Small Joys: Summer

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As I pack up to leave on a couple different vacations for 3.5 weeks, I can't help but feel like my blissful summer at home is coming to an end. I know when I get back I'll still have a couple weeks of summer, but the golden days we've been enjoying will be past. I'm not one to wish away summer on the first day of September, but I'll be starting a new job and we'll be fitting last minute adventures into the weekends before things wrap up for colder seasons.

It's been a summer for the books. Despite things like wayward cats, the biggest issue I've had with this season is how quickly it's flown by. I feel like we pay our dues during the long Michigan winter and then summer comes and goes in a snap. We spend the days feeling energized and happy from the warmth of the sun, so that even our work seems easier. The evenings are full of grilled dinners, golden light and fireflies. Every five days we get a weekend filled with adventures and friends. I would be hard pressed to imagine a better way of life.

I'll remember this as the summer I finally felt like this place became home. 

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Gathering up things that brought joy this week and taking a moment to be grateful.

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We finally made it up to the lake last weekend and it was just as dreamy as it always is. Clear turquoise water, boat rides, long chats and good food are things that just can't dissappoint.

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We finally got a rug for our living room. We've had it for a while, but I think it deserves a call out of its own. I've been eyeing it for months and it finally went on sale enough to grab it. When it arrived I was so surprised by just how comfy and soft it is. A+ in my book.

(close up in the picture below)

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Two weekends ago my foot got smashed between two jetskis while we were out on Lake Michigan. It wasn't anyone's fault, but a situation that turned sketchy pretty quick. I don't think I've ever been more sure that I'd broken a bone. Miraculously, it ended up being a severe bruise but nothing else. I've had a rainbow foot for a couple weeks and spent a couple days icing it, but I'm back to walking normally. Because I'm so grateful that it's not broken, I haven't even felt like the bruising is a bid deal!

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Been spending lots of time with this crazy. Since she's been back, we've cuddled lots. Right now she's sleeping next to me and just twitched in that goofy way that animals do when they're dreaming.

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Finally, I've recently started reading again. As a child I devoured books by the stack, but after college I took a couple years off of pleasure reading. I'm getting back into it and I love it. I'd love any good suggestions you might have!

The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last for ever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year — the days when summer is changing into autumn — the crickets spread the rumor of sadness and change.
— E.B. White, Charlotte's Web

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Small Joys: Gardening

My mom and grandparents have always been the green thumbs of the family. As a kid, I saw the garden and its associated chores more as a punishment then a pleasure. But the just like my blue eyes and shorter stature, there are certain passions that inevitably pop up and take root in my heart that I can only blame my parents for passing on. This year, that gardening gene, 25 years dormant, flared up. Unable to resist my DNA, I had to dig in the dirt and grow little plant. 

I've made some mistakes, learned much and enjoyed every minute of it. Compared to my mother's half acre gardens, I've started small with just three 4'x8' beds and a couple flower beds around the house.

At our old house, I never planted anything I cared about and had no interest in landscaping. I think deep down I felt it was best not to invest too much into a place we might not stay for a long time. This new home has been the opposite. I've put effort and work into long term investments. I haven't hesitated to let my heart fall in love and let my dreams fill this place. This is home. I can feel my own roots digging deep into this place just as much as my little plant's are.

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Gathering up things that brought joy this week and taking a moment to be grateful.

These lilies surprised me. They were a bonus that came with the house and I didn't know about until recently. As they grew and put out buds I could barely contain my excitement to see what color they would be. They did not disappoint. I don't think I've ever seen this color lily and I just love it.

The same happened with a couple rose bushes I found hiding in our flower beds. They're done now, but I loved visiting them every day they were blooming and seeing their pink blossoms swarming with bees.

My vegetable garden has been doing so well, even though I'm the silly goose who planted enough broccoli and cabbage seeds to fill 10 beds with only those two plants. My mom is an expert lettuce grower and I'm working on my own skills in that category. So far so good, but not quite big enough for a salad yet.

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My peppers have baby peppers! I'm so excited to make some salsa this summer and can barely wait for it.

Along our garage someone planted three lavender plants along with strawberries. I'd never heard of this combo. My best guess is that the lavender is meant to keep pests away from the berries? This past week the lavender was ready for picking. So far I've harvested 4 bunches and have them hung to dry in our bedroom. I can't get over how amazing fresh lavender smells compared to all the scented products that claim to be lavender. The real thing is infinitely better.

Nothing has made me feel more like a real gardener than when I said "I need rubber boots." I haven't had a pair since I moved away from my parent's farm. They are completely linked to garden and farm work in my mind. I found L.L.Bean wellies that are easy to pull on and will hopefully last a long time. Now my feet don't get wet when I'm working outside. 

Love of red geraniums are another trait I inherited from my mom and this plant I bought last year fulfills every dream of deep red flowers I've ever had. Somehow I kept it alive on my dryer all winter and now it's putting our the most beautiful red petals. I've propagated a couple from this plant and I'm hoping its babies have the same color blooms.

Finally, I'm so grateful for sunsets at home. I've been spending the last hour or so of every day our in the yard tending to my plants. It's cool enough for transplanting and watering. A bonus is that it's also the most beautiful time of day. We allowed the back half of our yard to grow out instead of mowing it. Every evening I catch my breath when the wind and sunset play across the long grass. 

I’d like to add some beauty to life,” said Anne dreamily. “I don’t exactly want to make people KNOW more... though I know that IS the noblest ambition... but I’d love to make them have a pleasanter time because of me... to have some little joy or happy thought that would never have existed if I hadn’t been born.
— L.M. Montgomery, Anne's House of Dreams

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Wool: A Lifelong Passion

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Wool runs in my veins.

Not literally, but almost. I come from a family filled with knitters. All my Austrian lady relatives have some sort of handcraft in the works at all times: socks, dolls, mittens, hats, and just about anything else you can think of. 

My mom took the hobby to a new level with her own spinning wheel, an angora bunny, and countless fibre projects. In the States, knitting is considered an old lady habit, but I've never put much stock into that. After all I learned how to knit when I was only eight years old. It wasn't unusual for huge bags of raw wool to sit around the house or to spend a whole morning of our homeschool doing some sort of wood carding, dying, felting, spinning, knitting or other wool craft.

Even my 11th birthday party was knitting themed. Every girl got a party favor pin made of a mini knitting done on toothpicks. They were so cute!

At one point I had an orphan pet lamb that I bottle fed and who lived in our house with us (diaper included). 

Every year when the nip returns to the air and things outdoors wrap up in favor of cozy evenings indoors, my instinct is to reach for a set of knitting needles and work on some small (or large) project.

I've collected two large baskets of of my own yarn (nothing compared to my mom's stash) and always have a couple ongoing knitting projects. I love diving into my basket and coming out with a ball of fuzzy yarn with the potential to turn into so many different things. There are few things as relaxing to me as the rhythm of knitting — "in through the front door, once around the back, out through the window, and off jumps jack." 

Even things that aren't technically knit, like wool blankets, sheep skins or anything else fuzzy or furry made from natural fiber equal the epitome of coziness and home to me.

My first instinct is to make a pair of knit booties when a baby makes his/her appearance in this world. It feels wrong to buy beanies or wool socks from the store because I know I could make them for myself (see above). 

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I recently even used a different method and felted a sweet mobile for a friend's babe. I loved seeing wool batting take shape and become something that can give joy and brighten up someone's home. Dave loved it so much he tried to convince me to give it to him instead of the baby. I think that was one of the best compliments he's ever given my work.

On our trip to Iceland, I felt like a kid in a candy shop when we walked into shop after shop filled with wool products. Icelandic sheep are unique for their crazy long and warm fiber. I could have spent thousands on the beautiful things I saw. Their patterns and neutral color schemes were like a special kryptonite to me. Needless to say, I left the country inspired and determined to do more knitting this fall and winter.

Throughout the years, the rhythm of needles and yarn, the satisfaction of seeing something slowly form on my lap and the inherent coziness have been constant. I love using little windows of time in the car, watching tv, or waiting for appointments that would usually go wasted to add just a little bit more to what I'm working on at the time. 

Now my fingers are itching to dig into a new project. I'm thinking some of my weekend time will be spent curled up with some tea and wooliness.

 

Find more woolly inspiration and reading here:

Woolens Pinterest Board

Fringe Supply Co.

Kelbourne Woolens

Ravelry

Slow Fashion October

My plan was to have a post all about Iceland written up and shared by now, but it's proving quite a bit harder than I expected. My goal is before Friday this week, so we'll see how that goes. 

Until then, I wanted to share some thoughts on Slow Fashion October. If you check out the #slowfashionoctober feed on Instagram, you'll get a feel for how lovely it is. There are so many different styles of creating, mending and best of all choosing to reject Fast Fashion and find responsible alternatives. It's truly inspiring.

I've found some wonderful articles and thought provoking pieces that I thought I'd share. Pick one or two and maybe you'll find some inspiration to choose quality over quantity in your closet.

Breaking it down by the numbers

How to dress like the real you. "We often use our clothes to cover up our insecurities and mask our flaws. I urge you to contemplate your motivations, your fears, and your goals. "

Just a little monkey doing what monkeys do.

Cheap jeans!

No one wants your old stuff.

My biggest recommendation when diving into slow fashion is to start small: pick one item you'd like to mend instead of replacing, knit that beanie you've always wanted, or maybe just save a bit more for a shirt you know was produced in ethical conditions. Every penny, every action can make a difference. It's so empowering when you realize that you can vote for the sort of world you want to live in with your purchases. We really can change the world, one baby step at a time.

Summer Goals

I’m a lover of lists, summer, and goals. Which means I’ve combined all three and put together a little summer goals list.

video // we have a big trip planned for this fall and I’m determined to take quality photos and videos of our adventures. I want to be able to capture some beautiful moments to enjoy later without spending the whole time looking through a viewfinder. Which means I’ve been practicing this summer in hopes of increases my skill and decreasing the time it takes for me to capture views.

herb garden // I gave up on growing a garden this summer and we’re getting local produce through a weekly farmshare, but I figured an herb garden can’t be that hard. So far I’ve kept my basil, mint and rosemary alive. And it’s so lovely to have fresh mint any time I want to add it to a drink.

Leelanau // We spent a weekend in Glen Arbor last summer and it’s one of my favorite memories of 2015. I remember driving along M-20 with the top down and savoring every moment. I can’t wait to get back up there and do a whole lot of nothing in one of the prettiest places.

Hudson // this is obvious. But every project takes just a bit more time than we expected and with free time scare in the summer, there are still plenty of things to do on our trusty little camper. Luckily that doesn’t stop us from putting him to use. This weekend, he got to play guest-room to our visitors and did a great job.

road trip plan // as I alluded to above, we have a big trip planned. We’re finally heading to Iceland this fall. We’ve reserved a 4×4 little camper van and plan on circling Iceland’s Ring Road for 10 days. This has been one of Dave’s dreams since he was a kid and a dream that I’ve been more than happy to adopt as one of my own.

skin care regime // considering I’ve struggled with acne for 10 years, I decided it’s time to get it under control. It’s a bit sad how easily skin issues can corrode confidence. I’m not sure why, but it seems to be a fact that many people suffer from. So this summer I’ve determined to beat it. So far I’ve been really happy with

studio // I have a room all to myself in our house (Dave gets the garage) that I’ve made into an office/studio/craft room. It’s really great, but I’ve been trying to get it to a place where it feels more like a real room than our storage room with a desk in it.

These aren’t that lofty, but writing them out helps inspire me to take steps to reach these. Considering we’re pretty much half way through summer, it’s a good thing I’ve already started most of these.