Tuesday's Tasty Treat: Yogurt, Fruit, and Granola Parfait

Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Need an easy breakfast for yourself or an after school snack for the kids? You've got it! This fruit, yogurt and granola parfait is easy to make, healthful, and delicious. And it looks super cute if you prepare it in a small glass...perfect for little hands to grasp.


Ingredients (Yields 2 small parfaits)
1-5.3 oz. container Greek yogurt, any flavor (I like Stonyfield Oikos organic vanilla)
3/4 cup sliced, mixed fruit (I used strawberries above, but any combination of berries works wonderfully)
1/2 cup granola (I like Cascadian Farms Cinnamon Raisin)
Honey (optional)
Cinnamon (optional)

1. Layer the 3 ingredients beginning with the yogurt on the bottom followed by the fruit and lastly, the yogurt. Continue layering until you've reached the top of the glass.

2. Drizzle with honey or sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired.


Giveaway & Review: Sibu Beauty Facial Cleanser

Thursday, September 20, 2012
Because of my rosacea, I have to be very selective about the products I use on my face. I prefer to use all-natural products because they contain less acidic ingredients. Ingredients with high acid contents have a tendency to aggravate rosacea.

When I learned about Sibu Beauty, I was intriqued by the unique ingredient, the sea buckthorn berry. I am always in search of a gentle and effective facial cleanser. So, I tried Sibu's Sea Buckthorn Balancing Facial Cleanser. All of Sibu's products are all-natural and each product is packed with the maximum levels of Omega-7 and the 190 other bio-active nutrients from the sea buckthorn berry to revitalize, renew, and replenish. The sea buckthorn berry grows high in the Tibetan Himalayas an fortifies itself against the elements by producing an array of powerful nutrients. The sea buckthorn berry is rich in Omega-7, an essential fatty acid that is vital to collagen production and healthy skin, hair and nails.



  • Available in a non-foaming gel formula that is perfect for all skin types. I have combination skin, and this cleanser worked like a charm.
  • Gentle enough to use twice per day. I experienced no redness or excess flaking that often results from cleansers when used twice daily.
  • Contains micro-particles for gentle exfoliating. Effective yet non-abrasive.
  • Removes makeup and excess oils and impurities while maintaining the skin's natural protective ingredients.

Personally, I loved the light, citrus-y smell. The micro-particles left my skin feeling clean and light without stinging or leaving a feeling of tightness. Many cleansers dry out the skin leaving it feeling tight. The best part was that it didn't aggravate my rosacea. I often cleanse my face only to be left with redness that takes hours to fade.

If you have sensitive skin, this is the perfect cleanser for you. 

Ingredients include:

water, decyl glucoside, coco betaine, sd alcohol 40-b, lauryl glucoside, hydrogenated jojoba oil, carrageenan, glycerin, phenethyl alcohol, sea buckthorn fruit extract (hippophae rhamnoides), sea buckthorn seed oil (hippophae rhamnoides), panthenol , silk amino acids, coco-glucoside, glyceryl oleate, xanthan gum, sodium levulinate, sodium phytate, sodium anisate, fragrance (from orange and lemon essential oils.

Pieces of a Mom is giving away one (1) 4-fl. oz. bottle of Sibu Beauty Sea Buckthorn Balancing Facial Cleanser to a lucky reader. Each bottle retails for $18. 

HOW TO ENTER (4 possible entries permitted per person):
You have several options, and each will count as one entry (as long as you've followed the specific instructions listed below). This giveaway is limited to US residents 18 years old and older only. All entries must be submitted by 5:59 pm EDT, October 7, 2012. One winner will be chosen via Random.org and notified by email. Winner will have 24 hours to respond to claim the prize. If winner fails to do so within the allotted time frame, a new winner will be chosen. 

1. {Required} Leave a comment including your name and email address. Be sure to let me know what product(s) you are currently using to cleanse your skin.

2. {Optional} Follow Pieces of a Mom on Twitter. Leave a comment stating that you do and include your Twitter handle.

3. {Optional} Follow Sibu Beauty on Twitter. Leave a comment stating that you do and include your Twitter handle.

4. {Optional} Tweet the following: "Enter to win @PiecesofaMom's #giveaway: Sea Buckthorn Balancing Facial Cleanser from @Sibu_Beauty. http://bit.ly/VheuIp"


For more information about Sibu Beauty, "Like" Sibu on Facebook.

To stay in the loop on all things Pieces of a Mom, "Like" on Facebook.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary bottle of Sibu Beauty's Sea Buckthorn Balancing Facial Cleanser to facilitate this review. No monetary compensation was received. All opinions are my own.

Wordless Wednesday: Waiting on the Perfect Wave

Wednesday, September 19, 2012
My fun with the app Vintique continued this week after I snapped a shot of a surfer awaiting the perfect wave in Manasquan, New Jersey.


Menu Plan Monday {on Tuesday}

Tuesday, September 18, 2012
The weekly routine is finally falling into line. Next week we'll add CCD, gymnastics, and chorus to our schedules, and everything will be in place. So, it's more important than ever that I have a meal plan for the week.

I'm adding 20 hours of social media consulting to my schedule (more on that news later this week!!!) so I don't have time to meal plan in the middle of my day.

Here's what will be on our plates this week.

MONDAY - Chicken enchiladas (my own recipe)

TUESDAY - Tomato soup with grilled cheese croutons (a variation of a recipe I found in this month's Food Network magazine)

WEDNESDAY - Chicken piccata (recipe compliments of Melissa d'Arabian. I am currently reviewing her cookbook.)

THURSDAY - It's back-to-school night so we'll mostly likely have take-out.

FRIDAY - Dinner out

SATURDAY - Top your own beef sliders.

SUNDAY - Turkey or veggie chili.

For more dinner inspiration and to see what others are eating this week, check out I'm an Organzing Junkie's Meal Plan Monday.


Air Travel with Kids: My Tried and True Tips

Monday, September 17, 2012
I've been flying with my kids for almost 10 years. By the time Emma turned one, she had flown 3 times. Now, 9 years later, we've completely lost track of the number of legs she's logged on flights back and forth to various destinations.

For many of the flights, I've flown solo with the kids. Many of our trips have been to see my sister in Tampa and subsequently to Orlando.

From the very beginning of my motherhood days, I've been accustomed to flying alone with the kids. It hasn't always been a trip {pun intended!}, but it's always been worth it. Next week, I'll be doing it again when the girls and I head to Tampa and Orlando and again in April when we head to Phoenix for spring break.

I've learned a thing or two (or three) in my countless hours on an airplane with little ones. Whether you're going it alone or you've got a spouse to help you cover the bases, you'll want to check out my tips for making air travel smoother for kids (yes, even when there is turbulence!).

1. Pack a small backpack of BRAND NEW play things.
You will need distractions once you are on the plane, and brand new items make for perfect distractions. A few days prior to your trip, shop for a few favorite, but brand new items including small toys, books, crayons, and a small coloring book. Better yet, surprise your children with them by packing them at the last moment. When they get on the plane, surprise them with the new goodies! The smaller the backpack the better. Little backs tire easily, and if you end up being the one holding it, you don't want to carry a backpack that is large, heavy, and overloaded.

2. Dress your children in easy on/off shoes and zip-up hoodies.
Minimize the stress of and time through security by being prepared. Slip-on shoes that can easily be taken off and put on are best. You don't want to be fumbling with shoelaces, straps and buckles as the person behind you subtly grunts into your ear. Hoodies that zip are perfect for going through security. Plus, airplanes can be very cold. Another good tip: if you have girls, make sure they ditch the fancy jewelry for the flight. It's been my experience that jewelry has a way of getting lost on the plane, and it's a hassle to remove when passing through security. Stow it in the suitcase until you've reached your destination.

3. Pack snacks!!!
Most airlines no longer serve meals, and would you really want the stuff they're serving anyway? Pack small bags or containers of snacks, such as nuts, crackers, pretzels, popcorn, granola bars, apples, and carrot and celery sticks. Unfortunately, you'll have to buy water once you've gotten through security. Depending on the duration of your flight and number of children, you'll want at least 2 or 3 bottles.

4. Bring in-flight electronic entertainment.
Not all flights are equipped with in-flight entertainment, and if it is available, it can be costly depending on the number of children you have. Bring a portable DVD player or an iPad or iPod Touch with educational apps to keep little minds and hands busy for long flights.

5. Bring a small blanket such as a baby's blanket to use as a pillow.
We usually book early morning flights so that we arrive at our destination early enough to get a full day in. Those early morning flights mean early wake up calls. By the time we are mid-air, eyelids start to get heavy and at least one of us dozes off. Airlines have become very stingy with their blankets, and would you really want to use a public blanket anyway? Roll the blanket up, stick it down the side of the inside of the backpack and once on the plane, pull it out and use it as a pillow.

6. Allow plenty of time.
If there is one thing that I've learned as a mother it's doing ANYTHING with children takes three times as long as it does without them in tow. Give yourself more than enough time to get anywhere and everywhere. You know they'll have to stop at least 5 times in the airport for bathroom breaks. They'll need to have their shoes tied. They'll be tired of walking. They'll need a drink. You know the drill. Build in plenty of extra time to get from point A to B. I'm talking an extra hour here. Trust me.

Have you got a tip to add to the list? Please leave it in the comments. I'm always looking for ways to streamline travelling with the kiddos.

Happy trails to you!

Eat at Qdoba for a Good Cause #NoKidHungry

Friday, September 14, 2012
I fell in love with Qdoba Mexican Grill a few years ago when we went to Denver, Colorado for my niece's wedding. Shortly after we returned from Denver, I discovered that a Qdoba was opening in a neighboring town. Score! The food is fresh and super tasty. The queso is killer!

Yesterday, I received the following email from Qdoba. I was pumped, to say the least. From September 16 through September 30th, you can dine at Qdoba locations to support No Kid Hungry.

For more information about Dine Out for No Kid Hungry and to see a list of participating restaurants, click here.

I received no compensation for this post.

Wordless Wednesday: Vintique App for iPhone

Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Over the weekend as I struggled to fall asleep one evening I decided to take a trip to the store. The App Store on iTunes, that is.

I found a photography app called "Vintique" by GMY Studio, and I am totally loving it. It allows you to apply various filters that put a vintage or antique finish on the photo. After I downloaded it, I spent the following 3 hours playing around with photos. OMGosh! I didn't fall asleep until 3 am. I was having so much fun.

The first photo I tested was one of amusement park swings. I chose this photo because it wasn't dated. This could have been swings from an old-time amusement park. Plus, I thought the original colors would transform beautifully, and they did! Take a look.

Really cool, right?

The app costs $.99 and is available at the iTunes app store. For more info including reviews and screenshots, click here.

{Republished} Remember 9/11: Where Were You?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

**This post is an adaptation of one that I originally published on 9/11/2011**

It's hard to talk about 9/11 without telling our own story. Recalling where we were when we heard and remembering our initial reaction and the minutes, hours, days, months and years that followed.

We'll never forget the events of that horrific day, and we'll never forget our own story. Still, 11 years later, the events that unfolded that morning and the weeks following are as fresh in my mind as they were 2 days after 9/11/2001.

It was a stereotypical day in southern California. The bright September sun was coming up, and I had a full day of sightseeing planned. I had just flown into Orange County the day before, Monday, September 10, 2001. I had spent so much time in southern California as a software consultant but never had time to truly enjoy free time there. I absolutely adored the area and always wanted to explore it, but by the time I had gotten out of the office at the end of the day, it was just too late, too dark.

About a month prior, I decided to head to Cali for a little R&R for a few days while the Hubs would be in Orlando for a corporate meeting/event. We agreed to meet up in Las Vegas after our respective trips for a few days of fun together. We had no idea how much our travel plans would change...

As I always did, I woke and looked out the window of my hotel in Newport Beach, California. Yep. Another fabulous day was dawning, and I was ready for it. I turned on the TV and immediately tuned in to Good Morning America, my favorite morning show. It was 7:10 am, local time. It was 10:10 NY time. The image on the television screen was horrifying, terrifying. The image was of smoke billowing from the Twin Towers. I collapsed on the bed and listened intently to get the story. I was immediately filled with fear.

I was travelling alone. Alone. Diane Sawyer had just told viewers that all air travel was being suspended indefinitely. I was stuck. In California. Alone. I had always wanted to be stuck in California, but not under these circumstances. I was scared. I was shaking. I was crying. I tried to call the Hubs, but couldn't get through to his cell phone. I called my mom on her land line. She answered. I cried to her for 15 minutes. I don't remember what I said to her. I don't remember what she said to me. But she calmed me down and helped me get my wits about me. We hung up and promised to talk in a few hours.

Finally, after trying relentlessly for 45 minutes to reach the Hubs, the call finally went through. He answered amidst complete chaos in Orlando. As I was sitting in a quiet hotel room, he was dealing with a polar opposite situation. Employees were in a panic and going completely crazy. He had a huge situation on his hands. We talked briefly. He assured me that I'd be OK. It was just too soon to know how it would play out.

Over the course of the next day, I walked around in a haze. Everything was closed. I made the best of my situation. I hopped in my rental car and drove. And drove. And drove. I drove north. I drove south. I had to revise my entire sightseeing itinerary. All the places I had planned to visit were on lock down. So, I did the next best thing: I took in all the beautiful California scenery. I drove up and down Pacific Coast Highway, visiting the gorgeous beach downs the dot the coast of California. But it just wasn't the same. I was surrounded by such natural beauty but struggling with the cruel and ugly events of the day.

I worried. How would I get back to New Jersey? Would I get back to New Jersey? Would LA be the next city to suffer an attack? Days passed in this vein. Slowly businesses opened and I was beginning to see some semblance of normalcy, whatever that was. Would anything ever be normal again?

On Thursday, September 13, I was on the first post-9/11 flight out of John Wayne airport. My short, 45-minute flight, would land in Vegas at about 10 pm. As excited as I was to fly to Vegas to be reunited with the Hubs, I worried about flying. It was hard not to be worried about it. I landed in Vegas, took a cab to the hotel, and waited for the Hubs to arrive. Finally, he walked into the hotel room at about 2 am. We clutched each other for 20 minutes, refusing to let go.

During that weekend in Vegas, we learned that we were pregnant with our first child. It was a blessing in the midst of sadness and madness.

We returned to New Jersey six days after the attack. We learned of victims in our town, in surrounding towns. We were shielded from the personal stories while out west, but now that we were back home, a mere 50 miles from Lower Manhattan, it was hitting home. Every day brought another story of a neighbor, or a friend, or an acquaintance, who lost a husband, wife, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, child in the senseless attacks.

So, it is with a heavy heart that today I reflect on the events of that day. I pay tribute to all the service men and women who have sacrificed to keep this country safe. I grieve for those who lost their lives and for the families left behind.

May you be blessed to be surrounded by your family today and everyday.


Say Yes to the Pet

Monday, September 10, 2012
It's been 6 months since we made the agonizing decision to put our beloved 19 year old cat down. It was a difficult but necessary decision. At the time, I thought I'd never be ready to bring another pet into our home.

In fact, a month ago I wasn't ready. And then I read an article in a local newspaper that 60 cats and kittens were rescued from a hoarding situation in a nearby town. Yes, you read that correctly. It was six-zero. I'm a bleeding heart when it comes to stray cats, but there clearly is a line to be drawn. This hoarder wasn't drawing that line, and the pets were suffering.

Our daughters have been haranguing us for months to get another cat, maybe even a dog. My answer, time and time again, was a resounding no! I wasn't ready to make that kind of emotional commitment, and let's admit, no matter how much time you invest in a pet, it always ends up resulting in an emotional attachment.

So when I finally sat down to make a list of the pros and cons, the list was unbalanced. There were more pros than cons. I was running out of reasons NOT to have a pet. And after reading the article about the cats rescued from the hoarder, I now had 60 more reasons to adopt a cat. So, we sat the girls down and told them the good news. However, there would be some compromise involved. We could adopt a pet, but it couldn't be a dog or any rodent-type thingy. I am not ready for the commitment that a dog entails, and rodents disgust me.

We spent the following Sunday at Point Paws, a local cat shelter where 30 of the 60 rescued cats were taken in. We were overwhelmed. There were so many to choose from, and all of them were absolutely adorable. How would we ever decide and agree on just one?

It didn't take long. There was a little black one who kept sticking her arm out and reaching for the girls. They asked if they could hold her. I was skeptical. A black cat? She had no distinguishing physical characteristics. No stripes. No rings. Nothing. But it wasn't my decision to make. She would be a pet for the girls. They could decide which one they wanted, and they would help care for it.

They loved the black kitten. They didn't want to hold any other cats. She was the one for them. I completed an application and learned a few days later that we had been approved. But we couldn't pick her up just yet. We were leaving for vacation until September 1st. This little black kitty would have to wait until September 2nd to come to her new home.

And so, on September 2nd the moment the shelter opened, we showed up on the doorstep with our pet carrier in tow.

I introduce to you Jade, the newest and fluffiest member of our family.

The girls are quickly learning that having a kitten is tons of fun, but it's a lot of work also. And to think that they wanted a dog...


Another School Year Begins...

Thursday, September 6, 2012
I woke up this morning filled with trepidation. Butterflies filled my stomach as I worried for my girlies and their first day of school. I knew they'd be just fine, but the thought of new teachers, new classmates, and new schedules was enough to nearly put me over the edge.

The girls were all smiles!

My sweet first grader

My beautiful fifth grader.

Seriously. Where on Earth does time go?

I couldn't be more proud.

And before I knew it, the bus was dropping them off.

The verdict? It was a great day for both of them, and they think it's going to be a great year too!

As William Shakespeare once said, "All's well that ends well."


I'm Joining Viewpoints Reviews Panel!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012
I'm so excited to share some good news!!

I've been invited to join the Viewpoints Reviews Panel to test popular consumer products for a good cause! Viewpoints is one of the leading names in consumer reviews. Viewpoints has recently created a panel of top mom bloggers to review and share their findings via blogs and other social media outlets including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Sounds like any other review, right? Well, not quite.

One of the aspects of blogging that I adore is product reviews. I see it as a huge service to my readership. I am providing my readers with valuable feedback and information in an effort to help them make the decision whether or not to purchase a product. I establish trust in my readers by providing my honest opinion, good or bad. I also gain a product that I may (or may not) like and may continue to use.

With Viewpoints, the review process is similar in that I will be sent a product to test. I will weigh in on the pros and cons of that particular product. After my testing is complete, I will not keep the product. However, I will donate the product to a charity of my choosing. How fabulous is that??

I couldn't be happier about this partnership. One of my ultimate goals of this blog has always been to use it for a greater good, and my participation on "The Viewpoint" will definitely help me to achieve that goal.

To read more, visit the Viewpoints Web site or check out the Press Release.

Stay tuned for my first review!

In the meantime, if you know of a needy charity, please give me your recommendation. I want to spread the love to as many charities as I can.