Best Online Reads

Thursday, August 31, 2017

1. Comics that show what it's like to own a cat via Huffington Post.

2. The food people hate the most in each state via The Daily Meal.

3. How to deal with the end of a friendship via Midlife Boulevard.

The Recipe For Healthier (& Easier) Home Cooking

Wednesday, August 30, 2017
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As a busy mom, I find cooking from scratch is not always easy to do. Sometimes life gets in the way and can impact your ability to prepare healthy and nutritious homemade meals for you and your family despite your good intentions.

The good news is that when it comes to cooking from scratch, there are plenty of hacks that you can use to make it easier to prepare healthy homemade meals. Cooking delicious dishes for your family doesn’t have to be a struggle, it just depends on how you approach home cooking.

3 Ways To Make Your Home Safe and Secure

Tuesday, August 29, 2017
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Several years ago, we were victims of a home robbery. It shook us to the core, and raised some important issues about security. No parents want their family living in a home that doesn’t feel safe and provide security. If you are feeling at all insecure about the safety of your home, it’s wise to invest in the latest technology and home security features.

Trend To Try: Forest Green

Monday, August 28, 2017

Fall 2017's hottest color trend seems to be forest green. I saw it everywhere during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, and now that more fall clothes are popping up in retailer's stores, it's obvious that forest green is going to be the "it" color of the season.

I couldn't be happier. I love this soft but rich color. It's flattering on every skin tone and hair color, especially blondes (!), and it brings out the color of my green eyes. So, yay!

Here are a few of the forest green items I've been eyeing up for fall and some that I've already purchased.

Ankle Skinny Jeans
I always buy at least one or two pairs of jeans each fall. This pair is on my list this year. They are a little pricey, but this is a color that will likely spill over into next season making these jeans appropriate and relevant for a longer period of time.

Tie-Front Fleece Pullover
These tie-front pullover tops are all the rage right now. This one is made of a fleece material making it super cozy and comfy. I love that it looks polished but is super comfortable. Definitely a weekend staple to add to your wardrobe.

You can never go wrong with a great pair of flats, and these are a great pair of flats! 

Totes are my all-time favorite bag. I carry A LOT with me, so I prefer a tote in most cases. They fit everything from my wallet, cell phone, a book or e-reader, sunglasses, reading glasses, lipstick bag, and more. I love this color and the overlapping leather detail on the straps.

Date night or girls' night out, this top is perfect for the occasion. Show off your sexy shoulders in this sheer, feminine blouse.



Tips For Being A More Eco-Conscious Mom

Saturday, August 26, 2017
Part of caring about our children's future means doing our part to make sure that the world they grow up in is as beautiful as the world in which we were raised.

Pollution, atmospheric depletion, groundwater contamination, heavy metals, deforestation, and loss of biodiversity are all present and immediate threats to the planet which could negatively impact life for future generations. Forward-thinking moms are looking for ways to parent, but with lower environmental impact. Here are some of the things you can do right now to be an environmentally kind mom and reduce your carbon footprint and those of your children.


Tips For Helping Parents During Their Retirement Years

Thursday, August 24, 2017
So, you’ve reached the point where you’ve just started to crack your career. You’re earning a solid income, and you are generally satisfied with where you are in life. That’s great news for you, but this is typically the time when your parents start to reach the point of retirement. As you hit your thirties, they’re on their way to their mid- to late sixties. It is worth thinking about how you can help them during this stage in life, ensuring that they get the twilight years they deserve.

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Best Online Reads

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

1. The industries that pychologically scarred millenials are killing via Business Insider.

2. How to know if a work-from-home job is a scam via Real Simple.

3. The biggest and grossest cleaning mistakes you're making via Redbook.

What We're Reading

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

We are currently in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware enjoying time with family and relaxing on the beach. Of course, any good beach vacation deserves a good beach read. Here's what we are currently reading as we sink our toes in the sand.

What I'm Reading: Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong
After her husband leaves her, thirty-year old Ruth leaves town moves back in with her parents and starts her new life all over. But once she arrives home, she finds that life is a little more complicated than what she had originally bargained for.

What Emma's Reading: The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen
When Jessica loses a leg in a car accident, she is told she'll never walk again without the help of a prosthetic leg. As Jessica struggles to cope with her own situation, she's also trying to help a peer with cerebral palsy be triumphant in her struggle.

What Harper's Reading: Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
I have long been a fan of Sophie Kinsella's novels. So when I discovered that she wrote a YA novel, I strongly encouraged Harper to read it. Kinsella has such a way with bringing dynamic characters to life, and I knew that Harper would love her style of writing. When 14 year old, anxiety-ridden Audrey meets a young boy with whom she connects on a strong personal level, she goes beyond her boundaries and starts to recover and rebound in a way that not only Audrey but also her family never thought possible.

What are you currently reading? Leave a comment to let me know your recommendations.

Healthy Eating Hacks That Work

Monday, August 21, 2017

We all know the importance of a healthy diet, but it can be difficult to resist the temptations and convenience that modern society offers. If you love your food, it can feel almost impossible. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way. There’s nothing wrong with an occasional cake or treat, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about indulging for a second. Everything in moderation is my motto. But it also helps to employ balance and a few tricks when approaching food to have long-term success.

Here are some of the tricks to maintain balance when it comes to my daily meals, snacks, and treats.

Drink Yourself Healthy
When discussing healthy nutrition, most people think exclusively about food. In reality, the calories and nutrients gained from drinks provide the foundation for success. One of my favorite ways to easily get vegetables and fruits into my diet is by making smoothies. To add even more nutritional benefits, I add Kiwami Greens to my smoothies. Kiwami Greens is a green powder that is packed full of powerful benefits, and sent straight to your door every month. It couldn't be easier to incorporate goodness into your lifestyle with Kiwami Greens.

Kiwami Greens is inspired by Aojiru, a traditional Japanese greens blend known for its superior nutritional properties. It’s made with Young Barley Leaf, Ashitaba, and combined with Matcha and Sencha to deliver a boost of vitality. I have long been adding matcha to drinks and smoothies, so Kiwami Greens seemed like a natural choice for me.

Trade Takeouts For Homemade
We all deserve a little treat from time to time. However, the key to successful healthy eating is to know exactly what you’re eating. That isn’t going to happen when you are constantly grabbing takeout for lunch and dinner. Opt for a homemade meal instead, and you’ll have far greater control over what you’re consuming. They are surprisingly simple to make and are cost-effective. When you prepare your meals at home, you can easily add Kiwami Greens to them during the preparation and/or cooking process. A little sprinkle here and there, and you've added nutrients to your meal in a flash.

Prepare Your Meals and Plan Your Snacks In Advance
This trick serves two main purposes. Firstly, you be less likely to reach for an unhealthy option when you are rushed for time. Secondly, it enables you to control portion sizes with far greater ease. One of my favorite snacks to prepare is a yogurt parfait. It's quick and easy, and you can use your favorite fruits, granola, and yogurt flavors. When I prepare it, I add a sprinkle of Kiwami Greens into my yogurt.

Plus, Kiwami Greens is packed with calcium, vitamins B, C, and E, iron, fiber, and folic and amino acids. Perfect for this forty-something!

Learn more about the powerful benefits of Kiwami Greens, visit the web site. Incorporate Kiwami Greens into your daily routine by signing up for the monthly subscription box. Plus, your audience can save 10% using the promo code SUMMER10. Please note: promo code is only for one-time use per email. For subscription orders, the first order will be discounted and all subsequent orders will be the original price.

The Blueprint For Perfect Home Upgrades

Saturday, August 19, 2017
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Improving the family home is a goal that we all share. Unfortunately, turning those visions of the perfect house into a reality is often a lot easier said than done. There are so many factors to consider that it's vital to follow a winning strategy. Completing the transformation isn’t a race, but you should be eager to make sure that every step moves things along in the right direction and within budget. Here are four ways to make that happen.

Weekend Dispatch

Friday, August 18, 2017

This weekend I am heading to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware with my sisters and their families for a week-long vacation. This will be the 10th anniversary of our sister/family vacation, and I'm excited to get away. We had an emergency medical situation with one of our cats last weekend, and I was on edge the entire weekend. Needless to say, I didn't relax very well, and much of what I offered up in last week's Weekend Dispatch didn't get done. I'm happy to say that our cat is well (many thanks to the wonderful staff at Garden State Veterinary Hospital), and this weekend is a chance to make up for last weekend.


Best Online Reads

Thursday, August 17, 2017

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

1. The best perfume to wear based on your zodiac sign via Glamour.

2. Ten everyday things that age you via Shape.

3. Easy ways to transform your boring denim into the cutest jeans ever via Cosmopolitan.

5 Favorites: Hand Soaps

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

I am by no means a germaphobe, but I do wash my hands plenty of times throughout the day. Because I wash them so frequently, I am very particular about the hand soap that I use. I used to use inexpensive hand soaps, but they smelled very generic and were harsh on my hands. Now I switch between a handful of favorite hand soaps.


Bargain Hunting Tips For Money Saving Moms

Tuesday, August 15, 2017
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Being a parent is a wonderful and rewarding experience, but you have to admit, kids are expensive! From food to clothes, as well as the latest in toys and games, it's little wonder many of us feel the pinch in our pockets once we have children. Here are a few bargain hunting tips that will save you a lot of stress, time and money.

3 Ways To Prepare Your Child For A New School Year

Monday, August 14, 2017
Thank you JCPenney Optical for sponsoring this post. Visit your local JCPenney Optical to find your perfect frames!

The new school year brings with it both excitement and trepidation. It can be an overwhelming time for both kids and parents. Minimizing the stressors and maximizing preparation are the key to starting the year off on the right foot as this time of year can present many challenges.

Getting organized now for a successful year ahead. Use these tips and ideas to get the family prepared for the best school year ever.

1. Do a thorough BTS cleaning
Over the next few weeks, you will have an influx of papers and forms infiltrating your home. All these papers can easily get lost in the shuffle if you don't have some sort of organization system to handle them.
  • Assign each child a paper tray for papers and forms that need to be completed and returned to school.
  • Get rid of any extraneous papers from the summer and the previous school year.
  • Clean out your child's closet and dressers. Donate clothes that no longer fit and make room for new clothes for the school year.
  • Clean out your pantry and refrigerator. Organize the contents of both so that it's easy for your children to put together their own lunches and snacks for school.

2. Have your child's eyes examined
If there is one thing that can contribute to poor performance in the classroom, it's poor vision. Start the year off right with a proper eye exam. JCPenney Optical offers both exams and a wide variety of eyeglasses. Shop JCPenney Optical for $39.99 Back to School Glasses for Kids. The sale includes a large selection of frames, impact-resistant lenses, and eyewear protection plan.

JCPenney not only has great brands for kids, but for mom and dad also. Choose from Ray Ban, DKNY, Armani Exchange, OP (kids-specific) and Converse (kids-specific).

Want to win eye-catching prizes? Enter the JCPenney Optical Back to School Photo Contest for a chance to win just in time for a new school year. Click HERE for official rules and to enter.

Share a favorite back to school photo of yourself and family members for a chance to win from JCPenney Optical and JCPenney Portraits.  Photos with glasses will receive EXTRA CREDIT!

From funny and awkward to absolutely adorable, JCPenney Optical wants to see a wide variety of photo submissions. Photos can be from any time period, but entrants must be 18 to enter (or have a parent/legal guardian enter on your behalf if younger).  Photos must only show one person and entries are limited to one submission per email address. Click HERE for official rules and to enter.

3. Do a first day test run
Doing a practice run through of the events that will take place on the first day is a great way to alleviate anxieties. Have your child pack lunch the night before. Wake early the following day and go through a typical day from waking to breakfast to getting to school (whether it's by bus, car, bike, or on foot). If your child will take the bus, practice your route to the bus stop, making sure to get there on time. Doing these activities in advance will make the first day seem less like a first day and more like a routine day weeks into the school year.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

How To Create More Privacy In and Around Your Home

Sunday, August 13, 2017
Making your house more private is something that people think is impossible unless you have an unlimited budget People often picture large houses with long private driveways that are located in the middle of nowhere, but there are some everyday things you can do to make your house more private.

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Incredible Gifts To Amaze Every Recipient

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'Tis better to give than to receive. The giving of a good gift is one of life's most fulfilling activities. A gift that sums up the recipient, a gift that will give them joy - or at the very least, a good laugh is the best give ever. I pride myself on choosing unique gifts for my friends and family. Many gifts can be expensive, but if you buy a gift that is relevant and unique, you'll never go wrong. Now, your budget might not mean you can gift rare gems, the Taj Mahal or helicopter rides away, but you might be able to give the gift of the moon and the stars. We’ll come talk about that later. But for now, here are some unique gifts that are sure to please the recipient.

7 Luxury Touches To Give Your Home Some Glamour

Saturday, August 12, 2017
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Designing your dream home can be bittersweet. At first, you can feel all excited at the prospect of putting together a home that suits your style and tastes. But, as you start to put things into practice, it's never that easy. You’re often met with too many choices. Even when you have a very defined and specific sense of style, it’s not always easy to know exactly what you want. When you look for inspiration, you can often like it all - but lots of different trends thrown together isn’t quite the look you were going for. So, what are you to do?

When you first move house or you’re in the planning process, you can start making your interior design choices. When you’re really torn between a few different styles, there’s only one winning thing that you can do to make it work. Adding in a slice of luxury is always the best way to fall in love with your decor. Regardless of the trends you choose and the themes you opt for, a few luxury touches will always make your home feel complete and add a hint of glamour too. And here are seven of the best.

How To Vacation Without Losing Your Style

Friday, August 11, 2017
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There are few times in life most of us look forward to more than vacationing. Having the chance to kick back and relax, ideally in a beautiful location, can often be exactly what you need to recharge and unwind. As I prepare for a week away in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware with my sisters and our families, I'm obsessing over what I'll wear and how to pack for the trip.

On top of all the many other considerations you need to think about when you go on vacation, you also want to make sure that you are looking your best. But this can be challenging for anyone. It’s not the kind of thing that often comes easy. I tend to overdress while on vacation. It's just how I am. I've never been one to do super casual very well and certainly not while on vacation. 

Here are some unmissable tips I follow to help me retain my sense of style while on vacation.

Weekend Dispatch

Thursday, August 10, 2017

There are still a few good weekends left of "unofficial" summer, and I plan to take full advantage of them. Next weekend, we leave for a week in Rehoboth Beach, but that still gives us a few more summer weekends here at the Jersey Shore. Luckily for us, things don't shut down here in the off-season. With plenty of year-round residents, there's always something to do.

Here's what's shakin' this weekend.

Every Sunday Dark City Brewing Company in Asbury Park hosts a yoga and beer combo. Kick start your Sunday with an hour long yoga session with instructor Stevie Leah followed by a 4 flight of beers and a brewery tour. Price is $13 (or $5 if you opt out of the beer). Event takes place from 10:30 am - 12 pm. Namaste!

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While everyone else is glued to Ozark (how can you go wrong with Jason Bateman and Laura Linney?), I'm over here binge watching Gypsy. I started watching it because of the intriguing description as well as for Naomi Watts (love her!). Although it took me a little while to get through the first episode, I was hooked by the time I started the second one. It's dark, spell-binding, romantic, and scary all in one bundle. One review called it "well made bad TV", and it is, but I like it. It's supposed to be a psychological thriller, but it's not very thrilling. It is mesmerizing and will suck you in when you're not looking. Oh, and did I mention it also stars Billy Crudup?!!

Several weeks ago, the Hubs and I had dinner at Half Moon Point. I'd been wanting to order the shrimp and grits since the restaurant opened in the spring, and I finally did. It was nothing short of spectacular, and I've been thinking about it ever since. This weekend I'll be making an attempt to make it at home using this recipe.

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There are so many good podcasts out there that it's often difficult to decide what to listen to. In this week's Best Online Reads I included a link to an article that listed a handful of recommended podcasts. One of my favorites from this list has been Crash On My Couch. I've found that many podcasts spew a lot of information at you. While most of the information is worthwhile, it's plentiful and comes at you quickly. Crash On My Couch is different. You get useful information, but you feel like you're having a conversation with two best friends. Although aimed at 20-somethings, I love this podcast for it's honest approach to the currently crazy world we live in. They chat about pop culture, relationships, pet peeves, and more.

I have a never ending quest for learning. When I discovered Skillshare, I couldn't believe the wealth of possibilities. Think of it as an organized and very specific version of YouTube. From tech to cooking to selling on Etsy, you can learn how to do it on Skillshare. There are so many options for both creative and professional types. Some classes are free and others require a fee. But in any case, check it out!

Best Online Reads

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

1. Ten tips for starting your week off on the right foot via Sequins and Stripes.

2. Podcasts to transform your life via The Everygirl.

3. The best foods to eat when recovering from an intensive workout via MindBodyGreen.

How To Make The Most of a Family Trip To the Pool

Wednesday, August 9, 2017
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During the summer months, there's no better exercise or enjoyment for kids than swimming. What better way to engage your kids in an active lifestyle than a family trip to the local swimming pool. Not only is learning to swim a major life skill which should be encouraged from an early age, but it also offers an excellent cardiovascular workout that can help to keep them energetic, physically strong and at a healthy weight. 

Here are a few tips to keep in mind to get the most out of a swimming experience for the entire family:

5 Favorites: Clutches

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Now that my daughters are older and don't require babysitters, the Hubs and I are able to get out more often and more impulsively. We no longer need to plan date nights and are free to jump out for a quick bite or a cocktail when the mood strikes.

When we go out, I don't need to lug my normal (somewhat large and clunky) purse with me since I need only to bring a few essentials. I've been relying on chic and cute clutches for these evenings out since they aren't large but are large enough to hold everything I need (phone, lipstick, money, ID, credit card, etc.)

Here are 5 clutches I am currently loving:


Splurge vs. Save

Monday, August 7, 2017

When I first saw these loafers on Emily Schuman from Cupcakes and Cashmere, I thought they were pretty much the perfect shoes. They were so chic, and mules and slip-ons were just catching on at the time. And then...I saw the price. Ugh. $650 for a pair of trendy shoes. Not quite in my budget.

So, I set out to find a similar pair at a price point that was within my budget. I finally found a comparable pair at SheIn. If you've never shopped SheIn, you need to check it out. You can find many trends and items that are knockoffs of more expensive ones at reasonable prices.

Shop the splurge ~  Gucci Princetown Loafer Mule

Shop the save ~ Faux Leather Flat Loafer Slippers

I also love this fur-lined pair.

Tips For Keeping Up With Your Kids Online

Sunday, August 6, 2017
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All parents feel like they’re a little out of touch with their kids from time to time, especially if you are the parent of a teenager (oh, hey, speaking from experience here). But when it comes to technology, you feel like you’re miles behind. Every five minutes they’re talking about the latest online trend and it feels like something new comes along before you’ve even started to get to grips with the old ones. If you don’t understand how the technology works, it makes it difficult to monitor exactly what your kids are doing on there. The dangers of the internet and social media are big on every parent’s mind at the moment and sometimes keeping your kids safe online feels like an uphill battle. But don’t worry, it isn’t impossible to learn these things.

Here are a few tips that will help you keep up to date.

Tips For Alleviating Anxiety In Children

Saturday, August 5, 2017
Vacation is the one time in the year you get to chill out and relax, right? Well, maybe not for everyone, especially if you are a mom who has an anxious child. An anxious child can make vacations quite a challenging time. But with a little knowledge about the condition and a few suggestions for activities, you can have a restful and enjoyable vacation.

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What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a condition that causes a fear reaction. It can be in response to certain stimuli such as spiders, or new social situations, or it can just arise for no reason. It's rather unpleasant for the person suffering from it, as they are likely to have a raised heart rate, feel sick and dizzy, get sweaty and feel the need to go to the toilet. Not much fun, especially if this happens at multiple points in the day.

However, if you have a child with anxieties, there's no need to despair. There are things to do to help alleviate anxiety, including visiting a pediatrician for advice as well as the suggestions below.

Tips For Losing "Baby Weight"

Friday, August 4, 2017
It took me a while after I had my first child to get back into a workout routine. It was a little less than two years to be exact. I kept making excuses and finding everything to do except exercising. A little weight gain was the least of my worries, but after more than a year, I started to run out of reasons why the extra pounds were still lingering. Losing the weight you've gained during pregnancy isn’t easy and having a baby to care for doesn’t make it any easier.

Here are some ways I lost the baby weight after having a baby.


Is Gardening the Right Hobby for You?

Thursday, August 3, 2017
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Sitting at home with nothing to do? Bored of your old hobbies because they don’t offer anything new? Then why not consider gardening as your next go-to hobby?

Everyone needs to have a hobby. Whether it’s something you can do at home or something that involves going out, everyone should have something that they absolutely love and are willing to spend time and money on. It improves your mood, gives you a reason to go out more and gives you something to be interested in when you’re plugging away at work or interacting with family. It gives you a peaceful treat to indulge in when you’re stressed, and it helps to fill in the time between life events.

What makes gardening such a great hobby, and is it the right one for you? If you’re looking for something new, then here are a few points that will help convince you that gardening should be your next interest.

Best Online Reads

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

1. Five takeways from Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up via Mackenzie Horan.

2. Starbucks apron colors have secret meanings via Bon Appétit.

3. The history of paint by numbers via Great Big Story.

Easy Workouts For Busy Moms

Wednesday, August 2, 2017
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Exercise is the one thing we all say we’re going to do, but never seem to have the time or effort for it. In reality we do have the time but we usually don’t have the effort. Our intentions to start an exercise program are good, but our follow through is generally poor. It's time to stop making excuses and start making time to fit exercise into your busy schedule. Here are a few ways to make that happen.