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!

EDIBLE

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.

NON-EDIBLE

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.

Carving Buttons With: Sal Vitale

A few months ago, I saw some beautiful wood-carved buttons in a local yarn shop in Philly.  Their simple and rustic appearance caught my eye, and I thought that my dad, who is an expert woodworker, could recreate these with his own flare.  I sent him an email with some pictures to see if he’d be interested in this project, and he quickly set to work.

My dad sent me picture updates of his many buttons over the next few weeks.  (Each one took a couple of hours, and he often whittled as he watched a favorite television show.)  I was blown away by his designs and execution.  He began by finding very dry wood, and ultimately decided to use one of my Grandma Elisabeth’s unfinished pine walking sticks from many years ago.  The pine wood in our yard was too wet and sappy, but the maple wood for the oblong buttons worked just fine.

To create the flat pine buttons, my dad used a hand saw to cut the wood about 1/4″ thick.  I love that each button has its own unique shape and thickness — I wouldn’t change it for anything!  He then drilled four holes into the coins to create the buttons.  That fifth hole in the center of each button is actually a natural hole where water once traveled up the tree.

My dad whittled some of the pine coins to create rounded tops.  He cut the maple sticks longways and scooped out part of the center.  These oblong designs revealed two-tone wood when carved away, creating such beautiful buttons!

To finish off his project, my dad sanded the entire surface of each button, as I didn’t want any of the wood to catch on yarn for future projects.  He was sure to use a very light sand paper so that the natural beauty of the wood remained.  Finally, he used wood oil to complete his buttons, which gave them a finished, professional look.

I am so excited about these buttons and the story behind them.  I used one of them last week to finish a scarf I knit.  I’ll be sharing that project next week so that you can see these buttons in action!  I am so happy to have these as part of my knitting collection.  There is so much potential with hand-carved buttons in knitting — shapes, sizes, styles, etc.  What would your ideal button look like?

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!

My New Recipe Box

Happy Sunday!  Are you all having nice weekends?  Yesterday, I had the pleasure of going to a 90th birthday party for my…well, I don’t know how we’re related.  That’s the thing about big Italian families.  It was a celebration for the books, though, that’s for sure!

For those of you on your computers and on my site directly, you will notice many new changes to the looks of Scissors & Sage.  For you loyal subscribers out there, visit http://www.scissorsandsage.com to see my updates!  I’ve designed a new header logo, a much-needed menu of categories up top, and new social media icons that I coded myself!  Anne snapped some pictures for the updated sidebar and “New Reader?” section.  I hope you all enjoy the new layout!

This week, I thought I’d share my latest love: my recipe box.  Anne gave it to me for my birthday in August, and it was just what I wanted!  I had been eyeballing it on the Rifle Paper Co. website for about six months.  You see, I had a pretty good system for my recipes pre-recipe box — a binder with tabs and plastic sleeves.  But this, this is just on another level.  I stared googly-eyed at it for probably three or four days before starting to transfer recipes.

Some who know me might say that I’m neat or maybe organized.  Others, like my college roommates, might call me compulsively neat AND organized.  Everyone has their way and, needless to say, I like things in their place.

When I started my recipe transfer and looked more closely at the pre-written letterpress tabs the box came with, I started to wish that I could have decided on my own categories.  Where was the salads category?  And what about sides?  Does a quiche go under breakfast or eggs?  And why on EARTH were breads and pastas in the same category?!  As I’ve previously said, and as it’s written in my “New Reader?” section, pasta is its own food group.

I began breathing a little bit more quickly as my eyes darted around trying to put an order to all of this chaos (note: there was literally no actual chaos to be found).  Then it hit me: I could make my own tabs to supplement what the box came with!  I had recently picked up some thin chip board from Paper Source, and it was the perfect material.  I traced an existing divider and then cut it out.  I borrowed Anne’s alphanumeral stamp (the kind that librarians use), and it was finished!

A month or so into using my recipe box, I have to say that it is quite functional.  I use some categories more than others (do you see how big desserts is?) and others not at all (seafood).  The box also came with 24 blank recipe cards that I am really excited to start using.

I am so incredibly happy with how my recipe box turned out.  There are so many family recipes, so many stories, and equally as many happy memories spent in the kitchen and at the dining table.  This is my holy text.

DIY Pencil Eraser Stamps & Card Crafting

I’m a sucker for all things paper crafts.  A few weeks ago, I saw a picture on Pinterest for these DIY pencil eraser stamps, and nearly fell out of my seat.  Not only because of how cute the stamps themselves are, but because I had never thought of using a pencil eraser as a stamp before.  It’s almost like your own little linocut!

One perk of dating a middle school language arts teacher is that I have endless access to no. 2 pencils.  I sent Anne on a mission to collect like-new pencils, and she didn’t have to look any further than her classroom floor in the first week of school.  Success!

I’d like to also mention that this is my first blog post with my sister’s awesome Canon DSLR, so bear with me as I learn how to use the different settings and lenses.  Here’s what you’ll need to make these DIY pencil eraser stamps:

Materials:

  • Two no. 2 pencils with unused erasers
  • Ballpoint pen
  • X-acto knife

To begin, use your pen to draw your desired design on the pencil eraser.  The triangle was the easiest for me to make, so it might be a good place to start.

Once your design is drawn, use the X-acto knife to cut along the pen line and straight down toward the pencil’s metal band.  Then, lay the pencil down and carefully cut in toward your design to break away the excess eraser, like so:

Continue this process until your entire design is cut out.  Be gentle with it, as your new stamp does not have as much structural support as it used to.  Note that I also found it helpful to rinse the stamp afterward to wash away any remaining pen ink.

Voila!

Making a stamp is fun and everything, but it gets even better once you pick out some pretty ink colors and STAMP IT!  The triangle was so easy to make, that I experimented with a plus sign stamp as well.  This design is a little more flimsy, but no less cute.  I decided to make a couple of cards with these stamps, and one is already en route to a loyal reader!  Here are some pictures of my final product:

What other stamps could you make from pencil erasers?