Oh birthdays. There’s nothing I don’t love about them. I love giving gifts for someone’s special day. I love the special happy birthday phone calls. I love, love, love birthday dinners.

I don’t love planning ahead. 99% of my birthday gifts are mailed after the special date. I feel okay about that.

I feel okay about sending birthday gifts a day or two late. I do not feel okay about dreaming up elaborate homemade gifts that will take days, if not weeks, to finish.

This does not bode well with my year of nothing new. Because in addition to not allowing any new purchases for myself, I’m not allowing myself any new purchases for others either.

Seems selfish? It’s not trust me. It’d be a million times easier to spend a day shopping for birthday gifts. Because shopping for others is always, always better than shopping for yourself. I enjoy making a day out of brainstorming what others might enjoy, what they’ve mentioned needing, and what fits their personality perfectly. I enjoy wrapping up their gift and writing a little happy birthday note. I love hearing from them when they received their gift.

Anyways…the reason I’m writing this post. Gasp! One is quickly approaching! I arrived in Boulder on the 10th. My sister’s birthday was on the 12th. Panic ensued.

A quick review of my Pinterest DIY boards and panic subsided. I found the perfect handmade gift for my nostalgic sister. A gift that our family would understand completely.

Enter the embroidered road map:

As a child, my family of five made the four hour journey to our cabin at Swan Lake at least once per month.

Just a few memories for your enjoyment:

Our chariot was usually an early 90’s Ford Aerostar with towel wrapped bucket seats. Occasionally, a Ford Explorer was the vehicle of choice with a mother in the backseat to separate fighting sisters.

The Cocktail and Dirty Dancing soundtracks, those songs will forever remind me of those road-trips. Thanks to my sister (the birthday girl) for her awesome taste in music

Our choice of one Clearly Canadian (what happened to that drink?) and a candy bar, often in the form of candy cigarettes (can you believe they sold these?). All of these allowances coming from one of the most health conscious moms around.

Never remembering if Lincoln or Seeley was our first stop and having to pee…bad. As a result, having to pee on the side of the highway with my baby blanket shielding me from the eyes of passerbyers.

This project was so.much.fun. The other morning, I rummaged through my car’s glove compartment and found not one, but five Montana highway maps. Thanks Dad, for making sure I never got lost.

I followed the rather simple instructions on this tutorial, and had one of those maps embroidered in no time. Then I decoupaged the map to a mat that I already had. Literally, that’s it!

My first birthday gift of a year of nothing new complete…100% handmade and recycled. 100% more satisfying that a store bought birthday gift.

Now, a picture of a regal Beagle. You’re welcome.