Friday Fun

Friday, April 30, 2010
I saw this goody in the latest Frontgate catalog to grace the inside of my mailbox. Right now, I'm motivated to buy patio furniture and outdoorsy type things. When I saw this, it was love at first sight. I'm thinking it would make an excellent Father's Day gift for someone. {wink, wink}

Just when you think it couldn't get any better...

Wouldn't a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc look perfect on this table?

My new toy

Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Mother's Day has come early to Pieces of a the form of a treadmill. You tell me. Is it going to be a blessing, a curse, or another place to throw my clothes?

I have been whining about a treadmill for months. I'm almost certain that the fact that I now have one is because the Mr. just couldn't bear the whining, moaning, complaining and all out bitching anymore. I'm also almost certain that the above description of my behavior is an understatement.

Last summer after I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and high cholesterol, I went on an all-out exercise binge. I started running again after about 10 years. I walked everyday. Every. Single. Day. I lifted light weights. The weather was perfect for exercising. Except I had to do it early in the mornings before the Mr. left for work. I'm not a big fan of waking at 5:30 to exercise. But I did it. Otherwise, I wouldn't have been able to do it with 2 kids at home. Impossible. When the weather turned cold, my exercise did too.

I've been looking for a convenient way to exercise and a way to fit it into my schedule at any time of the day. A treadmill seemed like the perfect answer. When we went on vacation last November, I used the resort's gym everyday. I confined myself to the treadmill. I was hooked. I NEEDED one of these in my house.

Yes. I've been whining since November.

On Monday, my treadmill was delivered. I. I repeat. I assembled it. By myself. My sister April helped me carry it to it's final destination. Other than that, it was a one-woman job.

She's a beauty.

See that blue stool in the background? That served as the second person required for assembly!!

I'm loving the convenience of it. I can hop on it while the girls play, do homework, watch a movie. It's great! No more 5 am wake up calls!

31 cent night at Baskin-Robbins!

Monday, April 26, 2010
Join Baskin-Robbins® for 31 Cent Scoop Night and help honor America's firefighters. The Baskin-Robbins Community Foundation is donating $100,000 to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation™. Participating stores will reduce prices of ice cream scoops to 31 cents*. At some locations, you may also have an opportunity to make a donation to your local fire charities.

*2.5 oz scoops are 31 cents plus tax where applicable. Limit 3 scoops per person.

Wordless Wednesday: Ducks

Wednesday, April 21, 2010
We live just steps from a river. A tell-tale sign of spring: ducks waddling across our front lawn!

For more Wordless Wednesdays, click here and here.

Tuesday's Tasty Treat: Honey-Soy Broiled Salmon

Tuesday, April 20, 2010
I don't cook seafood very often. Although I love it, my husband does not. So, when I eat it, it's almost always when we go out. Last week, since the husband had several business dinners, I decided to try this recipe. If you like salmon, this is definitely one to try.

Honey-Soy Broiled Salmon
1 scallion, minced
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon minced or grated fresh ginger (I use a microplane to grate the ginger)
1 pound center-cut salmon fillet, cut into 4 portions
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Whisk scallion, soy sauce, vinegar, honey and ginger in a medium bowl until the honey is dissolved. Place salmon in a sealable plastic bag, add 3 tablespoons of the sauce and refrigerate; let marinate for 15 minutes. Reserve the remaining sauce.

Preheat broiler. Line a small baking pan with foil and coat with cooking spray. Transfer the salmon to the pan, skin-side down. (Discard the marinade.) Broil the salmon 4 to 6 inches from the heat source until cooked through, 6 to 10 minutes. Drizzle with the reserved sauce and garnish with sesame seeds.

How to skin a salmon fillet: Place salmon fillet on a clean cutting board, skin-side down. Starting at the tail end, slip the blade of a long knife between the fish flesh and the skin, holding down firmly with your other hand. Gently push the blade along at a 30° angle, separating the fillet from the skin without cutting through either.

To toast the sesame seeds: Cook in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes.

Salmon can be served with just about anything including potatoes, rice, and roasted or steamed veggies. I served it with cooked barley with steamed carrots and pea pods.

A healthful, on-the-go snack for kids

Some days it's a daunting feat getting myself out the door. Add two kids to the mix, and it's now seeming like an impossible task. Add preparing a few snacks for the road, and forget about it. A few weeks ago, I mistakenly made a doctor's appointment during Spring Break. What was I thinking? Well, that's just it, I wasn't. The appointment was a must. I was a few weeks overdue for my routine cholesterol and blood pressure checks. It was at 9:00 am. I had to take 2 kids with me. I had to pack distractions. There was no time to pack snacks.

After the appointment, we headed to Starbucks, where one of my girls picked up this handy little snack. She fell in love immediately, mostly with the packaging. I fell in love with what was inside. This snack is an excellent alternative to a Happy Meal. With fewer calories and fat than a Happy Meal, it's also less expensive.
Cute, right?

Only 270 calories. A 4-piece McNugget Happy Meal has about 450 calories. Yikes!

This snack contains 3 slices of organic pink lady apples, a slice of string cheese, a snack pack of raisins, and an individual bag of Annie's bunny grahams. It's got calcium, fiber, whole grains, and fruit. And all for $3.45.

Next time you're running short on time and aren't able to pull together a snack for the little ones, pop into a Starbucks for a fun and healthy treat!

Easter: Weekend in review

Thursday, April 15, 2010
I know. I'm a little late to the party with this one. I am finally getting my Easter pictures up here. The weather was gorgeous...just as I remember it to be when I was a child. It seems the past 10 Easter Sundays have been freezing cold. My sister Brenda was in town for the weekend. We celebrated her birthday. The girls had a sleepover with her and my niece, Colette. The Easter Bunny left baskets in the bedrooms and eggs in the yard. Perfect!

Egg dying. A great mess but great fun too!

On Easter Eve we celebrated my sister's birthday.

The egg hunt...
Opening the Easter baskets...


I'm a guest!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010
I'm honored to be guest posting today at Housewife Bliss. I've built quite a rapport with Coryanne over the months, and I absolutely adore her. Her blog is a wonderful collection of history, tips and tricks. Please stop by her blog and show her some bloggy love.

SITS Spring Fling!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Today is the SITS Spring Fling! It's a day full of prizes and topped off with a grand prize! Prizes are awarded hourly and randomly to those who comment on the prize post. To be eligible to win the grand prize, you must comment on the Grand Prize post. Get over there now, and comment!!

Remember, the secret is in the sauce! It's all about the comments, ladies!!


Mom bloggers in the news

Sunday, April 11, 2010
There are 35+ million women who either write, read or comment on blogs. As that number continues to grow, negativity in the mom blogger community grows as well. NBC's Today show recently featured two prominent women in the blogging community and their thoughts on the dark side of mom blogs.

My personal philosophy on commenting is that if you can't respond with a respectful comment, do not comment at all. Sure, there will always be issues and opinions with which we disagree, but is it necessary to voice those oppositions? I don't think so, but obviously, others disagree. I welcome all comments even those that may not be in agreement with those voiced in my posts. But I will remove any comments that are rude or disrepectful.

There is an overwhelming amount of support and empathy in the mom blogging community that far outweighs the negativity. I appreciate other's opinions, ideas and approaches to parenting, and hope that any visitors to my blog would do the same for me.

The Ultimate Blog Party 2010!!

Friday, April 9, 2010
If you're stopping by from the Ultimate Blog Party, hosted by 5 Minutes for Mom, welcome! Pull up a chair, grab some coffee, tea or wine (depending on the time of day!) and settle in while we get to know each other!

Today officially kicks off the weeklong celebration of serious blog hopping with the hopes of finding some new blogs to read and new readers for your blog. It's a virtual party where you never leave home, party at your convenience, engage with blogs you absolutely love, and conversely, walk away from those you don't. How often can you do that at a traditional party??

Ultimate Blog Party 2010

Now, onto introductions.

I'm Sheila, a married, full-time mother to two girls ages 7 and 4. I started Pieces of a Mom in December 2008 as a means of keeping faraway friends and family in the loop of our daily lives. Over the 15 months that I've been blogging, Pieces of a Mom has evolved into something much more than I could have ever expected. While remaining true to my initial mission, Pieces of a Mom has also become a place for me to showcase my many passions. Those passions include photography, cooking, baking, reading, traveling, wine, fitness, nutrition and wellness for children, and of course, writing.

Pieces of a Mom explores my trial, tribulations, success and failures (yes, there are some of those) as a parent raising two young children in a world where time is tight and expectations are high. I strive to blend the fun with the educational. It's not uncommon to, one day, see a post about a fun day trip we took and the next day to see a post about healthful eating suggestions for preschoolers.

Blog hopping can make you hungry! Let me suggest a nice pasta dish. Try this Cherry Tomato Spaghetti that I whipped up a few weeks ago! And let's not forget a nice wine to sip with your pasta. May I recommend this one? You've got to try it. It's one of my faves! Both of these posts are just a sampling of some of the great stuff you'll find here.

Let's talk prizes 'cause what's a party without a few prizes?! Although I'd be quite happy with ANYTHING, if I had my pick of the litter, here's what I'd choose:

1. #39 $250 gift certificate to Hilton Garden Inn
2. #11 $100 gift certificate to
3. #40 3 day, 2 night stay at Holiday Inn Main Gate, Kissimmee, Florida

Other prizes I'd enjoy include #15, #32, #34, #49, #52, #71, #87, #95, #105, #USC8, #USC3.
I hope you'll stick around for a bit and check things out. If you like it here, become a follower! At the end of the UBP, I will randomly draw a follower to win a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble, one of my favorite stores! Who knows? You just may be the lucky winner!!

I look forward to getting to know you, too! Be sure to leave a comment so that I can visit your blog.

Have fun partying!!

New salon guilt

Wednesday, April 7, 2010
I've made the decision to switch hair salons. It didn't take much. At my former salon, haircuts were $80. Add highlights, and we are talking at least $200. That's an insane amount of money for someone to snip away and color some hair.

I've been a loyal customer at my salon for almost 7 years. Same stylist, who, by the way, is incredible. She's trained at the Bumble & Bumble Academy in NYC. Need I explain why my haircuts are so expensive? She's been the only person I've trusted to cut my hair all these years. I've loved every single haircut she's given me...except my last one. She cut it too short. I looked goofy. I've let it grow out for almost 18 months. Yes, you read that correctly. I haven't had a serious haircut in about 17 months. I've done some trimming and snipping here and there. But nothing that would compare to the work of a professional.

So, why do I feel an overwhelming sense of guilt? My last haircut was atrocious. Seriously. For months I walked around with hair that I hated. But this is someone who counts on my business. I contribute to her livelihood. I put food on her table, pay a bit of her mortgage. But times are tight all around. And if I can save some money on a desperately needed haircut, I'm going to do it. Plus, I have a 50% off coupon for this visit. Score!

Have you ever experienced guilt when switching service providers, whether it is a hair stylist, plumber, landscaper, etc.? How did you overcome the guilt? Please tell!

The Great American Bake Sale

I'm so excited to be part of the Great American Bake Sale which raises money for Share Our Strength (SOS). Share Our Strength is a national organization which fights to end childhood hunger in the U.S. After severe flooding in several New Jersey towns, coupled with the struggling economy, more children than ever will need this help.
I have volunteered to bake goodies for my local bake sale which will take place on Saturday, April 24 from 10:00 am - 3:00 pm at West Grove United Methodist Church in Neptune Township. The church is located at 102 Walnut Street. If you live in the Jersey Shore area, please stop by to support this worthy cause.

Help stop childhood hunger today. Volunteer to bake, set up or work at a sale. If you can't volunteer, find a bake sale in your area and support it by buying some yummies! Click here to find a sale in your state.


Redeeming Tropicana Juicy Rewards: Bowling

Tuesday, April 6, 2010
We don't do it very often, but when we go bowling, we always have a great time. Such was the case on Friday when we decided to redeem some of my Tropicana Juicy Rewards points for a few free games of bowling. To learn more about Juicy Rewards, see my post here.

It was my first time bowling! Can you believe it? That's right. I had never been bowling before. I can check that one off my bucket list! I've been to a bowling alley and watched others bowl, but I've never participated until Friday. I never knew the fun I was missing. My sister Brenda was visiting from Tampa for the weekend. She had the pleasure of joining us for my first bowling adventure.

My sister and Harper entering the names...

Perfecting my form! ;)
Lunch afterwards...What a fun day!

Spa Week

Monday, April 5, 2010
Who could use a spa day? Raise your hand. {My arm is stretched high into the air!} Well, the time has come to pamper yourself. Spa Week is next week, April 12 - 18. Spas and salons across the U.S. are offering discounted services including deluxe pedicures, manicures, haircuts, facials, and massages for a mere $50 per service. Appointments are required.
To learn more about spa week including participating salons in your neck of the woods, click here.

Friday Follow - A Celebration of Followers

Friday, April 2, 2010
What's more exciting than the thrill of a new follower? Well, finding a new blog to follow, of course! This week, I'm joining in on the Friday Follow fun hosted by One 2 Try, Hearts Make Families and Midday Escapades!

Friday Follow

If you're here from Friday Follow, welcome. Browse around and be sure to read my About info in the left sidebar. Of course, you'll learn much more about me by taking a peek around. Thanks for stopping by and I hope to see you regularly!!

Happy Friday Following!