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Starting Conversations



After weeks of trying to decide how to tackle this mantel, I have finally come up with a solution and I am absolutely in love with how it turned out! Originally, the mantel was none other than where the television resided along with the cable box and, of course, the Xbox. I know what you’re thinking – that sure is a statement piece when you walk in our home, isn’t it? 😉 We decided to change up the layout of our furniture, which meant we were able to relocate the TV and free up the fireplace mantel for a more welcoming entryway. The problem was I had no idea what to do next. College apartments are not known for housing cozy fireplaces and now that we have one I wasn’t sure what in the world I was supposed to do with it.


I wanted our mantel to be decorative and inviting, but to tell a story at the same time. We had several items I wanted to be placed on the mantel, but the challenge was which pieces and how to arrange them. For example, I had no clue how to display or hang my awesome biscuits and gravy banner that I was possibly way too excited about – thanks Kristen! I thought of just using plain nails; however, I decided to use leftover upholstery nails from another project of mine, Guest Cottage Valance (post coming soon!). The upholstery nails do the job of hanging up the banner, yet adds a finishing look.



For the storytelling portion I chose to include a few different pieces of conversation starters. The first and most prominent piece would probably be the chainsaw carved bear – isn’t he too stinkin’ cute?! Yes, you read correctly, he was carved entirely by chainsaw! No hand tools were used in the making of this bear. 😉 We had a hard time grasping the idea too! Our chainsaw bear came from Pigeon Forge, Tennessee where we took our first vacation together. He represents the fun memories made at one of our favorite vacation spots.


Next, I selected some decorative books on Texas A&M University to be placed beside our chainsaw bear. These maroon books complimented our bear nicely by playing off of the red tones of the cedar, all while displaying our Aggie pride of the school where we met. 🙂


As you can see my fireplace mantel is home to a few different projects of mine, one of which is The First Rose. This particular project is very dear to my heart being that it displays the first of many flowers my husband has given to me. Placing this flower on the fireplace mantel was a must because it serves as a sweet reminder of the beginning of our life together. 🙂



My mom gave me this cute mason jar vase and off to the craft closet I went to find some dried floral to place inside! I used some floral left over from another project of mine, Wine, Cheese, and Chalk, and decided on a cotton arrangement with brown dried wheat. I LOVE dried floral because it creates a natural, neutral, and rustic look. All I had to do was trim down the stems of the wheat and arrange as desired! Tip: use the excess stem pieces as filler in the bottom of the vase to help keep your arrangement in place.


The last project here is one of my favorites, Picturesque Window. I am beyond thankful for the photographers who captured this photo of us while we were dancing at our close friends wedding! We had no idea they snapped this photo, but I am so happy they did, as it is one of my absolute favorite photos of us. A picture really does say a thousand words, for this one says everything about our marriage. 🙂 If you are interested in the tutorial for how to size and piece your picture into a window inspired frame be sure to check out our post coming soon.



Have a great day!








Did you find some inspiration today? Please leave a comment below, we would love to hear from you!

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A Handmade Wedding Gift



This post contains affiliate links. We choose to only provide affiliate links for the products or businesses we trust and use personally. The affiliate links are provided for your convenience to recommended products and to help support the Navy Home. You can find our full disclosure here.


Wedding Season: Part One

It’s wedding season!! Love is in the air, and what better way to show the happy couple you love them than with a handmade wedding gift! My best friend got married earlier this year and I’ll admit I was stressing about what to get her. Marriage is one of those monumental milestones in life and when it is someone you care deeply for you want to get them the perfect gift. I went round and round in my head over the standard items you would find on a registry, but then an opportunity presented itself! I was planning to host a bridal brunch at the bride’s home and what better way to knock two birds with one stone then to make something as both a wedding gift and fun décor for the brunch! Plus, I could easily ask for pictures of her place for “planning the brunch” and keep the real reason a secret! I settled on making three different handmade gifts for the newlywed couple: wedding pillows, chalkboard serving tray, and chalkboard wine bottles. Are you curious to see how the bridal brunch turned out? Check back soon to read our post!


I chose to make pillows with the numbers “01” and “02” for two different reasons. First and foremost, I thought of it as a modern looking alternative to your standard “Mr” and “Mrs” with its hidden meaning of two become one. Sound familiar? You got it! The inspiration was derived from Mark 10: 7-9.

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate.”

How cool is that?! 😀 Not to mention the other reason was because their wedding date conveniently shared the same numbers, January 2nd! Ready to learn how to make your own?




How to Make Wedding Pillows

This pattern makes TWO 12” x 12” decorative pillows.

Note: Wash, dry, and iron your fabrics before beginning.



1 yard cotton base fabric

1/4 yard cotton accent fabric

1/4 yard cotton batting

1/4 yard cotton appliqué fabric

1 1/2 yards decorative trim


Fabric Scissors

Fabric Pen/Pencil

Yard Stick

Cutting Mat

Sewing Machine (I LOVE this one!)

Note: All of the above material yard measurements are the minimum required to complete this project. I always recommend purchasing more yards of all material and trims to ensure you have enough as well as spare materials in case of cutting errors.


Fabric Cuts

Cut four 12 ½” x 12 ½” squares of base fabric. These dimensions include ¼” seam.

Cut two 7” x 7” squares of accent fabric. These dimensions include ½” seams.

Cut two 6” x 6” squares of cotton batting.

Cut out two sets of 4” tall numbers, 0 0 1 2, of applique fabric.



Note: I made paper stencils of these numbers using my Cricut Machine. If you do not have a cutting machine, you can work in Microsoft Word and use scissors to cut out the numbers to create a stencil.



Pin the appliqué numbers 0 1 (0 2) to the 7” x 7” accent fabric square. Appliqué stitch around the numbers to attach them to the fabric. Fold and iron accent fabric at ½” border.


Place 6” x 6” batting under accent fabric with ½” border folded around batting. Center and pin the batted appliqué to the 12 ½” x 12 ½” base fabric that will be the front of the pillow. Sew the batted appliqué with both 1/8” and ¼” seams to attach to the base fabric. Pin and sew decorative trim around batted appliqué.

Note: Do not cut the decorative trim into separate pieces. Keep the trim as one continuous piece around the batted appliqué.



Place the completed 12 ½” x 12 ½” front piece with the 12 ½” x 12 ½” back piece of base fabric facing each other. Sew ¼” seam around, leaving a 2 – 3” opening. Refer to the diagram above for the 2 – 3” opening specifics. Reinforce the stitching on either side of the opening by sewing over the last few stitches. Use the opening to flip the fabric correct side out.


Iron the pillow with the front side facing down. Sew ½” seam around leaving the same 2 – 3″ opening as before. Add stuffing through the space and complete the ½” seam. Complete the outer seam by hand (blind stitch) at the opening.




You’re done! Now you have two beautiful and meaningful wedding pillows to give the newlyweds!


Don’t miss out on the other posts in our wedding season series!








Did you enjoy this tutorial? Leave us a comment to let us know what you thought!

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A Gift of Memories



This post contains affiliate links. We choose to only provide affiliate links for the products or businesses we trust and use personally. The affiliate links are provided for your convenience to recommended products and to help support the Navy Home. You can find our full disclosure here.


Not sure what to do for someone you know who has lost a loved one? You’re aching to do something special for them that has real meaning, shows them you truly care, and possess the deepest sympathy during this life changing time. We know exactly how you feel. My husband and I experienced these same feelings one year ago.


On this day last year, we lost a dear friend to a tragic accident when a car from the opposite direction lost control and crossed over into their lane on an undivided highway. He was one of my husbands best friends growing up, a groomsman in our wedding, and a man with the warmest smile you will ever know. When he was called home, he left behind a beautiful wife and two precious babies. They had just welcomed their son into their then complete family only two weeks prior. The whole family was in the car at the time of the accident that left his wife in critical condition and his babies safe. When my husband called to tell me the news I remember falling to the floor and praying that God would bring his wife to full recovery, their babies needed her. This wonderful family has already lost a husband and dad; they could not lose their mom too.


We had sent care packages with items for her and the babies, but we still felt that there was something more we needed to do for them. Desperately wanting to do something special for his wife, we asked her if there was anything she wanted or needed in particular. Her response was simply to share our memories of her husband to help keep his memory alive. After going through a few different ideas, I felt I had finally come up with the perfect idea; a memory box. My initial thought was to make a scrapbook, but like most scrapbooks, they end up on a shelf and pulled out on occasion. A memory box would allow for many sweet and funny moments to be on display in their home where she can reminisce in them each day and share those stories with her children. I have to admit my heart was overjoyed with how it turned out and watching his wife open our handmade gift for her and her babies.


How to Make a Treasured Memory Box



8” x 10” Shadow Box

Decorative Scrapbook Paper

Solid Cardstock Paper

Branch or Twigs

Wooden Letters

Acrylic Paint + Brush

Hot Glue Gun

Glue Stick



Cricut Electronic Cutting Machine (You can find them here!)


Background Panel

This project and The First Rose follow the same basic process: you begin with the background first and then move forward towards the glass of the shadow box. With that being said, let’s start with the background. It’s time to hit the box of scrapbook paper! I chose to go with a printed background and added detailing. The detailing was done by cutting decorative strips and phrases out of scrapbook paper. You could use pre-cut scrapbook edging or stickers as well. For these elements use a glue stick for your choice of adhesion, this will prevent any uneven or warped surfaces. Cut and glue the background paper onto the back panel of the shadow box. Next, glue and add your detailing. Lastly, I chose to add his initials in wooden letters. I painted the letters with acrylic paint and adhered them with a hot glue gun.



Note: Be sure to take into account the 1/8-1/4” lip where the back panel sets into place when gluing down your detailing, otherwise you might end up with some detailing being blocked by the frame (like my “S” on “Moments” 🙁 ). Yes, I am drawing attention to my error in order to help you not do the same! 🙂


Pieces of Nature

Time to venture out to the great outdoors (front yard) for some branches! You can use branches or dried floral like I did in The First Rose. Cut and arrange your pieces of nature while making sure to test their placement does not interfere when assembling the shadow box. Use the hot glue gun when attaching these pieces to your previously assembled background panel.



Note: If you are wanting to dry your floral, wipe off any excess water from the stems and hang them upside down for a few days until dry – I have tied mine onto a cabinet knob or clipped them onto pants hangers. I recommend hanging them in a well-ventilated space to make sure they do not get icky, plus they will dry quicker. Keep in mind that if your floral is not completely dry when worked with, it will continue to dry over time and change color. I noticed the greenery in The First Rose became less green over time than when I first made it, but that is okay, because I actually love the way the colors work with the background!

Memory Tags

Now for the final step! For the memories, I did a combination of paper tags and descriptive words cut out from a piece of scrapbook paper. I chose two different paper colors and used my Cricut to cut out two sizes for the paper tags. Choose your favorite memories to share, write them down, and arrange them to your liking! Use two drops of glue from the hot glue gun on each tag to adhere them to the branches; this will keep the tags in place and not move around.




Before final assembly be sure to spray and wipe down your glass! No one wants to find an interior smudge after careful assembly… ask me how I know this. 😉 Very gently assemble the back panel into place on the shadow box and latch into place. There you have it, a very special and unique handmade gift to show someone you are there for them during this time and forever. 🙂


Alternative Ideas

You could use this same concept to create a treasured shadow box of vacation, college, children’s sports, or life memories, etc!








I hope you have found inspiration in this tutorial and can bring happiness to a loved one! Please feel free to leave comments, I would love to hear from you!

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