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!

Cold Turkey

I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that our wedding is over. Believe me, I am not happy about it, but I am beginning to accept it. Sadly, this means that my days of following Wedding Blogs is probably coming to an end. I do still enjoy reading these blogs and seeing the creative ideas, however, these posts make me sad that my wedding is over and I even felt a tiny bit of regret when I read about a cool idea that I didn’t get to incorporate. Our wedding was unbelievable (we had a rainbow AND heat lightning) so I don’t want to start focusing on the things that we didn’t do.

We were able to do so much because of the support from both of our parents and I want to remained focused on that. So I am going cold turkey – no more wedding blogs.

So that means that I need to find new blogs to fill my days with. I have visited a lot recently as I have been researching new cookies recipes. It is unbelievable how many other blogs there are out there sending posts off into cyber space hoping that someone reads something that captivates, inspires or entertains.

Here are some contenders:

Becky Bakes
How can I not love the blog that bought me Oreo stuffed chocolate chip cookies? So many food blogs focus on super healthy, organic, vegan recipes. And while I am certainly a believer in healthy eating, I love the tag line “life is uncertain, eat dessert first.”

With Style & Grace
Inspiration for the kitchen, planning a party or making a DIY holiday present. This blog has it all for the modern day Martha Stewart.

The Organizing Junkie
Is it possible – have I found someone who likes to organize more than me. Umm, yes!

So while I close the chapter in my life on weddings (at least until Abby or Courtney decide to get married!) I am trying to fill that void. Let me know if you have any suggestions as I continue my quest to find the best blogs.

Everything’s Coming Up Roses

Growing up in New Hampshire, everyone has a yard. And while most people fight to have the greenest grass on the block,  my father (the gardener in our family) put all of his time and attention into his flowers, rather than the lawn. I think that was a result of the fact that at our first house, we have very limited grass. Our backyard was basically a forest and our front yard was a giant hill. This hill was so steep that landscapers had turned it into large “steps” and my dad put a flower bed in each one; limiting the amount of grass to nearly none. I don’t remember a lot about our first house, but I do have a very distinct memory of “helping” my dad tend to the plants in these flower beds. My favorite plant was called a “bleeding heart.” I think even at such a young age, I could appreciate the dramatic nature of this plant. 

 

When we moved to our new house, my parents did a lot of landscaping to increase the size of our front lawn. And while is tends to look pretty good most of the time, my favorite time of the year would be when the giant bed that contains hundreds of daffodils is in full bloom. I remember spending one year planting the bulbs. I thought we were planting potatoes… boy was I surprised when hundreds of yellow and white flowers appear the next spring! I love going to my parents house during the month of April because there are always vases full of these flowers around.

At my wedding, I was lucky enough to have two very good family friends do all of the flower arranging for me. They did it all, from the center pieces to my bouquet. And the best part is, they used flowers from my dad’s garden! We had a lot of peonies, all placed into antique ball jars that had raffia tied around the tops. I loved the way they looked and only wish the flowers would have lasted forever. Unfortunately I don’t have any really good pictures of the flowers – hopefully when I get the professional photos this weekend there will be some. Until that point, here is the best I could do (these lasted until the breakfast the NEXT day!)

Last night, I hung out with my favorite entrepreneur, Jessi Walter of Taste Buds! I love hanging out with Jessi, not only because she is an awesome person, but she always has fun and interesting things for us to do. Often times, we attend cookies or baking classes, but last night was something different – it was flowers! Jessi had found a deal on living social for a flower arranging class at Celadon & Celery Events. While the class was a little shorter than I had anticipated, it was something that was fun to do.

A few tips that I walked away from the class with:

1. Clean your vase really well before you put your flowers in it. One of the main reasons that flowers can die so quickly is because bacteria can get into your water. Washing your vase with cleaner or bleach will help prevent this.

2. Change the water in the vase every day – add a little plant food each time

3. To keep hydrangea  from wilting, dunk the flower heads in cold water for 5 minutes before you put them in the vase. You also want to remove nearly all of the leaves. If you don’t, the leaves will soak up all of the water before it reaches the flowers

4. Cut your stems at an angle and then cut up the stem twice so that it splits into 4 different pieces all attached to the bottom of the stem (see picture here: http://www.israelflorist.com/store/images/site/7.jpg)

5. Try to keep your arrangement no more than 3 times the width of the vase and 2 times the height.

In the end, I walked away with a beautiful arrangement of flowers! Hopefully I can apply these skills without the instruction of the teacher. And one day, maybe I will be doing the flowers for a friend’s wedding!

Martha Stewart Craft Show

After waiting outside in line, in the freezing cold temperatures, I got to experience the Martha Stewart Craft Fair. Held in the Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia offices, 90 different vendors displayed their homemade projects and crafts. Many of the vendors were current or previous Martha employees, so my expectations for the event were very high.

While getting a pick into Martha’s world was exciting and the decor was nice, I was slightly disappointed with the products being sold. Half of the stuff were things that I could have made myself and the other half were things that I wasn’t very interested in. In the end I walked away with a few Christmas presents, but mostly, I left feeling inspired to amp up the level of crafting that takes place in our apartment. And the timing couldn’t be better. With the holidays coming up, and the temperature outside dropping, I can entertain myself for hours in my warm and cozy apartment!

Does anyone else feel a trip to Michaels coming on? I certainly do!

DIY Bulletin Board Update

Last week I wrote a blog about my new office. Well, I am happy report that it is coming together. I have a few pictures hanging on my walls, some furniture for parents to sit in while I interview them and I found a solution to “martha-rize” my bulletin board.

Some advice from my crafty mother and a trip to the container store solved my problems. My mother suggested that I use contact paper on the bulletin board. Honestly, what do people actually use contact paper for? Do people actually line the drawers of the dressers with that stuff? I am all for organizing but that seems a bit ridiculous. You are just going to cover it up with shirts, socks and work out attire. Anyway, I went off to the container store last week and boy did I strike gold.

First I found this contact paper with fun designed. Unfortunately after reading the label closer, I realized that the paper was scented. While I love candles and perfumes, I was nervous that this smell would become over baring in my office. I had visions of parents going into a fit of sneezes and decided against it. Instead I found this fabric contact paper that came in a pretty design. While it wasn’t adhesive, the foam like quality would easily hide push pin marks, unlike contact paper. I purchased two roles and went on my way.

I cut the paper to fit and stapled it onto the bulletin board. I then added decorative grosgrain ribbon to hide the seams and add some “preppiness” to my walls. I am pretty happy with the way it came out!

On another, unrelated note, today marks 7 months until our wedding! I think that calls for a glass of champagne!

While I am super excited, I am slightly confused as to why Matt and I didn’t receive the kind of attention Price William and Kate are getting. Hopefully they don’t pick June 18th as the date to say ‘I Do.” I am not sure I could share the spotlight!

DIY Bulletin Board

So I recently moved into a new role at work… and with a new role often comes a new office! I have switched over from the Lower School into the Middle and High School. A lot of people have asked me whether this is a positive change. I am still figuring that out. All I know is that I certainly needed a change from the work I was doing, so hopefully this proves to be a change for the better. So in addition to learning a new curriculum, meeting new students and finding my way around a new (and HUGE) building, I also moved into a new office.

While the office is very nice, it was seriously lacking in the furniture department. I spent the first week in my new role scouring the building for furniture that I could claim for my office. I ended up stealing an unused bookshelf from the library, a filing cabinet from an area intended for administrative office that is currently empty, chairs and a side table from the Admissions waiting area that is the floor above my office (don’t even get me started on  that one) and a bulletin board from who knows where. My 10 x 10 foot space is certainly starting to come together.

 The bulletin board is a very nice size, but I have a problem. I wanted to snaz it up a bit (either by covering it with fabric or ribbons) but it was drilled into my wall before I had a change to get my hands on it. So now, I have a large bulletin board that is hung on my wall and I am not sure how to “martha-ize” it.

         

Anyone have any good suggestions as to how I can achieve something similar to these without taking the whole bulletin board down? The best idea I could come up with was to paint the entire thing and then mod-podge some fabric onto it (e.g. cut out flowers or a design from the fabric). Anyone have anything else???

Talent Show

In fourth grade, my school put on a talent show. Auditions were held within each of the classes and the students voted on the top two acts. These acts would then get to participate in the school-wide performance where  audience was made up of the entire 3rd and 4th grade, along with parents and family members. While my true talents ultimately developed in the swimming pool and on the field hockey field, in 4th grade, I still considered myself a pretty well-rounded child. I was a member of the chorus, which entailed participating in the grade-wide musical and was even given a solo my 4th grade year (although, my family still mocks my fast-paced singing of “wild geese that fly with the moon on my wings, these are a few of my favorite things; the main point to focus on here is that I was awarded a solo!). And in my fourth grade class’ performance of A Christmas Carol (wow, we were NOT a PC school at all!) I played the part of the Ghost of Christmas Past, a pretty solid role if I do remember correctly. Anyway, when I decided to audition for the fourth grade talent show, it wasn’t that surprising. However, it was a bit surprising what I decided to showcase as my talent.

At first, I told my mom that I wanted to try out two different acts. Now this was right around the time that my grandparents bought Abby and me a karaoke machine for Christmas. The system had two tape players so that you could play one tape to sing along to, and record your amazing vocals on another blank cassette. Needless to say, I went through a lot of blank tapes during this phase. The machine also came with a sample karaoke tape; it had one side with songs that contained the lyrics and another side that contained the same songs, only minus the lyrics. You could practice the words on the first side, and once you mastered those you could flip the tape over and become a star!

The songs that were on this tape were a bit “off the beaten path” especially for me, who was a child of Rosenshontz and Disney music for FAR too long. One of my favorite songs on the tape was “Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About.” I had practiced this song countless times and thought it would be perfect for the talent show; it was far and away my best! While I knew the lyrics by heart, I had no idea what this song was about. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this song, please see below:

While this isn’t the worst song ever written (or even close to the worst song), for a fourth grade talent show, it wasn’t the best idea. Couple that with the fact that my singing abilities weren’t amazing, I am EXTREMELY thankful that my mom talked me out of that idea. I ended up doing a comedy skit (I know, that isn’t much better) from the Free to Be You and Me record. That’s right, I just said record. No, I am not that old, my parents were hippie-ish and just liked living in the past (please reference previous posts about growing up in a cable free household for more evidence of that.) The skit, and pretty much the entire record, broke the mold of traditional gender stereotypes. It was deep for fourth graders and I blame my classmates’ inability to grasp such complex and forward-thinking ideas as the reason why were weren’t voted through to the final performance. Either that, or the fact that I forgot half of my lines. Either way, my musical and theatrical career came to a screeching halt after that experience. Although I continued to lay down some pretty serious tracks on the karaoke machine in our basement.

Thankfully, some children didn’t have their dreams of stardom trounced as easily as I did. The Mickey Mouse Club skyrocketed kids like Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera into world-wide stars.

Miley, Hil-Duff and the Jo-Bros have The Disney Channel to thank. And Fergie got her start on the 80’s classic show, Kids Incorporated where she stole the show for 5 years straight.

And now, children around the world have the wonders of YouTube and Ellen to thank. After conducting a search for the most talented children featured on YouTube, Ellen came across the likes of Greyson Chance, a 13-year-old boy from Edmond, Oklahoma. His performance of Lady Gaga’s Paparazzi won him the attention of millions, but most importantly, of Ellen. She featured him live on her show earlier this year, with his unbelievable performance of that song:

Then two weeks later, it was announced that Greyson won the 10,000 dollar prize from the Ellen contest AND the backing of Ellen’s new record label, eleveneleven. Today Greyson released his first single Waiting Outside the Lines.

Man, must be nice to be a YouTube sensation. And talented.

Greyson’s story has inspired me to re-think my career as a performer. Let’s be honest, I missed my chance at the Olympics and I am never going to be a professional crafter (besides Martha, I don’t think there is much money is that field). I am going to devote the next chapter of my life to perfecting my rendition of “Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About.” I will then buy a flip camera and record my “unknown” talents and post it to YouTube. I will then received 100,000 hits in a single day and be invited to LA where I will inevitably become a star.

How’s that for a life plan?

Save the Date

The time has come to reveal our save the dates!  

As most people know, Matt and I met when he joined my swim team, the Gators, freshman year of high school. We became good friends over the next few years and eventually realized that the feelings we had for each other were more than friendship. We started dating senior year and have been together since.  

When thinking about ideas for our save the dates, I knew that I wanted to do something creative and not very formal. After many brainstorm sessions and prototypes, we eventually decided on an idea. A friend of mine, who I actually swam with  when I was 6-10 years old, created the graphic design for us. It was a relatively painless process that started with a simple idea and ended with more than 100 envelopes delivered across the country.  

I purchased a stamp from Etsy with our address on it. This certainly saved a lot of time when it came to the return address!  

I found stickers (on MAJOR discount) at Michaels and got the idea to put magnetic disks on the back. Our best man insisted that I get a magnetic save the date. Apparently, those are the ones that he is able to hold on to until the actual wedding. While I certainly liked that suggestion, the logistics and cost of putting our own design on a magnetic sheet was too much for me the handle. I decided that giving everyone their own magnet would solve the problem.  

  

I “up-ed” the creativity level for the guests on our list that Matt and I used to swim with. Instead of the save the date magnets, I made little gators out of clothes pins. I painted them green, drew on a mouth with teeth and googly eyes. I then added magnetic tape to the back and sent them off.  

  

Matt and I set up an assembly line to put together each envelope.
  

256 days until the wedding! We hope everyone can make it!

Fill Me Up With PMA!

In an attempt to gain as much PMA (positive mental attitude) as possible, I have been making strategic moves:

1. Last night Matt and I had dinner at a favorite restaurant. The food is marginal and the bill is typically way hirer than I think it deserves to be. So why do we go there, you ask…. for Morris. Morris is an elderly bartender from Ireland. When you take a sit at this bar, it is like returning home. Kennedy’s is the place to go when you want to be taken care of and is certainly one of my favorite little things in life.

2. I have been reading old letters that I wrote to Matt. He is the cutest fiance ever and saved EVERY card, note and letter than I have given him. I love him for seeing that we had something special from day one.

3. While the return of many television shows used to bring me enjoyment, I am starting to realize that my brain is turning to mush from shows like: Jersey Shore, Kate Plus 8 and Say Yes to the Dress. I have decided to put down the remote and pick up a book  (or rather, my Kindle). I recently enjoyed the Book Thief and I am now reading a VERY interested book titled, “Room: A Novel.” I am about half way through and highly recommend this book for people who like book involving developmental psychology (like “A Child Called It by David Pelzer). No more mushy brain!

4. I have been trying to find a new blog every day. Today’s blog is The Neo-Traditionalist. I found her blog while taking my daily dose of Once Wed. They featured this bloggers SUPER cute wedding and of course provided a link to her blog.

Katie’s blog is filled with PMA, creativity and “little things.” I can’t wait to start reading through her posts and living according to her inspired manifesto!

Keep enjoying the little things in life!

Craft Night in the Brethauer/Englehardt Household

…or apartment-hold.

I have been really frustrated lately. I have a dilemma.

I want to post about all of the amazing crafts that I have been doing lately. They are certainly blog-worthy. The problem is, I don’t want to ruin the surprise. I did that once and it was not a good experience (see previous post).

All of the crafts that I have been doing lately have been wedding related. If I post them, then my wedding guests won’t be surprised when they open the mail, visit our website, or walk into the reception. I need to practice delayed gratification.

At my school, our kids take woodworking once a week for half of the year. All semester long they work on one project. They start with an idea, which is then transcribed to a drawing. They begin to measure and cut their wood. They sand and hammer and nail. Weeks go by before their original idea starts to show in their project. At the end of the semester, they walk out of the classroom with a wooden car, a box or a sculpture. They have a sense of pride in their work and leave the class with an understanding of, and appreciation for, delayed gratification; a rare thing in our word of printers, scanners and virtual rewards. I have been thinking about auditing this course with one of the Kindergarten classes. I think I could learn something…

I have sort of become obsessed with our wedding lately. Good news, it is paying off. Bad new is, Matt gets dragged into crafts and my credit card has been suffering severe beatings from Michael’s craft store.

This past week has been a big week in wedding world. We (meaning my mom and I) made our decision regarding which caterer we are going to use. Check that off the checklist. I also received our “save the dates” in the mail and they will be mailed out by Monday. Check! I started the initial design phase of the invitations, we received the contract for the Inn that my family is saying in, and we made a crucial wedding cake decision. Check, check and check! Man, do I feel good! Just call me David Tutera.

So until next week, I am unable to show you the crafting that I have been doing. After I am confident that everyone has received their save the dates, I will post them here. I can leave you with one idea that we DID NOT use for our save the dates. I was a huge supporter but Matt used his groom veto powers to put a stop to this one. Too bad he didn’t say anything about the blog…