Gifts for the Graduate

Tis the season for graduation announcements to arrive in your mailbox as young men and women begin a huge change in life!  You have the high school graduate who is leaving childhood behind and the college graduate ready to take on the world.


Besides receiving several announcements, this was a year in which we sent out a few for our own high school graduate.


We’ve been asked no less than 30 times what would be a good gift idea for MacKenzie as she is leaving high school behind and moving off to college in August.  So I thought it would be fun to put together a few ideas that you can use for celebrating and gifting your own graduates.

1.  Money.  I know, not very personal, but if your graduate is going to college in any form, money is needed.  They can use this for books, supplies, or even put it towards decorating a dorm room should they be going away.

2.  Gift Cards.  Yes, once again, not very personal but very useful.

Gift Cards

For example gas gift cards are perfect for a graduate whether they are commuting to school or living away from home on campus.

Department store gift cards.  These are awesome for high school and college graduates alike as kids will be looking to make a wardrobe change leaving behind the clothes of their teenage years or looking forward to a business wardrobe.

Restaurant or movie theater gift cards.  I went away to college 25 years ago, and while a lot has changed, being broke in college has not!   I appreciated the treat of leaving campus for supper or a movie upon occasion and I’m sure that has not changed at all for any student.

Bed, Bath & Beyond, HomeGoods, TJ Maxx, etc…. gift cards.  These are perfect for the student decorating their dorm room or their own apartment for the first time.  From bedding to wall art these are invaluable.

Barnes & Noble gift card.  So many college campuses have a B&N on them or use them as an option for students to purchase their textbooks.  This would definitely be appreciated!

3.  A bicycle.  Oh yeah.  This is the perfect gift for a high school grad who will be living on campus when they go to college in the fall.  Not only will they save gas, it’s a means of getting to class on time and exercise.

Well, maybe something a bit more mature ....

Well, maybe something a bit more mature ….

And don’t forget the lock!

4.  Anything monogrammed.  Of course this is more fitting for a young lady, but it would be something that would definitely make her smile.  From a duffel bag to an infinity scarf in school colors to a throw pillow or bath towels, options are limitless for ideas to make a girl smile.

Love this duffel!

Love this duffel!

5.  AAA Membership.  Just for a year, but if your graduate will be on the road a lot this would be perfect in helping them (as well as Dad & Mom) feel a wee bit more secure on the road.  They don’t teach kids how to change a tire in school, so if you haven’t done that yourself, this would be a real plus.


6.  Picture Frames.  Simple, yes and practical as well.  What better way for a young person to keep their memories close than to display them.


  And speaking of memories, a Shutterfly gift card is an awesome way for the graduate to make a book highlighting their senior year or print off pictures for those frames.


7.  Looking for sentimental?  How about a quilt made from T-shirts representing all those memorable events from high school or college?  Check out this one my mom made for MacKenzie.


Needless to say she now has a list of teenagers wanting their own.

Another sentimental gift idea.... This is one of my favorite gifts to give!

Another sentimental gift idea…. This is one of my favorite gifts to give!

8.  A high quality backpack, computer bag or briefcase.  Perfect for the grad heading off to college or the college grad stepping into the corporate world.

9.  Treat the recent grad to a trip to the salon.  A new “do” to leave your teen or fraternity days behind is a great gift to give.

10.  Gift baskets.  You can’t go wrong with a reusable basket full of bathroom/grooming supplies (shampoo, soap, razors, shaving cream, etc…), a laundry basket ( or monogrammed laundry bag) with detergent, dryer sheets & a book on how to do laundry, a bread basket with useful kitchen gadgets and towels, or a school supply basket filled with Post-it notes, Sharpies, highlights, a day planner, lead pencils, pens, college ruled notebooks, etc….

All of these are fabulous and useful for just about any recent graduate.

Hopefully a few of these ideas will inspire you as you try to come up with gift ideas for the graduate in your life.

I would love to hear your suggestions for gift ideas!


A Little Indoor Garden

After oh-so-many false starts, it seems spring has sprung bringing April showers and what appears to be hope for gorgeous May flowers.

While recovering from surgery I have truly missed playing in my gardens; pruning rose bushes, weeding beds and planting early spring blooms.  Audley has been a gem keeping me occupied and distracted from some of the things I would really rather be doing, and has even gone so far as to tackle some of my favorite spring activities himself.

But one of the sweetest things he did for me was to bring a little gardening in the house for me to enjoy.

Spring blooms for an indoor container garen to brighten someone's day.

Spring blooms for an indoor container garden to brighten someone’s day.

Choosing a few early spring plants that included miniature daffodils, primrose, African daisy and a silver leaf annual, I was able to play in the dirt and enjoy a bit of gardening without putting myself in a position that the doctor definitely would not approve!  Making an indoor garden box was super easy and fairly quick to put together.

Creating an easy indoor garden

For this little project I took a tool caddy that I assembled & stained from a kit that Home Depot donated to the attendees at last years Haven Conference in Atlanta.  Audley drilled holes in the base of the box for drainage purposes.

Creating a means of drainage in container gardening prevents water from remaining inside the pot/container and souring or causing your the roots of your plants to rot.  The stentch is ridiculous!

Creating a means of drainage in container gardening prevents water from remaining inside the pot/container and souring or causing the roots of your plants to rot. The stench is ridiculous!


First, I added Miracle Grow potting soil about 2/3 of the way full.


I removed the plants from their pots and broke up the compacted dirt and roots from their bases before planting them in the little tool caddy.

Breaking up the roots just a little to stimulate growth.

Breaking up the roots just a little to stimulate growth.

Finally, I arranged them in a way that I found appealing, watered well, and then placed them on my coffee table to enjoy the blooms for a couple of weeks.


By using a mixture of perennials and annuals, I can plant the daffodils to bloom out in the yard next spring, and add the silver-leafed foliage to other container gardens to last throughout the summer.

That’s it.


Easy, Peasy.

Bright and cheery.


And if your aren’t supposed to be doing certain chores, you can have your kiddos do most of the clean-up which makes it even more fun!


What I liked best about this quick little project was that not only was it easy and enjoyable, it would make a great gift for someone else to enjoy if they are having to stay at home and recover from an illness or surgery.  It’s a cheerful and lasting gift.

As for me, I was released from the doctor three days ago for light workouts and housework.  While I am sure my version of light and the doctor’s are not on the same wavelength, I do plan to ease back into the things I enjoy, including outdoor gardening!  Audley and I are planning to attack our raised beds this weekend, so stay tuned for a little herb and vegetable inspiration!

Happy Wednesday to you!


Master Bedroom Reveal

Over the weekend I shared a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes of our recent master bedroom makeover.  It is something  Audley and I are both extremely excited about and love the way it turned out!  After ten years of mix and match bedspreads and clutter, we have cleaned up, painted, and decorated a fairly minimalist and elegant space that I have enjoyed oh-so-much in the last two weeks!

In case you haven’t seen it, here is the before:

PicMonkey Collage

I saved myself the embarrassment of showing our cluttered dresser  and chest, but as you can see there was nothing welcoming, cozy, glamorous or special about our master bedroom.  In fact I avoided our room as much as possible.

At last, though, we have a space we are absolutely smitten with that only involved one weekend of painting, replacing the negatives and styling.

"Centre Stage"..... not to be confused with "Center Stage" which is school bus yellow!!

First up was color …. “Centre Stage” by Behr paint from Home Depot. We used a gallon and a half of Behr Premium Plus paint for our room.

Audley and Bradley hanging the 75 pound mirror that I also found at Costco.

Audley and Bradley hanging the 75 pound mirror that I also found at Costco.

Prints to go on the wall

Prints to go on the wall; numbered collectable pen and ink sketches from the Biltmore.

While I have not adhered to this philosophy as I would like (mainly because I get caught up in other things way too easily), I firmly believe our homes and especially our bedrooms should be a haven from the world, a place of beauty and peace to reflect who we are.  We all have different styles that represent this for us.  In our case and at least in this space our style was a clean, minimalistic, and relaxing room.

Keeping our existing furniture (that we did not want to paint), working with a strange colored carpet (that I actually like), & having a smallish budget, here is our new master bedroom.

Our new sleeping accommodations

Our new sleeping accommodations


Simply styled nightstand. The little clock was purchased from Pottery Barn and the vase is from the Biltmore Home collection.

I wanted our room to look put together, but at the same time I wanted anything but a cluttered space!  I am really so over clutter and at the end of the day, peaceful is all I require.



The matching lamps were found at Costco for 70.00 as was the mirror.




Believe it or not this bedding was purchased at Costco as a set for 125.00. I actually thought it perfect the first moment I saw it! All of the picture frames on the dresser and nightstands were purchased over timw from TJ Maxx and HomeGoods. We actually used a lot of things we already had in this project.


My organized dresser; I also took this time to clean out my drawers of tee-shirts and other clothes I no longer wear.

My organized dresser; I also took this time to clean out my drawers of tee-shirts and other clothes I no longer wear. The “form” for my necklaces was found at TJ Maxx, as was the decorative jar (for loose change). The candle lanterns were purchased at Chrysalis in Chattanooga, Tennessee a couple of years back.

One of the worst features in our room were these horrible swingy blinds that came with the house over a picture window.  Instead of keeping he window covered with blinds I chose white draperies from Bed, Bath & Beyond to keep our room feeling bright and clean.  We have a smaller window as well, and I used the same style curtains on them.


Clean and neat

Clean, neat, and “airy” We found our white draperies & hardware at Bed, Bath & Beyond; I used a couple of 20% off coupons (and checked out multiple times) to keep the cost down.

We added a book-case to house some of our favorite reads, then also  mounted a television.  I never thought I would have a television in our room, but Audley had a plan.

 We completed our bedroom flip the weekend before I had surgery two week ago.  He knew I would be spending a lot of time resting in our room as I was on virtual bedrest for one solid week and now on limited activity.  He wanted me to enjoy movies and show I liked. This was such a sweet and thoughtful gesture as I know my kiddos have their favorite shows as well and didn’t want to feel like I was the TV commander just because I was “sick”.


My dad built this bookcase 46 years ago when he and Momma first married. I found the mount for hanging the television at Target for $40. The plants and pot were purchased at Home Depot.



Final touches included an orchid on the night stand and a large potted plant.  I’m all about green plants in the house and feel like every space deserves to have greenery.  Audley and my Bradley put together a combination of a couple of plants to fill a pot that complemented our room.

When it came to designing our master bedroom I had a few must-haves and definitely wanted to share my version of what makes a perfect master bedroom:

1. Three Sources of Light.  In the bedroom lighting is important for a multitude of reasons.  Natural light from windows is perfect for cleaning and day-to-day tasks.  It’s soothing and a way to bring the outdoors inside.  Soft beside lighting from lamps helps to create a peaceful mood as you are winding down for the evening.  The third source of light should be your more powerful overhead lights.  These are necessary when you are getting ready in the mornings or even later in the evening as well.

2.  Window treatments that block light.  Windows treatments are the icing on the cake when it comes to finishing a space, but you want them to be more than decoration, you want them to be functional as well.  I use lined draperies as not only do they keep the room dark for you to sleep at night, they also allow you to sleep in a little longer on those days when you don’t have to set an alarm clock.  Lined draperies serve a second purpose as well; they act as an insulation on cold winter and hot summer days if you chose to keep them pulled.

3.  Luxury bedding.  Now let me be clear here, you can have luxury bedding and not spend a fortune.  Choose good quality sheets of 500+ theadcount for soft sheets that will last longer.  You can find these at HomeGoods or TJ Maxx, or hit the White Sales at your favorite department stores.  Also make sure you have a good mattress that both you and your spouse can agree on so that you will enjoy a more restful nights sleep.

4.  Color.  Choose a color that is relaxing and peaceful to you.  Our bedrooms should be a place we can escape at the end of the day so bring in sea, ocean and earth tones for color that will create a tranquil space.

5. Rugs or Carpeting.  Nothing is more of a harsh wake-up call than to set bare feet on an ice cold floor in the mornings.  If you have hard-wood flooring add a few rugs around the bed to keep your feet cozy and add a little pop of color too!

6.  Personal Items.  Adding personal touches of your life around your bedroom truly makes it yours.  Since our master bedroom is a shared space, I have wedding pictures and other photographs from special moments in our life framed around the room.  Antiques, mirrors, and even figurines that represent the space also make fabulous items for personalizing a bedroom.  We DO NOT have pictures of our kids in our room; simply put, this is our space to retire from the hectic reality of parenting and work.  I don’t want those things to be last on my mind when I lay down at night.

7.  Organization.  An organized space is probably the most important element of a master bedroom.  Keep everything neat, tidy and in its designated space to help eliminate stress and encourage peacefulness.  Purchase pieces for your room that will help with organization, or designate space in your closet for keeping clutter put away.  We have night stands with a “hidden” drawer which is perfect for storing extra phone chargers as well as a notebook for jotting down thoughts or things to do for the next day.  In our closet we have shelves for shoes, and clear boxes for small items we only use occasionally.

8.  Music.  Music is totally optional, but I absolutely love music.  Country, Pop, Classical, Jazz, Broadway, etc…. I enjoy almost all varieties.  And I love to have music available in my bedroom.  I use an iPod, so a docking station is just perfect for projecting music, but with all of the creative ways furniture is made now you can also hide a stereo if you chose.  Music is a great way to set the mood for whatever you are up to.  I love music I can dance around to when I clean.  I enjoy a little Doris Day or Frank Sinatra when I am ironing and in the evenings when I read or am trying to wind down I love soft relaxing music.

I am so happy with our new bedroom space. It has truly been the restful room we wanted as I have spent a lot of time in there to truly experience it.  We also stayed within reason on our budget which makes me like the space even more.  For product info check below the photos of the room.

What do you think?  Do you have any bedroom must-haves?  

I would love to hear them!


Making a Winter Wreath

After all of the Christmas decor is packed away and stored in January, our home always feels so empty.  In some ways I am relieved to have things back to normal, but then again I miss the color and twinkling lights that brighten up many a gloomy day.

Sometimes I add fresh flowers in the living room or kitchen for a little pop of color, and even weave twinkle lights through houseplants,  but this year I decided to make a couple of winter wreaths; one for the front door and one for our kitchen since these two areas receive the most traffic in our home.

With Punxsutawney Phil predicting 6 more weeks of winter I figured there was plenty of time left to enjoy a winter wreath, so I thought I would share a few tips for creating your own wreath.

Making a winter wreath is actually quite easy and you can utilize a few Christmas items to help create a little color that celebrates winter.

Making a Winter Wreath

To make a simple winter wreath you need an evergreen wreath, stems of red berries or other colorful floral stems, Floral decorations such as winter birds, etc, small twigs or branches, contrasting greenery (real or artificial), pine cones, or any other “fluff” that fits you decor or personality, artificial snow for flocking, wire cutters, 22 gauge wire, a hot glue gun, and an optional focal point.

supplies for making a wreath

I chose a focal point for both of my wreaths; a monogrammed “J” and a miniature pair of snow skis.

Assembling the wreath is quite simple.  If you are flocking your wreath with  artificial snow, do that first and allow time for it to dry.


While the “snow” is setting, can begin cutting apart the floral stems with wire cutters; you can leave them in clusters or singles depending on the look you want.

floral picks

I used a combination of real and artificial “fluff” for my wreath

Using odd numbers of floral stems (3, 5, or 7’s) work from the outside in, to begin framing your wreath.  Work in one direction (I aways work clockwise) and if you have chosen to have a focal point, work away from it.

Work from the outside in when framing you wreath with floral picks.  Make sure all of your elements are going the same direction.

Work from the outside in when framing you wreath with floral picks. Make sure all of your elements are going the same direction.

Add texture to your wreath using holly leaves, etc., and contrast color by using multiple shades of green and red.  On the kitchen wreath I used fresh holly and for the front door I used sparkly green twigs.  If using twigs or branches for texture, make sure they have a little personality.  Using fruit, artificial birds, lotus pods, pinecones…. also make great focal items.  You don’t have to use a ribbon!

Once you lay out how you want your wreath to look and are happy with it, you can begin gluing or wiring in the accents to complete the wreath.

Ready to attatch all of my elements

Ready to attach all of my elements

I chose to hang my wreath with the skis in the kitchen ( I apologize for the poor lighting)…..

Kitchen wreath

and the one with a monogram on our front door.

This one is actually quite visable and cheery as you walk up our front steps.... and can be seen fromt he road as well.

This one is actually quite visible and cheery as you walk up our front steps…. and can be seen from the road as well.

They aren’t huge accents (although you can use as big of a wreath as you would like), but are just the right size to add a touch of cozy, winter decor to our home.

Do you like to decorate in the winter or do you just do the holidays?

Until Next Time,