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.)

Yarn Along – Knitting and Reading

I’m joining in Yarn Along this week hosted by Ginny of Small Things. It’s the chance for those of us who love knitting and reading to share what project is currently on our needles and which book we have our noses buried in. And I personally add what music I’ve been listening to as well.

Liesl Made : Yarn Along : Knitting and Read (and Listening Too)

Knitting: Right after I mentioned I wasn’t knitting much last week, I started up again in earnest. Most of my current projects were at a standstill because I was at a point where I need to tackle a technique I find intimidating or tedious. Or I needed to make a decision: Some small (Should I add some extra rows here?) while others big (Should I frog and start over? Should I abandon this pattern all together?) I figured I needed to cast on something new, preferably something small, something to offer instant gratification (well, as instant as you can get with knitting.) Turns out a couple small projects are just what I needed to fill the time in between the bigger ones. Apart from adding some buttons, one project is complete and now I’m working on a pair of socks with some yarn gifted to me. I’m determined to have a lot of hand knits socks this winter, for myself and others.

Reading: The Beekeeper’s Bible. What a beautiful book.

Listening: This Empty Northern Hemisphereby Gregory Alan Isakov. Check out “That Moon Song,” “Evelyn” and “If I Go I’m Goin‘.” And keep an ear out for Brandi Carlile on many of the tracks.

What are YOU knitting/crocheting, reading or listening to this week?

Links, Finds and Other Good Things

Liesl Made : Knitting

First of all, thank you so much for your kind words after my post last week. It might have seemed like I was fishing for those comments but in truth, I really do struggle a lot with what Liesl Made is anymore, considering I don’t make like I used to. I’ve heard a lot of people tell me the reason they keep coming to my blog is because of who I am. I guess I can get caught up in the stats aspect of blogging, which shows tutorials and sewing stuff are my most popular posts. But really, that traffic is just passers-through. The real connection lies with those of you who actually read these rambles. It’s funny how I share my favorite bloggers each week and the reason I like them so much is because of who they are not necessarily the specifics of what they are posting or doing with their lives. Some bloggers I’ve followed for years and their lives and paths have changed but I still enjoy reading about them, sharing with them. But yet I don’t offer myself that same realization. (Maybe it has to do with the fact that I feel more comfortable talking about what I make than myself or my journey?) I suppose a lot of you are right: even though this isn’t a crafting blog in the traditional sense, I am crafting a life, whether I’m knitting, sewing, gardening or whatever. I think both myself, and all of you, are looking for that in our lives, making an authentic life. So in that way, I am still Liesl Made. And I’m glad a handful of you still want to hang around.

I’ll be back with a post sharing what all has been going on around here and how, after writing that last post, I’ve been knitting a lot more. In the meantime, I thought I’d share a list of links and finds and other good things. (Although I haven’t been speaking up in the comments, I have indeed been following my favorite bloggers and sites.)

Now that I’ve thoroughly overwhelmed you with lovely finds, what have you found lately that you’d like to share?

3 Questions : Kylie

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 : Kylie

One thing I love seeing is young photographers, crafters, makers and artists, especially when they have such a strong foundation with technique and personal style. Kylie is a 19-year-old Canadian gal who fits this bill. (And yes, I’m getting to a point where I can call a 19-year-old young.) Visiting her blog is not only a treat for the eyes (thanks to her gorgeous photography) but also inspiring to see all the knitting, sewing, crafting, baking, gardening and general stop-and-smell-the-roses attitude.

What do you think of when you think of New York? I really love New York, and it always makes me think of new adventures and exploring new places! I live in a big city and although I often miss the open skies and fresh air, I love that I will never see or experience everything there is. I imagine living in New York is the same- always a new shop to visit, a new park to explore, a new restaurant to try out.
The last time I went to New York was a few summers ago with my dad, and we had such a great time. Some of my favourite memories are walking through Central Park, seeing the city from the Highline, and buying yarn at Purl Soho and books at The Strand. Hopefully I’ll be able to visit again soon!
What is the last dream that you remember? I very rarely remember my dreams, but I do remember snippets of one I had  recently where my mum and I travelled to British Columbia… I’ve never been there but I’ve heard the coast is beautiful. Since I’m not travelling much this summer, I guess dreaming about new places will be the closest I get to actually seeing them!
In what ways are you a nerd? I think being a nerd just means you’re enthusiastic about your interests… which I definitely am! Aside from knitting, sewing, cooking, and the other crafty endeavours I often blog about, I also watch a bunch of different shows, listen to podcasts, and read blogs and books. I really love hearing stories, whether they’re fictional or real!

Be sure to check out Kylie’s blog, twitter, Ravelry and Instagram.

Click here to see all 3 Questions interviews.

On Making and Doing and Being

Liesl Made : Morning in the Garden

If you’ve been around my blog for a while (I’m talking years), you know that I was pretty immersed in sewing for a while. Like most things, it’s hard to see the scope of the picture when you are in it. It’s only been in retrospect that I’ve realized just how much I sewed in the past: scanning through gigs upon gigs of folders of photos of things I made, seeing towering stacks of handmades, hearing people remind me what I stitched for them and how much they still love it.

My energy shifted back in 2011 or so. It was a mix of many things, like learning to knit, a budding passion for gardening. But mostly, it was moving house. Around then, I commandeered a small room in our basement and turned it into what I dubbed “mon petit atelier.” When I think about this predicament, the song Little Room by The White Stripes pops in my head. While I’m grateful to have a space devoted to sewing (and somewhere I can sneak away to and create), I’m just not inspired in that room. The main creative leech is the artificial lighting. There is something about fluorescent lights that makes my stomach turn.

But even if I wanted to sew, I’ve been such a do-er lately that I’m not saving energy to make. (I’ve even been a bit slack on knitting.) Some people have expressed concern that I’m running myself ragged. Keeping busy and active is my go-to way to deal with stress. I have a hard time sitting down for too long. But from this moment on, I’m vowing to take it a little easier. Still keep busy but no longer to the point of hurting myself.

But most importantly I fear I’m forgetting how to be, forgetting the importance of just being. Now, the more I do, the less I make and be, the more left brained I become, which, ironically, just makes me unhappy in the long run. I’m constantly seeking that merga, the middle ground, where I am sated spiritually, emotionally and physically. I need tasks that make my heart swell (or even ache) as well as ones that offer methodical behavior as well as ones that make my muscles sore. I am sorry that my blog is so devoid of its roots: making (à la sewing, knitting.) The reason I haven’t been posting too much is to avoid boring you all with too much talk about gardening (and chickens) but its the closest thing I have right now to finding balance within myself.

Do you want to hear more about how the garden is growing and other things on the farm here? Or should I just wait until I have decent crafty things to share? Also, do you have any tips on how you balance these three things–making, doing and being?

3 Questions : Julie

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 : Julie

This week, I have the privilege of throwing three random questions at the lovely Julie of Knitted Bliss. I first found her through Ravelry or some other knitting source. Her collection of patterns is impressive (I’ve tried one already and can’t wait to try more.) But I enjoy her blog for more than just her patterns. Her own knitting projects are impressive and inspiring. Plus, every week, she shines a spotlight on a fellow knitter who did a clever or beautiful modification to an existing pattern. As well as shares some of her favorite things from around the web (I’ve found a lot of great things through those posts.) And, like all my favorite bloggers, she shares a bit of her life as well, all the little things that fill her days and bring a bit of joy.

Did your mother or grandmother make a specific food you loved? My grandmother used to make these amazing coconut squares with pink icing, which are sometimes called Pink Lady Squares, or Pink Party Squares, or even Pink Angels. They have a graham cracker base, a condensed milk and coconut middle, and a pink icing top- they are insanely sweet and indulgent, but my grandmother used to make them all the time when I was a kid. Even though she passed away about 5 years ago, and in the years prior to that her Alzheimer’s was too severe for her to bake anything anymore; my mom or my aunt will still make these squares around christmastime, and having them there on the holiday dessert tray is a bit like having my grandmother’s spirit in the room.

What is the story behind one of your scars? I have a scar on my shoulder from last summer, when I had a lump removed. The very phrase ‘lump removed’ makes people panicky and immediately think of cancer, but it was benign- it’s called a lipoma, which is basically just fatty tissue. When I was pregnant with my daughter, it grew rapidly (no doubt my body was in the mode of growing everything!) until it was the size of a mouse, which is not something you really want to have to live with if you don’t have to. The funny part is that while Canada has amazing healthcare, since the lump wasn’t actually affecting my health, it was deemed a cosmetic issue and I was referred to a plastic surgeon. I had never been in a plastic surgeon’s office before, and I had to have three appointments- the consultation, the surgery, and the follow up to remove the stitches. Being in a plastic surgery environment is stepping into a completely different world- everyone who worked there was tall and lean, had lashes the length of butterfly wings (due to a product that they sold there), and looked incredibly good- nurses in their 50s looked maybe only a few years older than myself. Everything was white, there were chandeliers in every room, except the surgery- that room had an entire wall of cabinets that held nothing but breast implants, which you could just make out from the frosted glass of the cabinets. It was such a surreal experience, to be having a cosmetic surgery, even though it wasn’t cosmetic in the conventional sense, and surrounded by people for whom this was a very normal sort of environment.

What is your favorite movie line? I’m not sure I could pin down a favourite movie, but one I enjoy watching again and again is Midnight in Paris. Partly because I’m love with the jazz age, partly because a lot of my favorite writers are represented in the film, and partly because of this scene that I find endlessly hilarious- Gil, the main character, has found a rip in the fabric of time and can visit Paris in the 1920′s anytime after midnight. While on one of his visits to this time, he is sitting with several great thinkers and artists of the time, confessing that he has fallen for a girl from this era. Their responses are priceless, and show there are a lot if different ways to look at the same thing:
Man Ray: A man in love with a woman from a different era. I see a photograph!
Luis Buñuel: I see a film!
Gil: I see an insurmountable problem!
Salvador Dalí: I see rhinoceros!

Be sure to check out Julie’s blog, Ravelry, Pinterest and Twitter.

Click here to see all 3 Questions interviews.

Lately (in Instagrams)

Liesl Made : Instagram Mosaic

A Mid-June Day at Buckaloo View

This past weekend marked the first official day of Summer. Ideally, I had hoped to share the Spring (and final) installment of my seasonal video series but for some reason, a collection of clips taken over the course of just one beautiful and full day seemed more apt. This video shows the growings and goings-ons around Buckaloo View a little over a week ago. A lot has changed (ripe mulberries!) but somethings are still the same, progressing slowly waiting for their moment to shine (I’m looking at you peaches!) The video is choppy and scattered and bitter and sweet and peaceful and hopeful–just like things feel around here.

(As with most of my videos, I recommend you click-through and watch it in HD. As much as I like Vimeo, I can justify a paid subscription now which means I can’t embed HD.)

3 Questions : Alicia

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 : Alicia

This day got away from me. It was the longest day of the year and was so full of sunshine and midsummer beauty. But I’m not here now to talk about me and my day. No, I’m here to talk about Alicia, a beautiful nomad with a deep heart. It’s always so impressive and inspiring to find an artist who, well, does what an artist really does—translates emotion and experience into a piece of art. Her travels and experiences have inspired the jewelry she makes. When you blend that with her organic design approach, cultural and personal influences, artisanal techniques, her pieces have an impressive journey all their own.

If you could bring one thing from the 50s to the present day, what would it be and why? I would bring aprons back into the kitchen! I have a collection of aprons from the 50s and 60s that I have found at many-a thrift stores. I love to wear them for cooking or with a dress to add more color. They are practical for messy cooks, like myself and they also offer some fashion for meal time.

Is it easier to win or lose with grace? I view losing and winning as the same journey. Both pathways are challenging to do with grace as the ego is connected to both reactions. Winning you can feel the power of being greater than while losing is just the reaction of feeling powerless or less than something else. The journey is to detach ourselves from the “win” or the “lose” and see the connection.

What is the prettiest place you have been? I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to travel to so many amazingly beautiful places. Each place unique in it’s own way. For this question I will narrow it down to three places that really made me feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of their beauty.
1. North Cascades Mountain Pass – Washington State
2. Zomba Plateau – Zomba, Malawi, Africa
3. Arches National Park – Moab, Utah

Be sure to check out Alicia’s blog, site/shop and instagram.

Click here to see all 3 Questions interviews.

First Day Outside

The chicks are a little over a month old and just met the great outdoors. It took some coaxing to get them to go out and, after an hour pecking and exploring, even more coaxing to get them to go back in. The run needed some tweaks so I wasn’t comfortable leaving them out there all day or unsupervised. Luckily the next day, good people came over and secured up the problem areas and now they can go out when they wish. (I recommend clicking through to watch in HD. The song is “Intermission” by Cœur de Pirate. Want more chicken cuteness? Here is another quick video.)

Have a great weekend.