Introducing Purex Complete Crystals

Wednesday, December 29, 2010
I was recently invited to join the Purex Insiders team. As a Purex Insider, I get the inside scoop on new Purex products, get freebies, and be able to share tips and other information with you, my loyal readers, as well as with the Purex Brand Team.

How does this benefit me, aside from the free stuff? Well, for starters, I get to apply my knowledge of and experience with a household chore that I perform almost daily, doing the laundry. In the span of a week, I often turn over 20+ loads of laundry. Yeah, I think I have something to say about it.

My first mission as a Purex Insider is to test and review the newest product in Purex's line, Purex Complete Crystals. Purex Complete Crystals is a fabric softener like none other. It's not a liquid. It's not a powder. It's in crystal form. Yes, tiny crystals that work magic on your laundry.

What? You don't use fabric softener because it's a pain to add mid-cycle? I hear you. Well, guess what? Purex Complete Crystals are added at the same time you add your laundry detergent. There's no need to listen to the washing machine for the switching of the gears as a reminder that it's time to add the fabric softener. What a bonus!
Purex Complete Crystals are 92% natural and are not oil-based like most other fabric softeners. Rather than coating the fabrics with oil, Purex Complete Crystals penetrate the fabrics and infuse the fibers with freshness that lasts beyond removal from the washer.

Purex Complete Crystals do not impair the flame retardant qualities of children's sleepwear.

And here's the best part, Purex Complete Crystals have a wonderful fresh scent that leaves your laundry smelling as if it's been waving in the fresh air for hours without feeling stiff.

Beginning December 28, 2010 Purex Complete Crystals will be available exclusively at WalMart for around $5.50 per bottle. Other retailers will carry it beginning in January and February. Head to your nearest WalMart and grab a bottle! They are sure to be flying off the shelves once word gets around!!

Disclosure: I received a complimentary sample bottle of Purex Complete Crystals and a coupon for a complimentary full-size bottle to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed herein are solely mine. To view my full disclosure policy, click here.

A Go-to Dessert: Death By Chocolate Trifle

I first had this dessert about 15 years ago at a holiday party hosted by a friend. After that night, I dreamed of this dessert. It's just that good. If you have a serious sweet tooth (as I do) and love chocolate (as I do), you will not be able to resist this dessert. Now, years later, I make this dessert every Christmas. It's a huge hit!

So if you've volunteered to take dessert to a holiday gathering, take this one! It's perfect for a large group. You can serve it in any type of deep bowl, but I prefer a clear trifle bowl.


1 box of devil's food cake mix (and any ingredients needed to make the cake)
1 cup of coffee flavored liqueur (I like Kahlua, but any brand will do)
3 packages of chocolate mousse mix (and ingredients needed to make the mousse) (Can be found with the pudding and jello mixes)
2-12 oz. containers of Extra Creamy Cool Whip
1-12 oz. bag of mini semi-sweet chocolate morsels

To prepare:
1. Bake cake according to package directions in a 9x13 pan.
2. Immediately upon removing the cake from oven, poke holes into the cake using a kabob skewer or a large meat fork.
3. Pour the coffee liqueur over the hot cake. Cover and allow to marinate overnight.
4. Prepare chocolate mousse according to package directions and refrigerate overnight.

To assemble trifle:
This dessert is so pretty that it's best served in a glass trifle dish. But if you don't have one, you can always use a deep bowl.
1. Cut the cake into small squares.
2. Place one layer of cake on the bottom of the trifle dish, completely covering the bottom.
3. Place one layer of chocolate mousse on top of the cake pieces.
3. Top the mousse with a layer of cool whip.
4. Sprinkle the cool whip with a layer of mini morsels.
5. Repeat layers until the trifle dish is filled to the top.


For the holidays, you may also like these dessert recipes: peanut butter cookiessnickerdoodles, and orange brownies.

For more dessert ideas, visit my Pinterest board, What's For Dessert?

If you need a trifle bowl, here are a few of my favorites. Click on the photo to purchase.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010
If you were anywhere along the East coast this weekend, you were walloped with a massive snowstorm. From the Delaware coast to Boston, people are digging out 2 days later. We are no exception. Here along coastal New Jersey, we were slammed with 30 inches of snow. Add to it the winds, and there are snow drifts in some spots that are 7 feet high. It is unbelievable. I've never seen snow like this in my lifetime, and I hope never to again.

Only this morning are we seeing snow plows for the first time. The clean up efforts are daunting.
This is a frontal view of our house. If you look to the right, you can see the sheer depth of the snow. We have a picket fence in front of our house. It's completely smothered.

Snow blowing the two-car driveway was a monumental task. We stuck with one side...for now.

The girls couldn't have been happier. In temperatures that were hovering around 10 degrees Fahrenheit, they refused to come inside where it was warm and toasty. 

The hubs' Jeep Wrangler was completely enveloped in snow. We just don't get snow like this so early in the season and so close to the coast. No one was prepared for it. Finally, today, we are seeing some progress being made in plowing secondary roads.

It's about time because I'm going a little stir crazy. I've got to get outta the house!

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 25, 2010
From our home to yours...

May you enjoy all the holiday season has to offer. May you be surrounded by love and laughter.


Mama's Little Bakers

Thursday, December 23, 2010
It's just not the holidays without a little baking sprinkled in. In my pre-mom days I would spending days baking cookies. I would take time off of work for the sole purpose of baking. I'd attend several cookie exchanges. These days, my holiday baking has taken on a different life.

I fondly remember my mother spending the weeks leading up to Christmas in the kitchen baking. She would make hundreds of dozens of cookies. I loved helping her when I was willing. And now, I love including Emma and Harper when I bake cookies. This year their cookie of choice was gingerbread.

Then it was time for the fun (and mess)!

All of our hard work resulted in this:
Now the easy part...EATING!!

Do you enjoy holiday baking? Do you have cookies that you make as tradition or do you mix it up each year. I'd love to know!

"The Wrinkle Cure", Perricone MD Cold Plasma Review and Giveaway

Thursday, December 16, 2010
I celebrated a birthday a few days ago. With each birthday comes a few new gray hairs and a few more wrinkles. And since I haven't been blessed with porcelain skin, I am forced to go to great lengths to take extra special care of my skin.

In addition to battling the natural aging process, eight years ago I was diagnosed with rosacea, a treatable but not curable skin condition. I have tried countless products, both over the counter and prescription, to control the redness that is a result of rosacea, but nothing has been successful.

Just when I thought I was out of options, I was introduced to Perricone MD Cold Plasma. Cold Plasma is a topical face cream which combats fine lines and wrinkles, dryness, enlarged pores, redness, discoloration, uneven skin tone, impurities, and loss of firmness, radiance, and smoothness.
Oh, believe me, I was skeptical at first, too. How can one product address all of these issues? I would normally need to use 3 or 4 different products to address an array of skin problems such as these. But Cold Plasma promised to deliver.

And it did.

I eagerly began using Cold Plasma as directed, in the morning and evening, after cleansing and before moisturizing. Within 5 days, I noticed a difference in the texture of my skin. It was smoother. And as promised, my skin was brighter. After about 14 days of consistent use, the redness was diminished, and my skin tone was more even. As for wrinkles? Cold Plasma really is the wrinkle cure. The cream definitely diminished my crow's feet after 21 days of use.

One of the problems that I occasionally experience as a rosacea sufferer are flare-ups. These flare-ups usually result in acne-like symptoms such as raised, red pimples. I have found Cold Plasma to be the best treatment for adult acne. It clears up the acne better than acne cleansers and creams and astringent pads.

The only down-side to Cold Plasma is the high price tag. At $150 per 1 fluid ounce jar, it's not a cost-effective option for the masses. For me, it is actually a less expensive alternative to the co-pays I was spending on prescription topical creams, cleansers, and oral antibiotics. I was spending close to $100 per month in co-pays for my facial care prescriptions.

Would you love to try a jar of Cold Plasma? Lucky you! Pieces of a Mom is generously offering one lucky reader a 1 fluid ounce jar of Cold Plasma, a $150 retail value.

1. Required entry: Comment and share which Perricone product valued at $150 or less that you want or need. Please be sure to include your email address in the following format piecesofamom at gmail dot com

2. Optional entry: Follow Pieces of a Mom via Google Friend Connect. Leave a comment stating that your are a follower.

3. Optional entry: "Like" Pieces of a Mom on Facebook. Leave a comment indicating that you do and include your Facebook profile name.

4. Optional entry: Follow Pieces of a Mom on Twitter. Leave a comment stating that you do and include your Twitter handle.

All entries must be submitted by December 22, 2010 at 11:59 EDT. One lucky winner will be chosen via and once notified will have 48 hours to respond. Giveaway is open to residents of the United States and Canada.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary 1 fluid ounce jar of Perricone MD Cold Plasma for the purpose of facilitating this review. All opinions expressed herein are strictly mine. Other than a complimentary sample, I received no other compensation for this review. For more information on my Disclosure Policy, click here.

Let them play with their food!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010
One of my biggest challenges as a parent has always been getting my children to eat a healthy diet consistently. I've played games, disguised veggies, and even resorted to bribery. Go ahead and judge, but trust me, desperate times call for desperate measures.

So, when I found these plates, I knew we had to have them. What a fantastic way to get kids to eat what's good for them and have a little fun while doing so!
If getting your little ones to eat the healthy stuff is challenging, this plate may help. At the least, it will make mealtime fun! You can give them cooked pasta, peas, mashed potatoes, gravy, julienne carrots (raw), raw or cooked broccoli, corn. The possibilities are absolutely endless.

The Foodie Face Plate is available here.

Busy, busy, busy

Thursday, December 9, 2010
Allow me to vent for a second. I promise, after this post, you won't hear it least not until mid-January. ;)

'Tis the season for craziness. I know we are all in the same boat. No time for shopping, baking, entertaining, or enjoying all this holiday season has to offer. I feel as if the days are flying by.

Last fall I volunteered to be the chairperson of the Holiday Shop at Emma's elementary school. Last year, I shadowed the then-chairperson. This's all on me.  I joined the PTO when Emma was in Kindergarten and have been an active member for 4 years. I readily volunteer and am proud to do it for my child and for countless others. I feel it's my duty as a parent. Plus, it keeps me involved, and to me, that is important. That being said...

This week has been Cah. Ray. Zee. The merchandise shipment that I expected on Tuesday never arrived. I had to chase down my contact to get it to the school by yesterday afternoon. Thankfully, they are a local company and could send a driver with the shipment. This morning, I spent 3 hours performing inventory on the merchandise. Tonight, I am pricing it and making labels for the tables. Tomorrow afternoon, I will set up the shop in the school library. And Saturday is showtime!

When am I supposed to do everything else this weekend? The girls want to see "Tangled", bake cookies, make ornaments, take a train ride with Santa, go shopping. Sleep? Obviously, that's not happening. Next Saturday, I am going to Manhattan with family and girlfriends for a birthday celebration, so that day is blacked out. Although I'm home during the day, I can't do anything substantial without Emma. I can't exclude one of my children from any of these fun, holiday activities.

I keep "favoriting" tweets about baking and ornament making. Will I ever get to it? Only time will tell.

We are all busy moms. How do you accomplish everything on your to-do list during the holidays? Do you? I'm starting to feel overwhelmed and defeated. Anyone with me?

The Loves of my Life

Wednesday, December 8, 2010
I've been ever so patiently and anxiously waiting for Emma's and Harper's school pictures to arrive. It's one of the highlights of the school year. Although Emma has had hers since before Thanksgiving, Harper just received hers this week.

We love to lay the pictures out and compare them from one year to the next. It's amazing how much Emma has grown up since her first picture at age 3. Emma is maturing. She doesn't even look like she's 8. Excuse me! Has anyone seen my third grader? The girl in this picture looks like she's 12.

And Harper. My baby. Not much of a baby anymore. My once pudgy-cheeked little dumpling will be 5 in 2 months. She's already talking about Kindergarten, and I'm wishing she were still crawling around like a crab.

They may be growing up, but they'll always be my babies.

Bear with me

Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Over the weekend, I lost the use of my laptop. No, my hard drive wasn't destroyed by a virus. I didn't spill a venti iced white mocha all over it. Nope. The laptop is in perfect condition, except for one lousy little part of it. One of the most important parts of it, the port for the AC adapter broke. The small pin inside the port broke, and now I am unable to charge my laptop.

The most frustrating part? Knowing the hard drive is alive and well, and I can't get to any of the documents and pictures on it.

I'm using Emma's and Harper's laptop, but it is a basic, no frills laptop. It doesn't even have an internal CD-ROM drive. I can't install the printer drivers so that I can print or scan. Grrrr! I feel as if my hands are tied behind my back. The keyboard is much small than mine so I've had to adjust to typing on it. Buttons are in different locations, and I keep hitting the wrong ones. Typos abound.

Here's our dilemma. We've located the part that needs to be replaced, but labor could be costly. So much so that the Hubs is saying we should just buy a new laptop and transfer the data from the old hard drive.

It's funny how such a small piece of technology is such a powerful thing.

Meet our Elf on the Shelf

Monday, December 6, 2010
Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you are well aware of the Elf on the Shelf. I first learned of this little guy last year when one of Emma's classmates brought her Elf to school. Ever since, I've heard nothing but how we MUST get the Elf this year. And so, we did.

Emma and Harper were overly excited to welcome the Elf into our home. He was promptly given a name, which is done online at We carefully read the accompanying book so that we knew exactly what could be expected from the Elf. Apparently, he leaves every night to visit Santa at the North Pole and to report on the behavior, both good and bad, of E and H. Yes, he's always watching. And each day when he returns from the North Pole in the wee hours of the morning, he finds a new spot around the house. {Parents, be prepared to do a little leg work here. Some creativity is involved.} But be warned, if the Elf is handled too much by children, he may lose his magical powers.

The girls wake each morning in a frenzy to find the Elf. They scurry all over the house searching high and low for the Elf. It's really quite cute.

After Christmas, the Elf will leave to return to the North Pole until next holiday season when he will magically appear in our home around Thanksgiving. We've had the Elf for a week, and he's already become part of our Christmas traditions. I allowed the girls to take a few photos with the Elf, but only after asking the Elf if it would be OK. See, although the Elf cannot talk to children, he's always more than happy to chat with adults!

If you don't yet have an Elf, what are you waiting for? This is a great addition to your holiday traditions, and kids will immediately fall in love.

The Elf on the Shelf can be found here, here, and here.

Even squirrels like birthday cake

Sunday, December 5, 2010
Yesterday was my birthday. I love a celebration. No matter how old I am, I will always love celebrating my special day. Yesterday was no exception. But there was one mishap. One we never saw coming. Henry and the girls went to great lengths (as they always do) to ensure that my birthday was an unforgettable one...right down to the cake. A gourmet cake with chocolate ganache icing. Mmmmm...

The hubs placed the cake on the deck since we didn't have a whole lot of extra space in the refrigerator. About an hour later, Emma spotted a squirrel devouring my cake. My cake! I was to be the one devouring that cake. So, what did we do? We moved the cake from the table to the deck surface so that the squirrel could have his way with it. We probably should have sang "Happy Birthday" to the squirrel.



Thursday, December 2, 2010
All over America, families will celebrate the holidays without loved ones who are currently serving abroad in the military. Empty chairs at the tables will be constant reminders of sacrifices made by these brave men and women. Now you have a chance to give back to those who have given so much for our freedom.

Join in on the discussion on Twitter as participants discuss what we are thankful for this holiday season. Participants can also donate $1 to Operation Give Thanks to help them achieve their One Million for $1 Million goal. By participating in this Twitter party and making a donation, you will be making a difference in the lives American heroes who have made a difference in yours. It’s an easy way to express your gratitude and thanks at this special time of year. Plus, there are over $3,000 in prizes to be given away to the participants, including an iPad!!!

Here are all of the party details:

What: Operation Give Thanks (#ogt) Twitter party

When: Thursday, December 2 from 9pm EST (8CT, 7 MT, & 6 PT)

Where: Online or on the custom Tweetgrid!

Topic: What are you thankful for?

Who: Follow hostesses @AboutOne, @OperationShower, @DoubleDutyDivas, @CoolBabyKid, and @BridgetteLA

Prizes: Over $3,000 in prizes including an Apple iPad, an Amazon Kindle and more Visit our site before the party to answer the scavenger hunt questions!

To view the complete list of prizes and /or make a donation, click here.
Tweet you there!