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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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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Pretty Neat (and Easy): DIY Paper Flowers

I’ve always admired the paper flowers that I’ve seen around the internet, but I’ve never tried to make my own until recently. I have to admit, I started this project with a severe lack of supplies. Sure, I had different types of paper, scissors, and all of the craft supplies you would want for such a task, but I did not have my computer by my side to look up similar projects for inspiration. Instead, I tried a few different techniques until I found one that worked. I’m very happy with the results you see below and was impressed at how quickly the flower took shape and came together.

DIY Paper Flowers by

DIY Paper Flowers by

So far, I’ve only used one flower to top a gift, but I could see a group of them being used to decorate a tabletop, or a few tucked into the corners of a bookcase to add a little pop of color. They’ll always be in season, so I’m sure many more paper flowers will be blooming around here soon.

DIY Paper Flowers

  • squeeze punch (like this one by Fiskars)
  • heavy stock colored paper
  • scissors
  • glue
  • decorative button

1. Use a squeeze punch to cut round disks from the colored paper. I used about 15 circles for the flower pictured above.

2. Use scissors to cut a slit into all but one disk of paper from the outside edge to the center (see photo in slideshow below).

3. Hold a disk in your hand and use your fingers to wrap it into a cone shape. Secure the edges with a dot of glue and let dry (see photo in slideshow below). Do this with all of the disks.

4. Glue one cone to the base of another cone, allowing them to overlap just slightly (see photo in slideshow below). Secure with a dot of glue and add more cones, one-by-one, to your flower, building out as you go.

5. Once your flower has reached your desired size, glue the one uncut disk that was set aside to the back so you have a smooth bottom.

6. Glue a decorative button into the center of the flower and let dry. Use as desired.

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SWWU Tip 1: Curious to know what’s inside the box above? It’s a personalized wood block created to commemorate a baptism. Check it and other great gift ideas out at the ekm43 shop on Etsy.

SWWU Tip 2: Looking for an easier way to adorn the gifts you give? Check out this cascading ribbon bow.

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Vintage Button Hairpins

I’ve been collecting vintage buttons for the past few years. They’re scattered around the house in jars and vases and add a nice pop of color wherever they are. When I get a truly special pair, I like to turn them into hairpins. I’ve given out a few sets, like the ones below, as gifts. They couldn’t be easier to make and the recipient always enjoys getting something a little more personal that’s tailored to her.

Vintage Button Hairpins by

Vintage Button Hairpins by

Once you find the buttons, these hairpins are fairly easy to make. Here’s how:

Vintage Button Hairpins

  • vintage buttons
  • needle-nose pliers
  • sharp scissors
  • fine sand paper (optional)
  • felt
  • super strong glue (such as E-6000)
  • toothpicks
  • bobby pins with pads
  • feathers (optional)

1. Select your buttons. The ones with flat backs are easiest to use, but if your button has a shank (a loop for thread on the back) you can still make it work. If there is a shank, try to remove it using needle-nose pliers and/or sharp scissors. If the back is rough after this, you may want to smooth it out with a bit of sand paper.

2. Once you have a flat back, cut out a piece of felt that will cover almost the entire back of the button. Use the glue to secure the felt on the back, use a toothpick to remove any excess glue that has oozed out of the sides and set aside to dry. Repeat with the remaining button.

3. Glue the bobby pins to the felt pads and let dry overnight.

4. If adding feathers (as shown in the slideshow below), cut two pieces of felt for each button and glue the feathers between them before affixing the bobby pins.

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SWWU Tip 1: Look for vintage buttons in antique stores, on websites like Etsy and eBay or check in with your mom, grandma or another older relative (you might be surprised what you find).

SWWU Tip 2: Feel free to skip the felt backing if your button has a perfectly smooth surface. You should be able to glue the bobby pin directly to the back.

Full disclosure: This is not something WE whipped up, this post is something I’ve done on my own. From time to time, we’ll each showcase some of our personal projects on here. We hope you enjoy!

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