Objects of My Obsession

Friday, August 29, 2014
Today is our last full day in Rehoboth Beach. Tomorrow I'll be heading back to New Jersey. This week's installment of OOMO is all about the things I love in Rehoboth Beach. I'll be sad to leave this favorite vacation destination, but I'll be looking forward to our return next year. But for the next 28 hours, I am taking full advantage of vacation mode. Have a great Labor Day weekend! xx

{Just about everyday of our vacation started with a gorgeous sunrise}

{My favorite local pizza from here}

{Long, lazy days spent on the beach}

{The best crepes this side of the Atlantic from here}

{Morning walks with scenic views}


Best Online Reads

Thursday, August 28, 2014

All the links I am loving this week:

1. Jersey shore food experiences you must try before you die via NJ.COM.

2. This is your body on coffee via Prevention Magazine.

3. 10 celebrities and their animal look-a-likes via One Green Planet.


Wordless Wednesday: Rehoboth Beach Sunrise

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

One of my favorite things to do while on vacation in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware is to watch the sunrise. It's such a peaceful time of the day.

For more Wordless Wednesday photos, click here.


Gazebo Room's Salad Nicoise {Recipe}

Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Gazebo Room Restaurant
Today my friends at Gazebo Room have generously offered up their recipe for Salad Nicoise. This salad was the most popular menu item at the Gazebo Room restaurant when it was in operation in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Today, although the Gazebo Room restaurant has long been closed, the company has been bottling their famous dressing for years. For more information about the history of Gazebo Room, click here.

I've been enjoying Gazebo Room dressings on salads, pastas, and as a marinade for years. It's my go-to dressing. Before it was available at grocery stores in New Jersey, I would stock up on it each time I went to central Pennsylvania to visit family.

I was thrilled when the folks at Gazebo Room agreed to share their iconic recipe for Salad Nicoise with the readers of Pieces of a Mom.

Gazebo Room Salad Nicoise
Total Time: 30 Min.
Makes: 6 Servings

6 small red skinned or new potatoes (boiled, halved)
1 lb. fresh green beans (lightly steamed)
½ lb. mixed field greens
1 cup artichoke hearts
1 medium tomato (wedges)
3 hard-boiled eggs (halved)
½ cup Kalamata or green olives
½ red onion (sliced)
3 tbsp. capers
1 (6 oz.) can of tuna in water
Or 8 oz. fresh seared tuna

4 oz. Gazebo Room Lite Greek Salad Dressing
3 tsp. Dijon Mustard

Pour Lite Greek Dressing into a small mixing bowl. Whisk in Dijon Mustard. Set aside.
On a large platter, prepare a bed of mixed salad greens, and decoratively arrange remainder of ingredients over greens. Pour dressing over salad while gently whisking.

For easier serving, divide greens over 6 salad plates, and arrange ingredients on each individual salad before adding dressing.

For more information on Gazebo Room, follow along on Twitter and Pinterest and become a fan on Facebook.

Living With Type 1 Diabetes :: Hitting The 6 Month Mark

Monday, August 25, 2014
Yesterday marked the 6 month anniversary of Harper's type 1 diabetes diagnosis. While there have been days when it seems like diabetes has always been a part of our lives, there have also been days when it seems we've just begun this battle.

I'll never get used to the roller coaster ride that is type 1 diabetes. The constant struggle to maintain a healthy blood sugar is a daily challenge. Looking back, I now realize that Harper's first few months post-diagnosis were a walk in the park since she was in a "honeymoon" phase.

Her honeymoon phase is starting to end, and her body is no longer producing residual insulin. The past month has been a battle. Constant monitoring of blood sugar levels, sometimes on an hourly basis. Calls to the endocrinologist on a weekly basis to adjust insulin dosages. Adjusting insulin to accommodate fluctuating blood sugar levels. It's been a lot of ups and downs.

It's been 6 months of on-going education. Every day we seem to learn something new about this complex disease and how it specifically affects Harper.

And then there's diabetes burnout. No one tells you about this in the hospital, but it's very real. The days you wake up and don't want anything to do with diabetes. It happens to the diabetic, and it happens to the caretakers. This disease can be draining on everyone involved. There isn't a moment in the day that I don't think about diabetes and what affect is it having on Harper. And I always seem to be giving a shot or calculating carb counts or replenishing diabetic supplies or calling the insurance company.

Most days I know we will be OK, that type 1 diabetes is manageable and controllable. But there are other days when I look at Harper and feel an overwhelming sadness for her. She's been handling this like a trooper, but I can see in her eyes that some days she wants to go back to the way she used to be. She wants to be carefree about her eating. She doesn't want to stop in the middle of what she's doing to check her blood sugar.

Everything seems so calculated now. What time will she eat? How much will she eat? When will her insulin peak? At times, I wonder if we will ever really get used to this life.

I know we will, but that day seems so far in our future. So for now, we will continue on our path, guiding each other and keeping each other, especially Harper, from veering too far off the trail.


Let's Chat :: The Importance of Family Vacations

Sunday, August 24, 2014
This morning I am waking up in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. I'll be spending the next week here with my sisters and their families. It's an annual family tradition that started in 2007 when we returned to the place where we spent many, many family vacations as children.

Now, seven years later, we all look forward to this sort of family reunion. It's a week of beaching it, eating at our favorite boardwalk joints, card games, bingo games, morning walks, and lots of laughs.

I love that year after year, we make this trip a priority. After the deaths of both of our parents in 2007 and 2008 respectively, we knew just how important this vacation would be. It's a time to honor our parents. It's a time to remember the times that we had been here as kids and a time to make new memories with our own children.

At the heart of it, Rehoboth Beach, to us, means family. It's a place to celebrate who we are and what we have become. It's our second home, in a sense, and the place that signifies the importance of spending time together.

Whether we are all together or we split up and go our separate ways at times during this week, we are always somehow connected. And that's one of the things I love most about this vacation. We don't have to spend every moment of every day together to know how much each of us loves being together.

At the end of the day, I can't imagine a summer that doesn't include this family vacation to Rehoboth Beach. Not only is it a chance to refresh and recharge, but it's our time to reminisce and reconnect.


"Summer Sleep-Away" by Ofer Aronskind {Book Review & Giveaway}

Friday, August 22, 2014
Ever since my daughter started reading novels as part of her school curriculum, I've read them with her. Not for her, mind you, but rather at the same time that she was reading them. I did this to stay in touch with her school work and to be able to help her if she was ever "stuck" on a project or assignment.

What I found was that I actually enjoyed the young adult literature genre. When I was asked if I'd be interested in reading and reviewing Ofer Aronskind's "Summer Sleep-Away", I gladly accepted. I am drawn to books with summer themes during the summer, and this book seemed like the quintessential summer read.

"Summer Sleep-Away" has themes that are native to just about everyone, no matter your age. We can all relate to some of the central themes and plots throughout "Summer Sleep-Away". The one recurring theme that I could most relate to was the one where Ari was constantly having to do things and go places he didn't want to do or go. specifically going to sleep-away camp.

The main character Mattie Kleinfeld, just as each of us often does although reluctantly, steps on to the camp bus and is on his way. The bus ride isn't an enjoyable one. He thinks he won't make any friends or have any fun. Once at camp, he gets the bunk that's in the absolute worst shape all of them in his cabin. But soon Mattie's luck turns around. His bunk is quickly upgraded with a new mattress and his cubby is promptly repaired.

This book brings back many fond memories of my adolescence. The nervousness about making new friends. The self-consciousness about everything I did, every move I made. Experiencing that scary yet exhilarating feeling of being away from home. Rejoicing in the fact that maybe your parents were right for sending you away. The book is complete with all the rites of passage of our teenage years.

Mattie experiences these and more, and whether you are 15 or 50, "Summer Sleep-Away" is completely relatable book. In fact, both my daughter and I were thrilled with this book. She especially loves books where friendships are formed and flourish. I loved reading about all of Mattie's adventures while at camp including swimming, fishing, hiking, and even having his first girlfriend.

But it's not until Mattie and his friends happen upon a clue that changes everything for Mattie. Without offering any plot spoilers, Mattie and his friends set out on a camp adventure that gives Mattie some clues about his background and strengthens his bonds with his camp buddies.

"Summer Sleep-Away" is available on Amazon.com. But you can win a copy right here on Pieces of a Mom.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Note about the author: Ofer Aronskind was born in Tel Aviv, Israel and came to the United States at the age of six. He grew up in Little Neck, Queens, on the outskirts of New York City. He attended SUNY Albany then took a year off after college where he spent the year in Los Angeles writing screenplays. The following year he came back to NY to attend St. John’s University School of Law and graduated in 1989. He went to work at the law firm of Weil Gotshal & Manges as a real estate attorney and worked there until 1997.

He currently resides in Short Hills, New Jersey with his three sons and is a real estate investor. New Jersey resident Ofer Aronskind remembers what it was like to be 12 years old: the challenges of middle school, making new friends, attending summer camp for the first time, having your first crush. By drawing on events from his life, as well as those of his three teenage sons, he has been able to vividly recreate some of life’s most memorable experiences in his young-adult novels.

You can find more information about Ofer Aronskind on Facebook, Twitter, and at this Web site.

Disclosure: received a copy of Summer Sleep-Away as well as compensation. All opinions in this review are my own.

Best Online Reads

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Lots of good links this week:

1. Four good things and four bad things for your heart via Women's Health.

2. The 2 questions you should ask yourself each and every day via Oprah Magazine.

3. 77 surprising expiration dates you should know via Real Simple.


6 Great Recipes for National Lemonade Day

Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Pucker up! Today is National Lemonade Day, and I can't think of a better time of the year to celebrate this favorite summer time drink. Today, in honor of country porches and wooden rockers, I'm sharing a few of my favorite recipes involving lemonade.

1. Frozen Pink Lemonade Pie via Dessert Now Dinner Later

2. Strawberry Coconut Lemonade via The Kitchen McCabe.

3. Raspberry Lemonade Mini Cupcakes via Your Cup of Cake

4. Blackberry Lemonade via Yummy Serving.

5. Strawberry Lemonade Sugar Cookies via Lil' Luna.

6. Tipsy Basil Lemonade via Women's Health.


Exploring the Origins of My Family Line with Ancestry.com #surnameproject

Tuesday, August 19, 2014
This article is sponsored by Ancestry.com. As always, all opinions are my own.

I've always been fascinated by genealogy. The thought of my ancestors arriving in the United States by boat a hundred plus years ago fills me with wonder and curiosity. While I have gleamed some information from family members, there are still gaps to be filled in.

Ancestry.com has made it possible to fill in those gaps and learn more about my surname and my family tree. Ancestry.com is the world’s largest online resource for family history. Ancestry strives to fill the fundamental desire people have to understand who they are and where they came from. With a unique collection of billions of historical records, including handwritten historical documents and state and local government archives, Ancestry is the perfect place to learn fun and interesting facts about your family’s tree.

The first step I took with Ancestry.com was to create a preliminary family tree by adding myself, my parents, and my grandparents. I will continue with the family tree by adding my sisters and my children. But for now, here is the initial tree.

One of the things I love about Ancestry.com is that there isn't any required information that must be entered before you move on. If you have the information in your head or readily available, you can add it. If you don't, you can come back and add it once you have it.

So, about that information you don't have. You do have a name, right? Head over the Ancestry.com's "Search" feature and type in the name. The more information you have about the person (middle name, birth year, city of residence), the better Ancestry.com is at filtering applicable results.

I searched on my grandfather's name and his city of residence. I found his birth and death dates and his parents' names. I plugged those into the family tree, and within an hour or so, I had found his great-grandparents.

I spent hours tracing back my mother's family line. When I finally stopped, hours into the project, I had traced it back to someone born in 1650 in France. France! I have French ancestors! I always knew I had a little French in me.

I had no idea how engrossed I would become in this project. Nor did I realize how quickly it would take me to get there. Just a few generations back and I was hooked. I kept telling myself that after I found information on a generation, I would stop and pick up where I left off another day. But I was hooked. I couldn't stop.

I had no idea that Ancestry.com was filled with so much factual information about my family. It contains census records, military records, real estate records, birth, death, and marriage records.

Here is what my family tree looks like now, compared to what it looked like above when I first started. It's difficult to read the detail, but you can see how many generations back I was able to trace.

I am truly amazed. When I was asked to do this project, I had no idea how much I would learn about my ancestors. And I haven't finished yet.

I will be writing a follow up post with more information to share as I further plot my family tree.

In the meantime, I invite you to join Ancestry.com and enjoy a free trial membership. Getting started is quick and easy, and I assure you...you will not regret it.



Menu Plan Monday :: 8.18.2014

Monday, August 18, 2014
This week is going to be a crazy one. We leave for vacation on Saturday, and I'm trying to cram 2 weeks worth of work into one. Add to that the fact that I made the bad decision to schedule a bunch of appointments for the girls this week. Getting dinner on the table? Well, I'm certainly going to try.

Here's what I've got planned for this week.

Monday - Chili (I made a big batch of chili on Saturday after the Hubs made a trip to a local farm and stocked up on peppers and tomatoes).

Tuesday - Cherry tomato spaghetti

Wednesday - Chicken Stir-Fry

Thursday - Thai it chicken noodles

Friday - Take out

Saturday - We will be arriving in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware sometime during the afternoon. We spend Saturday evening eating all of our favorites that we haven't had since the previous summer.

Sunday - Vacation

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

To view all of my menu planning posts, click here. Visit my What's For Dinner Pinterest board for even more ideas.

August 2014 Birchbox Deconstructed #birchbox

Sunday, August 17, 2014
My August Birchbox arrived this week, and just like any other month, I excitedly ripped open the box and was pleased to find a few new items that I hadn't received in months past.

Here's what I received in my August 2014 Birchbox (in no particular order):

1. Vasanti Cosmetics BrightenUp! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator (Received a sample. Full size, $34)
This fave mimics the effects of professional microdermabrasion for glowing skin. Can be used up to 5 times per week.
My thoughts: I love the way this left my skin after each use. It was mild but effective. It didn't leave my sensitive skin irritated or red.

2. ModelCo Shimmer Bronzer (Received a full size, $22)
This lightweight pressed powder gives your skin a natural glow with the slightest hint of shimmer.
My thoughts: I'm not a big fan of bronzer in general, and this one was a bit dark for my fair skin.

3. Catherine Malandrino Style de Paris Fragrance (Received a sample. Full size, $110)
This is the first ever scent from designer Malandrino. It mingles summery fruits and florals to give off an elegant vibe.
My thoughts: I absolutely love this scent, but the price tag is a big intimidating. Putting this one on my birthday wish list!

4. theBalm cosmetics Staniac in Beauty Queen (Received a full size, $17)
This best selling stain gives cheeks and lips a sheer, rosy tint.
My thoughts: This was my favorite item in this month's Birchbox. I've always used Benefit's Benetint, so I was glad to have an introduction to an alternative. 

5. Whish Shave Cream (Received a sample. Full size, $20)
This shea-butter packed silky shave cream with a fresh scent leaves skin smooth.
My thoughts: Although I love a foamy shave cream rather than a shave lotion, this one did leave my skin thoroughly moisturized and very smooth.

All items available for purchase at www.birchbox.com.

To see all of my Birchbox posts, click here.

To see more of my favorite beauty products, check out my Beauty board on Pinterest

App Obsession :: Night Sky

Saturday, August 16, 2014
Ever since I had taken an astronomy class in college, I've been fascinated by constellations. That fascination grew even more when I took a trip to Iceland where the stars seemed to be mere inches from the tips of my outstretched fingers.

My favorite constellation is Orion, and for years I have been trying to get my girls to recognize the hunter with the sword in the sky. But they've always struggled to recognize him with the naked eye.

Until we found the Night Sky app. Night Sky enables you to see constellations, planets, galaxies, and satellites with the use of your iPhone. Whether it's a clear night or your view is obstructed by clouds, Night Sky will identify the celestial objects above you.

Using your location date and the compass built into your iPhone or iPad, Night Sky cross references your location data with its inbuilt map of the sky and displays the names of the constellations, planets, galaxies, and satellites on your screen.

It's pretty magical. And it even amazed my kids who aren't easily amazed by very many apps.

Night Sky is available in the App Store.


Objects of My Obsession

Friday, August 15, 2014
This week was one of those weeks that I can't recall. It went by so quickly and each day seemed jam packed that it's almost impossible to remember specifically what we did or where we went. This weekend is sure to fly by just as quickly. After a crazy weekend last week, we intentionally planned for nothing this weekend. With a day at the pool planned for tomorrow and a quiet day at home on Sunday, it should be just the kind of weekend we need. Hope yours is a fabulous one too! xx

{A show of seaside patriotism}

{Italians know how to do coffee}

{Totally owning my crazy cat lady moniker}

{A gray, rainy day made better by pink fluffy ranunculus this week}

{This week's biggest obsession: the kitchen of our friends' newly built home in Avalon, NJ}


Best Online Reads

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Links I am loving this week:

1. Find out what the most commonly spoken language other than English is in your state via News.mic.

2. Ten psychological thrillers (books) that will give you nightmares via Huffington Post.

3. Fourteen reasons you are always tired via Health.com


A Big Ol' Thank You

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

When I started this blog at the end of 2008, I never imagined the friends I would make, the people I would meet, and the opportunities it would bring me.

Pieces of a Mom started out as an outlet for sharing daily adventures with faraway family and friends. Over the years this space has evolved. As my daughters have grown over the past six years, I have shied away from sharing personal anecdotes about them and their trials and tribulations. Trust me, their have been plenty of them, but it's been more difficult for me to make the decision to share a piece of their very personal lives.

As a result, the direction of Pieces of a Mom has veered a little more towards me in the past year or so and the things that I love. I've shared more of my favorite recipes. I've talked more about fashion than I had done before. I've delved into a favorite topic: beauty. I've shared my tips and ideas for entertaining. These are the things that I love. After my family, these things bring me the most joy and pleasure.

And so, in light of that, Pieces of a Mom will be experiencing a few changes in the fall. Just a bit of rebranding. The blog name will change. The look of the site will be updated and will be easier to navigate. The content will stay that same as it has been over the course of the past six months since I've slowly been transitioning to new content and features.

Rest assured, I will still talk about my beloved daughters. It's what I live, so how can I not?

Lastly, I leave you with a heartfelt thank you. From the bottom of my heart, it is you, dear readers, that keep me going everyday. The encouraging emails and blog comments. And yes, even the occasional mean-spirited comment has been welcomed from time to time. It is, after all, the constructive criticism that helps us to improve.

I am grateful for your support...every ounce of it. The likes on the Facebook posts and the retweets on Twitter never go unnoticed. All the virtual hugs I received when Harper was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes were some of the best hugs I have ever received. The blogging community, whether you are a reader or a fellow blogger, is one of the strongest communities to which I have ever belonged.

So, tonight, I raise a glass to you and say a big ol' thank you to everyone who is reading this.

Tory Burch Introduces a Tabletop and Home Collection

Monday, August 11, 2014
I first fell in love with Tory Burch bags. Then came the shoes. Soon after that it was her signature tunics. More recently it's been her beauty collection that I've flipped over.

Now, Tory has a new collection that has me swooning. It's her tabletop collection, and yes, it's as gorgeous as you might think. Inspired by her love of entertaining, Tory's collection includes items reminiscent of family members and close friends.

Although there are many pieces in the collection, here are five of my favorites from the Tory Burch Tabletop Collection.

The Rae Tray
Whether functional or purely decorative, this acrylic tray with brass accents is gorgeous.

Classic Candle
Available in 3 colors and 3 distinct scents, this candle makes a perfect hostess gift or a fun splurge for yourself.

Spongewear Pitcher
Fill it with sangria or fill it with flowers. Either wear, it makes a gorgeous serving piece or centerpiece.

Lucky Charm Cocktail Napkin Set
Enjoy your cocktails or mocktails in the spirit of good health and good fortune.

Lucite Letters
Perfect for use as bookends or to "clearly" state your name. These lucite letters are sure to add a neat, clean touch to any bookcase.

To see the collection in its entirety, click here.

Menu Plan Monday :: 8.11.14

This week is our last full week at home until school starts on September 5th. I'm trying a few new recipes this week and adding in some old favorites as well. Hopefully, this will keep everyone happy.

Monday - Chicken Caesar pasta salad

Tuesday - Tortellini soup with a side salad (this is a great way to sneak in veggies)

Wednesday - Pasta with tomatoes and asparagus (my own recipe)

Thursday - Steak and chicken tacos

Friday - Grab a pizza. Emma has her drama camp final performance, so dinner will consist of some pizza, salad, and maybe some cheese fries!

SaturdayGrilled chicken and italian sausage with baked cream corn with red bell peppers and jalapenos

Sunday - Corn and black bean stuffed peppers with a side salad.

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

To view all of my menu planning posts, click here. Visit my What's For Dinner Pinterest board for even more ideas.


Objects of My Obsession

Friday, August 8, 2014
We are heading down the coast to Avalon, New Jersey this weekend to visit friends. We are super excited to see them and their new home. They demolished their old summer home and built a bigger one in its place. We've seen a few pictures, but I'm sure they don't do it justice. On Sunday, we'll be making the trek to north Jersey for a dual graduation party, a high school and a college.

It's sure to be a busy weekend, but definitely a fun one. Hope your weekend is a fun one too. xx

Here are 5 things that are making me ultra happy this week.

{A new favorite bedtime snack}

{An oh-so-true cat comic}

{Found: a favorite street sign}

{I want to spend the rest of my life here}

{The perfect flats for fall and early winter}