Confessions of a Snackaholic

Saturday, January 29, 2011
Have you seen Toy Story 3? When Lotso-Huggin' Bear first introduces himself to the new toys, he says, "The first thing you need to know about me. I'm a hugger."

Well, the first thing you need to know about me. I'm a snacker. I prefer to snack all day rather than eat meals. Grazing is so satisfying. You can eat a variety of little snacks all day long without ever fully filling up.

I currently have 2 snack obsessions, and I just had to share them with you.

Kind Fruit & Nut Bars
I first tried Kind Bars at Starbucks on a whim. They looked good, and their nutritional value was a bonus. A few weeks ago, I found them at my supermarket on sale. So, I bought an Almond & Coconut bar to try. If I liked it, I'd return the following day to stock up. Like it? I LOVED it. The sweetness of the dried coconut with the crunchy almonds are a delicious combination. I've been hooked. Can't. Stop. Eating. Them.
The Almond & Coconut Bar has 210 calories, 4 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, no cholesterol or trans fat. It is the perfect pre- or post-workout snack.

Kind Bars retail for about $1.50/bar. I scored them at $1.25/bar. You can also purchase them by the case from the Kind Bars Web site.

Never fried. Never baked. The potatoes are popped using heat and pressure. I've never been a huge fan of potato chips, but these are not your average chip. So light and crunchy, a serving of Popchips is about 22 chips and has only 120 calories. They are available in a variety of flavors, but my fave is Original. I've finally found a chip where I can say that I can't stop at just one!
With no trans fat, no saturated fat, no cholesterol and no preservatives, they are the perfect healthy and natural snack! They cost about $2.99 a bag. I've been able to snag them for $2.00 a bag on some occasions. Go get yourself a bag and start snacking away! Popchips are widely available at most grocery stores and mass retailers nationwide.

Disclosure: I received no compensation from the aforementioned brands. 

Kourtney Kardashian 24/7

Tuesday, January 25, 2011
I just can't get enough of the Kardashians. They are definitely one of my guilty pleasures. The lifestyle, the clothes, the houses, the cars...seriously addicting to see how the other half lives.

Now that she's a mom, Kourtney Kardashian has become my favorite Kardashian. She's beautiful, has an enviable sense of style, and is genuine. So, when I googled her to see if the rumors of a second pregnancy were true, I discovered her Web site. I've been hooked on checking it daily ever since.

Kourtney details her trips to the park with Mason, photo shoots, celebrity events and day-to-day life. You can witness her being a celebrity as well as an every day mama. I love how she discloses what designers/brands she and Mason are wearing right down to socks. Fat chance I'll ever be able to afford anything she's wearing especially the Balenciaga bag, but still...

I love Kourtney's outfit in this picture. You can totally pull this off without going high-end.

I love how this jacket totally dresses up the jeans and top.

Opening night of Dash NYC. Love the gold with the black. So glam!

Follow along with Kourtney's every move at You'll be hooked! I promise.

WINNER - Orient Watch Giveaway

Monday, January 24, 2011
Congratulations to Sara who won her choice of an Orient Watch!


Mommies need timeouts, too

Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Mommy had a meltdown the other day, and, like most mommy meltdowns, it wasn't pretty. I wasn't proud of my behavior. When I saw the look of horror on my children's faces, I knew I handled the situation poorly. Shame on me for coming to that realization only after seeing their faces. Clearly, I should have known better.

If I discipline my children for poor behavior, shouldn't I do the same for myself? Why should I be entitled to behave differently than that which I expect of my children? Well, I shouldn't, and doing so sets a bad example. Yes, we all short circuit at one time or another. It's no excuse. If I am teaching my children to think before they react, I should practice what I preach as well.

In light of my shameful and horrid behavior, I have instituted "Mommy's Timeout" for myself. What's good for them is good for me. During this timeout, I will:
- Promptly remove myself from the situation
- Reflect on my behavior and how I could have handled it differently
- Write down what I was thinking and how I was feeling
- Write down how I think my children were feeling
- Write down how I will handle similar situations differently in the future
- Share the above with my children

My timeout will have no pre-set time frame. When I've had an adequate amount of time to reflect, I will return and share my thoughts with my girls. My hope is that if/when a meltdown occurs, I will quickly learn from my behavior and the resulting timeout so that timeouts will be infrequent. I also hope that my girls will have a better understanding of what triggered my meltdown so that we can work together to avoid the dreaded mommy meltdown.

After all, no one wants to see the mommy monster rear her ugly head.

If you have a tips for handling mommy meltdowns, please share. I'm all ears!

Stick to your workouts - Keep a log

Monday, January 17, 2011
At the beginning of the year when I decided to knock off the yo-yo exercising, I also decided to start keeping a "workout" log. I went to the dollar store and bought a calendar. For each day that I exercise, I record amount of time spent on the treadmill (or any equipment), distance, and calories burned and/or amount of time spent strength training.

On days when I don't workout, I mark the calendar with a big red "X". When I see 2 or 3 big red "X"s in a row, I know it's time to get my butt back in gear. The log keeps me on track and ensures that I will go no longer than a few days, at the most, without exercising. Although I've only just started recording and using the "log" system, I am certain that I will not let a month, much less a week, pass without a workout.

Here's my calendar:

I'm telling you. It really works. No one wants to see a calendar full of big, red "X"s.

Do you have tips and tricks for staying on track? Please share...every little bit helps!

Check, please! Tips for dining out with children

Sunday, January 16, 2011
We've all experienced the dreaded fear of taking children out to dinner. With a little planning and organization, your dining experience can be anything but horrific.

Pop on over to Meridian MomTourage to check out my latest feature.

Breakfast at Blue Peach Cafe

Friday, January 14, 2011
Emma was home from school today for a Teacher's Professional Day. We decided that after we dropped Harper off at preschool, we would head to Blue Peach Cafe for breakfast. My sister-in-law first introduced me to Blue Peach about 9 years ago. In between now and then, the cafe was closed for about 4 years due to a fire. I hadn't been back since the re-opening, and I was keeping my fingers crossed that the food and atmosphere were as good as I remembered them to be.

Let me add that I don't normally do restaurant reviews on Pieces of a Mom, but when I told several people where we had gone for breakfast, I was completely surprised by the number of people who had no idea that Blue Peach Cafe existed. Except for my girlfriend Colleen, who had the same idea I had, to take her children to breakfast there this morning!

The dining area is large, bright and filled with bistro tables of varying sizes to accommodate just about any size group. Emma and I were seated at a small table for two next to a window. It was intimate, and I liked that we weren't seated at a big booth with lots of space between us. Because of the enormous windows, the dining area is bright and cheery.
My dining companion

In addition to sodas and juices, including freshly squeezed orange juice, Blue Peach offers breakfast cocktails including 4 different types of Bloody Marys ($7) and several types of Champagne cocktails ($8.75). We opted for a soda and freshly squeezed orange juice. I've been out to breakfast on many occasions, and I've found that most restaurants serve your juice in the tiniest juice glass. I easily drink it before my meal arrives. At Blue Peach, the orange juice arrived in a large glass and was the perfect amount to hold me over for the entire meal.

We started our breakfast by sharing a Pineapple Coconut Muffin. It was delicious and loaded with chunks of pineapple and slices of shredded coconut. It was toasted to perfection.
Pineapple Coconut Muffin (toasted with butter)

My daughter ordered the Stuffed French Toast, and I chose the Yogurt Parfait. The Stuffed French Toast is 4 thick slices of bread, dipped in an egg batter and fried to a golden crisp. Strawberry cream cheese is stuffed between the slices, and it is topped with sliced strawberries, whipped cream, and drizzled with a raspberry sauce. Warm Maple syrup is served on the side.

Stuffed French Toast

The Yogurt Parfait was layers of vanilla yogurt and granola topped with fresh blueberries and strawberries drizzled with honey. It was a perfect portion for one.

Yogurt Parfait

The cost breakdown:
Muffin: $2.00
Yogurt Parfait: $6.50
Stuffed French Toast: $6.75
Orange Juice: $3.00
Sprite (free refills): $2.00
Total: $20.25

The service was impeccable. We were asked several times if we'd like refills on our drinks. Our food arrived promptly and was served by a cheerful and friendly waitress.The menu consisted of several kinds of pancakes and French toast as well as a selection of omelettes, some basic and some gourmet. There was no separate children's menu, but plain pancakes and classic French toast are available as well as chocolate chip pancakes.

This is the perfect place to head with some girlfriends, for a "date" breakfast, or with the entire family. I'll definitely be returning.

Blue Peach Cafe
2517 New Jersey Route 35
Manasquan, NJ 08736-1918
(732) 223-3444

This review is also posted on urbanspoon.

What I'm Crushing on This Week: A Variety

Thursday, January 13, 2011
One of the things I love about the weeks following Christmas are the opportunities to use gift cards that I received. Love, love the gift cards. But before I set out on this particular shopping excursion, I decided that the items I bought had to be a combination of fun, functional, and self-indulgent. Dying to know what I bought?

Take a peek:

1. Hair Butter by The Body Shop  (Tagged as: self-indulgent)
I've sworn by The Body Shop's Body Butter for years, so I thought, "Why not try the hair butter?" First, the tree hugger in me loves that it's environmentally friendly. Secondly, my hair just like my skin, becomes very dry in the winter. Something that moisturizes a bit more than conventional conditioner is needed. However, Hair Butter is not intended for daily use. I've been using it 3 times per week, and that frequency seems perfect for replenishing my hair with additional moisture. My hair is definitely softer and shinier.

A 1.76 oz. container retails for $8.

2. Fleur de sel hand soap and lotion by Williams-Sonoma. (Tagged as: functional)
Part of Williams-Sonoma's Essential Oils line, the Fleur de sel scent is light and refreshing. Think seaside fresh. I also bought the candle. It makes me yearn for summer.

The soap/lotion combination retails for $40. The candle costs about $20.

3. Basic silver hoop earrings from Claire's. (Tagged as: fun)
These have become my go-to earrings. I wear them with everything! I especially love how they immediately dress up a ponytail. They can make a basic black turtleneck and a ponytail look dressy.

Silver hoops range in cost from $4.50 to $10.00 depending on size.

4. Ruffle tank from Banana Republic. (Tagged as: functional, self-indulgent)

Banana Republic was recently offering 50% all sale merchandise. When I saw this top, I immediately fell in love. It was $42.99 plus an additional 50% off. I had to buy it. I've worn it with sweaters and a jacket. It would look super cute with a white top underneath and and black belt around the waist. I can't wait until the warmer weather sets in so that I can wear it alone.

5.  Set of Eiffel Tower measuring spoons from Sur La Table. (Tagged as: functional and fun)
Just knew I had to have these when I saw them. How adorable are they?

Set retails for $12.95.

6. Gerber Daisy Fabric-covered Journal at Barnes and Noble. (Tagged as: functional)
I write down EVERYTHING. Everything. So, it's important for me to have a central place to keep all of my notes. When  my 4 year old recently got a hold of my beloved Eiffel Tower notebook and wrote on every. single. page, it was time for a new one. Yes, this one is being kept out of harm's way as I don't need adorable stick people invading my lists and notes. Don't you just love the color combination? I adore it.

Journal retails for about $20.

So these are a few of my favorite new finds. What have you bought for yourself recently? Care to share? I'd love to know.

Disclosure: I received no compensation from any of the aforementioned brands. These are products that I love and wanted to share my thoughts with the readers of Pieces of a Mom.

{GIVEAWAY CLOSED} Orient Automatic Watch Giveaway

Monday, January 10, 2011

Ever since I became a mother, I have struggled with punctuality. I have continually underestimated the amount of time required to get myself and my children showered, dressed, and out the door. It's an ongoing challenge for me. One thing has helped. I constantly wear a watch. From the moment I wake up until the moment I get my pjs on, I must wear a watch. That little timepiece on my wrist keeps me in line and on time.

I know there are plenty of others out there who struggle with punctuality, too. Parent or not, many of us are among the time-challenged. Wouldn't you just love to have a stylish watch to keep you on time around the clock? You'll always be fashionably on time.

Pieces of a Mom is giving away an Orient Watch to one very lucky reader. Widely cherished in Asia, Europe, and South America, Orient Watch is Japan’s largest producer of automatic watches. Finally, Orient Watches are available in the United States.

With more than 50 years of history and an annual production of over 2 million timepieces, Orient could quite possibly be the largest watch company you never knew existed.

Because of recent media attention by People Magazine, The New York Times and the online watch collecting world, Orient Watch is a top search result in Google, ahead of the most popular automatic Swiss brands.

One lucky winner will have his/her choice of one watch among 5 from which to choose. Each watch is valued at $135 US Dollars.

There are 4 women's styles:

BNQ1X003H - Red face
BNQ1X003F - Green face

BNQ1X003J - Blue face
BNQ1P001M - Pink Face

And one men's style:

CEM5J006U - Khaki Face
In addition to the above watches, Orient has a line of Diver watches that rival its competitors' watches. Be sure to check out the 2ER00002D, MSRP $180.00, and the CEM75001M, MSRP $250.00.

1. Required entry: Leave a comment stating which watch and face color you would choose.  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 you 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 January 22, 2011 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.

Disclosure: No compensation was received for this post. The sponsor has provided Pieces of a Mom with one watch to giveaway to one reader. To view my full disclosure policy, click here.

Invest in memories

Saturday, January 8, 2011
I have a passion for fashion and all things shopping. I can spend money on clothes, makeup, shoes, accessories just as well as the next woman. But there's a frugal side to me as well. I seek out bargains and coupons every chance I get. And by coupons I don't mean grocery store coupons (although I never shop without them). I mean the big ticket coupons such as 20%, 30%, and 40% off. Some retailers have recently offered shoppers 40% off purchases for an entire day or between specified hours. Those are the times when you'll find me there.

One of the goals I have for this year is to invest in memories. I've spent thousands on clothes, and I've spent thousands on vacations. And guess what? We all remember the vacations, not the clothes. Ask anyone in my family what they remember about 2010, and they are likely to say our family vacations to Denver, Colorado and Captiva, Florida are what they remember most. My daughters don't remember the outfit they wore on the third Wednesday in September. They don't remember what they wore on the first day of school.

This is not to say that you won't find me out shopping on any given Saturday. It is, after all, one of my favorite pastimes. But I will be spending less time and less money on it. Therefore, leaving more time and money for memory-making. But making memories doesn't have to mean spending a ton of money. Tonight, the girls and I have a slumber party planned. We'll order pizza, eat popcorn, and watch all the Toy Story movies. The cost? About $15.

I also want to take more day trips, weekend trips, and long weekends. We'll be starting tomorrow when we head to the Monmouth Museum. Check back for reports on our first investments in memory making.

What will you invest in this year?

Incentive to get (and stay) fit

Wednesday, January 5, 2011
If you're anything like millions of people all over the world, you've committed to getting (and staying) fit in the new year. I'm right there with you. I've started (and stopped) several fitness regimes over the years. Always having some sort of lame excuse. Lack of time is the biggest culprit.

Well, this year I have vowed to be more organized and more clutter-free to allow time for the things that I truly want to do. Yes, by that I mean that I don't want to spend an hour a day cleaning the bedrooms of my daughters. I want to set aside 30 minutes a day to exercise. Doesn't seem overwhelming. But believe me, in a jam-packed day, finding 30 minutes to exercise can be a challenge. Check out the 100 Day Challenge on Facebook.

The hubs recently bought me a subscription to Fitness Magazine. I'm not reading anything into this, but well, one can only guess what his hopes are.

In the November/December 2010 issue, I read some sobering statistics about the benefits of exercise. Envision this: I, in my comfy pj's, sitting on my sofa devouring Christmas cookies at a rate unknown to man while reading Fitness Magazine. Hmmm. Something just wasn't right about that picture. It was as if the article came to life and slapped me in the face. Just the wake up call that I needed.

One look at these facts, and you'll be back at the gym in the morning.

After one day of exercise...
- Your heart is healthier. One session of moderate exercise can lower your blood pressure for 16 hours.
- You're adding lean muscle. One strength training session will help your muscles rebuild themselves and repair the tears that are a result of lifting weights.
- You're more alert. Exercise increases flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. Therefore, you are more focused than pre-exercise.

Within one week of consistent exercise...
- You cut your risk of diabetes. As you exercise, you increase your sensitivity to insulin, which in turn, lowers your blood sugar levels, reducing your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- You build stamina. You can go a little longer and exercise harder than before.
- You're slimming down. Cutting your calories by 500 through diet and exercise will enable you to drop a pound your first week.

Within a month of consistent exercise...
- You build strength. The same workout that exhausted you on Day 1 is super simple on Day 30.
- You tighten up the middle. After 4 weeks of exercise, you are blasting fat in the abdominal area and building muscle.
- You build brain power. The more physically challenging your workout, the stronger your mental muscles become.

Within a year of consistent exercise...
- You lower your heart rate. Regular workouts help to make your heart pump more efficiently. The less work your heart has to do, the better. There was a time when I was running daily. My resting heart rate was 56 bpm.
- You've reached new levels of endurance. Within a year of regular exercise, you can expect to increase endurance levels by about 50%.
- You increase your life expectancy. Fitness fanatics have better DNA which ultimately slows the aging process.
- You're melting fat round the clock. Your cells are now breaking down fat and using it as fuel on a 24 hour basis. To keep your metabolism at its highest, increase the intensity levels of your workouts on occasion.
- You look and feel great! Reward yourself!

Need I say more? I needed no more incentive than this to get off my butt and get moving. Won't you join me?

Meridian MomTourage Meet and Greet

Monday, January 3, 2011
Let me begin by saying that there's nothing like meeting people in real life (IRL). It makes a huge difference in how you interact. At the end of the summer, I was contacted and asked to be a contributing blogger for Meridian MomTourage, a local, online resource for moms. Meridian MomTourage is operated by Meridian Health, a leading not-for-profit health care organization in New Jersey, comprising of Jersey Shore University Medical Center and K. Hovnanian Children's Hospital in Neptune, Ocean Medical Center in Brick, Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin, Bayshore Community Hospital in Holmdel, and Meridian Partner Companies that include home health services, skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers, ambulatory care, ambulance services, and outpatient centers.

Although the events listed at Meridian MomTourage are localized, the content applies to any mom, anywhere in the world. It is an excellent health and lifestyle resource with invaluable information.

Last month, Meridian invited the MomTourage Blogger team to a meet and greet at The Downtown, in Red Bank, New Jersey. I was excited to meet my fellow bloggers as well as the team from Meridian Health. It's a strange thing to speak with, tweet, and email people for months without a face to face meeting. So, finally, an opportunity to put faces with names. It certainly didn't disappoint. In a world where I often feel like the only blogger and social media maven, it was a refreshing change to connect with others who share my love of all things social media.
 Fellow bloggers: Jenn Costanza, Brenda Milouchev, and me.
 More Meridian MomTourage bloggers (l. to r.) Angie Hoffman, Stacey Crew, Cristie Ritz-King, and Lori Sawyer.
Jenn Costanza and me.
Members of the Meridian MomTourage team.

It was a fun evening getting to know everyone. And The Downtown is fabulous, too. We enjoyed appetizers, but the word is that dinner is excellent. You can't go wrong in Red Bank.

I think I speak for all of the MomTourage bloggers when I say that we are looking forward to the next outing!

And don't forget to check out Meridian MomTourage!

*All photos appear courtesy of Meridian MomTourage.

Happy New Year - Make it count!

Saturday, January 1, 2011
The start of a new year brings so much promise. It's thrilling in some respects. Many people make resolutions. Others set goals. I do a little of both. Sometimes keeping the resolutions and meeting the goals becomes challenging. Often, as the year moves on, I evolve, and what was important to me on January 1 just isn't as important on June 1.

As I reflect on 2010 and look forward to 2011, I'm keeping the mantra "Make it count!" in my mind. So often we go through our days, weeks, and months doing the same things over and over. Never stepping out of the box. At the risk of sounding cliche, our time on this Earth is short. You've got to make every moment count.

Is there something you want to do? Then do it. Is there somewhere you want to go? Then get there. If there is an obstacle, get it out of your way. It's up to you. No one else can do it for you. Look to the new year as a time to make things happen for you.

There are very few second chances. Don't live with regret. Make this year count!