Archive for 2014

Christmas House Decor

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I am not posting a full blown Christmas house tour but I did take a few pictures of little bits here and there. I thought I'd share them and maybe you'll pin something for next year!

I hope your Christmas Eve is happy and full of love!  


Last Minute Christmas Centerpiece

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You can still have a pretty and festive table for Christmas!  Have no fear!  I put this centerpiece together in minutes with stuff I either had already or could find in the yard!

holiday decorating tablescape centerpiece
See that text filled wreath? Know what it is covering up?  Our unused exercise bike!  LMAO!  Talk about NOT staging.  And see that chair in the back?  It looks like it's losing it's underwear!  HA HA HA!  I want to change the fabric on that chair so I was trying out the new fabric to see if I liked it.  I would #reallifeblogger but # don't mean anything here. But you get what I mean, right? Oy. Moving on.

Holiday Entertaining: Easy Cupcake Decorating (Christmas)

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Here's another holiday entertaining post!  

 A few years ago I made cupcakes for Christmas and decorated them to look like little cups of hot chocolate. They were so cute and I thought they would be fun to serve at a party we hosted last weekend for a group of friends. But alas, when I went to put on the candy cane "handles" it turned out I didn't have them as I thought I did. What to do?

Our Christmas Entertaining (So far!) and Cookie Exchange

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We have been entertaining more than usual lately. The Christmas mood has hit us and we've been able to spend two weekends with friends, both near and far!  I thought I'd share some pictures of the decor and food from those events and maybe you will be inspired to do a little holiday entertaining yourself!

Today's pictures are from a cookie exchange I hosted with some of my mom friends from our town. We each prepared 2 dozen of the same cookie and then we left with 2 dozen different cookies!  I served the Cranberry Champagne Cocktail, eggnog, some Prosecco salami with provolone cheese, chocolates, cookies of course, and a yummy spinach dip.  Now mind you, these are not staged photos and you'll see imperfections!

Christmas Trees--Help To Stop Over-decorating

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Let's talk about something serious today. I'm sure many of you aren't even aware that each year thousands of beautiful Christmas trees innocent victims of a preventable crime: over- decorating. No one wants to talk about it even though we all know it is happening.  But I'm here to talk for those trees that can't talk for themselves.

Teacher Gifts

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Tis the season for....teacher gifts. Sigh. What do we do? Should we collect $ and give a gift card?  Should we give her a candle? A mug? A bottle of Motrin and a bottle of wine? This year, give something special and unique!

Ellie's preschool hosts a large silent auction during the holiday season each year. Every class is asked to provide a gift to be auctioned off and the children should be involved in the creation of this gift. Last year we submitted this popcorn bowl using the kids' fingerprints. This year we went a different route and steered clear of the hand print/thumb print decorations.

Holiday Drink: Cranberry Champagne Cocktail

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Hi friends!  I hosted a small cookie exchange this weekend with some friends and I thought it would be fun to serve a pretty and festive Christmas cocktail!  And I thought a cranberry drink with champagne would be perfect!

Forcing Amaryllis and Paperwhites for Winter

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One of my favorite things to do this time of year is to force Amaryllis and Paperwhite bulbs. If I plant them by Thanksgiving I usually have blooms by Christmas which is wonderful. But it doesn't bother me if  I get them planted late because they are a welcome bit of color and life in an otherwise dreary time of year. You can also buy the bulbs pretty inexpensively at stores like Walmart or Home Depot.  And they are almost don't need a green thumb to be successful!

Giving Thanks With BIC Mark-It™

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of BIC®. All opinions are 100% mine.

I am sure you are preparing for a beautiful Thanksgiving  filled with family and food. I know we are! And in the spirit of giving thanks, I decided it was time to start a new tradition in our family. I got the idea from the BIC Mark-It™ Month of Merry Marking idea booklet. #BICMerryMarking


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I never told you all but I sewed my first quilt a few months back.  

Free Christmas Printable

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I was fiddling around the other night and made a free printable for Christmas. I used my favorite Christmas carol (hymn) and wrote it in bold white against a black background. Hope you enjoy! Hark! The Herald Angels Sing is such a classic song with a simple message. It epitomizes Christmas for me.

free christmas printable chalkboard hymn

Rug Pad Corner Rug Pad Review!

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Do you use area rugs?  We do. Our house has hardwood floors so we have area rugs in each room. I love how they look!  We spend a ton of time one them too, playing games, playing with Pixie, the girls color, etc. Jim and I always felt like our rugs should feel softer and we were always on the lookout for new, more plush rugs within our budget (not easy!).   

Then I was contacted by Rug Pad Corner and  they asked if I wanted to try their rug pads. Hmmm, my parents always used pads under their rugs. Why haven't I?  

Amazon Studios: Annedroids & National Recycling Week

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Celebrate National Recycling Week with Amazon Studios: Annedroids Inspiration!

What is this?  Read on to find out!

A few months back I told you all about a show, Annedroids, produced by Amazon Studios, that Molly reviewed with an enthusiastic two thumbs up!  She loved the show so much that we became Amazon Prime members as it is only available on Amazon Prime Instant Video.

Outlet Shopping at Jersey Gardens!

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This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of The Outlet Collection | Jersey Gardens for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.
You all know I love being a Jersey girl but it isn’t just for the shore and Bon Jovi. One of the best reasons is because shopping in New Jersey is easy and affordable especially when we go to The Outlet Collection | Jersey Gardens!
The Outlet Collection | Jersey Gardens has been transformed and is now a chic and luxurious shopping experience. In fact, it is New Jersey’s largest indoor luxury fashion outlet center - they even offer tax-free shopping on clothes and shoes!  They have all the brands we love and look for such as:
-Michael Kors
-Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH
-Century 21
-Neiman Marcus Last Call
-A/X Armani Exchange Outlet
-True Religion Brand Jeans
-Coach Factory Store
-Coach Men’s
-Calvin Klein
-Banana Republic Factory Store
-The PUMA Store
-Vince Camuto
-G by Guess
-Disney Store Outlet
-The Lego Store
200 stylish and premium brands, in fact!  And after a full day of shopping, it is always lovely to relax in one of the many sit-down restaurants, the deluxe food court, or to take in a movie at the movie theater, all located at The Outlet Collection | Jersey Gardens. This is why the mall is a major tourist attraction, seeing approximately 18 million visitors a year from more than 160 countries. And of course, all of us natives too!
I know my local readers will love the value offered for clothing; jewelry; health, beauty and personal care; housewares; entertainment; toys; and more but those visiting the area can take advantage of  The Outlet Collection | Jersey Gardens easily.

Located at Exit 13A on the NJ Turnpike, those visiting New Jersey and New York City will find the mall quick and easy to reach, with a network of transportation options available––for example:
-5 minutes by shuttle from Newark Liberty International Airport
-30 minutes from Manhattan via NJ Transit Bus #111 from the Port Authority Bus Terminal
Sign up for your personal profile…  to receive hot deals and promotions. You can sign up for your VIP savings pass too!  Plus they make it convenient for you to stay in the know about what is happening at the mall. I hope you'll keep in touch!
The Outlet Collection | Jersey Gardens at:
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Next time you need great deals and a fun day out, I hope you’ll visit The Outlet Collection | Jersey Gardens, the greatest New Jersey outlet mall!
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Help! My Child Can't Read!

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As a second grade teacher, I heard this sentence from too many parents to count. Every parent wants what is best for his or her child and we all want our children to be doing all the things they are "supposed" to be doing successfully. I could go on and on about the pressure we place on children at a young age, the loss of play and socialization, and the value placed on academics at the expense of learning experiences. But I'll save you all the speech.  Let's get down to brass tacks. Your child is not reading at the level you and/or his teacher feels is appropriate. 

What can you do?  Well, you can hire me for $50 an hour!   Or you can try some of these reading strategies at home.  These are strategies to use with young children and emergent readers and focuses mostly on decoding, using phonemic rules and awareness to read the words. (We'll talk comprehension another day).

Mod Podge Glow-In-The Dark Masks (Halloween Craft)

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Nothing says "Halloween" like a mysterious mask to wear to a Halloween party!  I saw some gorgeous ones in a store that were full of sparkle and luxurious details.  But I knew better than to buy one because I knew with some Mod Podge and my imagination that I could create my own elegant and mysterious masks!

Luckily, I received a box with some of my favorite, tried and true, craft products from Mod Podge that were perfect for this Halloween party project!  

Halloween Printable Test

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Friends, I need some help. I am trying something new and I would love to know if it works for you. I made a set of printable Halloween stickers (or giant cupcake toppers) and I have a link for you to download the printable. Can you leave a comment telling me whether or not it works for you?  Thank you my lovely readers!

Download HERE

Halloween Table Runner

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I was cruisin' through JoAnn's a few week's back. Molly decided she wanted to be an ice queen for Halloween but she didn't want to be Elsa. This girl is the most complicated child ever produced by a human.  There are a million Elsa costumes out there right now but nope....she needs to be a different ice original. So off I went looking for inspiration to create the ultimate ice queen, non-Elsa-esque costume. 

And since fabric is like crack, a little bit never satisfies and you need more, more, MORE I walked out with a yard of some pretty Halloween fabric that featured cameos with a witch silhouette. I love Halloween stuff that isn't so -HEY-IT-IS-HALLOWEEN! HERE ARE SOME BLACK AND ORANGE PUMPKINS WITH WITCH HATS AND SKELETONS! Subtle, if you will.  Elegant, if you will again.

Thrift Store Find

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Do you ever think about the prior life of the stuff you buy at the thrift store?  I do. I wonder if it was a gift from Aunt Wetkiss or something found from cleaning out Grandma Smellsweird's house. Maybe that neighbor that collects owls decided to ditch owls and move on to pandas. Whatever!  

Well, I found this recently.

Truths About Solar Energy!

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I talk about saving money and doing what I can to stay in our budget on this blog. But recently, Jim and I have begun investigating smarter ways to save and benefit our environment at the same time.  With the recent popularity of smart thermostats and TVs, bracelets and refrigerators, and home automation software kits, one emerging home trend to consider is a smart energy source like Sunrun's solar service, which can power all the technology in our homes.  And we do have a lot of technology because Jim works from home! But we soon realized we didn't know the truths about using solar energy!

Repost: Budget Holiday Decorating

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This is not TBT but I think this popular post about holiday decorating on a budget is worth revisiting again now that we are all up to our eyeballs in pumpkins, leaf garlands, and acorns. And of course, Christmas is coming and that's like the um, Christmas of Holiday Decorating.

Fall Mantel 2014

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I finally got some of my summer decorations boxed up and grabbed a few fall-esque things to create a fall mantel! 

I didn't go nuts but I still wanted to be a little festive. And I know it's not "balanced" or whatever but it all came out of the same box and (YAY!) I didn't need to prowl around in any other boxes in a dusty basement with spiders lurking so balanced can kiss my you know what!  

Gorgeous Flowers from The Bouqs Company

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This is a sponsored post on behalf of The Bouqs Company. I was compensated with product and all opinions are 100% mine.

I adore fresh flowers (who doesn't?) and frankly, I think it is always a good time to give someone (or yourself) a beautiful bouquet of lush blossoms.  My love affair with flowers means I tend to keep fresh bouquets in my living room or kitchen most of the time. Therefore, when The Bouqs  contacted me about reviewing a bouquet I was so excited!  The Bouqs is an online bouquet service that provides quality flowers for every occasion! 

After looking through the huge menu of bouquet options on their website, I fell in love with the one named "Hot Lava."  The picture displayed a full bunch of the most gorgeous hot pink and bright yellow roses.  

Burlap Fall Wreath

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Fall is here!!  YES! Hello pumpkin spice everything!  Hello Halloween candy!  Hello mums! Hello new wreath!  

I got crafty a few weeks ago and decided to make a new fall wreath. I used up some burlap I had laying around and then just tucked in some clusters of fall foliage, flowers, and glittery acorns, securing everything with the good ole glue gun!  

Giveaway! Anchor & Bows Boutique

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It's time for a super awesome giveaway! I am teaming up with Brenna from Perfectly Imperfect Mom and Linda from Crafts a la mode to bring you The Anchor & Bows Boutique Giveaway! 
You can win a $50.00 Gift Card!

Strawberry Applesauce

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Hi friends!  I hope you are all well and happy!  

I am a contributor on a great website called Live Creatively Inspired. There are tons of inspiring home decor ideas, projects, tutorials, recipes, and gardening tips contributed to the site by a bunch of creative bloggers you probably already know and love. Recently I posted a recipe for my newest concoction: Strawberry Applesauce. I hope you'll visit Live Creatively Inspired and check it out!


Sweet Potato Brownies With Buttered Maple Glaze TBT

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This is one of my all time favorite desserts and as we speak I have a giant sweet potato begging to be morphed into one of these. They are luscious and the perfect fall treat. And this is one of my first attempts at photo styling...doesn't everyone wrap their brownies and tie them with twine?  Enjoy!

*I can't take credit for the recipe but for the life of me I can't remember where I got it. So whoever invented it is my hero.

Yup, you read the title right!  Sweet potato brownies are one of my favorite desserts and I love knowing that the girls are eating sweet potatoes. I know it's not exactly a healthy snack but what can you do?

sweet potatoes

Easy Fall Decor

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Today was a little crisp, a tad chilly, carrying a hint of fall!  It was lovely and I took the opportunity to add a touch of fall to our house!  But I'm not ready to go into the basement and carry up boxes, pack other knick-knacks away, blah, blah, blah. Instead I threw together some really easy and cheap autumn decorations. I intend to add in some pumpkins and apples to it all too. But for now, here is an easy fall decor idea that will add a hint of the upcoming season to your home.

TBT: Pumpkin Fool (Fall Desserts)

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It's Throwback Thursday time!  Today I'm featuring an old post from my first year of blogging. In fact, I think it is from my second month or so. The pictures are awful but the recipe is a good one, I promise!  Enjoy!

Pumpkin Fool

No, I'm not talking about being cuckoo for gourds. I'm talking about the dessert. A fool is fruit stirred into whipped cream and it is sublime. This summer I made a strawberry fool for Ellie's party and it was a huge hit!  So I thought I'd take the best parts of pumpkin pie and make a pumpkin fool. It is an easy and yummy fall dessert!

Hi. My Hard Drive Died

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Sigh. Jim has it at his work and he's trying to save it but that means I do not have any pictures of any projects I am ready to tell you about!  Drat!  That means I will have to show you other people's until I get my stuff back or take new pictures. I'll be back!


Teaching Jobs (getting personal)

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I don't know if you noticed that I've been a little absent this summer. It wasn't planned. I hadn't decided to take a break from blogging but somehow between running kids to and from the pool and planning vacations, I didn't have much time to publish much.  So thanks for sticking with me and reading this!  I don't mean to be a fair weather friend!  But that isn't what today's post is about.

How I Keep My Box Tops Organized

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Hi!  I was away for the last week or so, kickin my heels up at the beach in NC. It was awesome and I'm sure I'm going to bore you all with pics of my kids doing everything everyone else's kids do at the beach but we still think is super special anyway!  Hope y'all are doing fine!

So I have a few things I'm loving right now and pink carnations are one of them. I saw these in the market and knew they had to come home with me. They are so frilly and feminine, they almost look like they are wearing ruffled hats!

11 Spooky and Stylish Halloween Door Decorations

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Hi friends!  I know we are still in summer but the fall is around the corner and with it comes my favorite holiday of the entire year...HALLOWEEN!  

My Halloween glam wreath has been included in a round up of door decor for the spooky season coming up at Festively Prepped.  I am so honored to have my wreath included with such gorgeous and seasonal projects!  

I hope you'll visit Festively Prepped and check out the other pieces in the collection by some fabulous and creative bloggers like this one from One Artsy Mama!


Amazon Studios: Annedroids

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Did you know that Amazon Studios creates original programming for kids? They do and we were lucky enough to get to preview their third kids' original series, Annedroids! Both Molly, my 7 year old, and I loved the series!

10 DIY Coffee Stations

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I grew up hearing my parents, my grandparents, and my aunts and uncles always talking about having each other over for "cake and coffee."  As a kid, the idea of cake would have been heartstoppingly awesome but alas, it wasn't like that.  The aunts coming over for "cake and coffee" meant the following:

Throwback Thursday: First Post Ever--Flower Pin

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I don't usually get into the whole Throwback Thursday thing but I thought it would be fun to participate today!  I know my 3 year blogiversary is coming up and couldn't even remember what my first post was about!  So I thought it would be fun to re-blog it today!  ACK!  I've come a long way, I think!  LOL!

So here it is...

Lots of Easy Crafts! BFF Star: Pitter and Glink!

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I haven't featured a Blog Feature Friday Star in a long while so I decided this is the perfect time to do it! This week's star is a super-crafter and everything she makes looks pretty and perfect. Plus, she is SO nice and SO supportive. In fact, this blog is one I started reading from the start! 

Grain Sack Inspired Painted Bench

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My sister recently gave me a long bench that she used in her kitchen. It was great as it was able to hold multiple little heineys at the same time!  I have been wanting to build a banquette in our eating nook in our kitchen but when she decided to get of the bench and give it to me, I decided this would be much easier and less permanent!  So I gave it a simple grain sack inspired paint treatment and now it holds multiple heineys in our kitchen!

21 Curtain Ideas on a Budget!

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You all know I love a decorating bargain but sometimes adding beautiful accessories on a budget can be daunting! Hometalk is a wonderful resource for all sorts of home and garden ideas, including easy, DIY, and low cost ones. 

hometalk curtain roundup DIY cheap

Rainy Day 4th of July Craft for Kids

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Happy 4th of July everyone!  God Bless America and let's be grateful that some brave men and women ventured out and dared to create such a beautiful country! 

If you are like me and are on the East coast you are probably watching your 4th of July festivities get washed away by rain and thunderstorms.

4th of July Banner (Summer Craft)

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This summer craft 4th of July banner article was originally posted at Live Creatively Inspired, a contributor driven lifestyle website. Your favorite home, garden, and craft bloggers contributing great ideas in one place!

 Now, onto getting your 4th of July on!

 Wa-hoo!  Have you been getting into the spirit of the holiday with patriotic crafts?  I did! I created a quick and easy patriotic bunting but I used red, white, and blue in a more subtle way. This way, it doesn't scream "FLAG!" and I can use it throughout the summer!

Our Family Rules (the real ones)

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Here's a truth of mine. I'm overdone with rules. Family rules, playroom rules, porch rules, beach rules, classroom rules, you name it! You know the ones I'm talking about, right?  All those trendy wooden signs written in all different fonts that let everyone know how awesome your family/playroom/classroom/whatever is?

Blog Feature Friday: No. 2 Pencil

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GUYS!!  I haven't shared a Blog Feature Friday Star in ages!  There are so many awesome blogs that deserve a shout out!  So let's get back to business.  This week's Blog Feature Friday Star is No. 2 Pencil!

Frozen Birthday Party

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Ellie turns four this weekend!  She insisted on a Frozen themed birthday party and I've come to learn that Frozen merchandise is the Yeti of character merchandise. People swear they've sighted it but there is no proof.  So I used some stickers and wintery themed decorations to give her party some Elsa style!  She was so happy!  Here are some pictures. They speak for themselves so if you want more details email me at and I'll be happy to answer any questions!

DIY Vintage Sign

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Sometimes things don't work out. Sometimes, no matter how hard you work to make something perfect, you miss a step. An important step and one that makes all your hard work mean nothing. Sometimes that happens. It happened. sigh.

Enter for a chance to win $10,000 in the NEW Nutrisystem® Great Escape $40,000 Giveaway!

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This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Nutrisystem for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.
 Nutrisystem®  is announcing a NEW contest—Nutrisystem Great Escape $40,000 Giveaway!
 photo GreatEscape_ContestLogo1_zpsbc88e7f0.jpg
Nutrisystem®, Inc. is a leading provider of structured weight loss meal plans which are delivered right to your home, with menus that feature more than 150 options, and optional counseling from weight-loss coaches, registered dietitians, and certified diabetes educators.  There is also a great online community that I found to be very supportive, along with online tools, trackers, and apps. 
Nutrisystem® My Way® Program uses a science-based algorithm to estimate each customer’s metabolic rate to customize each person’s meal plan!  In addition, Nutrisystem’s Fast5™ kit contains everything you need to help maximize your weight loss results from the first week, including 7 Craving Crusher ™ shakes  and 7 Energi-ZING™ shakes along with 7 extra days of specially selected meals.  Such a motivating way to start off a new, healthy approach to weight loss!

To enter the Nutrisystem Giveaway, simply share your best photos and your inspiring weight loss story  at Nutrisystem will be choosing 4 grand prize winners, who will receive $10,000 each! Not only that, but those grand prize winners and other participants in the giveaway could have the opportunity to join Nutrisystem®and host of other weight loss success stories at a Nutrisystem®photo shoot at a sun-soaked beach locale!  That sounds divine, doesn’t it?!
Nutrisystem Great Escape $40,000 Giveaway!! runs through June 11, 2014 so submit your incredible Nutrisystem weight loss story today at for your chance to win!
After I had Molly, I struggled to lose the weight I had gained while pregnant.  I was so busy and occupied with a new baby that I had little time to plan, shop, and prepare the meals I needed in order to lose weight.   I decided I needed help and began following the Nutrisystem weight loss plan. It was so easy and the food was delicious! 
I also hope you'll visit Nutrisystem and see everything they have to offer for you to reach your weight loss goals!
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Country Living Fair in Rhinebeck NY This Weekend!

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Last year, I was so fortunate to attend two days of the Country Living Fair in Rhinebeck, NY!  This year I won't be able to attend which is bumming me out. But I hope you can!  

Chalk Paint Table

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When we moved into our house, my sister gave us a little unfinished table that she wasn't using anymore. In the 3 years we've been here, it has been 3 different colors!  This time I used a cream colored chalk paint with greige accents.

Planting a Deer Resistant Garden

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I adore our neighborhood! It is quite common to see families of deer walking through our yard or resting under our pine tree. But with the good comes the bad and I have quickly learned that deer will destroy my best gardening efforts.

Patriotic Projects: Kathe With An E, and This & That

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Hello!  I hope you are all well and gearing up for the holiday weekend!  Molly is marching in the town's parade on Saturday morning and she is beyond excited! I love her enthusiasm for life! Anyway, here are some more ideas to inspire you this Memorial Day weekend!  Remember, pin from the original blog! 

Kathe With An E is one of the most positive, supportive bloggers around!  Her blog is full of decorating, craft, and recipe ideas. Her two-ingredient lemon bars sound sensational!  I hope you'll check it out!

Patriotic Tablescapes

This and That is a cooking blog that showcases all types of recipes, including African ones!  How neat is that?! She went all American though with her parfait. The sauces are homemade and the the surprise ingredient is rhubarb!

Red, White, And Blue Parfait


Patriotic Projects: The Kim Six Fix and The Simple Home

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You know I love a good "Pottery Barn Inspired" project and Kim at The Kim Six Fix is sharing hers for a beadboard flag wall art. Along with other DIY and craft projects, Kim shares her pretty mantels which she changes up for different holidays. So much inspiration!

Pottery Barn Inspired Flag Art