Mother’s Day Gifts any Mom would love

Mother’s Day is next month, if you haven’t started thinking about what you want to do or give on Mother’s Day, I have a few ideas that could work for you.

Here are my Mother’s Day Gift Ideas any Mom would love

Gift ideas for Mom
Gift ideas for mom at any stage of motherhood.

Gifts made by the people who love them

Handmade gifts:  All moms, grandmas, great grandmas, and aunties love things made by their kids, grand-kids, nieces, and nephews, especially when little hands and feet are featured. The sight of these handmade treasures usually brings a tear to the eye. Here are hand and foot flowers that I made inspired by the many ideas on Pinterest.

Handprint Canvas painting
Flowers made using my boys’ hands and a little foot. You will need a canvas, paint, foam paint brushes, marker and your kiddos’ hands or feet. You could paint the whole canvas or leave it white.

Make a meal: There is the classic breakfast in bed for mom, Mother’s Day brunch or make her dinner with an amazing dessert. Does your mom love chocolate? You could impress her with Molten Chocolate cake!

Gift of Time

Time off:  I remember as a new mom, I fell into the all too common pattern of the baby first all the time. So much so, it would be days since I had a shower. My husband would have to remind me it’s ok, to put the baby in the bouncer outside of the shower and take one; he will be ok. Offer to take care of the baby, so the new mommy can do something she likes, go to lunch with a friend, or just get out of the house.

Time with you:  This gift is nice for a teen or grown child to give. Sometimes mom just wants to spend time with you! Take your mom out to do something she likes, spend the day together.

I think about all the time my mom gave me growing up and how much time and care I am giving to my little boys. I hope that as they get older and more independent that they will want to take some time just to hang out with me, at least every once in a while. I know my mom loves to spend time with all of her grown children.

Time with the grand-kids: If your mom is a grandma like mine, you can give her the gift of time with her beautiful grandchildren. I admit this one is a little self-serving, since time with their Gigi, leaves self-care time for mommy. 

Something Unique and Handmade

Check out this link featuring some amazing artists and makers who have beautiful and unique items perfect for Mother’s Day available in their Etsy shops.  See if you can find one of my items on this board!

Big thank you to Jenn Davis of Marie Clarie Designs for putting together this Pinterest board and featuring so many hardworking makers and artisans. If you are in the market for beautifully handcrafted jewelry featuring leather and copper, you need to check out Marie Claire Designs.

Favorite Things

Think about what she likes to do or something she loves. Does your mom like to garden, bake, cook, read, craft, knit, travel or be pampered?  

Build her a box/basket/bag or jar gift based on what she loves. For example, my mom loves to garden. Digging in the dirt is one of her favorite pastimes.  Last year, we gave my mom a Gardener’s Bag, a tote bag full of gardening supplies. I included: gardening gloves, a garden knee pad, sun hat, and the painting of my boys’ handprints as flowers.

Self-care

Gift card for manicure/pedicure/massage: If the mom in your life needs a little more prodding to leave baby or kids for a bit, add a gift card to your gift of time. Or surprise her and do some self-care together.  With a gift card, there are no excuses not to go and get pampered.

mother's day gift ideas
Gifts Ideas for the ladies in your life

I hope this list helped you to start thinking about what you want to do for the mothers in your life.


Cheers,

Amy

Something Whimsical: My Favorite Easter Tradition

Traditions are filled with joy and whimsy. Every family has their own traditions. Many come into play around the time of a holiday. Some traditions are centered around food, events, activities, decorations or a combination of these things.

Traditions help us connect to different generations, give us something to look forward to and help us create memories. Getting to include my family traditions and create new ones was something I looked forward to when we were thinking of starting our family.

With Easter right around the corner, I have been thinking a lot about my childhood Easter traditions. Growing up, we had all kinds of bunny and Easter decorations. My mom loves spring, gardening, sandals, pastel colors and everything about Easter. We would dye eggs most years and did egg hunts when we were little. We had beautiful Easter baskets that my mom stenciled for each one of us and she took lots of care finding the perfect things to put in our baskets and still does to this day.

Thinking back on my childhood Easters, there was one element that stood out most vividly in my memory… our Easter tree.

Childhood Easter Tree
My Mom’s Easter Tree. This is the first Easter tree I had as a kid. Branches set in plaster of paris.

My brother and sister and I would get Easter ornaments in our baskets or one to share depending on what my mom could find that year. Our Easter tree and Easter ornament tradition were really special.

At the end of March, we would get out the Easter decorations, the trees, and the ornaments. We would have a great time decorating our living room. When we were done the room really put a smile on our faces and I knew it made my mom happy when she would come into the room and see her beautiful Easter decorations. My favorite part of our decorating tradition was the Easter tree and carefully deciding where to put each ornament.

Our Easter Tree was special to me because it felt unique to my family. Most people I knew had Easter baskets and did egg hunts, but I did not know anyone else who had an Easter tree.

After a quick web search, I learned Easter trees are very common in Scandinavian and Germanic heritage. Finding this out was pretty cool, I am mostly of Scandinavian heritage (Swedish, Danish and Norwegian), but some German too.  Scandinavian Easter trees are typically indoors covered with beautiful feathers. Here is a great link I found to more Swedish Easter traditions from www.thelocal.se, Swedish news in English.

German Easter trees are typically outside, and they are usually covered with eggs that have been blown-out and carefully decorated. There was an Easter Tree in Germany that boasted almost 10,000 eggs. The couple who decorated this tree retired in 2015, but you can see amazing images of it via Google images, just search Easter Tree!!

Since my family comes from both Scandinavian and Germanic heritage, I want to enjoy both traditions with my boys.

Scandinavian Inspired Easter Tree

My mom was kind enough to give me her second Easter tree, keeping her original that we had when were really young. She also gave me my Easter ornaments, so I could start this tradition with my boys.

My Easter Tree
This is the Easter tree my mom gave me.

Places to find a Little Tree

Recently, while on one of my weekly Target runs, I saw some little Easter trees, they don’t look like they would hold too many ornaments, but still could be very cute. I would think craft stores like Michael’s, Joann’s or Ben Franklin’s might also have some trees.  I love that many of the trees you can find are blank canvases and could be used it for all kinds of holidays. This year I used my Easter Tree to make a Valentine’s Day Tree.

Make Your Own Easter Tree

You could also make your own by gathering sticks outside, you could paint them or leave them. You will also need a vase and glass vase fillers.  Use craft glue to decorate with traditional colored feathers or my favorite pom-poms. The feather and pom-poms ornaments are nice because they are lightweight. I think I will try to make my own more traditional Scandinavian Feather Tree in the coming weeks if I do I will update this post.

Make Your Own Easter Tree Ornaments

I used cute Easter foam stickers and bakers twine in-between two stickers. I purchased the twine and the foam stickers last year at Target, but you could probably find something similar at a craft store.

Making Easter Ornaments
You need foam stickers and some string. Sandwich the stickers together with a loop of twine in the middle.

German Inspired Outdoor Easter Tree

Once I saw the images of the outdoor Easter trees; I knew I had to have one. I won’t be making the real eggs that you blow out of, seems like a lot of work and messy. It has been raining and snowing a lot in the Pacific Northwest; I would be really upset if the real eggs got broken after all that hard work.  I think plastic eggs from Target or the dollar store will work fine for me.

Here is what I used

Plastic Easter eggs with holes in the tops or bottoms.  I happened to have some different sizes.

Embroidery thread

Washi tape

I put the embroidery thread through each hole in the top of the egg, tied a knot on the inside. Closed the egg and then put some washi tape around the seam to add a bit more color and to help it stay closed.

Outdoor Easter Tree Ornaments
To make your outdoor Easter Tree ornaments: you will need plastic eggs, washi tape, scissors and embroidery thread.

We started with 7 eggs and found a little tree outside, where they could reach the branches.  The boys had a lot of fun hanging them up.

Decorating the Outside Easter Tree
Big and Little having a great time putting the eggs on the tree.

Adding a new element to a beloved childhood tradition has been a blast. I plan to add new ornaments to both of our Easter trees in the years to come.

I hope this post inspires you to add a little more whimsy to your spring holidays or any favorite holiday for that matter. If you make your own indoor and/or outdoor Easter Tree I would love to see it!!

Share a picture of your Easter Tree on Instagram using the hashtags, #discoveringwhimsy and #whatsyourwhimsy

Cheers, Amy

Pin me to make your own Easter Tree Tradition.

Molten…My Favorite way to eat Chocolate

Discovering Whimsy is all about reflecting on things that bring joy. So, I am going to start with an easy one. Chocolate makes me happy! The process of enjoying chocolate is something I like to savor, really tasting the chocolate and exploring the texture of it. I love chocolate pretty much in any form, but my favorite way to consume chocolate is in the form of molten chocolate cake.

Molten Chocolate Cake
Super Simple Molten Chocolate Cake

There is something so decadent, silky, and over the top about eating molten chocolate. I have tried making molten chocolate cakes at home in the past and I have had varied results.

I have burnt my hands trying to turn the cake out of the ramekin. Sometimes part of the cake stays stuck in the ramekin. Or molten chocolate cake goes all over the counter and floor as the ramekin slips from my hands.  The worst is when the cake bakes all the way, it’s so disappointing. My molten chocolate cakes have only turned out really well a few times, so I reluctantly put this recipe away for a while.

A few years ago, my fairy godmother told me about this little dessert place in Ballard, called Hot Cakes- Molten Chocolate Cakery. Hot Cakes specializes in molten cakes (obviously), grilled chocolate sandwiches, boozy shakes and more.  Being the chocolate admirer, I am, I had to try it out.

The first time I ate there was transcendent!!! I had the molten chocolate raspberry cake, with ice cream and chocolate sauce (flavors depend on the season). It was delicious!!! It had a perfect consistency and the chocolate flavor was so deep and rich with a slight tang from the raspberry. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Since my first visit, I have been at least a dozen times. I have tried the original molten chocolate cake many times, peanut butter, and s’mores cakes, but I think the raspberry one is my all-time- favorite. Hot Cakes changed the way I approach this little pot of chocolate gold. Their cakes are amazing, but it was their presentation that really changed everything for me. They bake and serve their cakes in mason jars (pure GENIUS). No more burnt hands no more spills when trying to get the cakes out of the ramekins and no more cake left behind.

For my chocolate loving friends out there, if you are already in the Seattle area make a trip to Hot Cakes. If you plan to visit Seattle and love chocolate, you need to put this little spot in Ballard on your itinerary.

It is a tiny place and the wait can be really long on the weekend but know it is worth the wait. I am not an affiliate for this company, just a very happy customer who wanted to share my transcendent chocolate experience with you. So, if you aren’t able to make the trip to Ballard, then you can order some from their website.

My experiences at Hot Cakes renewed my confidence in the molten chocolate cake recipe I like to use, I just needed to change the vessel I bake it in.

The Molten Chocolate Cake recipe I use comes from my Chocolate Deck by Lori Longbotham, (yes, I have deck cards featuring chocolate recipes). The Chocolate Deck has 49 other recipes, but this one is by far my favorite. Lori’s recipe is based on the original recipe created by Jean Georges Vongerichten.

The ingredients for molten chocolate cake are very simple and you probably have most of them on hand right now. The preparation is so easy, it was the presentation part that would get me, but thanks to the trusty mason jar, I have delicious, decadent, molten chocolate cake success!!

Let’s Get Baking!!!

Molten...My favorite way to eat chocolate
Molten…My favorite way to eat chocolate

 What you will need:

4 oz Mason jars

4oz-6oz of your favorite bittersweet or semisweet chocolate. I like Ghirardelli chocolate, I think it is a good cost to quality ratio. But I have also used 6oz of Scharffen Berger Semi-sweet chocolate for a richer and deeper chocolate flavor. I think you could also mix bitter and semi-sweet for a great combination.

½ cup of unsalted butter

Tiny pinch of salt (optional)

2 large eggs

2 large yolks

¼ cup of white sugar

3 Tablespoons of all-purpose flour

Simple ingredients for a decadent cake
You probably already have many of the ingredients on hand.

Pre-heat oven to 325 Fahrenheit. To prep, your mason jars, place them on a rimmed baking sheet, no need to butter or flour them.

First, I like to finely chop my chocolate is melts faster. You can melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler (make sure you don’t get any water in your chocolate or it will seize up).  You can also use your microwave. Heat for 10 seconds on high and stir and keep heating it 10 seconds at a time until all the butter and chocolate are melted and can be incorporated easily. Add your pinch of salt, if you remember, I always seem to forget this, and then set the warm chocolate/butter mixture aside to cool.

Next, place eggs, yolks, and sugar in a bowl and mix with an electric mixer on high. You want the eggs, yolks, and sugar to be thick and pale. This usually takes 8-10 minutes.

Then fold in the chocolate/butter mixture once this is combined, mix/fold in the flour.

Pour the batter into the mason jar coming up to the first lip**. I found using a cookie scoop made this process a lot easier.  Place the mason jar on the rimmed baking sheet and bake at 325 for about 15 minutes.  The cake will rise a bit over the rim and you should be able to see that thin side crust has formed. Look for a lighter color and tiny bubbles on the side of the jar. The middle should wiggle when you slightly shake the jar. I used 4oz mason jars and in my oven, 15 minutes did the trick.

When they are done, carefully place the mason jar on a plate (caution: they will be hot), dust with powdered sugar and add a pop of color with raspberries or strawberries. It is delicious with or without ice-cream.  ENJOY!!!

**Note: If you want to save for later, you can put the lid on the batter-filled jar and put in the fridge for a few days or store in the freezer for up to a month, if you can wait that long.

Valentine's Day Dessert
Molten Chocolate Cake, a decadent valentine’s day dessert


Cheers,

Amy

Gratitude should be year round

I see this saying, “Choose Happy” on so many signs, shirts, or mugs, but it is really that simple?

Simple gratitude practices
Gratitude should be practiced all year long!

I think there is more to it. For me, I  think it is really about choosing gratitude. Choosing to be happy is so broad, but when you think about something you are grateful to have in your life, it lifts your mood. Gratitude is something we should practice all year round.

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” Oprah Winfrey

I have informally practiced gratitude for a long time and I attribute it to my generally happy and positive disposition. I do not always have tangible proof of my practice, so that is something I want to work on. I would like to become more consistent with a tangible process like a gratitude journal. So in the spirit of gratitude, I wanted to share with you some of the ways I like to practice gratitude.

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”

William Arthur Ward

5 Simple ways to practice gratitude

I try to do as many of these things on this list, but my real goal is to make some kind of gratitude practice a part of each day.

Daily Gratitude Reflection

At some point during the day, think about a few things for which you are grateful. Maybe you could think about it while in the shower, during your commute to or from work, or do it while on a walk.  Make a point to think about 1-3 things each day. Start with the easy ones, such as I am grateful for my family, my health and my employment, etc., but try to come up with new things each day. Try daily gratitude reflection for a week, and see if you feel different. This is the practice I do most often since it only requires me to change the course of my thoughts for a moment, but it has a huge impact on me and how I am feeling.

Gratitude Journal

This is one I need to work on. You could get a beautiful notebook, but really any notebook will do. You could use post-its to jot down the items from your daily gratitude reflection. Another way to record your gratitude reflection, you could make a quick note on your calendar, it could be a paper calendar, or digital. I want to do this since I want to be able to see my gratitude progress.  I think it would be great to see what I was grateful for over the course of a week, a month, and hopefully a year.

Verbalize gratitude several times during the week

Make a point to tell someone you appreciate them and most important, why you appreciate them. It can be anyone!! If you are shy, start with someone you know.

‎Send a thank you card

I love sending and receiving happy mail. My new goal is to send one thank you note each month, this would be different from and in addition to any thank you notes in response to gifts. So take some time to write a nice thank you note to someone.  If you need some cards, check out the ones in my Etsy Shop.

Set an example of gratitude and offer opportunities to practice

I want to raise grateful and kind children, so we talk about what we are thankful for, I say thank you to others in front of my kids, I encourage them to say thank you, and my oldest son sends thank you cards for gifts. Right now, he is still too little to fill out thank you cards by himself, but I read the cards back to him and he has to “sign” each one. There are also some great kids books on gratitude, check out my kids’ book Pinterest board.

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” Robert Brault

Today, I am thankful for the tools to write and publish this blog.  I am also extremely grateful and humbled by the fact the people take time to read this blog. I know we all have busy lives, so thank you for taking time to read my musings.  Take some time each day to think about your blessings.

Who and What are you grateful to have in your life?

“Everyone enjoys being acknowledged and appreciated. Sometimes even the simplest act of gratitude can change someone’s entire day. Take the time to recognize and value the people around you and appreciate those who make a difference in your lives.” Roy T. Bennett

 

Gratitude quotes from Wisdom Quotes 

Cheers,

Amy

Hello world!

This feels like a lot like deja vu. I started my blog Discovering Whimsy last year around this time, but due to a bad script in some code, I had to delete all that hard work. Thankfully, I had solid draft copies of all of my posts, so I do not have to start from scratch completely.

Over the next weeks, I will be adding more content and get the site back and running fully.

Thank you for your patience with me!

 

Cheers,

Amy