hole when browsing. And with Prime 2-day shipping, it's almost like instant gratification. I recently went down said rabbit hole and found all sorts of things I needed. If I didn't them, then they'd most definitely be good to have.
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Best Online Reads


1. Hostess gifts that are better than booze via Elle.

2. The biggest snack trend the year you were born via Women's Health.

3. Fifteen things every woman should do by 40 via Elephant Journal.
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How To Avoid Going House-Poor When Buying A Home

photo via: Pixabay

Owning a home is a quintessential part of the American Dream. Many people believe that once you own a home and property, you have it set. Unfortunately for many of these people, they are unprepared for what awaits them. They end up sinking so much money into their house that they have to sacrifice in other areas of their life. They essentially live lower-class lives, even though they may have a beautiful house to come home to. This is what is known as being “house-poor”. So how can homeowners prevent overspending on their homes and avoid this problem? Here’s how to avoid going house-poor when buying a home.
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Nurturing Your Talents: Can You Become a Musician if Your Hearing is Damaged?


It is often said that those with a natural ear for music have the tools to become a talented musician but does the same observation apply if you suffer from damaged hearing? You can certainly find affordable hearing solutions with essential features to help contend with many of the issues you might expect to encounter when you are a musician with a hearing problem and there are many more positive options these days than ever before to help you fulfill your passion for music.
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Weekend Dispatch


I can't believe Christmas is 8 days away. This holiday season flew by, and it didn't help that Thanksgiving was soooo late this year. That shortened time frame really puts the pressure on. I still have some shopping to do, and this weekend we have a surprise birthday party to attend in north Jersey. It's at a tapas and wine bar in Newark, so I'm excited for that. And then on Sunday, my nieces and their SOs are coming over for dinner since they won't be joining us on Christmas Day. And then Monday starts the mad dash to Christmas. I'm looking forward to a very chill week between Christmas and New Year's Day. My oldest was diagnosed with mononucleosis last week, so if anyone needs lots of rest around here, it's definitely her! Hope your week is off to a great start.

Here's what I've been up to:
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Faux Sous Vide Egg Bites


Brought to you by Pete & Gerry's Organic Eggs.

In less than two weeks, you may have a house full of guests for the holidays. The holidays are a time to delight in spending time with friends and family. Not only are you playing host, but you also want to spend time catching up with your guests not just catering to them. With people coming and going from your home and last minute holiday prep, things will get pretty hectic very fast.

This is the time of year where early preparation is your best friend, and one of the easiest ways to do that is with food. Prepared, grab-and-go foods are great to have on hand for guests to pick from when they need a quick meal, an afternoon snack, or something to grab as they are heading out the door for a holiday concert or light show.


For me, breakfast seems to be the meal that's the hardest for me to pull off at-the-moment, so I like to prepare, in advance, a low carb, high protein treat that makes it welcoming for everyone to sit down and enjoy a meal to kick off the day. Eggs are an easy way to fuel for a busy day ahead. I like to cook and bake with Pete and Gerry's Organic Eggs. Pete and Gerry's is dedicated to the humane treatment of animals, sustainability, and to small-farming practices.

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Best Online Reads


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

1. The five longest flights in the world via The Discoverer.

2. This is what guests notice most about your home via Huffington Post.

3. Every season of Grey's Anatomy described in one sentence via Bustle.
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Weekend Dispatch


I am still struggling to get back in a groove after my vacation, blog break, and Thanksgiving. Add to that the fact that I am still coughing, and you've got a recipe for being unproductive. I've been back to the doctor yet again. He put me on an inhaler and Singulair, but neither is making much of a noticeable difference. And to top it off, the chest congestion I had has now moved into my head. My sinuses hurt, but at least I have some measurable symptoms that will hopefully require antibiotics, which just may clear up this cold and cough once and for all. Other than that, I've been trying really hard to steer clear of the gym so I can rest my body and my lungs.

Here's what I've been up to as I am resting.

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Mad For Plaid


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I love plaid. Unfortunately, the season for wearing it is a short one. I don't typically begin wearing it until after Thanksgiving, and once New Year's Day hits, I stop wearing most of my plaids. There are a few exceptions, such as a few flannel shirts and button downs, but for the most part, I put my plaids away (sadly) for another year.

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How To Mixing Blogging With Jet-Setting

Traveling all around the world is one of those things you’ll never forget. Whether you’re a travel blogger, a social media influencer, or a business traveler who has been invited to meetings and gatherings for various industries, jet-setting is one of the best parts of the job. But since you’re away from the office, will you be unable to blog or work to a high standard?

In this day and age, there’s no way there should be any drop in blog post quality as long as you’re prepared for writing on the go. Keeping a tight schedule is perhaps the first hurdle. Landing in a foreign land thousands of miles away, you will be battling jet lag and acclimatization. Fear not, there are many automated scheduling options you have at your disposal. On top of this, you can still correspond with clients and customers. And these days, there’s no excuse to ever be without WiFi.

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Gift Guide: Under $50

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Sometimes it's hard to feel good about the gift you are gifting when you are on a budget. But here are 10 gifts under $50 that you can feel good about giving.
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4 Ways To Save On Kids Clothes


Any parent knows that dressing your children can get pretty expensive. Kids grow so fast, and that may mean that their clothing is often too small to wear after no time at all. And then comes the rough and tumble of youth, grazed knees, tree climbing, and falling in the mud. Clothes become scruffy and worn out very quickly.Soon you find that you are replacing clothes faster than you can buy them.

So, how do you continually find clothes for your kids without breaking the bank? Here are some top tips for clothing your children for less.
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Best Online Reads


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

1. Three smart, unexpected things you can do with a dishwasher via Apartment Therapy.

2. Bedtime beauty tricks for a smoother morning via PureWow.

3. How to avoid housework arguments via GQ.
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The Books I Read in October


One of my friends read 6 books last month. What? How does she do that? I wish there were more hours in the day to read. There are so many books to read and so little time. Speaking of so little time, I was able to read only two books this month. Both of them were quick reads that I thoroughly enjoyed. I highly recommend both of these books. They are definitely page-turners! I'm 3 books away from meeting my reading goal for the year, and I'm not sure I'll be able to do it with the holidays coming up, but I'm going to give myself a pep talk and go for it and maybe even exceed my goal by one book.
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In Defense of Taking a True Vacation (And Why The Blog Has Been Quiet)


Two weeks ago we embarked on our annual vacation to Captiva Island, Florida. We own a timeshare through Hilton Grand Vacations at South Seas Island Resort, and every 45th week of the year, we head to Captiva and stay in the same townhouse (we don't have flexibility in our timeshare the way many others do, but we like it that way). Being tied down to a particular week each year forces us to (and guarantees that we will) take a vacation. But is it a vacation if we are working while we are away?

This is a question I pondered extensively while I was away. One day while sitting at the pool, I saw two different people with their laptops propped up on their laps, typing away feverishly with a fruity cocktail at their side. My own husband opened his laptop at least 3 times per day to check and respond to emails. While I didn't take a true vacation this time around, I did learn the value of stepping away from work to recharge and refresh.

As an independent contractor, I don't get paid when I am not working. So for me to miss out on 10 days of work isn't feasible. Unfortunately, I have to fill some of my vacation time with billable hours to clients. It's just the nature of my job and the industry I work in. Fortunately, because I work in social media, when I am "off", I tend to do less social media in my personal life. It was on this vacation that I posted on Instagram less, had zero desire to share every detail of my vacation with my followers, and was reminded how important this quality time away with my family really is.

Vacations are just that...vacations. They are a vacation from work, from the domesticity of home life (cooking, cleaning, etc.), from the daily grind that keep us moving forward. Vacations are a time to slow down, to appreciate that our jobs give us the opportunity to take a vacation, and to re-charge so that when we return home, we have a renewed desire to get back to our daily lives.

When we returned, I had every intention of jumping right back in to the blog head first. But I still wasn't quite motivated, and the last thing I want to do is to bring you content that isn't coming from my heart and soul. In addition to all that, I've been dealing with a persistent cough that has lasted almost two months. I've been back and forth to my general practitioner who has been wonderfully patient with me as we try all sorts of medications and options. Some days I feel great, and others not so much. On those off days, I've tried to take it easy and rest in hopes of speeding up my recovery.

Finally, after two months of coughing and endless journaling of my symptoms, I think I've finally figured out that it could be exercise-induced asthma. Anyone else have it? My symptoms flare up just after exercising and take hours to work through my system. By the time I'm feeling better, it's time to work out again. Hopefully, he can prescribe an inhaler to see if it alleviates and eliminates my symptoms.

But for now, I am back and ready to dive right in. The busy holiday season is coming up, and I'm excited for lots of good holiday content and much more good stuff to come. Thanks for sticking around and for your support. So many of you emailed me asking if everything is okay since the blog was quiet, and I truly appreciate your concern. xx
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Weekend Dispatch


We are finally back home after spending 10 days in Florida. It was a restful vacation, and I was grateful to soak up some sun before settling in for a long winter. ☹️ I spent the weekend catching up and preparing for this week. On Saturday I finished a book that I started on Wednesday, caught up on a few weeks worth of episodes of the The Affair, and of course, laundry, laundry, and more laundry.

Here's what I am up to this week:

On the top of this week's list of priorities is to buy the cat advent calendar at Trader Joe's before they sell out. Anyone else? No? Just me? I was so excited when I heard that Trader Joe's was releasing an advent calendar specifically for cats this year. It comes complete with cat snacks and dried seaweed! The crazy cat lady in me is already doing flips!


When I made the switch to a plant-based diet several years ago, it was a documentary that influenced my decision. I had never been a big meat eater, but when I saw what took place deep in the depths of the meat industry, it was hard to have that on my conscience. I have since watched countless documentaries and still know that my decision was the right one for me. Over the weekend I started watching The Game Changers, a documentary about plan-based eating, diets, and finding sources of protein that are not animal-based. My biggest takeaway from this documentary was the alarming number of professional athletes who have made the switch to plant-based diets and perform better and faster. Plus, I liked that it wasn't preachy but had a focus on providing information and educating consumers.


At the end of the day when I am doing my nightly skincare/bedtime routine, I typically listen to music or read an ebook. But I've found that reading is very distracting (it's hard to wash your face and read a book on your phone at the same time), and listening to music after pretty much listening to it all day just doesn't seem relaxing at night. So, I've taken to winding down my day with my nightly self-care routine which now includes listen to the Today, Explained podcast. The podcast is dedicated to one episode each day which guides you through the most important stories of the day. Since I start each day by listen to The Daily on my drive to the gym, adding Today, Explained to the evening seemed like a good way to bookend my day.


It's finally soup weather, and I am here for it! I've been pinning soup recipes like crazy because they are my favorite recipes to make in the cold weather months, and they are super easy and most don't require a ton of ingredients. This Mediterranean white bean soup recipe is on the menu this week. It's only a few ingredients and is super easy to make and is both vegetarian and vegan-friendly.
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So, tell me. What do you have planned this weekend?
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How To Appeal To A Moody Teen


Parenting teenagers is no joke. If you ask any seasoned parent whether they’d like to look after a newborn baby for a day, or a teenager, most of them will probably say the newborn. Newborns are hard, but at least a newborn eats, sleeps and burps. They’re content with closeness and cuddles, with milk and a diaper change every few hours. Teenagers? They’re terrifying on their best days. Moodiness, rebellion, questionable friends, whining about boredom - spending time with a teenager can be painful.

The key to tackling teenagers isn’t a deep secret or a puzzle to be solved. Just like that newborn, they need love, understanding and patience. They also need some communication - which means we need to be proactive in how much you interact. Appealing to a moody teenager is no easier than reasoning with a toddler having a tantrum, but that doesn't mean it can't be done! Below, are a few of the ways I communicate effectively with my moody teenagers!

Talk
Your teenager may love to stay in their bedroom and do nothing, but that doesn't mean that they don’t want to have a conversation with you. Aim to have at least fifteen minutes for casual conversations with your teenager every day, and aim for a time they CAN talk, like at a meal or just before bedtime when there's less chaos.

Listen
As much as it’s about talking, you need to listen when your teenager is talking, and listen without judgement. Be open and ask them what they want to gain from the conversation. Do they need you to solve a problem? Do they need you to talk it out? Do they need to vent and want you to just listen for a moment? Either way, try to listen carefully to what they’re telling you. You’ll build a high level of trust with your teenager that you wouldn’t get any other way.

Spend Some Time Together
What does your teenager love to do the most? Spending time with your teenager is just one way you can encourage your bond, and Dear Evan Hansen tickets is a great way to expand their horizons and get them talking about something new. Not only that, you’ll get to spend a couple of hours together making new discoveries. Even if they grumble and say the theater isn’t their thing, they’re still going to have a great time - you just wait and see!

Enforce Boundaries
Teenagers are notorious for testing limits and trying to bend the rules. It’s always important to be open and honest with your teenagers, but that doesn't mean you need to allow them to get away with anything. Boundaries are important and you need to ensure that those boundaries are followed. Teenagers must learn which behavior is acceptable, and they do that even with the boundaries that they push against.
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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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