Gear Up for Back-to-School

I love, love, love the back-to-school season! While my days as a student are in the past, I enjoy checking out cute new school supplies and picking up a few things for my office along the way.

Of course, back-to-school shopping involves a whole lot more than crayons and composition books. Every summer, I enjoy researching and featuring fun new products in television segments. Here a few of the things I am showing this year. Television segments and this post are sponsored by the featured companies.

Amy Sewell

For students who want to replace a thin, lumpy dorm mattress, Mattress Firm has a great deal on this tulo liv “mattress in a box.” Through September 10, you can use your student ID or .edu email address to get this in twin, twin XL, full, or queen size for just $299.

The security features of Nokia’s 4.2 and 2.2 smartphones make them super-attractive for students. Both feature biometric face unlock and, since they are Android One devices, you also get regular security updates and new Google features. A dedicated Google Assistant button also makes it easy to keep track of hectic schedules.

For people with food allergies, MadeGood’s tasty snacks are ideal for lunch boxes or after-school treats. Since they are free of nuts, dairy, eggs, and other common allergans, they are “school-safe” in districts that restrict the types of snacks that can be brought into the classroom. This season, whenever you buy their (yummy!) Crispy Rice Squares, or their Chocolate Chip or Mixed Berry Granola Bars, you get a code for $10 off Mabel’s Labels - making it easy to keep track of water bottles, lunch packs, and more.

When everyone is back to work and back to school, getting dinner on the table at a reasonable hour is sometimes a bit chaotic. To solve this challenge, I am a huge fan of meal kits! You get pre-measured, pre-packaged ingredients delivered to your door - along with recipes - once a week, so all you have to do is open the package, follow the directions, and cook. No shopping, planning, or running to the grocery store involved. Scott and I have used both HelloFresh (pictured above) and EveryPlate. The recipes are amazing and they fit our not-so-traditional schedules. For those weeks when we will not be home in the evenings or might be travelling, we can just skip the week with no problem or cost! As a bonus, meal kits are a great way to try new dishes and recipes that we otherwise might not have tried.

As much as I love to cook, on some busy evenings, the choice is between heating up leftovers in the microwave or getting takeout. For those occasions, Scott and I have several of Omaha Steaks’ new frozen, single-serve meals in the freezer. With savory varieties such as Bourbon-Glazed Brisket with Ancient Grains and Lemon Garlic Shrimp with Bow-Tie Pasta, there is something for just about any taste. On evenings we both work late, whenever we’re ready for dinner, I just pop them in the microwave - and dinner is served in about five minutes!

Sneakers are at the top of many back-to-school lists, and SKECHERS always has super-fun shoes to suit any style. The wide range of light-up shoes is fabulous, but my personal favorites this year are the Twinkle Toes Mix ‘n Patch shoes that come with stick-on emojis you can rearrange to match your mood.

Happy shopping!




Getting Campus Ready for Fall

After living in Manhattan for 22 years, living and working in small spaces comes pretty naturally to me.

If we buy something new, something else needs to go. When space is limited, that adage applies to a new pair of shoes, new coffee mugs, and sometimes, even something as simple as a box of cereal!

Each summer, I work with Bed Bath & Beyond - which is sponsoring these TV segments and this post - to share tips for making the most of limited space in student housing. Along with our daily life in Manhattan, doing these segments helps keep my small-space decorating skills sharp.

Dorm rooms are tiny, so finding a way to use every bit of precious space is a priority. These extra-deep underbed storage drawers enable you all of the space underneath a twin bed. Hanging organizers for the closet, backs of doors, and even around the base of the bed keep clothing, supplies, toiletries, and snacks in their place.

Mattresses in campus housing may not be the most comfortable, but you can do a lot to make them feel like home. A mattress protector that completely encloses the mattress is a great first layer, especially for people with allergies. I’m a big fan of this thick foam mattress topper as well. Two inches of memory foam make it comfy - plus it has a layer of cooling gel that is especially nice for dorm rooms. The anti-microbial (read: anti-odor) properties also make them perfect for the dorm room setting.

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To stay connected, wireless charging pads keep gadgets juiced up and ready to go. A cleverly-designed surge protector power strip with USB ports and rotating outlets allows you to use every outlet. For students who always need their phone close at hand, this shower tote even has a cell phone pocket!

To make it easy to get your stuff to college, Bed Bath & Beyond has a free Pack & Hold service that lets you shop at a store close to home, but pick up your order at the store close to college. I can personally attest to the genius of this, as I had so much stuff filling my parents’ van when I moved away to college that there was barely enough room for me to squeeze in. The service saves times and money, which often seem to be in short supply as the new school year begins.

Happy shopping!

Father's Day Gift Guide

Years ago, I asked my dad about a gift I was considering getting him for Father’s Day. While he graciously accepts any gift he receives, he commented that he especially likes things he “doesn’t have to dust.” As someone whose New York City apartment seems to collect a layer of dust within an hour of a thorough cleaning, that seems like a pretty good guideline to follow for just about any gift!

With that in mind, here are a few gift ideas I am sharing on television segments this month. Those segments and this post are sponsored by the featured companies:

My dad would love the accuracy and distance he can get with COBRA Golf’s KING F9 Speedback Driver.

Photo courtesy of COBRA Golf.

Photo courtesy of COBRA Golf.

This gift package from Omaha Steaks includes a sampler of ribeyes, filet mignons, burgers, and potatoes au gratin. It also includes a decadent German chocolate cake for dessert!

Medium- and full-bodied red wines are the perfect accompaniment for those steaks. St. Francis Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon has dark, red fruit and berry flavors that complement beef or pork, while Alta Vista Estate Malbec is an ideal pairing for any kind of red meat, especially a medium-rare steak. A red blend like Craggy Range Te Kahu is also a nice balance for beef dishes such as steak or stews, while Masi Campofiorin has a long finish and berry and spice flavors that beautifully complement roasted meats or rich pastas.

You don’t have to be a dad to be fascinated by Anne R. Keene’s book The Cloudbuster Nine, which reveals the untold story of pro baseball players who put their careers on hold to join the military during World War II.

We usually think of flowers for Mother’s Day instead of Father’s Day, but when Teleflora nestles them into a replica of ‘67 Chevy Camaro, they become the perfect gift for Dad.

Photo courtesy of Teleflora.

Photo courtesy of Teleflora.

Happy Father’s Day!

On-The-Air: "FOX & Friends First"

It’s always a fun - and early - morning when I get to see my friends at “FOX & Friends.”

I had a great time this morning chatting with host Jillian Mele about gift ideas for Mother’s Day!

You can check out the full clip here!

This post and segment were sponsored by the following featured companies:

Happy Mother’s Day!

Cheers to Easter!

After a couple of months of silence on this blog (more on that soon - I spent the first two months of this year wrapping up a master’s degree!) - my travel schedule is now packed with spring and summer segments.

What better way to pick the pace back up than with Easter celebrations? I teamed up with Kobrand Wine and Spirits and Omaha Steaks, which sponsored the segments and this post, to share ideas for pairing wines with a traditional Easter menu.

Here is a link to my recent segment on ABC15 in Phoenix; full details on the pairings are described below:

Easter is a celebration, so why not break out the bubbles? In my opinion, Champagne goes with pretty much anything, but the delicate bubbles and flavor of Taittinger Brut La Francaise pair nicely with saltiness of Easter ham and the creaminess of scalloped potatoes. Another nice pairing with ham is Louis Jadot Rosé, which has fruit and floral flavors that enhance the sweetness of the glaze on the ham.

The dark plum and blackberry flavors of Sequoia Grove Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon bring out the rich flavors of leg of lamb and other red meats, as well as potatoes roasted with butter and sage. For a versatile, food-friendly white wine, the buttery, smooth finish of St. Francis Chardonnay is also a nice match with the creaminess of whipped potatoes or rainbow glazed carrots.

All of these wines are paired up with the yummy array of options from Omaha Steaks, which has complete Easter dinners that are, for the most part, “heat and eat.” Choose from sweet, smoky, or savory country hams, along with savory sides and a mouth-watering selection of carrot cake, pineapple upside down cake, and other desserts. Order online to have them delivered to your door. Or, pick them up locally if you are lucky enough to have one of their stores nearby.

Happy Easter!