Mother’s Day Gift Guide: Ongoing Gifts

The Best Subscription Gifts for Mother's Day 2014 / Frock files

When I was a little girl, I always had a pen pal. (In fact, one of those pen pals is a real life best friend!) My mom, who understood and nurtured my love of mail, let me dip into her collection of thick cotton stationery from Crane to write notes to friends all over the world. To this day, I look forward to getting the mail in the afternoons on the off chance that a handwritten note is buried among the catalogs and bills. And I especially love getting care packages!

If you and your mom share the same love of great mail, here are a few ideas for gifts that will brighten her mailbox throughout the year.

Year-Long Mother’s Day Gifts:

(Vegan) Beauty in a Box. My mom and I love to exchange notes about the beauty products we’re using. She’s always one step ahead of me, especially with natural products. I love this cruelty-free gift box idea by VeganCuts. For $20/month, your mom can sample a range of vegan products ranging from makeup to mouth care.

Good Reads. There are two magazines that I absolutely love getting in the mail: Real Simple and The New Yorker. Maybe your mom loves to cook (Cooking Light or Bon Apetit), craft (Mollie Makes), or stay up-to-date with the literary community (The Paris Review). If she’s more of a bookworm, you might try the book subscription service Just the Right Book.

Bling! For the mom whose jewelry box is overflowing, RocksBox sends out a monthly box with three pieces of jewelry. She can buy the jewelry or wear it and exchange it down the road. ($19/month)

Small Batch Foodie Care Packages. For foodies, I really can’t think of anything better than the seasonal care packages from Eat Boutique. I’ve tried almost everything from Eat Boutique and I’ve enjoyed it all — and I’m totally obsessed with a bunch of the products. Can you say truffle mayo? Helloooo French hot chocolate! ($100/year)

Boutique Goods to Support Women. Umba Box always sends lovely, useful handmade products in their gift boxes, and I love their philosophy of helping women around the world to support themselves through their craft. It’s a beautiful way to bring together ethical giving and delightful things. ($30/month)

Which one would your mom like best?

Saving for The Holidays

Saving for The Holidays: Put $34 away each week between now (8/19) and 12/1 to save $500 for Christmas gifts

A few weeks ago, I photo tweeted my disbelief that stores are gearing up for Halloween already. So it may come as a bit of a surprise that I’m writing a post about saving for the holidays even though we’re still weeks away from the official start of fall. But last year, I experienced first-hand how helpful it is to have a stash of money set aside for the holidays by starting to save early, so I wanted to share that with all of you.

According to MSN Money, people spend about $646 on holidays gifts each year, on average. That’s a big chunk of change! Maybe if you’re rolling in the dough you don’t have to think twice about saving for Christmas, but since I’m a freelancer, I always need to prepare ahead of time for expected and unexpected purchases. Budgeting for holiday gifts makes the whole season a little brighter.

It’s a simple plan that works like this: take the amount of money you want to save and divide that by the number of weeks left until you plan on shopping. So if you want to save $500 between now and December 1st, you’ll put away about $34 each week for the next 15 weeks. I do an automatic transfer from my checking account to my savings account, which makes the whole process pretty painless because I don’t even have to think about it.

I hope you won’t come after me with your pitchforks for mentioning the holidays while it’s still sunny, warm, and green outside! This is just my little head’s up that there’s an easy way to enjoy the rest of the year — with less stress and more thoughtfulness.

Bulldog Piggy Bank: Fab.com

Simple Recipe: Vanilla on Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwiches

Frock Files | Vanilla on Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwiches

Well wouldn’t you know, it’s James’ birthday this weekend! We’re celebrating with a mini getaway, lots of presents, and some delicious food, including these ice cream sandwiches.

Although James loves food with really bold flavors, his favorite ice cream flavor is vanilla. So in lieu of a birthday cake, I concocted a soft salted vanilla cookie dipped in white chocolate to sandwich a rich Tahitian vanilla gelato.

Ingredients:

Cookies
1/4 cup butter – room temperature
3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
Pinch of kosher salt

For Dipping:
1/4 cup white chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vegetable oil

Ice cream or gelato of your choice (I like salted caramel but James is all about the Tahitian vanilla)

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Sift together the flour and baking powder; set aside.

2. Whip the butter until it’s smooth, about one minute. Add in the sugar and vanilla, then blend for another two to three minutes until well combined. Add in the egg and stir until just combined.

3. Add the flour mixture in four parts, making sure all ingredients are well combined before adding more. Once all the ingredients are combined, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for an hour.

4. Unwrap the dough and roll heaping tablespoons of dough into balls. Place each cookie about two or three inches apart. Sprinkle each with salt. Bake 10-12 minutes until edges are just beginning to brown. Move to a cooling rack.

5. Melt the chocolate chips by placing them in a small bowl with the vegetable oil. Stir so all chips are coated. Microwave at 30% strength at 20 second increments. Mine took 1 minute and 20 seconds total – varies by microwave. Dip each cookie and allow to cool. You may speed up the cooling process by placing the cookies in the refrigerator.

6. Scoop the ice cream of your choice between the cookies, then dig in!

Frock Files | Vanilla on Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwiches

The birthday guy’s response: “A vanilla lover’s heaven.” Amen!

Happy weekend, friends!

A Care Package for Mom

Frock Files | Mother's Day Care Package

With Mother’s Day right around the corner, I got to work picking out a few things for my mom. She’s such fun to shop for because we’re essentially the same person! I’m actually turning into my mom and that’s a good thing.

It all started out with this bamboo cookbook stand, which I fell in love with because I’m always bringing my iPad into the kitchen — and I knew my mom would love it too. And so would James’ mom. (Yes, I bought three.) But then it looked so lonely that I just had to buy a cook book. The Momofuku cookbook is filled with so many scrumptious things, many of them gluten-free, which is just up my mom’s alley.

Frock Files | Mother's Day Care Package

It’s from my mom that I inherited my love of pretty things and paper. These Kate Spade note cards are beyond perfection. Don’t you just want to frame them – or wear them? I love the attention to detail, with the black and white stripe inside the envelope. Every detail is just right.

Frock Files | Mother's Day Care Package

Growing up, my mom always loved grapefruit soap and she once told me she wished The Body Shop would create a grapefruit perfume. Every weekend, I submitted a request in their comment box at our local store. So when I saw that Jo Malone carries a grapefruit scent I nabbed a sample. Who knows if she still wants it? The tiny vial will do until we find out.

I hope she likes it! What are you getting your mom for mother’s day? Is she near or far? For all you moms out there, any Mother’s Day wishes?

P.S. I’ve asked my mom not to look at my blog until after Mother’s Day. It’s a good thing she and my dad are in Napa celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary! Mom (and Dad), when you do read this, happy anniversary!

A Care Package From Paris!

 

For a Francophile who loves snail mail, few things are better than a cute package from Paris. When My Little Paris approached me to contribute to their magazine, I tried to be Parisian-girl cool but instead let out a giddy, Oui! To welcome me to their team, the ladies sent over a My Little Box containing all kinds of beautiful (and beautifully packaged) gifts. Here’s to adding a little bit of Parisian flair to your day!

See the other care package posts here!

Trouble with playing the video here? You can watch it over at Vimeo.

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