Monday, February 28, 2011

All this March: Make It Yourself!

All this March on Off The Map I'll be celebrating making things yourself.  It's a goal of mine this year, make more, buy less.  A lot the times what you can make yourself is more earth friendly, better for you and saves money.  I'm so excited to be sharing some of the items I make as well as having a few guest bloggers share their own recipes for items they make instead of buy.  Please come back every Tuesday and Thursday throughout March to see what you can make instead of buy!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Color for mailbox?

Speaking of bulbs by the mailbox, every day I go up there to check on how they are doing and get the mail and I am reminded that our mailbox needs a face lift.  Our mailbox has seen better days.  I doesn't need replacing, it just needs a paint job.  Anyone have suggestions for color?  Most of the mailboxes on our street are barn red, dark brown or black.  It has to be a color that is darker because I'll also be using it to paint our house number on a large rock that's below the mailbox.  I hate to go buy a can but since we don't have anything lying around, I'm guessing I'll be using spray paint for this project.  RustOleum has a neat website where you can click on the type of object your covering and it gives you a list of sprays that will work on it.  I like this American Accent paint.  I like the Claret Wine and Lagoon.  What colors do you like or think I should paint the mailbox?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

First signs of spring

A few of my 100 plus bulbs that I planted around our mailbox are coming up!  They started poking up out of the ground last week and seeing that little bit of green was so invigorating!  Spring is just around the corner and we've had temperatures in the 60's this week so it feels real.  The 100 bulbs include daffodils, several varieties of tulips, crocuses,  and a few allium.  I can't wait to see what the mailbox looks like this spring with everything I planted. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Flower Bookmark card

Wow do we have a lot of birthday's to celebrate in February! For this last one I made a neat card that actually serves two purposes. It's a card and it comes apart to be a bookmark.

Cricut Machine or access to one such as in a scrapbooking store
Cartridge - Give A Hoot, Just Because Cards
Cardstock paper in 3 colors [flower print that matches other two colors, brown, blue]
Craft glue
Bone folder
1 decorative flower brad that matches cardstock


Start with the Just Because Card cartridge and using your flower cartstock and brown carstock cut one of each:  cookie and cookie-s.  These should be 4 1/2" large.  Next, switch to the Give A Hoot cartridge.  Cut one charm Hdgehog2 and one charm Hdgehog2-s  using your brown and blue cardstock.  Cut these at 4" real dial size.  Glue your card base together and glue your bookmark together.  Do not glue your bookmark to your card!  Once glued, cut a small slit in the upper part of your card front.  Layer your bookmark on top of this and slide your brad into place.  Secure the brad on the inside.  Now you have a nice card with a removable bookmark.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Everyone needs something sweet for Valentine's Day.  I attempted to make heart-shaped Valentine's cupcakes like these last night.  Instead of using a heart shaped cupcake pan, Ohdeedoh explained you can do the same thing with a marble.  Just slide the marble between the pan and the paper and your cupcake will bake in the shape of a heart.  I didn't have any marbles so I used pie weights and it didn't work very well.  Only a few held the shape of a heart, but when it did work it turned out very cute!  Oh well, they still taste the same!  Yummy vanilla chocolate goodness on Valentine's Day.

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Felt Valentine's Day cards

I've always liked Valentine's Day, mostly because of the craftiness that comes with it - making Valentine's, making homemade gifts for your sweetie, and when I was young, making the very best Valentine's box for school.  This year my craftiness involved making a bunch of fast easy cards using felt and cardstock. 

Cricut Machine or access to one such as in a scrapbooking store
Cartridge - Just Because Cards
Cardstock paper in 3 colors [cream, red and pink]
Craft glue
Scissors (sewing and regular)
Bone folder
Felt in light red
Sewing machine or pin if doing it by hand
Red thread


Start by making your card base.  Using the Just Because Cards cartridge, a Cricut and a cream colored cardstock, cut out one radish 4 1/2".  Next, using your pink cardstock, cut out one radish-s.  This makes the scalloped base.  Using a ruler, scissors and red cardstock cut out a square smaller then your card base but bigger then the scalloped base.  Glue these together.  Then, using the light red felt, cut out a heart using sewing scissors that is big enough to fit inside of the pink scalloped cardstock.  I used my sewing machine to then sew the felt heart onto the front of the card.  You can also do this by hand.  When finished I simple wrote, Happy Valentine's Day! on the inside.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Happy $hopping money card

What to get a 17 year old? Money. That's what they want. So, I made a money holder card for someone celebrating their 17th birthday this weekend.

Cricut Machine or access to one such as in a scrapbooking store
Cartridge - Wild Card
Cardstock paper in 3 colors [white, aqua, patterned print that matches aqua]
Craft glue
Bone folder


Using the Wild Card cartridge and a Cricut machine cut out one AllinOne that is 4 1/2" using your patterned print.  Next, using your aqua cut out one blackout AllinOne that is also 4 1/2".  To make the phrase cut out one phrase AllinOne at 1 3/4" real dial size.  Glue your inside and outside together but make sure not to glue directly around where the money slits are.  Next, glue your phrase on the side.  Add money and you have a card!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

It's seed time!

It's that time of year when the mailbox is full of seed catalogs and it's time to start planning the garden!  This year will be our first real opportunity to have a garden and I was very excited to start ordering seeds.  I love looking through seed catalogs, some of them are like works of art.  I love Territorial's catalog as well as Seed Savers Exchange and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  This year we decided to order most of our seeds from Seed Savers Exchange.  I love that their seeds are heirloom so hopefully we can save some seeds from our crop this year and use them next year.  I also like that members can donate heirloom seeds and it's like a community of seed savers that share with one another.

We don't have a huge space for a garden so I'm worried I went overboard a little bit but here is what we bought:

Bean, Climbing French , Packet 50 seeds
Cucumber, Japanese Climbing OG, Packet 25 seeds 
Eggplant, Listada de Gandia OG, Packet 25 seeds
Lettuce, Rossa di Trento , Packet 250 seeds 
Pea, Golden Sweet OG, Packet 50 seeds
Radish, Early Scarlet Globe , Packet 250 seeds 
Pepper, Garden Sunshine , Packet 50 seeds
Pepper, Georgia Flame OG, Packet 25 seeds
Spinach, Bloomsdale OG, Packet 250 seeds
Squash, Muscade de Provence , Packet 25 seeds
Tomato, Brandywine (Sudduth's Strain), Packet 50 seeds
Tomato, Amish Paste , Packet 50 seeds
Tomato, Lemon Drop OG, Packet 25 seeds
Watermelon, Stone Mountain OG, Packet 25 seeds
Flower, Red Marietta , Packet 250 seeds 
Sunflower, Sunflower Mixture, Packet 100 seeds

I'm most excited about the Muscade de Provence which is a 'cheese' pumpkin - one of those creepy green orange pumpkins that are always so pretty but way too expensive to buy in the store.  I'm also excited about our tomatoes.  Two years ago I canned 28 quarts of pure tomato sauce and this passed year I was only able to can about 8.  I'm missing my tomato sauce!  Hopefully we'll have a nice bunch this year to can.  We still have some work to do in the garden before anything gets planted but hopefully it will start to warm up and we can add some sand and raised beds.   For now, we'll be starting the seeds inside probably using my Aerogarden although right now it has persimmons and witch hazel seeds in it, I'll just have to make room!  Hooray for backyard gardens!

As a side note, I love this garden journal as seen in Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Sewing & Fabric crafts:

If only I could justify the time to spend making that I would.  Too cute.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Hogs & Kisses card

Someone we know is turning 3 this week and I think he'll like the hogs & kisses card I made for him. 

Cricut Machine or access to one such as in a scrapbooking store
Cartridge - Just Because Cards
Cardstock paper in 3 colors [pink, yellow, brown]
Craft glue
Bone folder
Brown stamp ink
Various stamps
Brown marker


Start this cut by cutting out one layer 1 pig in real dial size 3" using the Just Because Cards cartridge and a Cricut machine.  I used a pink cardstock for this.  Next, using a brown cardstock cut out one word pig in real dial size 3".  To make your card base take your yellow cardstock and using a ruler, scissors and a bone folder cut it to your desired shape.  I colored in an eye and feet on the pig using a brown marker and then glued it on the front of the card.  On the front I then stamped "oink" a couple of times using alphabet stamps and brown ink.  On the inside glue down your hogs & kisses cutout.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Freezer lunches

I was feeling a little nostalgic this past week thinking about our time in New Mexico and decided to make freezer burritos New Mexico style for future lunches.  They go along with our plans of buying less and making more.  Freezer burritos are perfect for work lunches and also for weekends when you don't feel like cooking.  They taste good and are pretty easy on the wallet.  Here are two of the recipes I use:  My black bean and green chili burrito and a "tamale" burrito.

Black Bean & Green Chili Burrito

This is a meatless burrito because there is already lot of protein in the beans. 

8 large tortillas
4 cans of organic black beans
3 small cans of diced green chili's
Cheddar cheese (optional)
1 onion diced
2 cloves of garlic diced
Olive oil
1 tablespoon of red chili powder (I make my own with dried red chili's and a grinder)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp salt

Start by heating a large pan with a small amount of olive oil.  Add onion and garlic.  Cook until soft.  Add black beans.  Add chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, paprika, cumin and salt.  Simmer until beans are soft and fragrant.  Taste.  Add more seasonings if you desire.  Turn off heat and let cool.  Once cool, take one tortilla and add several large spoonfuls  of black bean mix.  Top with a few slices of cheese and several small spoonfuls of green chili's.  Wrap in foil or saran wrap and freeze.  This recipes makes about 8 tortillas.

"Tamale" Burrito

This recipe uses shredded pork like you would cook for a tamale and is so flavorful that you don't need masa or anything else with it. 

6 lbs pork shoulder
9 cups of water
3 tablespoons of sugar
3 tablespoons of salt
1/2 cup red chili powder (I make my own with dried red chili's and a grinder)
8 tortillas

In a large pot with a lid, add water, sugar and salt.  Stir.  Add pork shoulder.  Cover and cook for four hours, turning it over once every hour.  After four hours turn off your heat and let sit for at least 30 minutes.  Start to take the meat out and shred the pork.  In a skillet, using some of the broth from the meat, cook the meat in the skillet with the red chili powder.  Allow the meat to get a little bit brown but don't let it dry out.  Taste.  Add more seasonings if desired.  When you are finished, add a heaping serving to a tortilla.  Wrap in foil or saran wrap and freeze.  This recipe makes about 8 tortillas.

Another good burrito in New Mexico is the breakfast burrito.  Once these are gone I believe I'll make some of those and hopefully post about them too.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

New from Ash Tree Organics: Wine Drip Sleeves

Just thought I'd let everyone know about our new Ash Tree Organics product:  Wine Drip Sleeves.  These make great presents for Valentine's Day paired with an Ash Tree Organics Wine Bag.  They are all hand-knitted by me and made from 50% organic cotton and 50% organic wool.  They prevent wine drips from running down the bottle onto your table.  I have them up on as well as Etsy. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Before & After: Gutters/Soffit/Fascia

Before & After front

One of our goals this year was fix our roof.  When we moved in our house didn't have gutters or fascia and the soffit was falling apart.  With spring around the corner we knew it was something we had to take care of soon so that bees, wasps, birds, bats etc. didn't find a new home in our attic.  I know that it's not exciting for most people, but for us, with it being our first big home improvement project we tackled, it was so nice to see our house transform from looking like a barn to starting to look like a real house.  They finished up the work last week and we couldn't be happier.  We allowed for the gutters to come down on one side of the house near our garden so my next big project will be building a rain barrel.  It will be so nice to use water we collect from our roof to water our plants and use for the chickens.

Before & After gutter

Before & After side
Before & After back

With moving into a new house there are so many projects to work on; things to change and things to fix.  It's so satisfying to have something completed!