Archive for December, 2011

Merry Christmas!: Decorating Small Spaces

I’ve spent three Christmas’s now in San Francisco in a lovely little apartment where the kitchen is our “living room.”  Each year I lament that, aside from Year One when I strung some lights in my room, I have never really decorated.  So this year I decked the kitchen shelf in an exercise in frugality, holiday spirit and working with small spaces. Here is our merry little San Francisco Christmas.

Our little Christmas tree from Hortica in the Castro

Vintage winter photos from Mystery Mister in the Haight

These photos are from the 1940s.

Yes, I carved this snowman out of styrofoam. He was supposed to live in a homemade snowglobe but he didn't like the water.

This paper chain was made from strips of an old calendar. I felt like a kindergartner again, but with more wine.

Origami "water balloon" boxes: Another craft involving roommates and cocktails.


I hope this will inspire you to think outside the (living room) box when it comes to decorating.

Happy holidays to all my friends and family!


DIY Postcards

When it comes to holiday shopping, I’d rather stay home.  This year my hunny and I are filling homemade stockings for each other, so I’m trying to get crafty and make some fun stocking-stuffers.  I’ve had this old San Francisco map sitting in my laundry room, so I decided to make him a set of postcards for Christmas.

The Method


  • Paper of your choice (old map, wrapping paper, recycled holiday cards, etc.)
  • cardstock or cardboard
  • Spray adhesive
  • x-acto knife
  • pen and/or stamp to decorate

Cut equally sized rectangles from cardstock and use spray adhesive to join them to the paper of your choice.  Let the adhesive dry and cut your postcards out with an x-acto knife. Decorate their backsides with lines and/or homemade stamps (I made a stamp stamp — silly, I know — but if you’re interested, you can read more about stamp-making here).

Easy peasy! If you don’t have any time left for holiday crafting, these would also make great thank-you cards.  I bundled a few together for my hunny’s stocking and kept a few for myself.

DIY Stamps and Monograms

I get cheap around the holidays.  My hunny and I usually have a $25-30 gift limit, so I’ll spend a lot of my free-time making things.  Though I’ve been making my own stamps for a while (last year I gave my roommates personalized monogram stamps and stationary), I’ve never posted a tutorial on stamp carving.

The Method


a cutting mat

rubber printing block (I use Speedball printing blocks — available at Flax or your local arts & crafts store)

scrap paper and a pencil

an exacto knife and a lino-cutter

ink pad

If making a stamp with words or letters, write them in pencil on a separate piece of paper. Im using tracing paper here, but plain paper will work as well.  Place your stamp on top of the printing block.  Hold the paper in place while rubbing a pencil eraser over the words to transfer them to the block.  You are making a reverse image of the words, otherwise your stamp will come out backwards.

Here is how the block will look after your have transferred your image.  Now, follow your writing with the lino cutter to cut out the words.  You don’t have to make the scores very deep for the stamp to work.

When the words are all cut out, use the exacto knife to cut the edges of your stamp to whatever size you want it.


With this stamp, as with the monogram stamps I have made, you are using the lino cutter to remove the design you ultimately want to see.  In other words, the background will be colored and the design will be blank. Alternately, you can make stamps by using the exacto knife to carve away the negative space, leaving only the design.  This is easiest to do with simple pictures or big block letters.

Here are examples of the monogram designs I used last year, followed by my roommate Alona’s stationary.

Happy holiday crafting!