2013 Holiday Gift Guide: The Best Gifts for Little Girls

Saturday, November 30, 2013
If you are looking for the perfect gift for a little girl, you've come to the right place! With 2 of them running around this house, I've become adept at knowing exactly what they want and more importantly, what they need.

Clothing, Shoes, & Accessories

I've spent a lot of time choosing the perfect gifts for my girls. From accessories to jeans to shoes, girls like what they like. There is no room for negotiating. Any one of these items is perfect the little diva in your life.

American Girl Dolls

The doll of the year is always a safe bet. This year it's Saige.

The basic package includes a doll and a book. $110.

Other outfits and accessories are available at www.americangirl.com.


My daughters share my love of reading. They love a trip to the library or the book store. Here are some of their current favorite books.


Little girls love jewelry. Let her sparkle and shine with a new necklace or charm bracelet. Top it off with a special jewelry box for her new treasures.

Black Friday Sales and Deals {online offers} #blackfriday

Friday, November 29, 2013
Didn't have time to make it out today? Stuck at work all day with no reprieve? No worries!

Hop online and grab some of these hot offers before the day is over!


Too Faced Cosmetics


GAP - Save 50% entire store and site wide. Some exclusions apply. Use code BLKFRIDAY at checkout.

J.CREW - 30% off site wide. Some exclusions apply. Use code HOLIDAY.



2013 Holiday Gift Guide: The Best Toys from Melissa & Doug

Tuesday, November 26, 2013
For over 25 years Melissa & Doug® has created toys, games, and more with an emphasis on value, quality, and design.

From puzzles to puppets, plush toys to play food, magnetic activities, music, wooden toys, and much more, Melissa & Doug® has a product to please even the most discerning child. In fact, Melissa & Doug offers over 2,000 unique and exciting products that are designed to both engage and educate children of all ages. Melissa & Doug offers classic toys, and value-priced arts and craft kits as well as the exclusive Sunny Patch collection. MelissaAndDoug.com customers will always find the perfect gift that’s fun and educational, too!

My girls have always been big fans of Melissa & Doug. What we have loved most is the mix of learning and play that are synonymous with Melissa & Doug products.


One of our all-time favorites is the Giant Giraffe Stuffed Animal. Emma's godfather and his wife bought this giraffe for their daughter several years ago, and my girls have had it on their wish list ever since then.

Giant Giraffe - $99.99

TRAIN TABLE (includes 2 free trains for a limited time)

Harper developed a love for Thomas the Train by the time she was two. For her third birthday, we bought her a huge Thomas train set. What we didn't realize at the time was that we needed a table too. A train table like the Melissa & Doug one is a must-have for any locomotive lover.

Train Table with Two Free Trains - $149.99

Deluxe Puppet Theater

When we were on vacation last week at South Seas Island Resort, the children's play and activity center had one of these puppet theaters. My girls had hours of fun with it. It truly fosters creativity, and I loved that about this product.

The girls were incredibly imaginative and entertained us with play after play. They improvised and did some script planning as well. This is a perfect gift for an actor in the making.

Deluxe Puppet Theater with Free Chef Puppet - $89.99

Deluxe Kitchen with FREE Cutting Food Box

Make your mini chef's dreams come true with this durable wooden kitchen set. Kitchen includes a stove, refrigerator/freezer, sink, oven and microwave with a turntable. Colorful and functional, your little ones will enjoy hours of play in this kitchen.

My girls have always loved their kitchen sets. Even now that they are a bit older, they still occasionally play with it. Kitchen sets encourage creativity in the kitchen, and they are a great place for kids to practice math skills. And no! They are not for girls only!

Art Easel with 2 FREE Paper Rolls

No room for an art studio? No Worries! Any room becomes an art studio when you have the Melissa & Doug Art Easel.

The easel includes a dry-erase board, a chalkboard, a paper roll holder, plastic trays on each side to hold supplies, and a child-safe paper cutter.

Let your kiddos unleash their creativity and imaginations with this sturdy art easel. Folds up for easy storage. Art supplies are not included.

And a few more favorites...

3. Shape sorting clock - $12.99

Don't miss other holiday offers from Melissa & Doug:
MelissaAndDoug.com- Over 2,000 Unique and Exciting Toys for Children of All Ages! Click here!
MelissaAndDoug.com- Over 2,000 Unique and Exciting Toys for Children of All Ages! Click here!

Menu Plan Monday: 11.25.2013

Monday, November 25, 2013
It's been a while since I've done a menu planning post. We were away on vacation which spanned 2 weeks. Last week when we returned, it took everything I had to get back on track. I couldn't even think about trying to put together a plan for dinner.

The latest is that my oldest daughter has gone vegetarian. So, we are trying to accommodate her while keeping the rest of the family in mind. Just warning you, our meal plans may be veggie and pasta heavy.

MONDAY - Linguine with oil and garlic. This is the hubs' own recipe, but this one is good.

Photo credit: Williams-Sonoma
TUESDAY - Italian bean and pasta soup.

WEDNESDAY - Cheese ravioli with brown butter and sage.

THURSDAY - Happy Thanksgiving!

FRIDAY - Dinner out

SATURDAY - Make your own pizza contest

SUNDAY - Bar-b-cue chicken sliders.

What's on your plate this week? For more meal planning inspiration, be sure to visit I'm an Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

To view all of my menu planning post, click here.


The Cast Is Off!

Thursday, November 21, 2013
After 8 loooooong weeks, Harper's cast was finally removed.

Looking back, those 8 weeks sure did fly by, but at the time, they seemed like 8 months. There's nothing more emotionally wrenching than seeing your child in pain or injured. It's an awful feeling.

The first week and the last week were the 2 worst weeks. During the first week, it was like having a toddler all over again. Harper needed help to do just about everything. She couldn't get dressed by herself, she couldn't take a bath by herself. She could barely get herself a snack. Learning to cope with the temporary use of one arm was not easy.

During the final week with the cast, we were on vacation in Florida, surrounded by several swimming pools and the Gulf of Mexico. Although we bought a waterproof cast cover, it didn't fit properly and so, it wasn't completely effective. And so, Harper spent much of her time out of the water during a vacation where she otherwise would have been water logged by days end.

It was on this past Tuesday that she bounded out of bed excited for the day ahead. Excited that the cast would finally be removed.

When she arrived at the orthopedic surgeon's office, the cast was removed first. There were no guarantees. An x-ray had to be taken to be sure the bones had fused properly. Another cast was not like but was certainly an option at that point.

Always the model patient.

As soon as the assistant removed the cast, Harper was astounded by how much lighter her arm felt. The assistant took her for her x-ray, and she quickly returned and couldn't stop staring at her arm.

We waited patiently for the orthopedic surgeon to come in to give us the good news or the bad news. Those 30 seconds seemed like an eternity. But he soon came in and told us that Harper's bones were about 85% fused.


She would now need only a removable brace for another month. Woo hoo! I was pretty pumped. I can only imagine how happy my little girl was.

As we were leaving the office, I asked her what she wanted to do. She said she wanted a smoothie from her favorite smoothie place, Fins. And so, we celebrated with smoothies! Here's to a healed broken arm!


2013 Holiday Gift Guide: What To Buy the Starbucks Lover on Your List

Monday, November 18, 2013
It perks us up in the morning and keeps us going throughout the day. The good old java jolt. We can't live without it. And there's no better place to find it than at Starbucks.

For the caffeine freaks on your holiday gift list, here are some great gift ideas that keep giving throughout the year.


{For ordering information, click on the product picture}

It's the most wonderful time of the year! Fill your mug with festive Christmas blend. $14.95/lb.

Grab this 3 fl. oz. tasting cup FREE when you purchase a 1 lb. bag of Christmas Blend.

Breakfast blend is the perfect gift for the early risers on your list. Grab a cup and watch the sunrise. $19.95/box of 25 K-cups.

Does someone on your gift list take her coffee on the go from a Starbucks store? Well, how about a reusable cup sleeve? It dresses up the cup and keeps the hands cool. $4.95/sleeve

Don't forget the one with the long commute. This tumbler is perfect for the long trek to or from work. $7.99 Made Greener Linen tumbler

Some days are just made for hot chocolate. When it's cold outside, get a roaring fire going and sip a creamy hot chocolate by a toasty fire. $6.49/8 servings

And one of my personal favorites...the Starbucks cold cup. This cup is practically attached to my hip at all times. It's perfect for the car, the gym, the beach, and the pool. $10.95/24 fl. oz. cup

For the fun, creative types on your list, it's the Create-Your-Own-Mug. Mug comes with a dual tip black and white glazing pen. Requires baking once it is decorated. $14.95/16 fl. oz mug

For the big spender and the do-it-yourself-er, how about this beauty? $300 Stainless Steel Aroma Espresso Machine by Saeco

Starbucks is sure to provide you with plenty of gift inspiration for the java lover on your list.

Free Shipping with any $60+ purchase now through 12/31/13. No promo code necessary.


{Giveaway} Quaker Real Medleys Bars - 5 Boxes/3 Varieties

Saturday, November 16, 2013
Today's moms are busy, busy, busy. Between juggling my family, work, this ole blog, and social activities, time is tight. There isn't always time to make myself a full breakfast or lunch. Sometimes it's easier to grab something quickly so that I can get back to my desk or out the door to run an errand or pick the kids up from the bus stop.

Finding healthy options for on-the-go snacks or meal alternatives is difficult. The choices are limited. And often what is available is loaded with sugar, salt, or preservatives.

I love granola, fruit and nut bars, but many that are available on grocery store shelves are loaded with sugar and preservatives.

Is it so wrong to want a bar that's filled with wholesome goodness?

Quaker® doesn't think it's so wrong at all.  Quaker® has created a healthy fruit and nut bar that's packed with multigrains, roasted nuts and real fruits.

Quaker® Real Medleys™ are a grab-and-go snack that are packed with multigrain and a medley of real fruit and nuts. The fruit and nut bars are a flavorful combination with a unique texture. The Real Medleys bars were born out of the popularity of the Quaker Real Medleys Oatmeal, a portable cup of oatmeal that makes the perfect snack anytime, anywhere.
Quaker surveyed moms to find out what their most meaningful medleys were. They included uninterrupted sleep, squeezing in some exercise, and crossing off items on the to-do list with time to spare. I'll second that!
Quaker® Real Medleys™ are a great way to fuel when you are busy. Whether it's at work or at home, a jam-packed schedule can make it tough to fit in a healthy and quick meal.
Here are a few ways I've been enjoying my Quaker® Real Medleys™:
  • After a great workout. I put a few into my gym bag. When my workout is over, they help me replace energy I exerted during my workout.
  • As an afternoon snack. I have a bad habit of falling into the mid-afternoon slump. Around 2:00, I reach for a Quaker® Real Medleys™, and I am satisfied until dinner.
  • As a replacement for breakfast. I don't eat eggs, so for me breakfast usually consists of yogurt, granola, and fruit. When I am low on time, it's Quaker® Real Medleys™ to the rescue!
  • While on an airplane. My family and I were on vacation last week. I threw a few Real Medleys bars in my carry-on, and they were a perfect in air treat!
And my daughters are loving them too. They've been perfect for after gymnastics workouts, afterschool snacks, and for those days when they've overslept by a few minutes and a big breakfast isn't an option.
My days are busy. Between squeezing in the workout in the morning, I am a work at home mom who tries not to fall prey to the distractions of housework, etc. Once my kids finish school, it's time for homework and afterschool sports and activities. We quickly follow that with preparing and sitting down to dinner. And finally, after the kids are asleep, I catch up on some TV or reading.
Quaker is offering one Pieces of a Mom reader five (5) boxes of Real Medleys fruit and nut bars. They come in 3 flavors: Apple Nut Harvest, Cherry Pistachio, and Peach Almond. Each snack bar offers 8 grams of whole grains, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 85 milligrams of sodium, and 12 grams of sugar. They are available in grocery stores nationwide and each flavor comes in a box of five bars.
Required Entry:
Follow @Quaker on Twitter and tweet your meaningful medley using the hashtag #MyMedleys or include a photo with a #MyMedleys caption.

Meaningful Medleys can come in many forms: "Sending the kids off to school in an outfit that matches + Praise from your boss after a client presentation + Catching up with that friend you haven't talked to for months.:
Once you have posted on Twitter, come back here and leave a comment which includes a link to your Twitter update that includes the #MyMedleys hashtag.
It's as easy as that!
Winner must live within the continental United States and be 18 years of age or older. Winner will be selected using Random.org on Sunday, November 24 at 9pm ET. Winner will be notified via email and will have 48 hours to respond in order to claim the prize. If winner fails to do so, an alternate winner will be chosen.
Find more information about Quaker Oats on Facebook.

I received samples of Real Medleys fruit and nut bars to facilitate this review and giveaway. All opinions are my own.

Wordless Wednesday: A Captiva Island Sunset

Wednesday, November 13, 2013
I am taking a blogging break as my family and I enjoy a week's vacation on Captiva Island, Florida, a small island off Florida's west coast. Captiva is a tropical paradise. Reminiscent of a Caribbean island, Captiva has all the charms (swaying palm trees, steel drums, crystal clear water), but it's located within the U.S.

We stay at South Seas Island Resort, a family-oriented resort where we want for nothing.

Every day ends with a walk to the beach to take in a breathtaking sunset. On this particular day, the sky appeared to be on fire.

Our girls were just as enraptured as we were.


Wordless Wednesday: The Glorious Colors of Fall

Wednesday, November 6, 2013
I can't recall a more beautiful fall here in the Northeast than the one we are having right now. The colors are vibrant and breathtaking. Just beautiful.