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Gratitude Sunday

Joining in Gratitude Sunday with Taryn and others over at Wooly Moss Roots. We take the time to acknowledge all the things (big and small) that we were most grateful for in the past week.

Liesl Made : The Colors of Summer

It has been since December since I’ve done a Gratitude Sunday post. Although I do take time to think about what all I have to be grateful for, it really does help to do these posts here once in a while, to write them out and acknowledge them

This week I was grateful for:

  • a bit of rain.
  • and the cool air that followed.
  • teaming up with some great artists and creatives.
  • avoiding a ranty response to something insensitive someone I really respect posted online.
  • the many colors of summer (seen above.)
  • that I get to live with my Grandma and spend so much time with her.
  • a big bowl of fresh picked blueberries.
  • and blueberry pancakes.
  • chicken antics.
  • visits from family and friends.
  • a new-found love (addiction?) of jam and jelly making.
  • bags of green beans slowly filling the freezer.

What were you most grateful for this past week?

3 Questions : Nicole

3 Questions is an interview-style series featuring some of my favorite bloggers. Every week, I ask one inspirational person 3 completely random questions and ask them to share three photos that represent Who they are, What they do or make and Where they feel the happiest.

Liesl Made : 3 Questions : Nicole

I first found Nicole via Pinterest. It was one of those instant pinner-crushes. I loved everything she shared and often specifically went to her profile just to check her recent pins. Then when I got on Instagram, I was able to follow here there and learn more about her–like how she had started up a shop featuring lovely hand knits. I could say the things that draw me to Nicole are the obvious ones, like her knitting and sense of style and design, love for Iceland and furry critters, commitment to a clean, healthy body and planet, honoring our history while also thinking about our future. But just like with all the women I’ve featured in this series, she has that certain shine beyond all of the obvious that makes her hard to miss and hard to not like. If you take some time to read this post and follow through to the links, I’m sure you’ll see it too.

Who or what would you like to be reincarnated as? I would love to be reincarnated as a mountain in the Westfjords of Iceland, near to and facing the sea. To keep watch over my favorite spot, day in and day out over the centuries, while wearing a blanket of snow through the dark days of winter, to feeling the rays of the midnight sun on my face in summer, would be ultimate bliss. 
What is one of your favorite words or phrases? “You are the cosmos.” These four words, together in this order, are a lovely reminder of where we came from and to where we will return. I rejoice in the fact that we are all the same: you, me, the moon and the trees. This line is one that I draw endless inspiration from; it has the ability to really light up the dark days. I have found that to sit and think on these words is a great remedy for self doubt–that beast doesn’t stand a chance against all of the time, space, and good ancestral vibes that dwell in the cosmos, rooting for us to do and be well!
Are you generally a clean or messy person? Clean! I do not function well in a cluttered environment, at all. I feel like the clutter comes in through my eyeballs and makes a home in my brain, then thoughts back up like a traffic jam  and cannot get rolling efficiently again until the debris is cleared from the road. Clean feels like driving down a quiet country road on a crisp autumn day, whereas messy feels like sitting in traffic on an L.A. freeway on the hottest day of the year, without air conditioning. These days, I struggle big time in most situations that bring about too much outside stimulus, so for me, a room where everything is in it’s right place makes for a calm, peaceful place to be.

Be sure to check out Nicole’s blog, shop, Facebook and Instagram.

Click here to see all 3 Questions interviews.

Garden Notes

Liesl Made : Garden Work Bench

I’ve decided to spare you all gratuitous photos of vegetables and long ramblings on the specifics of how each plant is growing. The garden is producing and thanks to the squash abundance, I’ve officially moved up to the ‘two basket harvesting’ stage. Instead, maybe I’ll go into how I’m feeling about the garden lately. At times I feel very content and confident, like “oh yeah, I got this.” Then there are times when it hits me just how many weeds and how much work surround me. I’ve got a list as long as my arm of kind-hearted people who would help me, whether it be pulling weeds, harvesting or offering advice, but I’m too stubborn and proud. And a bit emotional about the garden this year. All of this emotional weight has left me doing a lot more work than I need to do and making more mistakes than I might have made if it weren’t all so heavy. I know I’ll learn a lot through this experience, through my victories and especially my failures and I already know things I’ll be doing differently next year. Gardening is a very humbling thing, isn’t it?

So, this year is a year of experimenting for me, of learning just how much I can handle, how much I want to handle. Julie posted this recently and mentioned an earlier post by Milla on the same subject (its this one, I remember it well.) Both echo some of my recent sentiments and fears and hopes (though much more eloquently and much more wisely.) In all honesty, I’m not cut out to be a farmer, not a for-profit one. A garden big enough to feed my household and have a little left over to offer friends and family seems about right for me. Then again, who knows where life will take me in the future. But for now, my plate is full.

(If you do want to see more specifics, I post far too many photos on my Instagram of what I’m harvesting and doing.)

 

Fog & Cedar Giveaway (Closed)

Liesl Made : Fog and Cedar Giveaway
Liesl Made : Fog and Cedar Giveaway
Liesl Made : Fog and Cedar Giveaway
Liesl Made : Fog and Cedar Giveaway
When Nicola contacted me to team up and do a giveaway here, I couldn’t have been more excited. I’ve long been a fan of her style and creations. Paired with with Elaina, a fellow Canadian creative living in Denmark, they make up Fog & Cedar. When I see their work, the first words that come to mind are simplicity, quality and timelessness. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like things nowadays have to be loud and sparkly and outrageous to be impressive. Not many things rest solely on characteristics like quality craftsmanship or timeless design. Luckily, those of us in the handmade world understand more readily the history that lies behind every handmade piece (from brainstorm to final product) so I knew you would all appreciate discovering this shop and having the chance to win a wonderful handmade piece.

To enter to win this handwoven mixed yarn wall weaving simply visit the Fog & Cedar shop and come back here and leave a comment mentioning which item is your favorite. To earn extra entries: like Fog & Cedar on Facebook. Mention this giveaway on Facebook. Tweet about this giveaway. Mention this giveaway on your blog.  (Be sure to leave separate comments for each extra entry you do.)

This giveaway is open internationally. It will close on July 28th in the evening US Eastern time. The winner will be drawn randomly and announced here in this post. I will contact the winner directly via the email you enter when leaving a comment. (There are designated places to enter your email address and URL when commenting. Please do not put either in your comment. They often get filtered to my spam folder and I no longer will fish them out.) If I do not hear back from the winner by Wednesday July 30th, a new winner will be drawn.

Also Fog & Cedar is offering 10% off until the end of August for all Liesl Made readers. Just use the coupon code “Lieslmade” when checking out.

Giveaway is now closed and the winning comment is from Milla.

PS: If you have a small-scale, indie or handmade shop, product or service and want to team up to do a giveaway here at the Liesl Made blog, feel free to email me.

3 Questions : Amanda

3 Questions is an interview-style series featuring some of my favorite bloggers. Every week, I ask one inspirational person 3 completely random questions and ask them to share three photos that represent Who they are, What they do or make and Where they feel the happiest.

Liesl Made : 3 Questions : Amanda

Although there are so many lovely food blogs out there I like, I have to admit, there are only a small few I follow regularly. I get most of my recipes and food inspiration from the likes of Pinterest and links shared from other crafty bloggers. When it comes to a food blog, I’ve found I really like the ones that have that certain something to them. Sometimes it hard to pinpoint what that something is–maybe its just the way the author writes or the styling in their photos. With Amanda’s blog it’s these things and the fact that her love and respect for whole, real food is so inspiring and infectious. I found it a few months ago and fell for Heartbeet Kitchen right away, flipping back through the pages, indulging in the photographs and mouth-watering recipes.

What is you favorite thing about summer? Living in Minnesota, soaking up every last bit of Summer is a must. I enjoy so many pieces of it…..  sunbathing by the lakes, coffee on the patio, spontaneous picnics, the sound of music in the park, and most of all – weekend trips to the bountiful farmer’s market. The smell as I joyfully stroll down the aisles is invigorating, especially the fresh herbs. The multi-cultural chatter of the vendors with their customers, that often ends in friendships. The colors of the rainbow scattered among peak of the season vegetables, fruit and flowers. The taste of artisan garlic and herb marinated chevre samples from one of my favorite stands and the hot, buttered sweet corn. It’s sensory overload in the best of ways.

What was your first pet? When I was three years old, my father let me pick out a puppy from a litter of four black labs. We named her Sally and she became my very best friend, as I was an only child until the age of seven. At 80 pounds, she slept with me every single night in my twin bed, taking up over half of the space but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Sally and I played catch in the yard, I dressed her up in my clothes, and even tagged along on a few pheasant hunting excursions. She and I created so many memories together that I will never forget. 

What is there too much of in your life? With social media and online interaction being the core of not only my full time job, but also my freelance writing and blogging, I sometimes feel like it takes me away from the simple things in life. It certainly is a blessing and a curse all in the same breath. I have met the most amazing people through social connections {like you Liesl!} and have been given opportunities that would have never come along otherwise. But then they are the days I yearn for time to just let my mind escape in a book or go without checking my email or Twitter stream. It’s all about balance and I’m hoping to get a little better at that.

Be sure to check out Amanda’s blog, Twitter and her newly-released book “Smitten with Squash.

Click here to see all 3 Questions interviews.

Chicken Diary : The Breeds

Liesl Made : Chicken Breeds
Liesl Made : Chicken Breeds
Liesl Made : Chicken Breeds
Liesl Made : Chicken Breeds

Last week, I introduced you to Chuck, the Silver Polish rooster. He definitely stands out among the standard breeds I have. The remaining 15 birds are made up of four varieties. I specifically chose four separate colors so I could tell the chicks apart, even at only a couple of days old. I went with very classic breeds for the layers. Six Rhode Island Reds, which are a reddish-brown and three Barred Rocks, which are a black and white speckled.

Out of the six meat birds, half are Orpingtons (the golden buff color) and half are Wyandotte (white.) I say “meat birds” because that is what I am raising them for even though they are considered a standard dual-purpose breed, good for both eggs and meat. Maybe next year, I can try raising one of the specific meat birds, like Pioneers or Red Rangers. However, there will be no eggs from these six as all are male and, if everything goes well, will be butchered in about a month.

I really like the Buff Orpingtons. They are a pretty bird and, so far, these boys are very docile and sweet. I’ll probably get some layers next year. Friends and family are pushing for more exotic breeds as well. Normally, I’m a classic kind of girl (and aiming for hens that are more notorious layers, therefore, earning their keep) but, on this one, I agree with them and hope to get a couple of “top hats” like Chuck, just for a little interest in the flock. Also on the list next year are Araucanas, which produce the colorful “easter” eggs.

Those of you with chickens, do you have a favorite breed? Or anything to share on notable differences between the breeds?

It’s the Little Things

Liesl Made : Baby Birds
Liesl Made : Baby Bird
Liesl Made : Morning Light
Liesl Made : Elderflower
Liesl Made : Breakfast and Lunch
Liesl Made : All Lined Up
Liesl Made : Moon

Often, it’s the little things. Like the morning sun sneaking into a west-facing room. First year elderflowers. Witnessing babies leave the nest for the first time. The waxing moon hanging in the late evening sky. A row of young chickens all lined up. Hot cereal topped with fresh picked berries. And the first cucumber sandwich of the season.

3 Questions : Kristin

3 Questions is an interview-style series featuring some of my favorite bloggers. Every week, I ask one inspirational person 3 completely random questions and ask them to share three photos that represent Who they are, What they do or make and Where they feel the happiest.

Liesl Made : 3 Questions : Kristen

This week I get the privilege of interviewing Kristin. When I think of her, the word ‘anachronistic’ pops to mind. She is one of those souls who is from another time and place. A true lady, she is sweet and charming and gracefully. And has a passion for sewing, knitting, spinning, crafts, reading and old movies and shares all of this and more with us on her blog. 

What is your favorite TV commercial? I love watching my favorite shows on DVD, but I rarely watch actual TV so I don’t see a lot of commercials. There was a Volkswagen one last year that I liked, though. A few guys are driving a convertible in a cold and snowy environment, so they’re wearing ski masks. They stop at a convenience store, and the guy who goes inside forgets to take off his mask. The reactions of the other customers inside are hilarious (they assume he’s going to attempt robbery). I drive a VW Beetle so of course I’m partial to their commercials! Also, whenever I get the chance to watch TCM, I really like the bits they play between films: a mix of special features, old movie trailers, and commercials for DVDs and such. I’m a huge classic movie fan, so that’s the one channel where I actually enjoy the commercials.
What makes you unhappy? Conflict. It makes me feel so uncomfortable when people are arguing or when there’s a disagreement that can’t seem to be solved. It’s not that I consider myself a peacekeeper…I don’t try to fix the conflict, I just avoid it. That’s something I need to work on, though, because you can’t really solve any problem by ignoring it.
When have you embarrassed yourself in public? Many, many times. I’m a shy introvert with a tendency towards clumsiness, which leads to all sorts of awkward situations. To make matters worse, when I’m embarrassed, my face blushes beet red, so it’s impossible to pretend that nothing happened. I’ve fallen down the steps on a bus. When I took a mandatory public speaking class in college, my hands shook so badly that my papers kept rattling. I’ve said things that didn’t quite come out the way I intended them to (I’m not very good at small talk). I knocked over a glass jar in Hobby Lobby and it shattered on the floor, which sent a couple of employees scurrying my way with a broom and dustpan. Once, I was supposed to play the piano for the Easter service at church, and just before we left the house, I misplaced my sheet music. I tried to make it through the song from memory but got stuck in one section, so I played that part over and over until I finally just gave up. (When we got home, there sat my sheet music, in plain view on the coffee table.) I’m trying to not take myself so seriously…these things seemed awful at the time, but now they just make me laugh!

Be sure to check out Kristin’s blog, shop, Ravelry, Pinterest and Goodreads.

Click here to see all 3 Questions interviews.

Dyeing with Mulberries

Liesl Made : Mulberry Dyed Yarn
Liesl Made : Mulberry Dyed Yarn
Liesl Made : Mulberry Dyed Yarn
Liesl Made : Mulberry Dyed Yarn

Mulberries have become a pretty important harvest here. We have two trees (conveniently right where the berry patch is) that we happily pick from every year. It does take a bit of work to get them. My preferred method has been to spread a sheet over the grass and either shake the branches or pick by hand, dropping the berries to the sheet, then gathering them up. They don’t have the zing a blueberry or raspberry has and the little green stems can make for an interesting texture in your mouth but they are probably my favorite berry here, just behind blueberry. The fact they taste sweet and are a nutritional powerhouse, loaded with vitamin K, C and iron and are free and organic helps their appeal as well, I’m sure. I managed to put over two gallon bags in the freezer as I’m hoping to make a mulberry jelly as well as mulberry cordial. (More on that later.)

But every year, I look with sadness at the berries wasted: way up in the trees, unreachable and eventually falling to the ground, smooshed and dirty. Then I had a clever idea on how to use the “seconds”–the ones that aren’t the best to eat but are still worthy of other uses, like dyeing! I laid a couple tarps down and every morning and every night, over the span of four or five days, I had accumulated enough to feel confident to get a decent color.

Berries, however, are usually what they call “fugitive” dyes, meaning they don’t hold to the fiber and tend to fade or wash away. So I prepared for that possible disappointment in the back of my mind. Although I have been reading up a bit about the science of dyeing, mordants, modifiers, PH and what not, I still like going with my gut. This time I stuck with my familiar route (what can I say? I’m a Taurus) of alum and cream of tartar as a mordant. Then did an after bath with vinegar. Whatever I did, it worked! I will say I used a lot of material in ratio to the fiber so that probably aided in the dark color. I’ll also admit, after I took these photos I realized they aren’t perfectly accurate. It was very hard to capture the color–it’s not so shiny looking, a bit darker and more of a greenish gray with a purple-y brown through it.

Behind the scenes photos here. And this photo shows what the pillowcase I used to strain the berries with looked like a few days and a few heavy rainstorms later.

Chicken Diary : Meet Chuck

I’ve decided to try a little series here called “Chicken Diary” to contain the chicken-talk in an orderly fashion. I’m planning on it being little updates about the birds and their antics as well as random thoughts on chickens and things I’m learning or enjoying (or not enjoying) about them.

Liesl Made : Meet Chuck
Liesl Made : Meet Chuck

First up, I’d like you to meet Chuck. It’s hard not to mention him when I talk about the little flock. He is our superstar. Everyone loves him. As a free extra they threw in the order, we didn’t know what breed he would be or even if he would be a he or she. All we knew what that his name would be Chuck (a friend asked to name one before I managed to put my foot down about naming our food.) It didn’t take long for us to realize he was a Sliver Polish top hat chicken. However, the gender still remained a mystery. I guessed he was a boy early on, based on the fact that he acted bold like the other boys. But some of the girls were pretty gutsy too, so I really couldn’t be sure.

Then, at just under five weeks, before the certainty of an audible clue, a friend said he knew how to tell the sex. So he checked Chuck over and said it was girl. We had all come to like the idea of having a rooster so we turned our sights on upgrading one of the meat birds to that role. And there wasn’t much doubt on which one it would be–one specific Buff Orpington. Even though he is one of the biggest (therefore the most practical to butcher), he is also the sweetest and most friendly of all sixteen birds. I made the mistake of not waiting for a definite gender identification on Chuck and let my brother name this Orpington. He chose Franz Joseph (the Emperor of Austria.)

But not long after, one morning, I opened the chicken door and they all came barreling out, Chuck in the rear. He stayed on the ramp and let out three of the most awkward crows I’d ever heard. He was officially a cockerel and claimed his position as our flock’s future rooster. Unlike the other birds, Chuck has been our “pet” since the beginning so his fate was never in the air. Either we’d have a mighty pretty rooster or an extra layer. Since I’m not sure two roosters is smart, poor Franz Joseph has returned to being a nameless bird destined for our freezer. (I’ll save the meat bird talk for another diary entry.)