What to Say to a Graduate

If there’s a new graduate in your life, you’re about to celebrate someone who has just spent the last four years working hard, learning, exploring, questioning, and growing. Yes, they may have made some stupid mistakes along the way, but that’s part of life’s education.

They’ve made it this far, and they deserve some words of praise and encouragement.

Here’s a list of quotes if you want to say something more personal than “congrats, man!”

Also, some of these would make nice gifts on their own.

And lastly, to all of the graduates out there, here’s my personal message to you…

I can’t wait to see how you’ll change the world!



Gifts that Graduates will Love

Welcome to graduation season!

I have the honor of celebrating three college graduations in my family this season. Two of my nieces and my one-and-only rock star nephew are receiving their diplomas. I actually have another niece who graduated in December, so it has definitely been the year of commencements around here.

I’m so stinkin’ proud of each of them and am excited for what’s ahead in their lives. So I wanted to make their gifts special. As I was brainstorming ideas, I decided anything from the three categories below would be appreciated and appropriate for someone stepping out on their own and launching a successful career.

{ONE} Be practical.


Any graduate would simply love a stack of cash. After all, they know what they need better than anyone. This is probably the most practical gift you could ever give. If it feels too impersonal or boring, you can personalize the gift with a heartfelt, handwritten note and a creative wrap.

Gift cards can fall into this category, as well. One way to personalize a gift card is to get it from a place that’s meaningful. For example, pick a nice clothing store and include a note about wanting to help buy their first interview outfit.

If you’re still not sold, keep reading…

Another practical idea is a beautiful day planner. This is actually my gift of choice for my nieces who love pretty things, journaling, and staying organized.

The Day Designer has a mid-year edition, which just went on sale, and is perfect for grads. This gives them a totally fresh start to their new lives. I mean, who doesn’t love opening a new planner?! What I love most about this particular planner is that it offers tips for goal setting and developing your personal vision and mission statement. Those are things you don’t learn in school but need to know as you plan to set the world on fire with your skills and dreams.

{TWO} Get sentimental.

This ruby ring belonged to my Mamaw. I connected to her not to mention super fancy any time I wear it.

This ruby ring belonged to my Mamaw. I feel connected to her (not to mention super fancy) any time I wear it.

If you have a special family item, such as a piece of jewelry or watch, now would be the time to pass it along. Graduations, weddings and births are three occasions where family treasures make perfect gifts. Be sure to include the backstory on the item. Write it down on a card and include it with the gift so the significance of the item is passed along, as well.

If you don’t have anything pass along – or if the graduate isn’t necessarily a family member – you can still give a gift that’s sentimental. Think about where they grew up. Is there something you could give that would always remind them of home? For instance, you could make a fun gift basket that includes local flavors and a “home” tee…

{order here}

The bonus about these tees is that 10% of your purchase goes toward MS research {order here}

{THREE} Add a personal touch.

This site has tons of personalized options.

This site has tons of personalized options.

Sending a personalized gift shows you not only care about that person, but also put a lot of thought into the present. For instance, if your graduate is going to be a teacher, you could give him or her a personalized tote bag or clipboard (like the one above) along with a gift card to Barnes and Noble. Another idea is to have their graduation announcement framed, so they can proudly display it in their first office.

What if you have a high school grad on your hands?

university gifts

High school graduates who are headed off to college love nothing more than a gift that’s adorned with their new school logo. I love shopping at Zazzle for this kind of thing.

You could go with one really nice gift or pick a smaller item from each category above. Either way, your thoughtfulness is sure to be cherished.

Happy shopping and congrats to all of the accomplished scholars out there. Here’s to being awesome!!



Friday Wrap: Teen Birthday

The big news around our house is that my son turned 13 this week. How the heck did that happen so fast? I promise not to get too sappy, but it’s hard not to feel a twinge of nostalgia and a longing for my sweet little boy to be, well, little again.

I have always loved this picture. Evan was about a month old and was chillin' in his swing on the back porch. The sun was setting, which made a halo on his fuzzy head, and his hands were folded in "prayer" like an angel. For the most part, he still is! ;)

I have always loved this picture. Evan was about a month old and was chillin’ in his swing on the back porch. The sun was setting, which made a halo on his fuzzy head, and his hands were folded in “prayer” like an angel. For the most part, he still is! 😉

This is Evan today. He loves soccer, which is why he's wearing the US men's national team soccer jersey.

This is Evan today. (He loves soccer, btw, which is why he’s wearing the US men’s national soccer team jersey in his school pic.)

As my first child, Evan’s birth day changed my life forever. I became Mom. And like all other moms who were created before me, I experienced a level of love, joy and fear I never thought possible.

happiest day

{My forever message to sweet E.}

Now that I have a child who is officially old enough to see a PG-13 movie, not only do I feel old and wonder if I’ve outgrown headbands, but also feel unsure about what to buy for his big day. (His party is tomorrow!)

He wanted to update his room, so we bought a handsome new comforter and rearranged his furniture. Other than that, he just wanted gift cards or cash. Sigh. At the very least I will wrap those gift cards like nobody’s business. It’s a celebration, and there will be things to rip open. With that said…

Here are five ideas I’ve gathered for making gift cards and cash an exciting thing to behold.

{ONE} Glitter Balloons

I love the fact that someone has to pop this balloon in order to retrieve their gift. I imagine money would be easier to stick into a deflated balloon than a gift card. This balloon has been painted with glue and dipped in glitter after inflation, which is super cool.

{TWO} A Hidden Gem

There’s more to this jar of M&Ms than meets the eye. There’s a gift card hidden down in the center of this chocolately goodness. The original idea says to include a poem and give this to a teacher, which is a darling idea that I might also have to do. For a birthday treat, you could wrap the jar with tons of curly ribbon and tuck it into a gift bag.

{THREE} Personal Touch

Wouldn’t this be a sweet gift idea from a sibling? I might have Avery & Clara pose for a picture with their hands out to their sides (like the one on the right) and then tape a gift card on top. I would then put this in a small gift bag, so there would be some “opening” to do.

{FOUR} Paper Tube Money Holder

This idea gets two thumbs up because 1) it recycles a toilet paper tube and 2) it’s easy and cute – which could actually qualify as three thumbs if I had them. I’m thinking it would be easier to fold money into the center of this packaging, since the tube is a tad smaller than a gift card.

{FIVE} Creative Money Card

This is another creative way to give cash. Roll some bills into the shape of birthday candles, and put string through the center as the “wick”. Then tie them all to a card. Voila!

Now that I have Evan’s gift figured out (with plenty of ideas on how to wrap it), and all of the party supplies are purchased and ready to roll, I can sit back and remember with a full heart, the moment I met my son…

on the night you were born

Happy birthday, Evan. Momma loves you to the moon and back.



The Diary of a Real Housewife



Feast on Your Easter Grass

It might sound strange to grab a handful of grass from your Easter basket and toss it into your next smoothie, but that’s exactly what you can do when you grow wheatgrass!! Plus, there are all of these health benefits. Thanks, Easter Bunny!


Speaking of…here’s our little Easter bun, Rosie. She loves to eat wheatgrass. No wonder she’s so healthy! <3

Oh, and while we’re still on the topic of eating grass, have you seen this video clip of Adele in Jamba Juice? It’s hysterical. Enjoy your daily laugh.

Okay, now for the serious business of preparing our baskets…

Wheatgrass grows super fast. In fact, in less than two weeks you can have a lush basket. If you start this week, you’ll be right on time for Easter. And depending on how quickly your seeds germinate, you might even need to “mow” before you add your eggs and ribbons!

Here are the super easy instructions for growing your own Easter basket grass.


{one} A plastic plant saucer that’s close to the size of your basket.


{two} A quality potting mix.

{three} Wheatgrass seeds!

{This is from Amazon, but you can get this at most health food stores.}

{This is from Amazon, but you can get this at most health food stores.}

{four} Spray bottle.

spray bottles

{These are from Dollar Tree. Sometimes Walmart carries these in the health and beauty section.}

Now What?

This process will remind you of making lasagne. Here’s why…

  1. Fill about 3/4 of your saucer with potting mix.
  2. Spray with water to moisten the dirt.
  3. Plant a generous layer of seeds. There shouldn’t be any dirt showing.
  4. Cover the seeds with a light layer of potting mix. (See all of the layering – like a lasagne?)
  5. Spray the fresh dirt (your top layer) with water. You want there to be enough water for everything to be wet, but not swimming.
  6. Place the saucer in a warm, sunny window to “bake.” 😉

Growing Tips

  • Before planting your seeds, rinse them in cool, clean water. Then soak (completely covered) in cool water overnight. This helps speed up germination.
  • Wheatgrass does not do well in direct sunlight once it has started sprouting. So find a spot that allows for indirect light once you have some greens.
  • Use a water bottle to spray your wheatgrass as it grows. Make sure the soil is always moist. If it dries out, the sprouts will turn brown and die very quickly.
  • It should take about nine days for wheatgrass to grow six inches >>

That’s it! Here’s hoping your grass hops to it in time for Easter.



Friday Wrap: Birthday Gifting

Hello, friends! I can honestly say this was the best week of 2016 to date. (It had a little something to do with my birthday!) So many people took time to reach out with kind words and gifts, it was overwhelming. I tried to soak in each and every note, Facebook post, text, and call so I could fully appreciate the kindness.

You know the saying, “It’s the thought that counts?” Usually, it refers to a duplicate gift or one that isn’t super awesome, but the sentiment is spot on.

The thought behind any gift is the secret ingredient, whether it’s a heartfelt letter or fancy dinner out.

So if you’re in the market for birthday shopping and planning, here are a few thoughtful gift categories to consider.

{ONE} Something from nature

I received these lovelies from Brandon this week. He ordered them from my favorite local flower shop, Pigmint. They’re gorgeous and smell like a slice of heaven. I love how they incorporate unusual flowers, such as variegated double tulips and ranunculus. Receiving a beautiful collection of nature like this would put a smile on anyone’s soul.

birthday flowers

Look at this closeup. I mean. Gorgeous.

Look at this closeup. I mean. Gorgeous.

{TWO} Something to experience

When my family asked what I wanted for my birthday, I told them I wanted time together. (That’s kinda my love language.) So we planned an outing to a restaurant in Bentonville called The Hive. My mom joined us, as well as a darling green penguin. The girls’ quickly named him Green Bean.

While we waited for our food, my mom shared a few baby pictures with the table. The kids got a kick out of seeing “baby Kate,” as well as their aunts and uncles when they were teens! It was a dinner I’ll remember forever – and not just because we were served cotton candy at the end of our meal. I love my people and all of the experiences we have together.

the Hive

{THREE} Something handmade

My girls spent hours sorting and weaving little rubber bands together to make these bracelets for me. They could have chosen to jump outside on the trampoline, play with their stuffed animals, hang on the couch playing Minecraft, or check their cats on Neko Atsume, but they chose to sit and make something for my birthday. What a treasure. That kind of gift will ALWAYS be cherished.


{FOUR} Something practical, yet pretty

My parents know how much I love scarves, which makes a practical gift like a “how to” book so perfect. It’s not your typical book, though. It’s covered with silk and has gloriously designed pages.

This was given along with a creme-colored scarf from Olive and Cocoa. Y’all, if you haven’t received a gift from this place, you would be amazed by their packaging alone. Everything comes in a hand crafted wood crate sealed with beautiful silk ribbon. Perfection.

scarf book cover

scarf book contents

The table of contents looks like fabric swatches!

scarf book sample2

This is a section divider that’s illustrated to look like a floral scarf.

scarf book sample1

The instructions are photographs that make tying and twisting scarves look like a breeze.


THE scarf <3

{FIVE} Something from the heart

Ever since we’ve lived in Arkansas, which has been about five years now, the church we attended back in Kansas City has sent me a birthday card. As the years pass, I keep wondering, “Is this the year they’ll stop sending a note?” But their thoughtfulness continues! It reminds me how a simple gesture like a card can brighten someone’s day.

letter from church

Along the same lines, a heartfelt note posted on Facebook can also have a deep impact. My sister wrote this beautiful message that made me cry!! The picture was taken at my niece’s wedding, where KJ was the most beautiful MOTB in every way.

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 5.54.43 PM

Have an amazing weekend, friends. Here’s to some happy gifting. Even if you don’t have a big budget, you can give someone the present of a lifetime. All you need is your heart – and the courage to open it up.



The Diary of a Real Housewife

How to Create the Perfect Thank You Note

Now that the holidays are behind us, and we’ve attended our festive parties, fattened our bellies, and unwrapped gifts from our thoughtful friends and family, it’s time to reflect and relish in all the things we have to be grateful for. That’s right, it’s time for a few thank yous!

Thankful Quote

Feel free to share this image! <3

The best way to show your gratitude is with a good ol’ fashioned handwritten note. Sending a quick email or text message is nice and can be done in a timely manner. But when you sit down to write a letter (like with a pen on an actual piece of paper), there’s a deeper level of connection that’s made between you and the person who gave you the gift. So why not take a few moments to make that happen?

There are three key ingredients to creating the perfect thank you note.


Thank you card

Store bought cards are great. I promise. It’s really the message that’s the most meaningful, so don’t let a DIY card project stand in the way of sending a timely note.

If you’re able to carve out just a few extra minutes, though, here’s a super quick way to personalize a card for that sweet, gift-giving friend of yours. Here’s all you need to make the card shown above:

Double-sided scrapbook paper

doublesided scrapbook paper

Edging punch or scissors

edge punch

Pretty alphabet stickers

Martha Stewart alphabet stickers

Pack of envelopesenvelopes

What to do:

  1. Fold your double-sided paper in half.
  2. Cut the paper to the size of your envelope.
  3. Use edging scissors to cut across the top “flap”. This creates a pretty peek-a-boo design on the cover.
  4. Find the letter of your friend’s first or last name on your sticker sheet, and apply it to the front of your card.
  5. Now you’re ready to write your thoughtful message!


Sometimes this part trips people up the most. Where do you start? What should you say so it doesn’t sound forced or canned? Starting with a simple “thank you” is always good. Here are a few other statements to get you off to a good start:

  • You deserve a hug! I am so grateful for the (gift item) you gave me.
  • I feel so blessed to have you in my life. The fact that you took time to send me a (gift item) meant a lot.
  • How did you know I totally needed a (gift item)? You are seriously the best.

Once you have that part down, say something personal. What will you do with the gift, where will you put it, or what did the gesture mean to you?

Next, mention the next time you might see each other. Such as, “I can’t wait to see you at the reunion.” Then restate your appreciation as your close. “Thank you again for your kindness.”


Send a thank you as soon as you can. A good rule of thumb is to send a card within a month after the event. That means you have until the end of January to have your holiday thank yous in the mail.

If it’s later than that, start your note with a brief apology. “I’ve been meaning to tell you…” is a great statement to use. Be sure to follow with something personal about the gift. Has the gift really come in handy? Is there a funny or cute story to share? Those details can make the tardiness of the message worth the wait.

Okay, friends. I’m off to jot a few notes myself. Here’s to a day filled with gratitude!!



Lovely Pots of Potpourri

I was looking for a simple, yet thoughtful gift that I could make in batches for our friends and neighbors. When I came across this recipe for Christmas potpourri, I knew it was a sure-fire winner.

It’s the perfect blend of cranberry, cinnamon and citrus that will spark the Christmas spirit in any home. I brewed myself a batch just to make sure. Wasn’t that so nice of me? 😉

This was found on Yellow Bliss Road, which is a wonderful blog if you haven’t hopped over to see all of the delicious recipes and crafty ideas. I made several batches of the potpourri today, and I can’t wait to make like an elf and deliver my handmade goods.

Here are three quick tips for assembling these gifts.

{ONE} Get the right size jar

ball jar

You want to be sure all of your ingredients fit inside. If it’s too small, you won’t get your orange to fit. If it’s too big, it will look like you’re being chintzy with your potpourri. I found that a 16 oz. jar was just right. I had a few on hand with white lids, and then I bought the rest from Hobby Lobby just like the one shown.

{TWO} Use small oranges


Cuties ended up being the perfect size for a 16 oz. jar, as well as the perfect amount of citrus for the rest of the ingredients in the jar. You don’t want anything to overpower. Equal fragrance for all!

{THREE} Throw all of the spices together

christmas potpourri

You can kind of see all of the spices at the bottom.

The recipe called for smaller, plastic bags to contain the “powdery” ingredients. I just put everything directly into the jar to keep it simple. No-fuss is a must in my life.

This is what my gifts looked like when they were finished.

christmas potpourri

I tied the recipe on the jar with a ribbon and used round Avery labels for the lids to add a touch of holiday flair.

christmas potpourri

Here’s the top view that shows the Christmas label. <3

Happy gifting! Only three more days ’til Christmas. Eeep!



A Fast & Fabulous Ornament

DIY gold ornament

I’m feeling joyful now that my ornament is ready to share!

Okay, so the twinsies and I have our annual mom & daughter holiday party this Friday. It’s actually called The Not-So-Silent Night Christmas Party, which is perfectly titled. If you’ve ever had more than a handful of tween girls in your home, you know the decibels can reach glass-shattering levels.

Anyway, last year was the first of these parties and the girls had a blast playing games and crafting while the moms sipped our chardo-nay-nays and exchanged ornaments. I had waited until the last minute and all of the cute ornaments were picked over. I swore I wouldn’t do that to myself again. Well, here it is the week of the party, and have I purchased my ornament, yet? No.

But I decided not to get in a stress ball about it and just make something cute. Why didn’t I just do that last time?!

Here’s the ornament I whipped today using a clear glass ball, pretty gold stickers, jumbo glitter and fancy ribbon! I’d give you a full, step-by-step DIY, but that would possibly insult your intelligence. I literally just put stickers on a ball, sprinkled a little glitter inside, and tied a ribbon on top. And look how pretty!!

glass ornament DIY

I put “joy” on the side. It was hard to get a good picture since the glass has a glare, but it looks darling in person! Swear.

ornament supplies

This was all I used! See how simple?!

If you want to make a bundle of inexpensive gifts for friends, teachers, co-workers, neighbors, babysitters, mail carriers, hair dressers…you get the drift…then load up on some of these ornament supplies and go to town. You could wrap them in handmade ornament boxes to make them extra special. Regardless, I hope you have a total ball making these.

Happy crafting!!



Five Fun Gift Toppings!

Yesterday I shared some of my favorite Christmas wrapping papers. Now for the trimmings! Here are five ways to top your gifts that are not only easy, but also perfectly charming. Let’s get to it.

Blogged while listening to Adele’s new album and sipping a chai tea latte.

{ONE} Paper Straw Stars

paper straw stars

This is a project I worked on this week. I took three paper straws and cut them in half. I pinched the centers, stacked them on top of one another, then stapled them together.

paper straw how to

Once I had the “star” in place, I glued a red button in the middle to cover the staple. Then I hot glued the whole thing to my package. Very simple and cute for kids’ gifts. I’m also thinking we could turn this into an ornament once the gift is opened!

{TWO} Parchment Paper Flowers


For another Kate-project, this one simply used a sheet of parchment paper and ribbon. I took a full sheet and folded it where the creases were. Then I cut it into a perfect square.

From here, I did the zig-zag fold – like you do with tissue paper flowers. When the whole thing was folded up, I rounded off the edges with my scissors. This is what makes pretty scallops on your flower. Next I tied the middle with a piece of ribbon. {Here are some visuals}

parchment paper how to

Top left: The sheet of parchment paper; Top right: The zig-zag fold; Bottom left: the rounded corners; Bottom right: tied in the center

After the center is tied, I carefully peeled each layer apart. Once all of the layers have been separated, you can fluff, as needed. Then you’re ready to tie the flower onto your gift.

parchment paper flower

The left shows half of the flower “fluffed” and the right shows the final flower!

I love how the flower looks translucent. You could use wax paper if you don’t have any parchment paper on hand. I love just using what you already have.

{THREE} Seashells from the Sea Shore

Seashell Gift Topper

This was a topper I featured last year. I still love this look so much. I had (okay, still have) tons of seashells from our trips to the beach. I decided to share them with family and friends by using them as gift toppers. I hot glued them right onto the ribbon.

{FOUR} Feathered with Love

I haven’t tried this, yet, but I adore how it looks. This is paper that has been cut to look like feathers. Wouldn’t this look so pretty on a Christmas package?

{FIVE} Wreathed Wrappings

This final idea is another one that I haven’t tried, yet. The full instructions are here. It looks really easy. I love how you can use this on gift bags. I plan to make treats for my coworkers and I think this will make great wrappings for them. Don’t you?

Have fun wrapping up all of your glorious gifts. It’s Friday, so I’m linking up once again. Be sure to check out all of the lovely ladies on Five on Friday and Oh, Hey Friday!




Gorgeous Gift Wrap for Christmas

When you spend countless hours planning and purchasing gifts for your family and close friends, you don’t want to stop short on the wrapping. First impressions really are everything. The way the gift is presented is the part that says, “I care about you so much, I made this gift look as pretty as I could.” And that’s a warm, welcoming message for anyone!

You might remember I wrote a fun post last season that shared lots of ways to wrap gifts. Be sure to check that out if you want to break out some different wrapping techniques.

Today’s post shares a few of my favorite papers. Good ol’ Kraft paper decorated with markers, paints or stamps is my ultimate favorite.

But sometimes a special gift calls for specialty papers and labels like these gorgeous numbers…

{Rifle Paper Company: Adorable retro papers that evoke the spirit of Christmas past}

{Paperjacks: Playful labels to adorn perfectly patterned papers}

{Zazzle: Personalized paper with your photos and messages!}

{Paper Source: Glitzy polka dots and other charming patterns}

{William Morris: Non-traditional holiday colors that would look beautiful wrapped with gold ribbons}

What’s your favorite paper? Once we have that figured out, it’ll be time to top our packages. Stop by tomorrow for a few ideas on the trimmings!