The new Marshalls/HomeGoods opened last week

The new Marshall/HomeGoods opened last week in Mountain View

Marshall HomeGoods Lighting

 

Last Thursday I attended the Grand Opening of the Marshalls/Home Goods store in Mountain View and was so pleased with the wonderful variety of cool stuff that was on display. The store features a wide selection of curated pieces for the home in every category: fantastic linens, glassware, decorative accessories, garden and floral, decorative pillows, storage and more.

 

Regional manager Dustin mentioned that this is the 12th combined stores in the region and more to open soon. TJX Company is making it easier for frugal shoppers like myself, who appreciates the convenience of being able to shop fashion and home under one roof.

 

This is my favorite TJX store in the Bay Area, which in the United States includes TJ Maxx, HomeGoods and Marshalls. This particular store is always clean, well organized, with great selections and the staff is super friendly. Under the leadership of Store Manager Mei Mendiola, this store functions as a service oriented store where the staff is willing to go above and beyond to make sure shoppers find what they are looking for.  Some of you who visited the store during the two month long renovations noticed that the existing Marshalls was minimized to accommodate the inclusion of HomeGoods.  What a challenge it was for those wanting to explore their design creativity. Now a rebirthed design oasis is awaiting you at this location. There are lots changes including the checkout system.

 

The new Mountain View Marshalls/HomeGoods store has also taken on a new partnership with the Community Services Agency of Mountain View to assist with their ongoing programs to help those in need. Manager Mei donated $10,000 to the organization on Grand Opening Day to show their commitment to the organization.

Check out the lovely photos. You may just be inspired to start your new decorating project.

1040 Grant Road, Mountain Vew.  Marshallsonline.com/store-finder/345

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Decorating our very own mini house just in time for the holidays

quattro-gingerbread-house-decorating6

 

My family was back decorating gingerbread houses at the Four Seasons this past Sunday. What a blast we had!

The best part about the experience was to witness the fun, intensity, and maturity my kids developed since their last experience, a year ago. They were so excited about decorating, that they were strategizing for weeks what candy they would use for different parts of their houses. My eleven-year-old was especially excited since he has developed the tradition of bringing his decorated gingerbread house to his classroom. This year he decided to go a step further and personalized it with his school’s name. My daughter, on the other hand, wanted to create something that she and her siblings can snack on until, well it’s gone.

Unfortunately, this year Stew was not able to join us since he had to leave town on a business trip to the East Coast, but nonetheless, we had fun.The kids brought a friend and, my dear friend and photog Charu, joined us with her daughter. We had a great group.

 

 

This year the crowd was definitely bigger. There was an ecliptic mix of people and interesting teams. There were the girlfriends, the co-workers, the neighbors, the older couples, a fraternity of men with beards, many young families, I even ran into a few families from my younger son’s school. Everyone was just excited as we were to attend this amazing workshop.

 

 

Once again, Executive Pastry Chef Eric Keppler did not disappoint with his step by step tutorial, on how to decorate your Quattro Perfect House: on creating the roof, icicles and hardscape for the gingerbread house. Then he went around giving feedback to each table. He starts preparing for this event right after summer, to make sure that he leaves no stones unturned to create a memorable experience for all.

 

 

 

With the help of a design team, the team at Quattro created a very festive atmosphere. This year the candy bar was circular with miniature houses and a winterscape in the center, and this layout created more of an intimate feel while the snacks and drinks were on an adjacent table. The bar this year was in the same room.

 

The Four Seasons Quattro restaurant team was there every step of the way to guide folks and to supply extra icing, drinks, or to extend compliments to everyone while they worked on their masterpieces. What a fantastic experience!

My children would not allow me to skip this event next year, so again we will be decorating our very own mini Palo Alto house just in time for the Holidays.

Managing your kid’s screen time: Believe it or not there is an app for that

 

So much has transpired since getting back into our groove after an amazing summer: Our 11-year-old started middle school and making new friends; our 9-year-old daughter is now in 4th grade and getting in touch with her creative side; Ronan, our 4-year-old son is in his last year of nursery school and is obsessed with dinosaurs; Stew has been very busy with work; and I have been heavily involved in the Palo Alto Elementary Math Adaptation Pilot as a committee member; Konstella is doing great, as we continue to impact school communication around the country.  I am finding that whatever time I have available, I need to spend it wisely. So taking away and hiding kids devices, in hard-to-find places around the house in order to regulate screen time is certainly not on my ideal task. There is an app for that and it is called OurPact!

 

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Ten Great Gift Ideas for Teachers – thoughtful and for any budget!

gift ideas for teachers

 

Ten Great Gift Ideas for Teachers – thoughtful and for any budget!

 

The end of the school year is often marked by the graduations, promotions, saying goodbye, the anticipation of summer, and of course the presentation of teacher’s gifts. It is almost here, and before we take off on the lovely family vacation or make our abode guest-ready, we need to spend some time to help our children pick out thoughtful gifts for their teachers . Teachers have a demanding, yet rewarding job, and we want to show our appreciation by offering an end of year gift that will be thoughtful and carefully selected.

 

There are quite a variety of options, although sometimes it is challenging to figure out what is just right for your child’s teacher.  Take a look at ten of our ideas and don’t forget to involve the kids!

 

Cup or water bottle:

There are many kinds of cups and water bottles so it should be easy to find the perfect fit for the teacher. If you are on a budget, Target sells some inexpensive ones (as low as $6). They come in all shapes and sizes. If you want a sturdy, long lasting cup you can get a Tervis Tumbler. They run from $9 and up – they have tons of themes. If you want to personalize the cup, try Etsy. They have many sleek designs and can be customized, but that takes a little longer. A cup can be enough, however, it is always awesome to put some small things in the cup: lemonade packets, straws, gift cards, chapstick, candy.

 

Grill kit:

What a great idea! It’s good for those hard to think of male gifts. Get a bucket – inexpensive ones at a dollar store, or a sturdy one at any store that has a solid home and garden center. Add some sauces, a new spatula, a pair of tongs, some rubs, and a towel. Make it really personal with a favorite summer-time recipe.

 

Movie kit:

Who doesn’t like a movie? This one is a real winner because it encourages relaxing. Get a popcorn bowl or basket.  Your favorite craft store usually has plastic ones, or you can even try dollar stores. Get a movie theatre gift card or even a Redbox gift card at www.redbox.com/gifts.  Add a bag of popcorn and a box of Skittles or another favorite candy.

 

School supplies:

Not supplies for the classroom, but for the teacher. Give them a pack of their favorite pens or markers. If the teacher is the creative, colorful type, visit any craft store and get some colorful binder clips, pens, and paperclips. Get a practical or fun container to hold the supplies. If you want to add a personal touch, there are plenty of DIY projects for supply holders.

 

Personalized planners or notebooks:

You don’t have to splurge and spend $50 on a Graphic Image Planner for your teacher, but there are other ways to get a notebook or planner and have it personalized. It can be a small to-do notebook from any dollar bins at most of your craft stores. You can stencil, paint, or use stickers to put the teacher’s name.  She or he will love the personal touch that your child will put into creating this special gift.

 

Coffee Gift Certificate:

Buy a mug, from the Dollar Store or the local pottery shop, fill it with a Starbucks gift card that fits your budget. Don’t worry, if you give a teacher this gift and they don’t drink coffee, Starbucks sells a lot of other yummy treats. They’ll use it for sure!

 

Flower pot DIY: 

Buy a terracotta pot (any size will do). Have your son or daughter paint it – finger paint, sponge paint or with a design – you name it. Then, help them write the teacher’s name on it. Make a butterfly out of your child’s feet or hands. If you are really crafty, paint it yourself and have your son or daughter pot the plant! You can do inexpensive petunias or impatiens that tend to do better in the hot summer. Use waterproof paint if you want the design to endure.  

 

DIY photo gifts: 

Let your child pick out one of their favorite pictures of themselves and send it off to Walgreens or Walmart or Shutterfly.com to get an ornament (Of course it is not the Holidays yet). Or have your child make a frame out of popsicle sticks or paint a wooden one from the craft store ($1). The effort a kid puts in touches a teacher’s heart.

 

Summer themed bucket:

This is a great idea that you can tailor to your teacher’s personality. Here are some ideas of things you can put in the bucket: a book (your local library probably has some for sale), gum or mints, a towel, sunscreen, fun sunglasses, a magazine they might like, their favorite drink, small gift cards, candy (but not a lot). The options are endless.

 

Inspirational decorations/a personal message:

Teachers need motivation! You can buy frames and signs and key chains, bookmarks or anything similar with inspirational quotes. If you love DIY, try painting a canvas or a frame and use Modge Podge to secure the quote. Teachers also really personal notes from their students. Many teachers keep boxes or folders of notes from kids. They are some of the most cherished gifts for a lot of teachers.

 

Why the Four Seasons Maui Wailea is an ideal destination for solo travel

Four Seasons Resort Maui Wailea solo travel 10

 

Why the Four Seasons Maui Wailea is an ideal destination for solo travel.

 

I was never a fan of traveling  without my husband, or family, or a girlfriend, and for the past 17 years that I have known my husband, we have often traveled as a couple and explored destinations together.  However, on Mother’s Day in 2014, it all changed and I had to hold the suitcase to a solo ride. The unplanned destiny, however, made me realize that sometimes, it’s perfectly alright to travel alone, where I could be, just me! And spend time doing nothing at all, or perhaps do whatever I want whether it is the obvious spa treatments or long uninterrupted walks or even rest without the sound of screaming kids, or inquiring husband!

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So I am a co-founder of a Silicon Valley startup

Mayma Raphael and Eric Xu Konstella co-founders
Mayma Raphael and Eric Xu Konstella

 

 

I am now co-founder of a Silicon Valley startup.

 

Since moving to Palo Alto, I have been approached by a few companies to work as a consultant and advisor, and another mom and ex-googler approached me to join her as a co-founder of a Pinterest-like app for secondhand items. These other experiences were wonderful, but nothing ever clicked as this great opportunity.

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Mother’s Day Brunch and Dinner in the Palo Alto Area

 

SPRING

 

Mother’s Day is that special time of the year when we all want to show our love and heartfelt appreciation to those special persons in our lives who dedicate their whole time and efforts to genuinely and unconditionally loving and guiding us. And what better way to show them we truly care than with a special brunch or dinner? This year, in an attempt to help you offer the special mom in your life a moment of pure relaxation and culinary excitement, we have worked on a list of ten exquisite restaurants and hotels in the Bay Area that offer special Mother’s Day menus.

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