Inspire Your Cooking with MARY'S Secret Ingedients

Thursday, July 30, 2015
There are monthly box subscriptions for just about any passion. Beauty? Yep. There's one for that. Pets? You got it. Shaving? Oh, yes, you can have shaving products sent to you to sample on a monthly basis.

And now. There's one for foodies. MARY's secret ingredients is a seasonal subscription box designed specifically for foodies. Whether you love cooking or eating, MARY's is for you. The carefully curated boxes come out 4 times per year and are filled with new and exciting food ingredients and products that will spice up your everyday meals.

Each box costs $25.95 and has a total value of at least $30. A portion of the proceeds of each box sold goes towards Feed The Children, an organization that provides nourishing meals to hungry children. With each MARY'S box, you'll feed yourself and a child.

I'm always eager to find innovative ingredients to add to and to switch up our everyday meals. I could spend hours trying to research kitchen and food innovations or I can subscribe to MARY'S secret ingredients.

I had a chance to try the summer 2015 MARY'S secret ingredients box. The box was comprised of six items, none of which I had heard of before. It was a great way for me to be introduced to new food products and brands. With each box comes an explanation of the products and brands to help you become familiar with each of them. Many are family owned and operated businesses that are passionate about food.

Here's what was in my MARY'S secret ingredients box:

Chipz Happen Cinnful Sweet Heat: A dessert tortilla chip with unexpected kick. Great for a snack as is, but I am planning to use these chips in a decadent dessert where I spread the chips out, drizzle them with melted chocolate, and top with vanilla ice cream and sprinkle with a dash of cinnamon.

Delta Blues Rice Grits: This byproduct of the rice milling product makes for a delicious and creamy side dish. Rice grits are actually broken pieces of rice that cook up to create a texture that is perfect for a sauce. These are a great substitute for risotto and are perfectly paired with meats and seafood or as well as eaten alone.

Love Grown Foods Chocolate Power O's: This nutritious cereal leaves the grains behind and is made with navy beans, garbanzo beans, and lentils. They are a great way to power start your day

Rufus Teague Touch O' Heat Barbecue Sauce: A tasty combination of sweet and heat, this barbecue sauce is great as a condiment or a marinade. It's great as a dipping sauce for French fries or when used to make pulled chicken barbecue. There's no mistake that it's got some heat!

Speegee Co. Spatula: The only utensil you need in the kitchen other than a knife, this versatile and multi-tasking spatula does it all and then some more. It can be used for folding, for spreading, for mixing, for tossing and turning and more. Get rid of the clutter in your drawers by adding a Speegee Spatula.

Villa de Patos Maguey Sap: This "live" product will change over time. Initially the light, amber color is ideal to use as a daily all-natural sweetener. Over time as the color darkens and becomes a rich brown, it becomes the perfect addition to sweet and savory dishes.

I added a bit of it to iced tea that I made, and it sweetened it perfectly. It was a delicious concoction.

MARY'S secret ingredient boxes are available 4 times per year (see full schedule here) for $25.95 per box. Quantities are limited each season, so jump on ordering if you are interested in checking it out. Reserve your fall 2015 box now while it's still available. The box will ship out to customers on September 25th. Annual subscriptions are available for $103.80.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary MARY'S secret ingredients box to facilitate this product review. No other compensation was received.

Best Online Reads

1. Vintage photos of 80s supermodels via Huffington Post.

2. Meal planning made easy and done in half the time via Beauty Through Perfection.

3. The most beautiful towns in New Jersey via The Culture Trip.


What I Am Currently Watching On Netflix

Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Netflix has a way of drawing you into its clutches and never letting go. It happened to me about a year ago when I finally subscribed after seeing everyone else gush about it on social media. Ever since, I have watched dozens of documentaries, movies, and TV shows that I wouldn't otherwise have had access to.

From exclusive shows (House of Cards) to shows that have long been cancelled (Brothers & Sisters) to obscure documentaries (Joanna), Netflix has a little something for everyone's binge-watching needs.

Here are the six things I am currently watching on Netflix.
1. Take Me Home
If you are a fan of Parenthood, specifically of Joel (Julia's husband), you'll want to watch this movie. Sam Jaeger stars in and directs this romantic comedy about the road less traveled. When a young woman finds out that her ailing father has taken a turn for the worst, she runs out of her NYC apartment to the first cabbie she finds and asks him to drive her California. An unforgettable trip awaits her.

2. Lions: Spy in the Den
In the wake of the unfortunate and unnecessary death of Cecil the Lion, I've developed an obsession with learning more about these beautiful and fascinating creatures. Get an up close and personal look at the king of the beasts.

3. White Collar
Two words: Matt Bomer. Hello. Why has no one told me about this TV series? An FBI agent and an ex-con team up to stop scheming white collar criminals in NYC. If nothing else, Matt Bomer is certainly a treat for the eyes.

4. Dogs with Jobs
This Canadian documentary television series explores the many ways dogs from all over the world perform extraordinary tasks to come to the aid of those in need every day. Not only do we get a glimpse into how they help others perform their jobs but we also see how these dogs touch the lives of those they serve.

5. Bloodline
This original Netflix series follows the adult siblings of the Rayburn family in Florida. Long-kept secrets are revealed and lives turned upside down when the black sheep of the family returns.

6. Austin to Boston
Satisfy your craving for wanderlust with this documentary about four bands hitting the road to play gigs from Austin to Boston after wrapping up the SXSW festival. It's a mesmerizing look at life on the road and into rural US towns.

Not subscribed to Netflix? What are you waiting for? Sign up now and get your first month of streaming for free!

ThunderShirt™: The Best Solution for Pet Anxiety

Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Pets experience anxiety just as people do. Unfortunately, pets aren't able to vocalize when they are feeling anxious or to tell us what is causing the anxiety. It could be anything from a loud noise, an unfamiliar person, a car ride, or an unexpected situation.

We have two cats, and luckily for us, they don't get rattled too often or too easily. But when they do, it's a stressful situation for all. Generally it's trips to the vet and fireworks that set them into a tailspin. But we have finally found a solution for alleviating some of their anxiety and a means to put them at ease during stressful situations.

ThunderShirt is designed to apply gentle and constant pressure to cradle your cat in order to reduce and eliminate symptoms of anxiety. ThunderShirt wraps around your cat's body and attaches using velcro for a secure and comfortable fit.

ThunderShirt™ contains no drugs or harmful chemicals. What is does include is an absorbent pheromone patch to use with ThunderSpray. This is an added layer of anti-anxiety protection.

Thundershirt™ reports that there is an 80% success rate among the clients, vets, and animal trainers, and that most cats love to wear ThunderShirts.

I can certainly attest to that. When I first tried it on our cat Sam, he wasn't too sure about it. He needed a little conditioning. We prepared him by placing the ThunderShirt on the floor first so he could approach it at his own pace and convenience. He sat on it. He fell asleep on it. After we were convinced that he was comfortable with the ThunderShirt, we placed it on him. He liked it! He wasn't squirming or flailing trying to shake it off.

We live in a beach town where fireworks are a weekly occurrence. We decided to try out the ThunderShirt during the fourth of July fireworks extravaganza. The ThunderShirt passed the test with flying colors! Sam didn't run and hide under the bed or cower in a corner.

We haven't had a need to go to the vet since receiving the ThunderShirt, but I am most excited to see how our cats deal with the short ride in the car and the subsequent visit with the vet.

But for now, we'll be putting the ThunderShirt to plenty of use at home where it's been a lifesaver so far.

ThunderShirt is available for cats and dogs with prices starting at $39.95. More information can be found on the web site, on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Instagram.

Disclosure: I was provided with a ThunderShirt to facilitate this review. No other monetary compensation was received.

The 7 Things All Big Families Need in Their Home

Monday, July 27, 2015
We recently visited friends who have four children and plenty of space to accommodate everyone in the family. As we spent time at their home, I was able to observe the dynamics of the family and their set up. Here's a given: if you’ve got a big family, your home needs to be practical and large enough to accommodate everyone's needs. Bigger families definitely require a slightly different set up than a smaller family. Here are a few things all big families need in their home:

A Large Seating Area
A large seating area is a must for a large family. Ask yourself, if everybody came home and wanted to sit down, would they be able to? If the answer is no, you need more seating! Pages like can give you a little advice on the best seating to get for your large family. There are plenty of options, you just need to make sure it’s practical enough for all of you!

A Big TV
A big family needs a big TV. You don’t want to be straining your eyes trying to see a small screen in a big room! Big screen TVs are relatively inexpensive these days. While I don’t recommend spending too much time in front of the TV, a good Netflix binge with the fam is a great way to bond every once in a while. Sometimes, as a family, it’s nice to watch a movie or a favorite TV show together. You might even have some home movies you’d all like to watch together!

A Large Dining Table
One of the best things about having a large family is eating dinner together. In order for everyone to sit down and eat a meal with one another from time to time, you need to have a large dining table. You may not always have the opportunity to get everyone around the table at the same time, but when you have the chance, take it! It’s a great way to bond, shut out distractions, and find out what’s going on in each other’s lives.


A 4-Slice Toaster
We finally purchased a 4-slice toaster about two years ago. What took us so long??
Nobody wants to wait around for their toast for too long, and you want to make sure your family can get some breakfast or a snack when they need one. A 4-slice toaster should stop any arguments and save time!

Large Pots and Pans
When making dinner for your family, you want to get the meal on the table quickly and efficiently. A large set of pots and pans will make sure you can do enough to feed the whole family at once.

Multiple Bathrooms
A large family can be a challenge when it comes to showering, washing hands, brushing your teeth, etc. It seems like there’s a never ending cue for the bathroom. Having multiple bathrooms and being sure they are well stocked will put an end to bathroom bottlenecks!

A Pet
It might seem silly to get a pet, but a house isn’t complete without one. Your family could bond and share chores when it comes to feeding, walking, and grooming. A pet is a great way to teach children responsibility from a young age too! The more people to help share the responsibility of caring for a pet, the merrier!

Do you have a large family? Do you have these things in your home? Is there anything missing from the list? Leave a comment below to let me know. I hope you and your big family loved this post!

Menu Plan Monday :: 7.27.2015

It's hard to believe that it's the last week of July already. We still have a summer bucket list of things to accomplish in the next six weeks. We'll be kicking it into high gear and taking advantage of the final weeks of summer vacation. But first, this week's meal plan!
Here's what we'll be munching on this week:

Monday - Linguini with marinara sauce (hubs' own recipe) and an arugula salad

Tuesday - Chicken tacos

Wednesday - Dinner out

Thursday - Coconut chicken tenders with rice and steamed broccoli

Friday - Arugula salad with steak, shaved Parmesan cheese, and lemon vinaigrette

Saturday - Pasta puttanesca

Sunday - Slow-cooker pulled pork sandwiches with homemade onion rings

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.

July 2015 Birchbox Deconstructed #Birchbox

Sunday, July 26, 2015
This month's Birchbox was full of all sorts of goodies. It included products from 3 brands I had never heard of and 2 brands that are long-time favorites of mine. I'll definitely be kicking my beauty routine up a notch after receiving this month's Birchbox.

Here's what was in this month's Birchbox:

1. Juliette Has A Gun, Lady Vengeance Eau De Parfum (Received sample. Full size, $90)
This earthy blend hints of a men's cologne but with a touch of femininity, you know it's meant for a woman. The combination of rose, vanilla, and patchouli is appealing without being overpowering. Even at $90 a bottle, I would definitely consider purchasing this perfume.

2. COOLA SPF 30 Organic Makeup Setting Spray (Received sample. Full size, $36)
I have previously used another brand's makeup setting spray and loved it. Think of it as hairspray for makeup. It keeps it in place throughout the day and is particularly great if you've got a long day ahead of you. I loved that this spray contains an SPF and is organic.

3. Key West Aloe, Save A Tan (Received sample. Full size, $12.50)
This lotion is made with 80% aloe vera, making it perfect for after sun skin care. Whether you've gotten a little too much sun or not much at all, this lotion moisturizes and prevents peeling to preserve your sun-kissed skin. And the scent is absolutely divine.

4. Davines MINU Shampoo (Received sample. Full size, $25)
This shampoo is specifically formulated for color-treated hair. It gently cleanses while protecting your color.  Birchbox threw in a bonus by adding MINU conditioner and hair serum. I have to say, I love all of them. My hair felt great, smelled great, and styled incredibly after use.

5. stila "look at me" liquid lipstick (Received full size, $20)
I'm all about one product that does that job of three. This gloss glides on easily but has true staying power (like, for hours and hours) and works similarly to a stain. I've used it on both my lips and my cheeks. Through cocktails and a full meal, my lips still looked as if I had just applied the product.

To see all of my Birchbox posts, click here.

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

Friday's Fresh Picks: Nordstrom Anniversary Sale ~ Favorite Picks

Friday, July 24, 2015
The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is going strong. I haven't written much about it. To be honest, I haven't been paying much attention to it. With our trip to Hershey last weekend and a full plate when we returned this week, I hadn't had a chance to browse the web site. And forget about having a chance to shop in store.

Last night I finally had a few hours to devote to browsing to check out all the amazing deals. The sale unlike others focuses on offering deep discounts on incoming fall merchandise rather than slashing prices on end-of-season merchandise.

In this week's Friday's Fresh Picks, I am sharing a few of my favorite deals and items from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.

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, July 23, 2015
Here are the ten stories from around the web that I am loving this week:

1. How clown contouring will change the way you apply makeup via Cosmopolitan.

2. A peek inside the Victoria's Secret lingerie catalog from 1979 via Jezebel.

3. Eight things that happen when you stop eating bread via Women's Health.


A Weekend in Hershey

Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Although I've been away from central Pennsylvania longer than I lived there, it will always be home to me. And there's nothing like going home. Last weekend, my three sisters and I gathered with our children to spend the weekend together. We are spread out all over the US, so a weekend like this is a rare and welcomed treat.

I never appreciated the simple beauty of this area when I lived here. I was young and had high aspirations of heading to the big city. It's only been in recent years when I gained a greater awareness of where my food comes from that I had a greater appreciation for the thriving farming industry of central PA.

This barn sits about a mile from my sister's house. I've passed it hundreds of times and each time I pass it, I smile. I love the bright yellow against the deep green grass and the contrasting silo. It makes me think of spreading out under that tree with a glass of ice cold lemonade and a book for an afternoon.

Just as peaceful is the national cemetery where my parents are buried. It is so beautiful and so meticulously maintained. I take great comfort in knowing that my parents are in such a serene and pretty place.

The family (minus my niece Kendra) gathered for a photo before our trip to Hersheypark. It had been 10 years since many of us had been to Hersheypark. We met up with Kendra once we parked, and in no time, we were riding our favorite roller coasters!

Emma and I made one final use of our selfie stick before we entered the park where they are prohibited.

After 13 years, Emma has finally reached Jolly Rancher status!

Unfortunately, Harper and her cousin Austin aren't quite there yet.

Speaking of roller coasters, this rainbow over Storm Runner helped to brighten our spirits after a thunderstorm rolled in.

When I was a teenager, Hersheypark was practically my second home. My friends and I had season passes, and our parents took turns driving us there for the day. We'd ride our favorite roller coasters all day long and never tire of it. Although I still love the roller coasters, I'm not able to ride them all day, over and over again. The ferris wheel is more my speed these days.

Although there was quite a wait for the new indoor, glow-in-dark roller coaster, Laff Trakk, we had tons of fun while standing in line. Here Harper enjoyed being cradled like a baby. Once inside the building, there are fun mirrors that distort your body and will have you in stitches.

After our trip to the park, we headed home for some night swimming after a long, hot day.

We returned to New Jersey yesterday with a fresh set of memories and hopes of doing this again next year. There's nothing like spending time with family. Whether you see each other often or only a few times per year, it's priceless.

We are counting the days until we meet up again in a few weeks in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware for our annual family vacation.

Menu Plan Monday :: 7.20.2015

Monday, July 20, 2015
We'll be heading back to New Jersey today from a weekend spent in Pennsylvania visiting family. It's been great not having to cook and prepare meals, but now it's time to get back to reality and healthy eating. I have a few fun salads planned and we're trying two new recipes as well.

Here's what's on the menu board for this week:

Monday - Since it's our first night back and Harper has soccer, it's a good night for takeout.

Tuesday - Shrimp, black beans, and pineapple foil packets

Wednesday - Taco salads

Thursday - Mexican stuffed peppers

Friday - Chicken Caesar pasta salad

Saturday - Grilled shrimp and filet mignon with roasted potatoes and grilled corn

Sunday - Grilled Caprese chicken

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.

Gift Ideas for a New Baby

Saturday, July 18, 2015
If there’s a new baby in your life, you’re probably thinking of sentimental gifts you can buy to celebrate the birth. Ideally, you’ll make life easy for the parent and treat the baby to something nice at the same time. Here are a few ideas if you’re not sure of what to buy for a new baby:

Sophie the Giraffe

Sophie the giraffe has been praised by moms all over the world for keeping their little ones happy and quiet. The teething toy can be used at just a few weeks old. The colour, smell, and pattern on the toy helps them to develop their senses, and of course the material can soothe their gums. This is a great gift for a new baby!

Scratch Sleeves
Scratch sleeves are great for babies that can’t seem to stop scratching. Sometimes, they can end up with red, angry marks on their arms and faces. Mittens are good, but that can fall off or baby can pull them off. Scratch sleeves can be a saviour in these situations!

A Gift Basket Filled With Diapers and Other Essentials
Why not put together a gift basket? Fill it with lots of essentials - the amount of things you need you have a new baby can be overwhelming. Something like this really helps a new mom! Fill it with diapers, baby wipes, bibs, pacifiers, and more. Anything little item you think will help out!

A Play Gym
A play gym is another great gift for a baby. With a play gym, they can lie down and enjoy lots of different shapes, colors, and materials! This will keep them entertained for hours. See more gift ideas here.

Baby Books
Baby books can introduce babies to books at an early age. They will usually make sounds and include lots of different textures to help baby’s develop.

A Photo Album
A photo album is a great gift, as the parents can fill it with pictures from their baby’s first years. This can be a lovely keepsake and the baby can look back at it when they’re a little older!

Personalized Silver Gifts
A personalized silver gift can be kept for a lifetime, so it’s a lovely keepsake to give. You can get plate sets, spoons, cups, and more.

A Personalized Piece of Art
Why not get a personalized piece of art to display in the baby’s bedroom or playroom? Include their name, weight, place of birth, and any other relevant information in a pretty format.

A Stuffed Animal
You can’t go wrong with a stuffed animal. Many stuffed animals are treasured by their owners forever too, so the baby could keep this well into adult years!

Ready to go shopping for the new baby? If you’re still in doubt, just buy a nice outfit. Babies will always need clothes, with the mess they can get themselves into several times a day!

Friday's Fresh Picks: Raymour and Flanigan's Manhattan Showroom

Friday, July 17, 2015
Last night I had the pleasure of attending a cocktail party/networking event at the Raymour and Flanigan showroom in Manhattan. From the moment I stepped in the door, I was mesmerized by the jaw dropping beauty. Each expertly styled room was more beautiful than the next.

For this week's Friday's Fresh Picks, I am sharing five of my favorite rooms/items on display in the showroom with you.

{A living room that looks like it was plucked from the set of Mad Men}

{Love the selection of accessories, especially oversized clocks that Raymour offers}

{This dining set is a combination of rustic and industrial chic. It would be great in an urban dwelling}

{A quaint office nook}

{This plush living room set is perfect for an afternoon of Netflix binge-watching or curling up with a good book}

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, July 16, 2015
The ten stories I am loving from around the Web this week:

1. Lay's reveals it's four crazy potato chip flavors via

2. The characteristics that set a Jersey girl apart from the rest via Elite Daily.

3. Seven surprising foods that make you tired via HuffPost Lifestyle.


4 Simple Ways To Make Your Kitchen Family-Friendly

Wednesday, July 15, 2015
As a mom, life can be incredibly hectic - I’m sure all moms can agree. We are busy all of the time. If we aren’t working, then we are usually driving the little ones back and forth, doing housework, and squeezing in a little time for ourselves.

Of course, we know that being busy is a normal part of being a mom, and I'm fine with that. In fact, I wouldn't want it any other way. However, as a busy mom, I do like to make things as easy for myself as possible so that life is just a little bit less stressful.

One area of our homes that can become inundated with just about anything is the kitchen. With so many things going on at once, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Our kitchen is the heart of our home. We spend most of our time in our kitchen, so I want it to be as streamlined as possible. Here are a few of the ways I've made my kitchen more mom-friendly.

1. Kitchen Stool
Once your children get to a certain age and can do things for themselves, such as get themselves a drink, you don’t want to be doing it for them. Adding a children’s stool allows your children the freedom to reach to counter and sink height and empowers them to do more from themselves. It also gives your children a little bit of independence, and you some much-needed rest.

2. Reminder Board
When there are so many things you need to keep track of, it’s easy for things to fall through the cracks. Having a reminder board to stick things or write notes on is a must; it will make your life much easier. From play dates to work meetings to appointments, a dry-erase or bulletin board is ideal for staying on top of everything. Keeping the reminder board in a central location such as the kitchen makes it easy to pop appointments on to the board as they are made.

Source for image
3. Multi-functional Blender
In our busy lives, we often reach for the quickest snack and meals possible. Whether you've had a long day at work or you've been lounging at the pool enjoying a summer day with your family, you want to be able to put together a healthy meal or snack quickly. You don’t want to spend any longer than necessary preparing a meal; that’s why a blender is such an amazing gadget to have.

We use ours for everything from making smoothies to preparing sauces for pasta to making marinades for grilling meats. If you are making a salad, use a multifunctional blender to slice and dice vegetables. Within 30 seconds, all of your veggies will be sliced and diced and ready to go - a perfect hack for any mom.

As well as being great for quickly preparing dinner, blenders are also perfect for busy school mornings. When everything is going wrong, all you have to do is pop some fruit and milk into the blender and voila, you have a yummy breakfast for the kids.

4. Coffee Machine
Most of us moms need a coffee to start the day, but with so many other things to do before the school run, there isn’t always time to make it. However, if you invest in an automatic coffee machine that can be pre-set the night before, your coffee will be waiting for you when you walk into kitchen.

There are various coffee machine brands to choose from, but one of the best is Breville, their machines brew great coffee. As well as buying a coffee machine, make sure to also get some generic Breville espresso machine cleaning tablets. Coffee machines can go moldy inside if they aren’t regularly cleaned out, so it’s crucial that you clean yours.

Some people also swear by Espresso makers. I've heard that Delonghi and Breville Espresso makers are worth considering.

As a mom it isn’t always easy to keep on top of everything, so making things easier for yourself is a must. The kitchen can be a very stressful environment, especially when you are trying to get the kids ready for school and yourself ready for your day. Making your kitchen as mom-friendly as possible will go a long way to starting and ending your day on a high note.

Tips For Finding The Perfect Shed for Your Yard

Tuesday, July 14, 2015
I've been sharing a few ideas for how to get the outside of your home summer-ready. From how to make the most of your back yard to how to organize a summer barbecue, you can find helpful tips for impressing guests or relaxing by yourself in the comfort of your back yard in both of these posts.

Today, we're talking about outdoor sheds. If you're looking for a new shed for your yard, you want to want to find the perfect model to accommodate your needs. The right shed can be used for many purposes. From somewhere to store your things, to work, to read, or relax, a shed can be multi-functional. Some people even use their sheds as a place to entertain their guests!
How Will You Use the Shed?
Think of the ways you’ll use your shed to help you find the perfect model. If you’re only using it to store things, you’ll probably need something quite basic. If you plan on using it for relaxing or entertaining, you’ll need something larger, more sturdy, and more expensive. Start by making a list of the ways you plan to use the shed. Take this list shopping with you and ask for advice from an expert. The right shed will not only be practical, but enhance your yard too!

How Much Room Do You Have?
You’re limited to the amount of room you have when it comes to installing your shed. Make sure you use a tape measure so you know exactly how much room you’ve got to play with. You might not want to use all of the space you have for a shed, or you may want to fill it up. It’s totally up to you.

What’s Your Budget?
You should never pick a shed based on your budget alone. Ideally, you want to go for value for your money rather than the cheapest model. Going for the cheapest model could be a big mistake as many of them lack quality and sturdiness! Make sure you work out your budget and stick to it. That being said, some places will offer payment plans so you can pay your shed off over a set period of time, and this time of year is a great time to shop around for a shed that is on clearance.

Research Online
Doing some preliminary research online can be effective, but always look in person first so you know what kind of shed you’re ultimately getting. Always read the reviews to ensure that it’s high quality and to see what others have said. You might even find that if you find a good deal online, you might be able to get an offline dealer to match it. Try haggling and see what happens!

See It in Person
Look at sheds in person to get an idea of what you like and what you don’t like. You might prefer a barn style shed over something smaller and more compact.

The material of your shed will affect the price and how long it lasts. Wooden sheds can look good, but they can rot if you live in an area known for its bad weather. Metal sheds are sturdier, but they don’t always look nice and can rust easily if you live in an climate with ample rainfall. You need to weigh in on the pros and cons of different types of materials, how you plan to use the shed, and your climate.

Ready to go out and enhance your yard with the perfect shed? Use these tips and you should find the perfect model! If you find one that you love, please share a picture with us!

Pink Champagne and Raspberry Granité

Monday, July 13, 2015
This frozen dessert can double as a cocktail, cool you down when you’re ready to melt, and totally impress your guests. It's simple to prepare, and requires only 4 ingredients and can be made up to 3 days in advance. Top the granité with your favorite summer berries and a sprig of mint for a pretty presentation.

Pink Champagne and Raspberry Granité (Makes 6 to 8 Servings)

2 ½ pints raspberries
½ pint blueberries
 1 ⅓ cups sugar
One 750-ml bottle rosé champagne
Juice of 1 lemon

1. Combine 2 pints of raspberries, the sugar, and ¼ cup of water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor and process until smooth.

2. Strain the purée through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl. Stir in the champagne and lemon juice. Scrape the mixture into a shallow metal baking pan, cover, and freeze until firm, at least 8 hours. (You can make the granité ahead and keep it covered in the freezer for up to 3 days.)

3. Using the tip of a spoon or the tines of a fork, scrape the granité into chilled dessert glasses, garnish with the remaining ½ pint raspberries and the blueberries, and serve immediately.

Recipes appears courtesy of Francois Payard.

Menu Plan Monday :: 7.13.2015

This week is a busy one. With appointments, regular activities, and I'll be in NYC on Thursday and heading to Hershey on Friday, we've got a lot of ground to cover. So, I am making every attempt to keep the menu plan simple but delicious this week. It's a short one this week, but don't pass by my menu plan as there are some not-to-be-missed recipes here.

Monday - Buffalo chicken cobb salad
Buffalo cobb salad

Tuesday - Two-cheese veggie nachos

Wednesday -  Summer minestrone

Thursday - I'll be in NYC, but the Hubs will be getting takeout from Joe Leone's for him and the girls.

Friday - In Hershey

Saturday - In Hershey

Sunday - In Hershey

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.