Bacon-Wrapped Buffalo Chicken Bites

Friday, January 30, 2015
Not only is the big game two days away, but the Oscars are a mere three weeks away. For occasions like these, I love to prepare a variety of tasty finger foods rather than a main entree. One of my favorite appetizers is bacon-wrapped Buffalo chicken bites. They are easy, delicious, and a perfect addition to any party.

Whether you are having friends over for cocktails, a major sporting event, or an awards show, serve bacon-wrapped Buffalo chicken bites, and you'll be sure to please your crowd.

1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts 
4 oz. (1/2 OF 8-oz. pkg.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, cut into 48 pieces 
1 package (16 oz.) bacon, cut into thirds 
1/2 cup FRANK'S® RedHot® Buffalo Wings Sauce 
1/4 cup packed brown sugar 

1. Heat oven to 400°F. Cut chicken into 48 pieces.
2. Top each chicken piece with cream cheese piece; wrap with 1 bacon piece. Secure with wooden toothpicks, and place on foil-covered rimmed baking sheet.
3. Bake 15 to 18 min. or until chicken is done. (Bacon will not be crisp.)
4. Mix wings sauce and brown sugar until blended; brush onto bacon-wrapped bundles. Bake 8 to 10 min. or until bacon is crisp, and sauce is hot and bubbly.
Philadelphia is a registered trademark of Kraft Foods.
*Note: To make the cream cheese easier to cut, place the block in the freezer for 20 minutes.

Farewell to the Bravermans

Thursday, January 29, 2015
Tonight marks the series finale of "Parenthood", the NBC drama that amassed quite a cult following in its six seasons on the air.

I admit, I was a late comer to the "Parenthood" party, having only started watching in November 2014. My introduction came via a flight from Miami to Newark where "Parenthood" was part of American Airlines' in-flight entertainment. The episode was the season 5 finale. I didn't know who anyone was and what the relationships between the characters were, but the acting and plot lines were so riveting that I was hooked after that one episode.

photo credit
When I stepped off the plane in Newark, I was like a junkie looking for a fix. I needed more Bravermans, and I could hardly wait. The ride home from the airport was spent plotting how I would effectively utilize Netflix to catch up to the current season of "Parenthood". I had to get through close to six full seasons.

It didn't take long. No big surprise there. Every spare moment I had was spent with the Bravermans. I saw them weather life-threatening illnesses, divorce, Asperger's, a same-sex relationship, adoption, new births, and more.

What sets "Parenthood" apart is the realness of the show and its characters. I can envision any one of these characters in my life. Zeek could easily be my dad or my uncle. Adam could be my brother, husband, or boss. Haddie could be my babysitter. Sarah could and should be my best friend, even my sister. And Kristina. Well, Kristina could be I.

"Parenthood" does life in such a way that you easily forget that you are watching TV. You think, and hope for just a moment, that you are watching home videos. The ensemble casts from veteran actors to those plucked out of obscurity is

I've laughed. I've cried (a lot). And tonight will be no exception. I've got my tissues ready as I ever so reluctantly bid a very fond farewell to my favorite TV family.

You will be missed, Bravermans.

Best Online Reads

All the links I am loving this week:

1. Nineteen times Parenthood made us feel real emotions via Buzzfeed.

2. Fun indoor activities for kids via Life Without Pink.

3. I'm eyeing up this cover up for summer days at the pool and beach via Anthropologie.


Step-By-Step Guide To Hosting The Perfect Kid's Birthday Party

Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Hosting a fun kid's birthday party for your little ones can be stressful, but it can also be a lot of fun and very rewarding. With a little forward thinking and organization, it can become a more straightforward task. Whether you are throwing a small party for your baby or something more extravagant for an older child, this step by step guide will ensure the occasion goes off without a hitch.

Step 1: Recruit helpers

If you are hosting a big bash, enlist the help of others. Ask your spouse, your kids, family, friends, and even other parents to help. They can be of assistance with ideas for the party and can help out on the day.

Step 2: Decide on the theme

Deciding on a theme for the party will make organizing the event a lot simpler. It will help you make quick and easy decisions on what food to provide, which decorations to buy, and the music and games that should be played. If you think costumes will make a fun addition to the theme, save yourself money and time by purchasing these online from stores such as The theme does not need to be complicated, however. Even “summer” would make a good kids’ birthday party theme with outdoor games and a BBQ.

Step 3: Create a guest list

The next thing you should do is create a list of invitees to the party. A rule of thumb used by many party planners is that the number of guests should be the same as the age of the birthday girl or boy. If this works for you, then that’s ideal. However, if you find the number too limiting or too much, just focus on a number of guests that you are confident you will be able to manage.

photo credit

Step 4: Send invitations

Send out the birthday invitations at least two weeks in advance so that the guests have plenty of warning and time to RSVP. There are many options for designing and printing invitations from online printers to local ones in your town.

Step 5: Go shopping

At least a week in advance of the party, buy or order all the party food and decorations you need. By doing this in advance, you ensure that everything you need is available and in your possession. Decorations can be bought online, delivered to your door and stored until the party. The food can also be bought in advance and frozen or delivered to your door a day or two before the party to ensure it is fresh. If you can, try to buy everything from the same store to avoid multiple deliveries.

Step 6: Throw the party!

Give yourself plenty of time to set up for the party to avoid a mad rush at the last minute. If you have a lot to do, ask your family and friends to help out with putting up decorations and preparing the food. Now relax and enjoy your child’s birthday party. Pat yourself on the back; you’ve done an excellent job!

Do you have any tips to add?

Currently Craving: All Things Marble

Tuesday, January 27, 2015
When I saw this DIY tutorial a few months ago, I fell in love with marble. Ever since, I've been on a quest for all things marble. From fashion to home decor to functional every day essentials, marble has become a sort of obsession.

Here are a few of the things making me swoon.


How To Build An Easy DIY Chair Fort

Monday, January 26, 2015
This article is sponsored by Pop Secret. All opinions, as always, are my own. To print a $1 off Pop Secret popcorn, click HERE.

Rainy days, cold winter days, and sweltering summer days are the perfect occasions to indulge in some good old fort building.

Today was such an occasion. With a coating of snow on the ground which wasn't enough to play in, we stayed indoors and built a fort instead. There are so many ways to build a fort. We love unleashing our creative sides to try all sorts of possibilities.

Today, we went with one of the simpler forts, a chair fort. 

What You Need:
Chairs (at least 4)
Sheets or blankets (any size will do)
Favorite books
An electronic device to stream Netflix

How To:
Arrange the chairs in a U-shape or circular fashion
Drape the sheets over the top and along the back of the backs of the chairs so that there is a small opening in the front.
Fill it with all your children's favorite things including Pop Secret Popcorn and enjoy!

My daughters insisted that the cat should join them in the fort. He obliged...for a piece of popcorn!

The fort proved to be a quiet place where Harper was able to get some required school reading completed for the week.

Emma fired up Netflix and watched one of her favorite movies High School Musical 2.

Whether your kids are reading, relaxing, or watching a movie in their fort, Pop Secret popcorn is the perfect accompaniment to their fort fun.

Remember to download your $1 coupon to start saving on your next purchase of Pop Secret.

Also, you can submit your own pillow fort pictures to Pop Secret’s Facebook page for a chance to receive a fun prize pack and other surprises! Take advantage of the next snow day to build a fort!

Menu Plan Monday :: 1.26.2015

I woke up early yesterday morning to put this week's menu plan together. We are expecting a monumental snow storm here in the northeast today through tomorrow. I had to get my ducks in a row early and get the menu plan and grocery shopping completed.

The pantry and refrigerator are stocked, and I have absolutely no excuses for not following this week's menu plan. After all, I'll probably be stuck in the house for days.

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

Monday - Cobb salad

Tuesday - Tuscan tortellini vegetable soup with a side salad

Wednesday - White chicken chili (my girlfriend Nancy raved about this recipe)

Thursday - Shrimp scampi

Friday - Chicken nachos

Saturday - Dinner out or take out

Sunday - Game Day! Veggie chili, fresh salsa and chips, jalapeno dip, and death by chocolate trifle for dessert.

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.

Jalapeno Popper Dip

Friday, January 23, 2015
I usually make this dip and serve it warm. But when I came across this recipe which is served at room temperature, I thought I'd try it. Plus, it uses mustard as an ingredient which my go-to recipe does not.

I thought it would be fun to try a new recipe for a change.



8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup mayonnaise (I like Hellmann's)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese 
2 Tbsp. to 4 Tbsp. FRENCH'S® Classic Yellow® Mustard or FRENCH'S® Spicy Brown Mustard 
1 (4 oz.) can diced jalapenos, drained or 2 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced 
2 Tbsp. Japanese panko bread crumbs, toasted (optional but recommended) 

1. Combine all ingredients except bread crumbs in medium bowl.
2. Sprinkle toasted bread crumbs over dip just before serving.
3. Serve with tortilla chips or crackers.
*For a hot dip, place dip into a 1-quart ovenproof dish. Top with bread crumbs and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes or until hot.

Friday's Fresh Picks: White Jeans in Winter

When I bought my favorite pair of white jeans back in July, I never imagined I'd be wearing them while there is snow on the ground. I mean, seriously, I grew up believing that white after Labor Day was a big, giant "no-no".

But today, fashion rules have changed, and white is perfectly acceptable year round. Whether it's jeans, a blazer, or a sweater, white is a go, and it's a fun way to mix up your winter wardrobe.

For this week's Friday's Fresh Picks, I've rounded up a few of my favorite examples of how white jeans can be worn during the winter months.

Before you reach for your favorite pair, here are a few tips to follow:

  • Balance out the white jeans with an oversized or chunky knit sweater.
  • Pair the jeans with boots, booties, or flats. Steer clear of any open-toed shoes.
  • If wearing a cardigan, accessorize with a scarf.
  • Pair your white jeans with a black or navy blazer for a crisp and seasonally-appropriate look.

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.

Best Online Reads

Thursday, January 22, 2015
All the links I am loving this week:

1. Ten clever coffee table alternatives via Style Me Pretty.

2. The best products for killer eyebrows via Yahoo! Beauty.

3. Travel hacks you need to know via HuffPost Travel.


Gift Ideas For Kids Who Are Difficult to Buy For

Wednesday, January 21, 2015
When you are searching for gifts for children, it can be easier to find the perfect gift if they have a keen interest in something or if you have some knowledge of the child. Often, we are buying gifts for our children's classmates who we don't know very well, so we tend to leans towards a very generic type of gift such as a gift card.

Shopping for gifts for children who don’t yet have a passion for something in particular can be challenging. You may want to use this as an opportunity to pique their interest in a hobby, or you may invite them to come shopping with you to pick something for themselves at the store.

Planes, trains, and automobiles seem to top the list of gifts to buy for young boys. Sports and animals also feature highly on the list. If your children love planes, it may be worth pursuing gifts in that vein. You may want to pick up a copy of the Disney movie Planes, or check out the Atlas Editions diecast aircraft models. Some children just can’t get enough of the airport to see all the planes taxiing at the terminals. Remote control aircraft are lots of fun but tend to be safer in the hands of teens. Plenty of younger children are generally happy to pretend flying their smaller hand-held toys and models.

Animal figurines come in all shapes, sizes and materials to suit all ages and interests. They are a great way for preschoolers to learn more about the animal kingdom, and older children can collect them as part of a wider interest. Glass and crystal ones are very popular and make great additions to growing collections, but keep in mind that these are unlikely to be ideal for playing with. Toy collections such as My Little Pony have been popular for decades as they are so appealing for young children. My daughters still love their My Little Pony collection.

Some children are very much into sports and may pick just one that they have a big interest in. Gymnastics is huge in our house, and my daughters always love gymnastics-related gifts such as leotards or equipment.

For boys, footballs are always a popular choice. Footballs come in kiddie sizes and softer materials for very small children to handle and throw, such as POOF and NERF. For the die-hard little sports fans, look for memorabilia and collector’s cards for themed gift ideas.

Children need not be difficult to buy gifts for. They often beg and plead with you to buy specific items of interest to them anyway. Toy stores often stock an enormous range of everything you'll ever want, but sometimes it is the lesser known items that make the best gifts.

Trendy toys are hugely popular as well. My girls are always buying the "latest and greatest" toy of the moment. Right now, that toy seems to be Shopkins. Once you get to the toy store, ask an associate what toys are the hottest at the moment and consider buying one of those toys.

Regardless of the gift, kids are always thrilled to open a present and will be delighted with their gifts. Enjoy your time shopping for the kids and don't stress!


January 2015 Birchbox Deconstructed #Birchbox

Tuesday, January 20, 2015
A new year. A new Birchbox. Prior to receiving my January box, I had heard a lot of complaints from friends about their January selections. But I have to say, I was quite pleased with mine. I've been using every single item almost daily and really enjoying them.

In this month's box were the following products:

1. Cynthia Rowley Beauty Creamy Lip Stain (Received sample. Full size, $20)
I love that this long-wearing stain isn't drying like most are. This goes on smoothly and keeps lips moisturized. I wasn't thrilled with the color by itself, but it has turned out to be great for layering.

2. Key West Aloe Gentle Facial Cleanser (Received sample. Full size, $16.50)

This cleanser is almost gel-like when dispensed but quickly lathers up nicely. It's invigorating scent is perfect for kick starting my morning routine starting with washing my face.

3. Karma Organic Spa Soybean Oil and Tea Tree Oil Nail Polish Remover (Received sample. Full size, $12)
I've been waiting forever for a non-toxic nail polish remover. This one is a bit pricey compared to conventional polish removers, but it is TOTALLY worth it. It has a great scent and it's gentle formula doesn't leave your nails and hands feeling as if the top layer has been stripped off.

4. NAOBAY Radiance Body Lotion (Received sample. Full size, $18)
Uses olive oil and avocado rather than chemical to hydrate and soften your skin and works wonders on knees and elbows. I'm in love.

5. Paula's Choice RESIST C15 Super Booster (Received sample. Full size, $48)
I loved how this serum concealed the dark shadows in the inner corners of my eyes. and make me look more awake in general.

All items available for purchase through the links above.

To see all of my Birchbox posts, click here.

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

Menu Plan Monday :: 1.19.2015

Monday, January 19, 2015
It's back to NJ for us today. We enjoyed a fun holiday weekend, but now it's time to get back to our normally scheduled programming.

Kicking off our week with a meal plan, of course. I've managed to stick fairly closely to our meal plans so far this year. If you've never done any meal planning, I highly encourage you to try it. Meal planning has saved my evening sanity and has kept me organized.

Lemon Chicken Romano
Here's what we'll be eating this week.

Wednesday - Lemon chicken Romano with rice and roasted asparagus

Friday - Dinner out

Saturday - French onion soup with a side salad

Sunday - Ravioli with sauteed asparagus and walnuts (I use pine nuts instead of walnuts), salad, and garlic bread.

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.

Life Lately: Pennsylvania Farm Show, a Wrestling Tournament, Coffee with a Friend

Sunday, January 18, 2015
I am waking up early this Sunday morning in central Pennsylvania. We are here for the weekend visiting my sister and her family. It's been a jam-packed weekend so far, and we still have a full day today. Tomorrow we'll be heading back to New Jersey.

On Friday night, we headed to the Pennsylvania Farm Show, an annual event held in Harrisburg and the largest indoor agricultural exposition in the nation, with nearly 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits and 300 commercial exhibits. It had been almost 20 years since my last visit to the PA Farm Show.

I know what you're thinking...what's a beach girl who loves fashion and beauty doing at a farm show? Well, I won't lie...I was kind of there for the food. I was also there to see the cute animals, like bunnies and goats. Oh, and there was wine tasting from local wineries, too.

I was completely impressed by the Land O Lakes butter sculpture.

At first glance, we thought these kids were puppies tagging along with the mama goat.

For us beach dwellers, a chance to pet a horse is a big deal.

Yesterday, my nephew was in a wrestling tournament. It was our first chance to see him in action on the mat.

He placed 2nd!

This morning I am meeting a bestie from high school and college for a coffee date. I'm excited to catch up with her. We haven't seen each other since July, and she's recently graduated from nursing school. We are due for a little celebration at Starbucks.

What have you been up to this weekend? School activities? Kids' sports? Or maybe you've been lucky enough to spend the weekend kicking back and relaxing. However you spent it, I hope it was a good one! xx

Fun Activities To Enjoy With Your Kids

Saturday, January 17, 2015
Photo credit
For many parents, fostering creativity in their kids is important. It helps them to become more imaginative thinkers when they're older, helps them work independently, and teaches them how to follow directions and clean up after themselves. 

Finding age-appropriate creative activities is very easy. Some crafts might need a little supervision, but many, especially for older kids, are great for your children to sit down and get on with on their own. But even if they can do them alone, it doesn't mean you don't want to join in and spend some time with your kids. Try these crafts that you can enjoy with your children, whether they're three or thirteen.

Older kids can get baking on their own, when they're responsible enough to be safe in the kitchen. But even little ones as young as two or three can help you make cakes or cookies. There are plenty of tasks that small children can get involved in, from measuring ingredients to stirring batter. If you want to bake with little ones, choose some easy recipes for things they can decorate once they're baked. Cupcakes and plain cookies are fun to ice, and the simple recipes are easy to measure out and mix up, and then either pour into molds or cut out with cookie cutters.

Jewelry Making
Both boys and girls can enjoy making jewelry, with different levels of difficulty for various ages. Younger children will have no problem stringing beads or uncooked pasta onto a chord and tying it off to make a necklace, bracelet or even belt. When they're older, they can try some things that are a bit more fiddly, or get out a hot glue gun. Clasps and jewelry fittings might be a bit too small for tiny fingers, but a proper jewelry making kit is an excellent present for older children. You can also get easy to use kits for younger ones, where items can be clipped together.

Candle Making
Candle making is an easy thing to do, although you'll need to supervise young kids. As long as everyone knows to be careful with the hot wax, melting it down and adding colors and scents is like creating a special potion and your own unique scent. You can do this craft on special occasions, making Halloween or Christmas candles to give to people as gifts.

As any parent who's found one of their favorite magazines cut into pieces can tell you, kids enjoy cutting things out and sticking them down. If your children like making collages, they'll probably enjoy scrapbooking too. A pair of safety scissors, a glue stick, and a scrapbook is all they need to get started. They can stick in anything they like, from photos and artwork to birthday cards and magazine cutouts. It's a great way for both you and your kids to preserve memories from their childhood.


Friday's Fresh Picks: Current Netflix Obsessions

Friday, January 16, 2015
I was late to the Netflix party, but once I arrived, I thoroughly engrossed myself in all Netflix has to offer. From kids' shows to documentaries to blockbuster movies to hit TV shows, Netflix has it all.

With winter in full effect here in the northeast, I've been spending more time indoors, tucked in my bed with my iPad enjoying Netflix to the fullest.

This week I am sharing my current favorite Netflix obsessions for Friday's Fresh Picks.

1. Tiny
Shifting American values are the focus of this intriguing documentary which follows a couple who builds their first home and tests the theory that less is more.

2. Friends
I was thrilled to learn that Netflix would feature every single episode of Friends beginning January 1, 2015.

3. Annie
While my daughters are delighting in the modern-day version of this classic, I am fully committed to the movie from my teenage years.

4. Living On One Dollar
Four American friends travel to rural Guatemala, where they attempt to exist on a dollar a day for two months to experience life in extreme poverty.

5. Little Red Wagon
The touching story of an 8-year-old boy who sets out to help homeless children in the wake of Hurricane Charley by walking from his house in Florida to the White House.

6. Black Mirror
In a world where technology is at the forefront of our everyday lives, I'm surprised that Black Mirror isn't more popular. This satire focuses on the dark and intense side of personal technology and is presented in an anthology format.

7. Twin Peaks
This 90s cult classic is always worthy of a re-visit even if you've watched previously, and if you haven't? Well, you're in for a real treat. We are still trying to figure out who killed Laura Palmer all these years later.

8. Broadchurch
This murder-mystery will have you on the edge of your seat and glued to the screen. This one is worthy of a binge watch. So, clear your calendar and settle in for the ride. Buckle up!

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.

Best Online Reads

Thursday, January 15, 2015
All the links I am loving this week:

1. 21 food tricks that totally change everything via The Awesome Daily.

2. 52 places to visit in 2015 via NY Times.

3. Can you commit to 12 months of decluttering by getting rid of a bag a day via The Inspired Room.