10 Ways To Improve Your Yard

Monday, August 31, 2015
After a summer of plenty of sun and rain, our yard is a bit overgrown. It is definitely due for a bit of a makeover. Making small Improvements to your yard can be as simple and inexpensive or as complicated and expensive as you want.
Here are 10 simple ways to improve the condition and appearance of your yard:

1. Get Rid of Weeds
Weeds can instantly ruin the look of a yard. They are unsightly and grow out of control quickly, so it's best to keep on top of them throughout the summer. However, if you've neglected them, there are lots of products you can use to kill them, as well as pulling them out manually.

2. Plant New Flowers
Now is the perfect time to plant new flowers for the upcoming season. For fall, I love colorful mums and hearty kale. Ask a professional which flowers go well together and how much maintenance they need before making your final decision. There are even apps that can help you stay on top of everything if you’re a novice gardener! One of my favorite apps is "Garden Answers".

3. Add Ornamental Items
Ornamental items such as statues or bird baths can help to give a yard personality and bring it to life. You can make them as big or as small as you like, depending on the kind of theme you’re trying to achieve. Some of them can add an element of grandeur, while others are just a bit of fun.

4. Tidy Up
Remove broken ornaments, toys, and planters. If you have pathways, sweep them and trim the grass around the edges.

5. Add Seating
There is nothing more relaxing than sitting in a quiet yard reading a book or taking in the sights and sounds around you. Adding seating allows you to get a little social in your yard with friends. You could include a bench, a swing, a hammock, or a full outdoor living area. Make sure you consider how often you’ll have people over. If you have lots of garden parties, quality and ample seating is a must.

6. Attract Wildlife
Having wildlife in your garden can make it look better instantly. Add things like bird feeders and bird baths to attract birds, and keep your grass a little bit longer.

7. Let in More Sunlight
Letting more sunlight in your yard will ensure you are able to make the most of the sun when the weather is nice. Millersontreeservice.com suggests getting rid of any large trees to let in more light. However, having one or two trees in your yard isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Keep them trimmed to allow light to filter in to your yard.

8. Add a Water Fountain
A water fountain or waterfall can be a nice addition to your garden if you want to make it feel more peaceful. Make it as big or as small as you like, but make sure you can maintain it easily.

9. Make it More Private
If you want more privacy, plant trees, large bushes, or add a fence. Adding a fence is a quick and effective way to ensure privacy and stop nosey neighbors in their tracks!

10. Solar Lighting
Solar lighting has many benefits. If you want to have parties until late at night, they are an excellent source of light. I love to use them to illuminate pathways and to place around the deck or patio.

Menu Plan Monday :: 8.31.2015

We returned from vacation on Saturday and have been struggling to get back into a groove. I'm hoping that the presence of a meal plan will help to get us back on track. In other news, this is the final week of summer vacation for my girls before they head back to school on September 8th. We'll attempt to cram in everything we haven't accomplished from our summer bucket list this week.

In the meantime, here's what's on the menu this week:

Monday - Hoisin shrimp with bok choy, shitake mushrooms, and red peppers
Hoisin shrimp

Tuesday - Dinner out

Wednesday - Oven fried chicken with lemony romaine salad

Thursday - Spring pasta with blistered cherry tomatoes

Friday - Mexican stuffed peppers

Saturday - Grilled chicken teriyaki kebabs with a side of rice

Sunday - We are heading to a holiday weekend barbecue.
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: Scenes from Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Friday, August 28, 2015
Our vacation in Rehoboth Beach is coming to a close...sadly. But it's been an unforgettable week filled with lots of laughs and tons of love. Rehoboth Beach is one of my all-time favorite vacation destinations. Not only do I have years and years of memories planted here, but the sunrises are unbeatable. The food scene is comparable to that of a big city. And the beaches are top-notch.

In this week's Friday's Fresh Picks I'm sharing a few of my favorite scenes from Rehoboth Beach and from this year's family vacation.
{Days begin with gorgeous sunrises}

{But first, coffee}

{Selfies on the beach}

{Dinner al fresco with ambience at Beachside Bar & Grill}

{Caramel apples and other sweet treats at Kilwins}

{Dolles is the only place to go for salt water taffy}

{The Paratrooper at Funland lights up the night sky}

{Morning walks with my sisters}

{Brightly colored nightly specials at Catchers}
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.

Tips For Planning the Perfect Vacation

Thursday, August 27, 2015
I am currently enjoying a week-long vacation with my sisters and their respective families. While vacations are wonderful and intended to be relaxing, the preparation can be full of stress and chaos. Planning is a must to ensure that you have the perfect vacation.

Make a To-Do List
Something I have found very helpful is making a to-do list before we go away. Everything from a packing list to things you'll want to do while you are away to initial prep and planning can be put on to a to-do list. Making a list and prioritizing the items is essential to getting everything done on time.

Familiarize Yourself
If it's a destination you've never before visited, you will want to become somewhat familiar with the culture and the layout of the city or town. Many foreign countries have a completely different society and way of doing things than we do, and it can be a bit of a culture shock if it takes you by surprise. You need to be careful that you don’t offend anybody or do or say anything wrong.   I like to do a bit of homework before we go. It's also helpful to buy a guidebook for the area you’re going to. These always have tourist attractions and areas of interest listed.

Choose Your Package
Choosing your destination and vacation package is one of the most important aspects of vacation planning. Think about where you’re going and how long you’ll be there. Do you want to go self-catered or all-inclusive? Will you travel by air or by car? Perhaps you’ll forgo a hotel and stay in apartments. These are all considerations to make before booking.

Save Up
Going on vacation can be expensive depending on when and where you travel. The more money you can save prior to your trip, the better an experience you can have. I like to figure out the sort of experience I want and then make sure I save the appropriate amount of money. You might take the other approach and save for a length of time, and then choose based on your budget. Whichever approach you take you’re going to need to make sure you save the right amount of money for an enjoyable trip.

Pack Early
Packing is quite possibly the most dreaded part of going on vacation. Packing can be tedious and time consuming. I like to create a packing list to help me get the task done quickly. I have found that it has become less stressful now that our girls are older and can do much of their own packing and when we pack early. Packing in advance allows you to take your time and do a thorough job. You eliminate the mad rush associated with last minute packing!

Enjoying a family getaway is one of the highlights of my year every year. I am very thankful for vacations, but it’s a lot of work to get them to go perfectly. But if you plan accordingly, chances are you'll have a vacation that the entire family enjoys with plenty of memories to look back on.

Best Online Reads

The ten stories from around the web that I am loving this week:

1. The sneaker that looks good on everyone via PopSugar Fashion.

2. Ten phrases the worst bosses love to use via Inc.

3. Fifteen inspiring career books via A Cup of Jo.


Money Saving Tips for Household Expenses

Wednesday, August 26, 2015
It can be hard keeping up with the costs of maintaining a home, particularly when they seem to be growing more and more out of control. We try to save money where we can, but at the end of the month the bills can sometimes seem higher than usual. There are a few steps you can take towards lowering your expenses.
Switch To Energy Savers 
Look at the appliances and equipment in your home. Do a quick search online to determine how much electricity they are using. If you have older appliances, it is likely that they are not energy efficient. Consider selling any that are overly high and replacing them with more modern and energy efficient versions. They use less power and are better for the environment. As soon as you replace your current appliances, you will see a large savings in your monthly bills. Take it one step further and replace your light bulbs with energy savers.

Adopt a Few Energy Saving House Rules
This was more for the kids than the adults in the home. My two little girls are still getting the hang of how some simple changes can make a big impact on the bottom line. So, I put up a list of energy saving rules in the kitchen. They are pretty simple but seem to be having a big effect. Also, we’re getting into the habit of switching the lights off in rooms no one is in as well as devices like laptops and TVs that have been left alone. Institute rules that are simple, and you'll be amazed by the impact they'll quickly have on your monthly bills.

Switch Power Providers
Look online at electric rates and compare them to what you currently pay. It's a big decision, but once you decide to do it, the process is quite simple. We recently switched cable providers, and we've already seen a significant savings.

Consider An Alternate Energy Source
The cost of installing solar panels on the roof is quite expensive, but I know in the long run it will be more cost-effective than our current energy source. This usually involves a large initial investment with a slow and steady return on the money you've shelled out. Plus, with the right internet tax tools, you can get a pretty sizable tax credit from the IRS. If you plan to stay in your current home for the long haul, this is a good option for saving some cash.

Rocksbox: The New Way to Try and To Buy Jewelry

Tuesday, August 25, 2015
I love jewelry. Whether it's a statement necklace, a delicate ring or a classic chain link bracelet, I love to accessorize with jewelry. However, just as is the case with fashion, trends come and go with jewelry. I don't like to spend a ton of money on the trendy pieces, but I want to stay on trend with my jewelry selections.
Rocksbox is transforming the way women wear jewelry by allowing them to wear the latest styles and trends for a minimal cost. Rocksbox allows you unlimited access to the best designer jewelry for just $19 per month. We all know wearing jewelry is fun, but buying jewelry is not! Rockbox puts the fun back into jewelry by making it accessible and affordable.

Here's how Rocksbox works:

1. You sign up at www.rocksbox.com. Enter code piecesofamomxoxo for your first month FREE! Create a profile detailing the types of jewelry that you like. Account managers at Rocksbox carefully curate a 3-piece collection of jewelry for you based on your profile.

2. For $19 per month, you receive a 3-piece collection of jewelry delivered to you every month. You wear the pieces. If you love one or all three, you can purchase them. If you're feeling a little "meh" about the pieces, send them back. Rocksbox will send you another set of 3 pieces once your current collection is returned.

3. It's fabulous! You rent high-end jewelry from reputable brands such as Kendra Scott, Gorjana, and House of Harlow for just $19/month.

4. You also have the option of creating a wish list where you can place pieces that you'd like to receive in future boxes.

Here's a look at a few of the boxes I have received from Rocksbox.
I've been receiving Rocksbox for 4 months now, and I am hooked! I've gotten delicate layering necklaces, beautiful bangles, and pretty stud earrings. Each month's selections have been spot on according to my profile. Each month you have the opportunity to review your selections so that your next box is sure to dazzle you rather than disappoint you.

Fab, right? What are you waiting for?

Family Vacations Are Like Chicken Soup for the Soul

Saturday, August 22, 2015
Today we depart for our annual vacation in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. My sisters, I, and our respective families started this annual vacation ritual in 2007. When we were in the early planning stages that year, none of us could have known that this would become a vacation that each of us cherished year after year.

Same place. Same time. Year after year.

As much as I love exploring new places, I have to admit there is something strangely comforting about the familiar. We don't need maps to show us where to go. We don't need a concierge to tell us where to eat. We have our favorite places, and we unapologetically return to them day after day. For some of us it's a favorite ice cream shop. For others it's a pizza place. For some it's a boutique.

I am always surprised when I describe this vacation to people, and they respond with, "Ugh. I could never spend an entire week with my family."


What makes this vacation work is that we respect everyone's boundaries. We do things together. We do things alone. That is the beauty of a family vacation. You're spending time together, but you aren't necessarily always together.

It seems to be working. This will be our 9th year in a row making the trek to Delaware. Some go by car. Others go by ferry boat. But we all end up in the same place.

For me personally, this vacation feeds my soul. It's my one chance in the year to connect with my entire family in one place and share that connection with my daughters.  Family vacations are a source of fond memories for both children and adults, and I want my daughters to look back on these vacations and recall the wonderful memories we have made over the years.

Tips For Making Your Family Home More Attractive To Potential Buyers

Friday, August 21, 2015
Do you plan to sell your family home soon or is your home currently on the market? Making your family home more attractive to potential buyers in not an easy task. Buyers have different requirements and personal tastes, making it difficult to know exactly what your buyer wants. Without narrowing in on each and every buyer that may be interested, there are a few general tips for making your home as buyer-friendly as possible. I recently sat down with my friend Ali who sells real estate. She outlined a few key tasks to do before you put the "For Sale" sign on the yard.

Focus on Curb Appeal 
The front of your property is the first thing buyers will see. Making a good first impression is essential. A fresh coat of paint, a well manicured lawn, and some pretty flowers will up the wow factor when buyers pull up to the curb. Small touches like home address plaques can make your home more homey. You want buyers to drop their jaw to the floor from the moment they encounter your home. The offer is sure to follow.an offer.

Highlight the Positive Features
Buyers have a tendency to zero in on the negative features of a home. As the seller, you want to highlight the positive elements of the home. Perhaps it's an updated kitchen with all the latest bells and whistles or maybe you have a spacious yard or a fabulous location to offer potential buyers. If you reside in a community that is run by one of the top HOA management companies, you must disclose this to buyers. Although locations of that nature are often safer, there are also regulations that residents must follow.

Get the Price Right
Work with your real estate agent to accurately price your property. The last thing you want to do is overprice your property. But at the same time, you want the best deal possible. An agent will value your home and make a recommendation on a selling price. It will be competitive with comparable homes in your area. Always be open to negotiation and make every effort to make decisions that are not based on emotional ties you have to the home.

Keep the Interior of the Home Generic
The less personal effects you have on display, the better.  Psychologists say people are more likely to purchase a home if there aren’t any personal pictures around. It is easier for potential buyers to imagine their family living in the property when there is no reminder that another family has lived there.

Friday's Fresh Picks: My Favorite Clutches

For those rare occasions when I merely need to carry some cash, ID, a cell phone, and some lipstick, I love a structured clutch. They are perfect for date nights and GNOs when the kids aren't in tow. Whether you are heading to a business meeting or a concert, there's clutch that's perfect for any occasion.

In this week's Friday's Fresh Picks, I'm sharing my current favorite clutches.
Here are few that I am currently loving.

{Splurge Alert!! Valentino Rockstud Medium Clutch - $595}

{Lilly Pulitzer It's a Keeper All Nighter Phone Clutch/Wristlet - $38}

{Vera Bradley Harper Clutch - $148}

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, August 20, 2015
Here are the 10 stories from around the web that I am loving this week:

1. Why working 9 to 5 makes no sense via Huffington Post.

2. Useful tips for making connecting flights via USA Today.

3. The most expensive college in each state via Business Insider.


Simple Ways To Enhance Your Bathroom

Wednesday, August 19, 2015
I'm always thinking about the ways in which I can revamp rooms in my home. I've shared a few ways you can update your kitchen, so what about the rest of your home? One room that all too many people neglect is the bathroom. Bathrooms are typically seen as the spaces in our homes where we transform ourselves from dirty to clean. Because of this, it's easy to overlook the bathroom as a place that should be aesthetically pleasing. But there are a few surprisingly simple and inexpensive ways to update this frequently ignored room in your home.

Repaint the walls
Sometimes, when a space starts to look worn, it usually needs a coat of fresh paint. Choose a warm tone such as beige or a light shade of gray. After you've prepped the room, spend a day or so painting the room, allowing the first layer to dry before you add a second coat. The end result will wake up the room.

Replace your toilet
Replacing the toilet could make a massive difference to the room, especially if it's dated (think style and color). Toilets are not as expensive as you may think. It may surprise you to learn that you can get cheap toilets online for less than you would expect.

Scrub the grout
Filthy grout can make your bathroom look old and dirty in no time at all. This surface tends to get dirty and moldy before you know it. To clean the grout well, you'll need a toothbrush, some bleach and some water. You should scrub the grout with a bleach and water mixture, and make sure that you wear rubber gloves and keep the room well ventilated.

Upgrade the shower head
When we moved into our home, our bathroom had an old shower head. You couldn't adjust the water flow, and the water pelted down on our backs. Showers should be powerful and relaxing. When you step into your shower, you want to have a strong flow of water. If your water pressure is weak, you may need a new shower head.

Install a large mirror
Your bathroom should be light and airy. The best way to bring in light is to reflect the natural daylight as much as possible. If you don't have an abundance of natural light in the room, you can accomplish this with a large mirror. A large mirror will also make the space look larger than it is.

Replace the shower curtain
Although this is an inexpensive change, it may have the greatest impact on the room. At the beginning of the summer, we swapped out our dark, paisley printed curtain in favor of a neutral striped one. I couldn't believe how much brighter and larger it made the room appear. The thick horizontal stripes give the illusion of more space and more light.

A few simple changes can make a big difference in a room that seems inconsequential. Have you recently updated your bathroom? What changes did you make and what difference did they make?

What We're Reading

We are heading to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware on Saturday for a week away. You can bet there will be plenty of time spent relaxing and reading. Here's what we'll be reading while we kick back on the beach.
What I'm Reading: Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand
A fatal car crash on Nantucket changes the lives of four teens. Questions linger about exactly what happened to cause the crash that kills one and leaves another in a coma. Long-held secrets about the teens and their parents are revealed and rock this small community to the core. But surprisingly out of overwhelming sorrow new love takes flight.

What Emma's Reading: Paper Towns by John Green
Brilliant wit and brutal honesty, Green's trademarks, are ever prevalent in this young adult novel about unrequited love. In the middle of the night Margo and Quentin plot revenge. Quentin has loved Margo from afar for for too long and now she seems within reach. Until dawn breaks and Margo has vanished.

What Harper's Reading: Welcome To Dog Beach by Lisa Greenwald
Remy's family returns to Seagate summer after summer, but this summer Remy is returning without her beloved dog Danish who passed away. Summer on Seagate is just not the same without Danish. Remy vows to reclaim the bliss of summer's past by hatching a plan to bring the magic back on Dog Beach. Note: This is book #1 in a series.

What are you reading? Leave a comment to let me know!


Summer Fun at Jenkinson's Boardwalk #JenksMemory

Tuesday, August 18, 2015
When you think of summer fun at the Jersey Shore, you think of Jenkinson's Boardwalk and Amusements. Jenkinson's, located in Point Pleasant Beach, is your one-stop shop for family fun and entertainment. Jenkinson's dominates the Point Pleasant Beach boardwalk with an amusement and arcade area, an aquarium, miniature golf, several food concessions, and a nightclub.

From the beach to the boardwalk, Jenksinson's offers plenty to put smiles on everyone's face for an entire day or for a few hours.

Come for a day or a week and enjoy the sprawling beach complete with palm trees. Beaches are open daily during the summer season.

A little too hot for the beach? Head indoors where it's cooler and the sharks are behind glass! The Jenkinson's Aquarium features your favorite creatures from sea habitats including sharks, penguins and seals.

On our most recent visit to the aquarium, we were lucky enough to catch a diver cleaning the tank.

Kiddos and adults will get a thrill in the amusement area. Rides for every age abound. If you are seeking a thrill on the tame side, try the train or the carousel. My girls have long abandoned the tame rides in favor of those with more speed and more spins!

Feeling competitive? How about a good, old-fashioned game of miniature golf. Or for a slower pace, a walk through the Fun House is always a good idea.

Jenkinson's is open daily, but hours vary from attraction to attraction. Check the web site for specific hours.

Jenkinson's offers special events throughout the year including Hot Halloween, Boo at the Boardwalk and Christmas in July. Tuesday afternoons and Friday evenings are wristband days where you have access to unlimited rides for one low price. See web site for details.

What are you waiting for? Hope in the car and head to Jenkinson's today!

Disclosure: As a Jenkinson's Ambassador, I have been provided with a voucher for my visits. All opinions expressed are always my own.


Back To School With Apparel from Pink Princess

Monday, August 17, 2015
Thank you to Pink Princess for sponsoring today's discussion.

The official back-to-school countdown has begun. My girls love shopping for supplies, lunchboxes, and backpacks. But's let's admit it. Girls are all about shopping for back-to-school clothes. They want the cutest outfit for the first day and the best dress for the first dance. And of course, any outfit they wear in between has to be totally "on fleek".
This year we are turning to Pink Princess to outfit the girls in the most stylish dresses for school and active wear for gymnastics lessons. Pink Princess specializes in formal wear, active wear, costume and dress up and every day apparel for both boys and girls. From play wear to formal wear to everything in between, Pink Princess' offerings include:
  • princess dresses
  • super hero costumes
  • dance wear
  • gymnastics leotards
  • ice skating apparel
  • swimwear
  • wedding attire, whether you are a guest or a member of the bridal party
  • Communion and formal wear for boys and girls, including Baptism and Christening outfits
  • sleepwear
  • footwear
What are we loving this back to school season? Here are a few of our favorites from Pink Princess.

Rare Editions Orange Aztec Blouson Chiffon Dress

Mimi & Maggie Indigo Bohemian Monterey Stripe Dress

K-Bee Leotards Hot Pink Pixel

Tractr Jeans Floral Printed Skinny

My girls have already celebrated their First Holy Communion, but if your daughter's Communion is upcoming, Pink Princess has an unbeatable selection of dresses, most under $100.

Pink Princess offers head-to-toe outfits including shoes and accessories. From casual to dress shoes, Pink Princess has your children's feet covered. With an array of styles and colors for boys and girls and for casual or dressy occasions.

Just as there are milestone occasions, there are also fun occasions. Those occasions call for dress up costumes. What kid doesn't love playing dress up after a long day in school? Most of the Pink Princess costumes can double as Halloween costumes. Now is a great time to get a jump on ordering the kiddos' Halloween costumes.

Send your children off to bed for a good night's sleep in comfy sleepwear. Pink Princess has fun, themed sleep sets for boys and girls.

Not only does Pink Princess offer the most exquisite dresses, formal wear, and accessories, but it also offers an exceptional customer experience. From the ease of browsing the web site to the swiftness of completing your transaction, Pink Princess emphasizes fun and function all at incredibly low prices, making loyal customers keep coming back for more time and time again.

You can find Pink Princess online: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+.

Thank you to Pink Princess for sponsoring today's discussion.