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? 🙂

Advertisements

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!

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!

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I’ve been thinking of making homemade laundry detergent for quite some time. I have acquired all the bits and pieces to make it over the last year, but I just didn’t get around to doing it.  But, like everyone else these days, we need to pinch our pennies.

So, I did a search, and determined that even though I’m used to liquid detergent, the powdered stuff would be less labor intensive. I found a great blog post with pictures and the cost breakdown at diyNaturals. According to their calculations you can save 16 cents per load over the name brand store stuff.  If I do 6 loads a week, I’m saving about $50 a year in just laundry detergent. Cool beans!

So following Jab’s recipe:

I combined 1 cup Borax, 1 cup Arm and Hammer Washing Soda (that’s the stuff in the baggie) and 1 bar Fels-Naptha. I used Fels-Naptha because I already had it in the house, but Jab used ivory soap, which would probably be cheaper.

I grated up the Fels-Naptha with a hand grater, and mixed all of the above together until it was evenly mixed, all the big lumps were out, and(after grating the soap) my hand felt like it was going to fall off.

My recipe made 32 oz. And Jab says you only need 1 tablespoon for a regular load. SWEET!

So far I’ve washed a load of whites, and towels with 1 tablespoon each of my detergent, and they look, smell, and feel as clean as laundry washed with my old laundry soap. Yeah! And the best part, it works just fine with HE washers! I have a top loading, and didn’t have a problem. Others say it works just as well with front loaders.

Like I said earlier, if you want a more detailed breakdown, check out Jab’s Homemade Laundry Detergent, and definitely give it a try!

Happy Laundering!

WordPress didn’t save my post!!! ACK!

So I just took an hour to type up what I considered a cute and clever post about two awesome blogs I recently found. The post was going to be called “A couple great projects, from a couple great blogs.” Of course, I saved my drafts as I went along, so when I saved the final draft, and went to preview…POOF!!!…gone. Nothing, nada, zilch. Talk about irritating.

So instead of blowing another hour trying to re-create my clever stories. I’ll just let you know, I found two really cool blogs that you should check out.

The first is Little House in the Suburbs. –This is the blog I want to have when I grow up. Check out the coldframe post. I’m totally making this in the next few weeks.

The next is an awesome farming blog called The Field and Table. Mostly, I wanted to share this post about canning. Maybe someday, when I’m not so irritated, I’ll tell you why. 🙂

Check ’em out. They’re both full of awesome information, pictures and stories.

Happy… save your draft-ing …. Grrrr.

We’re gettin’ Chickens!

Firstly, I’d like to say Happy New Year to all. I know I haven’t posted in some time, but 2012 started off with a real bang. I spent the first 4 days of the year in bed, sick. Then on the 8th day, I had surgery. BANG! But, all is well now, and as you may have guessed from the title…WE’RE GETTING CHICKENS!  And I may be just a hair excited about it.

I’ve been half-heartedly pestering my husband for about a year to get some chickens. But, then we worked out a barter system with a fellow my husband works with. We gave him fresh veggies and home canned goods, and he gave us fresh eggs from his flock. So the desire for our own chickens kind of waned. Then, last week our egg supplier confided in my husband that he’d fallen on some hard times and had to sell his chickens because he was moving. Two immediate thoughts:

1. we gotta help this poor guy

2. our essentially free farm fresh egg supply will be no longer  (selfish? Yes, but we’re being realistic here….)

Now, I just happened to be reading about chickens for a few weeks. (I got a few books on backyard chickens and poultry for Christmas.) So the idea of inheriting this guys 9 chickens sounded super awesome to me! When it comes to farming, I’m of the “Let’s do it, and see how it goes” mind-set. My husband on the other hand is the realist, devil’s advocate kind. So we talked about it, and slept on it, and craigslisted for cheap chicken coops, and after coming to the conclusion that my husband was not ready for the commitment, we dropped it….for about an hour.

It must have finally hit my husband that if we didn’t inherit some of the chickens, we’d have to go back to eating fat laden, bland, watery, sad looking eggs from the grocery store. (If you haven’t had fresh farm eggs, there is a major difference in appearance and taste that you quickly look forward to…Maybe I’ll do a comparison post some day.) So, off we went! We bought a small coop, large enough to hold 3 chickens temporarily, that we found on craigslist.

We decided we weren’t ready for a whole flock of 9 chickens, because, well, we’re chicken. (HA! Had to…) So we’re getting 3 of “the best layers.” I haven’t seen them yet, but they are apparently of the Jersey Giant breed.

Pretty, don’t you think? I definitely would have picked these girls if I’d had an option. According to my readings, they’re calm, decent layers, and good for meat (although I doubt I could stand that.)

We should be bringing our girls home in the next week or so, so I took advantage of this FANTASTIC January weather, and spent the morning raking pine needles for their bedding, breathing fresh air and getting some sun on my face.

I even made them a little roost out of sticks from the yard. Now I just have to give the coop a good cleaning, buy some feed, and make a nesting box and run for them. The more I do, the more excited I am! We’re going to have fresh eggs, but even more exciting, I’m going to get the best composted fertilizer from their bedding for my garden. OH, I can’t wait.  I’ll be sure to keep you updated on how this little adventure goes.

Happy Nesting!

 

Homemade Christmas Gift Round-up, 2011

I may be repeating myself, but I love homemade Christmas gifts. They’re unique, and something you can be sure the giftee won’t be receiving from someone else. (Some day I’ll tell you about the Christmas everything I bought my husband for Christmas, someone in my family also gave him. Ugh.) I’m sure there’s someone out there that hates getting my homemade gifts, but I figure that’s their problem. 🙂 So, with Christmas rapidly approaching, I wanted to take stock of the Christmas gifts I’ve made thus far, before I wrap them.

1. Christmas Chili, featured in my Can-It Santa post. Here’s the final product!

I always try to give my gifts a little flare. The beans and seasonings are in the can, sealed tight.

2. Headbands. My friend Bridgette has worn a headband every day since the day we’ve met. She loves bold, bright colors, and lots of glitter. Completely opposite of my style. But I saw a few tutorials floating around cyberspace on making cloth rosettes. They were putting them on pins, and clips. So I figured I’d make Bridge some headbands. What do you think?  I really like them.

3. Book Wreath. This summer when I was between jobs, I made a few book wreaths to hang in my living room. There is an abundance of beautiful book wreaths floating around the blog world. Some are very delicate, and carefully crafted. When I craft, I’m, shall we say, impatient. I know what I want, so I want to do it as quickly and efficiently as possible. Point being, my wreaths ended up being less delicate, and more full. They’ve received mixed reviews, but my cousin Heather came for a visit, and just loved them. So, I figured, what better gift! Here it is.

         

4. Ornament Wreath. Also popular in blogdom are various types of ornament wreaths. It’s super easy to make, and really inexpensive. (I found plastic ornaments for 49 cents for 12 at a local discount store, WHAT?!?) So I made 6, 4 for aunts and uncles, and 2 for myself. 🙂 They’re really beautiful in real life.

 5. Glitter Ornaments. These are super popular on craft blogs right now. They’re SUPER easy to make, and really dress up packages. I make ornaments every year and give them to co-workers, cousins, neighbors, etc.

 6. Package of Homemade Candy. Two of my brother-in-laws are young, and still live at home. So, the whole Chili idea didn’t seem appropriate for them. So I made some homemade candy,put them in a pretty box, and this is what you have!

                  

                      

 

And finally, every year I make pumpkin rolls and cookie trays for neighbors, bosses, co-workers (I really like) and that inevitable person I forgot to shop or craft for. (oops!) I plan on finishing my baking this weekend and putting them together to give out next week….CHRISTMAS week… 🙂

Happy Gifting!

Can-it Santa…

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? 🙂

Building a clothesline…

To start things off with a bang, I thought I’d give you a tutorial for building your own clothesline for about $75 bucks. Think of it as an investment. Everytime you hang your clothes out in the fresh air and sunshine, you save on electric bills. Plus, your family and Mother Earth will thank you!

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • Two (2) 4×4 posts, about 10 feet long
  • One (1) 2×6, four feet long
  • One (1) 2×6, 8 feet long
  • 6 lag bolts with 6 washer and 6 nuts
  • 6 eye bolts/screws
  • 2 bags of Quikcrete
  • Wood Screws (about 10)
  • Shovel
  • Post hole digger
  • Plastic or cloth clothesline
    (I prefer plastic, but it tends to snap if clothes are too heavy.)
  • Power Drill
  • Saw of some sort, power preferrably

Time Investment: Approx. 4 hours

1. Cut 2×6 into 2 4 ft. sections

2.  Drill 3 holes in the shape of a triangle at one end of the 4×4 post. Approx 1.5in apart from each other. 

3. Center 2×6 on the post, and drill 3 matching holes.

4. Insert 3 lag bolts into 2×6 and 4×4 post. Secure on back with bolts.

5. Repeat for second 2×6 nd 4×4 post.

6. Tap eye screws into place, and use pliers to screw into place.

6. Cut 2×4 boards into 4 equal pieces. Approx 2 feet down, cut to length 3×4 with approx 45 degree angles on both ends that extend from post to half the length of the 2×6. Attach with wood screws- 2×4 to 4×4 post, and bottom of 2×6.  The goal is to create 45 degree angles at both ends of the board to create support peices from the 4×4 post to the centers on both sides of the 2×6.  Repeat on second side.

Now….DIG! Approx 3-4 feet deep. Mine is about 15 feet apart. Much wider than that and you’ll need a third support. Use the post hold diggers to dig down far enough…this could be tricky. Once you’ve reached the appropriate depth, insert posts. Have someone hold the post while you attempt to position and level. (I eyeballed mine.)  fill the hole with quikcrete as directed by the package. Try to get the cement evenly around the post so it doesnt lean as it dries. Do the same for the second side directly acrossed from the first post.

Wait for the cement to dry, the fill the hole up with the dirt that you removed….we didnt wait. We just threw it in while the cement was still wet and it turned out ok.  The right way to do it is to wait till it dries, give it some support so they stay in position…then back fill.

 Anyway, if you’d like more detail or pictures, let me know, I’d be happy to help. The moral of the story is…save some on your energy bills, and get a little sunshine. 🙂

There’s nothing sweeter than corn fresh from the cob…

…in the middle of winter?!

That’s right my friends, there is a way to have that sweet, fresh and crisp taste of summer’s sweet corn in the middle of winter. FREEZE IT! Trust me when I tell you, taking 30 mins of time to prepare and freeze fresh summer corn is well worth it. You will NOT find the taste anywhere in the freezer or canned goods section of your grocery store in January, so why not stock up now? You can go to your local farmers market and get 5 for $1.00 this time of year , so load up for those long, grey days, or Christmas dinner!

Let’s Begin!

So, firstly, I picked about 10 cobs from my garden. (Maybe I’ll have a tutorial to grow your own corn next spring. It’s the best!)  You husk them like normal. Compost the husk and silk. As you can see from the picture, my corn isn’t perfect. I don’t use chemical fertilizer or pesticides, so a few blemishes are to be expected. In this case, I picked a few too early because the bugs were getting to them before I was! The taste, on the other hand, is perfection.

ANYWAY…

Now that your corn is husked, drop them all into a large pot of water, bring to a rolling boil, and boil for about 10 minutes, give or take.  Once they’re a bright yellow, and smell delicious, drain them, and let them cool.

Once it’s cool enough to handle, get a sharp knife and a bowl (I’m a vintage pyrex collector….they make me happy.)

And start shaving those puppies right of the cob. Get close enough to the core to get all the good stuff, but once you hit the harder, brownish core, stop.  Like so:

Repeat for all cobs. ( I hear they make some corn do-flangus that takes the kernels off for you, but this works just fine and doesn’t cost anything….)

Now, just get a quart freezer bag, or larger depending on the number of cobs, and fill ’em up! 

 

And VOILA! Fresh corn for the freezer, to be enjoyed when fresh corn is no longer… 🙂 Just be sure to take out as much air as possible before putting in the freezer to avoid freezer burn. (Sorry about the sideways pic, I’m still learning.)

Now, if you don’t have a deep freezer, go get one, hit up the farmers market on your way home, and GET TO FREEZING!  The amount of money you’ll save freezing your own veggies will cover the cost of the freezer in no time!

FYI:

You can do this with all kinds of veggies. I currently have zucchini, summer squash and green beans fresh from my garden in the freezer beside the corn. 🙂 Let me know if you want to freeze them, I’d be happy to give you pointers.

ENJOY!!