Best Online Reads

Friday, September 29, 2017

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

1. Ways to be more productive when you work from home via Real Simple.

2. The biggest song from the year you were born via Thrillist.

3. How to turn a job you hate into one you like via The Cut.

Putting the "Fun" In Fundraising #forRMHC

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Raising money for charity doesn’t have to be grueling or boring. There are plenty of innovative and exciting ways to inspire people to support your charity of choice. When you feel passionate about a charity, it trickles down to those around you. And soon everyone is eager to jump on the fundraising bandwagon.

Once you put the fun into fundraising, you will find that you will want to raise as much money for charity as possible. It really pays off to have some fun while helping out a charitable organization or cause and to not see fundraising as a chore.
The first step is to choose a charity. As a mother, I tend to lean in to charities that support children. Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) is one of my favorite charities. RMHC is passionate about keeping families together and close to the medical facilities where pediatric patients are receiving long term care. Since 1974 RMHC has created programs that focus on strengthening families during difficult times, such as long term medical stays and prolonged medical treatment.

RMHC works with leading hospitals all over the world to provide compassionate care to both children and their families. With a focus on the family, RMHC provides access to healthcare and family-centric care to help lessen the emotional and financial burden of families. RMHC recognizes that families are already overwhelmed and challenged with their child's illness. RMHC strives to make an already difficult and emotional situation a little less stressful. As a parent of a child who has a chronic medical condition, I can appreciate how much a difference it makes to have someone in your corner during these times.

RMHC is able to provide care to families with the help of generous donors. From spare change to corporate sponsors, every little bit makes a difference in the care of a child and supporting the family. You can get involved by fundraising for RMHC in fun ways that take the chore out of fundraising.

Here are a few of my favorite ways of putting "fun" into fundraising for RMHC.

Fundraise As A Family
As they say, it takes a village. Why not fundraise with your family? There is power in numbers, and the more people you involve, the more money you are likely to raise for RMHC. Even if you have young children, there will still be plenty of ways you can fundraise. For instance, you could do a sponsored silence where your children have to stay silent for a period of time. You could ask people to pledge a certain amount of money per minute of silence. They will love the challenge as well as asking family and friends to sponsor them. And you can enjoy some peace and quiet! There are also some family fun runs or walks that you might want to do with the whole gang. This is a great way to encourage the kids to make fitness a part of their everyday life.

Get Active
Many people are very sporty these days and regularly take part in races for charitable causes. A 5k walk/run if very doable for most participants. It's fairly short, and you can add a fun aspect to it such as dressing up a certain way. It’s more about participation than about winning! For example, you can host your own color run. This is a 3-mile run during which you will be covered in colored paints. It will certainly feel a lot more like a party than a fundraiser for RMHC!

Get The Neighborhood Together
Do you need an excuse to meet your neighbors and get to know them a bit better? You probably do, since most neighbors rarely socialize these days. Well, why not get your whole neighborhood working together to fundraise for RMHC? There are a few different ways you might want to go about this, but a really awesome idea is to host a street or block party or a movie night, complete with an inflatable screen.

You could have a bake sale during the party, and you might want to find a musician that is willing to donate a percentage of their profit to RMHC. You could also organize a raffle for the party. Prizes can be anything from children’s story books to wine baskets to cash prizes. Ask everyone in the neighborhood who attends the block party to make a small donation to RMHC. You'll see that those small donations soon add up to a large amount for a good cause.

Involve Your Colleagues
It’s not just your neighborhood who can help with your fundraising endeavors. Get your colleagues or your employer involved too. In fact, many companies regularly hold bake sales in aid of certain charities. It's also worth checking to see if your company has a donation matching program. Many corporations will match the amount that you raise up to a certain amount. You can check with someone in human resources or public relations to get more information about corporate matching for RMHC.

There can be a lot of fun in fundraising. The more people you involve in your efforts, the more successful and the more fun it will be. To get started, visit to start a fundraiser.

How do you plan to raise money to help RMHC in its efforts to help families all over the world?

Check out how we prepared for our bake sale to raise money for RHMC.


Kiddie Academy Hosts Storytime LIVE!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017
This is a sponsored post written on behalf of Kiddie Academy. All opinions are my own. 

It's the time of year when the weather can be slightly unpredictable and unseasonably cool to try to plan an outdoor activity for your children. Whether it's rainy or chilly, it's a good idea to have an indoor activity that the kids will love.

When my daughters were younger, one of our favorite activities was story time. Whether we had our own at home or ventured out to attend one at a local library or book store, we always looked forward to the chance to get lost in a few books. My own love of reading started early, and it was always my goal to foster a love of reading in my children.

Reading aloud to your child has proven lifelong literacy benefits. However, while reading a story, it’s also important to stop to talk about the story to further engage your child in the process.  You can ask questions about the story, talk about the emotions related to the story, or even create an alternate ending. You’ll elevate story time from a passive to an active pursuit, making for a richer, more valuable experience.

Kiddie Academy®  has taken story time one step further by bringing a book to life right before your child's eyes. Kiddie Academy offers a unique story time for children and their parents with its Storytime LIVE!, a free community event where the beloved literary character, Curious George, jumps off the page and visits the classroom in person!

Kiddie Academy, a nationally recognized provider of educational child care programs, has been teaching children and helping them discover more about the world around them for 35 years. Kiddie Academy offers full-time care, before- and after-school care, STEM programs, and a summer camp program for children ages 6 weeks to 12 years.

Storytime LIVE is open to the public not just currently enrolled students at Kiddie Academy. So grab a friend and visit Storytime LIVE this Saturday, September 30th at any of these locations:

  • Jackson
  • Marlboro
  • North Brunswick
  • Secaucus
  • Watchung Square
  • West Caldwell
  • Springfield

Do your children love storytime? If so, will you be attending Kiddie Academy's Storytime LIVE! to see Curious George? Find the location nearest you and register here:


Playing Favorites

Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Playing Favorites is a monthly series where I share my latest obsessions, favorite finds, and any kind of entertainment (books, movies, TV, podcasts, and magazines) that I am loving.

1. DuoLingo
In college I took a few semesters of French and loved it. While I learned to speak and write basic sentences, I never learned how to speak it fluently but always secretly wished I had. I recently downloaded the app DuoLingo after Emma's high school Spanish teacher recommended it as a means of reinforcing what they learn. You can choose from a variety of languages, and you choose the pace at which you learn. You can spend 10 minutes a day or an hour a day. Whatever works for you.

2. Cote de Roses Rosé
In my opinion, it's always rosé season. With such a wide variety of rosé wines available year round, we have our pick of the litter. Lately, I've discovered this one, and I am wholeheartedly enjoying it. I have to admit that I was enticed by the bottle. As much as I try not to choose a wine based on its label, there are times when I am a sucker for an interesting or fun label. In this case, it wasn't the label but rather the bottle!


Pick Me Ups To Boost Your Mood

Monday, September 25, 2017
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We all need to take 5 minutes sometimes. Often we need to take just a bit longer. So when it comes to a day off, or an evening to myself, I always choose do something that improves my mood and makes me feel as if I've taken a full day off. It don’t have to take much effort, and can often be done in 5 minutes, as long as you are enjoying yourself after a hard day or a long week.

Here’s a few ideas on the little pick me ups everyone should indulge in every once in awhile.

Tips For Preparing To Start A Family

Sunday, September 24, 2017
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Having a baby, or adding to your existing brood is a major decision for anybody. Starting a family is a life-changing event. When you make the decision to start or expand your family, you want to be certain that it's the right choice and that you are well-prepared. However, the rewards are even greater, and a new family member will always bring happiness and positivity into your life.

Although no one can fully prepare you for what’s ahead, even if you already have kids. But there are some things you can do before you welcome a bundle of joy. The more research and planning you take on pre-conception, and during pregnancy, the more confident and calm you’ll be about what's to come. Here are some things to consider as you prepare for a new arrival.

How To Protect Your Finances From A Natural Disaster

Thursday, September 21, 2017
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In the wake of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, it’s not difficult to think about the mass destruction these storms cause and to consider your own protection. After seeing the devastation Mother Nature can cause, it’s only natural to think about hurricane-proofing your home if you live in a hurricane prone area. But your physical home isn't the only thing that can be vulnerable to a hurricane. There are other considerations to make that can keep you in good financial standing if a hurricane were to strike.

Best Online Reads

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

1. Twelve mistakes women make in middle age via Health.

2. Seven thoughts healthy people have while grocery shopping via Well + Good.

3. How to recover from a long flight via Thrillist.

Tips For Hosting A Successful (and Fun!) Party

Wednesday, September 20, 2017
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Whether this is going to be your first official gathering or you’ve had so many you’ve lost count, it’s never too late to try to impress your friends all over again. Over the years we've hosted guests for everything from a small gathering for happy hour to 30+ guests to celebrate a special occasion. I've learned a thing or two about how to entertain so your guests feel special and welcomed in your home. Here are a few tips hat are sure to impress your guests at your next gathering!

Life Lessons: Lead By Example

Tuesday, September 19, 2017
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Now that our daughters are in 10th and 6th grade respectively, they are old enough to be taught some important life lessons. It goes without saying that every parent wants the best for their kids. This is especially true when it comes to education. The things they learn in their early years are going to stick with them. Hence, we set them up in the best schools, and even pursue educational activities during weekends.

But, while education is important, it’s not the only thing you need to teach. In fact, the most valuable lessons they’ll learn from you are life lessons they won’t learn in school. These are the things which will take them from children to adults and help set them up for success.

It may sound daunting, but for the most part, we teach our kids these things without realizing. How? By leading by example. Our children learn a lot about the ways of the world, just by watching us. Which is why it’s important for you to set a good example in the following areas.

Smart Investment Tips For Families

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Securing your family’s financial future should be at the top of your list of priorities. Making sure that you’re all provided for, for the rest of your lives, means being sensible with your money now. Saving up cash is one way to do it, but it can be difficult when you’re covering the costs of running a household and providing for a family. If you want to see that money grow into a healthy sum for the future, you need to invest it wisely. Here are a few suggestions for smart investments that are perfect for families.

Splurge vs. Save

Monday, September 18, 2017
A popular fall trend that you are likely to see a lot of this season is the deconstructed look. It's like an article of clothing was taken apart and put back together again in a more interesting way. It's not for everyone, and I have to admit, many of the pieces I am seeing do not appeal to me. But I have taken a liking to some of the shirttail hem items I am seeing. 

However, because deconstructed is a trend that isn't likely to stick around for years to come, I don't want to spend a lot of money on the items, but I still want to wear the trend. Here are two very similar items at very different price points.

Trends only come around once in a while, splurge on this solid and plaid top from Vince Camuto while this trend is still hot!

Save some cash and treat yourself to a mani/padi by purchasing the Drop Shoulder Checkered Hem Sweatshirt from SheInside.

How To Hurricane-Proof Your Home

Sunday, September 17, 2017
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When Hurricane Sandy hit the Jersey shore five years ago, coastal towns were devastated and outer lying areas were left reeling. We lost power for six days. School was cancelled for two weeks, and we were in a state of shock. We learned many lessons from our experience with Hurricane Sandy. First and foremost, we learned that it's definitely worth hurricane-proofing your own home and being prepared for the worst case scenario. You just never know when a natural disaster will happen and how extensive the damage and aftermath will be. It’s better to be prepared for it now than to regret it later. With Hurricane José ready to bear down on the Jersey shore, we are once again preparing for a potential hit. Here are some of the steps we've taken to hurricane-proof home:

Tips For Keeping Your Home Running Smoothly

Saturday, September 16, 2017

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It's so important to make sure everything in your home is working as it should. What may start out as a barely visible crack in the wall, can amount to an even bigger crack that pours out dirty rain water and causes your basement to be infested with mold. We had a small leak in our dining room ceiling a few years ago that we casually ignored. It eventually became a larger leak which resulted in ripping out the dining room ceiling, replacing the sheetrock, and repainting the entire room. You've got better things to do than deal with home repairs that could have been avoided.

Here's how to regularly inspect your home and what to look for:


Win Tickets to See Danone Nations Cup on September 24th

Friday, September 15, 2017
On Sunday, September 24th the Danone Nations Cup will be held at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ. The Danone Nations Cup is the world's biggest football (soccer) tournament for children aged 10-12. The best players, both boys and girls, will come together in New Jersey to compete. And you have a chance to be there!

The event will feature official ambassadors from all over the world including Abby Wambach from the United States. Wambach is a former American soccer player. She played for the US women’s national soccer team from 2003 to 2015 and won two Olympic gold medals and also two FIFA Women’s World Cup.

The boys' tournament features elite soccer players from 32 countries, and the girls' tournament features elite soccer players from 6 countries. You don't want to miss out on this chance to take your children to see some of the world's best young players compete for the world title.

Legendary stadiums all over the world have played host to this extraordinary event, and this year, it is being held in the United States. And to top it off, it's being held right here in New Jersey.

Sunday's World Final will be an all day family event from 10:30am until 5:30pm. It will include the final 20 ranking matches of the tournament as well as activities for the fans throughout the day – games, contest and other activations outside the stadium and in the stands.

Icing on the cake is DNCE, led by front man and NJ local, Joe Jonas, will be giving a special performance at the end of the day, including their hit single “Cake By The Ocean”! You won’t want to miss this.


Pieces of a Mom has 25 - two packs tickets to give away for anyone interested in attending. Please comment on this post with your name and email address if you'd like to be considered for this giveaway. Winners will be chosen on Thursday, September 24 and notified by the morning of Friday, September 22nd so you have time to plan to attend the event. Keep in mind that you each winner (there will be 25) will receive two (2) tickets and you will be responsible for your own parking expenses. All winners must be over the age of 18.

Winners will be notified via email so be sure the correct email is given.

Weekend Dispatch

After a weekend away in Brooklyn last weekend and a busy week full of back-to-school nights, we are staying put this weekend. I've quickly learned that having two daughters (one a teen and the other a tween) means they have a jam packed social calendar on the weekends, and I dare not mess with it. ;-)

The Hubs and I have gotten adept at planning around them, but sometimes our plans just don't work out due to playing the part of their personal chauffeurs. Here's what's happening this weekend.

Best Online Reads

Thursday, September 14, 2017

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

1. America's most Instagrammed landmarks, by state via CBS News.

2. The most common birthday and most popular month for births in the U.S. via Real Simple.

3. How to know if you need a rest/mental health day via MindBodyGreen.

How To Create A Cozy Bedroom

Wednesday, September 13, 2017
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When most people think of their bedroom, they often think of it as the comfiest place in their home. After all, it needs to be comfortable so that it provides a peaceful place to fall asleep each night.

There are various ways you can create a super cozy bedroom. For example, you might want to use a warm color palette, such as earth tones and soothing creams. Lots of soft, comfy furnishings will also make a big difference too.

One other way you can make a comfortable bedroom is by using optimum materials. There are lots of materials that are ideal in a bedroom, but here is a list of my all-time favorites.

3 Small Changes That Make A Big Impact On Your Home's Interior

When you really want to make a change to your home, but can’t face stripping it bare and starting from the ground floor, don’t panic. There are several ways you can make a room look completely different without having to change everything all at once. You might just want a small change for a new season, or maybe just a quick refresh of the current room. Here are three key things you can do when you have neither the time nor the budget for full renovation.

Trend To Try: Power Red

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

While the color red is nothing new or innovative, it's making a fashion comeback for fall. Typically a color that we see a lot of during the Christmas holiday season and Valentine's Day, red is popping up all over the place, Everything from shoes, booties, earrings, sweaters, coats, and dresses is red, and it's a powerful red. Vibrant and energetic.

I don't typically wear red due to my rosacea and naturally ruddy complexion. But seeing all the super cute pieces in red has me second guessing myself. Here are a few of the items I have my eye on for fall.

The Best Books For Helping Children Cope With Moving

Monday, September 11, 2017
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The last time we moved was 11 years ago. Emma was 4 years old, and Harper was only 3 months old. At four, Emma was very aware of what was happening. She had never moved before, and she didn't know what to expect from the moving process and from own new home. Moving is difficult for children.

Anything that threatens the status quo is a potential threat to their survival and needs to be addressed. The problem was I had no idea how to address the situation since we had never been through a move with our family. Adults are able to use the mental tools they’ve built up over the course of their lives to cope with a move. But children don’t have this level of understanding or forethought: they just see the fact that they’re moving and assume it’s going to be for the worse.

The challenge for parents is to try to help kids cope with what’s happening and to accept it. Most children will be vocal in their opposition, but parents need to remember that many will internalize their feelings and keep them to themselves. That’s why it’s important, even if your child seems okay, to broach the subject regardless.

5 Energy Saving Devices Your Home Needs

Sunday, September 10, 2017
We are always looking for ways to cut down on our expenses. From car insurance to monthly utilities to food costs, there's always room for improvement. No household can afford to be wasteful. We already have some procedures in place to shop economically and prevent food waste with weekly planning and prep. But in many households, including my own, this barely scratches the surface. The toughest nut to crack for most families is the old chestnut of energy waste. Whether it’s through ignorance, negligence or just plain forgetting, the average American home wastes a lot of energy. In fact, as a nation we’re almost 70% energy inefficient. That’s almost two-thirds of the energy generated in the United States that is wasted.

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In many cases, diligence is always your greatest defense against energy waste. Unplugging devices instead of leaving them on standby, installing replacement windows with an energy-efficiency rating, switching off air conditioning or heating when leaving the house and limiting your time in the shower are all great measures that every family should adopt. Some of us, however, need a little help. Thankfully, the miracle of modern technology has given us some devices to make saving energy easier than ever.

Simple Ways To Bond With Your Children

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Sometimes lives are busy and we are moving in different directions at the speed of sound that we can often feel disconnected from our children. We may be burdened by the pressures of work, and your kids may have so many after school activities that it's a wonder you ever see each other at all. Even when you are all at home together, they may spend more time on their tablets and smartphones, and the only way you can successfully communicate with them is to text them to let them know that dinner is ready. Can you relate? I certainly can.  Here are some simple ways to unplug and bond with your children.

3 Ways To Prepare For Fall

Friday, September 8, 2017
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The end of the summer is stretching on, but there’s a distinct chill in the air now. Fall is most definitely on the way, and within a few short weeks, we will get to see nature’s stunning transformation as the leaves change color and the nights draw in. It means an end to the barbeques, the evening meals out on the deck on a warm evening. Instead, it’s all about cozy blankets, snuggly pajamas and pumpkin spice lattes! The change of season is likely to inspire a change in your makeup bag, wardrobe and home too. It can be fun to update things for fall and enjoy the changing weather. Here’s how I go about it.

Weekend Dispatch

Thursday, September 7, 2017

This weekend we are heading to Brooklyn for my niece Ashley's wedding. I haven't been to Brooklyn in years, and our girls have never been there. So, not only are we super excited about the wedding, but we are also excited to spend some time in a place we haven't been in a while. Although our time there is limited, we are hoping to check out as many new places as we can squeeze in. As a result, this week's Weekend Dispatch is somewhat abbreviated.


Best Online Reads

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

1. Ten travel tips to swear by via Damsel in Dior.

2. How to get back on track after a vacation via The Spoonful.

3. An interesting hidden benefit of the Zika virus via USA Today.

8 Helpful Tips For A Healthy Weekend

Wednesday, September 6, 2017
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The weekend is almost upon us. Weekends are a time to enjoy with friends and family. And that generally means eating and drinking. Just keeping it real, here. A few cocktails, maybe dinner, brunch, or a few appetizers always make for a great time. Weekends, however, can be challenging, filled with drinks, friends, family meals and overwhelming temptation. If you are trying to stay on a healthy track, weekends are the bane of your existence. But before you pack it all in and reach for the extra large pepperoni pizza, here are few simple steps I follow to stay on track and keep it healthy on the weekends.

4 Easy Ways To Practice Self-Care

Tuesday, September 5, 2017
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Being a mom isn’t easy. Life is hectic and stressful. That’s why every now and then you need to treat yourself to help improve your mood and keep your spirits up. It’s easy to get weighed down with that stress and worry that comes with daily life, but if you take the time to make your wellness a priority, you can alleviate the stress that you are under. Here are some of the ways I treat myself to when I need to improve my mood and reduce stress.

My Favorite Everyday Uses For Fresh Flowers

Monday, September 4, 2017

Fresh flowers make any home just that little bit happier. There is something about freshly cut blooms that can put a smile on anyone’s face. The aroma is pretty enticing too! Whether you grow them in your garden or order them from your florist, here are some of my favorite everyday uses for a beautiful bouquet.

How To Buy A Meaningful Gift For Your Child

Sunday, September 3, 2017
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The Christmas shopping season is approaching at an alarming rate. I'm already thinking about holiday gift guides for the blog and what this season's hottest gifts will be. The shopping stresses and general panic about what to buy your loved ones will set in soon, if it hasn't already. In addition to Christmas, my oldest daughter turns 16 next year, and I'm already thinking of a unique and special gift for her. Luckily when it comes to buying for your children, they usually tell you exactly what they want in no uncertain terms. But when you want to buy something that's more than a toy or video game, what exactly do you buy that means something special to them, not just now, but years down the line?

3 Educational Activity Ideas For The Whole Family

Saturday, September 2, 2017
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Now that summer is winding down and the beach days are coming to an end, it's time to start thinking of ways to keep the kids entertained indoors during the winter months. When most parents think of something to do with their children, they tend to focus on playful activities that keep them busy and, more importantly, quiet for a few hours. A favorite of mine is baking with my daughters. While you need to focus on simple recipes, it is a great way to bond over food. It allows children some play (playing with dough), some creativity (decorating a cake or cupcakes) and even some education (adding measurements). While baking is fun, it can also become rather boring after a while. You don’t learn anything new, and your kids will quickly pick up the basics of making cookies or a cake. 

So how about picking something that helps you both grow, something educational for a change? Learning can be fun especially when you are doing it together. I'm not talking about you teaching your children. You both learn something new together.

Simple Ways To Improve Your Family Finances

Friday, September 1, 2017
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The family finances can be hard to navigate at times. There always seems to be some bill to pay, a school-related expense to pay for and home improvements that desperately need to be done. The financial pot can start to rise and fall more times than your child's favorite roller coaster. But it doesn’t have to be so unpredictable. There are some changes and habits you can adopt to help keep the financial pot on the rise rather than the decline.