Wordless Wednesday: A Manasquan Sunset #jerseylove #stts

Wednesday, June 26, 2013
After dinner at Surf Taco on Monday night, the girls and I headed to the Manasquan Inlet to catch the sunset.

It was a stunner!


CLOSED {Giveaway} Two (2) Tickets to See Bon Jovi at MetLife Stadium on July 27, 2013

Saturday, June 22, 2013

When was the last time you had a girls night out? How about a night out with your bestie? Just the two of you bonding over a drink, some dinner, and maybe a little music afterwards?

That long, huh?

I know the feeling. Schedules are busy. Kids get in the way. It's tough to set aside time for even the best gal pal.


I have the perfect reason for you and your BFF to get together for a fun night on the town. How does a girls' night out to a Bon Jovi concert sound?

An evening of this? Uh, yes, please.

No, I am not kidding. This is for realz.

And if you're still not convinced. Let me break it down for you. Here are the top 5 reasons why a Bon Jovi concert makes a great girls night out.

5. The line for the ladies room might be long, but the men's room will be empty!

4. No one will judge you for screaming "I'LL BE THERE FOR YOU...!" at the top of your lungs.

3. You know, and don't deny it, that you and your bestie have been waiting for the perfect moment to resurrect your big hair.

2. Because we can, ladies.

1. Three words: Jon. Bon. Jovi. Nuff said.

Bon Jovi is kicking off its summer Because We Can tour, and here is your chance to be a part of it.

Pieces of a Mom is giving away two (2) tickets to Bon Jovi's "Because We Can" tour stop on July 27, 2013 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.


1. One lucky winner, 18 and over, will receive 2 tickets to see Bon Jovi's Because We Can concert on Saturday, July 27 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.

2. Seat assignments are made the day of the concert. Please do not contact Pieces of a Mom to ask for seat assignments. Giveaway sponsor assures me that the ticket winners "are never disappointed".

3. Winner must reside within the following states: New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania.

4. Winner's tickets will be available for pick-up with a photo ID at MetLife's Will-Call box office an hour prior to the concert's start time.

5. Concert will begin at 7:30 pm with the J. Geils Band as the opening act.

6. All entries for this giveaway will be made via Rafflecopter. One mandatory entry is to follow Pieces of a Mom on Facebook.

7. Winner will be selected using Rafflecopter on July 4th. Winner will be notified via email and will have 24 hours to respond to claim the prize.

8. Attend the show with your best gal-pal and enjoy a fabulous night out.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: In addition to receiving a pair of concert tickets to giveaway, I also received a complimentary pair for myself. I did not receive monetary compensation to run this giveaway. All opinions are my own. 

InstaFriday ~ 6.21.2013

Friday, June 21, 2013
Instagram, oh how I love thee. Let me count the ways. And now that you've added video, I'm head over heels!

In case you missed my post last week, I'm linking up with Life Rearranged's InstaFriday. InstaFriday is a weekly blog hop where you round up your favorite Instagram photos that you've posted over the course of the past week.
Not only do I love sharing my pictures on Instagram, but I equally love looking at everyone's else pictures. It's life through photos, and what could be better?

So, if you are on Instagram, stop by and follow me at sheilakhill. I'll be sure to follow back and probably stalk your photo stream. ;-)

Here are a few of my favorites from the week.

Last weekend, I took the girls and a classmate of Harper's to a local farm to see the baby animals. There were so many kids and lambs running around. Although it was difficult to snap a pic of them as they were so rambunctious, I did manage to get this shot of a pregnant goat. Look at the bulge in her side!  

For Father's Day, we bought the Hubs a grill...and assembled it. Not always an easy feat. These days instructions are strictly graphics with little to no explanation. Give me a little something to work with! But anyway, we got it together. And the Hubs wasted no time firing it up.

We made pink lemonade cupcakes for the Father's Day festivites.

These little beauties were my lunch the next day. I love heirloom cherry tomatoes. I halved them and lightly sprinkled them with some celery salt and freshly ground pepper, and they were perfect.

On Monday, Emma graduated from 5th grade. After graduation, I took her to Claire's to pick out a few things. She chose this scarf. What a little fashionista! 

The following day was the last day of school. It was a day deserving of the ice cream truck!

And yesterday, I moved my office to our swim club for the day. Was I productive? I'll never tell.

Now that you've seen my pics, go check out more on Life Rerranged!


It's National Martini Day!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Today is National Martini Day, and although my drink of choice is wine, I occasionally indulge in a martini. But forget the straight gin and vodka varieties. I want fun martinis that are loaded with flavor.

The Hubs is a classic martini guy. I love the clean look of a traditional martini, but I can't tolerate the straight alcohol.

I prefer a fancy martini. One with some personality...and flavor! And if it looks pretty, all the better!

Have your cake and a martini too! Yes, please. I'll take this one!

Cake Batter Martini

  • 1-1/2 oz. Three Olives Cake Vodka
  • 1 oz. White Chocolate Liqueur
  • 2 oz. Milk
  • Shake with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass.
  • Rim glass with vanilla frosting and multi-colored sprinkles!

OMG! Could you just die??

And what summer isn't complete without s'mores? Who doesn't love gathering around the fire pit for a little marshmallow toasting? Add your toasted marshmallows to a martini instead.

Campfire Martini

  • 3 parts Three Olives S'mores Vodka
  • Crushed graham crackers, chocolate syrup, marshmallows
  • Dip the rim of martini glass in chocolate syrup and coat with crushed graham crackers.
  • Pour Three Olives S'mores into martini shaker filled with ice.
  • Shake and strain into martini glass.
  • Garnish with a skewer of three toasted marshmallows!
My party rule of thumb is to choose a signature cocktail to serve to your guests rather than try to jump through hoops to accommodate everyone.

Either of these martinis would be the perfect cocktail for you next gathering.

But don't forget to grap a bottle of Three Olives® Vodka to make these martinis perfect. Three Olives® polished, approachable, and full of verve.

Three Olives was inspired by the classic vodka martini served with a garnish of olives. Three Olives began as a non-flavored vodka brand in 1998 and became a pioneer of the flavored-vodka market when it introduced the first-ever cherry and grape varieties in 2001.

Three Olives' flavored 70-proof vodka is 35 percent alcohol and its 80-proof clear vodka is 40 percent alcohol. Natural fruits are infused into most of the flavored varieties to render a unique flavor. Three Olives also easily mixes and blends with lemon lime soda, fruit juices, club soda, or one or two more nuanced mixers.

For more information about Three Olives Vodka, visit the Facebook page.

Wordless Wednesday: Porta National Park

If the smell of fresh, piping hot pizza doesn't draw you in to Porta National Park, the decorative doors outside will.

Words to live by...


Warm Goat Cheese Salad

Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Warm goat cheese salad is one of my go-to salads when we're not in the mood for a big dinner. I always keep a log of goat cheese on hand to make this in a pinch.

I first saw Ina Garten make the warm goat cheese salad on The Barefoot Contessa years ago. I've been making it ever since, and I can honestly say that I could eat this salad several times per week. If you enjoy goat cheese, you're going to love this salad. I've adapted this recipe a bit from Ina's original recipe.


1 11-ounce log plain Montrachet (goat cheese)
1 large egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water in a bowl
2 cups Panko bread crumbs, poured into a bowl
Spring mix salad (enough for 4)

Any salad toppings of your choice or none at all is fine too (I generally make this salad with only spring mix, but I wanted to get rid of an English cucumber and some grape tomatoes before they spoiled)

Choice of oil-based salad dressing. My preferred dressing is Gazebo Room Greek.
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Olive oil for frying

1. Remove the log of goat cheese from packaging and slice. Goat cheese is impossible to slice with a knife. The easiest way to slice it is using a strand of dental floss (unflavored). Once you tear off a strand of dental floss, glide it through the goat cheese log to create small circles about 1/2" thick.

2. First dip each slice of goat cheese into the egg mixture and coat evenly. Dip the egg washed goat cheese slices into the bread crumbs and coat well.

3. Place slices of coated goat cheese on a plate. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 20 minutes.

4. Place spring mix in a large salad bowl and toss with a light coating of your favorite oil-based dressing. Season with salt and pepper. Divide between 4 individual salad bowls.

4. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pan on medium-high until the oil ripples in the pan. Place goat cheese rounds into the oil and cook until just brown. Turn and cook until the second side is lightly browned. The inside should not be melted.

5. Top each salad with 3 goat cheese rounds and serve.


Menu Plan Monday ~ 6.17.13

Monday, June 17, 2013
For Father's Day, I bought the Hubs a new grill (and I assembled it - kudos to me!). This week, we are all about testing it out.

The Hubs prefers charcoal grills. I found this Weber grill at Crate & Barrel and thought it would be a perfect Father's Day gift for the Hubs. I was right. He loved it!

This week I've got lots of grilling on the menu so we can break in the new grill.

MONDAY - Linguine with oil and garlic with sauteed spinach on the side.

TUESDAY - Grilled Caesar salad with chicken

WEDNESDAY - Summer vegetable chili

THURSDAY - Chicken, zucchini, and pineapple kebabs over rice.

FRIDAY - Beef sliders and spicy sweet potato fries (farm-raised, organic beef)

SATURDAY - Grilled pizzas

SUNDAY - The Hubs is in charge of dinner.

Can't decide what's for dinner? Make it easy on yourself! Visit I'm An Organizing Junkie's Meal Plan Monday to see what everyone else is eating.

To view my Meal Plan Monday posts, click here.


Friday, June 14, 2013
I'm a pathological picture taker. In fact, I have that in my Instagram bio. For as long as I can remember, I've loved taking pictures.

A few weeks ago, a fellow blogger and Instagram junkie told me about InstaFriday, hosted by Life Arranged. InstaFriday is a weekly blog hop where you round up your favorite Instagram photos that you've posted over the course of the past week. I don't participate in many blog carnivals anymore. I need to be really passionate about the subject to participate.
If you want to follow along, I am sheilakhill on Instagram. I'll be sure to follow back. I love browsing pics on Instagram.

On Monday, Emma entered into Phase II of her orthodontic treatment...braces! She's had them before but only on the upper, front 4 teeth. This time they are all over! They require a lot of care and maintenance. I hope she's up for the challenge for the next 12 months.

We have a few feral cats that linger in our yard. I perpetuate the situation by feeding them daily. Here are two of them waiting patiently one evening for their nightly offering.

On Wednesday night Emma and Harper had their annual gymnastic exhibitions. This was the organized chaos as the gymnasts took their places on the floor for their warm ups.

It's been raining pouring here all week. With the exception of Wednesday, everyday has seen some sort of rain, and it's generally been torrential downpours. What's the only thing to do when it rains? Play in the puddles, of course.

This morning severe thunderstorms were predicted. After I dropped the girls off at school, I headed to the beach for a quick walk. I get so distracted by the beach on a cloudy day. I wandered onto the beach and started taking pictures with my phone.

And lastly, I bought this necklace on a whim at Charlotte Russe a few weeks ago. I wore it this week with this striped boatneck top and loved the way it looked. Plus, what's InstaFriday without a selfie?

Hope to see you next week on InstaFriday!

I Feel Like I'm Forgetting Something and other End Of School Year Ramblings

Thursday, June 13, 2013
Not only are my kids eagerly counting down until the last day of school, but I am as well.

The past few weeks have been a flurry of school activities. Some during the day. And some in the evenings. Some have been canceled due to weather and never rescheduled. Field day was canceled twice due to rain and finally happened yesterday.

The 5th grade talent show was canceled due to flooding near the school and has yet to be rescheduled, and at this point probably won't be, leaving a slew of disappointed girls who have worked so hard.

All of these schedule changes are not only impacting other events, but they are difficult to keep track of. It's total upheaval.

I have this constant nagging feeling that I need to be somewhere. That I committed to something but forget to put it in my calendar. It doesn't matter that I have iCal and a huge printed calendar in the kitchen. The thing is you MUST actually record appointments on these things to be reminded of them. Something I forget to do sometimes.

I have had more papers cross my desk in the past month than I have all year long. From end of year letters for gift contributions to end of year classroom celebrations to middle school forms (which are aplenty, let me tell you.)

The fact that I work from home doesn't help matters at all. There is no clean line of demarcation here. It's called "home office" because home bleeds into office. School papers get mixed in with work papers. When I am looking for a work-related email that I printed, I am instead greeted by the sign-up sheet for treats for a class party. Yeah, that's how things are going down here.

I know I am not alone. And that's why I am writing about this. I don't normally rant and ramble here, but I know so many of us are in the same boat. How are you handling it? How do you manage to keep everything straight? Thank goodness the school year ends next Tuesday.

So far, so good. I have managed to remember everything I have committed myself to. But I am waiting for the day when one of my girls comes home with a big ol' "Mom, you said you would...." "Mom, you forgot to...." or "Mom, I can't believe you never..."

If it doesn't happen, I'll be surprised.

Wordless Wednesday: Rain and Puddles

Wednesday, June 12, 2013
It's been a deluge lately. Torrential downpours several days in a row. Followed by a partly cloudy day. And then another deluge. Flash flooding and puddles the size of small wading pools have made it impossible to drive around my own town.

What's a girl to do? Throw on her rain boots and play in the puddles!

This photo originally appeared on my Instagram feed. Follow me!

My Favorite Musician: My Daughter, the Clarinet Player

Saturday, June 8, 2013
I never learned to play a musical instrument.

Wait. That's not entirely true. I taught myself how to play an electric organ when I was younger. I was able to play "Silver Bells".

I never had an interest, and my parents never encouraged me to learn to read music or play an instrument. One of the few regrets I have. But it's never too late...

The Hubs and I were thrilled when Emma wanted to join the 5th grade band and play the clarinet. Last July, she spent 3 weeks practicing for an hour each morning with the rest of the band members. After the 3 weeks, they put on a performance to illustrate what they learned in those 3 weeks.

In the winter there was another concert, and a few weeks ago, the band performed one last time in the spring performance. What a commendable performance it was. They rocked it. The crowd favorite was definitely The Beatles' "Hey, Jude".

I thought I'd share a few pictures of my favorite musician performing in the spring concert.

Playing a musical instrument requires discipline and utter concentration. In addition to 3 early morning practices each week that began at 7:20 am, Emma practiced at home and had a private lesson once per week.

We couldn't be prouder of our favorite musician. It wasn't always an easy road, but it was worth it.

Does your child play an instrument? Did you play an instrument? Do you still? Please comment below and share. Thanks! :)

My Big Girl is Going To Middle School

Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Monday was middle school orientation for Emma and the rest of the 5th graders. She was excited. She has spent the past 2 months being extremely nervous about the middle school. Fear of the unknown you could say.

I was glad for her to be able to use orientation as a chance to put some of her fears to rest.

And later that evening there was a meeting for the parents of incoming students. It was my turn to put some of my fears to rest.

The middle school principal dove right in. He warned us that it would be quite a transitional period for most of the incoming students. Middle school is very different from elementary school. Big changes. More independence. More choices. More opportunities to make decisions. More homework. More conflict.

My head was spinning.

It was all too much for me. How will my Emma ever acclimate?

This image of Emma as a little fish being eaten up by a much bigger fish has taken permanent residence in my mind. I can't shake the mental image.

But she's excited. Of course, she has no idea how overwhelming it will be. Or maybe it won't. Maybe I just see it that way.

Because for me, it's overwhelming. For me it's a roller coaster of emotions. One minute I'm happy for her. The next minute I'm frightened for her. Will she know where to go? Will she know what to do? Will she find her way from one classroom to the next? (Again, I have a mental image of her cowering in the corner of the bathroom stall).

Her life is shifting, and I know she's ready for the change.

The question is am I? In 75 days, I'll let you know the answer to that question.

White Cloud and Children's Miracle Network Partner to Create Facial Tissue Boxes

This post brought to you by White Cloud. All opinions are 100% mine.

When you shop for tissues do you pay attention to the designs on the boxes?

Do you look for visually appealing designs? How about a box that has a unique pattern or colors on it?

I labor over selecting my tissues boxes. I try to match them to the decor of specific rooms in my home. Tissue boxes are, after all, part of the overall design of a room, right?

When I read about a collaboration between White Cloud and Children's Miracle Network Hospitals to design new tissue boxes, I thought it was such a fun idea and a great way to get the patients involved.
 photo 01f0897f-6a91-4a61-95fb-94759c6ebeea_zps51f4bbe6.jpg
White Cloud, the makers of toilet tissue, are branching out into the facial tissues market. And to launch their new product, White Cloud asked children who are patients at the Children's Miracle Network Hospital to design the exterior of the tissue boxes. This past January, children unleashed their creativity and created bright, bold and cleverly designed boxes.

White Cloud posted the top 10 designs to its Facebook page and asked fans to vote on them. The top 3 designs that garnered the most votes were chosen as the winners and those designs are now available to consumers!

Select WalMart stores in select markets will carry the White Cloud Facial Tissues designed by children from the Children's Miracle Network starting at the end of May 2013. In addition, White Cloud will make a $15,000 donation to each of the winning artist's CMN Hospitals.

What a wonderful way to empower the patients at the CMN Hospitals and to take their minds off their illnesses even if just for a short while.

The White Cloud brand of toilet tissue and facial tissues is sold exclusively at WalMart. To find a participating store near you, use the White Cloud Store Locator.

Save at the store! A $ 0.75 coupon will also be available in the July issue of All You magazine, also sold exclusively at WalMart.

For more information and to stay up to date with all the lastest White Cloud happenings, you can also find White Cloud here:
Visit Sponsor's Site

Menu Plan Monday ~ 6.3.2013

Monday, June 3, 2013
It's going to be a busy week, so I opted for quick and easy recipes. Lots of end of year activities aren't allowing for a lot of time for meal prep in the evenings. It is what it is...

MONDAY - We'll be eating out. Hubs has a business dinner. Emma has an orthodontist appointment at 4:00, and I have a middle school orientation meeting at 7:00. We will grab Panera or something similar.

TUESDAY - Cherry Tomato Spaghetti with a side salad.

WEDNESDAY - Chicken and cheese enchiladas.

THURSDAY - Chicken kebabs with rice.

FRIDAY - The 5th grade talent show is at 7:00. We'll pick up a pizza or grab something out after the show.

SATURDAY - Grilled, make-your-own pizzas.

What's on your plate this week? For more meal-time inspiration, see my meal planning posts, and stoop by I'm an Organizing Junkie's Meal Plan Monday to see what others are cooking up this week.