Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Making a family tree

This year for Christmas I made my husband a family tree.  It combines both our families into one tree; mine branching out to the right and his to the left.  It took a month of research, calling people, internet searches and then printing, organizing and taping but I finally completed it.  I got the idea from Martha Stewart's Living magazine.  The November issue had a whole section on family trees and I thought it would be neat.  I used the template on the Martha Stewart website which you can get here, had the template blown up and printed at Kinko's and then started my research.  I decided to put us in the middle of the tree, which you can see near the bottom.  Then I went up to the right are my parents, to the left are his.  From there I went straight up with each of their parents, then their parents and so on.  I was able to fit five generations.   Although the template also came with a name place template for each person I made my own in Word so I could print the name instead of hand write them.  I had the tree printed on watercolor paper so I used desktop printer watercolor paper by Burlington to print my names on.  Under each name I included date of birth and date of death.  I was able to find some of these dates with a neat website, Find A Grave, which is free.  This is a great project if you ever get the chance to make one I highly recommend it.  I learned a lot about my husbands family as well as my own and I have something that I can refer to now.  Of course, it can get very complicated but I tried to make it simple with only parents of parents listed (no brothers, sisters, cousins and so forth), but it has made me want to make a gigantic one that has everyone on it.  I'm pretty sure that would take up a whole wall through- my husband has a great uncle that has nine kids! 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

How to: Make reusable Christmas wrapping paper

This size is perfect for gift cards and closes with a button

My mom started this when I was growing up: making reusable Christmas bags for presents.  It is the eco-friendly way to celebrate Christmas gift exchanges, it is economical in the long run, and it involves being crafty which is always a plus.  You don't have to buy Christmas wrapping paper, then mess with cutting and taping or the time to wrap them.  Simply make a few bags throughout each month and by next Christmas you'll have enough bags for the whole family that will last you forever.  This is a great time of year to get holiday fabrics to stock up on material too.

My mom made super fancy ones with wonderful sewn on edges and drawstrings:

My mom's super fancy reusable bags

I'm not as crafty however so mine have tended to be more simple like just two pieces of fabric sewn together on the sides and bottom with the top being the selvage edge (that way you don't have to finish it), tied together with a pretty string:

 I did make a few that are simply large pockets.  Cut the fabric in a large rectangle.  Fold the bottom of the rectangle 2/3 the way up.  Sew the sides.  Fold over the top and add Velcro or a button to close.  With these I was able to experiment with a few decorative stitches that I never get to use like my mountain stitch which looks like mountains with snow on top - prefect for Christmas!

Mountain stitch!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas felt tree skirt

Last year I made this:

A Christmas card holder made with some left over fabric I had, complete with felt poinsettia's and felt stitched placeholders:

This year I decided we needed a tree skirt to match it:

I didn't have enough of the brown fabric left to do the entire skirt in it so I picked a felt that matched and used that.  You can find directions on how to make your own tree skirt on about a million websites so I won't go into detail how I did it, but basically all I needed was a large ruler, a marker, the felt, the fabric and a sewing machine.  Of course, as soon as I put it around the tree it became a instant cat bed:

but it does look nice under there, even with cat hair.  I plan at some point to make matching poinsettia's to put around the bottom but that will have to wait - Christmas is in a few days!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Doily Anniversary Card

My in-laws anniversary was this month so I decided to make a simple doily card.  I haven't found a cartridge yet that has cards for anniversaries so I had do make do with what I had.


Cardstock - two solid colors and one patterned color for the doily.  It works best if these all compliment each other.  I used cardstock from K&Company.
Cricut or access to one such as at a scrapbooking store
Cartridges - Wild Card and Mother's Day 2010


Starting with your Mother's Day 2010 cartridge and your patterned cardstock, cut one Doily3.  I cut mine at 4 1/2 inches.  Cut yours to your desired size but remember because the doily is intricate the large it is the easier it is to cut.  I just love the doily's from the Mother's Day 2010 cartridge, they are so pretty!  Next, Cut your solid cardstock to fit your doily.  I just did this with a ruler and scissors.  Use one cardstock for the outside and the other as a liner on the inside.  I just added a simple "Celebrate" on the inside using cardstock and the Wild Card cartridge,  phrase star-s.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Handmade present: Potato Chip Scarf

What a fun handmade gift:  a potato chip scarf.  I made a few of these for Christmas presents this year and I love them!  They are easy to make, relatively inexpensive and perfect for the season.  I got the pattern from Knit Picks.

Needle: Size 8, circular, 32"
Yarn:  I use whatever I have around - I have made them chunky with larger yarn and smaller with DK weight yarn


Cast on 90 sts.

Row 1: Knit
Row 2: Knit into front and back of every stitch
Row 3: Knit
Row 4: Knit front and back
Row 5: Knit
Row 6: Knit front and back
Row 7: Knit
Row 8: Bind off

Weave in your ends.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Birthday flower card

We have a birthday to celebrate today!  Lewie's great grandma turns 93!  She's one of the nicest people I've ever met and I love visiting her.  Since we can't be there though I made sure to send her a card.


Cricut machine or access to one like at a scrapbooking store
Cartridges: Walk in My Garden and Wild Card
Cardstock - purple, light purple, neutral, green
Markers in matching colors if desired
Craft glue


Starting with your Walk in My Garden cartridge cut a card hydrng in your neutral color cardstock.  Cut this in a size that will match your base of your card.  My base was 10X5 making my card a 5X5 so I cut my card at Real Dial Size 4 1/2".  Next, using your  green and light purple cut a card hydrng-s twice - once with each color.  You will have 1 extra flower.  Glue your light purple flower over your green flower making a purple flower with green leaves and glue this all onto the flower card.  Cut your base in your darker purple.  Glue your card front to the base.  Then, using your Wild Card cartidge and your light purple cut one phrase cupcake at 1 1/2" Real Dial Size.  This will spell Happy Birthday for the inside if that's what you desire.  I finished the card by drawing a few things on the flower in marker with their matching color just to jazz it up.  Happy Birthday Great Grandma!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

2010 Christmas Card

Last year we opted for a photo Christmas card but this year I wanted to do something more homemade, more eco friendly and plus I didn't have a good photo to use.  I was also given a crafty new cartridge from Cricut: Christmas Cards!  So I set up an assembly line and pumped out 25 Christmas cards.  They are made from 100% cardstock that was made in the USA and you can recycle or compost it.  No lead, no shiny paper, and they were pretty inexpensive to make.


Cardstock in 5 different colors ( I used cardstock from S.E.I. called Simple Sets: Savory - red, green, yellow, brown, and off-white)
Cricut machine or access to one like at a scrapbooking store
Craft glue
Cricut cartridges: Christmas Cards, Winterlace and Wild Card
Cards and envelopes (I used  Halcraft Large Ivory which comes in a 40 pack and is made in the USA)


First, using the Christmas Card cartidge I cut out the bird card in my various colors.  I cut these at 4 1/2 inches using the paper saver and as many as could fit on the mat.  You'll notice that when you cut all these out you're left with a cut that says, "Peace".  I didn't use these but hung on to them for next years cards.

Once you have all your bird pieces cut out, switch to the Winterlace cartidge.  Cut twice as many snowflakes than you did birds so you have two for each card.  I cut half snwflke3 and half accent5 at 3/4" in my off-white.

Switch your cartridge for the last time to Wild Card.  Using your green cardstock cut one phrase ornament at 4 1/4".  This will give you your "Merry Christmas" for the inside so only print one per card.

After you have all your pieces it's time to put them together.  Put them together as follows:

Then, glue these parts along with the snowflakes to the front:

And the inside like this:

I used a printer and just Word to print the "Love, Lewie & Danielle" before I glued anything on.  I also added a message to the back asking everyone to recycle or compost the card:

And that's it!  I put them in the envelopes, addressed them and posted a new pretty Evergreen stamp on them and they are ready to go:

I love a homemade Christmas!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

First snow!

We are enjoying some of our first snow flurries this week.  Yesterday, we almost had enough snow to cover the ground.  It starts to feel more like the holidays for me when there is snow.  I'm excited to see our new house in this time of year; snow covering all the trees on our land and decorating for Christmas.  I took a few pictures while the snow was still here because this early in the season as soon as the snow hits it melts too.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

And the winner is...

Congratulations to Robin who left this comment:

Out of 9 comments the random number generator picked 1, so congrats again!  
 Thanks everyone who participated in the Ash Tree Organics grocery bag and wine bag giveaway and I'm sorry if you didn't win.  Giveaways are fun though so I'm sure I'll have more in the future.  If you're on facebook, become a fan and that way we can update you with news about Ash Tree Organics and future giveaways.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

How to: Build a three bin compost system

I was pretty determined to build a composting system before the new year.  We need it because we're working on our first garden right now and compost will help the soil in the years to come.  Also we have chickens now and composting their manure is a really good way to clean our their pen.  I saw a three bin composting system in a magazine with directions on how to build one.  This required a trip to the hardware store in which I learned it would cost nearly $250.00 to build it.  I decided it wasn't worth it and took Lewie's advice on how to build it out of recycled materials and this past weekend we built one that was almost FREE.  We like free and we like recycling. 


7 wood pallets
Heavy gage wire
Wire cuters
Hardware clothe
Staples / staple gun


First, you have to get seven wood pallets.  We got them for free and all we had to do was ask.  Almost every store has skids lying around somewhere.  We got ours from home improvement stores.  Just ask the manager, they are usually willing to give you a few.  If they are beat up or missing planks, that's fine because the second you start using it it will start rotting.  It doesn't have to be perfect.

Stand your pallets up so that you have two that meet and form a corner.  Using your wire, wire these together.  We did one wire at the top and one wire at the bottom.  It may seem unsteady at first but pallets are heavy and when the whole thing it put together it's not going anywhere.

Next, you'll use two pieces: one pallet to continue down the row and another in the middle of those two to form the next wall on your first compartment.  Again, put them together with wire.  It should look like this:

Continue to build it in this way completing two more sections using a total of seven pallets.  Then start stapling your hardware clothe.  I used 1/4" hardware clothe and was able to buy it in a big roll at a home improvement store.  This will be the most expensive thing you buy for the compost bin but it's worth it to keep all your precious compost from spilling out everywhere.  Starting on the inside of one bin wrap your hardware clothe all the way around the bin on the inside only.  Staple it in place.  Continue to do this in every section.

Your three bin compost system should look like this when it's done:

This video is great if you want more information on how to use the three bin system.  We may end up adding doors in the future on the front so we got a few more pallets then needed just in case.  It's so nice to have a place to put our kitchen scraps now and it was fun to make.  It also turned out to be a family event because we had no less then two cats climbing trees around us for a better vantage point to our construction:

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Turkey leftover hot pot

Need something to make with those turkey leftovers?  Try a turkey leftover hot pot!


Turkey - legs, wings, breast meat or uncooked chicken or any stew meat
Sprig of rosemary, thyme
Salt & Pepper
1 large potato
1 large carrot
2 stalks of celery
1 bottle of dark beer
1 large onion
Seasonings to taste (garlic powder, seasoned salt, poultry seasonings)
2 tablespoons of butter


Cut your potatoes into thin slices.  Lay half of them on the bottom of a dutch oven or casserole dish.  Lay on top of the potatoes: thyme, rosemary sprigs and season with salt and pepper.

Put on top of this: your meat, then onions, carrots, celery, and any other seasoning.

Then cover with remaining sliced potatoes.  Pour your dark beer (I used Negra Modelo, but you can use any stout) over the potatoes.  Drizzle melted butter over this.  Sprinkle with salt.

Cover.  Bake in an oven at 300* for 1 1/2 hours.  Uncover.  Bake an additional 30 minutes.  

Monday, November 29, 2010

'Tis the season to giveaway!

I'll reach my 100th blog post this week with Off The Map so I thought I'd give back and give away a small Ash Tree Organics reusable grocery bag and matching wine bag this week!  Thanks for reading!


1. Leave a comment on this post telling me what color you'd be interested in (visit Ash Tree Organics to see what colors we have), making sure to leave a way for me to contact you in case you win. 

2. Only one comment per person. 

3. No spam please.

4. Enter between Monday 11.29.2010 and midnight EST Friday 12.03.2010.  I'll choose one winner using a random number generator and the winner will be announced Saturday 12.04.2010.

Good luck!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving napkins: check.
Wine bottle ruffles: check.
Homemade sides and bread: check.
Local turkey: check.

Looks like we are ready!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ash Tree Organics on Etsy!

Finally, Ash Tree Organics, the company my husband and I own and operate, is up and running on Etsy.  I've been selling mainly through our own website, but I thought I needed to embrace the online community of handmade goods so Ash Tree Organics is now on Etsy.  We love making, buying, selling and giving handmade goods.  Take the handmade pledge this season and give handmade items for the holidays!  As a 'thank you' to my blog readers, from now until Tuesday November 30, 2010 enter the code "OFFTHEMAPETSY" for 10% your order from my Etsy shop!  Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Monday, November 22, 2010

New from Ash Tree Organics!

I am so excited to announce this:

If you can't read the picture:

Introducing our new Ash Tree Organics Wine Bags!

They are offered in six different colors, including a 100% organic cotton.  They are perfect for protecting your wine on its way home from the store, as a gift with wine or even to dress up wine at the table.  Visit today to check them out.

As always, we also have reusable grocery bags, aprons, placemats and napkins.

Please remember Ash Tree Organics for green gifts this holiday season.  
Thank you for your continued support!

Danielle & Lewie

Friday, November 19, 2010

Homemade flour

Wheat berries in the hopper

We have recently been making our own flour.  My first reaction was, why haven't we always been doing this?  Although it can be complicated, to start out it is really quiet basic.   Buy wheat berries, put them in the mill, grind them into flour, use the flour.  A year ago we made a good investment and bought the commercial grade Champion Juicer.   We also bought the grain mill attachment, kept it in the box and somewhat forgot about it.  We've enjoyed many Saturday mornings with apple-celery or carrot-ginger juice and now that we have our own place and the juicer has a more permanent location on our counter we decided it was time to start milling.  There are many reasons why milling your own flour is a great idea.  One is price.  A 5lb. bag of organic wheat flour, which is approximately 20 cups, will cost roughly $7.95.  To buy 5lbs. of organic wheat berries, which will make approximately 22.5 cups of flour, it costs roughly $6.45.  So, it's about $0.39 for a cup of organic wheat flour store bought or $0.28 if you make it yourself.  Besides price, freshly ground flour has a lot more natural rise in it.  I've been working on something I call, The Great Bread Experiment, which entails making many bread recipes because my goal is to eventually make all the bread in our house - pitas, naan, bread, rolls, pizza dough, etc.  From this experiment I can tell you that freshly ground flour makes bread that rises really well.   Also, from what I've been reading the second wheat gets milled into flour it has the most nutrients, the longer it sits around the more it loses, so perhaps milling your own flour is also healthier for you?   Either way, I think we'll be milling our own from now on.

From wheat berries to flour in a mater of minutes!

Ummm.. fresh baked wheat rolls with homemade flour