Friday, April 29, 2011

FANCY FRIDAY (Mother's Day Special)

Mother’s day is approaching fast (like next Sunday!) which brings with it the task of finding the perfect gift for Mom over the weekend. If your mom is anything like mine, she's impossible to shop for. Which got me thinking; why (and when) do all mom's become so hard to shop for? Do they really have everything?? My boys will never have that problem with me. There's always something I want. Right!?!

My hope was to bring you a personalized list of my favorite Mother's Day gift ideas (like I've done in the past under the "Gift Idea" section) but after this week - yeah, not gonna happen. But I didn't want to leave y'all hanging. I can't tell you how tickled I was to come across PageDaily's Mother's Day gift idea list. They feature lot of fun, new products that are sure to suit even the pickiest of mothers. Below is a list of unique and special gifts for every type of mom:

1. Foodie Mom: Gwyneth Paltrow’s New Cookbook – “My Father’s Daughter”
Thanks to Glee, we all know superstar celeb Gwyneth can sing, but did you know she can cook? In “My Father’s Daughter” she shares her recipes that celebrate family and togetherness. With a foreword by master chef Mario Batali, you know the recipes must be delicious! They are also remarkably easy for even the most gastronomically challenged Mom. Plus, there’s something for every palatte from the exotic tuna and ginger burgers to chicken and dumplings to wood oven pizza. I literally want to try every recipe in this book.
Buy Now – for half price ($16)

2. Fashionable Mom: Rich Rocks Jewelry
Rich Rocks is a fabulous costume jewelry line with a celebrity following that appeals to women of all ages. The cast of Gossip Girl certainly loves their baubles–Blake Lively, Leighton Meester and Kelly Rutherford to name a few. The selection is carefully edited and there is something for everyone. For the classic mom, I love the elegant pair of silver clover hoops (very Van Cleef). The boho Mom will adore the leaf earrings with champagne crystals and the hip Mom would enjoy the oversized hanging smokey dangle earrings. Also, all of the jewelry looks luxe and the pieces have a nice weight to them.
Buy Now – Smokey dangle earrings – $75

Jennifer Miller Jewelry
Another great costume jewelry line and designer who is always on trend is Jennifer Miller. Their dog tag necklace engraved with the sentiment, “LUV U MOM” is sure to be a hit. I like this one for the cool Mom who lives in jeans and t-shirts. It also has a yellow gold-plated cut out heart charm disk to add to the style. Made of sterling silver on a 30” stainless ball chain, the necklace looks very substantial and is the perfect Mother’s Day gift for Mom from the kids.
Buy Now – $175

3. Pampered Mom: L’Occitane Sparkling Verbena Skin Care Set
If you’re mom loves the spa, pamper her this Mother’s Day with this Sparkling Verbena set from L’Occitane. This kit has everything Mom needs to relax including shower gel, body lotion, a delicious verbena scented sachet, shea butter hand cream and shea butter soap in milk and verbena scent. It even comes with a Mother’s Day card. I am a huge fan of these products and use them regularly. It is SO nice when someone buys them for you!
Buy Now – $55

4. Beauty Junkie Mom: “All About My Mother” Make-up Gift Pack
Celebrity make-up artist Napoleon Perdis “All About My Mother” gift pack comes wrapped and ready to go in a lovely gift box. The make-up kit includes a cute vintage-inspired coin case with universally flattering shades of eyeshadow, cream blush and lip color. I love the lip color because it is shiny but not sticky and the four color eye shadow palette has the hottest colors of the season. Cream blush is super easy to use and all of the makeup in the kit comes with “how to” instructions (available in two different color palettes).
Buy Now – $49 ($100 value)

5. Techie Mom: PhotoOp Ipad Case
So many mom's today wouldn't be caught dead anywhere without her iPad. Luckily, PhotoOp makes an iPad case that you can personalize with an adorable photo of the kids. All moms appreciate personalized gifts! Just email PhotoOp the picture you would like to use as a jpeg, and they will send you the ipad case. Available in leather or fabric.
Buy Now – Leather – $150, Fabric – $120 (Call the studio at 212-362-1911 to place an order)

6. Eco-Conscious Mom: Recycled Windshield White Wine Decanter from
A sophisticated and modern wine decanter made from recycled auto-glass is the ideal gift for the eco-conscious Mom. What’s really cool about this decanter is that it has an open ice chamber that chills wine without diluting it. Every decanter is unique and handmade in Colombia making it a special gift that any Earth-friendly mother will love to have in her home. I would use it as a decorative piece and for chilling ice tea or lemonade!
Buy Now – $55

7. Sentimental Mom: Personalized Mother’s Day Cards
A refreshing break from the ordinary drugstore greeting card, offers personalized cards that they even send for you. No need to remember to mail a card on time or waste time trying to choose the right card. TinyPrints custom-made cards are heartfelt and special. Choose the photos, colors, fonts and text to create a card Mom will cherish. Tiny Prints also offers personalized stationary as a gift for Mom. Celebrity fans of TinyPrints include Gwyneth Paltrow, Kelly Ripa, Rachel Zoe, Reese Witherspoon and Brooke Shields. You may have to expedite the turnaround time on these.
Buy Now – $1.99 – $3.99 per card

8. Organized Mom (or one who wants to be): PurseN Purse Organizers
Whether your Mom loves to be organized or if your Mom is the type who can’t find anything in her purse (sound familiar?), the PurseN purse inserts are a fashionable and functional gift. These organizers make it easy to change from purse to purse without leaving behind any of your go-to items and keep bags clean. The inserts make Mom’s life easier with compartments for everything from her phone to her lipstick and wallet–and the rest of the “stuff.” Good-bye black hole!
Buy Now – $58

9. Charitable Mom: Charitable Mom Love Quotes Scarves
Loved by celebs like Sarah Jessica Parker, Kate Hudson, and Jennifer Aniston for their luxe fabric, chic colors and charitable cause, Phyllis Wiener’s “Love Quotes” scarves make a perfect gift for the chic Mom who wants to give back. The Love Quotes scarves come in an array of gorgeous colors and can be worn around your neck, as a shawl, or on the beach as a cover up. They also happen to be the perfect size and are amazingly soft. Plus, 10% of the proceeds are donated to international children’s charities. Each scarf comes with its own special quote, making it a truly heartfelt gift. P.S. Did you see Sofia Vergara in the new Pepsi commercial sporting the Regatta blue one as a pareo?
Buy Now – $75

For all that moms do, they deserve to be showered with gifts on their special day. I hope this gets your juices flowing for a fabulous Mother's Day gift. I know there are several that tickled my fancy. :)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Raise a MONEY smart kid

Last week I did a post on children and allowance. It was such a hit that I thought I'd follow it up with some tips on how to raise a money smart kid.

If the idea of schooling your child in personal finance seems overwhelming, take heart. Instilling money literacy doesn't require a lot of planning or knowledge. Focus on the basics, like comparison shopping and the importance of planning and saving. When your child masters these concepts, they'll know more than many adults. In fact, according to a 2010 survey by T. Rowe Price investment company, fewer than one in five parents give themselves top grade for their understanding of fundamental savings and investment principles. The key is to start young and keep your talks kid-friendly.

As parents, we have to teach our kids so many things, and as they get older, we realize a lot of what they learn, we don’t even realize we’re teaching them… they’re learning by watching us! If we have good habits, then that’s great, but if we don’t have the best habits, we could be teaching them things we really don’t want to be. An example? If we’re trying to teach them about exercise and nutrition, but they never see us exercise, and all we eat is junk food, our kids are going to pay more attention to what they see us doing than what we tell them to do. The same can be said for financial habits; if our kids see us making smart money decisions, they’ll learn those good habits, too.

Below are some tips on how to teach your children the basics of money to give them a head start in money management and the skills needed to succeed in life. These are all things we can be explaining to them as we do them!

ATM'S DON'T GIVE YOU MONEY: Nowadays kids don't think money grows on trees; they think it comes out of ATMs. It's so easy for a child to assume that the ATM shells out money for free. As you drive up to the ATM, this is a perfect opportunity to explain to your child that these machines are like piggy banks. They hold your money and when you take some out, you have less for next time. How do you get more? By earning it.

CREDIT CARDS AREN'T THE ONLY WAY: Grasping the idea of a credit card for a child is tough. It basically looks (and feels) like "free" money. If your kids see you using credit cards for everything, they’ll think it’s normal and acceptable to do the same themselves. If you’re using a credit card to save points for a reward, explain that to them, and let them see you writing a check to pay the credit card company. Also be sure to show them the statement, so they can see the interest, and how it adds up to real dollars and cents.

CASH ACTUALLY STILL WORK: If you never use cash, ever, then your kids might think it’s not a good idea, and sometimes, it’s the best way to pay. Let them see you use cash, and better yet, let THEM pay for things with cash!

WHAT'S A BUDGET: Most of us didn’t see our parents paying bills, or balancing their checkbooks, so we had to learn about these things in an abstract way in an economics class, or worse, the hard way by doing it ourselves. Let your kids see you paying bills, and explain to them what you’re doing, and why. If you have a budget, let them see that, too, and see how paying the utility bill and cell phone bill fit into it.

GOING TO WORK: If your kids don’t understand why you go to work (to get paid), they might not make that connection on their own. If it’s possible, when they ask for a big-ticket item, show them how many hours you have to work to pay for it, and figure out how many days of work that amounts to.

CREDIT & DEBIT ARE DIFFERENT: In item 2, I said it was a bad idea to use credit cards all the time. If you use a debit card for most purchases, explain the difference between that and a credit card. Explain that it instantly comes out of your checking account, and let them see you enter that amount into your checkbook.

PRIORITIES: If your children don’t see you pay bills, or know how a monthly budget works, they might not understand financial priorities, like paying mortgage or rent first, then utilities, then car payment, then groceries, then savings, then fun money. This is a lesson they can learn early, and the earlier they learn it, the more natural it will seem when they need to start prioritizing their own spending.

IT'S OKAY TO WAIT: If you never let your children see you NOT purchase an item you want, they might get the idea that you, and they, can always get what they want, when they want, without having to wait for a sale, or for you or them to save the money. If they ask for an item, help them save for it, and let them know when they have the money for it. More Matchbox cars?? Sure, once you have enough saved… it won’t kill you to wait.

KEEP YOUR MONEY FOR SPECIAL THINGS: The goal is to help your child develop his own saving goals. Explain saving along these lines - "Every month we set aside money for stuff we'd like to have or do in the future. Eventually we'll be able to have enough for something special." Avoid steering toward something longterm like college. At age 6, he can't be expected to wait longer than a month to get what he wants.

BORROWING COSTS MONEY; SAVING EARNS IT: Compare a loan to taking out a book at the library and then returning it. But make the distinction that when you borrow money you have to pay what you owe plus an additional amount. That's why you should only take out a loan when you're buying that you need and can't afford to pay for all at once, like a house.

All of these lessons about money are so important for our kids to learn, and the best way for them to learn them is to see you doing them yourself! Which of these money lessons have you taught your kids? Are there others you think are important, too? Please let me know!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Home & Garden: FLOWER POWER

Last year my husband got a wild hair and decided he wanted to plant rose bushes. I agreed as long as he maintained them. Gardening is not my thing. But I do love coming home to an abundant bouquet of freshly cut white roses on my kitchen table. Unfortunately if I have anything to do with their lifespan, they barely see the light of day. If you too don't have a green thumb, keeping that beautiful bouquet of flowers alive may seem like a difficult task but with these simple tips and household items, you just might be able to keep them alive longer - no green thumb required.

Aspirin : It’s a tried-and-true way to keep roses and other cut flowers fresh longer: Put a crushed aspirin in the water before adding your flowers. Other household items that you can put in the water to extend the life of your flower arrangements include: a multivitamin, a teaspoon of sugar, a pinch of salt and baking soda, and even a copper penny. Also, don’t forget to change the vase water every few days.

Bleach : Freshly cut flowers will stay fresh longer if you add 1/4 teaspoon bleach per quart (1 liter) of vase water. Another popular recipe calls for 3 drops bleach and 1 teaspoon sugar in 1 quart (1 liter) water. This will also keep the water from getting cloudy and inhibit the growth of bacteria.

Coins : Your posies and other cut flowers will stay fresh longer if you add a copper penny and a cube of sugar to the vase water.

Hair Spray : Just as it preserves your hairstyle, a spritz of hair spray can preserve your cut flowers. Stand a foot away from the bouquet and give them a quick spray, just on the undersides of the leaves and petals.

Soda : Don’t throw away those last drops of soda. Pour about 1/4 cup into the water in a vase full of cut flowers. The sugar in the soda will make the blossoms last longer. Note: If you have a clear vase and want the water to remain clear, use a clear soda, like Sprite or 7-Up.

Sugar : Make your own preservative to keep cut flowers fresh longer. Dissolve 3 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons white vinegar per quart (liter) of warm water. When you fill the vase, make sure the cut stems are covered by 3-4 inches (7-10 centimeters) of the prepared water. The sugar nourishes the plants, while the vinegar inhibits bacterial growth. You’ll be surprised how long the arrangement stays fresh!

Vinegar : Everyone likes to keep cut flowers around as long as possible, and there are several good methods. One way is to mix 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar and 2 tablespoons sugar with the vase water before adding the flowers. Be sure to change the water (with more vinegar and sugar, of course) every few days to enhance your flowers’ longevity.

Vodka : The secret to keeping cut flowers looking good as long as possible is to minimize the growth of bacteria in the water and to provide nourishment to replace what the flower would have gotten had it not been cut. Add a few drops of vodka (or any clear spirit) to the vase water for antibacterial action along with 1 teaspoon sugar. Change the water every other day, refreshing the vodka and sugar each time.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Splurge vs. Steal: ESPADRILLE

I apologize for all the shoe posts as of late but there is no better way to celebrate the great weather than by kicking off those clunky boots and uncomfortable heels and slipping into the hottest summer footwear trends. With that being said, it's time for another splurge vs. steal, where I take an inexpensive trendy item and pair it up with a lookalike designer piece. Usually with the hope that I can show you that you don't need to spend a fortune to look fabulous.

If there's one shoe that screams summer, it's the espadrille; ie - a casual flat, but sometimes high heeled shoe that usually has a canvas or cotton fabric upper and a flexible sole made of rope or rubber material moulded to look like rope. The jute rope sole is the defining characteristic of an espadrille.

Here are two perfect examples: both in a sling-back, rope-wedge, peep-toe, flower-embellished style. Only one pair is from Andre Assous (at Neiman Marcus) and will set you back a whopping $155, whereas the other pair is from Xhilaration (at Target) and will only cost you $24.99. Wondering which one is which? The answer appears in the comments section.

To snag yourself a pair in Black (and Natural & Olive) click here. And while you're at it, treat yourself to a pair of these in brown or denim for only $19.99 (at Target).

Monday, April 25, 2011

ORGANIZE IT: Wrapping Paper/Gift Bags

As I was packing up Dave's office to make room for Lance's bedroom, I sat in disgust looking at my unorganized pile of gift bags, tissue paper and miscellaneous ribbon and gift tags. For as organized as I am, this is one area that I haven't tackled. My current system looks like this - the wrapping paper is shoved in the closet. And the tissue paper is thrown on the closet shelf. In a pile. And somewhat crinkled. And all the miscellaneous bags and gift tags are tossed into a large Nordstrom box. And Lord knows what's in that box.

So I got to researching (of course I did!) ways to coral all these loose ends into one place. There were a million wall displays on the Internet but not everyone has a fabulously organized craft room let alone an extra wall to display wrapping paper and ribbon. As I got further into the depths of the Internet, I came across a chart topping idea in Better Homes and Garden that is a fabulously functional space saver. All you need is the back of a door and you have yourself an instant wrapping station.

Say hello to your new best friend. A chef’s pantry door rack. It's designed to store cans and boxes but it's perfect for organizing ribbons and paper, too. You can find it directly through this link at for just $29.95.

Here is a breakdown of the the article from Better Homes and Gardens (from top to bottom):

1. Keep gift tags in clear, lidded containers so you can see what you have.

2. Line up spools of ribbon on a shelf. Just unroll the length you need and snip.

3. Keep often-used tools like scissors and tape in the middle of the rack so they’re easy to reach.

4. Drape tissue paper over the bar of a shelf to keep it uncrumpled.

5. Stand up roll wrap at the bottom of the basket. A heavy-duty rubber band stretched around the rack keep the rolls tight.

6. File a few gift bags and ready-to-assemble gift boxes in the bottom basket.

Inspired? I sure am. Happy organizing!

Friday, April 22, 2011


Today - Good Friday - is the day Jesus suffered and died on the cross for our sins. As a Believer, I am grateful that Jesus took my place on the cross to give me a place in heaven.

Amongst the hoop-la of the Easter Bunny, egg hunts and candy, please keep close to your heart this weekend that the true reason we are celebrating Easter is because He died for our sins and was raised to life so that through faith in Him, we may receive eternal life.

Knowing that, my fancy is tickled. Have a wonderful Easter weekend friends!!

"The joyful news that He is risen does not change the contemporary world. Still before us lie work, discipline, sacrifice. But the fact of Easter gives us the spiritual power to do the work, accept the discipline, and make the sacrifice."
~Henry Knox Sherrill~

Thursday, April 21, 2011

PEEP for Thought: Easter Decor

When you think of Easter candy what do you think of? One hint. Sugar coated marshmallow candies. Stumped? PEEPS. Duh.

Did you know...

-In 1953, it took 27 hours to create the first Peep. Today it takes six.
-Each year, manufacturer 'Just Born' produces enough Peeps to circle the earth twice.
-Each Peep Chick has 28 calories, and Bunnies have 32.5 calories. Both are fat free! (No veggie servings, unfortunately.)
-After chocolate, Peeps are the next best selling Easter candy. According to the American Confectioners Association, each day, 5 million marshmallow chicks and bunnies are made for Easter.

Peeps are actually very nostalgic for me as my they were Kelli, my college roommates, favorite candy of all time. Back in the day, I consumed a lot of Peeps. Now I think I'd rather decorate with them, than eat them. And yes I said decorate. In addition to the cute bunny ears on Easter cupcakes and cakes, there are a million ways to decorate with Peeps.

If you are wracking your brain (like I am) on creative ways to decorate your table this Easter Sunday, here are some adorable, inexpensive ideas I came across on the Internet using Peeps. Beware: people might mistake you for Martha Stewart.

Personalize the table at your Easter dinner with these cute place cards, which you can eat after you find your seat!

Tutorial on how to make this wreath -

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Target Addict: CALDREA

Can Target get any better? Honestly? On the end cap of the aisle this week I discovered these fabulously packaged and wonderfully scented products (and on sale to boot!). Thanks to Chase lathering up his entire body - outfit and all - with the testers, I was able to soak in the delicious smells post Target. If you are unfamiliar with what I am talking about, here ya go.

Target awhile back teamed up with Caldrea, longtime icon of design and style for the home, to offer an exclusive line of budget-friendly line of aromatherapy products including dish soap, countertop cleaner, hand lotion, hand soap, hand balm, all-purpose cleaner, as well as home ambiance items including candles and reed diffusers. Scents, priced from $5.99 to $19.99, include Citron Ginger, Herbs of Provence, and Olive Oil. Home fragrance items, priced from $9.99 to $14.99 come scented in Citron Ginger, Water Lily, Pomegranate Fig, White Birch and Cypress Sage. All of the scents have a very natural, organic, and have an elegant quality to them. I'm a fan. Especially because they are not only adorable but affordable.

The one product I personally would not buy from this line is the Countertop Cleanser. It leaves behind a nice refreshing scent, but it's not for the down and dirty jobs. It claims it can be used on tile, natural and synthetic stone, and finished wood. I tried it on our stainless steel and it worked fine but not great. It doesn't make sense for me to waste time cleaning the counters with one product, only to have to go back over it with another. Save your money and stick to the one that gets down and dirty on the first swipe.

If you're looking for an Easter or Mother's Day gift idea, their gift sets might just hit the spot. Hurry and you could probably still get them on sale!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The answers on ALLOWANCE

I was recently in a convo about giving your child an allowance. Although I am years away from giving Chase any money besides the extra chump change I find at the bottom of my purse, it never hurts to start thinking about what I would do when the time comes. I always find it beneficial to talk with other veteran moms to see what worked for them to get ideas and then it makes for a great dinner conversation for Dave and I.

Ultimately you are going to do what makes sense (no pun intended) for you and your family but below are helpful answers and tips to some of the questions you might be having if you're contemplating giving your child an allowance. According to Janet Bodnar, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance executive editor, and author of four books on kids and money including, Dollars & Sense for Kids, "an allowance is the best money management tool that you can give your kids." She claims that kids will spend unlimited amounts of money as long as it’s yours, but as soon as it’s their money that’s on the line, it’s a whole new ball game.

So when should you start? For an allowance to succeed in teaching kids how to spend responsibly most experts suggest that parents should establish a weekly payout usually around six years of age or first grade. Any younger and they don’t really have a sense of what money actually is and they can't think in abstract terms. It’s not until they reach the first grade that they start to learn about money — that four quarters equals a dollar, for instance — that they can begin to understand the concept and figure out how much that dollar will actually buy them.

Next big question - How much do you give each child? Every family is different and you should do what feels comfortable, but as a guide the experts say an allowance about half your child’s age is appropriate. For example; A six year old would receive $3 a week; a ten year old gets $5. If that much money raises your eyebrows, Bodnar insists that not enough actually defeats the purpose of an allowance. “If it’s too little, a child can’t make any real decisions on how to spend it,” she says. And spending it is how a child learns how to manage it.

Once a dollar amount is in place and what expenses are expected to come out of it (if any), parents should essentially back off and set the kids free, allowing them to make their own discoveries, and many times, mistakes. According to Paul Lermitte, a registered financial planner and author of Making Allowance: A Dollars-and-Sense Guide to Teaching Kids about Money, you want them to learn to become savvy consumers, and one way is through action. Experts all agree that unless your kids want to purchase something that you find objectionable (like a violent video game) or unsafe (like an air riffle) butt out. Lermitte believes you have to let them make choices.

Apparently, when it comes to money management, failure is a good thing — it teaches the kids to be smarter consumers the next time around. The experts do, however, say that it’s perfectly fine to give an opinion on the impending purchase — after all it’s your responsibility as a parent to put in your two cents — but the decision to buy or not to buy should ultimately be up to your child. According to Lermitte, it’s all about confidence building. “You’re teaching them to make good decisions by making some bad decisions that really don’t cost a lot of money,” he explains.

Next question - Should you tie it to chores? No. Think about it; do you want your child expecting to get paid for every task you ask them to do?? Assign them household duties at age 2 or 3 and expand them as they get older. If they fail to do them, give them a consequence tied to the action (such as taking away his toys if he doesn't pick them up).

In an era of “plastic money,” designer clothes for babies, and $200 gym shoes, it’s more important than ever to instill good money values in our kids — to teach them to use credit responsibly, look carefully at each and every purchase, and to save for their futures. After reading this, I can't wait for the day when my kids cry, “Mom, can we get that?” I'll have the perfect answer. “Sure. Save your allowance.”

Monday, April 18, 2011

DINNER'S ON: One Pot Wonder

It never fails that after I make a meal in the crock pot, I ask myself - why don't I do that every night?? How heavenly is it to throw all the ingredients into the pot, press the desired time and come back 4-8 hours later to dinner that is READY!?!?

This particular pork dinner pairs perfectly with my Cranberry Spinach salad. Again, great for a dinner party and the kids too!

~ Crock Pot Apple Ciger Pork ~

3-5 lbs. pork loin
1 large sweet onion; sliced
2 apples; peel and cut up in slices
1 cup dried, mixed fruit
1 cup Apple Cider or Apple Juice
1/2 cup water
1 or 2 garlic cloves
Salt & pepper to taste

Throw all ingredients together in crock pot for 4-5 hours on high temperature.

What a cinch!!! Just slice and serve. I would pair the pork with Near East's Toasted Pine Nut Couscous, salad or green beans, and focaccia bread. Dish d'lish.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Now this is my type of dessert - quick and no baking necessary. This is a perfect dessert to bring to the family gathering on Easter Sunday. Enjoy!

~Banana Cream Supreme~


16 (2 ½”) graham cracker squares (approx 1 ¼ cups chopped)
¼ cup butter or margarine melted
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup sour cream
½ cup cold milk
1 package (3.4 ounces) vanilla instant pudding
1 container (12 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed
3 medium bananas, sliced

Chop graham crackers, add butter and sugar, and mix well.
Press crumb mixture onto the bottom of a spring form (cheesecake) pan.
Whisk sour cream and milk together until blended.
Add pudding mix, whisk until pudding is dissolved.
Add whipped topping, mixing until well blended.
Spread half of filling over crust.
Slice bananas and arrange over filling.
Spread remaining filling over bananas.
Chill until set.

I hope this ends your weekend on a sweet note! xo


Looking for something to do this weekend? Sure we'd all love to lounge around on our front porch swing and sip mimosas but it's time to get our butts in gear. There is always something to do around the house and now is the perfect time to do some of them. If you're dying to make a honey-do list then here are some home projects that will help you prepare your yard for outdoor living and freshen your home with a good Spring cleaning.

1) Yearly "Step into Spring" Deep Cleaning - Vacuum everything: Use attachments or the floor nozzle on the walls, furniture and baseboards. Empty the canister or bag for maximum effectiveness. Then throw everything—plastic toys, shower caddies, even sturdy knick-knacks—into the dishwasher for a once-a-year cleaning. 2) Take Stock of your Stuff - Start with the bookshelves: Clear everything off and give it a good dusting. Donate or sell any books you no longer want and replace everything in its newly clean space. Do the same for all videos, DVDs, electronic games, and music. Lastly, sort through your computer equipment: donate everything that is still usable and find a recycling center for dead electronics.

3) Dust the Ceiling Fan - Call it spring cleaning, call it an allergy-reducer, or just call it cumbersome...but don't skip it. It's a good idea to dust the blades and external motor of your ceiling fan once a month. Use a dusting cloth with an extension, a broom with an old t-shirt tied around it or climb up on a ladder with a dust cloth in hand. 4) Open up the Attic - To keep air moving through your home at this time of year, open the ridge vent now. If you don't have one, keep your gable vents open all year long.

5) Steam Clean your Carpets - Winter rain and snow means lots of mud on carpets. Now that the skies are clearing, give your carpets a thorough cleaning - or better yet hire a professional if you have the dinero. Trust me; you'll be thrilled to have clean carpets and extra time to enjoy the spring weather.

6) Plant Entry Flowers - Try this for an extra burst of color: buy a bowl-shaped planter and fill with only one kind of blooming plant such as pansies or violas—all in the same color. Whether it's white, red, pink or another shade you love, strategically filling your planters with one color will give your porch a more elegant look in minutes. You may think one color is boring but it looks amazing if you plant in abundance. 7) Let the Light Shine In - Wash your windows and screens. This is the perfect project for my MUST HAVE CLEANING PRODUCT! If you missed that post, check it out here. For a quick fix when you run out of window cleaner, mix two tablespoons of white vinegar with two quarts of water. Dip a clean rag in the solution and wipe down the windows. Wipe them dry with wadded-up newspaper. Brush screens to remove dust and debris.

Now that should keep you busy...for a few weekends I'm thinking. Have a fantastic weekend y'all!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

MAKEUP MADNESS: Spring/Summer Favorites

Not too long ago I blogged about Spring's IT colors. There's no denying that this spring and summer is all about vibrant, bold, playful, and for some of you, daring, color. Makeup trends change directly proportional with fashion trends as makeup helps complete the look of any outfit, so keeping up with the latest makeup trends is as equally as important as keeping up with fashion. Choosing to be diverse with your makeup can help you constantly change up your look to still suit your personality as well as style.

Because in order to match your makeup to your stylish new spring/summer 2011 wardrobe you need to know what's in and what's out, here are some of the most popular makeup trends from the spring/summer 2011 fashion podiums, so sneak-a-peek at the following hot looks:

NATURAL MAKE-UP: It seems that makeup artists can't get enough of the natural. minimalistic look, as this type of makeup seems to maintain its popularity this season as well. Create a flawless looking skin using concealer and makeup, define your cheeks subtly with a small tough of blush, apply mascara on your eyelashes and allow your lips to remain bare or apply a subtle, natural looking lipstick. And just for kicks, you can apply a neutral colored eyeshadow if you want to look a little more polished off. This look suits all women and all ages so it's no wonder it is oh so popular.

BOLD LIPS: The lip color shades that are attracting attention this season are red, orange and hot pink. As far as the rest of the makeup goes, try to stick to more natural by creating a flawless look using foundation and emphasizing your eyelashes using a black colored mascara and eyeliner for definition.
THICK EYELINER: Being an eyeliner fanatic, this brings music to my ears! Eyeliner is the key tool to defining the shape of your eyes. The black liner is a must but anything goes. Yes, even blue and orange. Liquid or pencil is acceptable; it's whatever you are most comfortable with. Just remember to make it thick and electric.
BRIGHT EYES: Adding bold eyeshadow colors such as orange, pink, green, blue, can definitely help you enhance your eyes and attract a generous amount of attention towards your face. Keep in mind that for this type of makeup you will need flawless skin so create it using concealer and foundation. If going that dramatic isn't your thing, brown is also big this season. Different shades will make it mysterious yet warm. Apply your favorite bright colored eyeshadow, apply a black eyeliner close to your upper lash line and coat your eyelashes with a black colored mascara. You can leave your lips bare or enhance the lips as well using a red colored lipstick.

SMOKEY EYES: It seems that the smokey eye makeup will never loose its beauty and it's no surprise why. Creating a smokey eye is not difficult and with a little bit of practice one can master this eye makeup technique. To look trendy and stylish use black and gray eyeshadow or go for dark blue to make your eyes pop.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Did you know??

...I have oily skin. Hee hee, bet you weren't expecting that disappointing fact. Regardless if your skin falls under the dry, normal, or oily category, I guarantee that each and every one of you have experienced the mid-day shine. One of my favorite on-the-go remedies when I'm out and about is to use a toilet seat cover from a public restroom to remove the excess oil. The lightweight tissue works essentially like any oil blotting sheets; they soak up unwanted oil without removing make-up & give you a fresh, clean look.

Ok that was a great fun fact but here's the real DID YOU KNOW...

Although toilet seat covers in public bathrooms make great, oily blotters for that unsightly shine, their dispensers have been tested and proven to be some of the dirtiest surfaces in public bathrooms. How?? Besides having contact with nearly ever person's hands that comes through that stall, it is constantly sprayed with icky toilet water. When a toilet is flushed, it sprays millions of toilet water molecules into the air. Many of those molecule's landing pad is that dispenser and grossly that small section of exposed seat covers.

The moral of this story - Toss the FIRST sheet regardless if you're going to use it to cover your bum or wipe your face. Although the sheet covers don't protect against disease according to Wikipedia, the entire purpose of them is to shield you from cooties; ie - the conceptual contact with the bodily exudation's of strangers. Essentially they do no good if you don't peel away and disregard the first sheet. And god forbid you put that first sheet anywhere near your face.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Top iPhone Apps for Kids

Babble recently did a survey of their Top 50 Mom Bloggers asking them to pinpoint their favorite must-have mom product. There were a wide range of answers from Aden + Anais swaddlers to baby wipes. But ironically there was one answer that popped up over and over, and it might not be what you’d think.

Drumroll please.......the surprising #1 can’t-live-without mom product is - the iPhone! Yep, beyond baby swings and pacifier clips, modern moms are praising technology for getting them through their day. Most claimed they simply "can't live without it." And if it wasn’t the iPhone, bloggers claim that any cell phone or iPod Touch does the trick.

I'll admit, I fall victim to being attached to my iPhone. Don't judge. It is what it is. I however haven't gotten to the point that I need to rely on apps to entertain Chase - and I personally don't know if I want to even go there. Barney on YouTube so far has been the extent of our cell phone entertainment. I absolutely see the benefit of apps as they have the potential to entertain a child through an evening out for dinner or simply give you 5-10 minutes of alone time but when I see a child glued to the phone, I begin to wonder...

But then again, to each their own. If you're in need of some entertaining, educational kid-friendly apps, here is a list that Heather Leister, The iPhone Mom, put together for

Monday, April 11, 2011

GREEN BAGS: Deal or Dud?

My mother-in-law was recently raving about her new best friend - the "Green Bag," a food storage solution that claim they are capable of keeping produce fresh for up to 30 days. Every heard of them? You may have seen them at Bed Bath and Beyond or your local grocery store. You can't miss the circa 1972 packaging. It's almost enough to make you NOT want to buy them.

Regardless, both Debbie Meyer and Evert-Fresh are two companies that have a handle on marketing this plastic bag that contains zeolite that absorbs ethylene gas which they claim to be the major cause of fruits and vegetables going bad. Without getting too scientific, plants use ehylene as a hormone. One of its actions is to ripen fruit so if you can reduce the concentration of ethylene around an apple, for example, it shouldn't get over-ripe and mushy as quickly.

So do Green Bags really work? According to my mother-in-law, yes. But I was still a little skeptical. After doing some research on the internet, there are mixed reviews about the effectiveness of the Green Bags. There are a lot of people that claim they are the best money ever spent. Others have reported good results with only certain types of produce, such as apples and peppers. The majority however were straight disgusted by their ineffectiveness and what they actually did to their produce. I also couldn't find anyone that had gotten the bags to preserve their produce for the full 30 days. Which got me thinking; is produce really meant to be stay good for 30 days? And what about the moisture condensation and humidity inside the bag? That to me screams instant mold.

In my personal opinion, the Green Bags are a complete DUD. A bad marketing gimmick and a complete rip off. C'mon people, they are sold on the Home Shopping Network. Ever personally tried the Green Bag? I'd love to hear your experiences...

So if plastic isn't the answer, how do you extend the shelf life of produce? Click here for a helpful guide on how to store specific produce that will help you maximize each vegetable and each piece of fruit so that you’ll get the most bang for your buck.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


In celebration of the birth of my 'lil peanut, Lance Alan Dawson, I wanted to throw out a fave peanut butter dessert... But first, my apologies for going MIA the last few days. As I sat here blogging on Wed afternoon, I started to get gnarly shooting pains. After an hour of those take your breath away contractions, I kissed Chase off to the neighbors (balling), downed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and walked into Labor and Delivery 11 days early. Physically ready but emotionally unprepared. With a 4 hour, all natural labor the first time around, the Dr came in on high alert saying it's going to be "go time" before we know it. Sure enough. My water was broken at 8:30. Epidural came at 9:00 (PRAISE GOD!!!!) and after 2 pushes and only 3 hours from walking into those hospital doors, Lance made his appearance at 11:03 PM. Weighing in at 6 lbs, 5 oz and 20 inches long, he is such a Dawson and going to fit in perfectly.

Alright enough about me; let's talk Peanut Butter Chocolate Pudding Parfaits. I love parfaits. From the ingredients you are going to layer to what glasses you serve them in, there are several possibilities with parfaits. I prefer a champagne flute. They are just 4 ounces so the desserts were not too huge. Light, adorable and delicate; just like my 'lil peanut Lance.

~Peanut Butter Chocolate Pudding Parfaits~

Peanut Butter Pudding
1/2 cup sugar
5 teaspoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1-3/4 whole milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate Pudding
6 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1-1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
4 ounces milk chocolate, chopped (or chips)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Peanut Butter Pudding: Whisk first 3 ingredients in large saucepan to blend. Gradually whisk in milk, then cream. Whisk over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Then boil until thick, whisking constantly, about 30 seconds. Whisk in peanut butter; boil until thick again, whisking often, about 1 minute longer. Remove from heat; whisk in vanilla. Divide pudding among six 1-cup glasses or twelve 4 ounce glasses. Chill uncovered while preparing chocolate pudding.

Chocolate Pudding: Whisk first 4 ingredients in heavy large saucepan. Gradually whisk in milk, then cream. Whisk over medium heat until mixture comes to boil. Boil until thick, whisking constantly, about 30 seconds. Add chopped chocolate. Boil until chocolate melts and pudding is thick again, whisking often, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat; whisk in vanilla. Cool pudding 5 minutes. Spoon atop peanut butter pudding, dividing equally. Chill puddings uncovered until cold, at least 2 hours. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and keep chilled.

Topping:Whisk cream and powdered sugar in medium bowl to soft peaks. Spoon topping onto puddings and serve. To make these even more scrumptous, layer crushed up graham crackers between the pudding layers and top off with some crushed Reeses Peanut Butter candy.

I hope this ends your weekend on a sweet note! xo

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


I know I already blogged this week about shoes but I just spotted these and felt like you needed to know about my fabulous find. I'm usually not one to stop off in the Target shoe department but I came to a screeching halt today as the sandals on the end cap were insanely adorable and definitely try-on worthy. Holy cuteness, I'll take them in every color! For $15, why the heck not!?! The Merona "Emeline" braided flat sandal is a refreshing alternative to an ordinary flip flop and the bohemian "I have nothing to wear with you" lace up your leg sandal.

You can find the Emeline sandal at your local Target store and online in six different colors; four of which (white, black, pewter and gold) will go with your staple outfits and two (orange and turquoise) are for those days you're feeling bold and beautiful! I guarantee these will fly off the shelf so you better get your shop on sooner than later!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

DESIGN on a dime

Now y'all know I am not crafty but this might be one I'll have to attempt. Maybe. Ok most likely not. But for all you creative souls, Eighteen 25 blog showcased this fabulous decorative project that would be fun and inexpensive for Easter.

What you'll need:

Grey Primer
White Spray Paint
E6000 Glue
Jars with lids
Old candlesticks (Check out Thrift stores for old, funky ones. Mismatched is best!)

First prime the jars and lids with grey primer (helps to cover the writing on the jars).
Next spray paint the candlesticks and lids.
Once dried, glue the jars on top of the candlesticks.
Then fill with candy or knick-knack of choice.

These are just too cute! The best part; you can switch them out with the different holidays & seasons or keep them out all year round!!

Monday, April 4, 2011


Yes, you heard right. It’s the flatform, not the platform! The flatform is really just a flat sandal elevated on a platform sole and it's said to be the "IT" shoe for Spring 2011. This geisha-inspired look is basically one of those styles that you either love or you don’t. And it’s another shoe that is trying to compensate for the painful high heels that have been so prevalent in past seasons. Women are asking for change. Women are wanting the height that the high heel gives but without the foot pain associated with them, so the shoe makers and designers are trying to come up with different ways to solve this problem and give women what they want…but in a stylish shoe.

Key word - "stylish." I am by no means a fashion guru but these are light years away from stylish in my book. Glamour magazine however seems to think they are. But then again Glamour magazine doesn't always speak to the , around town girl that isn't trying to look avant-garde on a daily basis. As a mom I do agree that the shape is insanely refreshing to look at after season upon season of torturous stilettos. My husband would completely disagree.

So what are those average non-avant garde ladies like myself really saying about Spring's hottest shoe? Footwear News took a poll of women of all ages and asked them if they thought that this look was a Hit or a Miss? Their results: 1 in 4 women said that this look was a Hit. I know you can do the math, but I still want to say it: that leaves 3 out of 4 women saying that this look is a M-I-S-S!

I have to agree with the majority for these reasons: 1) They are not pretty; 2) Women who love their high heels do just that…they love their high heels and getting them to switch to a flat, even if it is a flatform, is almost near impossible; 3) They remove the sexy foot arch, which while being unhealthy at times, is definitely sexy and creates an elongated, slimming look; 4) Women who love their flats don’t really care too much about adding extra height to themselves. They are more concerned with comfort; 5) The small percentage of women who will try this look (maybe 25%, or less, in my opinion) will most likely not be a fan once they try out the shoes. In my humble try on opinion, they are not easy to walk in or comfortable. If you were to ask me right now, I am almost positive that I won't be rocking the flatform this Spring. Especially not any with an ankle strap. Talk about cankles! The slides aren't so so bad. What do you say ladies? Are you ready to jump aboard the flatform train, or is this one trend you'll say "no thank you!" to?

GIVEAWAY - 2 FREE tickets to "The Vagina Monologues" in San Diego

Attention SAN DIEGO followers!!!! Hailey's Helpful Hints is giving away two (2) tickets - valued at $70.00 - to "The Vagina Monologues!" Dave and I saw this back in Seattle a few years back and loved it. Yes men will like it too! It's one I will never forget. Both hilarious and dramatic, I give it two thumbs up!!

When: Thursday, 4/7/11
Where: Birch North Park Theatre 2891 University Avenue, Suite 1 San Diego, CA 92104
Showtime: 7:30

What are "The Vagina Monologues?" What started as a play has become a national witty and compassionate phenomenon. Often coined "the Bible for a new generation for women," these monologues are heartbreaking testimonials from young women to stop violence against women. A poignant and hilarious tour of the last frontier, the ultimate forbidden zone, "The Vagina Monologues" is a celebration of female sexuality in all its complexity and mystery. Eve Ensler (Author) gives us real women's stories of intimacy, vulnerability, and sexual self-discovery. The play addresses various global issues for women, such as abuse, rape, sex slavery, and cancer. It has inspired a dynamic grassroots movement -V-Day - to stop violence against women and raise money for organizations fighting to protect women.


Sunday, April 3, 2011


Thanks to my girlfriend Jodi I learned of this fabulous Paula Deen recipe. For the record; I personally usually steer clear of anything Paula Deen. Her name might as well be Butter Stick. Sadly I think she could bring someone to their grave with her high fat, Southern cooking but on Sweet Sunday, anything goes. Just don't come after me if you go into a food coma after eating a handful of these addicting little suckers. These are perfect for Easter or a spring/summer treat so remember this when you have to bring a dessert to a function.

~Lemon Blossoms~

Box of Yellow Cake Mix
3 1/2 oz package instant lemon pudding mix
4 large eggs
3/4 c. vegetable oil

4 c. confectioners' sugar
1/3 c. fresh lemon juice
1 lemon, zested
3 TBS. vegetable oil
3 TBS. water


1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Spray mini muffin pans with non-stick cooking spray.
3) Combine the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs and oil and blend well with an electric mixer until smooth, about 2 minutes.
4) Pour a small amount of batter, filling each muffin tin half way.
5) Bake for 12 minutes.

To make the glaze;

1) Sift the sugar into a mixing bowl.
2) Add the lemon juice, zest, oil and water and mix with a spoon until smooth.

With fingers, dip the cupcakes into the glaze while they are still warm, covering as much as the cake as possible. Or you can spool the glaze over the warm cupcakes, turning them to completely coat. Place on wire rack with wax paper underneath to catch the drips. Let the glaze set thoroughly, about 1 hour, before storing.

I hope this ends your weekend on a sweet note! xo

Friday, April 1, 2011


This week I had several things that tickled my fancy so I thought I'd mix it up and share them all with you... After almost 3 years, I finally got my act together and scheduled a professional family photo shoot. We got super lucky with an amazing night in Laguna Beach with Theresa from Lollipops and Slingshots. Seriously do you see that sunset?? This is just a sneak peek at what's to come but I am so excited to see what she captured. Isn't my little peanut a stud? ;) Last week I discovered that baby Lance was breech. I was so bummed about the news but my Dr. was very confident in his ability to flip him around. Versions statistically have a 60% success rate. I agreed to the procedure with A LOT of hesitation and anxiety. As I asked around to other moms, some said it hurt while others said it was slightly uncomfortable. I was a wreck anticipating the pain. And OH MY was it painful and more intense than I realized. The Dr. predicted that I'll have another "turbo" kid based on the damage he has done to the insides of my body. In his terms, "I've taken a pretty good beating from this kid." But after 4.5 hours in the hospital hooked up to IV's and a heartbeat monitor, 3 nurses, 4 IV's, and 2 Dr's manipulating little Lance to a head down position, it was a SUCCESS!!!!!! I am so thankful for my Dr's and the possibility of having a vaginal (can I say that???) long as Lance cooperates and stays in his new position! As a "we're proud of you" surprise, an Edible Arrangement arrived on my doorstep from my parents. I. love. these. things!!!! I'd prefer a basket of fruit over flowers any day! Thank you Mom and Dad for always thinking of me. xo On Thursday, I took some "me" time during nap, put on my (too tight) bikini and laid out in my backyard. Can't beat an 87 degree day in Southern California in March. Although extremely repulsed by my swollen ankles and sausage toes, I was in heaven. Hopefully I'll get to do it again because I know after popping out this baby, mama won't be lounging much.

Have a fantastic weekend! Cheers to the many things that tickle your fancy and bring a smile to your face.