Gift Guide: For Boaters

The holidays are HERE — I can’t believe how fast they snuck up on us! Between holiday markets and getting orders out the door, I’ve been pretty behind on my Christmas shopping. I’m relying on two-day shipping more than ever, and am very grateful for all the gift guides out there to give me inspiration for those impossible-to-buy-for people.

I put up a poll on Instagram last week about doing my own gift guide, and got a lot of great suggestions and questions (so thank you)! I had LOTS of requests about what to buy for rookie boaters — asking what a new boater might want, and what essentials they need to get started. A lot of the safety basics and tech gadgets depend on your boat’s individual needs (GPS, depth finders, speakers, etc), so we’re coming to you with our own perspective. After wrapping up our first year, these are some of the things that made our time on the lake safe, efficient, and stylish! I asked Jim to weigh in, so I have some of his practical suggestions as well as some style picks for the guys.

So let’s get shopping:

L.L. Bean Boat & Tote // Does anything scream boat-ready like this tote? Roomy, durable, pockets galore — and I love the rope handles. The durable fabric makes it a perfect fit for a sandy beach, too. We pack a lot for a day on the boat, so having a stylish, workhorse tote is a no-brainer.

Captain Bottle Opener // We keep a bottle opener on our boat at all times, and have a similar version of this Captain one. It’s so cute and the perfect guy gift!

Tom Hope Anchor Bracelet // I’m OBSESSED with Tom Hope for obvious reasons — the chicest nautical bracelets and amazing quality for gifting. Jim picked this particular one up when we were in Capri last year and it looks great alone or paired with a watch. They have tons of styles and colors, and more delicate womens versions too.

Emergency Paddle // This was a necessity we didn’t think of right away, outside of the safety basics like a first aid kit, air horn, life vests, etc. It’s good to have on hand in case of emergency, and collapses easily to be stored.

Dry Bags // These waterproof roll-top bags are essential for keeping small items dry on the boat, or for tossing wet swimsuits into. We keep a dry bag in our hull storage with our “boat kit” — sunscreen, hair ties, extra sunglasses, koozies, etc. so those things never leave the boat.

Yeti Hopper Two Cooler // If I had to pick one boat essential (that’s not safety related) a Yeti cooler would be it! Guys, we have left this cooler on our boat for an entire weekend, in 90 degree heat, in the SUN, and come back each day to ice and cold beer. It’s totally worth the hype. We have this soft-sided version, which we find easiest to carry down the dock. Its slender shape also allows it to tuck into smaller spaces on the boat (even though this is a BIG capacity cooler – fits a ton of beer, ice, sandwiches, and snacks). The hard-sided ones would probably take up too much room for us, but check those out too if that’s your preference! I’d also recommend getting a small 6-8 can cooler for quick rides when you don’t want to lug this one — we have a cheap one from Target that works just fine for a few hours.

Corkcicle Wine Tumbler // This tumbler didn’t leave my bag all summer long! It keeps your rosé or cocktails cold and the slide-top lid prevents spills when you’re out on the boat. I also like that this particular tumbler has a flat edge on the side, I find it easier to hold on to.

Anchor Baseball Cap // Between the humidity on the coast and the lake spray from the boat, I realized pretty quickly that lake hair is not my best look, haha. The sun can also get intense on the water, and as much as I’m a sun baby I like to keep my face shielded. I throw a hat in my bag every day and this is a favorite — and goes with everything and can be dressed up or down!

Bow Scrunchie // In addition to the hat, I keep a scrunchie on hand for trips when I don’t want to risk a crease in my ponytail. These Lululemon scrunchies are honestly the best I’ve found — they don’t stretch out with use, the fabric dries quickly, and the bow is extra cute.

Boat Hook // A totally practical gift, but you would not believe how necessary these are! This is the size we have, but the length you’ll need depends on the size of your boat and your slip, but you’ll want one on hand for tying up at the dock. They collapse, like the emergency paddle, and stow away easily.

Supergoop Sunscreen Set // This summer, we spent more time in the sun than we have in a long time. We made a conscious effort to be diligent about sun protection, and Supergoop is one of my favorite brands for all-around performance. Their Everyday Sunscreen with SPF 50 absorbs fast, is non-greasy, and husband approved (huge because he’s super picky about sunscreens and lotions)! I love that this kit also includes their setting spray, which is super refreshing with the rosemary and adds an extra boost of sun protection to your makeup.

Columbia UPF 50 Pullover // When you need a little extra protection, a UPF layer is essential for long days in the sun. Jim picked this one up for fishing and loves that it’s lightweight and breathable, even in the summer heat. The quarter-zip collar helps protect the back of your neck, too.

Anchor Necklace // I’m a huge, HUGE fan of Vanessa Mooney’s jewelry, and was so excited when she launched a nautical collection this summer. This necklace is delicate, yet the edgy flat chain adds a hint of glam. The perfect gift for your female boater friends and wearable for every day!

West Marine Gold Membership // We spend a loooot of time and money at West Marine. Like, a lot. Getting a Gold Membership is a no-brainer — not only do you earn points on your purchases, it also includes a one-year BoatU.S. membership, which offers 24/7 unlimited water towing, discounts, their monthly magazine, and more.

Hope this was helpful for you guys! If you’re buying for a first-time boater, getting some of the safety essentials I mentioned might make for a great starter kit gift. We bought a lot of cleaning supplies right away — vinyl cleaner, mildew spray, etc. and those would all be practical but very handy. There are certain things they’ll need based on local regulations, so be sure to check into those, too. And if all else fails, a West Marine gift card will certainly go a long way! ;) Thanks for reading, and happy shopping!

Spring Greenery, Five Ways

It feels official after that beautiful Easter weather – spring is on its way! I've spotted a few buds popping up in my garden, but am all too anxious to start seeing green. Luckily, I've teamed up with the lovely Bronwen from Twig Florals to show you some creative and accessible ways to bring greenery into your home this spring (or year-round)! We had a fun day shooting with Lauren Gabrielle Photography, and I was thrilled to collaborate with Bronwen again, who was the talent behind our wedding florals. 

Many of the greens featured here can be found at a garden center or grocery store (think Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, or Heinen's). We'd also recommend calling your local florist – they are usually willing to order anything specific you might need. Just be sure to ask about minimum order quantities, since they are likely working with a wholesale supplier. Continue reading below to learn about the varieties we used, and see how to spruce up your home for spring!

Greens Used: Baby Blue Eucalyptus

Blue eucalyptus can be so impactful – it smells amazing, and its silvery blue leaves add a striking focal point to any color palette. I usually place a sprig or two in bud vases, but loved Bronwen's suggestion to fill a large vessel with a bunch of stems. Here, we used a terra cotta crock and an oversized blue bottle, but you could also recreate the look in a galvanized metal vase or bucket. The look is very easy to accomplish – fill your vessel with water, and place your stems in, a few at a time. Arrange the taller stems toward the middle, with shorter stems along the sides.

Greens Used: Rosemary, Tree Fern

For the freshest greens, look no further than your own backyard! Bronwen suggests exploring your yard or neighborhood for vines, fresh-cut sprigs from bushes, or even herbs from your garden to add to small bud vases or bottles. Rosemary, mint, thyme, or lavender make beautiful and aromatic additions to small spaces or shelves. These would look charming in a kitchen, on a bar cart, or on a side table in a guest room. Don't have an herb garden? Hit up your grocery store for pre-packaged stems in the produce section. 

Greens Used: Ruscus Vine, Green Hydrangea, White Aster

This wall arrangement would make a beautiful statement for a party, a shower, or seasonal brunch. Here, we used a "K" as a monogram design, which would be super cute to represent a bride's new last name, or a baby's initial for a baby shower. You could also arrange the greens in a shape instead of a letter – a heart or circular wreath would work nicely. This makes a statement no matter where you hang it – we chose to place it over a mantle, but you could also arrange this over a bar cart or table setup for a party. 

Completing this arrangement takes a bit of time and finesse, but it's not overly advanced. We recommend starting with a sketch, then translating that to the wall. 

Cut the vine into sections to make up the limbs of the letter (the sizes will depend on how large you're making it). Attach each vine to the wall using masking tape, securing where needed. Try to hide the tape if you can, or choose a tape that matches your wall color. Once your vines are in place, you can add bits of florals to enhance the monogram. Here, we used small snips of green hydrangea and white aster (which look like mini daisies) to complete the spring look. Attach them to the vines using tiny bits of tape.  

If you can't get your hands on ruscus vine, you could likely forage some English ivy from your neighborhood (you know, the vines that grow like crazy over fences, walls, basically anywhere you don't want it)! Green hydrangeas always seem to be available at Heinen's (for the local readers) and you could probably find the white aster there as well. 

Greens Used: Sword Fern, Tree Fern

For a more everyday look, use a collection of mini bottles to create a statement in numbers. These are easy to find at craft stores or thrift shops, and look great when arranged with a variety of other colors, shapes, and sizes. Here, we filled them with a mix of sword fern and tree ivy – the contrast of the whispy tree ivy and the strong, straight nature of the sword fern makes for an interesting pairing. Sticking with only 2-3 types of greenery will also keep the look from getting too busy. Arrange them on a console table as shown, or line them up on a dining table for an interesting centerpiece. 

Greens Used: Seeded Eucalyptus, Rosemary

This is another super simple (yet super beautiful) way to spruce up your dining table for a spring brunch or a romantic dinner at home. To create this look, you'll want to start with approximately 10-12 stems of seeded eucalyptus. You can usually find seeded eucalyptus at a premium grocery store, but I've also been able to get it through a local florist. 

Using scissors or pruning shears, trim off the thick portion of each stem, leaving only the more delicate main stem that the leaves and seeds are attached to. Starting from one end of the table, place one stem after another, overlapping them to create fullness. Fluff and arrange the leaves as needed to fill in any gaps or to hide the stems of the other pieces. And that's it! 

You can enhance the look by introducing some greenery in your place setting – here, we simply tucked a sprig of fresh rosemary into the napkin ring. 

Another way to enhance the "green" of your table setting is to include them in in edible form! We loved the added sprigs of mint on the cakes – it looks so fresh and ties the greenery element into the desserts. These stunning bundt cakes were made by Salt + Honey Baking Co. and tasted as luxurious as they looked. We were certainly not complaining about eating the props ;) 

Bronwen and I were excited to share this little dose of DIY, just in time for spring. I love to bring the outdoors in, and until my garden starts blooming, these are five easy ways to do it (which don't involve the constant care of a houseplant, either)! If you have questions about any of the looks you've seen here, feel free to leave a comment and either Bronwen or I will happily answer them. Huge thank you again to Bronwen, Lauren, and Salt + Honey for making this little collaboration happen. Happy spring to you all!

Make It: Red Velvet Skull Cakes

Every year, I find myself browsing the Williams-Sonoma fall catalog and lusting after their awesome seasonal products. I couldn't pass on this super cool mini skull cake pan this time around — they're the perfect serving size for a Halloween party, and can be decorated differently for an impressive display.

I used a boxed red velvet mix for the cake, and whipped up a batch of buttercream for piping the details on – this is the recipe I follow. I would also love to try filling the cakes next time – maybe from the bottom – to add a bit to the frosting/cake ratio (in my opinion you can never have too much frosting)! These would also be great as a molten cake with a ganache filling, as seen here. It's like chocolate blood...so cool for Halloween.

I was going for a linework/doodle look, so I used a #3 round piping tip to create fine lines—you could also use a rose tip to create flowers or roses as accents, or tint your frosting with food coloring. Their website also suggests doing a light glaze or just dusting them with confectioner's sugar. Lots of possibilities! I'm definitely going to have a lot of fun with these, beyond Halloween—skulls are always a good idea ;)