Project Roundup: Holiday Inspiration!

I have to confess that I did not pre-plan a blog post for today.  I practically forgot that today is Monday.  Anne and I had a wonderful weekend together, as we celebrated our 6-year anniversary! We purchased our very first Christmas tree — a little guy, about 2.5 feet tall — that fits perfectly in our apartment, and enjoyed a delicious dinner at probably our favorite restaurant in Philly.

In conclusion: I didn’t write a blog post.  So, today I have for you a nice roundup of a few giftable projects I’ve created here on Scissors & Sage.  I hope that they inspire you to make something special for a loved one this holiday season.  And if they don’t inspire you — well, let me make it for you!


These Perfect Peanut Butter Cookies really are perfect.  If you don’t believe me, make them yourself and find out!

Make Quick & Simple Fudge for your holiday hosts, family members, or friends.  It makes a big batch that can be distributed among many.

These Chewy Chocolate Jumbles are delicious, and can be customized with all kinds of added ingredients like nuts or dried fruit.


Make someone happy with this Honey Citrus Hand Scrub.  It smells incredible, and leaves your hands feeling very soft.  Easily gift it in a small jar.

This DIY Stencil Pillow is a labor of love.  There’s still plenty of time to begin working on lengthy DIY holiday gifts!  (This was also, believe it or not, the first project I ever posted on Scissors & Sage!)

Learn to make these Mirror, Mirror bathroom signs that are only readable when viewed through the mirror.  Check out the first installment of Mirror, Mirror here, too!

Feel like knitting?  This Cowl Me Crazy project has you covered.

These DIY Pencil Eraser Stamps require few materials and yield great results.  Use these stamps to create a matching set of custom stationery for a friend or loved one.  Need envelope inspiration?  Look here, and be sure to use old December issues.

Do you know someone who loves cooking or baking?  Give them the gift of a curated recipe box.  First, find a beautiful recipe box.  Second, learn to create custom dividers (see link).  Third, add recipes you think your gift recipient will enjoy — perhaps recipes that are important to you!

These DIY Dragonfly Earrings are cute and simple for the nature lovers in your life.

Make a statement with this Oscar Wilde Stencil Art.  It’s easily customizable if you know your gift recipient loves a specific quote.

I hope you enjoyed this roundup.  Be sure to let me know if you make any of these projects!  Share your creations using #scissorsandsage on Instagram and Twitter.


It’s hard to believe December is upon us! Thanksgiving in Chicago was so much fun.  We even went to northern Illinois to chop down a Christmas tree!  Anne and I put our holiday decorations up last night, as it was the first activity in our advent calendar, and the Christmas spirit is officially in full swing.

I thought I’d take a minute to introduce you to a new component of Scissors & Sage: I am for hire!  In this new section, you will find details on the work I am currently offering.  I’ve also copy and pasted the details below for your convenience.  I hope that you will consider selecting me for your holiday needs this year.  I’ve already finished designing one family’s holiday card, and I have a holiday photoshoot scheduled this weekend with a local couple.


I’d love to work for you!

Just in time for the holiday season, I am offering my graphic design services to create custom holiday cards.  I will transform one (or a few!) family photographs into a beautifully designed card for you to send to loved ones this season.

  • $45 for one photo per card
  • $55 for two photos per card
  • $65 for three or more photos per card
  • $75 for full-service (does not include printing and shipping fees)

Give the gift of a handmade item.  I will recreate any of the projects seen on Scissors & Sage, whether it’s an edible treat, something hand-knit, or another type of DIY craft.  Rates vary depending on the item(s).

Celebrate a special occasion with a photoshoot.  This may include engagement, holiday, maternity, and “just because” photographs.  (Customers must live in or near Philadelphia, PA.)

  • $75 for 1 hour shoot, photo editing, and digital files
  • $95 for 1.5 hour shoot, photo editing, and digital files
  • $105 for 1.5 hour shoot, photo editing, digital files, and text over photos
  • Text over photos can be added to any package for $15

Receive guidance on that blog you’ve been thinking about starting.  I will help you with blog layout and design, content ideas, goal setting, and more!  Meetings may occur in person, over the phone, or on Skype.

  • $55 for first consultation (up to 1.5 hours)
  • $35 for all other consultations (1 hour each)

Email me at if you are interested in any of the services mentioned above.  I will then send you a more detailed estimate for the time and materials needed, and shipping fees (if applicable).

Follow these five simple steps if you know exactly what you want, or if we’ve already connected over email:

  1. Checkout via  Buy Now Button
  2. Fill in your desired order in the “Enter description” box
  3. Enter the appropriate item price based on prices listed above
  4. Click “Update” to refresh your order
  5. Pay using either a PayPal account or a credit card

I look forward to working for you!

DIY Advent Calendar

Late last week, I was inspired to create my very first advent calendar.  I was catching up on posts from A Beautiful Mess, a lifestyle blog I follow, and came across this DIY project.  I’ve thought of making an advent calendar in years past, but never had enough foresight to create it before December began.  Now that the calendar is finished, it will certainly bring a lot of holiday cheer into our cozy apartment this season!

Elsie Larson of A Beautiful Mess was kind enough to share a PDF of the advent numbers in her blog post.  When I noticed that some of her numbers were missing in the download, I wrote to her in the comments section.  She got back to me very quickly, and fixed the download the following day!  It was so nice to receive a personal response from such a well-known blogger.

I posted two process pictures (below) on Instagram of my DIY advent calendar, and couldn’t believe when Elsie not only “liked” both of the pictures, but also commented, “Looks great!” on the first one below!  I felt starstruck.  What’s more, Elsie’s activity on my two pictures brought a lot of new traffic to my Instagram profile; I received over 80 likes on the first picture, plus new followers!

I completed this project over the course of two days.  There were more steps to it than I had anticipated, and crafting + taking pictures of crafting = a lot of time per project.  Here’s how I made my DIY advent calendar!

Step 1: Download and print Elsie’s advent numbers onto soft white text weight paper from Paper Source.  (I printed my numbers at a scale of 65%.)  Using a paper cutter, cut the numbers into uniform-sized cards.  Lay a large piece of butcher or craft paper on the floor and arrange your numbers in a tree formation.

Step 2: Move the numbers to the side and turn your large paper over.  Create square edges by folding over uneven sides and taping them to the paper.

Step 3: With the help of another set of hands and eyes, hang your large paper in a desired location using clear push-pins.

Step 4: Set up an assembly line of numbers, string, scissors, washi tape, and mini clothespins.  (These clothespins are sold in a pack of 25, however I somehow lost one over the years, leaving me with 24.  I decided to use a regular-sized clothespin for number 1, and really love how it looks as a tree topper — not shown below!)  Cut washi tape into square segments and then diagonally into triangles.  This will allude to the shape of a tree.  Finally, tape the string to the paper making sure to hold it taut.  Snip off the ends of the string close to the tape.

Step 5: Continue this process until you reach the bottom of the tree.  Clip on all of the numbers with clothespins to confirm that they sit nicely.  Then, step back and admire your hard work!

Step 6: Using a thin Sharpie, unclip the numbers one by one and write down winter- or holiday-related activities under each number on the large paper.  That way, you can reuse the number cards in future years for different activities.  (My December activities are fun and simple surprises for Anne and me, so for her sake, I can only share one with you here!)

When December hits, unclip your card to reveal the activity of the day.  Then, turn the card over and clip it on backwards.  That will allow you to keep all of the cards up at once, plus know the current date.  By Christmas, you’ll have a white paper tree decoration that no one would ever know was an advent calendar!

What do you think of this DIY project?  Will you try making your own advent calendar this holiday season?  There are so many alternatives to the usual candy-filled advent calendar that I challenge you to come up with your own way of doing it.  Tag your creations on Instagram with #scissorsandsage and @victoriaavitale so that I can see what you’re working on!

Christmas Wood Carvings

One of my favorite things about the holiday season is the traditions, both old and new, that come along with it.  This week’s post features the handiwork of my dad, Sal.  Every year, he embarks on a new wood carving project, either making a Christmas gift for a loved one, or simply adding to his own ornament collection.

There he is every year, whittling away after breakfast or while watching a television show.  He says it is therapeutic, and I can understand why.  His wood blocks turn into santas, snowmen, North Pole people, and others of the like.  Some carvings become ornaments, and others are stand-alone decorative pieces.

The type of wood that he uses is a hard wood called basswood.  His tool collection consists of chisels, gougers, and scoopers of many shapes and sizes (i.e. “v” shape, regular blade, curved scooper, etc).  Most importantly, he shared, his tools are very sharp.

                                  Before carving, he makes a pencil sketch on the block of basswood.  As he whittles away, he continuously re-sketches in order to keep the image on the wood.  Carving away from a block of wood proves challenging in that it is not possible to put back any wood: work slowly and diligently, and take off small amounts at a time.  After he finishes carving, he uses fine grit sandpaper (around 400) to take off any rough edges on the face, cheeks, or hat.  The final step is to use blends of acrylic paints to bring the piece to life.For pieces that become ornaments, he screws an eye hook into its top and uses thread to hang it on the Christmas tree.  These wood carvings are true works of art, and I look forward to seeing his toolbox come out every holiday season.  His creativity broadens each year (see the violin snowman below), and it is always a surprise as to what he will make next!
                                   Note: All photographs taken by Sal.

Special Edition: Holiday Playlist

Get your cheer on with this holiday mix!  Listen on the go, while you’re at work, or when you’re writing up those last few Christmas cards.  (Or let’s be real, when you start writing up those Christmas cards.)  This mix is has some oldies (see: Chuck Berry) and some goodies (see: Sufjan Stevens).  Let me know what you think.  I hope to create more seasonal mixes in the future!

“It’s Coming On Christmas”

  1. Merry Christmas Baby – Otis Redding
  2. Christmas (Comes But Once A Year) – Amos Milburn
  3. Run Rudolph Run – Chuck Berry
  4. Jingle Bells – Frank Sinatra
  5. Sh-Boom – The Chords
  6. Just Like Christmas – Low
  7. Ooh La La – The Faces
  8. All That I Want – The Weepies
  9. Ring Them Bells – Sufjan Stevens
  10. River – Joni Mitchell