Come visit me at Jersey Bites!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I'm so elated to announce that I'll be writing for Jersey Bites as the Monmouth County editor. I've been reading Jersey Bites for years, and I've always been envious of the writers to have landed such a great writing gig. Now, I'm part of the team, and I'm anxious to make my mark!!

I'll be working on my first feature this weekend when I head to the Red Bank Farmers Market. Keep an eye out for the article.

In the meantime, if you live in the Garden State (and even if you don't), stop by Jersey Bites and check out all the goodness in the county where you reside.


Summer Staples - What You Need NOW!

Friday, May 27, 2011
I'm not going to lie. I've waited months for this day. After the brutal winter we had, it was hard not to anxiously anticipate the unofficial start of summer.

I am armed and ready with plenty of summer essentials. Are you?

First off, summer skin care is a must. I spend a lot of time at the beach, but not a lot of time in the sun. Sunblock and an umbrella are a girl's best friend in the summer.

My go-to sunblock is Neutrogena Spectrum+ Advanced Sunblock Lotion SPF 100+
It offers superb protection for only $13/bottle. Available in mass retailers and drug store nationwide.

After spending all that time smothered in sunblock and under an umbrella, I need something to give me some color. I love Jergens Natural Glow Express moisturizer and self-tanner. Within 3 days, you'll get a full shade of color. For $8/bottle, it's a lot safer and less expensive than a tanning salon.
And we can't discuss skincare without including a hat. I love this hat from Volcom. I don't currently own it, but for $31, it's a summer must-have. Not to self: must buy.

OK, let's talk shoes. Do you have all day?

A basic flip-flop is a summer staple. I bought these just moments ago. They are basic yet chic. They were a bit of a splurge at $45/pair, but a good, sturdy pair of flip flops is a must. Tory Burch Foundation flip flops are available at

The wedge. In case you haven't noticed, wedges are blazing hot! I love wedges! I'm only 5'2", so a wedge gives me height. Gotta love that!  I picked this pair up today at the half-yearly sale at Nordstrom. This is the BP Stella Sandal, and the pair costs $32.90. Serious love here.

OK, my final staple for summer is a pair of sunglasses. There are several schools of thought on sunglasses. I've asked around, and it seems as if there are two groups of sunglasses wearers and buyers. There are those who splurge on a fantastic pair of sunglasses, and there are those who take the cheap way out and buy a pair for next to nothing. I belong to that latter group. For some reason I have issues spending more than $20 for a pair of sunglasses. I've never had a fabulous pair of sunglasses. I have the absolute worst luck with sunglasses. And so, I've never invested a lot of money in them. Either I or the kids sit or step on them. I drop them and they become scratched. It's not worth it.

So, in light of my diatribe above, I'm not going to show any pics of my sunglasses. But I will say that I've bought aviator-type sunglasses at Wal-Mart for $5, and I absolutely love them. I've bought $15 Cover Girl sunglasses at my local grocery store, and I love them. What I've saved on sunglasses, I have spent on a case. I recently splurged on a Vera Bradley sunglasses case for $22. Yes, my case costs more than I've ever spent on a pair of sunglasses!!

I bought the large case in Lemon Parfait. I love it! So worth the splurge.
What are your must-haves for summer? Please share.

Wine of the Week: flipflop Pinot Grigio

Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Once again, it was the label of this wine that reeled me in. With fun, bright colors like this, I thought the wine would be just as fun and tasty. But at $7.99/bottle, I was a bit skeptical but ever so willing to give it a try.

I opened it on Saturday evening while we were enjoying a perfect spring evening on the deck. I'm not sure if it was the ideal weather conditions of the evening or the loveliness of the wine, but the combination of the two was heavenly.

flipflop wines are produced in California, and the primary goal of the vintner, David Georges, is to craft "expressive, well-balanced, wines that evoke just what the grapes inside intended." flipflop strives to produce a wine that does not require over-explaining and can be enjoyed by the masses.

The flipflop Pinot Grigio is light and refreshing with hints of citrus. With a zesty finish, this Pinot Grigio is best paired with light pasta dishes (carbonara, light cream sauces). I found it to be extremely satisfying with grilled chicken breasts and a mixed salad. As with any Pinot Grigio, it is best served chilled.

At about $8 per bottle, this wine is perfect for any budget and occasion.

As if producing a great wine isn't good enough, for every bottle of flipflop wines purchased Soles4Souls will donate one pair of shoes to someone in need.

To learn more about flipflop wines and to see the various varietals that flipflop produces, visit the Web site.

Disclosure: I was not compensated to write this post. All opinions expressed herein are strictly mine.

Foursquare Burnout

Monday, May 23, 2011
About a year ago, I began using Foursquare, a location-based social media app. Foursquare allows you to "check-in" to businesses to allow your friends to see where you are and vice versa. Secondly, you can earn "badges" for certain check-ins and mayorships for frequent check-ins.

When I first started using Foursquare, I was hooked on the high of unlocking badges. It was fun, and you never knew when you'd unlock your next badge. Then I discovered a few Web sites which disclosed information on exactly how to unlock badges. The thrill was still there, but much of the luster was gone. It's not fun knowing exactly when you'll unlock a badge and exactly how many check-ins it will take to do it. I loved the element of surprise. But now, so many badges are location-specific, making it impossible for the average user to unlock them.

In addition to unlocking badges, I enjoyed seeing where friends were popping up, both in my area and in other cities and states. I liked seeing where people were eating, where people were shopping, and where people were visiting. What started to annoy me were the play-by-play checkins. If you are a Foursquare user, I'm sure you know the type. They checkin at their house, their car, their street, the road they are driving on, the gas station, the convenience store, the grocery store, a friend's house. etc. It was all, well, too much for me to take.

So, I started backing off on my own checkins. No one needs to know everywhere I go, right? And, more importantly, who really cares? Plus, I realized that everytime I walked into a business, I must have looked ridiculous fumbling for my BlackBerry so that I could hurry up and checkin.

Frequent checkins mean mayorships. Being a mayor means...well, I don't quite know. It should mean that you get discounts or freebies, but you don't. So, I was left asking myself, why am I advertising that I am always at a business if I am getting nothing for it? So, I stopped checking in and therefore, stopped the free advertising.

As with any location-based app, there's the question of security. How safe it is to show my exact location at the exact time I am there? So, I started checking in to locations as I was leaving. But what is the point of doing that? Why checkin after I've been and gone?

So, what did I decide? Well, I'm not ready to give up Foursquare just yet. I do like to see where my friends are spending their time (and their money). But I don't need to checkin everywhere I go, and in fact, I actually enjoy not checking in everywhere. It's a time suckage. I will be checking in at social media events, when I go on vacation or when I am daytripping. My day to day checkins will be fewer, unless I am feeling compelled to checkin on any particular day.

I don't need to add Foursquare to an aleady long list of personal burnouts. Slow and steady.

Do you use Foursquare? If so, are you an addict? What do you like most about it? Least?


A Night of Style with All Things Chic and Shopafrolic

Thursday, May 19, 2011
One of the most important things I've learned as a member of the blogging community is that support is EVERYTHING. When I started blogging, I never imagined that there was an entire blogging world out there filled with talented and creative women.

On Friday night, I had the pleasure of supporting two such talented and creative women as they launched their Web site, All Things Chic. Jo-Lynne and Melissa are the brains and beauty behind All Things Chic, and they also happen to be fellow Philly Social Media Moms (PSMM). I was honored to attend their launch event and show my support of their new endeavor.
Some added bonuses? The event was held at Bloomingdale's in King of Prussia, PA {swoon} and was co-hosted by Shopafrolic co-founders and sisters extraordinaire, Liz Lange and Jane Wagman. HELLO?????

Photo credit: All Things Chic
The evening's hostesses: Liz, Jane, Melissa, and Jo-Lynne.

Everywhere I turned in Bloomingdale's, there were displays of white. White is hot! Pairing it with white, beige, tan, cream, and bone make the color even hotter.

There was mingling, shopping, yummy food and wine! All that while being surrounded by beautiful clothes. It was bliss.

Typical of any blogger event, there is plenty of posing...
Photo credit: All Things Chic
From l. to r. Jo-Lynne, Melissa, Zareen, Whitney, Me, Cristie, and Julie.

And laughing...
From l. to r. Karla, Jessica, Me, Joey, and Sarah.

It was great to talk fashion as opposed to SEO and blog platforms for an evening.

Best wishes to Jo-Lynne and Melissa on the launch of All Things Chic!


Monday, May 16, 2011
When I became a mother for the first time 9 years ago, I had no idea how gratifying it would be to see my child grow and progress. When Emma turned 9 last week, I reflected on the past 9 years and contemplated the next 9. Don't ask me where time has gone. I don't know. What I do know is that time moves quickly. Since I can't capture time and put it in a bottle, I capture it with my camera. Here's my stroll down memory lane.

I've watched my newborn...
celebrate her first Easter...

enjoy winter vacations in Florida...

and summer vacations in Maine...
I've watched her become a big sister...
and fall in love with her little sister...

and make new "friends"...

explore new talents...

and grow into a beautiful girl.

Happy Birthday to Emma, and Happy Mother's Day to me!

Paint the Town Pink GNO

Saturday, May 14, 2011
"Paint the Town Pink" is a community-wide effort presented by Riverview Medical Center to raise awareness of the importance of breast cancer prevention, detection, and treatment.

With 3 New Jersey towns participating, Red Bank, Monmouth Beach and Fairhaven, and over 14 events in seven towns, there are many ways to get involved and show support for a most worthy cause.

On Wednesday, May 4th, I had both the honor and the pleasure of attending the Paint the Town Pink Girls Night Out at The Downtown in Red Bank. The evening was celebrated with some "breast friends" and was complete with live entertainment provided by The Mike Dalton Band, pink cocktails (see cocktail menu below), a pink menu (including the most delicious pink cupcakes), and pink swag, of course.

Creatively tasty drink specials...

I delighted in sampling the "Pink-Tini".

I was only more than eager to catch up with my fellow Meridian Momtourage bloggers.
From l. to r., Me, Stacey Crew, Cristie Ritz King, and Brenda Milouchev

When I first moved to the Jersey shore 10 years ago, the Hubs and I always enjoyed a live performance by The Mike Dalton Band. So, you can imagine, it was a real treat for me to see them play at this event.

As you can see, the pretty in pink ladies love Mike!

Mark you calendars for this event next year! It's a fabulous opportunity to spend some time with the girl friends and to support a cause that is near and dear to most of our hearts.

For more information, visit Paint the Town Pink's Web site.

Disclosure: Meridian Healthcare sponsored my attendance at this event. I was not compensated to write this post. All opinions expressed herein are solely mine.

Tips from the Playground with Life Without Pink

Friday, May 13, 2011
As a mother of two girls, there is never a shortage of drama for this mama. As the Hubs often says, "Who need Hollywood when you've got the Hill girls?"!!

Today, one of my latest dilemmas is being highlighted over at Life Without Pink's weekly feature, Tips from the Playground.
I would love if you could pop over there and offer some motherly advice. That's what friends are for, right?


Happy Weekend!


What age is appropriate for a cell phone?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011
I've grappled with this issue for weeks. I've made lists of pros, of cons, of costs. And still, I am questioning my decision.

Tomorrow, Emma turns 9. For the past year, all she has wanted for her birthday is a cell phone. Why? I can't answer this. All that I know is that she has wanted a cell phone. To say that she has one? Yes, probably. To text and call friends? Probably not. Yes, cell phones have become a status symbol amongst the elementary school set.

The Hubs and I have exhausted the subject. We've consulted with friends, family, people we sit next to on the train, plane. You name it. We've asked them. We've labored over glasses of wine discussing until we are blue in the face.

And what have we learned? That 9 is too young for a cell phone. But we already knew that.

We do understand that every situation and circumstance is different. If I worked out of the home, she'd probably have a cell phone. However, I work from home. I am at the bus stop every morning to put her on the bus and every afternoon to get her off the bus. I take her to every after-school activity. When she's not with me and the Hubs, she's with other family and friends who have cell phones.

So, why, I ask, does she need a cell phone?

Call me a prude. Call me old-fashioned. But I just can't justify it.

At what age did you/would you buy your child a cell phone? Please share. This subject has piqued my curiosity.


Mother's Day

Sunday, May 8, 2011
I celebrated my first Mother's Day nine years ago in the hospital cradling my one-day old baby.  At the time, I thought that there was no way that any Mother's Day would ever compare to my very first one. But as the years passed, each Mother's Day was more memorable than the one before. This year was certainly no exception. My day was filled with the love and laughter of my children, and yes, some squabbling too. But I wouldn't have traded it for anything. ;-)

My babies and I...

Hope your Mother's Day was filled with love, laughter, hugs and kisses!


Garnier Nutritioniste Skincare

Saturday, May 7, 2011
One of the things I look forward to on a Sunday morning is perusing the advertising inserts in the Sunday paper. I especially love looking at the Target and Walgreens inserts.

Walgreens often offers skincare and makeup products at Buy One, Get One 50% off. This week all Garnier Nutritioniste skincare products were priced as above. I also had several $2.00 coupons for Garnier skincare products, making my purchases practically buy one,get one free!!! I've tried Garnier haircare products in the past but never the skincare. Now was my chance.

I bought the Moisture Rescue Lightweight UV-Lotion. For the warmer months, I prefer a lighter moisturizer but one that has an SPF of 15 or higher. And so far, I am loving this moisturizer. It smells great, and I can hardly feel it on my skin. My skin stays hydrated well into the evening hours. And any moisturizer with sunscreen is a friend of mine. If I can eliminate an extra step in my morning beauty routine, I'm all over it. I will definitely be sticking to this for my summer, daytime moisturizer.

For overnight, I decided to try Moisture Rescue Refreshing Gel-Cream. Again, I loved the scent, but this moisturizers is a bit too light for night-time use. I prefer a heavy moisturizer for the overnight hours. Once I applied it, I felt as if I didn't have enough on. My skin seemed to soak it in immediately. I'll use it, but I most likely will not buy this product again.

Garnier has several skincare products on the market. I'd recommend at least giving them a try. I used to be a strictly Olay girl, but after trying these products, I'm definitely going to invest some time and money into trying other products in the Nutritioniste line.

Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post. All opinions expressed herein are strictly mine.

Winner - Stonyfield Farm Giveaway

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Enjoy your tote bag filled with Stonyfield goodness!

Join Starbucks for Happy Hour!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Ohhhh, you know I am all over this one! The long-awaited return of the Starbucks HAPPY HOUR!!!!

Mark your calendars!!

From May 6 through May 15, Starbucks is offering half-priced Frappuccino blended beverages between the hours of 3 and 5 pm.

See you there!

Tuesday's Tasty Treat - Apple Squash Cupcakes

I wish I could take full credit for this recipe because it's just so yummy. But I can't.

Do you remember when I attended a Girls Lunch Out event at the beginning of March? Check it out here if you need a refresher. One of the sponsors of the event was O'Boy! Organic, a resource for parents looking to provide their children with the best and healthiest food on the planet. O'Boy! Organic also provides personal chef services and offers children's parties.

Trina, O'Boy! Organic's founder, had made the apple squash cupcakes for the event and had them expertly wrapped with a cute ribbon and the recipe attached. I grabbed a few as I was leaving. They looked yummy, and I was anxious to let the girls sample them. The following morning, the girls ate them for breakfast. They LOVED them! Emma said they were the best cupcakes she had ever had. Yes, better than chocolate cupcakes!

I finally set aside some time yesterday to make them. I was keeping my fingers crossed that they'd turn out just as moist and tasty as Trina's. And....they did!!! Because they've become such a huge hit in our house, I just had to share them with you.

Apple Squash Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Frosting (this link will take you directly to O'Boy! Organic's recipe on her site)

I didn't make the frosting this time. I will be making these for Emma's classroom birthday treat, and I'll definitely make the frosting for that occasion.

Just a few notes:
I used Cascadian Farms frozen butternut squash puree (be sure to thaw it prior to measuring the 1/2 cup)
I used organic gala apples

What are you waiting for? Head over to O'Boy! Organic for this and many other recipes!

The Centsible Life is giving away an iPad!!!

Monday, May 2, 2011
I've debated buying an iPad. I'm not a big Apple person. I have an iPod and that's it. No iPhone, no MacBook Pro or whatever it's called. But I'm not gonna lie, it'd be fun to have an iPad, especially a free one.

If someone is giving away an iPad, I'm entering. So, when my pal Kelly over at The Centsible Life posted an iPad giveaway, I immediately entered. And for 10 extra entries, I decided to blog about it. I need all the help I can get to win!!

I’m posting this to enter a contest offered by CheckNGo at The Centsible Life! I want to win the iPad 2! Enter to win here: