Quick and Dirty Tips for Updating your Backyard

Landscaping can cost a fortune. We have a few great tips modified from Better Homes and Gardens to bring life back to the yard to create a space that feels more like a sanctuary than an eyesore. Here are a few tips to spruce up your backyard this summer!


  • Pergolas can be a relatively inexpensive way to transform a garden. The fencing above defines the space it encloses in a way that looks natural with the surroundings but adds a classic and upscale edge. Privacy shrubs can be very expensive, especially evergreens and this is a low maintenance alternative to make the space feel like a true garden environment.
  • What better way to be covered outdoors than by nature herself? Vines are classic and might be the piece that brings your entire space together. Instead of doing a covered pergola, cover it with clematis or other flowering vines.
  • Try Pea Gravel, instead of expensive stone. You’ll still have to excavate a little, but stone gravel with floating larger stones is so much less expensive and easier for a DIY-er.
  • Use garden stools. They’re colorful, chic and easy to move around. Three in a row are a great alternative to a coffee table and will serve as extra seating for your party. In the cold weather, these can work indoors as accent pieces, too. Garden stools get expensive, but Target and Homegoods have great options at low prices!

  • Splurge on one thing per year,  like outdoor lighting, fire pits and fountains. These goodies are going to be the difference between your backyard and your place of respite. A fountain or fireplace can serve as a focal point that defines the space, around which you and guests gather for a glass of wine. Lighting and/or fire also make the space that much more useful.


  • Create shade and do it in style. Umbrellas are not just for the center of the table. Use a patterned umbrella beside your lounging area as well. We love Pottery Barn for their classic, yet modern collection, but Lowes and Target have great options at lower  prices.
  • Add a hammock. This might be close to your backdoor if you plan to use it every day or as a piece of décor. Or, it can in a corner far away from people and reality. If you aren’t lucky enough to put a hammock between two giant oaks, don’t worry–a rustic hammock on a wood frame can look as chic as it feels.

    Island Bay Sage Harbor Stripe Quilted Hammock

    Hayneedle.com $60!


5 Gift Inspirations for Father’s Day

gift inspirations for dad

Getting a head start on Father’s Day is a good idea.  Nothing is worse than rushing around at the last second.  (Though we’ve been there, too, so no judgement passed!)  This year, shop early and creatively, and you’ll have some peace of mind when June 21st rolls around.

If Dad’s not a tie kind of guy, here are five unique Father’s Day gifts that will get him smiling.

For the Sports Fanatic

If the father in your life has a favorite team, you can help him display it almost anywhere.  StickerYou allows you to make a bumper sticker, window decal (for the car or home,) or stickers to display on things like laptops.  You can go the sports route, or you can use a family photo.  Either way he’ll be proud to show off something he loves so intensely.  Right now, you can get 10% off your entire purchase, or 30% off if your order is $100 or more.

For the Mandatory Golfer

Does the dad in your life “have” to golf in order to schmooze clients, or hold up business relationships?  Or is he honest with you about hitting the links frequently because it’s something he likes to do?  Then he might just love Crane & Co.’s USGA On the Green Leather Golf Score Book.  The best part?  It’s personalized, so if he leaves it lying around, it should be able to find its way back to its rightful owner.

For the Good Husband

Household chores aren’t just for mom.  Give him the gift of reduced vacuuming this year with a robotic vacuum like the Roomba.  Right now, you can catch a 10% off sale combined with free shipping at iRobot. Male or female, we’re all sick of picking cheerios up off the floor.

For Any Dad

Whether you’re gifting to your own father, or trying to spoil the father of your children, something invaluable you can give him is your time.  Spend Father’s Day as a family, gifting him an experience instead of something material.  Does he love golfing?  Grab that Golf Score Book and head to the golf course with him.  Take a weekend camping trip.  Get a baby sitter and take him to that concert he’s been talking about since it was announced.

If you’re on a really tight budget, and those ideas are too much of an expense, look for free events in your area.  Many museums, sports venues, and other gathering places will offer free admission to fathers the entire weekend.  If they don’t have free admission they may be offering some pretty cool Father’s Day themed swag.  Check out what’s in your city and make some memories, which last longer than stuff, anyways.

For Every Dad

If the stereotypical just doesn’t strike a chord, look at his own, unique interests.  Get him something related to his hobby.  Buy him a book on a topic that fascinates him.  Get him his favorite sci-fi series on blu-ray.  Just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s a great gift, and just because something is a great gift for your, specific patriarch doesn’t mean it’s popular.  Only you know him well enough to get beyond the generic, and for that he’ll be genuinely appreciative.


Six Awesome Things To Do Before Going Off to College

Don’t worry, we know you don’t have the funds to support a trip around the world, but we thought about what awesome things you can do to make your summer memorable. All you need is a little cash, an open mind and an adventurous spirit.

1. Build a water park in your backyard. Rent a bouncy house with a water slide, buy a slip n’ slide, put the sprinkler on, and bust out the water guns. Make some sandwiches and invite your best friends over for a some good old fashioned fun! Check out inexpensive water toys at Walmart!

2. Take a hike! Many states have programs and groups that hike in a different park each weekend. Commit to once every other week–it’s a great opportunity to appreciate nature in the place where you’re from. It’s also a great opportunity to get some exercise and do a little soul searching before embarking on a big change in your life.


3. Join a Book Club. Once school starts, you’ll be committed to lots of academic reading. Now is a great time to catch up on some leisurely reading with a group of pals.  When it’s your turn to host, make some great mocktails, like frozen daquiris! Check out our post for these recommendations. Check out Target for the latest deals on books and films.

4. Learn how to de-stress! While you have the time, take a yoga class and learn some key moves that you can use to maintain healthy stress levels. You’ll be glad to have developed the habit to tone up and stay balanced.

5. Cement Your Relationships. Carve out some QT with your besties, like movie nights. Instead of an expensive night out, plan a pajama party and watch your favorite movies. We love, The Sweetest Thing with Cameron Diaz. A great best friend flick.

6. Visit an amusement park. It’s your last chance to be a kid. This is a great way to spend a summer day with your family, friends, or boyfriend. Got a little sister? Share some fun with her. Slushies and cotton candy will take you back to your younger days and provide an outlet for some old fashioned fun.

Picking the Right Tie for Dad

picking the right tie for dad

When you’re shopping for Father’s Day, you’re bound to run into that one, cliched gift:  the tie.  Cliched as it may be, it’s a classic gift that can go right if you shop with your specific dad in mind.  If you want to get more than a forced, “Oh, thanks…” on June 21, check out our tips for tailoring your shopping efforts specifically to him.


The White Collar Dad

Does Dad work in an office where button-ups and ties are a part of the dress code?  You’ll want to look at silk ties.  These are appropriate for work, and the texture will match the environment.  When trying to decide on which silk tie to purchase, look at the color pallette in his closet.  If you’re getting him a solid color tie, look for colors that are darker than most of his shirts.  (Though in many cases, black will be too formal, so don’t go quite that dark.)

If you’re looking at striped or spotted ties, make sure one of the colors matches the color of most of his shirts, and that the other serves as an accent.  For example, if he has a lot of cornflower blue shirts, you could pick out a striped tie with one of the colors as cornflower blue, and the other as kelly or light green.  If a majority of his wardrobe is white, you have a little more leeway as both colors will be accents.  Just don’t pick anything too busy, branded, or loud.


The Young Dad

Skinny ties are making a comeback.  They’re particularly popular among younger men.  When we say skinny we mean anything between 1 ½-2 ½ inches in width. These ties typically look best in solid black, with European-cut suits, and on men that are tall, thin, and fashion forward.


The Sweater Dad

Is Dad always wearing sweaters over his button-up shirt?  It’s okay if that generally happens in fall and winter; Father’s Day is tie-buying season, and there’s no mandate that he has to be able to wear it tomorrow.  If you commonly see him in V-neck sweaters, or something similar that reveals his  shirt collar, go shopping for wool ties.  These also look great on Dads who commonly wear tweed suits.


The Nerdy Dad

It’s generally advisable to stay away from novelty ties.  They’re loud, clash with everything, and are inappropriate for most places you’ll see men wearing ties.  The one exception would be for the dad that is fanatically into something.  Does he love Star Wars like the day it came out in 1977?  Then maybe he’d love that R2D2 silk tie.  Just make sure that you’re okay with him wearing it the places he has to go.  If you’re going to scold him for wearing it to church on Sunday, then it’s probably not a great gift.


The Punk Rock Dad

If dad doesn’t go anywhere ever that requires him to wear a tie, you can buy one for him as a fashion accessory.  They can be added to a polo with a loose knot, but should not be overly formal.  Pick something patterned with two colors, one of them matching the shirt he would wear it with.  Solid ties will look too formal, while adding more than two colors will be too busy.  Casual patterns that would be unsuitable for work are not only okay here, but encouraged.