gifts for college students

One stack of rainbow sticky notes, all packaged up and ready to brighten the mailbox of my little sister (shh, don’t tell).

and incase you’d like to see a little more, here is my favorite fun mail inspiration from the archives (or see it all right here):

A Great Big Sponge | A Tube of Bert’s Bees | A Wreath and Twinkly Lights | A Disguise | School Supplies | A Pair of Flip Flops | A Big Ball | Plastic Eggs 1 and 2 | Silly Putty |Shovel & a Bucket | Ribbon Sticks | Bubblewrap Hopscotch | Fan Mail | Waterbottle Care Package | Bouncy Balls | Sticky Notes | Jr Mints | Frisbee | Mini Banner and Mini m&ms

find postage rates for happy mail right here along with other mailing details



NOTE: This is the second post in a series about photo gifts by my guest author and friend Rachelle.

Yesterday we talked photo albums, today we’ll talk photo gifts. Besides the calendar from Shutterfly, the mouse pad from Costco, the mug from Snapfish, there are handbags, ornaments, blankets,  playing cards, key chains, stickers, etc. , etc. but, since this is the giverslog (where gifts are taken to a whole NEW level), let’s think outside of the box…  I challenge you to look around for the inspiration that is all around you!

I thought I’d share few gifts I’ve done this past year with photographs in hopes of getting you thinking of the possiblilites:

1.cereal box covered with my kids photos and well wishes for my brother to open on Christmas morning as he was away from any family.

2. For my friend running a marathon, a small gift card holder covered with a black and white photograph of her shoes (it was entitled “26 miles to go”).  It was filled with Jelly Belly Sport beans.

3. A large storyboard type print for my cousin’s wedding gift with some of the photographs I took of her special day.

4. Birthday party invitations and thank you cards where photographs, which always makes them more fun and personal.

5. memory game for my kids and a set for their cousins with 52 playing cards (made with photographs, chipboard, scrapbook paper, mod podge, and lamination) from our last get-together.

6. “Grandparents day” cans covered with my kids picture and filled with a yummy treat.  This one is a fun one and super versatile.  You open the bottom of the can with a smooth edge, eat what’s inside, wash it out, and fill it with something yummy or fun!  Then you wrap the outside in a cute wrapper (with a photo is always a bonus) and tie a ribbon around the pop top to remind the receiver to open it!  I made these for birthdays, holidays, and any other excuse I could think of this year!

The possibilities are endless.  I hope these two days have gotten you thinking. What photographs can you make sure happen when you are together with your loved ones?  What ways can you incorporate photos into your gifts?  As you plan meaningful gifts to give that your loved one will treasure include a photo and I guarantee you’ll get a big smile!


My friends. I thought I’d better bring this idea to your attention. I know you really wouldn’t want to miss this, am I right? Last week Courtney stopped by and told me she had mailed a frisbee. That’s right, a bare frisbee and a label (Courtney, you are brilliant.) Naturally I couldn’t wait to try it myself. I have mine all ready and am headed to the post office this morning.

here it is with the mail, all set to go

(UPDATE: Mailed this off for $1.73. Not bad. More about this in Friday’s post.)

and incase you’d like to see a little more, here is my favorite fun mail inspiration from the archives (or see it all right here):

A Great Big Sponge | A Tube of Bert’s Bees | A Wreath and Twinkly Lights | A Disguise | School Supplies | A Pair of Flip Flops | A Big Ball | Plastic Eggs 1 and 2 | Silly Putty |Shovel & a Bucket | Ribbon Sticks | Bubblewrap Hopscotch | Fan Mail | Waterbottle Care Package | Bouncy Balls | Sticky Notes | Jr Mints | Frisbee | Mini Banner and Mini m&ms

find postage rates for happy mail right here along with other mailing details



A few of my favorite things you can mail via USPS first class, that is, they weigh 13 ounces or less.

the smile mask card

DIY flipbook

a post card you can carve your innitials into

DIY mini boomerang (I’m totally trying this)

assemble-able post cards, found via here

custom silhouettes available here

magnetic paper dolls, via here

pretty hair pins

pretty socks

your own personal hot air balloon, available here or get the DIY here (found via here)

magnets that turn your fridge into an aquarium

the hexbug, found this guy via here


Trusty Planners


I love planning. At least as much as I like doing. Am I the only one? No matter what the project, I like to revel in the planning stage. Trips, workouts, grocery lists, renovations. Did I tell you my husband and I planned our kitchen 35 times before we built it?

Also, I love when one of my friends comes up with some big idea. I like to hear all about it. And sometimes, when someone’s taking on a new project or new stage in life, I think the perfect thing to give them is something they can keep by their bed for scribbling down thoughts and strokes of brilliance. Here then, are a few favorite planners and notebooks.

unbound 2010 datebook by purgatory pie press

DIY cereal box notebook tutorial

yearly agenda by Lina Carta

of course, love the pocket notebooks by oh joy

the grid notebook

printable planner, via here

printable, perpetual calendar

your life in chapters (LOVE this)

the Laurel Denies yearly, completely beautiful

one year of white pages, brilliant

baby shower notebook set

Cath Kidson’s dream home planner

free printable meal planner

poster calendar

and one more poster calendar

tiny book

matchbook variety pack

the all-weather journal for the adventurous types

8-days-a-week planner
the smiley journal

lucky notebook


Notes on Cooking


I am in love with this book. The instant I first saw it’s cover, with its sweet little understated title, I knew it would be good. And it is, wow, it is. You know how delicious it was when you were a kid or teenager and you were allowed to be part of some really adult conversation? Like the cool aunt who tells you how life really is? It feels like that. Like you’re sitting down with a master chef, who, for some reason, has decided to spill everything about how the kitchen really works and satisfy all your curiosities.

Notes On Cooking Cover

The book reminds me of all the reasons I love to cook. And if you know anyone who gets passionate about cooking at any time in their life, they will feel the same. Read some of the advice, you’ll see what I mean:

“If it’s in the title, leave it alone”
“The cook’s first job is to delight”
“Feed others as they wish to be fed”
“Preside happily over accidents”
“Cook for the kitchen you’re in”
“Use koser or sea salt”
“Fish should not smell”
“Think regionally”
“Add fresh woody herbs at the beginning; fresh leafy herbs at the end”
“When the cook has done his job, there should be no need for salt and pepper on the table”
“Chicken is the test of a cook’s versatility”
“First aroma and appearance, then temperature, then texture, then flavor”

So, do you have any stellar notes on cooking?


san francisco with kidsone of our early adventures to San Francisco

travel guide for kids2

I just added this to my Amazon cart: the San Fransisco City Walks with Kids. It’s a set of cards, each with a walk to take the kids on in the city. I would have loved to have this as soon as we moved to northern Cal. Though not having it hasn’t stopped me and the kids from some great day trips (my kids call them “adventures”) to the city.
Available for San Francisco, New York, D.C., Paris, and London.

city guides for traveling with kids2I’m a fan of Fodor’s, and had to share these as well, their guides for travel with kids. Available for
D.C., Paris, New York, San Francisco, Boston, London, Chicago, L.A., Denver, Montreal, San Diego, Seattle, and many more.

paris moleskine city guide
And, of course, if you know someone moving near a metropolis, any matropolis, in the entire world, don’t forget about the beautiful Moleskine city guides. Just looking at the list of guides available makes me want to get on a jet and go. Madrid! Milano! Torino!

California and Northeast landscape book
And one final pick that makes a great gift for someone moving, especially to a new planting zone. (My SIL gave me one of these and made me very happy. Now she just checks in on occasion and trims a rosebush for me or reminds me to water.)
Available for California, the Southeast, the Northeast, Texas, the Midwest, and the Mid-Atlantic.

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pretty-bicycle-bells-and-handlebar-flowers-21Here’s a quick project that will pretty up any set of handlebars, whether they belong to a little girl or one who’s all grown up. The petals on these flowers are super-reflective, so you might also want to plaster them all over the bag you ride with too.

pretty-bicycle-bagsHere’s a picture taken at dusk using my flash.
reflective-bicycle-accessoriesThe petals are super reflective thanks to a secret ingredient: contractor grade retroreflective beads, which I ordered from Cole Safety. More on this below.
1-how-to-make-a-pretty-bicycle-handlebar-flowerYou’ll need:

a silk flower of your choice (daises are fun, so are roses)
white acrylic paint and sponge brush
the secret ingredient, retroreflective glass beads
a button for the center of the flower, I chose to make a fabric-covered button
soft, sewable velcro for strapping the flower to your handlebars
you may also need ironing starch if you’ve chosen a flower that isn’t very stiff
how-to-make-your-bicycle-reflective1A little more about the secret ingredient: Retroreflective glass beads are the same thing contractors use on street signs and highway traffic lines, layered on paint to make it reflective. They reflect light back to the source it came from without scattering or wasting much. I ordered mine here in a small, 8 oz. bag. They are great as long as nothing is layered over them. So if you decide to add these anywhere else on your bike, be sure not to add a clear coat on top or you’ll compromise their reflective super powers.


Remove the center of the silk flower. TIP: If you’ve chosen a floppy flower, starch and iron it first. It will keep the petals from bending over when the tips get heavier from the paint.

Start by pouring the beads onto a plate to get them ready for dipping. Paint the parts of your flower that you want to be reflective a few at a time. Acrylic paint dries quickly and you want the paint to still be wet when you press it into the beads.
how-to-make-reflective-bicycle-handlebar-flowerGently press the painted area into the beads. Continue painting and dipping until you’ve covered all the areas you want to be reflective.

3-homemade-handlebar-streamers-and-flowersIf you’re using fabric-covered buttons, prepare them now according to the package directions. If you’ve never made these buttons before, you need to try them. They are super simple and require no sewing or special equipment. Just fabric and the buttons.
handmade-reflective-bicycle-handlebar-flowersReassemble the flowers and put the button loop through the holes in the center of the flower.

handmade-velcro-bicycle-handlebar-flowersOverlap two pieces of opposing velcro, one facing up and the other facing down. Tack the center together where they overlap either by handstiching or with a sewing machine. Then sew the center of the velcro to the button loop poking out from the back of the flower.reflective-safety-bicycle-accessoriesYou’re finished. All that’s left to do is find a bike or bag and strap it on.



I have this fantasy of stopping daily by the local grocer and bakery. I tried this right after I married my husband 8 years ago—via car on my way home from work. I eventually had to resign to more traditional, more economical shopping. But the dream is still there. Maybe with a good bike trailer once I’m no longer pregnant and more stable on a bike. In the meantime, I can dream.

1-bicycle-baskets-for-herDeluxe Shopper Pannier available here.

1-bicycle-shopping-baskets-for-herShopping bicycle bag by Basil. Picture via here.

1-bicycle-accessoriesCheck out this and other Style Box Bags here.

1-bike-accessories-for-herBasket Panniers, by Electra.

1-gifts-for-bicyclistsLove the pattern options on the Kitsch Kitchen Pannier.

1-handlebar-bicycle-bagsLove this bike basket and everything else by Reisenthel via QuirkyBags.

1-bicycle-baskets-2Denver Basket, also by Basil.

1-gifts-for-cyclistsBetty basket via here.


Visit Electra to see dozens of very cool bike bells .

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I find panniers to be so romantic. More so if there’s a handsome man steering them around town with a baguette and bouquet of flowers peeking out the top. Right now my husband’s bike has a child seat on the back, but someday…someday.

1-panniers-and-gifts-for-cyclistsRoll-up panniers available here.

I’ve been going a little crazy checking out bike accessories the last few days, and thought I’d share a few favorites.

1-pashley-handlebar-bag-fine-gifts-for-himThe Cylinder Bag from Electra.

1-bicycle-messenger-bags-for-himThe Cyclobag from Tintamar. Via Quirkybags.

1-bicycle-tees-for-him-bikeI’m a huge fan of Chris Piascik’s work. His design on the left. Tee on the right available here.

1-bicycle-panniers-for-himThe Dutch Shopper Pannier Set, from Axiom.

1-bike-accessories-for-him-tourboxThe hard case Tourbox by Ortlieb.

bike-bell-for-himVery fun bike bells.

1-bike-bells-gifts-for-cyclistsFor those who like little less subtlety than a bike bell, the Ecoblast blow horn. Runs on air from its own hand pump.

1-bicycle-book-gift-for-cyclistsRoad bike maintenance book. Came highly recommended as a road companion here.

1-fathers-day-gifts-for-adventureresThe Bushnell backtrack navigation system. Start anywhere on the planet and this handy tool will get you back to where you started. Also available in girlie colors.


I had to add just a few more. Graduation is so exciting and daunting all at once, there are just so many fun possibilities of ways to give the grad a boost.

graduation-gift-scented-highlighters1Scented highlighters, complete with refills. So annotating can be fun!

graduation-gift-guide21. A 6-cup muffin mold. Give with your favorite muffin mix.
2. A pedometer. These things are great. When I used mine I was obsessed with getting 10k steps a day, and that’s a good thing.
3. Pigeon light. Good company for late night reading.
4. Laundry crunch can. Also great as a group gift, lots of room for everyone to sign a good luck message.
5. Naked Economics. I promise it’s about the economics and not about the naked. A great little book for getting a grip on how the whole system works.
6. The sandwich press. My husband lived off of his in college. Grilled cheese on weeknights, spinach pizza pockets on a really special occasion.
7. These solar powered desk lamps come from IKEA, and don’t even require an outlet, for only $20. How does IKEA do it?
8. Hand weights. So you can read, lift, and maybe even scarf down lunch all at once.


A few of my favorite thoughtful things to give a grad, either alone or with a gift card.
graduation-gift-vacuum-bottle-thermosThe Zojirushi Tuff Slim Vacuum Bottle. This little wonder keeps liquids hot or cold for 24 hours. And all the reviews here back up that claim. I can’t help but love the systematic approach some of these true outdoorsman take to testing their vacuum bottle.

moustache-mirror1The Mustachio Mirror. Also available in antlers, pirate, and other delightful varieties.


1. A Book of Courtesy: The Art of Living with Yourself and Others (since that is just what a grad is likely to do). I happen to own and love this book.
2. Havaianas. Buttery soft and straight from Brazil, where people know how to do flip flops. Great for frisbee on the quad or dorm showers.
3. The built market tote. Just may hold all the groceries your grad can afford for a week.
4. Earthlust stainless steel bottles, so so pretty .
5. REI’s first aid kit.
6. Thermoses from plastica. Give them with soup mix.
7. Hestia ironing board cover, so if the ironing board gets left out, it adds to the new decor.
8. Monster bowl sets. Won’t break, and likely won’t get mixed up with your roommates’ flatware.

more Visit AmberLee’s Graduation Gift Guide for more gift ideas.

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Machine washable fingerless gloves from FibreSantric’s shop at

Today I stopped by a certain fast food restaurant that I won’t name, and after ordering my egg McMuffin with no cheese, I pulled up to pay. The cashier and I exchanged comments about the cold weather, and then I admired her fingerless gloves. “Some lady gave me these because she felt sorry for me.” I left smiling at the thought of the good Samaritan passing through the McDonalds (oops I said it) drive through.