Favorite Things, Mother’s Day Edition

This post was inspired/request/demanded from a loyal blog follower. I was thrilled to received a request for two reasons:

1. It shows that I am becoming a source for trust information (look out Google).
2. It makes blogging much easier as coming up with ideas is 75% of the work.

So here is my list Mother’s Day Edition of My Favorite Things

DIY GIFTS

Candles

I love candles as presents. You really can never have too many because are things that you use up (much like food of bath products). While candles aren’t super expensive, there are a lot of fun and easy DIY candle projects.

Dipped Candles

Tea Cup Candles

Scented Soy Candles

Decoupaged Candles

Diptyque Candles

Totes

A girl can never have too many tote bags, especially if they are cute! And with eco-chic being all the rage, mom can use this for her grocery sopping and farmer market trips.

Cherry Branch Tote

Basic Tote

Minimalist Tote (for the most advanced DIY-er)

Doily Tote (we did something similar for the “welcome bags” at our wedding)

Vases & Pots

Flowers are a solid go-to option, but after a week, there won’t be much gift left. Why not add a little something to your bouquet of flowers with a DIY vase or pot?

 Swirl Vase

Decoupage Pot

Rainbow Drip Pot (good options for kids)

Colored Pencil Vase

Neon Rope Vase

THINGS TO BUY

Nothing like a cute quote to make her smile.

Print (could be a DIY)

Key Chain

Sign

Jewelry is usually a safe bet. Here are a few that celebrate motherhood.

Morse Code Necklace

Fingerprint Charm (perfect for new moms!)

Dogeared

Simple XO Necklace

Name Necklace (another good one for new moms)

Let’s be honest, moms spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Get her something that will make it more enjoyable.

 Agrate Trivate

Mini Colored Colanders

Colored Spatulas

Medallion Table Cloth (DIY? I dare you.)

Recipe Box w/Card Holder

DIY – Dish Cloth

And if you are lucky enough to actually see your dear mother over Mother’s Day, here are a few resources to help you host a Mother’s Day brunch.

 

Mother’s Day Brunch via Cup of Joe, Delish, Real Simple, Epicurious and Martha Stewart (it wouldn’t complete without MS)

And for those of you who break out in a cold sweat at the idea of hosting a brunch, here are NY Mag’s top restaurant picks.

And last, but certainly not least, surprise mom on her special day with a new tattoo!

Delicious Banana Bites

Growing up, my sister gave me a lot of advice. It started with simple stuff. Wear your backpack on one shoulder, not both. Tight roll your stone washed jeans. Don’t buy hot lunch at school. As we got older it progressed into more practical advice. Which classes to take in high school. Run for Class Officer not Student Council. Park in “the pit” not on the streets. And now as we have entered our adult lives, and I’m married while Abby is living the single life, the advice comes, but maybe not as often and not as serious. Find a job you love. Watch My Red Neck Wedding (clearly we have the same appreciation for trashy reality tv). And texts saying “Turn on the Today Show! Now!”

But one thing that I rarely receive from Abby is baking advice. I have appointment myself as the baking guru of our family so, typically, I am the one making things and sending pictures to my family. However, ever since Abby moved to Virginia and started “nesting” things have started to change. She has started to encroach on my Martha Stewart talent and I am not sure I like it. I’m not going to lie – I feel threatened. And there’s nothing more threatening than the combination of peanut butter, chocolate and banana.

Pinterest has given Abby the ammunition she needs to over take my talents. She made chocolate covered pretzles during Christmas that she found on Pinterest. I think they were most popular than the Oreo truffles Matt and I brought to the table. She made a super cute paint chip banner, melted crayon art and don’t even get me started on the Birthday party she threw for her dog Bexley. But now, she went to far – she made these delicious banana bites and wouldn’t stop talking about just how good they were. Naturally, I had to make them myself.

I started by following the receipe –

1/3 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup peanut butter

While I melted them together I cut 3 bananas into bite size pieces.

Then I dipped the banans into the chocolate/peanut butter mixture and placed them on parchment paper. Now here’s where I took things to a whole new level.

I added sea salt to the tops. YUM!

Molly 1, Abby 0.  And all feels right in the world.

 

My Top Five Guilty Pleasures

Wikipedia defines a guilty pleasure as, “something one enjoys and considers pleasurable despite feeling guilt for enjoying it. The guilt involved is sometimes simply fear of others discovering one’s lowbrow or otherwise embarrassing tastes. Fashion, video games, music,movies and junk food can be examples of guilty pleasures.” I define it as something I like and get enjoyment out of, but would probably be judged for it and therefore, I don’t go around broadcasting it to the world…

or do I?

 

5. Rearranging the dishes in the dishwasher at work

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I’m not going to lie, we have a pretty crappy dishwasher at work. The “spokes” of the rack are spaced much too closely together and we have rather large/thick dishes in our kitchen. People are forced to shove their dishes into place and  the spokes become bent creating even more inefficiency. Regardless of the technical flaws with the machine, people just  pile their dishes into the dish washer, not really taking into consideration proper dish placement, an art form that I have definitely mastered. As a result, I spend approximately 5-10 minutes, probably every day, rearranging the dishes in the dishwasher. Honestly, it is really embarrassing when someone catches me doing this – I try my best to conceal. But the thrill of seeing all the dishes lined up properly, as well as the creation of more usable space, it really quite exhilarating. I know, working with me is pretty much a nightmare dream come true.

4. Refolding, sorting and color coding my clothing

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Every five or six weeks I tackle the project of reorganizing my closet. Most of the time when I begin this project my closet is pretty neat and organized. Or at least that is what most people would think, but not me.  I begin by piling everything onto my bed and begin folding, sorting, and organizing before putting it all back in place. The entire process can take a few hours. In the end, my goal is to have my closet look like the shelves and racks of a high-end designer boutique. I want all of my sweaters to be folder perfectly with a piece of tissue paper inside. I need matching coat hangers – at least within each “section” of my closets (i.e. dresses, skirts, blouses, tank tops, etc). And ideally things should be color coded. Basically, I want my closet to mimic that of Ms. Martha Stewart herself. When Matt and I moved in together this goal became much more challenging as I lost roughly half of the hanging space and now have to deal with his disorganized system, which includes metal hangers and shirts in plastic bags from the dry cleaners. I’ve yet to include his clothing in this re-org project, but I am not too sure how much longer I can hold off. Although Matt would probably be furious with me, the idea of having our entire closet organized is just too tempting.

3. Buying things on sale and bragging about it

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I love a good sale. The thrill of getting something at a discounted price is definitely a high for me. Even though there is typically a huge retail mark up, I think that because I am not paying full price, somehow I have “won”. After nearly every shopping trip where I have saved something, be in 5% off or 75% off, I need to brag about my accomplishments. Typically I call either my mom or my sister – they are the most likely to be impressed and make me feel good about my purchases. Sometimes, if I have purchased a really practical item, I will call my dad. I NEVER call Matt because he always makes me feel guilty about spending money – no matter how much I have saved (major buzz kill –  I guess it is something about perceived savings…) Just last week I called my mom to tell her about the great articles of clothing I got at the Gap, all at ridiculously discounted prices. She was appropriately impressed and even thought about making a trip to her local Gap store as well. Unfortunately in my haste to score a deal, I didn’t try on anything and ended up returning half of the things I purchased this afternoon. Sad. But hey, returning clothes is essentially like making money, right?

2.TLC

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Toddlers and Tiaras. Extreme Couponing. John and Kate Plus Eight. 19 Kids and Counting. Say Yes to the Dress. Sister Wives. Hoarding: Buried Alive. Sarah Palin’s Alaskan Adventure (I know, I just threw up in my mouth a little). You name it – I’ve probably seen it.

I’ve got nothing here – I just like trashy, low quality tv. John Hamm – please don’t hate me. I still love Don Draper.

1. Tween Music

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It began when I was a tween – New Kids on the Block, Spice Girls Britney Spears, ‘N Sync, Back Street Boys and 98°. It then progressed to Hanson, Mandy Moore and Jessica Simpson. Lindsay Lohan, Jesse McCartney and Hilary Duff rounded things out as I ended the teenage chapter of my life and entered my 20s. Unfortunately, my love of the tween pop sensation stayed with me. Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers, the Cast of High School Musical, Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber  all  make regular appearances on my iPod.

And now, there’s Carly Rae.

Please don’t judge me.

Midas Touch

Everything Martha Stewart touches turns to gold. And I am really starting to get a little sick of it.

 She has, hands down, the best craft room

 

She has her own line of glitter. 

 
She can think of a craft for EVERY holiday

 

She makes donuts look classy

 

And her chicken coop is nicer than my apartment

 

And now, even her dog is deemed perfect. Yesterday, Martha Stewart’s 2-year-old Chow Chow, Ghenghis Khan, won best of breed at the Westminster Dog Show .

So what’s the first stop for an award-winning dog – why, the Today Show of course.

Today Show Clip

Honestly, I am not sure how much more of this I can take. Thank goodness there was this little blip on Ms. Stewart’s record… without it I might actually die of jealousy.

It’s a Beautiful Day in the Hood

At Robin Hood, you never really know who is going to show up at our offices (since I started the following folks have walked through the doors at the hood: Christy Turlington, Admiral Mullen, the Chairman to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and all his secret service offices, Mayor Bloomberg and countless billionaire hedge fund managers), how much money we will bring in during one day (in 2011, we raised over 160 million dollars, which is over 400,000 dollars each day), or what artist has signed on to perform a concert to benefit Robin Hood (just last year we had Lady Gaga, the Black Eyed Peas and Sting – just to name a few!) But those are the big things, and this blog is about the little things.

Well yesterday there were a couple little things to celebrate.

I received an email mid-morning letting me know that I had a delivery upstairs. I wasn’t expecting anything and my mom had just sent some cookies, so I couldn’t imagine what it could be. Well, needless to say I was SUPER excited to open the packaging to reveal this:

"The Organizing Issue"

I spent the rest of the morning looking at all of the wonderful organization solutions that Martha and her team came up with for all the various areas of your home. I LOVE having a friend “on the inside.”

Then, as the afternoon “slump” set in, we received a floor wide email alerting us of delicious baked goods someone brought in from Chelsea Market. Instantly, a herd of people (including myself) ran over to the designated table. We sampled brownies, rugelach, and sugar cookies. YUMMY. After devouring nearly every treat, we decided to use our creative artistic abilities to capture this afternoon fun. You’re welcome for that.

Clearly it was a slow day in the hood. But sometimes, that is just what you need.

Chasing Martha

This year for holiday gifts, I decided to make cookies and various treats for our friends. I purchased packaging last night at the Container Store and made customized labels at Erin Condren.

My next step is to figure out what all I want to make. I definitely want to make some of my family’s “go-to” cookies:

Frosted Sugar Cookies
“Boob” Cookies (also know, by some less-vulgar families, as “Peanut Butter Blossoms”)
Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies

And then of course, I will make a couple different varieties of “bark” (see post here) and gingerbread snowflakes (see post here) like I did last year.

I have found a couple cute new decorating ideas to try this year – you will have to stay tuned for those! Does anyone have a cookies recipe that I should add to my list? Please let me know in the comments below.

Once I have my list of cookies to tackle, and gather up all of the ingredients, the most challenging part is timing everything. Hopefully I can start things early enough so that I don’t spend all day and night right before Christmas baking, but not too early that my cookies get stale. I am thinking of starting things off this weekend by making some dough and freezing it – then baking things next weekend (Matt – get excited for the next two weekends! You are definitely going to need to be my sous-chef!)

Let’s hope I can live up to the high standard set by Martha.