Am I the only one who stresses over Halloween?

Monday, October 31, 2011
Halloween is so stressful. Let me count the ways...

1. Kid Costumes - Every year I vow to get a head start on costumes, and every year I fail. Miserably. I always wait, thinking they'll inevitably change their minds. This year Little H is being a cat (a costume she picked out at Marshall's for a mere $7.99. Big E is going as an 80's Valley Girl which didn't come as inexpensively as the cat costume. Let's just say that due to out of stock statuses at most sites combined with my procrastination, I had to pay $19.99 for shipping. Just for shipping. Doesn't include the cost of the costume. Not gonna happen next year.

2. Adult Costumes - I never dress up. I feel silly. I don't even wear a hat. I might wear a shirt, but only if I am attending a classroom party for one of my kids. This year I was lucky enough to find a fun t-shirt to wear to the kindergarten party. Might happen next year.

3. Candy - There are 2 issues here. I never know how much candy to buy. We don't get many trick-or-treaters. But you just never know. So, I buy candy 2 weeks in advance and eat at least one bag of it within  a day. I buy more candy a day before Halloween, overestimating and end up eating it post-Halloween. Not happening this year.

4. Carving Pumpkins - This is one activity that I actually enjoy. It's the mess that's involved that I thoroughly dislike. And when you have 2 very eager kids, the mess can be a grand one. And this year? Our pumpkin carving fell to the wayside. Yep. Big fat #fail. Will definitely happen next year.

5. Hayrides - Love them, but it never happened this year. Another #fail. In fact, my 5 year old doesn't even remember a hayride. Yep. It's been that long. On the list for next year.

6. Trick-or-Treating - Is there anything to love about schlepping around the neighborhood, going door-to-door for candy that your kids will never eat but you will? Uh, NO! This year, however, we are going with a group, and it will involve wine. Will be happening for many years to come.

Now that my mom confidence is at an all-time low, I'll leave you to ponder what you like about Halloween.

Glad it comes but once a year...


A Spooktacular Pizza Treat

Friday, October 28, 2011
I posted a recipe on Jersey Bites a few days ago that is perfect to make for the kiddos after a long evening of trick-or-treating.

Hint: It's super cute, super yummy, and super easy.

What are you waiting for? Head over there, check it out, and plan to make it on Monday or sometime over the weekend. The kids will go CRAZY for it!

Mini Mummies...(Read More)

Shoulder Buddies: The New "It" Item

If you have young children, you are aware that they MUST own whatever the "hot" item of the moment is.

I first remember this occurring with Silly Bandz. Emma came home from school begging me to take her to the local pharmacy to buy some. "Everyone in school has them.", she told me. Yes, of course, everyone has them. Everyone but you, I know. So, what did we do? We schlepped to the pharmacy to buy a package of Silly Bandz. A few days later...another package or two, and this continued for months.

The Silly Bandz craze? Yep. So over it. But we've got thousands to show for the fad.

These days, apparently, the must-own items among the elementary school set are Shoulder Buddies. Take a look...

They are magnetic troll-type things that are right there with you...wherever you go.

If your kids haven't come home whining for these things, they soon will. And for $5.95 per buddy, you can own one of your very own. Thank goodness there are only 8 to choose from. I hardly need thousands of these things cluttering up my house.

Crystal Roll-On Body Deodorant Review #CrystalRollOn

Thursday, October 27, 2011
I'm always trying new deodorants. I can never seem to find one that totally satisfies me. Either they smell good but offer little protection or they offer ample protection but leave behind a nasty white residue. With all of the deodorants on the market, I've yet to find one with an ideal combination of protection, scent, and lack of residue.

I was invited to try Crystal Body Deodorant Roll-On as part of a Collective Bias campaign. Crystal Roll-On is all-natural, hypoallergenic, fragrance-free and contains no parabens, which have been shown to cause cancer. It is made from natural mineral salts which prevent body odor by creating an invisible protection barrier against odor causing bacteria. In addition to being non-sticking and non-staining, Crystal Roll-On deodorant is strong enough for both men and women.

Here's the big bonus: It is endorsed by Cancer Treatment Centers.

I thought the best place to give it an initial go was the gym. I need some serious protection during a workout. I have vigorous workouts that involve a lot of sweat. After generously applying the deodorant in the locker room, I headed for the treadmill. After an hour on the treadmill, I could smell NOTHING. I proceeded to run some post-workout errands. I hadn't showered and didn't re-apply deodorant. Two hours later, I finally jumped into the shower. But before doing so, I gave my underarms the sniff test. And guess what? No body odor.

I know! I was surprised. I have to say that I was skeptical. How can a product with no harsh chemicals in it actually work? It's not a good mentality to have, and it's one that I am learning to abandon as I start using more and more all-natural products. Crystal Roll-On Body Deodorant certainly proved that a product doesn't have to be loaded with chemicals to be effective.

My final test came when I put my black t-shirt on after my shower and promptly removed it. There were no deodorant crease marks. None! I also loved that it doesn't sting newly shaven underarms. Many roll-ons do.

If you are looking for an all-natural deodorant with excellent protection, look no further than Crystal Body Deodorant Roll-On. Available at Wal-mart for about $4.

Disclosure: I am participating in and receiving compensation for this product review as part of a Collective Bias campaign. All opinions are mine and are based on actual use of the featured product. #cbias #CrystalRollOn

Fondue Fun for Kids!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011
This morning I met a friend for coffee. After our chat, we decided, against our better judgment, to head to the HomeGoods store across the street from Starbucks. Oh, the danger...

We browsed. I saw tons of furniture and pieces that I would have loved to have bought. But since I don't want to be headed to divorce court, I refrained.

I did pick up a few things, totalling $37. I was good. Very good considering what was surrounding me.

When I saw this mini-chocolate fondue pot, I knew I had to buy it. I thought the girls would absolutely love it for snacks and desserts. It was $5.99. Later when I was searching for a picture of it online, I found it going for $19.99 at a popular online retailer. GASP! I scored big on this!!
I stopped at the grocery store on my way home and picked up some bars of chocolate and some goodies for dipping: pretzels, mini marshmallows, sliced strawberries and bananas, and cubed pound cake.

I was love at first bite!

This would be a fun treat for a play date too! Do you have any special snacks that you serve your kids?


Wordless Wednesday: LMAO!!! Wine

The Hubs picked this bottle of wine up for me last week. I couldn't have chosen a better bottle for myself. The bonus: it's tasty!

To find out more about this wine and other varietals from TXT Cellars, click here.

Marshall's & Old Navy Haul

Monday, October 24, 2011
I am obsessed with sweaters right now. I am always cold. Always. As the weather is changing, I am using every excuse in the book to buy sweaters. I picked up a few this weekend at Marshalls. Oh, and we found a few goodies for the girls too!

Have you been to Marshalls lately?


Breast Cancer: A Young Mother's Story of Survival

I met Wendy  from Wendy Will Blog the way I meet so many people these days, online. We started chatting on Twitter, visited each other's blogs, and the rest is history. Earlier this month, I put a call out to my online contacts asking if anyone would be interested in guest posting on their experience with breast cancer. I didn't want to directly reach out to Wendy as I didn't want to put her in a compromising situation. So, I was elated when she read my breast cancer story and completed the contact form to share her story.

Wendy Will Blog

Wendy is a 36 year-old mother of a 3 and half year old little girl. Just months after having her daughter, Wendy was diagnosed with breast cancer. Today, she is, thankfully, considered cancer-free and is doing everything she can to keep it that way. Wendy has been a life-long resident of southern California (I am SO jealous) where she lives with her husband, daughter and their purebred Vizsla.

How beautiful are Wendy and her family?
Photo credit: Wendy Will Blog

When Wendy had kindly agreed to share her story with my readers, I asked her how her diagnosis affected her as a new mother. What consumed her mind? What were her biggest fears? Here Wendy shares her story with us.


How has my breast cancer diagnosis changed me as a mother?

The paper crinkled beneath me as both the nurse and doctor examined the images of the tumor on the computer monitor. My pale husband hovered in the background. The doctor glided the ultrasound wand over my left breast and armpit searching for the best spot to insert the aspiration needle so to grab tumor cells for a biopsy.

Tears were falling down the sides of my face and dripping onto the paper. The nurse, clearly trying to distract me, asked, “How old is your little girl?” The inside of my nose burned and the lump in my throat barely let me get out “almost nine months.” She continued, “What’s her name?” Floodgates. I plead “Please, I’d rather not talk about her right now.”

The two questions that consumed me the day of my diagnosis were 1) what did I do to deserve this and 2) who will be a mother to my daughter?

My breast cancer diagnosis blindsided me and it has forever changed me as a person and as a mother.

Breast cancer has completely altered what I thought my life would be like today. It has only allowed me one biological child stealing my ovaries and leaving me menopausal. It has left me scarred and tattooed, achy and with bone loss. It has ruined every photo for a good year when I had to wear a headscarf or a hat. It has left me depressed and discouraged.

But worst of all, it has left me terrified.

The thought of breast cancer metastasis scares the crap out of me. The one silver lining was that my daughter was too young to remember the devastating toll the treatment took on me. But, I worry. She may not be old enough now to fully understand what’s happening if it were to come back but she’d definitely know something was wrong. I can’t bear to see that fear in my child’s face.

It scares me because I don’t know what caused my cancer. Was it something I did, was exposed to, ate, inhaled, stood next to, contracted, or born with? I don’t carry the BRCA gene mutation but that doesn’t mean I don’t have some unknown and undiscovered mutation that she may potentially have too. Without knowing what caused mine worries me that I can’t protect her from it.

It scares me that she will one day think she was the cause of my cancer. I don’t ever want her thinking that the abundant hormones while pregnant with her may have encouraged the cancer growth.

It scares me that she will worry about her own health for the rest of her life. too At this point, she’ll have to start mammography tests at age 23 – a whole ten years before I was diagnosed. Twenty-three year olds should be worried about having fun. Not mammograms.

The physical damage cancer has caused me is nothing compared to the ever-present fear it instills as a mother.

I went back into the doctor’s office the day following my diagnosis. That same nurse who tried comforting me the day before asked how I was doing. I smiled. Obviously, I wasn’t great but I was ready for a fight and I replied, “No more tears today, I promise.”

I refuse to let cancer win and I refuse to let it get the best of my family or me.


Wendy is the embodiment of courage and inspiration. Wendy's story certainly puts things into perspective for me. Whatever issues I think I have are NOTHING. NOTHING. However big my problems may seem, they really are petty and minimal compared to what Wendy and so many other breast cancer survivors have endured. At the end of the day, I have my family, my friends, and my breast health. And I am grateful that Wendy shares those treasures as well.

Please hop over to Wendy Will Blog and show her some love.

I would also love if you would follow her on Twitter and like her page on Facebook.

And lastly, many, many heartfelt thanks to Wendy for opening up and sharing her courageous story of breast cancer survival with me and the Pieces of a Mom readers. I promise you, Wendy, next time I am in SoCal, we will meet and share a coffee at Starbucks...Wendy shares my love of Starbucks!!!


Drink-U-Lator: I LOVE this app!

Sunday, October 23, 2011
Have you ever had a party and ended up with too much of one type of alcohol and not enough of another type? Like the time you had way too much beer but not enough wine? I stress over this every time I host a party. Of course, I don't mind a few extra bottles of wine hanging around the house. However, if you are on a tight budget and want to get the accurate amount of alcoholic beverages for a party, read on.

The Wine Sisterhood's Drink-U-Lator app for the iPhone and Android comes to the rescue for each and every party. You'll never disappoint your friends again. This handy calculator takes into account the number of guests and their beverage preferences. It then tells you just how much wine, beer, or spirits you'll need to have on hand to keep your guests happy.

Drink-U-Lator is super simple to use:

1. Enter to number of people who will be attending the party.

2. Choose the mix of beverages that your guests prefer to drink by clicking on wine, beer, or spirits.

3. Use the slider to pick the percentage of wine drinkers you anticipate in attendance.

Voila! Drink-U-Lator gives you a bottle by bottle breakdown for your beverage run.

Keep in mind that quanitities are guidelines. Save leftovers for your next shindig. Don't forget to be a responsible host by keeping plenty of non-alcoholic drinks accessible to your guests and providing a safe way for them to get home.

For more on Wine Sisterhood's Drink-U-Lator app, check out this video.


My latest and greatest on Meridian Momtourage

Saturday, October 22, 2011
Parenting our own children is hard enough. Why would anyone want to parent anyone else's children?

In most cases, we don't take on the task voluntarily. But there are incidences (many, I might add) where it is necessary to step in and offer some friendly discipline.

This week I am featured at Meridian Momtourage discussing this very subject. I would love for you to pop over and read more. Since you must be a member of Meridian Momtourage to comment, feel free to come back here and comment to let me know where you stand and what your experience, if any, has been. Thanks!

See my feature article here.

Crunchy, Tasty: Santé Nuts

Friday, October 21, 2011
I love nuts, specifically almonds. I eat at least a handful each day. I prefer them to be roasted and lightly salted. Rarely do I like flavored almonds. When I received a sampler pack from Santé Nuts a few weeks ago, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had a difficult time determining what my favorite nut was. I think it may have been the garlic almonds!

Santé Nuts was started by Sara Tidar. Sara has always had a love for cooking. Her grandmother, who roasted nuts in her tiny kitchen as a special treat, taught Sara her secret roasting technique. Sara continued her grandmother's tradition by roasting nuts for her own children. Not only did Sara's children love her special-recipe nuts, but Sara also took great pride in knowing that she was providing them with a healthy snack. Years later when Sara became a single-mom, she decided to turn her hobby into a business. To read Sara's full story, visit Santé's About Page.

Santé's unique flavor is achieved in 3 ways:
1) By using natural ingredients. Each package contains a short list of ingredients.
2) By using the highest quality nuts
3) The nuts are roasted by hand in small batches, doing so decreases the amount of oil absorbed by the nuts.
Less oil means:
  • less fat and more healthier nuts
  • more crunch
  • more nuts, less oil per ounce than other brands
My Santé sampler pack included a 4 oz. bag each of roasted salted pecans, candied pecans, candied walnuts, and a 5 oz. bag of garlic almonds. I loved snacking on the nuts. They are healthy and preparation necessary. I even got adventurous and added the candied walnuts to a mixed greens salad with goat cheese. It was delicious. One of the many things I love about nuts is that they are so versatile. They are great poured into a bowl and served with cocktails or they can be added to baked good, salads, and sauces. Santé features a Recipes section on the Web site, including wine pairings. Be sure to check it out for some fantastic recipes and serving ideas and tips.

So why don't you try them for yourself? Trust me, you'll love the bold crunch, great taste, and healthy attributes of Santé Nuts. As an added incentive, Santé Nuts is generously offering Pieces of a Mom readers a 25% discount on all orders at Enter coupon code 2011-Blog-019 at checkout. This code is valid on all orders placed through 12/16/2011.

So what are you waiting for? Get crunchin'!!

Disclosure: I received a sampler pack of Santé Nuts to facilitate this review. I received no monetary compensation to write this review. All opinions expressed herein are solely mine and have not been influenced in any way by the manufacturer of the featured product.


New Jersey Women's Expo - November 5th & 6th

Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Gather your gal pals for the ultimate lifestyle weekend. It's all about you!

Meridian Health presents the New Jersey Women's Expo on November 5 and 6 at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft.

There will be fashion shows presented by Premium Outlets (Jackson, Jersey Shore, and Liberty Village). Yours truly will be modeling (woo hoo!), and my daughters will be sharing the cat walk with me. :)

There will also be health and wellness screenings, Zumba, yoga, and fitness demos, psychic readings, cooking demos, and more! It is not to be missed!!

For all the deets, see Meridian Health's Web site for more information.

Hope to see you there!


Wordless Wednesday: Silhouette of a Cat

Taken with my iPhone and edited using Picnik.


Menu Plan Monday - 10.17.11

Monday, October 17, 2011
Since, the Hubs isn't traveling this week, I thought I'd take another stab at a meal plan. It worked so well two weeks ago when I planned our dinners, and I love not stressing over what to make for dinner each night.

Monday 10.17 - Chicken Tortilla Soup (it's a favorite recipe from Williams-Sonoma's "Soups" cookbook)

Tuesday 10.18 - Orzo Stuffed Peppers (this is a recipe from Giada deLaurentiis' cookbook Giada's Kitchen - New Italian Favorites).

Wednesday 10.19 - Tomato soup and paninis. (Great excuse to use my new panini grill!!)

Thursday 10.20 - Take out. I'll be attending an event for Meridian Momtourage so I'll pick something up on my way home from the event.

Friday 10.21 - Spaghetti Bolognese with a side salad and bread.

Saturday 10.22 - Make your own pizza and a mixed greens salad. We use store-bought dough and each of us tops a quarter of it as we like. We then taste test each other's concoctions and vote for a winner. Fun!

Sunday 10.23 - TBD. It's game day so we'll be making a game-time decision. ;-)

What's on the menu at your house this week?


Spa Week - Extended!!!!

If you were unable to book an appointment for the overwhelmingly popular fall Spa Week, you are in luck! Spa Week has been extended through October! Yes! It's true.

Spa Week’s not really over yet. It's true: Those $50 treatments are still kicking!

Technically Spa Week was October 10-16, but if you forgot to book or just can't get enough, it's time for ROUND TWO. In order to accommodate all appointment requests, hundreds of spas nationwide have extended their Spa Week specials for another week, and some even through the end of October.

See here for the full list of spas extending Spa Week $50 treatments, broken down by region. It's time to get that facial, massage, scrub or mani-pedi you've been craving, even that cupping, acupuncture or Botox you've been meaning to try. Don't miss out on experiencing the many benefits of the wellness lifestyle... you deserve this!

Don't miss out!

Orange for Owen

Last week my dear childhood friend Sue urged her Facebook friends to "like" a certain page. Now while I pay attention to what my Facebook friends are asking, I don't always heed their advice. But something about the sweet face of a young boy displayed next to the link got me to click it. I don't know, it's something about children that pulls on my heart strings.

I was taken to this Facebook page, Orange 4 Owen.

I was heartbroken when I read Owen's story. In short, Owen who was eight years old was killed on March 17, 2011 when he was struck by a 17 year old distracted driver while crossing a street in a crosswalk with his family. The accident occurred in front of Bishop McDevitt High School in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The driver readily admitted to all charges that were filed.


Out of this horrible tragedy, Owen's Foundation was created to help raise awareness of distracted driving and prevent this from happening to another innocent pedestrian. In addition to raising awareness, the Foundation is striving to implement LED Solar Crosswalk Signs at the intersection where Owen was killed. The Foundation has also created orange bracelets available for purchase with all funds going to the Foundation. To purchase, email for details and pricing.

This tragedy touches me in several ways. I grew up in central Pennsylvania, not far from the site of the accident. Although I no longer live there, my ties to the area remain strong. It holds a special place in my heart.

As the parent of a 9 year old, I can't imagine the pain and suffering that Owen's family has endured. And they were witnesses to the accident. The pain must be unbearable on a good day.

I think we can all admit to being distracted drivers at least once. Learning of Owen's story has most definitely made me more conscious about picking up my phone to "quickly check something". It's just not necessary. Keep your eyes on the road.

This update was posted on the Facebook wall on October 12. If nothing else, hopefully it brings some peace to Owen's family.

"We received the sentencing letter for the driver that killed Owen. Her PA driver's license is suspended for 3 years and 6 months. She is to remain on probation until her 21st birthday, is to complete 400 community service hours of which 50 must be spent shadowing a crossing guard at an elementary school and 50 participating in an after school program with children. She also must attend counseling, complete a driver's education program, submit DNA and fingerprints, submit to drug/alcohol testing, pay court fees, attend high school and adhere to a 9pm curfew. In addition, the driver must respond in writing to all of the authors of the Impact Statements that were sent to the court."

I'll bet if you ask the distracted driver if the distraction that caused the accident was worth it, she'll tell you most emphatically, "NO". A phone call? An email? A text message? Applying lipstick? No. None of it is worth taking the life of another.

Please take a moment to head over to Orange 4 Owen and "like" the page. I would very much appreciate it. :)

All images are the property of Orange 4 Owen.

Wal-Mart Haul...thanks to coupons

Friday, October 14, 2011
Yesterday, as soon as I put the kids on the bus, I headed to Wal-Mart. Armed with coupons and a list, I vowed to stick to the list and buy only what was listed and what I had a coupon for. Although I love Wal-Mart, I don't love my local store. I've definitely been into nicer, cleaner, and better organized Wal-Marts. But I tolerate my local store because you CANNOT find better prices anywhere! Plus, I am not tempted to browse the way I often do at Target. And when you have coupons, you really can't go wrong at Wal-Mart.

Here's my stash.

Here are details of my purchase:

Suave Hairspray: $2.74
Suave Volumizing Root Booster: $2.74
I had a coupon for Buy One/Get One Free
                                                                Total Cost: $2.74

Downy Unstoppables: $6.97
I had a coupon for $2
                                                                Total Cost: $4.97

Suave Professionals Shampoo: $1.84
Suave Professionals Conditioner: $1.84
I had a coupon for Buy One/Get One Free
                                                                Total Cost: $1.84

Suave Kids Detangler: 1.88
Suave Kids 2-in-1: $1.88
I had a coupon for Buy One/Get One Free
                                                                Total Cost: $1.88

CoverGirl 4-in-1 Eye Shadow: $4.84
CoverGirl Professional Mascara: $4.24
I had a coupon for $8 off 2 CG products
                                                               Total Cost: $1.08 (a steal!!!!)

Maybelline Lipstick: $4.97
I had a coupon for $2
                                                               Total Cost: $2.97

Maybelline Falsies Mascara: $4.97
I had a coupon for $1
                                                               Total Cost: $3.97

SUBTOTAL: $19.42 (I saved $19.46 in coupons)
TAX: $2.73
TOTAL: $19.45  OMG!!!!!


Can you find the mistake?

Thursday, October 13, 2011
I've been seeing this picture circulating on Facebook, and I thought it would be fun to post it here to see how many of you can spot the error. As someone with a proofreading background, I found it easily, but I can certainly see how it's easily overlooked.

Leave a comment if you've found it! Thanks for playing along!

A Day In My Life: Wednesday

This post was inspired by Adventuroo who is hosting a linkup for a photo diary. It can be daily or weekly. To learn more and to join in, check out the details on Adventuroo's site.

Yesterday was a busy day for me. It was school pictures day for my youngest...kinda made for a hectic morning. After I put the kids on the bus, I had an appointment for my annual mammogram. Afterwards, I squeezed in some work before heading to the orthopedic surgeon for suspected carpal tunnel in my left hand. Read on...

The scene on the bathroom vanity as we styled Harper's hair. All for a 5 year old. If I thought the whole process was bad, the clean up was worse.

In the dressing room at the medical imaging facility. I look pretty chipper, but trust me, I was stressing about the mammogram. It's nerve-racking.

On my way to Starbucks for my post-mammogram treat! I deserved it.

As I exited Starbucks, this truck was parked next to me. Couldn't resist snapping the photo. It made me smile. :)

Back home...busy, busy, busy in my makeshift office.

At 1:00 I headed to the orthopedic surgeon. Of course, on the day that I have an appointment, my symptoms were mild. As I waited in the exam room for the doctor, I snapped a few pictures of me in front of this poster. I was practically gagging over the renderings of broken leg bones. Can't even imagine seeing a real break.

As I patiently waited for the doctor to come in, I played solitaire on my phone, checked my email, deleted a bunch of messages, tweeted, etc. Every time I heard the slightest rumbling outside the door, I quickly threw my phone into my bag. I wouldn't dare be caught with the very thing that most likely caused my injury. ;-)

I learned that I am in the early stages of carpal tunnel syndrome in my left hand. The doctor recommended that I wear a wrist brace when I sleep, do some hand and wrist exercises throughout the day, and pop a few B6 pills, and return in 6 weeks. I left there feeling TOTALLY old as the doctors in the practice are TOTALLY young! Don't get me wrong...I like that they are young. They are eager to prove themselves.


At 3:40 I got the kids off the bus, and they did their homework. (missed a photo opp here). Since I wasn't in the mood to cook dinner and the Hubs wasn't going to be home, I let the girls choose where they wanted to go. They picked Atlanta Bread Company. Soup on a chilly rainy night? Perfect!

We headed home where I capped off my night by diving into coupons. I clipped, sorted, and organized. I scoured Web sites for deals and made a list. Don't be jealous of my exciting night and don't judge me for enjoying a glass of wine. ;-)

Tomorrow I'm off to Wal-Mart where I hope to save big with the plethora of coupons that I clipped!

Don't forget to head over to Adventuroo to see all the fun and interesting entries. Don't you just love peeking into other people's lives? And I have to say, this project was fun. It forced me to be so much more observant of my day and my activities than I normally am. Plus, it gave me excuses to take pictures.

I am definitely going to be posting a daily diary type of thing more often. Thanks again to Mel at Adventuroo for the inspiration!


Wordless Wednesday: Scary Monsters

Wednesday, October 12, 2011
The girls had some Halloween fun over the weekend while we popped in and out of a couple of stores.


Think Pink!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011
October is the month to think pink. Ditch your typical fall colors like orange, yellow, and red and don something pink instead. With so many companies partnering with breast cancer research foundations, it's easy to find something pink and affordable to show your support.

If Pandora bracelets are your thing, you can buy a breast cancer charm and add it proudly to your bracelet. In 2006, Pandora partnered with the Susan G. Komen Foundation to offer charms to support breast cancer research. The small charm costs $45.00, and the pendant costs $175.00.

Look stylish and stay comfortable in the "I Promise" t-shirt from Old Navy for $25.

Hit the gym with this "Love" tee from FILA available at Kohl's for $10. A steal!

Don't forget your finger nails! Polish them with OPI's limited edition "Pink of Hearts" lacquer specifically formulated for breast cancer awareness month. Available at Amazon for $5.25.
Pack your groceries in pink with this tote bag from the Pink Ribbon Shop. $2.95

Don't forget your man. What's sexier than the "Real Men Wear Pink" men's t-shirt from Susan G. Komen? $22.
Supporting breast cancer research and awareness doesn't have to be expensive or boring. You can do your part without breaking the bank and while staying true to your style.


A lunchtime visit

Friday, October 7, 2011
On the first Friday of every month, my daughters' elementary school offers a school store where they sell all sorts of supplies such as pencils, sharpeners, erasers, magnets, and some other fun stuff.

My girlfriends Cathy and Nancy were volunteering today so I decided to join them. In the years that Emma has been there, I've never worked the store before. It was crazy but fun. Plus it was spirit day so all the kids were wearing the school colors: black and gold. Fun!

While I was there, I had a chance to peek at Harper enjoying her lunch. I still can't believe that she's in kindergarten.


Today's Featured Member at The Mom Pledge

It's a glorious Friday here on the east coast! I can't wait to kick the weekend into high gear!!

If you have a few extra minutes on your hands today, I'd love it if you could stop by The Mom Pledge where I am today's featured member.

BWS tips button

Thanks, and have a fabulous weekend! :)


Wordless Wednesday: Save 2nd Base

Wednesday, October 5, 2011
'Tis the season for all things pink! I'm doing my part. Are you?

Go here to buy the shirt.

Tuesday's Tasty Treat: Pasta Caprese

Tuesday, October 4, 2011
If you love caprese salad, you are going to love this pasta dish variation. It's super easy and oh so delish!

This recipe is so versatile too. You can make as little as is needed for one person or you can make enough for 10 people.

CAPRESE PASTA (serves 4)

1/2 lb. pasta (any shape, variety), prepared according to package directions

8 - 10 bocconcini, quartered (small balls of fresh mozzarella) or a fist-sized ball of fresh mozzarella, cubed

Tomatoes, you can use any variety you wish. Here are some guidelines, but you can adjust amount to your liking. 2 roma tomatoes, diced or 1 large regular tomato, diced or 6-8 cherry tomatoes, quartered or 10-15 grape tomatoes, halved.

1/2 cup basil leaves, loosely torn

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Dash of dried oregano leaves

1. Prepare pasta according to directions on the package.

2. While the pasta cooks, combine mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, EVOO, salt, pepper, and oregano in a large bowl. Set aside until pasta is finished.

3. Drain the pasta and add to the mozzarella and tomato mixture. Mix well. The hot pasta will melt the cheese slightly giving it an ooey gooey texture. Yum!

4. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly. Serve.

- This pasta is equally delicious when served cold.
- I like the rustic appearance of the sauce, but if you prefer a smoother texture, you can puree the olive oil, basil, and seasonings in a blender. Once the desired consistency is achieved, mix in the mozzarella and tomatoes. Add pasta when finished cooking.


Deal of the Week: Olay Regenerist Cleansing Cloths

Monday, October 3, 2011
What a deal I got this morning at Target!

But first, a little explanation.

1) I'm a serial coupon clipper and user. I swear by them, and yes, I will hunt down deals so that I can combine a coupon with a store discount to get the best possible deal that I can. I am not an extreme couponer. I do not buy what I don't need and will never use. I do not stockpile either. That being said...

2) On Saturday, I attended a Girls Lunch Out event where my one of my best pals, Rebecca from Running On Empty Mommy let our table in on a little tip: Sign up for Target mobile coupons. Basically, weekly and daily deals are sent to you via text messaging. You click on a link in the text message that connects you online to Targets deals, including a QR code for in-store scanning.

Follow this link to sign up. You really must.

Yesterday morning, I received my daily deals text message and clicked on the link. I was in luck! The Olay Regenerist cleansing cloths that I've been waiting to go on sale were on sale!! Woo hoo! Target was offering $3 off of their sale price of $5.99. But wait. It gets better, if you can believe it. There was also a $3 coupon in the P&G circular in Sunday's paper. I paid minus $.01 for my cleansing cloths. Can you say steal?

Guess where I headed this morning after my annual Ob/Gyn (ugh!) exam? Yep. Straight to Target. It was my reward for enduring the annual PAP smear.

I bought the cleansing cloths and a few other things that were also on sale. And.....I stayed away from all the departments that can be so tempting. Yay me!

You're welcome!

Kicking Off Breast Cancer Awareness Month: My Story

Ask just about anyone, and they are likely to be able to tell you a personal story about breast cancer. Whether he/she is a survivor, spouse, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, cousin, friend, or neighbor to a survivor, almost everyone has a story to share. Many are stories of incredible triumph, beating almost unbeatable odds. Others are stories of defeat and loss.

Here is mine.

It was the end of 1999, somewhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas when my mother learned she had breast cancer. When she broke the news to me, I remember feeling as if the ground below me was giving way. I couldn't believe it. The current odds are 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. With odds like that, I'm not sure why I was surprised when my mom told me she had breast cancer.

It was detected early. Her oncologist was confident that she'd need a lumpectomy followed by radiation therapy and chemotherapy would not be necessary. The next 6 weeks were spent in daily radiation therapy. Although exhausted, my mom remained confident while the rest of us remained hopeful. My dad drove her to her daily therapy appointments and waited patiently in the waiting room. I often wondered what went through his head during what must have seemed like endless hours in the waiting room.

After 6 grueling weeks of radiation, my mom's sessions finally came to an end. We waited on pins and needles for the results of the post-radiation mammogram and MRI. Finally, the oncologist contacted my mom with the results of her tests. She was....CANCER FREE! A huge sigh of relief washed over me. I was grateful. I knew just how lucky my mom was.

Months later, I asked my mom what was the most difficult part of her radiation therapy. I couldn't imagine what her answer was going to be. The radiation kicked her butt physically. She was spent emotionally. What she told me completely surprised me.

She said the most difficult part of her therapy was what she saw in the waiting room: children afflicted with cancer. My mom was absolutely heartbroken to see the young children coming to the hospital for radiation and chemotherapy treatments. She said her radiation treatments and the symptoms that followed paled in comparison to the sadness she felt every time she saw a cancer-stricken child walk into the waiting room with sad, tired, and heartbroken parents.

I can't even imagine.

My mom was proof that early detection saves lives. Every self exam and mammogram save a life. Be diligent. Do your monthly self-exams. Get your mammograms. If you feel a suspicious lump, do not live in fear. Taking action could mean the difference between saving or losing your life.

For more breast cancer resources, visit the following sites:

Susan G. Komen

American Cancer Society

Pink Ribbon International

Do you have a breast cancer story? I would love if you shared it with Pieces of a Mom readers. If interested, please complete the contact form, and I'll be in touch. :)