Choosing a Kitchen Countertop – My Helpful Tips!

It can be tempting to pick a countertop on its looks alone. I know when I first started the journey of finding a new kitchen countertop I was enamored by certain ones and drawn in by low prices. However, I learned quickly enough that you have to be careful as to which countertop you go with. In fact, my sister had a horrible incident where she ordered a countertop and it came cracked! This made me extra nervous and I decided to really do my homework before making a final decision. We ended up going with granite countertops from All of this homework led me to writing this blog post for you! Here are my tips for picking the perfect countertop for your new kitchen.

1. Find one that fits your kitchen style.

This is hard to do unless you have a mockup of what your new kitchen will look like with the counters. Fortunately for us, we were able to get a 3D mockup from our contractors – score! When you are searching for your own kitchen contractor, make sure they have the ability to show you what your kitchen countertop will look like in your kitchen (even if it’s a rough mockup). This will help you understand which style goes best with the style kitchen you have. A friend of mine ordered their kitchen countertops without properly matching them up to their kitchen style and was severely disappointed with how it looked. In fact, she decided to scrap the whole project when the contractor was only 75% done!

2. Check out granite countertops.

Granite is, by far, my favorite countertop choice. It’s versatile, beautiful, and comes in different styles. However, it can be expensive. Prices for granite range quite a bit because it can be mined from all over the world. If you order granite that’s simple to get and ship, it’ll be cheap. If you order granite that comes from halfway across the world, it’ll be much more expensive.

Granite comes in two finishes: polished, which is shiny and a matte finish, which is the opposite. As for colors, you can get granite in a wide variety.

My favorite part about granite is that it’s just so durable. We accidentally dropped a hammer on it when putting up a mirror in our kitchen and I immediately started to cry thinking I chipped my new countertops. But I was wrong! The granite we bought is so strong it deflected a hammer falling from ten feet above.

3. Wood is only for traditional homes.

I’ve looked at hundreds (maybe thousands) of kitchen related magazines, websites, and Pinterest boards. The one thing I’ve realized is that wood countertops only look good in traditional style kitchens. This is my opinion so take it with a grain of salt. Check out these resources for yourself and make a better informed decision…

See? For some reason modern kitchens that use wood countertops come off like they are trying too hard.

4. Pick the right contractor.

If I had a dime for every time someone mentioned that they could install my kitchen countertops, I’d be rich. I come from a big family of “handy men”, maybe that’s why. Nonetheless, I didn’t take any of them up on their offers. Why? When we first had our kitchen floors put in I had an old family friend do it. They are a “jack of all trades” and said they’d install them for cheap. Cheaper doesn’t equal better. I learned the hard way. The cabinets ended up being put in too far apart and left big gaps in the walls making them look incredibly off-putting. Once we realized it, it was too late. Hiring a professional to fix this mistake cost us nearly three times more. Avoid making mistakes by finding a trustworthy contractor that has a lot of experience installing kitchen countertops.

MBA vs EMBA: Understanding the Difference

In today’s workplace competition is fierce.

The unemployment rate is down but many are still struggling to achieve the salary and position their education and experience merits. To gain an advantage, completing an advanced level degree such as an MBA or EMBA may be the answer. Graduates of these programs see benefits like better job security, promotions and raises. But which of these Master’s of Business Administration degrees is the better choice? Read on to understand the difference between an MBA and an EMBA, as we answer some frequently asked questions.

What makes them different?

Both an MBA and EMBA are Master’s of Business Administration degrees. What makes them different is the “E”. An abbreviation of Executive, the “E” encompasses the experienced level of the curriculum and students in an EMBA program.

An MBA is designed to prepare an entry-level or mid-level associate to enter an executive level position. Sometimes a student may even be a recent business school alum with very little out of the classroom experience. Since MBA students can be a bit green, programs tend to cover all aspects of business administration so that students leave carrying the knowledge to communicate with professionals across departments. Additionally, students are required to choose a specialty, such as supply chain management or strategy, to prepare for their future career.

EMBA students do not need to select a specialty since the majority will enter programs having already spent years in a management role. Since these individuals are currently supervisors and leaders within their company, the curriculum is geared towards helping them expand their skills, learn new techniques and grow as leaders. An EMBA program also differs from an MBA in its schedule. Classes are offered evenings and weekends so that students can maintain their full-time job while they pursue their degree.

Which has better benefits?

Both programs equip students with the tools they need to succeed at the executive level. Students graduate with the ability to run a team in an efficient and productive manner, and can apply their new knowledge to improve procedures and the work cycle. Increasing your value as an employee often comes with monetary benefits, such as a higher salary or raise.

How many years are needed to complete a Master’s of Business Administration?

A full-time MBA typically takes two years to complete. Some universities offer previous business majors the option of fast tracking their MBA and completing the program in one year. An EMBA takes a bit longer, usually two to three years. Electives are omitted from the course schedule and students are not required to choose a specialty, therefore completing the degree in two to three years is possible even though classes are only held evenings and weekends.

How can I manage going to school and working at the same?

The curriculum in a Master’s of Business Administration program is definitely demanding, and if you are planning on pursuing an MBA full-time you will need to leave your job to do so. Alternatively part time MBA programs and the EMBA are options for working professionals who want to earn their degree while remaining employed. Classes cater to the workweek and are offered on evenings and weekends so that you can balance your time between work and school.

How am I going to cover the cost of attendance?

Determining how to pay for your master’s can be stressful but it doesn’t have to be. There are many options to help you afford the cost of attendance. If you don’t have savings to apply towards tuition you can take out a federal or private student loan, and see if you qualify for any scholarships. Your employer may also be willing to help.In 2009, 32% of companies completely reimbursed employees for the cost of their EMBA degree.

Inquire about company contribution or reimbursement for employees seeking advanced degrees. If financial burden is a concern, an EMBA might be the better program for you since students are able to continue working while pursuing their degree.

Is getting an MBA or EMBA worth the cost?

The payback period of an EMBA is just 17 months. In a marketplace where many degrees have a low impact on salary, graduates of MBA programs anticipate their salaries to increase by 33%. Investing in a Master’s of Business Administration is an almost guaranteed return on investment that will continue to benefit you long after the cost of attending is covered.

My Custom Wedding Day Shoes

Every girl dreams about her wedding day, especially what each little unique element of the day will be. Really, if you think about it, it’s a totally custom experience, which are very rare in this life. From the beginning of one day to the end, you get to control every aspect of what people will see, do, and experience.

I took this custom idea to an entirely new level, particularly when thinking about what I was going to wear on the big day. Like many brides, I went to The Knot to explore different options for the big day. So many had come before me, and so many creative minds had pushed themselves to make incredible things to wear and buy for the big day.

I ended up going with Modern Vice wedding shoes which I was able to customize. This included going through and choosing heel height, color, general style, and adornments. I ended up choosing a nice white chain around the back because I’m that fabulous.

The great part about Modern Vice was that I got to actually visit the shoe factory and work with the designer on location in NYC. It was one of my favorite experiences of my wedding, one that I wish I could replicate for every aspect of the ensemble! I even snuck into the studio to take some glamour shots before heading home.

Planning my wedding was such a wonderful (and stressful) experience, but really my favorite part was seeking out the small touches that made the whole event unique to me.

Get Rid of Your Chapped Lips in 4 Steps!

Chapped lips are not a big deal for some – they go through life with lips that look great whether they are wearing lip gloss or not. But for most people, chapped and dry lips are a problem. If not taken care of in time they can get worse, developing little cracks that bleed. You don’t have to let it get to that. I stumbled upon a great post on how to get rid of chapped lips. There are things that you can do every day to ensure that you lips are always soft, supple and looking gorgeous such as…

1. Apply petroleum jelly; yes, there are lots of expensive chap sticks out there that promise to do the magic trick but petroleum jelly that costs next to nothing, such as Vaseline, will do wonders. Petroleum jelly is so effective because it locks in moisture – the reason your lips are so dry in the first place is because they lose moisture faster than other areas of your skin. After applying and gently rubbing in petroleum jelly you can then follow it with a simple lip balm that contains moisturizer. Do this early in the morning before it gets hot and your lips start to dry out. For those who chap chronically applying a thin layer before bed helps.

2. The sun and the wind are not your friends when it comes to nice, soft lips. Think about it – when are your lips most chapped? Usually in the summer and winter months. In the summer, the heat is what dries them out and in the winter it is the wind. In summer, wear a lip balm that contains lots of moisturizer and that has SPF protection. In the winter, you may look dorky but cover your lips with a scarf before you step outside.

3. Start healing your lips from the inside by increasing your water intake. Yes, water, not other drinks. Many people don’t like the taste of water and they prefer to quench their thirst with other sugary drinks. This doesn’t work; if you want to have a healthier skin, including your lips, the answer is to drink at least 2 liters of water a day. Start with a glass first thing when you wake up.

4. Don’t lick your lips; this is something that we all do often when we feel our lips drying out. Because the saliva dries so fast after you lick your lips it leaves them dryer than before. Instead of licking them keep a chap stick handy that you can apply when you feel them start to dry out.

Use these tips to keep your lips moisturized at all times.

How To Choose The Right Fence For Your Home

Todays post is from a family friend of ours, William Halls. He is the owner and operator of Halls Fence Company in New Jersey. I have spent some time teaching him how to blog and he wanted to share this article with my readers… Enjoy!

Adding a fence to your property can provide privacy and security that is often much-needed for those with pets and children. Even if you don’t have pets or children you likely still want the semblance of privacy and security that a fence affords. If you are considering putting a fence on your property there are some things that need to be considered. (more…)

Growing Your Restaurant In A Digital World

For a lot of businesses in the food industry, take out orders are a large part of the business. For fast food, take out orders make up a huge percentage of sales. How do I know this? Since I can remember, my family has always been in the restaurant business. My great grandfather opened a healthy deli in our hometown decades ago and it has always been manned by someone in our family.

As time moved on, we needed to adjust to the needs of our customers. We created a new website, offered free delivery but none of that mattered because we didn’t have an easy way for customers to purchase from us. That is until we found NetWaiter and learned about online ordering for restaurants.

Before having our own online ordering system we tried some of the famous portals out there but the margins they take are incredibly high – more than 10%! That means we would need to focus a lot more on volume of customers just to make up what we were losing out on.

After browsing the web for a new way to allow our customers to order food online from us, I found NetWaiter. Their benefits page goes into detail on how they pay directly, we would be in control of our brand (logo, color scheme, etc), and it cost less than portals. After a ten minute talk with a success specialist, I was convinced this was for us.

What is great is I don’t have to cancel my portal sites. All I need to do is refer customers to the new NetWaiter site and the portal will act as a free marketing tool!

Besides the fact that it offers a great way for our customers to order from us online, it has a whole slew of other amazing features…

  1. Mobile Ordering – This is one of my favorites. Our new website was set up to be mobile optimized, so having our NetWaiter site mobile optimized is a huge plus. When we ask some of our recurring customers how they usually order, they almost always say “on my phone”. Having everything easily load for them on their mobile device makes the process simple for them.
  2. Great Management Console – One thing I hate is complex systems. It’s not that I don’t want to spend the time learning, it’s that I don’t have the time in the first place! NetWaiter’s management console is super simple to use and makes the entire process of managing and organizing online orders a breeze.
  3. Integrates With Social Media –Everyone knows how important it is to have a social media presence but not a lot of people actually do it. I was stunned when I found out that with NetWaiter customers can now place their order from Facebook. How awesome is that?
  4. Email – Many of my friends who own businesses themselves always tell me how important it is to build an email list and market to them. It is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to reach your audience. Again, I was stunned at just how easy NetWaiter makes it. I can even send individual customers emails on their birthday :).

I definitely recommend checking out all of the features they offer here.

How To Deal With Long Car Rides

I love my family but I hate long car rides with them.

Not only do I get headaches easily but I also get carsick (motion sickness) very easily. I still can’t get on a boat without feeling nauseous!

We’ve decided to take a road trip to my husbands aunts house for Thanksgiving this year and I am already freaking out. Of course my husband thinks it’s hilarious and has been taunting me the whole day. His solution is to take a sleeping pill and sleep until we get there but I did that last year with horrible results. I took the sleeping pill at 11am, when we started the car ride, and woke up around 1pm. As soon as I walked in the door, I knew I felt a little “off”. Of course, I didn’t know that the sleeping pill still hadn’t worn off. As we sat down to dinner someone handed me a glass of wine and that is literally the last thing I remember. From my husbands account, I had apparently started talking about how I never got over the death of my dog when I was sixteen. Then I laid my head down on my plate of food and fell asleep.

Needless to say, I don’t want that to happen again. So I’ve done my research this year and figured out how to deal with long car rides…

1. Give the kids movies and headphones

One of the big reasons why I get headaches is when my two kids start fighting in the backseat of the car. This year I hooked up two tablets to the front seats and will be giving them headphones to listen to it.

2. Take Bonine

Bonine is a freakin’ godsend for traveling. I swear it cures my motion sickness for a few hours. If you ever do traveling, buy some just incase.

3. Take Valerian Root

The safer alternative to a sleeping pill, Valerian root is all natural. It doesn’t make you fall asleep bot rather “promotes” relaxation which can put you to sleep. I have tried it before and was very happy with the results.

4. Listed To A Book On Tape

I have been getting behind on my reading and since I will be in a car for a few hours I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to catch up. However, since I get bad motion sickness, I don’t want to risk it. That is why I decided to buy the same book I was reading but the audio version. This way I can skip up to the point I was at and finish up the book!

Yon-Ka Mommy Spa Day

If there’s one thing I love (besides my amazing husband and beautiful children), it’s being pampered. Every woman out there, no matter how old, loves a spa day. It is one of the few times, as a mother, you can sit back and let someone else do the work.

Earlier today I went to my favorite little spa house in Connecticut for a Yon-Ka “Hydralessence Visage” treatment.

I am a huge fan of Yon-Ka (both their services and the products they make). Yes, they are expensive but for the price you pay, you get back 100x more in your skin and wellbeing.

I had my first experience with Yon-Ka when I was in Paris, France on my honeymoon, years ago. One of our relatives got me a full day at a luxury spa. Just thinking about that day makes me melt. It was one of the most relaxing, beautiful experiences of my life. From the sound of the water coming from the fresh well outside, to the aromatherapy and essential oils they used – I was hooked. It wasn’t until I could find an english translator to help me figure out the products used that I realized who Yon-Ka is.

Apparently, they are part luxury skin care and part aromatherapy but there is something they use in their ingredients that truly invigorates all of your senses. The only thing I can compare my treatments to would be the feeling of relaxation and freshness that you get on a warm spring day, with no clouds in the sky. The sun lightly grazing your face. The wind blowing the beautiful smell of flowers into your nose… You just feel at peace.

Okay, so back to my treatment today!

Like I said earlier, I received the Hydralessence Visage treatment. This is the one I normally go with because I have very dry skin. My dry skin always acts up when the weather changes rapidly from warm to cold (like in the Fall). This treatment is absolutely perfect for smoothing out fine lines caused by dry skin too.

It is a sixty minute experience that consists of 7 stages. I wish I knew exactly what my esthetician was doing, but to be honest, I usually am somewhere in a dream state within the first five minutes.

If your esthetician or local spa offers Yon-Ka treatments (they are exclusive to certain spas), definitely treat yourself and book an experience! You will not regret it…

Road Trip To Kansas & More

The Ferguson family is headed to Kansas!

It’s been a crazy week as we plan a spur of the moment trip to Kansas next Friday to visit my sister and her family. She just had a baby boy and got out of the hospital on Wednesday of last week. I figure that the family can all get together and help her out during her recovery.

I can remember the daze I was in the following weeks after giving birth. It feels almost surreal for the first few days, like you’re living in a dream.

Your emotions run wild as your body processes that you just lost 8 lbs of something living inside of you. It definitely takes some time to fully recover. Therefore, I am more than happy to drive the two hundred mile journey to see her!

This also gives my family a chance to take some time and be together.

Tyler and Randy have been off doing there own thing for the past few weeks – soccer, work, homework, etc. I’ve been trying to get my garden all prepped for winter (don’t want the vegetables to perish).

In the back of my mind, when my sisters husband invited us to come down, I was happy that it would give us all a chance to be together and “reset” our lives for a second.

Randy will still be working from the hotel room but he promised to take some time off and have with me.

Now that I think about it, what fun stuff is there to do in Kansas? Aw, shucks. Haha…

Redoing Our Living Room – What Do You Think?

Today we decided to pull the trigger and redecorate our living room – what a chore!

I cannot believe it has been three years since my husband and I moved into our home with our little guy :). When we first moved in, our house was seriously a piece of garbage. We didn’t have much money at the time and needed to settle down to raise our newborn. Luckily enough my family has a lot of connections with contractors in NJ. But when we couldn’t pull favors, Ryan and I were on our hands and knees working hard to renovate our new home. It took over six months but we saw a huge difference.

So, back to today, Ryan and I decided to stop by my absolute favorite store in the world – Restoration Hardware. I feel like a child on Christmas Eve when I walk in – so giddy!

Below are some of the styles we are thinking about, I would love to get your input. What do you think?

Contemporary Living Room by Jupiter Interior Designers & Decorators JMA INTERIOR DECORATION
Traditional Living Room by Tampa Design-Build Firms Ramos Design Build Corporation – Tampa
Contemporary Spaces by Secaucus Carpet & Flooring Creative Touch
Eclectic Living Room by Salem Photographers Tess Fine
Traditional Dining Room by Dallas Media & Bloggers Sarah Greenman