My Office Supply Addiction

I admit it…I am an office supply addict.  My addiction started when I was very young.  My dad knew I loved stickers and he started buying them for me at Hallmark (the only place stickers were sold back then) near his job in NYC. My mom would also take me to the Sanrio store and I would go nuts buying little Hello Kitty colored pencils and pads.  Fast forward many years later… and now I just love anything that has to do with stickers, craft supplies, desk accessories, and oh boy do I love a nice set of pens!  If any store has an office supply or stationery section, you can find me there (and now my daughter too).  And I have to say, I have found the most amazing stationery stores in Europe, (papelerias as they are called in Spain).  Back to school time offers a great selection of pens, sticky notes, markers, cute paper clips, you name it! Looks at these pencils, how can I resist??

Colorful mechanical pencils, found here.

Are you an office supply addict?  Here’s a quick list that will help you determine if you are:

1) You have more pens, pencils and markers than you’ll ever use in one lifetime.

2) You feel the urge to visit Office Depot at least once a month (or Archiver’s if you shop online).

3) You have an entire drawer stuffed full of blank, unopened writing pads and post-it pads, more than  necessary for anything you will ever write down in your life.

4) You have a giant collection of adorable erasers…which cannot be used because they are so cute.

5) There’s no such thing as too many blank notecards!

6) You’re more excited to visit the Sanrio store in the mall, full of Hello Kitty stationery, than Nordstrom.

7) You secretly love back to school time, just for the new school supplies you’re buying for your “kids”.

8) You have an immense sticker collection, as a gown adult, and continue to buy more with every visit to Michael’s.

9) You purchase items such as a Sticker Stadium and a Washi Tape Dispenser (don’t judge).

10) You get really upset when someone doesn’t return one of your favorite pens (they’re all your favorites).

11) You’re vacationing in Italy, and suddenly you spot an old handmade paper and stationery store, and you HAVE to go in.

12) You write a blog post about your addiction.

And don’t even get me started on monogrammed notepads and calendars!  Here are a few more of my favorite office supplies:

Beautiful color coordinated desk accessories offered at  www.poppin.com.

My washi tape dispenser, found here.

My washi tape dispenser, found here.

Cute pencil case, found here.

Cute pencil case, found here.

Kate Spade eraser set, found here.

Kate Spade eraser set, found here.

Label maker from the Container Store, found here.

Label maker from the Container Store, found here.

Mini Sticky Notes, found here.

Mini Sticky Notes, found here.

Kitty post-it dispenser, found here.

Kitty post-it dispenser, found here.

Shaped paper clips, click here.

Shaped paper clips, click here.

USB Tulip Hub, found here.

USB Tulip Hub, found here.

And lats but not least, my new sticker stadium, found here.

And last but not least, my new sticker stadium, found here.

Do you like office supplies?  What are some of your favorite items, I love them all!

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My Favorite Greek Dishes

You never hear much about Greek food.  It’s not as popular as Italian (my favorite), Chinese or Mexican, but I sure do love it.  While traveling through Greece, I have definitely fallen in love with some favorite dishes and also watched my husband eat some questionable ones (octopus).  And while we have a few Greek restaurants here in Miami, I haven’t found any to be as authentic as the food in Greece.  Here are my top 10 favorite Greek dishes:

Galaktoboureko This has to be my favorite Greek dessert (yes, let’s start with the desserts, why not), and it’s actually not very easy to find.  Everytime I’m in Greece I specifically browse the menus of most recommended places, and I have only come across this heavenly treat in a small cafe in Oia.  Galaktoboureko, is a divine combination of creamy custard and flaky phyllo dough that is baked to golden perfection then drenched with a lemon and orange infused syrup.  I used to work with a Greek friend who told me her mother makes it from scratch.  I never tried making this, as to me the recipe seems a bit above my experience level…LOL.   But if you are brave enough to try, make sure to eat it the same day, as the custard tends to harden once it’s refrigerated.

greek-custard-pie-3-550

Galaktoboureko

Loukoumades Continuing with desserts, my husband loves these little bite-sized sweet honey puffs, essentially the Greek version of donut holes, which are deep fried to golden and crispy perfection. Loukoumades are traditionally served soaked in hot honey syrup, sprinkled with cinnamon and garnished with chopped walnuts or toasted sesame seeds.  I’ve also seen them accompanied with a scoop of ice cream.  Either way, delicious!

Loukoumades

Loukoumades

Halvas Yet another dessert (I promise I will get to the food soon). A semonlina, almond, cinnamon based dessert, which I ended up liking more than what I had anticipated.  There are two different sweets called halvas in Greece. One is wet pudding made of semolina powder, olive oil and sugar.  The other type is very similar to a nougat made of sugar and sesame powder, similar to Spanish turron.  I was also served halvas ice cream one night…amazing!

Halvas

Halvas

Fried Feta with Honey and Sesame Seeds Many of you that know me know of my love affair with cheese, ANY type of cheese!  But I really love feta cheese and usually have loads of it when I’m in Greece.  However, this fried feta covered in sesame seeds and honey is on another level.  The sweet and salty combination of flavors is absolutely delicious!

Fried feta with honey and sesame seeds

Fried feta with honey and sesame seeds

Tzatziki This yummy Greek sauce is always served with grilled meats or as a dip. Tzatziki is made of strained yogurt mixed with cucumbers, garlic, salt, olive oil, lemon juice, and dill, mint, or parsley… always served cold.

Tzatzik

Tzatziki

Dolmadakia Typically served as an appetizer or side dish, dolmadakia is a favorite dish throughout Greece. Grape leaves, stuffed with long-grain rice and herbs like thyme, dill, and fennel.  My husband loves these, definitely something to try!

Dolmadakia

Dolmadakia

Greek Salad Famous all over the world, but the Greeks make them best! Crunchy cucumber, juicy ripe tomato, olives, red onion and a giant slab of feta on top, covered with olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice. It’s an absolute staple with every meal.

Greek Salad

Greek Salad

Gyros Yes, these are the ones typically found in your local state fair or neighborhood festivals, but boy are they yummy!  Pita bread, grilled meat, fresh salad, sauce (usually tzatziki), and many times they also include french fries inside.  Depending on the restaurant, they may also be served as a platter with the pita bread on the side.  Either way, I love them.

Gyros served with fries

Gyros served with fries

Spanakopita These are Greek pastries, filled with spinach and feta cheese folded in layers of phyllo dough. Most of the time, you will see them folded into triangles, but it can also be made as a pie or in a pita. Cheese pies of all types are very popular all over Greece.  I usually eat these as an appetizer or a snack, but they can be enjoyed at any time of the day.

Spanakopita

Spanakopita

Pastitsio Also referred to as Greek Lasagna, Pastitsio, is made of luscious layers of juicy minced beef, cooked in a tomato based sauce, with pasta and creamy béchamel sauce, all baked together until golden perfection.. simply irresistible!  This is one of my favorite dishes in Greece, I always make sure to have it at least once on every trip.

Pastitsio

Pastitsio

Have you tried Greek food, and if you have what are your favorite dishes?  I’m curious…

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Celebrating Valentine’s Day

Well believe it or not the month of January has flown by and here we are getting ready to celebrate Valentine’s Day in less than a week (even though I have some neighbors who have yet to put away their Christmas decorations!) I know many of you may not celebrate this day or make a big fuss about it, but for those of you who do, I decided to round up some of my favorite (and most original) ideas I found to surprise your loved ones with.  Here they are:

Valentine's Gifts

  1. Valentines Day “Hashtag Conversation Heart” Cookie set, by Sugared Hearts Bakery, $20. Visit their Etsy store for cookies for all types of events, they are beautiful as well as delicious!
  2. Tory Burch Logo Heart Key Fob, available at http://www.toryburch.com, $55.
  3. COACH Corner Zip Wristlet in heart print crossgrain leather, available at http://www.coach.com, $75.
  4. Under This Moon Bracelet by Gemagenta on Etsy, $30.  This has to be one of the most creative and romantic gifts I’ve come across.  The custom necklace or bracelet is made by hand to reflect the moon phase of any date you desire, even past dates. How cool is that??
  5. BAN.DO Assorted Pen Set, a great gift for your kids, available at http://www.shopbando.com, $14. Browse their website for many other affordable cute gifts for Valentine’s.
  6. Alex and Ani Key to My Heart Charm Bangle, available at http://www.alexandani.com, $28.  Also sold at Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, Lord & Taylor, Dillard’s, and various local jewelry stores.  I love these bracelets and my daughter loves to wear many of them at once.  Browse their website for all types of collections.
  7. Hey Handsome Shaving Kit Bag for the man in your life, available at http://www.owenandfred.com, $68.  Available in various colors. This is a great website offering many gifts for men.
  8. A Big Kiss His & Her Pillowcases, available at http://www.gifts.com, $36.  Does it get any cuter than this??
  9. The New Disney Jewelry Collection by Pandora.  This is perfect for the Disney lover in your life (I know a few of those).  Available anywhere Pandora is sold or at http://www.pandora.net, prices for charms range from $45-$80.
  10. Milktape, a company that makes modern day mixed tapes using cassette tape-shaped USBs complete with cover and plastic case, so you can make it extra personal. Each tape holds about 15 songs (128 MB) and can be used with PC or Mac. I know this brings back a lot of memories from my youth.  Available at http://www.milktape.com, $15.
  11. Petite Heart Cocotte by Le Creuset, for the chef in your life, available at http://www.lecreuset.com, $25.  Comes in various colors if you’re not into pink.
  12. Heart Audio Headset Splitter, for just about anyone on your list, available at http://www.accessorygeeks.com or http://www.amazon.com, $8.

And if you prefer not to spend money on gifts, then there’s always that special card like this one available at http://www.papersource.com.

Valentine's Day cards available at www.papersource.com

Valentine’s Day cards available at http://www.papersource.com

Have you thought about Valentine’s Day yet?  And if so, what would you like to gift or receive?

You’re Just A Mom?

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, but I have to admit it’s not an easy topic for me to discuss.  I am a stay at home mom (SAHM) and my daughter just turned 14 (yes, 14).  While I can certainly go back to work at any time I choose, I think that decision should only be made by my husband and myself, not by anyone else.  I can’t tell you how many times I have heard, “So are you EVER going back to work?  What did you get an MBA for, to stay home, you can make a lot of money.  What do you DO all day?”.  If I had a nickel for every time I have heard that, I would probably never need to go back to work. Here’s a quote that I have seen many times all over the internet, and it pretty much sums it all up for me:

Just a Mom...

I would never criticize women who work outside of the home, some of my closest friends have careers they love and made the choice to be working moms.  And I fully support them.  I also understand that many of them have to work if they are single mothers or if they have to contribute to the financial needs of the family.  Then there are the women who do not see themselves as SAHMs and do not have the “patience” (as I’ve heard some say), and would much rather work outside the home and have a nanny raise their children, even when they don’t need to work.  And last but not least, the women who truly value and enjoy their careers, and do not want to give up what they love doing to be at home raising their kids.  My point here is not to single anyone out, we should all be able to do as we please with our lives.  However, I  also do not appreciate when people act as if being a SAHM is a bad choice, or a lazy choice…it’s a personal choice.

When our daughter was born, I had a fantastic job, probably the best one I ever had, and we seriously considered if I was going back to work after my 3 month maternity leave.  For many personal reasons, my husband and I made the decision that I would stay home and raise her, a decision that I have never regretted and fully enjoyed for 14 years.  And no, not because I am lazy, or didn’t want to go to work every day and leave her at daycare (although I surely did not miss those pantyhose every morning). Simply because I very much enjoy being a mother and I did not want to miss out on any of our daughter’s milestones, especially since time goes by so quickly and I would never get those moments back. Of course I was blessed that we could afford to have this option, but at that point in time, as good as my job was, I simply was not passionate enough about my career to miss out on enjoying my daughter every single day.  And I also realized, that no matter how good I was at my job (I was very good) or how much my boss loved me (she really loved me), whatever your job is, you are expendable. You are a number. You can be replaced, and you will be replaced, eventually.

Now that my daughter is a teen and is much more independent, I have been seriously thinking of entering the work force again, at least on a part-time basis.  But I even find this decision a tough one, because who will be home with her during all the school breaks, holidays, teacher appreciation days, early dismissal (sometimes they seem to be out of school more than they are in), take her to doctor/dentist appointments, etc.  Am I really ready to miss her swim meets, school plays, and any other important event that may come up?  I’m not sure yet.

So yes…I am JUST a mother.  Not only do I shape and mold my beautiful, smart, loving daughter to grow up to be a kind, responsible, hard-working, functional and respectable adult with morals and manners (which seem to be disappearing in today’s youth), but I also manage and maintain everything in our household, so that it runs smoothly, while caring for our daughter who relies on me for just about everything.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.  My heart melts whenever my daughter tells me that she feels so blessed to have the best mother in the world and that she would be lost without me.
Yes…I LOVE being JUST a mom…at least for now!

Photo Courtesy of RoseHill Design Studio

Photo Courtesy of RoseHill Design Studio

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Are you a SAHM (or dad)? Do you enjoy staying at home raising your kids or would you rather work outside your home?  I would love to hear.

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