Friday's Fresh Picks: All Things Acrylic

Friday, October 31, 2014
Lately, I've been obsessing over acrylic. I love the clean lines and the smoothness of it. I want it in every room of my house. Here are a few of my favorite acrylic pieces.

{Tory Burch acrylic serving tray}

{Clear coffee table from CB2}

{Acrylic makeup organizers - a lifesaver for me}

{I've always wanted an acrylic chair for my desk}

{A stacking acrylic paper tray would look totally glam on my desk}

{While I am at it, why don't I just go for an acrylic desk? Hello, productivity.}

{Jazz up your kitchen with an acrylic paper towel holder}

Friday Fresh Picks are hand-picked favorite items, reviews and highlights from the amazing women you see above.
Visit their websites to learn about other amazing picks from this week!

To view all of my Friday Fresh Picks posts, click here.

Applegate Introduces HALF TIME Lunch Kits {Giveaway}

Thursday, October 30, 2014
On most days I am ambitious about packing a balanced lunch for my daughters as well as offering them a healthy snack after the school day is over. But occasionally when I have limited time, have a conference call scheduled in the afternoon or when I am just plain lazy, it would nice to be able to reach for a quick, healthy snack for the girls.

While there are lunch kits available, many are tasteless, use processed meats and cheeses, and offer other snacks that border on junk food.

Applegate, Annie's, and Stonyfield have teamed up to create the perfect grab-and-go lunch kit that you can feel good about giving to your kids. HALF TIME is the first lunch kit that is all-natural and organic to be available nationwide. Three trusted and mom-approved brands have come together to offer a convenient, pre-packed lunch or snack that will energize kids to get through the second half of their day.

HALF TIME is available in 3 varieties: bologna, ham, and turkey. Each kit contains one Stonyfield YoKids Squeezers yogurt, and a yummy snack from Annie's which includes fruit snacks or graham crackers. Crackers and cheese round out the snack kit for a complete lunch or snack to power kids through the second half of the school day.

I love HALF TIME snacks because they are easy to transfer to our favorite Bento-style lunch boxes. In no time at all I have a ready-made lunch that's fun to eat. HALF TIME snack kits have been ideal for my youngest daughter who has type 1 diabetes. The ratio of protein to carbohydrates is well balanced with most kits having less than 40 grams per box. I send her off to school with a HALF TIME in her Bento box, and the carb counting is done for me!

My kids aren't big bologna eaters, so it goes without saying that they love the turkey and ham varieties the best. The accompaniments were, of course, old favorites. My daughters love "playing" with their food. Sometimes they make cracker sandwiches with the HALF TIME, and other times, they eat all the kit elements separately. Whatever floats your kids' boats!

At the end of day, you can feel good about giving your kids a nutritious and organic lunch or snack whether they just need to refuel, relax, or recharge.


One lucky reader will win a HALF TIME prize pack which includes:
  • All three varieties of HALF TIME
  • Lunch Bag – personalize it!
  • Set of Markers – to decorate the lunch bag!
  • Fun activity book
  • Coupons to use to stock your fridge with HALF TIME

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post was created in partnership with Stonyfield. As a Yo-Getter, I received complimentary packages of HALF TIME snacks to facilitate this post. All opinions are my own.

Best Online Reads

Here are all the links I am loving this week:

1. Cool tricks for applying concealer via Refinery 29.

2. 7 days worth of stylish outfits via Who What Wear

3. Super weird things you never knew about Halloween via Huffington Post.


Hurricane Sandy: Two Years Later #GetReady

Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Today is the 2 year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy. Many Jersey shore and New York residents still have vivid recollections of the physical and emotional devastation that Sandy caused. Hurricane Sandy cause more than $50 million in damage and destroyed more than 600,000 homes. 162 people lost their lives, and thousands and thousands of people lost their livelihood.

Some of the most affected by Hurricane Sandy were the children. Displaced from homes, daily routines and structure uprooted, these children were suffering. Schools were closed for days, months, with a few still not open two years later.

A recent Save the Children's report included a poll that shows most of us are still not nearly as prepared as we could be to protect our children  and ourselves from disaster. You don't have to live in a hurricane zone to be prepared. Natural disasters can happen anywhere. No matter where you live, you need to be prepared in the event of an emergency.

Was my family ready on that fateful day when Hurricane Sandy made landfall just one mile from where we live? Not exactly. We thought we were ready. We had stashes of extra batteries. We had cases and case of water. We stocked up on non-perishable foods, but we never thought we'd have to resort to eating them. At 5:00 that evening, we lost power. Shrouded in darkness, we held our breath for a few seconds waiting for the power to return.

After five minutes, nothing. After an hour, nothing. Two hours, three hours, five hours passed with no power. We went to bed. Surely by the morning, the power would be restored. As it turned it out, we waited six excrutiatingly long days for our power to be restored. Finally, in the wee hours of the morning on Sunday, November 4th, our power was restored.

These days, we would do it very differently if we were in a similar situation. Thanks to Save the Children, there are checklists to help both parents and care givers in the event of an emergency. These checklists will guide you in putting together a plan for stocking up at home, developing a communication plan, and putting together an evacuation plan. I've printed the parents checklist, and we've put the procedures in place.

Take the PLEDGE to protect children from disaster. When you pledge, you'll receive full access to Save the Children's 2014 Disaster Report Card where you can see how your state ranks in protecting children.

For more information and to become better prepared in the event of a disaster, visit

To see my other Hurricane Sandy related posts, click here, here, and here.

Obiqo Shower Gel and Body Butter

Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Nothing jump starts my day more than an invigorating shower. It wakes me up and gives me that initial push I need to start the day.

And when I have the perfect bath and body products, it's even better! The right products can amp up your shower and rev your up.

Recently I was introduced to Obiqo, a sea-inspired skincare line created by Kiwi, Phillippa Fletcher. Obiqo combines nutrient-rich sea kelp straight from New Zealand's pristine waters with the fines Europen anti-aging extracts and powerful anti-oxidants of French organic sea lavender. This powerful combination creates a range of products that feed your skin and your soul.

In addition to several different types of facial creams, serums, cleansers and scrubs, Obiqo has a line of bath and body products. Since my facial skin is very sensitive, I chose to receive the Body Wash and Body Butter Duo, a delicious combination that will leave your body feeling fresh, clean, and silky soft.

The very first thing I noticed about the Obiqo body wash was its glorious scent. Its combination of sea lavender, chamomile, and cucumber is light and refreshing. It leaves a clean, no-film feeling on your skin.

After drying off, I applied the body butter. It goes on smoothly and is thick but not so much so that you feel as if it's layered on your skin. In the evenings before I go to bed, I can still feel the body butter on my skin. There was no need for me to reapply it before bed. It deeply moisturizes and lasts the entire day. It has a very light, pleasant scent.

Overall consensus: I loved both of these products. Their effectiveness combined with the top-notch sea-extract ingredients are a winning combo of luxury for your skin at a price tag that's more than reasonable.


Obiqo is offering one lucky Pieces of a Mom reader the opportunity to win a Body Wash and Body Butter Duo (total value $37).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Receive special offers and stay-up-to-date on the latest Obiqo news by signing up for the newsletter.

For more of the best in beauty this week, be sure to check out #BeautyBuzz hosted by Momtrends, Mama in HeelsSassy Moms in the City and Jo-Lynne Shane! Don't miss it for the best beauty products, beauty secrets, and fabulous beauty giveaways.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary Obiqo Body Wash and Body Butter Duo to facilitate this review. No further compensation was received. All opinions are my own.

Tips for Helping Your Children Avoid Sports Injuries

Monday, October 27, 2014

Last year at this time, we were getting ready to embark on a family vacation to sunny Florida. We were excited about spending long, lazy days at the beach and the pool. There was just one problem.

My youngest daughter Harper had a broken left arm. Swimming was not an option.

It had happened about 5 weeks earlier when she was at a routine gymnastics practice. She was working on perfecting a front flip on the trampoline. She panicked mid-air and came crashing down awkwardly on her left arm. She suffered a compound fracture, and we were left scrambling.

As parents, my husband and I were completely caught off guard. There was the whole physical aspect of her injury. She'd have to adjust to having the use of only one arm for about a month as she wore a full cast from shoulder to arm.

Then there was the whole financial aspect of her injury. We had primary insurance coverage, but we were not familiar with our plan coverage in the event of a major injury. Harper's injury required surgery and an overnight hospital stay. Not only that, but she was transported from the gymnastics facility to the hospital via ambulance.

In addition to being stressed about her injury, I was also growing concerned about mounting medical costs, including follow up visits once she was discharged from the hospital.

Could her injury have been prevented? Perhaps. Many of the injuries that our children sustain are preventable by sticking to a few safety tips while on the field or court:

1. Follow the rules
Rules are put in place for a reason. They protect the safety of the athletes. It's easy to get lost in the moment when you are passionately playing a sport you love, but it's not the time to be a daredevil.

2. Use all provided equipment
Just as rules are necessary, so is the proper equipment. Don't skimp on equipment. If you should be wearing protective gear, be sure to have it on and that it is fitting properly.

3. Follow the doctor's orders
Your child is likely to be anxious to get back out on the field again. It's normal. But it's not safe. The doctor has put together a treatment plan to help your child recover properly so that he or she can be back on field again soon.

4. Have proper coverage
When you have kids, accidents happen. You can be more prepared with supplemental insurance to help you cover out-of-pocket expenses. According to the 2014 Aflac WorkForces Report, 66 percent of U.S. workers could not afford the costs associated with a serious illness or injury. Voluntary insurance plans help provide the peace of mind and cash benefits to help your child get back in the game fast.

Supplemental accident insurance pays the policyholder cash benefits for the unexpected medical and everyday expenses that quickly add up. We didn't have supplemental accident insurance when Harper broke her arm. The facility where she was injured provided secondary insurance, but there were still expenses that we had to pay out of our own pockets.

That’s where Aflac comes in to help. When you have an Aflac supplemental insurance plan and suffer a serious illness or injury, Aflac helps ease the financial stress and provides cash benefits to help pay for out-of-pocket expenses.

Supplemental insurance could help cover such expenses as broken teeth, concussions, ambulatory expenses, and emergency room visits as well as other expenses that may not be fully covered by your major medical insurance.

Speaking of sports and injuries, don't miss Aflac's season-long football campaign and partnership with the Heisman Trophy. Enter to win the Ultimate College Football Experience Sweepstakes.
Three prize packages will be awarded; winners will be announced Oct. 28, Nov. 4 and Nov. 11.

Are you the ultimate college football fan? If so, this #AflacSweeps is for you! Three lucky fans will win a trip for two, a pair of tickets to one of three college football games in November, a chance to meet 

Desmond Howard and more. Enter once per 24 hours on Facebook; for bonus entries, share on Twitter.

Enter today and then spread the word to let your friends know it’s #GameOn!

Each prize package includes:

• Two tickets to the biggest college football game of the weekend.
• Meet & greet with Desmond Howard.
• Round trip airfare.
• Hotel accommodations.
• Ground transportation to and from events.
• $500 prepaid debit card for food and other expenses.

CLICK HERE for entry form and official rules.

CONSUMER NOTICE: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. PURCHASE WILL NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. Open to legal permanent residents of 50 U.S. states and DC, 21 or older, who have Internet access and valid email address prior to 08/28/14. To enter and for Official Rules, including odds and prize descriptions, click here: This sweepstakes is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook or Twitter. For a winner's list (after 11/10/14), visit the Ultimate College Football Experience tab of this page or mail request to Aflac "Ultimate College Football Experience" (Specify Winner List), Media Relations, 1932 Wynnton Road, Columbus, GA 31999. Sponsor: American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Menu Plan Monday :: 10.27.2014

I'm late in getting my menu plan up today. Harper had an appointment this morning at the endocrinologist. The time I usually devote to writing my menu plan post, I spent at the doctor's office with her instead.

After leaving her appointment, I was inspired to continue to make positive changes to our diets to accommodate her diabetes. Her diabetes stays much more under control when we limit the carbohydrates and keep the meals full of lean protein and fresh veggies.

Here's what we'll be eating this week:

Monday - Leftovers - we've got lots from the weekend.

Wednesday - TBD - Hubs' birthday!!!

Thursday - Deep dish taco pie with a side salad. 

Friday - Halloween! We'll get take out after trick-or-treating or we'll make this fun treat.

Saturday - Grilled chicken kebabs with a side of rice

Sunday - Spicy veggie chili with cornbread

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 DinnerPasta, and Soups On! Pinterest boards for even more ideas.

Friday's Fresh Picks: Festive Fall Cocktails

Friday, October 24, 2014
Just as you change up your wardrobe each season, you should change up your cocktails too! I love to take advantage of in season produce and incorporate it into my cocktails. Autumn is the perfect time for this. An abundance of apples and pumpkins makes for some incredibly tasty concoctions.

Pick one or two and try them this weekend. You'll be glad you did!

{Warm your insides with spiked apple cider}

{Take a break from beer and serve up a pitcher of Autumn sangria for football Sundays}

{Fall is synonymous with apples. So, what's fall without a candy apple martini?}

{It may not be better than a sweet, crunchy caramel apple, but a caramel apple martini comes close}

{The trifecta of drink combinations: pear, vanilla, and vodka cocktail}

{Grab the chips and guac and serve them with spiced apple margaritas}

{If you like white Russians, you'll LOVE autumn Russians}

{A hot buttered rum is perfect for a cozy night in}

Friday Fresh Picks are hand-picked favorite items, reviews and highlights from the amazing women you see above.
Visit their websites to learn about other amazing picks from this week!

To view all of my Friday Fresh Picks posts, click here.

Apple Cookies

Thursday, October 23, 2014
These cookies are pretty much ideal. No measuring. No mixing. No baking. No cooling.

Just make and eat. This is a great recipe for getting little hands involved in the kitchen. They can help sprinkle the toppings on the cookies.

Apple Cookies


Apples (about 1 per 2 people)
Peanut butter
Chocolate morsels (mini or regular) and/or white chocolate chips
Shredded coconut
Chopped nuts (almonds, peanuts, walnuts, etc.)


1. Core and thinly slice apples.

2. Spread a layer of peanut butter on the apple.

3. Top with chocolate chips, coconut, and nuts.

*Note: You can substitute toppings based on your personal preferences. We've used crushed pretzels, granola, and cinnamon. Whatever you like!

Best Online Reads

The links I am loving this week:

1. 11 things you never knew you could do with Pinterest via Business Insider.

2. 8 hairstyles every girl should know via Style Me Pretty.

3. Anniversary gifts your guy will actually love via She Knows.


Cooking Tips for Beef Lovers

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Beef is one of the most delicious meats out there when cooked properly. If you’re buying a quality cut of beef, then you want to make sure you’re preparing and cooking it properly. This way, you’ll enhance the texture and flavor and make something wonderful.

When Harper was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes last February, we made several changes to our diet as a family. One of those changes was to incorporate more protein, specifically beef, into each of our meals. Since then, I've cooked different cuts of beef many different ways, and I've come up with a few helpful hints for getting it just right.

These cooking tips should give you some great ideas when it comes to what to do with your beef.

Sear Your Beef

You can do this with pretty much any beef recipe you can think of. Before adding your beef, sear it on both sides. This will add to the flavor of the dish and make your beef even tastier. You do this by getting a pan to a very high heat, then adding your beef for around 1 minute on each side. Before you add the beef, make sure you’ve brushed it with coconut or olive oil first. You may also like to season it. Don’t move the beef or be tempted to mess with it. You can then add it to your casserole, stew, or even continue cooking in the pan once you’ve seared it.

Get the Timings Right

Everybody knows that you can eat beef well done, rare, or somewhere in the middle. You should know your timings in order to cook the perfect piece of beef. For rare you’ll only need to do both sides for about 2 minutes, but for well done it could be up to 5 minutes each side depending on the size of your beef. It depends what dish you’re cooking too.

Buy The Right Kind for the Job

Different kinds of beef are suitable for different kinds of dishes. For example, a joint of beef is perfect for creating a roast beef dish, while chunks of beef are great for a casserole. The packaging will usually explain what the meat is good for, so pay attention to it.

Enhance the Flavor

Enhance the flavor of your beef by adding different ingredients to complement it. You may like to add sauces, herbs, spices, or all of them to see what you can create. Peppercorn sauce goes great with steak, for example.

Use Good Knives

If you aren’t using a good set of knives on your meat, or any of your food for that matter, you aren’t doing it justice. Make sure they are sharp enough, and that you aren’t having to hack away at your meat to use it. You should be able to slice through it with no problems. This will not only enhance the texture, but the presentation too.

Make Sure You Let it Rest

In most cases, the meat should be rested before you eat it so you can enjoy it properly. This gives it a chance to drop any juices it doesn’t want and soak back up the juices it does want. If you plop it straight on your plate, it might bleed on there and make your vegetables all gloopy. Yuk.

Now, go ahead and make the most of your beef!


The Best Berry Lipsticks For Any Skin Tone

Tuesday, October 21, 2014
This fall berry-, plum-, and wine-colored lipsticks are HOT! They are the must-wear shade of the moment, but the problem is it's difficult to find a shade that looks good on you.

After doing a bit of lipstick research, aka happily testing out a bunch of shades, I've found 4 shades that will look great on anyone, no matter what your skin tone, age, or size of your lips.

1. MAC Rebel
This shade is by far my favorite out of all of the ones I tried. It is near perfect. If you need a liner, MAC has one that will complement this lip color.

2. Smashbox "Fig"
A combination of plum and berry like a deep red grape.

3. NARS "Scarlet Empress"
This rich, vivid shade of wine adds sexy to your smile.

4. Maybelline "Blissful Berry"
A plum/wine shade that's perfect for the upcoming holiday season.

For more of the best in beauty this week, be sure to check out #BeautyBuzz hosted by Momtrends, Mama in HeelsSassy Moms in the City and Jo-Lynne Shane! Don't miss it for the best beauty products, beauty secrets, and fabulous beauty giveaways.


Fall Fun: Jenkinson's Boo at the Boardwalk #JenksAmbassador

For two weekends in the fall, Jenkinson's Boardwalk hosts Boo on the Boardwalk, a seaside celebration filled with Halloween fun including games, trick-or-treating and more. The kids get a chance to take an early spin in their costumes and collect candy from Jenkinson's businesses including the Sweet Shop and the aquarium.

On Saturday, we took a stroll on the boardwalk to check out the festivities. It was a nice switch up from the pumpkin patches and apple orchards that we've been visiting as of late.

There was plenty of fun for the kiddos including a coloring table with fun and spooky pictures. You could even turn your coloring creation into a mask.

There was a prize wheel. You spin it. You win it!

There were fun photo opps including a threesome of scarecrows.

And a Jenkinson's step and repeat.

We had a chance to sneak in a few games of Skee-Ball too!

After the boardwalk fun, we headed to the aquarium. The penguins are in the spirit of Halloween!

Our timing couldn't have been more perfect. We hit the seal and shark feedings.

Jenkinson's Boo on the Boardwalk is a limited engagement. You can enjoy the fun on Saturday, October 25th and Sunday, October 26th from 12 - 4 pm. The aquarium hours are 10 am - 5 pm on Saturdays and Sunday.

For more information, visit


Life Lately: JDRF Walk To Cure Diabetes ~ 2014

Monday, October 20, 2014
Yesterday was the 2014 Jersey Shore JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes in Avon-By-The-Sea, New Jersey. I was a little late getting on board since this was our first year participating in the walk, but I pulled off putting a team together.

And...the best part is our team, Harper's Heroes, raised $1,620 towards finding a cure for type 1 diabetes! THANK YOU if you donated, if you walked, if you sent an encouraging message.

Thank you. Thank you!

I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of how crowded the walk would be. This is the first year that the walk was combined to include 2 counties. Once we arrived and navigated the crowd to find the registration tent, things went smoothly. We checked our team in and grabbed a few t-shirts.

It was crowded, but the crowd was so excited. Everyone was so pumped and thrilled to be part of such a worthy cause. And when you see the type 1 diabetics walking around proudly wearing their blue ribbons, you can't help but to feel empowered. Empowered to help change the future landscape of juvenile diabetes.

My little hero wearing her blue ribbon
We had an awesome team comprised of friends and family. Here's a shot of everyone huddled together to stay warm at the starting line.

Harper's Heroes 2014

The walk was 2.32 miles and took place on the boardwalk or beach, where the kids preferred to walk. The energy was infectious. I loved seeing all the creative team t-shirts. We've already starting planning our tee for next year's walk.

Type 1 diabetes is a disease that requires the support of everyone around you, and it was definitely obvious at this walk that there is plenty of support and commitment in the community. I feel fortunate to have a fantastic team of people supporting Harper and our family.

Harper after crossing the finish line
A finish line celebration
Official team photo (minus a few members)
For more information about JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) or to donate or find a walk near you, click here.