Wordless Wednesday ~ Fun on the Beach

Wednesday, August 28, 2013
We are spending the week in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware with my sisters and their families. There is definitely no shortage and fun, and most of it is taking place on the beach.


Earn Box Tops for Education When You Shop the BTFE Marketplace

Friday, August 23, 2013
I have been collecting Box Tops for almost six years now. When Emma entered kindergarten in the fall of 2007, we began collecting them and we are still loyally clipping them to this day.

They are a great way to get families involved in making a contribution to your child's school. And collecting them is super easy. There is no extra cost involved. Just purchase the products that you normally would at your grocery store, look for the unmistakable Box Top on the package and clip it.


Now, it's even easier to earn Box Tops when you shop at the Box Tops for Education Marketplace, a collection of over 300 online retailers. The BTFE Marketplace features major retailers such as Target, Wal-Mart, Macy's, Gap, and Old Navy and offers a great selection to suit everyone's tastes and needs.

Everything from clothes to shoes to school supplies to playground equipment can be found on the Box Tops for Education Marketplace.

I had a chance to shop for my favorite products at the marketplace recently. Although I have been clipping box tops for years, I had never used the marketplace for online shopping even though many of my favorite online retailers are there.

Before you can earn points with the marketplace, you'll need to create an account and choose the school for which you are earning box tops.

Once you create your account, you will have access to the Box Tops Marketplace and the numerous Box Tops sweepstakes that are going on at any given time. I love this one for a trip to the San Diego Zoo!

You can check out the full list of marketplace retailers.

Once you create an account you can see your school's total and the total amount of your activity. Since I had never shopped the marketplace before, my total was $0.00. Surprisingly, not many parents from my daughter's school shop the marketplace either. Our school total is only $30.14.

I wanted to do some shopping at Old Navy. So, I selected Old Navy from the list of marketplace retailers. When you select your retailer, you are shown how many box tops you will earn based on how much money you spend.

My daughters needed new bathing suits for the summer. We went straight to girls' bathing suits and started browsing. There were plenty of choices, and my girls quickly came to some decisions.

We added the items to our cart and continued to shop.

For each $10 I spent at Old Navy, I earned 2 box tops. This transaction yielded my daughter's school a total of 18 box tops!

As you start to think about your Christmas shopping, keep in mind the Box Tops Marketplace for your shopping needs. Many people shop online to avoid the crowds and long lines. If you are going to be shopping online, why not utilize the Box Tops Marketplace and earn valuable money for your child's school while you shop?

To start shopping, visit the Box Tops For Education Marketplace and start earning money for your child's school today!

Disclosure: I received a $100 American Express gift card to shop the Box Tops for Education Marketplace. All opinions expressed herein are my own.

Win Tickets to 4-Day Celebrity Food Event in Red Bank, New Jersey

Thursday, August 22, 2013
Don't miss this awesome giveway going on over at Jersey Bites! They are giving away tickets (and lots of them!!) to this 4-day food event in Red Bank, New Jersey. You'll have the chance to hang with celeb chef.

Appetite Brings 4 Day Food Event to Red Bank (via Jersey Bites)
Strap on your seat belts Food Fanatics, The Count Basie Theater has got an exciting  4 Day event coming in September that you don’t want to miss (And we’ve got tickets to give away, Woo Hoo!!)APPETITE: A Gastronomic Experience™ features a different…


Wordless Wednesday: Up In The Air

Wednesday, August 21, 2013
My little gymnasts spend more time in the air than they do on their feet.


Charging On The Go with Rayovac's Mobile Charging Devices

Tuesday, August 20, 2013
How many times have you left the house in the morning with a full battery on your phone only to discover by mid-day that you've got 20% of battery power remaining?

How about the trip to the beach or the city. The scenery is gorgeous and you can't resist taking picture after picture on your phone. You are Instagramming away and your followers are loving your snapshots. But all too soon your phone's battery is nearing it's end.

You panic. What on Earth will you do if the battery dies? In this age of technology, you want to able to be plugged in at all times. Especially if you're a mom on the go like I am and your kids are in school all day or you have the rare occasion of enjoying a night out without the kiddos.

No worries. Rayovac has got you covered.

Rayovac has recently introduced a line of mobile charging devices that are designed to give you the charge you need, whether it's 2 hours or 10 hours. The most innovative thing about Rayovac's line of mobile chargers is that they run on battery power. No electrical outlets needed. Pop a few batteries into the charging devices and you are ready to go.

And, you'll have the security of knowing that your phone is fully charged.

No more scurrying to find a location where you can plug in your charging device. Portable power means you won't miss important calls or messages.

Rayovac has 2 popular option for charging hour mobile devices.

The 2-Hour Power device isn't much bigger than a AA battery and comes ready to use with a Rayovac CR123A battery. It provides 2 additional hours of talk time. And if you need more, you can carry a few extra batteries with you and pop them in when needed. How easy is that?

The 2-Hour Power is so small that it can fit virtually anywhere. It is available in 2 models:

  • Micro USB, which retails for $8.99
  • iPhone/iPod, which retails for $8.99
On a recent trip to New York, I popped the 2-Hour Power charger and an extra battery into my clutch. I had plenty of room left over for my phone, lipstick, and money.

The 7-Hour Power device packs a more powerful punch. It's capable of giving your mobile phone a full 100% charge. The 7-Hour Power is uses 4 AA Rayovac batteries that have a 10 year shelf life. Carry extra batteries with you to replace when needed and get an additional 100% charge on your phone!

The 7-Hour Power is compatible with all USB power cords to charge most USB powered devices. It includes one Apple 30 pin cord (iPhone/iPod 4/4S). Retail value: $15.99.

Watch this video to see just how easy using Rayovac's Portable Power devices is.

As soon as I received my devices, I plugged in my phone and iPad. The timing couldn't have been more convenient as the Hubs and I were leaving for New York City, and I was excited to test the Rayovac mobile charging devices out on the road.

In the limo on the way into the city, I broke out the 7-Hour Power device. I had spent the morning running errands and didn't have a chance to charge my phone before the limo driver arrived. I was able to fully charge my phone until I returned to the hotel at 1 am!!

I didn't miss a text from my sister who was babysitting. I was able to take some fun Instagram photos of NYC, and I had confidence in knowing that my phone had been fully charged before I went out for the evening.

At home, on the go, or in an emergency, Rayovac's portable power options are the best choice for convenience and reliability.

The Rayovac portable power options are being introduced in the United States and Latin American this summer. Look for them in a nationwide retailer near you or visit www.rayovac.com.

I received complimentary products to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own. No other monetary compensation was received to write this review.

Thankful For...

Monday, August 19, 2013
a family vacation.

I have a getaway coming up in less than a week. It's an annual vacation that I spend with my 3 sisters and our respective families. We trek to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. My sisters and I grew up spending summer vacations in Rehoboth Beach. Our grandparents first ventured there in the early 1970s, and my parents soon followed behind.

I am grateful for this vacation on so many levels.

We started this annual tradition back in 2007. It was to be a family vacation with both of my parents, my sisters, and our families. But in the spring of 2007, my mother fell ill and passed away in July, just a few short weeks away from our first family gathering in ages.

As much as we didn't want to spend the vacation without my mom, we also needed this vacation more than anything else. And so in August 2007, we packed up our cars and headed to Rehoboth Beach.

The following year we planned another vacation for August 2008. This time, it was my father who passed away unexpectedly just 3 weeks before our vacation. It seemed that our family vacations were doomed.

It was clear that these vacations, in the absence of my mother and father, needed to be a time to celebrate our family. They have become a symbol for how fragile life can be. They are a reminder that people cannot be replaced.

This year will be our 7th family vacation. And we are looking forward to being together and to celebrating our parents who made all of this possible. I know they'd be proud of us for continuing this tradition and for making our time together a priority.


Stop Summer Learning Loss with PowerMyLearning.org {Sponsored}

Wednesday, August 14, 2013
With all the fun distractions that summer vacation provides, it's difficult for young children to focus on and make time for educational activities during the summer months.

Children who don't engage in regular educational activities over the summer stand to lose an average of 2.6 months of academic growth. This loss is referred to as the "Summer Slide".

If we as parents don't keep the learning fresh in their minds, children don't retain the knowledge. If we don't keep it exciting, they lose interest all together.

At the end of the school year, Harper's first grade teacher gave each child a thick packet of print outs to work on over the summer. She was excited to do them but quickly became bored with the same type of activity day after day.

I was desperate to find something that keeps her challenged and entertained.

I looked online for educational sites that would keep my child entertained and educated. I finally came across www.powermylearning.org, a site that has a wide range of educational activities for children of all ages.

What we loved about Power My Learning is that it has more than just the usual math and language arts subjects. Children can choose from science, social studies, art & music, technology, and world languages. There is a well-rounded curriculum from which to choose, and this means little ones are less likely to become bored easily.

When you hover over a subject, you will be able to select the grade level for your child. Once you select the grade level, the appropriate activities by grade level will be presented to you.

Since we had an abundance of math and language arts work that was given to us by Harper's 1st grade teacher, we selected Science. There are sub-categories under the main Science category. Harper wanted to learn about Chemistry. So, we selected it.

She had the chance to experiment with the microwave and test out what happens when you place objects in the microwave. In went in as a glass of ice.

Out came as a glass of water. This is also a fun experiment to replicate in real life.

After performing a few microwave experiments, we moved on to studying Health. In the Health category, we chose the "Pick Chow" game. I love that this game empowers children to make healthy and smart choices about what they are eating.

The purpose of this game is to place items on your plate to create a healthy, well-balanced meal.

Harper loved playing this game! It was fun to drag and drop the food items on to the appropriate spot on the plate. After you've created your meal, your meal is rated with an amount of stars based on the food selections you've made.

I encouraged her to create the types of meals that we typically eat to see how many stars each was given. We were very surprised to find that one of her favorite meals, black beans and rice scored very low with just 2 stars.

Overall, here are some of my general thoughts on PowerMyLearning.org.


  • I loved the variety of activities. There were plenty to choose from without boredom setting in.
  • The grade level activities were age-appropriate and skill-level appropriate.
  • Provided hours of entertainment for my soon-to-be second grader.
  • Site was easy to use.
  • Although we tested only the activities for 2nd grade, activities are available for K-12.
  • All activities are free.
  • Each activity has been rated by actual users.
  • PowerMyLearning.org offers free resources for parents also.
  • The site is available in Spanish.


  • PowerMyLearning.org is the umbrella site. Many of the activities link to a 3rd party site. Where a separate username and password are required. We were creating usernames and passwords too frequently. You can use the same credentials over and over again, but it's too much administrative work for young children.
  • The site seemed slow at times.
  • Although they appeared on the site, some of the games and activities were still in development and could not be utilized.
  • The site is going through changes. New functionality will be released on September 3rd (that's a good thing). We experienced some of the growing pains.

We will definitely continue to use PowerMyLearning.org throughout the remainder of the summer and into the school year as well. I envision it to be a great supplement to the regular schoolwork throughout the year.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of PowerMyLearning.org. All opinions expressed herein are my own.

Celebrating National Cheesecake Day ~ 2013

Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Every year, the girls and I celebrate National Cheesecake Day. It's hard to resist half-priced slices at The Cheesecake Factory!

I have to admit. If I had my choice of desserts, I am not likely to choose cheesecake. I like it, but I don't love it. The thing about The Cheesecake Factory is that it offers so many irresistible flavors not just your standard, plain NY style cheesecake.

Every year on National Cheesecake Day, The Cheesecake Factory debuts a new flavor. This year's delectable delight was a s'mores flavored cheesecake. It was served topped with a toasted marshmallow!! OMG!

We started out with a light lunch. I love ordering from the "Small Plates and Snacks" menu. The portions are the perfect size while leaving room for some cheesecake, of course.

I ordered the roasted pear and blue cheese flatbread. Emma had the Greek salad, and Harper ordered the mac and cheese from the kids' menu.

We indulged in slices of Kahlua and red velvet cheesecake!

Someone was happy!

We ordered the S'mores cheesecake to go. We had it for dessert that night. It was soooo good. I forgot to take a picture, but this is what it looks like. OMG!
Photo source: The Cheesecake Factory
We are already looking forward to next year's National Cheesecake Day!

Our First Lakewood Blue Claws Game!

Sunday, August 11, 2013
What's summer without a little baseball?

I've lived at the Jersey shore for 12 years. We have a minor league baseball stadium just 20 minutes from our house, and 3 weeks ago was the first time we've been to a game. We've been to NY Mets games, but sadly, never to the minor league game that's practically in our back yard.

What took us so long? I have no idea. But this summer we said that we would finally go see a Lakewood BlueClaws game. And of course, as is always the case, we asked ourselves, "Why didn't we do this sooner?"

Minor league baseball games are a fun, inexpensive night out for the whole family. The tickets cost a mere $10 per person, and the food was reasonably priced. It was incredibly hot the night we went to the game, and we drank our weight in water, which ended up costing us a fair amount of money. Otherwise, it was a deal!

Our seats were in right field and we had a nice view of pre-game warm ups.

What's a baseball game without ballpark snacks? In addition to chicken fingers and fries, there may have been some cotton candy and some ice cream too!

The girls had a great time, although I'm not sure how much of the game they actually watched. But as soon as this game eneded, they asked if we could come to another game. So I guess that's a good sign!

Do you have either a minor league or major league baseball team in your area? Do you go to the games?

{Fashion Friday} Introducing Faherty Brand #fashionfriday

Friday, August 9, 2013
I love a good story of inspiration, and the Faherty Brand is just that.

I literally stumbled upon this brand a few weeks ago as I was ducking into my local Starbucks while my kids were at their weekly gymnastics lessons. As I parked my car, I noticed that the parking lot was cordoned off and there was a beach shack set up in the parking lot.

A beach shack. In the parking lot.

If you think it sounds cool, you should have seen it!

A mobile beach shack that has traveled the country. Yeah. The Faherty Brand is cool like that.

So, I stepped into the beach shack. I didn't have much time to spare so I had to get the scoop quickly.
Photo source: Faherty Brand
The co-founders of the Faherty Brand, twin brothers Alex and Mike Faherty, are from Spring Lake, New Jersey. Just down the road from where I live. Gotta love a good local biz story. The brothers travel the country setting up their beach shack in resort and coastal towns selling their swimsuits and beach inspired clothing and accessories.

Faherty Brand Beach Shack
Source: Faherty Brand
This brand has been their passion ever since they can remember. Creating a brand around a place they love more than anything else, the beach, has been a lifelong dream. Now, they are living the dream.

They paid their dues. Alex working in finance, and Mike putting in his time at Ralph Lauren. They gained the necessary and valuable experience necessary to start the Faherty Brand, a clothing line made by skilled craftsman who use environmentally friendly materials.

It just keeps getting better.

I stepped into the beach shack when it was set up in Sea Girt, NJ. Not only was I incredibly impressed by the quality and craftsmanship of the clothing, but the employees genuinely love being a part of the Faherty Brand. They were knowledgeable and helpful. They were fun and friendly.

What are some my favorite items? I thought you'd never ask!

I loved this beach wrap! It can be worn as shown or as a scarf, as a skirt or as a wrap.

The All Day Shorts in red are fantastic!

I love the cami underwire top and brief bottom bathing suit in Japanese floral. This kind of top is perfect for me since I'm so small busted. I love this print.

Don't worry! You don't have to wait for Faherty Brand's beach shack to hit your town. Faherty Brand offers online ordering at www.fahertybrand.com. If you sign up to receive the Faherty Brand newsletter, you will receive a coupon for 15% off your first online purchase.

You can also visit their showroom in NYC's Flatiron District.

Looking for more Fashion Friday inspiration? Head over to Jo-Lynne at Musings of a Housewife to read all about printed pants for the fall and more!


A Quick Trip to New York City {Photos}

Wednesday, August 7, 2013
On Friday, the Hubs and I met up with some of his colleagues and their wives in NYC. The plan was to meet for pre-dinner cocktails and then grab some dinner followed by after-dinner drinks.

The Hubs was up and out of the house early Friday morning to get to the Manhattan corporate office. He put in a few hours of work and lunch with a co-worker, then he headed to the hotel.

A town car picked me up at home (sounds fancy, right) and drove me to our hotel, Hilton Midtown East. My original plan was to take the train into the city, but since I was carrying my bags and those of the Hubs, he arranged to have a car take me in to the city.

I kicked back and enjoyed the ride. I could really get used to being driven around by someone. ;-)

No sooner did I get to the hotel, and we were back out on the street again. First stop. Starbucks, of course. I was so thirsty. I had the new Valencia orange refresher. It was the first time I had tried it, and it was delicious! A barista told me that the refreshers contain more caffeine than coffee. Since I had been awake since 5 am, and I knew it would be a long night, I opted for something with some punch.

I needed food next. We passed the Macaron Cafe and quickly turned around and headed in for a sandwich. I ordered the Normandy. It was Brie cheese with apples, raisins, Romaine lettuce, French mustard neatly sandwiched between a crusty baguette. It was perfection.

We took stock of the macarons and promised to return the following morning to pick some up for the girls.

We strolled the city. We stopped at Grand Central Station at the height of rush hour. I loved all the hustle and bustle. And the architecture is amazing.

I snapped this shot just as we were heading in Grand Central Station. It was a beautiful day to be in New York City.

We went back to the hotel room to get dressed for dinner. Our first pre-dinner stop was the rooftop terrace bar at Midtown 1015 Sutton Place. This was the perfect location. The bar inside was very noisy, and for 6 people who wanted to catch up, outside on the roof was quieter. And the views were killer. Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture.

We left Sutton Place and walked to the restaurant where we had dinner reservations, but we were a bit early. Just steps away was Neely's, a bar-b-que joint owned by Food Network chefs Pat and Gina Neely. So, we stopped in to take a look at the drink menu.

The drink menu was extensive...something for absolutely everyone, and some of the most creative concoctions I have ever seen. My eyes headed straight to the selection of sangria. I finally decided on the Green Tomato sangria. We didn't have a lot of time since we had dinner reservations, but the Hubs and I agreed that we'd be back for drinks and dinner. It smelled so good in there, and the drinks were fab!

Our dinner stop was Il Vagabondo, a classic Italian restaurant with a bocce court right there in the restaurant. So cool. Again, I missed the opportunity for a picture of the bocce court, but I did snap one of the vintage cash register. Love.

If you love Italian food, this is a must. Every single one of us raved all night about our meals. The Hubs and his boss had the famous chicken Parmigiana. I had gnocchi with tomato sauce. The antipasto was incredible. And dessert? Well, you can't beat the cannolis.

And if we thought we couldn't fit anything else in our stomachs, we left Il Vagabondo and moved on to Felice 64 for some wine. Felice is known for its wine, but the bartender informed us that the food isn't too shabby either. Again, the Hubs and I made a mental note to return for dinner.

Before we called it a night, we hit one more hot spot, Honky Tonk Tavern. Located just up the street from Felice 64, Honky Tonk is all about music. So, if you are not in the mood for music-loving patrons, steer clear of this place.

At 1 am, we finally called it a night, and caught a taxi back to the hotel. It was way passed my bed time. I was grateful for the orange refresher I had earlier in the day. The extra caffeine was a lifesaver.

The following morning, the Hubs and I returned to the Macaron Cafe where we bought a pretty package for the girls.

And before we caught the train out of there, we stopped at American Girl for a little Christmas in August treat for the girls.

It was a whirlwind trip, but is there any other way to do New York City?


Menu Plan Monday ~ 8.5.13

Monday, August 5, 2013
After taking a 2 week hiatus from blogging to get my thoughts together, I am back!

It's nothing major that has kept me away from blogging. I just felt I needed a break and a chance to think about the direction of the blog. I took some time to evaluate the current content and to take stock of the overall look and feel of the blog.

I'm excited about making some aesthetic changes to the blog and to some of the content too! All that will be coming in the fall, so stay tuned...

For now, it's back to business as usual, and that means menu planning. Otherwise, it's takeout and that cuts into my shoe budget. Not good.

MONDAY - Pasta primavera

TUESDAY - Chicken tacos (from The Pioneer Woman)

WEDNESDAY - Deluxe nachos. I made these a few weeks ago, and they were a big hit. I've made them several times for lunch and once for dinner since that first time. Everyone devours them!

THURSDAY - Linguine with oil and garlic (my own recipe)

FRIDAY - Dinner out

SATURDAY - Pulled Buffalo chicken sliders

SUNDAY - Red wine marinated flank steak

What's on your plate this week? For meal planning inspiration, visit I'm An Organizing Junkie's Meal Plan Monday.

For even more inspiration, take a look at all of my Meal Planning posts.

Rocking at Bon Jovi's #BecauseWeCan Tour

Sunday, August 4, 2013
What's summer without a concert? Summer is the prime touring season for many bands. The weather is ideal and summer puts everyone in the mood for music.

Last Saturday, I crossed another item off my summer bucket list when I saw Bon Jovi in concert. I had the unique and incredible opportunity to give away a pair of tickets here on the good ol' blog, and as part of the giveaway, I was offered two tickets as well.

I had never seen Bon Jovi in concert, and well, I was never a huge fan. I certainly wouldn't turn off a song if it were playing, but I have to confess that I don't own any Bon Jovi CDs, and I have zero Bon Jovi songs downloaded.

But a chance to see them in concert? Well, who am I to turn that down? Free tickets?

My sister April was my giveaway winner. If it weren't for the fact that Rafflecopter chose her at random, I'd think the giveaway was rigged. I wasn't even aware that she entered. I wasn't aware that she like Bon Jovi.

So, we coordinated. The plans were in place, and the day of the concert had arrived. I had that pre-concert frenzy. I anticipated how they would perform. They were playing in their home state of New Jersey. This concert was going to be top-notch. I just knew it.

Here are my sister and I prior to heading into the stadium.

From the moment Jon Bon Jovi came onto the stage, the excitement was infectious. Whether you were a longtime fan or a new one, you couldn't help but to feel the energy.

He puts on a tremendous show and really plays to the audience. He loves his fans and isn't on an ego trip when he's on the stage. He recognizes his humble beginnings in New Jersey and is grateful for loyal fans and followers.

Not to be overshadowed by the music is his set. This car was the back drop for the stage. It was huge. If you look into the foreground, you'll see the people who were standing on the floor in front of the stage.

During specific songs, scenes of New Jersey would play in the windshield. It was excellent.

Jon Bon Jovi really gives the crowd what it wants. He played for close to 3 hours. He played old favorites and new songs too. There was a woman sitting in the row in front of us who knew EVERY word to EVERY song he played. She wasn't the only one, I'm sure.

Those are the kinds of fans he has. Die hard. Loyal. True.

It may have been my first Bon Jovi concert, but it certainly won't be my last.

Disclosure: I received a pair of concert tickets as compensation for hosting a Bon Jovi concert ticket giveaway. I was not required or compensated to write this post. All opinions are my own.