desktop beautification project – July 2015 {a free desktop wallpaper}

Download your free July 2015 wallpaper, and stop back on the first of every month to get your new, free desktop background and iPhone wallpaper.

Kelsey here, and I’m so excited to be back on the Cardstore Blog, sharing this bright and cheerful desktop-wallpaper with you!

I love creating patterns with texture, flow, and pops of bright color, so today’s wallpaper is a watercolor background inspired by summer and all the beautiful shades that I see showing up in nature.

To me, working with watercolor just has that fresh summer feel and brings an extra burst of spontaneity. I hope this brings a bit of that essence to your life this summer—especially while you’re indoors at your computer!

Download your free July 2015 pink wallpaper, and stop back on the first of every month to get your new, free desktop background and iPhone wallpaper.

Pink Wallpaper Backgrounds: 2560 x 1440 // 1680 x 1050 // 1440 x 900 // 1280 x 800 // phone

Download your free July 2015 aqua wallpaper, and stop back on the first of every month to get your new, free desktop background and iPhone wallpaper.

Aqua Wallpaper Backgrounds: 2560 x 1440 // 1680 x 1050 // 1440 x 900 // 1280 x 800 // phone

For help on how to install, click here.


Kelsey Cronkhite is a designer in the Surface Design Studio at American Greetings. In her spare time, she runs Pinegate Road, a studio blog and shop for creative makers and shakers.

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Say THANKS! 17 hostess gift ideas for your next summer party

It’s summertime, and that means party season is in full swing!

At some point in time, we’ve all been the hostess with the mostest, so we know how much energy goes into planning—and actually executing—a successful party. That’s why being prepared with just the right hostess gift and thank you card can leave an apron-wearing, stressed-out, exhausted party-planning-guru feeling truly appreciated!

Here are 17 great gifts that you can easily keep on hand for the hostess of your next party.

Planning and hosting a party can be a lot of work. Show your appreciation with the perfect hostess gift!

A little bit of thanks goes a long way—Happy Shopping!

1. Flavor infuser water bottle | 2. Patio string lights | 3. Pineapple candle holders | 4. Yeah-its-spiked drink cups | 5. Summer cozy | 6. Tea drop sampler | 7. Candle | 8. Thank you card | 9. The little cocktail box | 10. Cocktail napkin | 11. Herb planter | 12. Tea towel | 13. Smartphone vase | 14. S’mores basket | 15. Wooden bottle caddy | 16. LUSH bath set | 17. Bon Voyage travel notebook

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Check out our full thank you card selection for more options!

more than s’smores – a s’mores party with a little extra zest

What's better than s'mores? S'mores with fun stuff on them! Here are tasty some tips for your next s'mores party.

Summer has arrived, school is out, and it’s time to throw some backyard parties!

Although I love a barbeque, they can be a lot of work (not to mention the fact that we don’t own a grill). This year, I’ve much preferred hosting s’mores parties—it’s easier, it feels super festive, and there’s basically no s’mores combo I don’t love.

We recently bought a fire pit for our backyard, and we’ve invited various groups of friends over to make s’mores several times. It’s been a blast every time, and my little girls think it’s the best thing ever :)

What's better than s'mores? S'mores with fun stuff on them! Here are tasty some tips for your next s'mores party.

We’ve had some pretty amazing s’mores–my husband’s favorite is dark chocolate and raspberries on a regular graham cracker, while I’m pretty partial to one made with those coconut and caramel Girl Scout cookies. Fresh peach slices with homemade caramel sauce on a cinnamon graham cracker is pretty mind-blowing as well. And whenever we put out Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, those are gone in a flash. Read More »

Say it with sweets – a creative thank you gift idea

Everyone knows that candy makes things better. Here's a creative thank you gift idea for when you really want to show some gratitude!

I recently put together a custom thank you gift for a local design agency that we worked with, and it turned out so well, I had to share it!

I first started with an idea to frame my gift around: candy!

The agency’s brand color is orange, so I based my candy choices around that—you know, in case you couldn’t tell ;) Luckily, there’s a candy shop nearby that has all sorts of candy separated by color.

Everyone knows that candy makes things better. Here's a creative thank you gift idea for when you really want to show some gratitude!

Here’s a quick breakdown of what went into this gift:

  • Banner
    • small craft letters
    • baker’s twine
    • hot glue gun
    • skewers to tie banner up

First, I measured out and scored the edges of my pattern paper to completely wrap the board. (You can’t even tell it’s a wooden board under there, but I’m kind of a perfectionist so I had to make sure it was just right.) A glue stick worked fine for adhering the paper to the board, and I used foam tape to attach the “paint” cans to the board.

I used a hot glue gun to attach the letters for my banner, and strung it across two skewers, which I attached to the “end” cans with clear packing tape.

Once everything was assembled, it was time to put all the candy in! If you don’t have a local candy shop to purchase candy by color, you can always buy online (you can even search by color). I also found this video to show what different amounts of candy look like in 1 gallon containers.

It was a lot of fun to put together such a super-special, creative thank you gift, and I hope it inspires some creativity of your own! Have you created any totally unique custom gifts? Leave a comment, I would LOVE to hear about it!

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Celebrate Summer – a DIY flower crown

From backyard weddings to family photo shoots, celebrate summer with this DIY flower crown!

Today, I thought I would share a relatively quick and easy DIY flower crown tutorial that’s suitable for any warm-weather festivity—whether it’s a backyard wedding, a summer music festival, or even a family photo shoot.

From backyard weddings to family photo shoots, celebrate summer with this DIY flower crown!

What you’ll need:

  • A large bouquet of flowers (from your local supermarket or fresh from the garden)
  • 12 Gauge Heavy Aluminum Florist Wire
  • 24-26 Gauge Green Paddle Wire
  • Heavy Duty Scissors and/or Wire Cutters

All of the above can be found in the floral section of most craft or convenience stores. Read More »

My brother – one of the best fathers I know

It's easy to just think of our dads or husbands on Father's Day, but let's not forget to recognize all the other great fathers in our lives.

It’s mid-May, and I’m scrolling through Pinterest Father’s Day ideas that my two and a half-year-old can create for my husband. I’m also seeing some great ideas for my own dad, when my thoughts immediately turn to my nephew, Teagan, and my brother, Denny.

When Father’s Day rolls around each year, it’s natural to first think of your own father, or your husband, but what about the other important men in your life? If it really takes a village to raise a child, chances are, that village includes some brothers, uncles, neighbors, teachers… The list could go on and on with important male influences.

But today, it’s all about my brother. Ah, where to begin… My older brother has always had a strong presence in my life. We’re the definition of opposite: I’m loud, he’s quiet. I’m social, he’s private.

Growing up, we were never best friends, and I often just thought we were too different to ever be super close. As we reached milestones in our lives such as college, marriage, and military deployments, we always found a way to keep in touch, but when I found out he was going to be a dad, we started talking all the time.

It's easy to just think of our dads or husbands on Father's Day, but let's not forget to recognize all the other great fathers in our lives.

Denny’s wife had a high risk pregnancy from the start, and after doing the best that everyone could, Teagan had to make his arrival into the world a little early… 12 weeks early to be exact, weighing in at just over three pounds. I knew immediately that Denny was going to be a great father.

Teagan had to spend a lot of time in the NICU, and Denny was there every moment he could be. When Teagan was finally able to come home, everyone was relieved that he was happy and healthy (although still tiny). I believe going through a high risk pregnancy and having Teagan in the hospital for so long was making my brother a stronger person, and a stronger father.

He would need that strength more than ever a few months later, when his wife passed away while Teagan was just six months old. Denny and Teagan moved in with our parents, and the new, uncharted journey of being a single dad, raising a son in a multigenerational household began. . . That was four years ago.

It's easy to just think of our dads or husbands on Father's Day, but let's not forget to recognize all the other great fathers in our lives.

Today, Denny and I are closer than ever. I have a two and half-year-old daughter, and she and Teagan are best friends who are the definition of trouble when they’re together!

I’ve watched Teagan grow from tiny infant, to little boy almost overnight, and I’ve experienced my brother and I go from having a somewhat distant brother/sister relationship, to having a close friendship. I’ve watched him become an amazing father, and in the process have also been able to see my own dad play such an important, influential role in his life (which is an amazing thing to witness).

It's easy to just think of our dads or husbands on Father's Day, but let's not forget to recognize all the other great fathers in our lives.

I’m so proud of my brother and the father he has become. So proud that every Father’s Day, it’s hard to find a gift to show him everything he means. So this Father’s Day, I’m writing it all down and letting him know that he is amazing.

Every family is unique, and not every family looks the same, but if we’re lucky, we have strong male figures in our lives that we can lean on and learn from.

Happy Father’s Day!

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17 Father’s Day gift ideas for any dad you can think of!

It’s that time of year again—time to celebrate all the very special dads in your life :)

Of course, with this comes hours of trying to figure out the perfect gift for someone who already has everything (or says he wants nothing) but deserves all the love in the world.

OK, all the love in the world might be a tad difficult to fit into a box, but don’t worry—for all the dads, daddys, daddys-to-be, papas, and grandpas out there, I’ve got you covered with some great Father’s Day gift ideas for just about any kind of dad.

Happy shopping and Happy Father’s Day, Dads!

What do you get the dad who already has everything and probably asks for nothing? Here are 17 Father's Day gift ideas for just about any dad out there.

1. Gap hat  |  2. Extra shot coffee mug  |  3. Timex watch  |  4. Beech ear buds  |  5. Silk dot bow tie  |  6. Hey Handsome dopp kit  |  7. Beard notes  |  8. Watch band  |  9. Bottle loft  |  10. Card  |  11. Bocce ball set  |  12. Star Wars toaster  |  13. The I Hate Kale Cookbook  |  14. A Lucky Life Interrupted by Tom Brokaw  |  15. Personalize-able iphone 6 case  |  16. Sperry boat shoes  |  17. Personalized flag

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DIY chalkboard mug – a quick and easy Father’s Day craft

Give dad a pick-me-up and a handwritten note in one—this quick and easy DIY chalkboard mug makes the perfect Father's Day craft!

I don’t know what it is, but I find my husband SUPER difficult to shop for. Combine that with the fact that his birthday is in May, and by the time Father’s Day rolls around, I’m fresh out of ideas.

Fortunately, now that we have children, I know that anything our little girls make for him will be well-received.

This year, we made a chalkboard mug–perfect for writing little messages for Dad to see before he goes to work, or for playing games on during breakfast (my four-year-old is obsessed with tic-tac-toe). Read More »

Motherhood – Zero salary. Totally worth it.

Motherhood - it's the world's toughest job, pays ZERO dollars, and is worth every second of it.

Remember the World’s Toughest Job video we introduced last year? And that laundry list of requirements like, constantly standing, no breaks, constant attention, no vacation, no time to sleep, completely pro bono at 168 hours a week, and with a happy disposition?

If you’re a mom—or you’ve paid any attention to the things your mom does—you know it’s all true!

Being a mom really is a full-time job that changes every aspect of your life.

Even something as simple as getting dressed in the morning is different.

I started off motherhood thinking, “I’m not going to let having a new baby around change how I dress.” Now, the mommy in me starts laughing as I write this and thinks, “Ahhh… Good old denial!” (The only part that didn’t change is the fact that I got dressed… but only because not wearing any clothes is not an option.)

I’m not saying that my style got up and ran away, it just took a back seat to being a mom.

Eventually, I learned how to look good with less time and dress for the body I have now (because yes, things tend to “shift” after having kids). And, most importantly, so much of what makes me feel beautiful are these three little people clinging to my legs like shin guards as I’m trying to get dressed. Read More »