Sweet Potato Black Bean Burritos

My husband are by no means vegetarian (c’mon, bacon amiright?), but we try to be somewhat mindful of where our meat is coming from, and how often we eat it in the name of sustainability. And, depending on who you talk to, in the name of health. So, I’m always on the lookout for some hearty meatless dinner options. I got this one from my sister-in-law, added a little bit of my own touch, and love it!

sweet potato black bean

What you need:

  • 3 cups sweet potatoes (peeled and diced, about 1 large potato or a couple small/medium ones)
  • 1/2 onion (chopped)
  • 2 cups cooked black beans (or about a can and a half, or a full 2 cans for some extra protein!)
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tbs olive oil for sautéing
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle chile powder
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded  cheddar cheese
  • Optional toppings, some variety of the following: sour cream, salsa, avocado, cilantro, green onions, tomatoes… while the burritos taste quite good without these things, the freshness is a GREAT combo to the smokey sweet flavor of the burritos and adds a little more substance.

Start by peeling and chopping your sweet potatoes and chopping the onion. Saute together in a large frypan.

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Allow the onions and especially the potatoes to soften. They will be baked a little, but it’s nice to get a good bit done at this step. Meanwhile, start diving up your cheese in the tortillas. You can do this without spreading them out, but I like to just lay em all out there and make sure they are fairly even. I like to keep a little cheese to put on top.

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Add the black beans and spices. Cook until beans are warmed through. Then, divide among the tortillas.

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Wrap them up and tuck them in a 9×13 pan. (Sometime I want to add some sort of sauce and make them more wet burrito/enchilada…)

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Cover pan with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Pull out, dish, and garnish with selected toppings. I like to make it sort of buffet style, where people can decide how to spruce up their burrito however they like. These are also GREAT leftovers, they reheat really well. I promise you’ll see this happen before you know it:

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Yum!

Yobel International

Oh, the holidays are crazy, always. I dream of a day when my job doesn’t get busier around Christmas (and Easter). Life will always get busier, I don’t need work to add on to it.

One small creative item recently, to add to my busy work schedule, my regular volunteering (and board duties) for this awesome non-profit called Yobel International also increases. Yobel International works around the world in impoverished areas to bring business and entrepreneur education to help people change their lives and communities with their own businesses. Many of the products that these people make are for sale at their market (and online at Yobel Market) Between end of the year fundraisers to help bring the curriculum to new countries, and the holiday shopping surge, they need as many hours as I can spare.

Thankfully, I’m able to donate some of my other skills. I’ve had a small hand in product design, I’ve been doing their photography for the website for the past year and a half, and I occasionally test my hand in design for them.

I GAVE HOPE

Today is a big day, all day people around Colorado (and the rest of the country) are encouraged to donate to Colorado non-profits, and especially today because all credit card fees are waved, and a percentage of the donations are being matched! I helped put together a little campaign to help spread the word. I love the little profile logo (above), and don’t hate the directions. This was just a few hours of playing, but I love when playing pays off.

Colorado Gives Contest Yobel

 

By the way, if you stop by https://www.facebook.com/yobelmarket before midnight tonight you can participate in the contest! Or if you are interested in contributing, you can still donate through December https://www.coloradogives.org/YobelInternational, or donate and get more info year round at their non-profit website http://yobelinternational.org/

Neck Pillow and Space Saver

I made this for my trip to Costa Rica this spring with Yobel International. We needed to travel light so we could bring supplies to and from, not to mention it was an 8 hr red eye on the way down. So, how about a pillow that, instead of taking up extra space, relieves space from my suitcase? Even better, you can make it for ALMOST NOTHING.

Travel Pillow

What you need:

  • old teeshirt (or comfortable fabric
  • sewing machine
  • travel plans

It’s pretty straight forward, just an empty neck pillow that you then fill with (comfy) items that you want to bring with you.

I’m sorry, I don’t have a pattern for yet, but I wanted to get you this idea with the holidays approaching. You can see the proportions on the teeshirt below. Also, sorry for the terrible photos… it was a crazy time and this was a late night craft.

Step 1: Fold your comfy shirt in half.

Step 2: Cut out half a neck pillow shape (but across the folded shirt it will make a full pillow)

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Step 3: Sew all the edges together.

Step 4: Cut a small slit on the top (for stuffing) and flip inside out

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Step 5: Stuff with clothes that you are packing!

I was able to fit all of the below in mine, it was amazing! I ended up taking a little out of the back of the neck so it was more for the sides of my head to lean on on the plane. It could be a good idea as well to put a couple undergarments in here in case of lost luggage.

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The extra nice thing is that very seldom do you get told you need to fit this in your carry-on. I flew all around with it just “attached” to my carry on, which can also be great for those of you who, like me, try your hardest to never pay baggage fees! It’s really amazing how much you can fit in your “carry on and a personal item”. I’m becoming a pro.

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Again, this was like a 20 minute craft, but kind of looks like it. You can easily class it up with some nice fabric and finish up the seem around the stuffing hole (terrible name…). You could also get even fancier and make the side with the slit 2 separate pieces, creating a nice overlap where you stuff so that nothing is peaking out! I’ll have to try that idea soon and give a 1 hour version to join with the 20 minute version.

DIY Dino Sweater

The other night I thought to myself,

“I want a Dinosaur shirt.”

Then I remembered the random old sweater I got for free (clothing swap), and a pile of felting wool that I’ve had for, oh, 5+ years?  The lesson to take from this post: it’s OK to never throw things away! Because then you can make rad little things like a Dino Sweater:

Dino Sweater

(My face is a tad blurry… I think I’m OK with that.)

What You Need:

  • Sweater/shirt (Note, mine was a little chunky of a knit for felting, but it worked for now. I’d recommend a smooth knit/woven for best results.)
  • Cardboard
  • Pen/pencil
  • Exacto knife
  • Felting wool
  • Felting needle/kit

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I got this wool years ago at a cool little store on Etsy that is no longer operating. There are ENDLESS color options on Etsy, as well as natural dyes and everything else. I’m not positive how much wool this was, but I’d guess around 2 oz? It goes a long way. Of course, you can probably find it at your local craft store as well.

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I hand sketched this dino from a couple different stencils I found online, keeping features I liked and adding some I wanted. It took a few tries.

Also, for felting I recommend staying away from intricate designs (especially at the start), because the nature of it is to be a little loose and lumpy. That partly influenced which dino I went with (no attempting intricate spikes for this girl!). I also now get to have nerdy conversations about the Brontosaurs vs Brachiosaurus.

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Place your stencil on your sweater. Keep in mind the length of your sweater… this one is a little short on me so the dino is higher than I was thinking in the end, but still awesome of course.

I used a little gaf tape from my job to keep it in place, then reinforced it with a couple pins to keep the sweater from stretching and deforming.

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Here’ s what my felting needle looks like. You can’t see the little barbs at the end of the needle, but they serve to “tangle” the wool and turn it into felt. Mine also came with a nice little foam square to put behind the needle so you can felt through fabric.

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Start placing a layer of wool, not too thick, over your stencil. Take your needle and start pushing through the wool and the sweater.

Make sure you have something protective behind the sweater! If you are doing this on your lap use a thick magazine or something else dense or you will stab yourself in the leg repeatedly!

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Felting Dino Sweater

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Basically, that’s it! Continue to tuck in along the edges, add more will to places that seem thin. After you have it all filled up remove the stencil an do any touching up along the edges that you need to.

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Fair warning, I haven’t washed this sweater yet. I’d recommend it gentle on cold, or hand washing warm. Depending on how well the wool fused with your sweater it could come off easily, and warm hot water can felt the wool even further.

I’d say it’s worth it for a hand made Dino Sweater!

DIY Dino Sweater

 

Fight a cold, make some great food.

Tis the season… for getting colds. Normally if I get a good night’s sleep my immune system is a decent fighter. But apparently it is no match for changing weather. It’s finally getting regularly cold, and we had our first sticking snow. I did my best to hold back my sarcastic responses to everyone saying it’s way too early for snow. My whole life, in Michigan and Colorado, the first snow has been in October (or even September!)

Speaking of Michigan, nothing is best for feeling sick like your favorite Michigan tee and some unnecessarily bright pants.

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I’ve never been one to follow unnecessary rules. And I’m wearing bright colors year round.

T-shirt – MichiganAwesome, Cardi – Mossimo (thrifted), Scarf – Yobel Market (Sak Saum), Jeans – Rue21 (swapped), boots – 6pm

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Clothing aside, my husband came up with the BEST idea recently. We like to make random treats with Crecent rolls when they are on sale. Sometimes just ham and cheese, sometimes throw in some asparagus or broccoli. But this time I had some celebratory brie, and put together with some apple slices, walnuts, and top with honey….

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…wrap them up…

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And bake them at 350 for around 20 minutes. Watch it closely, depending on how much stuff you have inside it may take shorter or longer. Ours were still a tiny bit soft on the inside, partly due to being undercooked I think, but also partly do to gooey wonderful melty brie!

Wondering why I don’t have a finished photo? Because we ate them all. You’ll have to trust me on this one. WINNER of an appetizer (or splurging dinner).

Simplified recipe:

Ingredients:

  • Crescent Rolls
  • 1 apple
  • Brie
  • Walnuts
  • Honey

Unroll your rolls, slice your apple and brie, place in the open roll, top with honey and walnuts, roll up. Bake at 350 for around 20 minutes, watching carefully.

First knit of the year.

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The past year has been… well, busy. I am well aware I say that quite a lot, but looking back at what I did and didn’t do, it really has been quite a year. I recently decided to make some intentional changes (specifically in my yes-saying) to be sure I am doing more of the things I want to be doing.

So, one of those things I didn’t do last year and want to be intentional about doing this year is knitting/crocheting.

Often my crafting process goes like this:

“Man I could use x. I could make x by doing this and this and this. Oh, and I have this and this and this to make it with. Am I too busy? Probably. Let’s do it anyway.”

So, I wanted a headband, I remembered I had some leftover yarn from my super chunky scarf, and got knitting.

What you need:

  • An idea
  • Yarn
  • 3 knitting needles at least close to the same size.
  • knowledge of knitting….
  • Fleece
  • Embroidery thread or small yarn
  • Embroidery needle

I’m not one for knitting patterns, I can’t read them for the life of me. I know how to knit, purl, and get the cable knit look, so I did all of those things. Basically I knit a row of 10, flipped, then purled a row of 10 so the knit look was always on the outside. I knit/purled 10 rows total, and on the 11th (first) I did the cable stitch. I knit 2, pulled 3 off on a separate needle, knit the next 3, the knit the pulled off 3 in line, and knit 2 more. (If you don’t know how to cable stitch, then I’d recommend going somewhere other than that terrible description to find out, it’s actually fairly simple.) And, I simple did that until it was long enough.

I was a little worried at first because the cabling makes it look a little funny and warped and not flat, as you can see on the left half. I wasn’t sure how the fleece backing would help.

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But, lo and behold, it definitely did! Look how much flatter and straight it is when the fleece is on the back!

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To measure the fleece, I just laid out my knitted headband on the fleece, gave a good estimated measure, and cut from there. It ended up being about perfect.

I used some thin yarn (you can use embroidery floss here too) and an embroidery needle. Just be sure to not send the needle all the way to the outside of your headband unless you want that embroidered look on the outside as well. I just went through the layers of yarn, but not outside the black thread isn’t visible.

I also kept a row of knitting just outside the fleece, so all you saw when I was wearing it was the knit, not the black fleece.

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Then, put the edges together in some sort of janky fashion. Mine looks a little rough, but it’s the back, so I don’t really care.

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Here is just the big ole scarf that I where once it gets remotely cold because it is so so comfy.

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And now with matching chunky headband! It’s a bit goofy and 80’s… but who doesn’t love the 80’s?

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Hanging Railing Planter

It’s garden time again! Due to the traveling we did this spring, I didn’t bother starting any seedlings because they never would have made it. Thankfully I have some over-zealous friends who planted a ton extra so I got some of their bounty! I’m learning from some of my mistakes this year and utilizing our new deck to create some shadier spaces to keep the plants cool. They say they are full-sun, but they haven’t met the match of Colorado draught sun on a roof!

One idea I’m trying out this year is to use a “planter” of sorts that doubles as some extra shade for the plants below.

hanging railing planter

What you need:

  • A fabric shower curtain or window cover (try thrift stores or discount stores) or a couple of yards of fabric. – Be sure it’s some sort of polyester  you don’t want the planter disintegrating byt he end of the summer.
  • A sewing machine. – I have a pretty basic machine that only does straight lines and zigzags and it was sufficient.
  • Heavy Duty thread.
  • Cord or rope to attach the planter to your railing. – You could also create some straps from fabric if needed. Again, keep it synthetic, cotton and hemp aren’t going to last.
  • Dirt – plan on 1 cu ft  bare minimum. This also depends on the amount of fabric you have and the final size of the planter. Bags of dirt never go as far as you think they will, be safe and go with 2.
  • Plants. – I went with some heartier plants that do ok in sometimes dry soil. These hanging fabric planters lose water faster than pots. I also bought some basil which isn’t the heartiest, but I wanted to give it a shot and have some fresh stuff on hand.
  • Gardening tools and extras you want. – those other things that you want, gloves, fertilizers, labels, etc.

Start of by folding your curtain in half, bring the bottom up to the top. If there is an obvious “outside” (a pattern or nicer seems) be sure to start off by sewing “inside out” and have the pattern on the inside. If you don’t have a curtain that is already reinforced at the top, it would be a good idea to create a sort of thick hem on top that will be strong enough to support the planter. If you do already have a reinforced top, leave a little bit of that uncovered to use to hang from.

Then, simply sew the edges together. My machine has a harder time with thick spots, so I just kept it right on the outside edge of the seems.

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Be sure to keep the top open, that is one of the slots you will be putting dirt in.

Then, reinforce those seems with a zigzag. There will be a lot of reinforcing on this project, wet dirt gets heavy!

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Once you have the sides sewn at least twice, go ahead and flip it right side out. Now you will have the pattern (or nice side of the fabric) facing outward. We will be working with it this way the rest of the project.

Next, sew a couple more pockets. I decided to just do 4 total, but you can split it up as much as you want. I kept the pockets larger since my plants need a bit more space for roots. Be sure to double sew these lines as well.

*On this project I did not leave extra space in between top and bottom pockets. If you are doing larger pockets like this, I recommend you put at least a few inches of space between the bottom of the top pockets and bottom pockets so your plants have more room to grow up. You can see in my later pictures my mint and lavender are a little “cozy” on bottom.

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At this point you have sewn at least a couple of “pockets” shut. Cut a slit in the top layer. Don’t cut all the way through both layers!

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Sew around the raw edges of fabric, you don’t want them to fray away into nothing.

Also, on the outside corners of the pocket opening run that zig-zag a few extra times and make a nice thick edge. The corners will take a lot of weight and want to split.

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You can really see my perfectionist sewing coming out on this project… look at all those not-so-straight lines. That’s my life, friends, I hate straight lines. You know what? This thing doesn’t have to look perfect to function well!

Sew some super reinforced “buttonholes”. No need for a fancy machine to serge this, just zig zag over itself multiple times, leaving a space you will soon cut open to run your cord/rope through.

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I put 3 on top, and 2 on the sides to keep it from blowing in the wind.

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Again, 3 cheers for imperfection!

Cut some small slits in the button holes, and strap your planter to your railing. If you know some fancy knots, you can make it so you can move the planter if needed. Otherwise, just tie it tight.

Fill your pockets up with dirt leaving a inch or two to the brim. That way if you get a downpour you won’t loose too much dirt. And plant your plants! Look at my herbs, nice as cozy:

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As I mentioned before, you can see how the lower plants are a little tight. They have room, but they have to dodge the pocket above them. If your pockets are smaller, this likely won’t be an issue. If you are doing larger pockets, be sure to create more space than I did.

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Here is the rest of my garden as well. A large variety of squashes  I found this lattice for a few bucks at our local ReStore (a crafters dream). I love beans, so decided to plant them late anyway. I’m also going to see if I can train the watermelon to grow up instead of out.

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A smattering of peppers, some hot and some sweet. The fruit crate planters are holding up well enough from last year.

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Our lonely tomato plant. Our friend didn’t have many extras, and since they didn’t do so well last year we decided to wait and see this time around. I will be giving this guy a lot of TLC, because there is nothing like a fresh grown tomato.

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A variety of leafy greens. They are doing better than I expected, so I will likely have to find a few more pots to put them in. Or possibly test them out in the pallet again, trying to keep it a little shadier. Also saving some space in the pallet for some more herbs!

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And I couldn’t resist getting some flowers this year. Even if we have another rough summer of draught, I can keep a little bit of bright color and life around with the cosmos. And maybe even get another bloom out of the Amaryllis!

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Here we go again, another summer of experimentation on the patio. Let me know what you think!