Framing A Love Story

It’s raining! No, not outside, but it seems like I’m getting caught up in a lot of showers these days. I’m talking about wedding and baby showers! Don’t even ask how many I’ve been to in the past year—I’ve lost count. And while I know the happy couples and expecting parents may have put a lot of thought into the items on their registries, I sometimes like to go my own way, especially if it’s for a close friend. After all, Aunt Susan can buy you that Le Cruset pot that you just HAVE TO HAVE! Instead, I like to do something I little different.

Framing A Love Story - A wedding shower gift by

Framing A Love Story – A wedding shower gift by

For a recent wedding shower I decided to create something for the happy couple to display in their home. I used cutouts of maps to tell their love story, highlighting important moments in their relationship (where they met and fell in love, where they got engaged and the new city they recently moved to together). The personalization options for a gift like this are endless!

Here’s how it all came together:

Framing A Love Story

1. Gather all of your supplies at a workstation. Take apart your frame and used the spray adhesive to attach decorative paper (I chose linen) directly to the inside of the back piece of the frame (creating a base for you to work on).

2. Use the circle punch to cut meaningful locations out of an atlas. You can also print maps on the computer, but I liked the style of the maps in the atlas a bit better than what I could find online.

3. Use a computer to design any other text that you may want incorporated into your design. Print your designs and text on heavy card stock and cut out with decorative scissors if desired.

4. Lay out your design and use the spray adhesive (a nice thin, even coat is all you need) to attach everything. Put the frame back together and give as a gift or hang on the wall.

SWWU Tip 1: Though it’s a little pricy, the spray adhesive I recommended above is well worth the investment. It allows you to use the thinnest coat of glue possible, which is ideal when working with thin paper. It dries very quickly, so make sure you’re putting pieces exactly where you want them when using it.

SWWU Tip 2: I was able to find an inexpensive 2013 atlas in a used book store for just $3. You can find similar deals at stores near your house or on eBay and Amazon.

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Mixing Up Some Gifts

I’m a big fan of giving food gifts. Who doesn’t love a box of cookies, a bottle of homemade vanilla extract or a plate of boozy blondies? And, as a bonus, I get to enjoy tailoring each gift to each recipient. This past holiday season I decided to change things up a bit, though, and strayed from my typical edible presents. Instead, I decided to give gifts that would last long after the holiday season was over. Behold, my gift of choice: The wooden spoon!
Mixing Up Some Gifts: DIY Wood Burned Spoons by

Mixing Up Some Gifts: DIY Wood Burned Spoons by

While I can’t take credit for the idea (there are similar items all over Pinterest and Etsy), I can say I had a fun time playing with my new wood burning tool as I worked to develop a new crafting skill. I etched a different design into each wooden spoon I had—all 36 of them—mostly so I could try out all of the attachments that came with my burner. I found the activity to be very calming, similar to casually sketching in a notepad. I was able to create a wide variety of styles so I let each recipient choose the spoon that best suited her and her kitchen.
For a first go-around, I’m pretty pleased with the results. I’m hoping to move beyond spoons and engrave cutting boards, frames and more. Stay tuned to see what I do next.
In the meantime, here’s a few tips to make your first experience with a wood burning tool run smoothly:
  • Burning into a flat surface is easiest, beware of curves until you get the hang of working with the tool.
  • Pay attention! The tip of the tool gets extremely hot. This is not a tool that should be used around young kids or pets that might bump into it.
  • Open a window or make sure you’re working in an area that is well ventilated. It smelled like a campfire in my house for a few days after I’d finished my projects. I didn’t mind, but it’s worth noting.
  • Use a piece of scrap wood to do a test run with each tip that comes with the wood burning kit. Once the hot tip touches the wood, it has made its mark and there’s no turning back.
  • It takes the tips a long time to cool down once they’ve been heated. The included instructions recommend you unplug the tool and let it cool completely before swapping in a new tip. To avoid a long wait time I used pliers to loosen and remove the old tip and put the new one on. Be be extra careful not to touch anything with your bare skin.
  • Have fun! There’s no right or wrong way to design something.

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Wine Charms

On a recent trip to Charlotte, NC our hosts, Eric and Mike (the awesome guys behind this project), took us on a wine tasting tour through the Yadkin Valley. Before we left for our adventure, Eric recommended we stop by the supermarket to pick up pretzels to make an edible necklace with. Sort of like a candy necklace, but with a salty snack instead. Sure, the idea sounded a little kookie, but we were up for anything. I have to admit, this clever little project took me by surprise for more than one reason.

Edible Wine Charms by

Edible Wine Charms by

First, designing and creating the necklaces gave everyone (except the driver) something interesting to do in the car on the drive. Second, it allowed us to have our own tasty snack at the ready while we were tasting wine. Third, we didn’t have to munch on stale oyster crackers that every other guest that had visited the winery that day dipped their hands into.

While Brian and Mike were a bit sceptical of their new accessories at first, they quickly saw the benefit of having a snack right their around their neck. And at each stop, more and more strangers seemed to love the idea, commenting on how they wish they had one, too.

To make your own, you just need natural cooking twine, scissors and pretzels (we had a mix of Rold Gold Tiny Twists, Snyder’s Butter Snaps and Pretzel Crisps). Use your imagination to create a design that’s right for you, tie it around your neck and enjoy. Don’t worry what others might think, after all, you’re likely to be a bit tipsy from the wine you’re sampling.

SWWU TIp 1: Stay away from flavored pretzels as they might stain your clothing. Also be careful of salted varieties snagging silk or other delicate fabrics.

SWWU TIp 2: This would be an excellent activity for a group going on a wine tasting tour for a bachelorette party or wedding shower. 

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The Long Goodbye

Saying goodbye can be a pretty difficult thing to do. Especially when the people you’re sending off are starting a new life on the other side of the country. Good friends of ours recently did just this and I think we’re both still recovering. Sure we were there for several farewell dinners and parties, and we were there to help out the day they left, but there’s noting that feels as final as watching a moving van pull away, carrying your friends, all of their possessions and their adorable dog.

Saying Goodbye by

Saying Goodbye by

I scratched my head for quite some time trying to come up with a gift to help send our friends off. In the end, it wasn’t one gift they received, but several, all individually wrapped.   The gifts were all wrapped in subway maps, a final nod to the life they were leaving behind in New York City. Each had a tag with a number attached to it and we gave our friends instructions as to when they should open each package during their five-day journey. First up: a road atlas (in case they didn’t have a great connection with their GPS service at some point).

The Long Goodbye by

The Long Goodbye by

I won’t share the details of every gift because they probably only make sense to our friends, but I do think adding some silly car games like Mad Libs (who knew those still existed?), yummy snacks, a toy for the dog and some home maintenance books to brush up on was a good bet for this type of journey. When they reached their destination they unwrapped their last gift, a bottle of bubbly (with some cups) so they could toast their arrival in their new home sweet home.

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Special Delivery

Most of our friends are in baby mode this year. They’ve either just had a baby, are currently expecting or are hoping to be soon. Because of this, I’ve thrown my fair share of showers and have purchased more onesies than I ever imagined I would. Recently, I came up with a special gift for the busy mom and dad to enjoy now, and the baby to (hopefully) appreciate one day down the road.

When I get word that parents-to-be are rushing to the hospital or have given their midwife a call, I head right to the newsstand. There I make sure to pick up a copy of that day’s New York Times and a few other periodicals. A recent collection I put together also contained that week’s edition of the Village Voice and the current issues of The New Yorker, Time, New York and People.

Special Delivery by

Special Delivery by

I put everything together in a decorative box and hand it off to the parents long after the excitement and craze of the birth has calmed down a bit (usually when the baby is 5 to 6 months old). My hope is that the baby will one day enjoy this memento as a small peek into what the world was like the day and week he or she came into this world.

To make the box below, I covered the outside of a decorative book-shaped box (purchased at T.J. Maxx) with a very light coating of spray paint. I then used Mod Podge to affix and seal pictures and passages from old Beatrix Potter books to it. The baby’s name was partially inspired by the classic author, so it seemed it would be fitting to incorporate that information into the gift. The box had plenty of extra room inside, so I suggested the baby’s parents use it as a place to store the cards they received just after their new daughter was born. Hopefully, this keepsake will be tucked away on a shelf somewhere and given to Baby B when she is old enough to enjoy its contents.

SWWU Tip: You should customize your box and newsstand selections to the family you’re purchasing them for. Other great additions might include hometown newspapers, church bulletins or other magazines.

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