Thursday, July 31, 2014

For the Kiddos

Sassy summer Mama
Even though it’s easy to start getting the ho hums about summer whizzing by (have you seen the back-to-school commercials?) the reality is that summer is most definitely NOT over. In fact, we have an entire glorious month to go! And since the kiddos are still hanging at home (and parents/babysitters are likely running out of ideas and inspiration to keep them entertained) I thought today would be the perfect day to have a Summer Inspired For the Kiddos post. So round up the lovely littles in your life, check out the goodies below and let’s make the most of this August!

* Paper plates have never looked so good!
I love doing craft projects with little kids, especially ones that they can easily execute on their own. These 20 paper plate projects from Spoonful are low maintenance, low cost, and absolutely adorable. Sounds like the perfect children's activity no!? Pin ‘em HERE or visit the full site HERE.

* Close by and Hands Free
This gem comes from the supermom of my adorable niece and nephew (aka my sister-in-law) and I think you’re gonna LOVE it. Have you heard of the Go-Pod? If you haven’t, this easy to pack, pop-up and use contraption is perfect for your littlest babes who just want to be nearby and have a great view for the family BBQ, evening at the beach, or picnic in the park. Sold everywhere, the Go-Pod just might become your go-to for the 4-months and up member of your posse.

* Stylin' Summer Outfits
There are few things more adorable than babies in rompers; but I think babies in printed rompers might be one of them. I absolutely LOVE the collection of prints from Winter Water Factory, like those little fishies above or these anchors or maybe sailing ships? And while you’re shopping for baby clothes, don’t forget to check out what they carry for adults because those really are some sassy/fun prints!

* Deliciously Adorable
Stop right now- we have to go and make these Star Fish S’mores… that’s right, they’re S’MORES!! And while I confess this recipe is a bit more detail-oriented than what I typically go for, I think all you Betty Crockers’ out there should do it while the rest of us get inspired to make a simpler version (dip star-shaped sugar cookies in chocolate and then use the exterior instructions from there?)

* Make mealtime more merry!
How adorable is that plate? I just discovered that Shutterfly now has an entire home d├ęcor section including these fun plates that you can customize for the entire family (they remind me of those draw-on then bake-in-the-oven plates I made for all my grandparents as a kid!) These would make an adorable gift or how about a picnic perfect gingham and stripes combo for your own family!?  Let your kids help pick their favorite pictures and I guarantee dinner is about to get way more fun!

* Tips for Travelling with Littles
Summer vacations aren’t always easy when you have tiny travelers to contend with, but thankfully the always cheerful Naomi of Love Taza has some expert tips for hitting the road with kiddos while ensuring summer fun. From the obvious notes (be flexible with your schedule) to fun insider tips (cough up the $$$ for a centrally located hotel room to maximize time spent out and about), click HERE for Love Taza’s full list of tips.

Do you all have any fun summer plans? What do you do to keep the kiddos entertained on hot summer days?!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hump Day Distractions

Nerd Humor.
Today is the day we hump my friends! Let's do this and get 1 day closer to the weekend shall we!?

* A delicious (and healthy!) way to use some of the basil I've been growing.
* Will someone please make these adorable umbrellas for me!?
* Oh you poor little thing, but we all feel that way about babies!
* An interesting take on why "our" generation is struggling to find happiness.
* The best way to tie your running shoes.
* A sassy manicure idea for (gasp!) fall.
* Get out and about in NYC this summer (you don't have to be a kid to love this list!)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Some thoughts on friendship...

Matching bracelets: the official symbol of girly friendship since Forever.
I just got back from 4 days vacation with my "lady loves" and their guys. I met several of these girls in elementary school and all of them by age 13. An identifiable clique in high school (with pictures galore to prove it!) our interests varied from sports and theater to student government and studying (we be smarties if I do say so myself!) And as we grew up and apart in our day to day, we grew closer at heart, connected by the strength of a shared history and one epic group email chain. When one of our own was tragically taken from us in 2011, we leaned on one another to cope and committed that very week to taking a trip celebrating our friendship sometime soon. 

3 years and one journey to Jamaica later, our friendship is deeper than most would think possible (or sane... Dr. H stared in disbelief when I told him 3 of us were reuniting tonight to workout and we were planning a full group dinner for early Aug!) Friendship, especially for girls, can be tricky to maintain, but a mix of love, respect, compromise and hard work just might be our secret. Love is the obvious one, but the other three are where I think we really shine. You see, my girls and I are not at all "the same"; though we have many shared values, we have dramatically different lines of work, day-to-day lifestyles, taste in men... you name it! But we click because we respect each other tremendously and we compromise (or even sacrifice) in the name of avoiding conflict. And then there is the hard work. We email and call and text, make plans, reach out, send gifts and provide mountains of support even when it isn't convenient or easy. It's as though we all silently agreed to "just do it" because we knew the benefits would far outweigh the effort. And they do. My girls are one of the greatest joys in my life and I feel blessed everyday to have them. So here's to my girls and yours and to best friendship and all it entails. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The feel good movie of summer.

Now in theaters!
Last weekend I saw the movie Chef and it was wonderful. A movie I'd "heard good things about" (from who or where I couldn't say!) come Saturday evening, Dr. H, my inlaws and I rode the rotten tomato positive review train straight to the theater and I'm pleased to report that Chef did not disappoint.

Written, produced, directed by, and starring Jon Favreau, Chef co-stars Sofia VergaraJohn Leguizamo (who is just always good in things isn't he!?)Scarlett JohanssonDustin Hoffman and Robert Downey, Jr. (a small and amusing cameo). Favreau plays a professional chef who, after a dramatic public tirade against a food critic goes viral, quits his job at a popular restaurant and returns to his home town of Miami to fix up a food truck. And though this is the plot summary you'll get on Wiki, it does not do justice to the deeply real, uplifting and beautifully acted relationships between Favreau's Chef and food (he cooks, you salivate), his friends (I need some fun loving chef buddies!), his ex-wife (Vergara finally showing range beyond Modern Family) and his son (scene stealing Emjay Anthony who was beyond endearing).  Chef is a feel good movie through and through that appealed to all the varied tastes of my viewing party.

If you're looking for the "feel good movie of the summer", I think Chef just might be it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hump Day Distractions

Adorable. (I'm a tool I know. hehe. A tool. Get it!?)
Greetings humpers and welcome to your day (hehe, I'm feeling a little cheeky right now!) Merry Meri is on vacation, but no blogger worth her space on your bookmarks tab would leave you without some lovely links to get through the week AmIRight!? Happy humping!!

* I am 100% making one of these... someday.
* Well aren't you a sassy little number!?
* For those who've always had that dream about falling, this ride's for you.
* Holy crap THAT looks refreshing.
* I'm not sure I'm ready for this comeback (or will be ever).
* In addition to THESE adorable animal Insta accounts, you really should be following @OscartheFriendlyPup.
* This is hysterical (and also why I judge the general population to be frighteningly unintelligent).

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Get me OUT OF HERE!

This kid is a genius.
Today I have that mild headachy-burn-behind-the-eyes feeling because I've been working into the wee hours and last night also doing laundry (12:30am in the basement laundry room, totally normal) in advance of the insanely anticipated vacation I'm going on tomorrow (#JamaicanMe30 woop woooop!) I'm not complaining, because hello VACATION, but the "do it all now so vacation can be vacation" workload combined with my building excitement is making any level of focus today... interesting. And when focus is coming and going I thank the holy heavens for Pinterest. Here for your reading pleasure are some freshly mined gems from site that just keeps on giving (distractions... and procrastination... and mind numbing entertainment). Enjoy!

I'm not usually one for whites and pale pinks, but this bouquet is just stunning.

Well don't YOU just look like an out-of-this-world salty and sweet treat!?

If it could be done for just 24 hours, I'd totally do it.

Beautiful to look at and no doubt delightful to eat!

I never thought about it that way... 

I desperately want to slide on this slide.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The highlight of my weekend (a funny little story)

Not my actual suitor, but certainly an adorable alternative
Hello my lovelies and welcome to a most manic Monday (for me at least!) But I wanted to pop in and tell you a funny little story from my weekend:

It's 7:40pm and Dr. H and I are hustling down the FDR Drive in an attempt to return our rental car before the 8pm deadline. We get off at 23rd street and I curse the red light that appears just as I'm about to clear the intersection. I sit at the light as a young family, Mom and Dad (holding a small daughter) and a son, probably around 10 years old, begin to cross in front of my car. The little dude looks at me in the drivers seat, makes eye contact and then gestures and mouths "call me". There is no denying that this invitation is intended for me. I burst into a smile and ask Dr. H "did you see that!?" We both look forward again and the kid is all smiles pointing and gesturing his hand like a phone (unbeknownst to his parents walking a pace ahead) "call me". I give him my sassiest smile and a thumbs up.

That kid is gonna be a lady killer. Watch out girls.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Summer in a jar

This post brought to you by the fabulous (parent)thetically speaking.

Smitten Kitchen strikes again! Deb has got to be one of my top 3 favorite food bloggers. I’ve made her homemade marshmallows, banana bread, Dijon brussles sprouts among a ton others, and this is my go-to out-of-this-world chocolate frosting. I find, that with recipes at least, I’m much more prone to search out a recipe for something specific (a chicken dish, an outrageous dessert, etc) via Pinterest or Google, rather than just making a recipe on a whim because it showed up in my Bloglovin feed (<- thanks for that tip Merry Meri!). However, I saw the post on Monday and….

I made my first batch Tuesday night and I have a second batch pickling as I type. (I already had the dill, so I thought, what’s the big dill? I’ll just make some more!)

Maybe it’s the bright green color, or the fact that you store them in a mason jar, or the ease with which you make and consume them, but right now, these pickles are just the essence of summer.

What’s summer for you right now? Watermelon? Time spent outside? A cold, boozy drink? Weekends at the pool? Family trips? All of the above? (lucky duck).

For all things fabulously (parent)thetically speaking, click HERE

Thursday, July 17, 2014

American Ninja She-Warrior!

Warrior Woman
I have to confess something... about a week ago I stumbled upon the television show "American Ninja Warrior" and I couldn't look away. An obstacle course of human strength and jungle-gym-esque challenges, I watched person after person fail to swing or pull or climb their way towards an apparently big deal Las Vegas final. It was highly entertaining. And while watching I learned from just that 1 viewing, that NO woman had ever made it to the final... but then came Kasey:

This girl is a freakin BEAST! A 5-foot, 100 pound, 24 year old BEAST. Though I didn't catch the feat live, the former gymnast was a viral sensation by the time I work up this morning and after the 3rd post about her in my Facebook timeline I had to see her in action myself. Did you watch that video?! The stuff this chick does is straight up bananas. Strength and agility like WHOA. #MightyKasey.

So now I guess I'm gonna have to tune in, and I'm gonna have to cheer for this lady to leave all the other dude competitors in her dust. You go girl!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hump Day Distractions

See what they did there?
Homies! We've made it to hump day! Are you with me!? Just in case you're struggling to make it through, here are some delightful distractions from around the web. See ya on the flip side:)

* Absolutely loving these fabbbbulously unique bird prints.
* We all know that every celeb photo is retouched, but still. Wow.
* I am also often "literally dying". (via CupofJo)
* Thanks so Justina, I have a serious case of Lake Tahoe wanderlust right now...
* Wise words from Coco Chanel.
* The perfect easy updo for your next "I just can't" hairday.
* If only I could dance that well in heels...
* Ohman I'll take one of ALL of these please!!! (Pizza scissors!?! GENIUS!)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sorry.

Do you say "I'm sorry" a lot? I never thought of myself as an overly apologetic person, but when I watched the commercial above it made me realize that I am TOTALLY guilty of saying "sorry" way too often. (sorry!?) I say sorry when what I really should be saying is "excuse me", when I share an idea or thought that I (inexplicably) lack confidence in and even when I'm asking others to do something that is their job to do! I don't know why I feel guilty or apologetic so often, but saying sorry for things I have no reason to be sorry for is definitely something I (and I've noticed many other females in my life) do on a daily basis.

Now I'm not sure how I feel about marketers and brands using female empowerment messages to hawk their products (another FABULOUS example from Always HERE), but this commercial really made me think and it has already impacted my behavior... Though I'm not planning to adopt "sorry, not sorry" as my new mantra, I am making a concerted effort to only apologize when I have something to be sorry about (and for what it's worth, I'm definitely now slightly more inclined to purchase a Pantene product if all other factors are the same - marketing WIN.)  What say you ladies? (and it better not be "sorry"!)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Let's all pause for a moment...

... and talk about Beyonce. Because seriously guys, we need to talk about Beyonce. On Friday night I was lucky enough to attend the Beyonce + Jay-Z On the Run Tour show at MetLife Stadium and Beyonce freakin BLEW.MY.MIND.

Here's the thing - we all know Beyonce is a Queen... we know she has a voice from the heavens and a body from the Gods (which she endearingly confesses to working like a madwoman to maintain), but seeing her live was a whole other situation. Because Beyonce is absolutely nailing it when it comes to being an age-appropriate, sexy as hell, hard hitting pop icon. Unlike her less vocally talented contemporaries (I still love you Britney) or the "can't leave what I wore in my 20s behind me" female artists (J. Lo and Mariah I'm lookin at you!) Beyonce looks and sounds hotter than ever as a married mother of 1. She exudes mature sexuality, she sings empowering lyrics and she somehow still moves around the stage with the energy of a teen Destiny's Child member. Beyonce's performance makes every woman in the audience believe in her own fierce, sexy, powerful self. There's nothing trashy or schticky, it's just Queen B bein Flawless and it is incredible to watch. So I bow down to you Mrs. Carter for making all us independent women look so damn good.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Goodbye 20s

x10.
This morning I woke up 30 years old. Well if I'm being honest, I went to sleep last night (errr, very early this morning?) 30 years old. As a wise blogger once said, I've "become 30." It's funny, turning one of these "milestone ages", because people expect you to feel something about it, or to at least pause and reflect. Thankfully, I'm quite the feeler and reflector...

Looking back, my 20s were a roller coaster of epic proportions... I spent whole years living in a fantasy of friendship, fun and adventure (GDub!) and other years truly struggling to move forward towards the person my younger self felt certain I was supposed to become. I'd like to think that with every decade a person is fortunate enough to live, he/she can look back and be proud of the 10 years that went by, but I'm going to come out and make the bold statement that your 20s might be your most defining decade. My 20s taught me the incredible value of friendship, the importance of cherishing loved ones and how to cope with tremendous loss. My 20s taught me how to not get what I want, how to keep fighting for what I want and how to have confidence throughout the journey. My 20s taught me to suck it up and let it go and to get comfortable in my own skin. My 20s turned my parents and sister into my closest friends and a random guy I met at 18 into the love of my life. My 20s were a lot of hard/good/beautiful work!!

And while I'm sure my 30s will further define me, I already sense they will be different... I think (and hope!?) they will be less about me and more about all of "you". More about the family I hope to build, the relationships that fill me with love and the world I finally feel confident enough in myself to try to impact. In my 20s I did a lot of figuring things out, now I get to just "be me" and see where it all leads. And I think that sounds pretty fantastic.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Hump Day Distractions

Awww!
Let's take a little break from all the birthday talk and hump it out shall we!? 

* This simple pasta dish will be the perfect way to use the basil currently growing in abundance on my terrace.
* Well if this isn't the most adorable friendship I have ever seen (worth the pre-roll, made me tear up!!)
* And while you're watching tear-jerkers, there's this beautiful story from our elephant friends.
* A maxi dress you can just live in on the weekends (and it's on sale!)
* There's something so charming about this little dude's determination.
* Would you be brave enough to do THIS? I'd like to think I could muster up the courage...
* Bookmarked for next apartment 100%.
* Well aren't you the cutest little guy!?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

"Big Kid" Birthday Parties

Never too old for a party!!
For today's "Birthday Week" post, I thought I would talk about one of the most top of mind birthday related items - the birthday party!! As I've gotten eghm older eghm, I've found it more challenging to plan birthday celebrations for myself and others - not only are loved ones' schedules more complicated to coordinate, but planning a party, especially for yourself, is kinda tricky. Age appropriateness is key (please keep that drunk 23 year old's rail vodka off my shoes!) and variety is crucial to motivating people to attend (one can only endure so many "private space at back of bar" celebrations). But birthdays are the perfect excuse to gather all your friends and family in one place for some quality, happy time together, so here are some Merry Meri thoughts on planning the perfect "Big Kid" Birthday Party.

* What you want to do and what people will want to do with you.
It's your birthday party so you can ________ if you want to, but if you want people to come, you should think about what they'd enjoy as well. Do your friends love being at the beach? Maybe your celebration should be coordinating a group trip with a BBQ in the sand and a cooler full of cold beer! If little kiddos are in tow and nap times are an issue, maybe you set up a lovely picnic in the park for several hours and invite friends to come and go as their schedules permit. Think about your crowd and plan a party that they'll love as much as you will.

* Being classy does not mean you're lame!
When I was planning Dr. H's birthday, researching unique NYC restaurants with a private room and pre-set menu, there was a moment when I thought "Ohman we are so old and boring", but seriously!? Get over it. As you grow up your tastes evolve and if you enjoy delicious food in a classy joint with pitchers of awesome mixed cocktails, do that. Love brunch? Birthday Brunch it is! If staying in is more your speed, dial up a caterer or your favorite restaurant and have them deliver a feast for your friends. Borrow a large table, set it up in the living room or backyard with some fancy pants place settings and host the classiest dinner party your friends have ever attended. Embrace your "big kid birthday" taste.

* Consider covering some (or all) of the cost.
Now that we're adults (gasp!) asking everyone to pay their own way feels a little tacky. If you're able, pick up the tab at the end of the night or set a uniform price for everyone to contribute and pick up the balance of the check yourself. This allows you to "host" on whatever budget you can swing and let's friends feel like guests which is always appreciated.

* Don't be afraid to throw it back (to your childhood)
You know what grown ups don't do enough of? Playing!! Maybe it's time you re-visit your 7th birthday party locale at the mini golf course or bowling alley or plaster paint palace. I doubt your friends would object to a round of laser tag or some go carting and pizza..! Birthdays are an awesome excuse to do that random activity you haven't done in ages with the people you enjoy "playing with" most.

* You know I love a theme...
...but themes don't have to be cheesy or costume related, they can be anything! Bust out that ice cream maker you got for your wedding and host a make-your-own-ice-cream-sundae party. Make the theme "Whiskey Wishes" and have everyone bring a bottle to sample and share. What about a "Happy Brie-thday Party" where everyone brings their favorite cheese and you supply the wine!!? Host a game night (YES) and give out gift cards or booze as prizes. The possibilities are endless, just think fun/tasty/unique and then go for it!

What are your favorite "Big Kid" Birthday Party ideas!?

Monday, July 7, 2014

It's birthday week!

Happy happy birthday.
Hello hello and welcome to Merry Meri's birthday week!! Now please let the record show that while I am a big fan of birthdays, I traditionally limit my self-birthday-promotion to the day-of and perhaps a second weekend date for celebrating, but this year my wonderful Dr. H apparently has grander plans in mind. Since yesterday evening I've been tagged in a series of Instagram posts from Dr. H and my amazingly loving friends which appear to be counting down the years of my life (#2014, #2013, #2012, etc; #Birthdaygramathon #meri30for30). Now that I've caught on, when an alert pops up on my phone that another photo has been posted, I internally squeal with delight and race to unlock my phone and see who posted what photo (and what degree of embarrassing it may be!) It appears the good doctor took my "birthday wish not to have to plan my own birthday" request quite seriously and coordinated a week's worth of love and celebration. My heart is truly bursting with excitement and appreciation. (#Thatsalotoflove #WhataguyImarried).

And since I've got a serious case of birthday brain, I thought I'd go big or go home and make Birthdays the theme of this week's blog posts. We'll do some party ideas, gift inspirations and of course my thoughts on leaving my 20s behind. Birthday brain for everyone!! To kick off birthday week, here are some awesomely creative birthday cakes and sweet treats that even an amateur Betty Crocker could pull off. Enjoy:)


Look like a baking MASTER with this polka dot perfection. Pin it HERE, full post HERE.

Maybe a little cake for everyone at the party is more your cup of tea!? (Could be super cute for a kiddos birthday to have the littles each decorate their own!) Pin it HERE, full post HERE

How about a DIY Brownie Ice Cream Cake!? Sourced from Pinterest (HERE) via Cookies and Cups: Bake brownies as directed, let cool. (optional chocolate frosting for next layer). Scoop/spread softened ice cream (like choc chip, cookie dough, mint chip, chocolate). Freeze. Layer on store bought or homemade whip cream, throw on some sprinkles.

How about a "bouquet" of these adorable floral cupcakes for the bloom-loving birthday girl in your life!? Pin it HERE.

And for those who really want to avoid the oven, I don't think you'll hear any complaints if you prepare an artfully stacked birthday donut mountain for your birthday boy or girl (they might even prefer it!!) Pin it HERE.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Seeing Summer.

Rainbows to the sea.

Bathing Beauties

Ocean Indulgence

and Sweet Treats
May your holiday weekend be filled with all of summer's greatest delights!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Hump Day Distractions

hehe.
I've been having a particularly distracting hump day, so much so that I got distracted from posting your links!! Better late than never right!? Have at it:

* These images are strangely beautiful...
* As someone who frequently makes up words/botches pronunciations, I bet I'm making some of these errors as well!
* I think I need this t-shirt.
* A super interesting post about J. Crew's shrinking size chart and the retail trend of "vanity sizing".
* "Let it Go" videos aren't done circulating the internet - enjoy THIS particularly adorable and enthusiastic rendition.
* One of my favorite Instagram accounts is getting some mayjah press. 
* These sorts of pictures/lists never fail to crack me up.
* Shane, you are my hero.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Hooray for Independence Day!

1776 inspired.
July 4th is one of my absolute favorite holidays. Maybe that seems like an odd choice, but between the delicious eats (burgers, hot dogs, seafood, corn, those ooey gooey mayo-based salads!), sunshiney locales (beach, boat, pool, lake!) and fireworks (FIREWORKS!!!!) I don't think there is a more relaxed and lovely day set aside for getting together with friends and family all year. (Plus, I heart me some founding fathers/American history. Seriously). Here to ensure your Independence Day celebrations are plenty red white and blue-y are some goodies from around the web.

15 (awesomely patriotic looking) Recipes for the 4th of July from SMP Living HERE.

Everything you need (and where to buy it!) for a patriotic picnic from Oh Happy Day HERE.

* Ever wonder where the best place in your state to watch fireworks is!? *

* Click HERE and HERE for some nifty facts about
the history of our independence day and how July 4th became a holiday! * 

How about an adorable Patriotic Mini Pie!? Learn how to make em HERE.

This simple craft is perfect for little kids who need to be entertained while you man the grill!

And don't forget to start your day with breakfast and a side of patriotic flair! (Inspiration HERE and HERE)