When I was young, I took a psychological quiz that has haunted me my whole life.  You know those fun quizzes you would give to your friends and compare answers?  Yeah, one of those.  Stupid.  But man, this one did a number on me and I reflect back to it even now.


Let me lay it out for you.  But I must caveat this by saying that I’m certain I don’t remember the whole thing or exactly what each question represents, but I’ll do my best.


Imagine you are walking through the woods.  Describe the woods.

How do you make your way through the woods?

Within the woods you come to some kind of body of water.  Describe the water.

How do you get to the other side of the water?

You continue through the woods and you see a house.  Describe the house.

Do you go inside?  If yes, describe the inside.

At the house you see a bear.  Describe the bear.

What do you do with the bear?

take the quiz

You remember these quizzes?  I loved them.  I still love them!  I’ll travel down the rabbit hole of Facebook quizzes so I can know which Disney princess I am, or which Harry Potter house I should live in, or what my spirit animal is.  Yep, I’m a sucker.


But the quiz I shared with you above, that one… I took it over 30 years ago!  I remember it (well, the important parts) like it was yesterday and the picture of what I saw in my mind then is still the same picture that I see now.  I find that remarkable.

When analyzed, none of my answers were bad, especially to an outsider. (Some of them were down right interesting, if you ask me, but I digress.) But to me, there has been one aspect of the quiz that I’ve gone back to time and time again.  It literally has haunted me.  I went through many years near angry about it.

haunted house

But now that I am older and wiser and really happy with my life, I can see my answer as a blessing and I couldn’t be more grateful.  Truly.

So did you take the quiz?  If not, and you want to, do it now and I’ll run down what each answer represents based on this silliness. I can wait.  BUT, if you read on without taking the quiz, you won’t get honest answers after.  Once the meanings have been revealed, you will engineer what you want your answers to be and that’s not cool.  You’ve been warned.  (Just sayin’.)

vintage watch faces


Describe the woods.  Your description of the woods is how you look at life.

How do you make your way through the woods?  This describes how you make your way through life.

Within the woods you come to some kind of body of water.  Describe the water.  The water represents your problems.

How do you get to the other side of the water?  This is how you deal with your problems.

You continue through the woods and you see a house.  Describe the house.  This represents how you think people see you.

Do you go inside?  If yes, describe the inside.  The inside vision is how you see yourself.

At the house you see a bear.  Describe the bear.  This represents your fears.

What do you do with the bear?  This answer describes how you deal with fear.

teddy bear

Ironically, my personal haunting does not come from the problems and how I deal with them, nor did it come from the fears.  My haunting comes from how I would get through the woods!  In other words, how I would get through life.  You see, in my vision, in my woods, there is no clear path.  There is no path.  But, I could easily make my way.  No underbrush, just sparse grass decorating the entire ground.  There’s even enough light for me to see.


I have never had a clear path in my life.  I never grew up desiring to be a doctor, or always wanting to be an actress.  Sure, I went through phases of wanting to be a veterinarian in fourth grade, or a wedding dress designer in high school, but after I graduated from college, and I began my real walk through the woods… damned if there was no clear path.

It was a crushing frustration throughout my young adulthood and even more so after I had children.  Life had to be more than just laundry, and dirty dishes, and praying to God that no one missed the school bus.


But now…

Now that I have embarked on this new role of writing, I’m almost grateful not to be tied to a path.  What used to feel like walking through a maze of dead ends, or running on a treadmill to nowhere, now feels open, and free, and exciting.  I don’t have to look down to be sure I stay on the path.  I get to look up and go where the light leads me, only to look down, once in a while, to see if my feet are still touching the ground.

Guest – Mia Belotti – Maison Warehouse

Maison Warehouse circle logo

Mia Belotti is the interior designer and owner of Maison Warehouse, an interior design service and home furnishing shop located in Sterling, VA. Although the shop, as it stands today, has only been open for 4 years, Maison has been around since 1998. Being family owned, Mia grew up in this business. The original company was started by Mia’s stepfather in Great Falls, Va., under the name Maison et Jardan (which, in French, means Home and Garden). Says Mia, “My stepfather is a design genius. He owns and operates Fine Landscapes; a landscape design and build firm.” Maison was originally developed as a way to furnish the gardens that Mia’s stepfather was creating. The business blossomed.

Going through many changes and growing pains over the last 20 years, Maison was once housed in an old nursery they had acquired. They began filling their interior greenhouse space with planters at first, some outdoor furnishings and then antiques and accents from France. Then they really started to grow.

Maison Warehouse Latitude pillow

When their lease expired at the Great Falls location they opted to relocate and set up shop in Sterling, VA. The 1600 square feet of showroom space allows Mia to fulfill her professional dreams of offering home furnishings to her customers at warehouse prices of up to 30% off of suggested retail pricing. This discounted price structure was important to Mia. She explains, “If you’re going to drive to a warehouse, you need some kind of incentive. We’re kind of off the beaten path, so we offer really good prices. The goal is to meet or beat the Internet wherever I can.” And, I must add, that although the building is definitely a warehouse, you do not feel as if you are shopping in a warehouse setting. There is a more intimate feeling about the shop and it is beautifully merchandised, in true showroom fashion.

Mia’s underlying belief is that good design should be obtainable. Her feeling is that, at any price point, you should be able to get something that is nice, good looking and affordable. She keeps that idea in mind when buying for the shop. Says Mia, “I always try to be price conscious. Perhaps it’s because our housing is so expensive in Northern Virginia, but my customer is very price conscious.” Having been in the business for a long time, Mia has cultivated a very loyal following. But she adds, “If you’re prices aren’t right, the customers are not going to come back. You’ve got to give them a reason to come back.”

Maison Warehouse in store small items

Knowing that her competition is often Amazon and the Wayfairs of the world, Mia doesn’t take for granted the retail climate or the loyalty of her clientele. She explains, “The difference is, on Wayfair, you can see a pretty picture and you can buy items at very cheap prices and that might be very appealing to some people, but there is nobody that is personally editing the quality. In my store, I’m personally editing the quality. I don’t bring it in, if I wouldn’t put it in my own house.”

Mia was exposed to the world of design at a very early age. In addition to her stepfather’s landscape architecture company, her aunt was a designer and an antique dealer who would participate in antique shows at the DC Armory. Mia shares, “My aunt would set up a booth and bring all her things. She used to have a shop called Antiquities in Chevy Chase, MD. I would sit on some Louie the 16th settee, in my poufy Laura Ashley dresses in the 1980’s, and hand out her business cards and say, ‘Please buy from my auntie’. That was my early introduction into décor and design.”

Maison Warehouse in store vignette 2

Mia’s always been a really hard worker. She’s been working her whole life, sometimes holding down multiple part time jobs, and even pushed herself to graduate a year early from college. She jokes, “Get a job. Get two jobs if you want to be cool like me. Then finish college early and save your mom a whole semester or two of tuition. She’ll love you. That’s better than a scholarship! (LOL.) That’s the way, if you want to be a real hero….to you’re mom. (Lol.) If you want to be your mom’s favorite kid.” Looking back, Mia wishes that she had taken her time. She imparts, “Time is one of those things that you always feel is in front of you. That you have so much of it, but when you rush through things, you don’t have it any more and that time goes away.”

During high school, Mia worked as an intern under local designer Alice Bush of Great Falls Distinctive Interiors Inc. Mia went on to pursue her Bachelor’s degree from East Carolina University in interior design and merchandising and business and then returned home to help in the family business. There really has never been a life before Maison or design for Mia. She explains, “It’s always kind of been this. I was really thrown into it when I graduated. I really would have appreciated taking a little time to figure myself out because I graduated a year early from college because I was… weird. (Lol) I should have taken my time. I was always in a rush to grow up which now, as a parent, I think is so silly.” Mia had no real desire for a career in retail. Her true love was residential interior design. But she found that there were parts of retail that she really enjoyed. She shares, “I enjoy engaging with people. I enjoy talking to people and hearing what their projects are about. It inspires me. I love that round table discussion about design. I like when creativity feeds off of more creativity. I feel like it just grows. You can really breed creativity in a petri dish and watch it explode. It’s amazing.” Being naturally creative, Mia thrives on those experiences and having Maison allows her the opportunity to get that interaction constantly. And even though Mia has spent nearly her entire life in this business, she still has a lot of energy for her work. It is clearly a passion for her.

Maison Warehouse in store vignette

The concept of Maison Warehouse, as laid out by Mia, is quite inviting. She says, “I wanted to have a place where people can come to find good design and get it at a great price. They can bring us a picture of what they have and say, ‘This is my room. What do I need?’” It’s through this type of exchange that Mia can make her recommendations. Whether it’s accent wallpaper, a piece art, throw pillows, a lamp, end tables, or all of it, Mia will lay out just the right products and placement to bring your room together. She explains, “Basically Maison Warehouse is like a bar. You walk up, you get some great advice, you can order what we don’t have here, or you can purchase stuff that we do have and you can make your dream room come true. That was the idea behind it all.”

In addition to the retail space, Mia also provides in-home client design consultation and renovation. It’s a natural progression from the “sidle-up-to-the-bar” style of consulting she offers in the shop. Mia shares, “Some people are scared to have me in their house the first time. They’re afraid I’m going to come over and judge their house. I’m like, ‘Listen, I’ve got two little boys at home that leave Legos everywhere. My house is always a mess’.” She and I agree that it’s what I call “The Instagram Trap”. You don’t know what’s behind the camera!

Maison Warehouse client site collage

Ironically, Mia’s creative process involves losing herself down the rabbit hole of Instagram for inspiration. She’ll scroll through the feed soaking it all in. She picks up on subtle trends and relies on sparks from her past to develop, what she calls “a feeling”. Once she lands on that “feeling”, that connection of present to past, she begins to put together the space that she’s tasked to build. She shares, “I’ll get onto something that’s in my head. I will look for it until I find it. If I don’t find it, I have to make it, or draw it. I have to see it, and then I have to construct it somehow. Build it and make it come to fruition.”

Mia’s own Instagram account has great examples of her creative process. You will find posted pictures of concept to creation; Mia’s sketches along side of finished rooms. She jokes, “It’s how my weird brain works. When I’m really inspired I start drawing. My drawings are not beautiful, but they are reminiscent enough for me to get a likeness in reality.”

Maison Warehouse concept to complete

Mia and I discussed what her long-term professional goals were. Now, I’ve interviewed quite a number of people by now and I’m still surprised by answers that I get..and always in a good way.   Long-term dream job for Mia? A TV show! As if that answer wasn’t surprising enough, I wrongfully assumed that she would be interested in an HGTV-style show, but no! She explains, “When I was little, the other job I always wanted was to have a talk show. I love talking to people and people tell me all kinds of things. I guess it’s because I don’t really judge. My ultimate goal would be along the lines of Oprah or Martha. Someone with some longevity in their career. Not a one hit wonder. But, I always say, you know what God, don’t give it to me if it’s going to come at the expense of my family.”

But back to HGTV for a moment. The design business is not as glamorous as TV would suggest that it is. When I asked Mia how the reality of her business differs from the dream that she had for it, her answer? “This is the least glamorous job you could ever want. It is more work for less money. If you don’t love it, and you don’t love talking to people, and it doesn’t fulfill you or give you any inspiration, it’s not worth it. Really it’s not; especially the retail side. Retail is hard and fickle. My heart is in the design, but I enjoy the retail experience.” Some of you locals might recognize Maison Warehouse from their collaborations with Chick’s Picks by Hillary. Mia and Maison host the holiday pop-up shop for the popular Chick’s Pick shopping experience. It is through this pop-up that I found Maison. Says Mia, “Those are exciting retail experiences. I love the pop-up.   That stuff gives me such a rush. It’s really fun, but it is so hard. I don’t think people realize that when we put on those shows, it’s a lot of work. I am literally physically here, not sun up to sun down, but sun up to sun up again. People don’t think about what it takes to put on a production like that.”

Maison Warehouse Chicks Picks

Mia constantly fits work into non-business hours. She’ll do floor plans at home after her kids go to bed, and she’ll take calls and texts from clients at all hours of the day and night. Mia explains that there is a huge differentiation from a client’s perspective of the work being done and the designer’s perspective. She shares, “For me, it’s business. For clients it is not their business. It is not a business transaction, it’s their home, it’s personal. So they’re talking to me on personal time and the worlds collide. If you are not prepared for your professional and personal worlds to collide, if you’re not emotionally prepared, it is not for the faint of heart.” She also reminds that in retail, you must be prepared to give up holidays, birthdays, and weekends. She adds, “I worked 10 years of Sundays before we moved, which is why we’re now closed on Sundays. I’m only open on Sundays for special events because I realized I needed a day with my family. I don’t like to work every single weekend, as much as a lot of clients would wish me here. At some point, I have to put my own kids first.”

Mia would like to encourage everyone to shop small family owned businesses. When you do you are immediately affecting the people in your community. Says Mia, “Loudoun County has been really nice to us. We’ve had a really warm reception since moving here 4 years ago and I appreciate that. I thank our customers for shopping small. It’s what feeds my kids. You’re helping to grow my family. I’m not rich by any means, but I’m happy and I’m growing healthy beautiful boys who are smart and trouble all at the same time. I couldn’t do that without their support. I couldn’t help clients with their living space and indulge in my crazy circus of creativity in my brain if I didn’t have the local support. I love loyal customers. I like when I see people coming back a lot. I like when I recognize my customers and I know them by name and I know that they like it when I know who they are too. It’s nice.”

Maison Warehouse flooring

After years of perfecting her shop and services, Mia is living her passion. She takes the good with the less-than-good of this career choice. Her proudest moment is when she successfully completes a client project and is hired back to work on another space in their home. She works happily for her clients, all with a smile and in heels because as she says, “It’s not glamorous, but ya gotta be in heals or it won’t look glamorous. (LOL.)”


You can follow Maison Warehouse on the following social media sites:  www.maisonwarehouse.com, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter

Maison Warehouse circle logo

Maison Warehouse is located at: 221558 Stonetree Ct., Sterling, VA 20166

Favorites Spring 2018

Unless you have lived under a rock for the past ten years, you have undoubtedly heard of the infamous Oprah Winfrey’s Favorite Things episodes. Does this ring a bell? “YOU GET A CAR! AND YOU GET A CAR! AND YOU GET A CAR!” ??? Yes?

Mass hysteria

Even Ellen Degeneres picked up on the idea with her holiday giveaway shows. In truth, I really love this idea. I love the whole idea. I love hearing what other people like and can’t live without. And who doesn’t like to get a gift? Sharing what excites us and makes us happy is one of the biggest pleasures of life and friendships.


I made up my own version of this a few years ago. My sisters and I try to get together for a sisters weekend annually. We don’t live close to one another, so these weekends became quite sacred. Sure we talk on the phone to one another, but to have ALL FOUR of us together….in one conversation together…is a luxury. To commemorate our time together and because we never exchange birthday gifts, I began to put together a goodie bag, for each sister, of my favorite things for the year.  Things that I had undoubtedly mentioned to them throughout the year. The bags would contain a variety of items; magazines, mascara, toothbrushes, lipsticks, socks….really anything that I fell in love with during the year that made my life more awesome.  I wanted to share these things with the people who made my life more awesome.  And thus, the favorites…MY favorites had begun.

sisters weekend virginia

I thought it would be really fun to up the game a bit. I asked several of my very stylish friends to compile lists of their favorite things so we could share our finds with you just in time for Mother’s Day! I hope that you enjoy what we’ve come up with. Perhaps you will discover something new to give to your mom, or to give to YOURSELF!

LINDSAY – Chantilly, VA

This fresh scent is a lovely combination of Clementine Flower, Orange Blossom, Water Lily, Orris and Balsamic Vetiver.

Although this candle has spicy, piney notes, the natural elements make this a winner all year round.  The official Yankee Candle site offers this candle in multiple sizes, and at killer sale prices.

Made with soft butters, almond oil and a bit of fresh strawberry juice. *Limited Edition.  May be out of stock.

  • Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salt with Lavender – Available at Target, Walmart and Amazon.com

Lavender is perfect for soaking your way to calmness while moisturizing an soothing your skin.

Salamander Resort has an abundance of things that a mom could spend a gift card on.  There is a fabulous restaurant, a great little bar, a spectacular spa, equestrian activities, or how about falconry??!!  But wait!  There’s more……

Lindsays favorite things 2018



“I used to be a book snob.  I considered audio books to be cheating at reading.  I thought it’s not really reading if you are listening to it.  I also am a visual person and need to concentrate when I’m listening in order to retain the information.  And then I realized what a blessing it is to pair audio books/podcasts with the routine  activities like cleaning, laundry, carpool and food prep.  I can pick and choose what I listen to depending on my mood. I still have a book on my nightstand but I am able to continue the literary momentum with audio books.”

“My new favorite flower delivery service.  Gorgeous, sustainably sourced flowers.  Easy ordering.  Simple selection process.  No decision fatigue scrolling through pages of options.  The DC location delivers same day to certain locations.  The added perk?  The delivery person will email/text you a photo of the actual bouquet in front of the recipient’s home right before delivery.  I love being able to see the actual flowers that were delivered and knowing at that moment, my friend would be receiving them.  I’ve also ordered for delivery outside the ‘same day delivery’ area and although we don’t get a photo at delivery (shipped via UPS/FED EX/USPS), I was pleased that the flower bouquet quality was equal to the same day delivery one.”

“Looking for a gift for the creative person? Give your lucky gift recipient a dollar amount that you will contribute to fund their favorite project. This is great way to support projects that speak to them. Kickstarter helps artists of all kinds connect with supporters to help fund their projects. If the project is not fully funded by pledges, then they will not go to production and your pledge won’t be processed. With varying pledge amounts comes varying incentives. For a book that I backed, pledges started as low as $5 which allowed access to a secret podcast episode, $15 earned you coloring book, tattoos, poster, and access to the podcast, $25 earned you a hardcover book plus. There are so many projects to choose from – artwork, film, publishing, food, design & tech.”

“You can choose courage or comfort. You cannot have both.” – Brené Brown

“I recommend any of her books but her most popular are Daring Greatly, Rising Strong, and her latest one Braving the Wilderness. She is a research professor and studies courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy. Check out her Ted Talk on vulnerability to get a taste of her style.

“Best on-the-go, do-it-all lotion stick that I’ve used. It’s small enough to carry around in my purse, works great and smells amazing (lavender/peppermint). I use it on my knuckles and cuticles during the dry winter months and swipe at my kids dry knees/hands/elbows in carpool.”

Leasa's favorites 2018


“Being a new mama I drink a lot of water and this thing keeps it cold all day and it fits in my car’s cup holder (not the easiest thing to find!) $40″

“These are from Target’s new Universal Thread line which is so cute! I’m loving these because they are comfortable, have that fun little cutout, and they go with everything! Best of all they’re under $40!”

“I love my florals and candles and this beauty combines both. They smell heavenly and come in a variety of fun prints (I may or may not have 3 different ones). The one pictured smells like lavender, rosemary, sage, and bergamot. Plus I love to support small creative businesses like Rifle Paper Co.” $30

  • Lollia Shea Butter Hand Cream in “Wish” – Antropologie

“This is my favorite hand lotion ever for 2 reasons; one it’s made with shea butter and leaves my hands so soft and two because the smell reminds me of sitting on the beach on a summer day. It’s the perfect pick me up for dry winter skin.”

  • Larabar – available everywhere energy and protein bars are sold

“One of my favorite snacks that I always keep on hand in my diaper bag. They taste like you’re having a treat but they’re healthy and made with a few whole food ingredients. They’re vegan, gluten-free, and non-GMO too. My favorite snack for when I’m stuck under a hungry baby and can’t make lunch, or wake up starving after a 2am feeding.”

Jackies favorite things 2018


  • Cherry Blossoms

These stems make a gorgeous, but simple centerpiece.  Particularly lovely this time of the year.

  • Caipirinha Cocktail

This is Brazil’s national cocktail.

How to: Half a lime cut into 4 wedges, 2 teaspoons brown sugar, 1 2/3 oz Cachaça

Place lime and sugar into old fashioned glass and muddle.  Fill glass with crushed ice and add Cachaça.  CHEERS!

  • Glow Recipe – Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask – Sephora.com

A skin-smoothing sleeping mask.  Battles uneven skin tone, dullness, uneven texture and oiliness all while you sleep.  It’s breathable and won’t transfer to your pillow.  Facial in a jar.

  • Glow Recipe – Blueberry Bounce Gentle Cleanser – Sephora.com

Ultra gentle gel cleanser loaded with vitamins and antioxidant-rich blueberry extracts.  Combats dryness and those pesky pores.

  • La Pure – Snail Regeneration Mask – Amazon.com

Yep, made from actual snail secretion filtrate!  Ironically (or not!), this product helps to sssslllloooowww down the aging process.


Daras favorite things 2018



  • Charter Club Cashmere poncho – Macys.com

This super soft poncho is the best combination of style, comfort and warmth.   (Sold out)

Completely comfortable and especially stylish.  I call these my “I feel like a fairy princess shoes”.  The perfect shade of blue; almost a chambray color so they look incredible with jeans.

I have a number of pieces from this jewelry artist of several different styles.  I love them all, but the one pictured is my favorite of the necklaces.  You can’t go wrong with any of her creations and the price point is perfect, especially for gift giving.

  • Cherry Blossom mug – Starbucks Stores

From what I gather, Starbucks is no longer maintaining on online store.  This totally pretty mug was purchased in my local store.  I love it soooo much.

Oh momma.  This is the most heavenly scent.  Every time I smell it, I just drift off to Dreamland for a moment.  A combination of White Birch, Madagascar Vanilla, and Warm Sandalwood.  It’s sublime.

  • O’Keeffe’s Working Hands – Available at most local retailers and on Amazon.com

I wash my hands a lot.  Between that and the dry heat and freezing temps of winter, I was able to stay off dry, uncomfortable hands all winter thanks to this awesome product.  The packaging is not sexy, but your skin will be so who cares.

my favorite things 2018

I hope that you enjoyed our favorite things.  I hope that you found something that would be a special treat for a mom in your life, or something nice for yourself.  Happy Mother’s Day to all of the amazing moms out there. May you all have the most peaceful and beautiful day celebrating the HUGE contribution that you make to your families, to your communities and to our world.

Guest – Maura McKnight – The Candy Drawer Confectionary

Candy Drawer Confectionary - Vistaprint truck

Maura McKnight, of The Candy Drawer Confectionary might just be the master of reinventing herself, but with serious longevity. Not a fly-by-night decision maker, Maura has made three important shifts in her life and has stuck with each of her changes and decisions for the long haul. In the 1990’s Maura started her first small business as a Birth and Postpartum doula. For those that don’t know, a doula (pronounced doola) is a woman who is trained to assist in childbirth and the time directly after birth. She worked this very personally satisfying business for almost 18 years. A grueling lifestyle of working nights takes a toll, so Maura decided it was time to retire. It was during this new phase in retirement that Maura shares, “The bottom fell out of my life. I put myself in rehab. I came out of that feeling like the beginnings of a new person.” Thus ending her second reinvention and primed for her third; The Candy Drawer Confectionary.

The Candy Drawer Confectionary is a woman owned, family run, small business producing higher end, artisan-type chocolate bon bons, caramels, baked goods, and special order confections. Says Maura, “If someone doesn’t see what they want on our website, most of the time we can make whatever it is. We’re pretty specialized to the chocolate and caramel products, but we can do lots of other things.”

Candy Drawer Confectionary - custom cake

A self taught confectioner, Maura runs The Candy Drawer’s production alone. She jokes that she is clearly The Boss, but she does receive assistance from her daughters in the form of graphic design, branding, packaging and shipping, and taste testing (or what they like to call quality assurance!). She will also hire additional assistants when she gets really busy, but the day-to-day “making” is currently a one woman show.

Version 2

The concept of Candy Drawer Confectionary started Thanksgiving of 2011. Says Maura, “My daughters and I had set out this beautiful dessert table; pies, cookies, all kinds of beautiful desserts for our family, and that winter we made barks and brittles and chocolate covered goodies, that we sent for Christmas presents for our friends and family. The feedback from that was, ‘You guys ought to sell this stuff.’   We were all jazzed and thought, maybe we could make some money doing this.” In 2012 they made their homemade Weebly website (which they upgraded in 2013) and The Candy Drawer Confectionary was born. (Good thing they had a doula on staff! Lol – I had to.)

In the early years Maura would basically just make goodies that she liked to eat. Her first self-imposed challenge with her new business was to replicate her favorite See’s Candy bon bon. That achievement took her a few months, but she adds, “When I accomplished that, I knew I had this.” Using friends and family as guinea pigs for new recipes, she rarely received negative feedback. But it’s been the company’s latest focus to start really paying more attention to the production of their bon bons. The goal was to elevate them to something besides a chocolate covered “something”. Says Maura, “It’s just my years of eating what I like, my heritage, and because I’ve been cooking since I was a kid, that I know what stuff goes together.   If it sounds good and it goes with chocolate, it goes in a bon bon!”

Candy Drawer Confectionary - bon bons

Maura is a true lover of every aspect of confectionery and enjoys standing up to a good challenge. Often tasked with commission work for special orders for corporate events or weddings, Maura delights in the research and experimentation. One thing is guaranteed in her process; she will never turn out a product that she doesn’t personally love. Whether it’s replicating her beloved See’s Candy, to creating a custom matcha chocolate block for a wedding favor, to developing a vegan caramel, she gets excited about the detective work and analysis to make a perfect confection for her clients and revels in each accomplishment of making their dream come to fruition. Often times, these new creations become standards on her online menu.

The Candy Drawer has even been commissioned by other businesses to make confections to be sold in their establishments. Want to try an authentic English or Scottish fudge on this side of the pond? Visit Maura’s friends at The Pure Pasty Co. in Vienna, Va. She worked through several iterations to land on the perfect recipe. The owner and chef of Pure Pasty were able to give their seal of approval and they now sell Maura’s fudge to their patrons at a fraction of cost of imported treats.

4/29 wedding

Candy Drawer is also trying out a new chocolate supplier, River-Sea Chocolates. Their chocolate would be used to produce a higher end line of bon bons. The chocolate made by this small company based in Sterling, VA, is expensive, but it’s made with exceptional ingredients and the company is conscientious of the process of growing, harvesting, and processing the cacao. Be on the look out for that new confection offering. (Come back to jenniferthebeholder.com in early July to learn more about River-Sea Chocolates.)

Ramping up during this time of year, The Candy Drawer is busy with their wedding favors business. You can see some of their confections featured in the 2018 Winter/Spring issue of Washingtonian Bride and Groom Magazine. But their current business objective is to increase the number of wholesale contracts that they have and to develop new products. The long-term goal is to make their brand so well known that they will be able to sell the business. Maura explains, “When I first started this, I went to a class about how to grow your business and learned, if you’re going to start your business, you have to go in with the idea that you’re going to sell it. It’s like a child. It’s yours for a while, but then when it grows up it’s not yours any more. It is it’s own.” She adds, “The business has been growing organically, without ‘performance enhancing pesticides or fertilizers.’ It grows at its own speed and so far I can keep up with it. On occasion I need a couple of assistants, but the business is doing what it wants to do. I believe that businesses are like people. They are living organisms. They have to be allowed to grow at their own rate.”

Candy Drawer Confectionary - Maura and grandson

The Candy Drawer Confectionary is everything Maura thought it would be and more. She shares, “The breadth of product and the quality that we’ve developed, the people I’ve met, the new friends I have, the amazing fan club, and my cheerleaders, are happy surprises.” She goes on, “Late last year, I was wondering maybe I don’t want to do this anymore. Maybe it’s not going anywhere.” It was her daughter in charge of graphic design and branding who suggested that Candy Drawer needed to “grow up”. Last summer they invested some money to rebrand and put more time into their marketing strategy and just gave the business a push. Adds Maura, “It’s like sending your kid off to kindergarten. You gotta grow up now. And that’s what happened. Everything got reenergized. That’s when the new bon bons were introduced and we decided to pare down the product offering on our website. It worked.” Admittedly it was a scary leap, but one that paid off indeed.

When Maura arrived for our interview, she brought with her a goodie bag of her treats for me. (Ok. I secretly prayed for this. Just sayin’). Mind you, I had purchased a box of her beautiful bon bons at Roots 657 (Blog post dated March 23, 2018) as a gift for my husband for Valentine’s Day, which is how I discovered The Candy Drawer Confectionary. Within the bag were more of the same bon bons I had bought, caramels, some chocolate covered pretzels decked in St. Patrick’s Day accouterments and….it’s hard for me to talk about these without weeping a little….chocolate covered roasted sugar marshmallows. Absolutely. To. Die. For. Everything was exceptionally delicious, but my hands down fav were those marshmallows. I’m convinced these are what angels snack on when they need a sweet fix.

Candy Drawer Confectionary - goodie bag

When you visit Maura’s website, you will find on her menu of sweets, treats affectionately called “Hoss” Caramels. When Maura was in the treatment rehab center she met a person who she refers to as “Hoss”. Says Maura, “You get really close to people really fast there. Hoss was this baby soul. His soul just hadn’t caught up with this grownup person and he was struggling in his life. I would send him my caramels and he would send me homemade jerky. This went on for a couple of years until he lost his battle with addiction. Because he loved our caramels so much, we branded them “Hoss Caramels”.” Each year, Maura donates 10% of the gross profits on all of their “Hoss Caramel” sales to the relapse department of the rehabilitation center where Hoss was also a patient.

Maura would consider her greatest personal achievement to date to be her long term recovery. She shares, “Recovery is the number one thing because that guides my life. Without that, I’m nothing.” A close second as a proud moment is being self employed for over 20 years and her ability to consistently land on her feet.

Candy Drawer Confectionary - Maura and Vistaprint cover

More than anything, Maura would like you to know that anyone can do what she does if they want to. She encourages people to reach out for help and take classes that are available. She says, “Tap in to people who are already working the business because there is always room for one more of me. If I can help somebody else I will do it. Don’t limit yourself to what you think you can do and get a mentor from the *SCORE Association.” She adds, “Put your best foot forward because you never know who’s going to notice you. Dream big, and don’t judge yourself or limit yourself by your dreams. You might go this direction, like we did, and it will be better, or you might go that direction and make a mistake; again the same as we did. Don’t doubt yourself, just do it. Reach out and ask for help because there are people who will help.”

Candy Drawer Confecgtionary - rebranded boxes


You can follow The Candy Drawer Confectionary on the following social media sites:  www.candydrawerconfectionary.com, Facebook, and Instagram


*SCORE Association is a 501 nonprofit that provides free business mentoring services to prospective and established small business owners in the US.