Weekend Dispatch

Friday, April 28, 2017

When we planned our vacation to Arizona, I specifically left this weekend somewhat blank so we had a chance to catch up and regroup. But as it turns out, it has filled up quickly with both concrete and tentative plans.

On Sunday is the Asbury Restaurant Tour. It's from 12-4 and the cost of $35 (get tickets here). A restaurant tour is a fantastic way to sample dishes from multiple restaurants before committing to eating a full meal at one of them. Most locations offer small bites, food sampling, and cooking demos. The participating restaurants are locations throughout town including the boardwalk, downtown, and Main Street area. Find more info here.

Also on Saturday and Sunday is the first annual Allaire BBQ and Brew Festival at The Historic Village at Allaire located within Allaire State Park. Admission is $5 (beer tickets are additional) and those under 18 are free and festivities run from 11 to 5. Hops and hogs will abound if that's your thing.


5 Fab Finds Under $50

I'm always on the lookout for fun, inexpensive items that add flair to my home, my outfit, or my life. I've tracked down five items that every woman needs now. From entertaining to your office to your outfit of the day, any one of these items is a welcome addition to your life.


Best Online Reads

Thursday, April 27, 2017

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

1. Thirty-three life skills kids need to know to adult via Grown & Flown.

2. A guideline for how much to tip hotel housekeeping via Jet Set.

3. How to store your produce so it lasts longer via Food52.

Is A Juice Cleanse Right For You?

Monday, April 24, 2017
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Vacations are meant to be indulgent. Whether it's food, cocktails, activities, and fun, what you do on vacation is intended to be excessive. You get to take a vacation from your everyday life and that includes your usual eating habits. For many of us, vacations mean we can indulge our sweet tooth on ice cream, chocolate, pastas, and more.

I know this all to well since we've just returned yesterday from a vacation in Arizona. Think all the Mexican food and margaritas!

So with summer bearing down on us and a few extra pounds you’d rather see the back of, it probably won’t be long until you find yourself thinking…is a juice cleanse right for me? I've certainly considered doing one, especially after an indulgent vacation. So, I set out to do some research on the benefits and risks of a juice cleanse.


Friday Fresh Picks: Cacti Fever!

Friday, April 21, 2017
We are currently enjoying a much needed getaway to Arizona. We flew into Phoenix yesterday and will be headed to Tucson a little later today. In honor of our our desert vacation, I'm sharing a few of my favorite cactus-inspired items in this week's Friday Fresh Picks.
I mean, come on! Is there a cuter way to greet your guests? No possible way ever.


Best Online Reads

Thursday, April 20, 2017

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

1. The one trip everyone in their 40s should take via Condé Nast Traveler.

2. The hardest college to get into in every state via Business Insider.

3. Twenty questions every woman should ask herself via Oprah.

What We're Reading

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Tomorrow we leave for a long weekend in Arizona. We will be splitting our time between Phoenix and Tucson. And I can tell you that there will be no shortage of relaxing by spectacular pools while we soak up the desert sun and heat. Between the five hours we'll spend on our flight and the time relaxing poolside, we'll need good books to keep us entertained and occupied.

Here are the books that will be safely tucked in our carry-ons:


Easy At-Home Ice Cream Treats

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The official countdown to summer has begun here at the Jersey shore. We take our summers seriously. From the beaches to the boardwalks to the summer eats, we don't mess around. There's no denying it. Ice cream is a serious business here at the Jersey shore.

People brave enormous crowds and wait in long lines to get their favorite warm weather fix: ice cream. But after spending a long day at the beach or pool with the family, it can be difficult to muster the energy and the patience to wait for ice cream, especially with eager children.

Skip the lines and the crowds and make you own treats at home. It's easy, and more importantly, it's fun!

How To Make Ice Cream Treats At Home

1. Buy Ice Cream
A good, decadent ice cream is your best option. Häagen-Dazs is my favorite store-bought ice cream brand. Häagen-Dazs has a knack for taking an ordinary ice cream experience and elevating it with indulgent, velvety, and oh so creamy ice cream. When I eat a cone of Häagen-Dazs, I am immediately transported back to my childhood days when the simplest joys such as an ice cream cone brought the biggest pleasures.

The latest addition to the Häagen-Dazs line is the TRIO Ice Cream Collection. Inside every TRIO ice cream carton is an extraordinary combination of tastes and textures. TRIO is three layers of decadent combinations including both ice cream and crispy layers of Belgian chocolate. TRIO is available in four delicious flavors.

I picked up 3 containers at my local Stop & Shop where it was currently specially priced at 2 for $6. Grab this $1 coupon to save on your next purchase at Stop & Shop.

2. Make Ice Cream Sandwiches
If you want mushy ice cream sandwiches, go buy one. If you want ice cream sandwiches with crispy, crunchy cookies, make them yourself! These are so fun to make and even more fun to eat. Bake or buy your favorite cookie, place ice cream on one cookie, top with the other cookie, and you are good to go. For even more fun flavor, roll the side of the sandwich in sprinkles, decorative nonpareil candies, or sanding sugar.

3. Decorate Your Own Cones
A simple sugar cone is good on its own merit. But if you want to add a little zing to it, decorate it with sprinkles or other candies. I love the way nonpareil candies add color to an otherwise boring brown cone. We took the easy way out and dipped the cones in peanut butter and then into the candies. But if you have a peanut allergy or to be on the safe side for guests, dip the cone into melted milk or white chocolate and then dip into your desired decoration. This is a super fun idea for a birthday party too.


Don't forget to grab a $1 coupon to save on your next purchase at Stop & Shop.

And I can't forget the best part. FREE CONE DAY!

To stay in the loop of all the Häagen-Dazs happenings, be sure to follow along on Facebook and check out all the mouth-watering pictures on Instagram.

Freshen Up Your Cinco de Mayo with Old El Paso

Monday, April 17, 2017

Cinco de Mayo is one of those no-pressure holidays where you're all about the food and the fun. It's kind of like Thanksgiving. You kick back and enjoy the native food and festivities. More often than not, our celebration includes tacos of some sort. Tacos are easy and crowd-pleasing which makes them the ideal choice for Cinco de Mayo.

We love to load up our tacos with all the fixings. We pile on lots of shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, sliced green olives, cilantro, avocado, and a heaping dollop of scour cream. But those overloaded tacos can be troublesome for little hands. And since Cinco de Mayo is a family celebration in our house, we want everyone to enjoy it, even the smallest members of our tribe.

For this year's festivities, we are giving Old El Paso's flour tortilla taco boats a try as an alternative to conventional flour tortilla shells. The taco boats will ensure that all the good stuff stays in the bowl and doesn't fall out of the shells and land on the plate.

Although many may think Cinco de Mayo is Mexican Independence Day, it is actually the day that celebrates Mexico’s unexpected victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. It's celebrated more so in American than it is in Mexico. In any event, it's a fun way to celebrate Mexican food and culture.

Prepping and planning our Cinco de Mayo celebration in advance is a must. I make a checklist of all the meal essentials as well as some fun decorations and props such as maracas, etc. Walmart has one of the best selections of Old El Paso products, so of course, that's where we went to stock up on all the goodies for our family celebration.

I was able to buy all the items for the meal portion of our celebration for under $25. We'd never be able to go out to a restaurant for Cinco de Mayo and spend less than $50 for a family of four. Plus, being at home gives up the freedom to customize our celebration.

Here are a few ideas to make your Cinco de Mayo celebration memorable:

  • Serve either an old favorite or a try a new recipe.
  • Make slight variations to your go-to recipes. For example, if you always use ground beef, try ground turkey instead. If soft flour tortilla shells are your go-to shells, mix it up by using Old El Paso's flour taco boats.
  • End the celebration on a high note by taking a few whacks at a piñata.
We made traditional ground beef tacos with Old El Paso Taco Boats. Loaded with all the fixings and topped with lots of cilantro, sliced avocado (my fave!) and sour cream. These taco boats are everything!

Old El Paso Taco Boats are a big hit in our house. No more messy plates with half of the taco filling spilled out. It stays neatly put and is much easier to eat and enjoy.

Thanks to Old El Paso for making this year's Cinco de Mayo celebration a less messy one but just as tasty.

Turn your ordinary Cinco de Mayo celebration into an extraordinary one, with the full line of products available at Walmart. Unbeatable selection. Unbeatable prices.

Best Online Reads

Friday, April 14, 2017

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

1. Ever wondered if your pharmacist judges you based on your prescriptions via Science of Us.

2. How to naturally wake up earlier via Well and Good.

3. Eleven weird celebrity parenting tips via Redbook.


Spring Cleaning To-Dos

Thursday, April 13, 2017
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Spring cleaning, in some way, shape or form, comes with the territory for most people. It’s the time of year to do the deep cleaning jobs that we often ignore on a daily basis, such as scrubbing the floor boards and cleaning on top of the kitchen cabinets. Beating the rugs outdoors is only worth doing in the warmer weather so that you don’t end up in a rain or snow storm while you do it!

I like to make a spring cleaning task list and check things off diligently. Making a to-do list for spring cleaning can be lengthy and overwhelming. With so many action items, where do you start? I've put together a list of the chores that rank high on my list and are non-negotiables. The last thing you need is to get through the year and realize you’ve double the work to do, so don’t miss out on these:

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Everyone loves a good list. Make an inventory of everything in your food pantry and cleaning cabinets. Also, make a list of the pots, pans, bakeware, and kitchenware and a list of the garden tools you own. These lists will enable you to clearly see if you have any duplicates and if you can cull any of your belongings and have a garage sale to make some space.

Making a note of each of your appliances and your pipes in the home is a good way to check if you need to make any repairs. Clearing out the lint from the dryer also comes under this heading as you’ll need to reduce the risk of fire, not to mention the fact that excess lint can make your dryer break down.

Everyone knows that pests love to move indoors when it’s cold outside. Check your attic for rodent nests and check the beams for ants and termites, which like to move in after a period of rain. Calling in companies like Terminix to get your termite issue squared away before it becomes an irreversible problem.

It’s the time of year to check your smoke and house alarms. This includes carbon monoxide alarms. Regular checks on these each year can mean the difference between life and death, so don’t be lax on this one.

All the nooks and crannies in your house that you usually miss out need a scrub. Ceiling fans, for example, are rarely properly dusted. Dust will settle on them and as they spin, they dispense more dust through your home. This is the same with lightbulbs; they get dirty believe it or not! Clean them and change them over if they need it – fresh bulbs reduce the risk of the electrics blowing out on you. And don't forget to clean blinds and wash curtains and drapes.

Wash the washer. It may seem like a silly thing to say, but your washing machine doesn’t actually clean itself whenever it does a load of clothing. Empty it of clothes and run a normal cycle with detergent to clean the drum.
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These jobs are tedious, and no one likes to do them. Once they’re done, however, you 'll know that your home is truly clean and ready for those warmer months once again. Grab that feather duster, you’ve work to do!

Raspberry Peach Prosecco Punch

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Whenever we entertain for a large group, I like to serve a signature cocktail or drink. It keeps people from being overwhelmed with choices of wine, beer, and cocktails, and it makes it much easier on me as the hostess.

On Sunday, we will be hosting Easter dinner, and I plan to make this tasty punch.


12 oz. frozen raspberries
2 cups peach nectar, chilled
1 bottle of Santa Margherita Prosecco Superiore DOCG, chilled

1. Place frozen raspberries in a large glass pitcher or bowl. 
2. Top with the peach nectar and Santa Margherita Prosecco Superiore DOCG.
3. Fill remainder of the pitcher with ice cubes. Stir and serve cold.

NOTE: I like to use frozen peach slices as ice cubes. They keep the drink cold, and they look so pretty.

My Favorite Graphic and Statement Tees

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Over the years I've amassed quite a collection of graphic and statement tees. They are a fun way to express yourself without saying anything at all. From politically-charged to pet-related to everything in between, you can generally find a statement tee that's perfect for you.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Let everyone know where you call home with this fabulous tee. A few years ago I picked up this "home" tee in a local boutique. They are available for all 50 states and in different styles (tanks, sweatshirts, fitted, regular). Check out the full line here.

You all know how I love my rosé, and this tee (paired with a glass in my hand) lets everyone know just how much I love it! Purchase the tee here.

This tee is trés chic! Complete with Breton stripes and a fun French expression, this tee is a casual wardrobe staple.

Feel and send good vibes in this comfy slightly oversized graphic tee.

With the awareness of feminism at an all-time high, you are sure to fit in the crowd with this tee.

I just bought this tee, and I am already scheming ways to post it on Instagram. It's so cute and Insta-worthy.

If you want to wear the graphic tee trend but don't want to spend a lot of money on a tee, check out the selection at Primark. This Beverly Hills tee was only $4.



Tips For Planning A Road Trip To Remember

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With summer, sun, and fun well on its way, many of us are thinking about our summer holiday. Of course, the holidays we choose vary. Some people opt to stay close to home, while others jet to far off destinations. Some of us soak up the sun and read a book by the sea, while others travel to experience culture and history. It’s important to shake things up now and again. And, what’s better for shaking up your holiday routine than heading off on a road trip?

Everyone should experience at least one road trip in their lives. And day trips don’t count. A road trip vacation will be different from anything you’ve experienced before. It’s the perfect way to breathe new life into your summer. If you’re the type of person who likes to spend holidays reading and soaking up the sun, a road trip could take some getting used to. There won’t be much time for either of those. But, you may find that getting away can be about more than just relaxing. In fact, a road trip could change the way you view your vacations forever. You’ll be able to experience amazing sights that change each day. Plus, you’ll get the exhilarating feeling of being involved in every aspect of your time away.


Menu Plan Monday :: 4.10.2017

Monday, April 10, 2017

This week can be described only one way: the storm before the calm. We have lots going on this week in preparation for Easter weekend and our spring break trip to Arizona. So let's get right to it, shall we?

Here's what's on our plates this week:

Monday - Creamy sun-dried tomato pasta. One-pot pasta dish = dream come true. This dish looks delicious and easy. A bonus is that I have most of these ingredients on hand except for the heavy cream.
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Weekend Dispatch

Friday, April 7, 2017

This to-do list is taken directly from my own personal calendar. It includes what I plan to do, eat, read, and watch this weekend and some recommendation for things I've recently done. If you have something of your own to add, I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!

Laurita Winery is hosting its Girlfriends Getaway Weekend on April 8th and 9th. Grab your girlfriends and pile in the car for this FREE event that features food, fun, and...you guessed it, wine! Festivities kick off each day at 12 pm. You can get more info here.

We've been to Jenkinson's Aquarium more times than I can count, but I have often wondered what goes on behind the scenes. On Sunday, April 9th you can get a top to bottom tour of the aquarium with a peek into the inner workings and the day-to-day nitty gritty that goes into the care of the creatures. From 9:30-11. Cost is $10 per child, $15 for adults, and pre-registration is requested.