Can-it Santa… {Re-post}

Well, it’s only been 3 1/2 months since I posted to this blog. I love this blog, I do. But, priorities shift. We know how it goes! Let’s do a quick update, shall we?

1. Got a new full time job, I love! Woohoo! (Thus, less crafting, cooking, and pretty much everything but working.)

2. I am almost 7 months pregnant with our first baby. A boy! Super WOOHOO! I am making his crib set, and such, so hopefully I’ll be updating you all on that after the holidays.

3. Our farm year was successful, but didn’t go quite as planned due to severe morning sickness. (Yuck!) You can always catch up on our farm over at Collingwood Farm Blog.

But in the spirit of the holidays, I wanted to share a Christmas post. Since I was unable to make any homemade gifts this year *sniff*, I’ve decided I’ll just repost from last year. So, enjoy! And Happy Holidays!


I mean that in the literal sense. I actually put Santa on a can. 🙂

My husband comes from a big family. He’s one of 7 kids, and one of 54 grandkids on one side. I had a hard time remembering names for the first 5 years we were together. (We’ve been together 6.)  Needless to say, Christmas is an interesting time to be part of his family. His siblings don’t exchange gifts with each other. They used to do a “Secret Santa” kind of gift exchange, but that kind of fell by the wayside.

In my family, we give gifts to everyone. They don’t have to be big, or expensive. Sometimes is just a pumpkin roll, or a pretty tray of cookies. Just a little something to tell that person you think of them. So, joining my hub’s family at Christmas was weird, and left me with the feeling of something missing. So, the Christmas after we got married, I gave all of his siblings a tray of cookies. Last year, I made the all the girls aprons, and the boys a homemade mix of seasoned nuts and dressed them up in a canning jar. This year, I was a little stumped. With 6 siblings, plus significant others, I had to do some brainstorming. I kind of took the easy way out for the girls. (Bath and Body works had a really great sale on mini, yummy smelling candles and pretty metal sleeves to put them in, so I got all the girls a few of those.)

 Boys are harder, but one safe bet is always food! I found a yummy looking recipe for chili. You pre-mix all the seasonings and beans together, and then give the giftee the recipe to finish. And you know, when you’re giving homemade presents, its all about the presentation! Thus…..I canned Santa!

For some reason a few months ago I washed and saved a lot of our cans. I’m glad a did now, because they’re the perfect size to put the bagged goodies for the chili gift! I’ve seen variations of my canned Santa on boxes and bags, but I think the can turned out pretty nice! What do you think?

It was really easy. I took a red 8×11 peice of cardstock and cut it in half length-wise. I embossed a white peice of cardstock with the little dots, punched out the buttons and cut one inch strips of black cardstock for the belt. I cut the buckle out of glittery gold cardstock and then just glued the smaller black square in the middle. And I glued everything together with modpodge. (My favorite!)

One tip, I lined the red seams in the front and covered it with the white paper. I did the same thing with the black belt. That way there’s no seams, and it looks a little more clean.

This would be a great wrapping for gifts for neighbors and teachers, too!

Happy…..canning? 🙂

Farming on a Shoestring Budget, Part 2!

The following is a post my husband posted at our Collingwood Farm blog. He did such a nice job, I wanted to share!


Farmer Rich here!

From picking, to cleaning and refrigeration, time is one of the greatest enemies to the quality of your veggies.  While our poor little kitchen sink is fine for washing veggies, we are limited on the space available to properly dry the food before it can be put into the fridge.

If we only had a convenient space to prepare, wash and dry our vegetables in order to make the process quick and easy . . .

Good news! Farmer Linde and I finished up our new outdoor wash station:

By re-purposing an old piece of counter top, a (free) Craigslist utility tub and a piece of old hardware cloth, we now have a quick and convenient way to rinse and dry vegetables before storing or selling.  This simple design will reduce our water waste by allowing us to capture the rinse water in a 5-gallon bucket so it can go right back into the garden.  A quick scrub and this new farm feature will be ready to use!

Farming on a Shoestring Budget.

If you follow me often, you know that this year I’ve started a small suburban farm, Collingwood Farm. I love it. I tell people I am more content than I have ever been. And I am. But this year, things are a little slow going, as expected. I’m still working my “real” job, so I can afford to run the farm. Time is a little tight, and so is money. But, we expected the first year to be the investment year. Next year will be better.

But how are you making it work?” you ask. The answer is simple. RECYCLING!

One of the unspoken mission statements of the farm is to reduce waste, and utilize as much “trash” as we can. In turn, we end up saving on expenses. So, I wanted to share some of our more recent projects, because I think they’re pretty darn cool. 🙂


My husband and I made this coop kind of on the fly, back in February. We inherited some chickens, (and then bought 3 more), but really didn’t have adequate housing for the poor girls. It houses the 6 girls comfortably, and they have plenty of space in the pen while we’re at work. And it all cost about $50 bucks!

The base of the coop is some shipping pallets I got free from craigslist. The frame and pen were made from lumbar we got free from a local business that just threw it away after using it for shipping materials. The inside was lined with pressed board that came free from craigslist, and given a good coat of paint from left-overs from painting some rooms in our house. The roof is pieces of plastic awning that shaded the windows on our house when we first moved in. We took them down when we replaced the windows, and my brilliant husband saved them! The fencing and other doo-dads were all things we already had acquired somewhere along the way.

The main investments were:

  1. (2) Plywood for the outside and roof- $16
  2. Hardware (screw, nails, brackets, hinges)- $25 **We got these from the Habitat for Humanity Restore, so they were also recycled!
  3. Red paint- $15 (The guy at the paint counter liked what we were doing so much, he gave us a discount!)



There you have it! Check back soon for a “Part 2”!

Homemade Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s Day to all you terrific Dad’s out there!

My dad’s a pretty cool dude. But, he’s also pretty hard to buy for. I know two things for certain about my father. 1. He likes to eat good food. 2. If you ask what he wants for birthday/Christmas/Father’s Day, etc. The answer is always the same; “Nothing.” Sometimes, I threaten to take him up on it, but I never do.

True to form, I could think of nothing to give my dad for Father’s day. So, when I came across these ideas, I knew what I was going to make him! (Rules for giving homemade gifts are that I would be happy if I got this for a holiday, and I would love to get this!!)

For the bottles, I took IBC soda bottles (cleaned of course), and filled them with goodies (Peanut M&ms, cashews, trail mix, pistachios, etc.) I wrapped the bottles in decorative paper, and glued the printable pictures on each bottle. I made the tags, and tied them to the bottles with matching ribbon. I dipped the lids in glue, then glitter.

I spray painted the carton red, and once dried, wrapped it in matching paper, then glued the print out “Happy Father’s Day” on both sides.

It turned out to be pretty darn cute, and tasty. And I think my hard-to-buy-for-pops enjoyed it too!

Happy Dad’s Day, Dad!

Love you!

I’m back!! For the moment…

Hello my blogging friends! I have found my way back to my blog. I’ve been more of a lurker lately, mostly due to the fatigue of Spring farming. (Don’t feel bad, I love it!) I have been doing a lot of blogging at Collingwood Farm, because we’re trying to get the business off the ground.  Check it out. Constructive criticism is always welcome.

In my absence, I was nominated for not one, but TWO, awards. And I am extremely honored.

Thank you to Anna, at Oceannah, nominated me for the Very Inspirational Blogger Award.

According to the rules, I am to share 7 things you don’t already know about me, so here goes:

1. I’m a nurse practitioner by trade, but farmer by everything else. 🙂

2. My neice looks just like me. (Shhh…her mom hates when I say that.)

3. My husband is my best friend.

4. I hate canned peas. HATE THEM!

5. I love the color red.

6. I wear a size 8 1/2 shoe

7. I farm in my flip flops.

Probably too much information…. 🙂

And my second award is From Julie at Outtakes on the Outskirts. The Sunshine Award comes with the follow questions:

  1. What is your favorite color?  Red
  2. What is your favorite animal? Dogs, monkeys, pigs, and I never thought I’d say it–chickens!!
  3. What is your favorite number?  22 (My birth day.)
  4. What is your favorite non-alcholic drink? Coffee.
  5. Do you prefer Facebook or Twitter?  Never twittered, and gave up facebook for New Years. It’s worked out beautifully! And I don’t miss it!
  6. What is your passion? Hmmm…farming, independence, happiness.
  7. Do you prefer getting or giving presents? Making, then giving. That’s my fav!
  8. What is your favorite pattern? Pattern. Really?? Whatever is on my pillowcase.
  9. What is your favorite day of the week?  Friday.
  10. What is your favorite flower? Sunflowers!

So thank you, Julie!!

I promise to pass the awards on to deserving bloggers the next day it rains. 🙂 (Which at this rate seems like never!)

Well, I had ideas to post about my recent arugula pesto recipe, and some other goodies that came up on the farm, but I’m afraid I’ve already run out of time. I promise to post again before a month goes by.

Happy Memorial Day!


Support local and family farmers! Enough with this big business bullying!!!

A Real Food Lover

If you haven’t caught wind of this issue yet, I implore you to read any of the following articles

Whether you live in Michigan or not, we need your help! If you can take 10 seconds and sign the following petition, it gets sent directly to Governor Snyder’s email. We do not have enough uproar regarding this issue, and they are scheduled to start seizing and slaughtering these poor farmers’ livestock any day.


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Some quick tips for gardeners…

Hi all, I’ve been super busy lately getting all the early crops in. Considering I’m starting from scratch, it’s quite the undertaking. I love it though. It’s good exercise, I get to enjoy this beautiful weather, and it’s just good, honest work.

At any rate, I’ve discovered some helpful things along the way I wanted to share, because they’ve helped me save time and money. So, it could do the same for you!

1. Don’t ever buy garden markers again. Go to your local thrift store and buy mini blinds. I got 2 of them for 50 cents. The blinds are so thin, they cut easily, and they hold sharpie marker writing like a champ. Considering I get 4 garden markers from an individual blind, I won’t have to buy garden markers again for a loooong time. SCORE! I just saved myself quite a bit of dough!

2. I used black plastic mulch for my onions this year. Because I’m starting by tilling up grass, my onions struggle to compete.  In an effort to make planting through the plastic mulch more bearable, I drilled 1 inch holes in a piece of press board after measuring 6″x6″, like so:





Then, I laid this pattern across the plastic mulch, and using a blow torch, quickly hit each hole, melting the plastic underneath. The result:


I just went along, plunked the onions in each hole, and I was done! Awesome, right?! Shout out to Bay Branch Farm for the idea.

Be sure to visit me at Collingwood Farm to see what else I’ve been up to.


Homemade Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

Has anyone else noticed that Reese’s peanut butter cups don’t taste like they used to? Actually, I think they taste like the old recipe tasted when it was stale. The peanut butter isn’t as creamy or oily or something. I’m sure they decreased the transfats and made them a titch healthier. I don’t eat them often, but when I do, I’m willing to spend the extra calories for that yummy deliciousness. Unfortunately, last time I did it, it wasn’t the deliciousness I remembered.

So, when I came across this recipe at Michelle’s Tasty Creations, I had to give it a try! It’s pretty easy. All you need is:

  • 1 cup butter, unsalted and melted
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-1/4 cup peanut butter, divided
  • 1-1/2 cups milk chocolate chips

The quickie version: Mix the butter, graham crackers, powdered sugar and 1 cup of the peanut butter together until smooth with little lumps.

Then melt the chocolate chips and remaining 1/4c peanut butter in whatever way you like. I used a double boiler.

Now here’s where I changed it up a little. Michelle spread the graham cracker mix on the bottom of a 9×13 pan and poured the chocolate on top. This is dangerous for me. When is comes to peanut butter and chocolate, I have little restraint, so I decided to press small amounts of the graham cracker filling into mini muffin tins, and cover with a spoonful of the chocolate mix.


I refrigerated them overnight, and in the morning they easily popped out of the muffin tins with a butter knife.


You could even use the paper liners to make it more authentic, or give them as a gift for Easter!

I wouldn’t say they taste exactly, like Reese’s, but it’s pretty darn close, and dare I say–better?!

Let me know what you think!