Design your own candle

I love love love candlelight. I think there’s nothing cozier. I investigated a little on Pinterest and YouTube to find out how you can design your own candle. In an uncomplicated way.

For this technique, I’m simply using a napkin with a pretty design. I cut the part out that I want to transfer on the candle. After cutting it is easy to just take off the first layer that has the print on. Most napkins have three layers. The best result you will get when you make sure that you only have one very thin layer.

Next, I put the napkin motive on the candle where I want it to be and then tight roll baking paper around the motive and the whole candle. When the baking paper is wrapped around tight enough, it will hold the motive in place. Now I just tape it together.

To melt the napkin into the candle, I heat it up with my hairdryer. Here I have to be very careful because I don’t want the candle to melt too much. Those parts where the motive melted nicely into the candle, the lines are darker, shine stronger through the baking paper.

After letting it cool down for a moment, I take off the baking paper and check if everything melted together nicely.

AND DONE! 🙂

Appreciation and achievement

Dreams are wonderful. Dream big! But I also think that it is important to hold in and appreciate what you’ve achieved so far.

I don’t like to always reach for the next higher goal or next challenge. What for, if you won’t take the time to enjoy your success?!

In my life, I feel like I achieved so so many things that I used to strive for. A stable relationship, a job that I like, friends that I enjoy having around me…

And for so long, I was dreaming of owning a farm with chicken and many other animals. And here it is! For almost one year I live my dream now. I actually live on a farm. It’s crazy! And outstanding!

It fills me with pride and sometimes I have to remind myself that it’s not all just luck. I worked towards this. I made decisions and changes that made it possible for this to happen.

In 2015 I changed my life drastically by quitting a very good job, selling all my furniture and getting rid of most of my stuff, to move to another country. Teaching myself both English and Swedish to communicate and work in my new environment.

Fighting through a period where I had no job after leaving a well-paid job. For about a year I was completely depend on my partner. It was extremely stressful and there were a few occasions where I was considering going back to Germany. Back to the things and people I was used to.

But I was too proud for that and could not imagine breaking up my relationship.

So I kept on fighting. Practicing my language skills and trying to get a social security number here in Sweden. Let me tell you: Without that, you can’t do anything here…

And after many trial and errors I got one and suddenly things just fell into place bit by bit. I found a job in an international school as Learning Support Assistant. At this point I was still very nervous about my language skills. I was 32 years old and for the first 30 years of my life I only spoke german. Like ONLY german. We dub everything!

And then I was about to teach in English. I was super nervous about this challenge. BUT: After 1,5 years I finally had a full-time job. And with that things started getting back to “normal”. Paying rent, being able to go out, etc…

Thinking back, I’m not sure that I appreciated this accomplishment enough. Instead, I would focus on all the things I would have to catch up with now. Being more efficient since I’ve been kind of “lazy” for so long, paying off depts and so on…

And after a while of working and living life, I got exhausted and wasn’t sure if “I do well enough”. Am I enough? Do I do enough? Am I developing? Where do I want to go?

I decided I want to be more present and more grateful for myself and my achievements. So I sat down and filled a little notebook with all the things I achieved and those I’m grateful for.

And it surprised me how long this list was. I always felt so chased and on the run and also simply just not “enough”. But what exactly I meant with that word that I used oh so often…I did not know. Who decides what enough is. Well now, I know that most of the time it is just me that should be the one judging that. And I had to learn to cut myself some slack.

I did good. I do what I can and I achieved so much and fought so hard.

So now when I’m in doubt, I like to look at my list and feel good about all the things I achieved, all the things I did, the things I still do and how far I’ve come.

And if you sometimes have these doubts as well, then be kind to yourself. You are enough! You are exceptional!

Brahmas

Brahmas is the name for the breed of chicken I chose. I think they are awesome! Right after the “Jersey Giant”, Brahma is the biggest chicken breed there is. But despite their size, they are calm and gentle giants.

The hens usually weigh around 4,0 – 4,5kg, roosters closer to 5kg.

Source: https://www.backyardchickencoops.com.au/blogs/learning-centre/brahma-chickens-the-most-comprehensive-guide-to-these-giant-breeds

You might think they also lay giant eggs then, but no. They lay normal sized chicken eggs. One reason they are not popular for the industry is that they are not very productive layers. A Brahma hen lays about 180 eggs per year. And eventhough a grown bird is good meat, they don’t grow fast enough to pay off. It takes them up to a year to be fully grown.

Good for them. This way only hobby enthusiasts keep them. 🙂

What makes them so fun for me is that they love attention, are easy to handle and can get quite attached to their owners ( well, lets say “feeders”). When they see us, or we call them, they come running. And it looks so dang funny when they run.

With their calm attitude they can be trusted with kids and other animals.

They are also easy to contain since their weight makes it challenging for them to fly. Another plus is that they are pretty quiet. Only a few times I heard them make noises. One time, Tusnelda was extremely proud of herself for laying an egg and felt that the world needs to know. And so we did then.

Let’s talk about their looks! They are beautiful. Their eyes are reddish-brown with a so called “beetle-brow” on top. Their legs and feet are feathered, which makes them have a very distinguished walk.

They love to forage, hunt for insects or eating clover. Clover and grasshoppers are their favorite things.

I’m still finding out what it takes to be a good chicken owner. Learning as I go and just simply enjoying their company.

Do you have chicken?

Any mind blowing tips you wish you would have known from the beginning?

Enlighten me! 🙂

Homemade ketchup

Being a big fan of “Mandelmanns gård”, I of course also like to try out their recipes. This time I made my own ketchup. I have the recipe in their cookbook. Yes, I also buy their books. 😉

You can find their recipes also on köket.se

But there they are in swedish. Here is it translated to english:

Ingredients

  • 1.5 kg tomato, well ripe (preferably San Marzano)
  • 0.5 kg of cherry tomatoes
  • 2 yellow onions, medium-sized
  • 2-4 cloves garlic
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 bunch basil
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
  • 1.5 dl caster sugar
  • 2 dl apple cider vinegar
  • 1 dl rapeseed oil
  1. Cut the tomatoes into coarse pieces. Peel and chop the onion and garlic. Also chop the celery stalks.
  2. Fry onion, garlic and celery in rapeseed oil in a large saucepan.
  3. Add basil, coriander seeds, cloves, salt and pepper. Stir and cook for 15 minutes.
  4. Mix in the tomatoes, vinegar and sugar. Bring to a boil without a lid until half of the liquid has boiled away. Stir occasionally so that it does not burn.
  5. Pass the tomato paste through a sieve into a new pot.
  6. Bring the ketchup to a boil again and season with salt.
  7. Pour into warm, well-cleaned bottles or jars and seal. Store in the refrigerator. Opened ketchup bottle lasts 2-3 weeks in the fridge.

It is definitely easier to just go to the store and buy ketchup, but this one is so much better. It tastes fantastic and you know exactly what’s in there…

Too bad that grill season is over 🙂

Mandelmanns gård

2020 I discovered a swedish TV programme that I’m completely addicted to since then.

“Mandelmanns gård”

It started with me watching all seasons I missed so far and then longing for new episodes.

The programme is about a family that is running and creating this farm in the south of Sweden since 1996.

Since then they dug ponts, built greenhouses, grew all kinds of vegetables and fruits and have all those animals that belong on a farm.

Marie and Gustav Mandelmann are now filmed while sharing their knowledge about selfsufficient farming. All those things I want to learn, because I want to live my life like they do. Well, minus the cameras and all those visitors.

Their farm is open for visitors. Visitors like us. During summer, they were open from Monday to Friday. Now in late summer you can visit their farm from Friday to Sunday.

And what can I say…I’ve been there twice so far.

First time in summer. Words can not describe how happy I was. Walking there, experiencing all this. Seeing everythng with my own eyes, being able to touch the flowers and connect the dots. When you watch the TV show, you see a scene in the greenhouse here, a scene outside on the field there. But I couldn’t really imagine how it all belongs together. And then I walked there and behind every corner and every bush I recognized something and connected it to something I’ve seen on the show.

It’s incredible. They created a paradise. All these plants and trees and animals.

I think what I love most is their approach to reuse materials and be creative with what they got. No perfectionism, but instead creativity with a rustic charme. Wild in some corners, just leaving nature do its thing and then in other spots they create these magical spaces. Exactly how I love it.  They are artists. Both in very different ways, complementing each other.

Both times we went there, we met both, Gustav and Marie. Both times I’ve been absolutely star struck. 🙂 Silly me.

They just walk around working, because a life like this means a lot of work. We already feel that with our very small “farm” and they have 60 hectar to care for. Impressive.

One day…:)

It was definitely not the last time I went there. It’s a never ending source of inspiration for our own little farm.

What is a farm without chicken?

For so so many years I’ve been wanting chicken. About ten years ago I visited an animal park in Germany. “Arche Warder”. There they breed old breeds of farm animals. Those that don’t get held anymore because they are not “productive” enough for our societys needs today.

And there I fell in love. With Brahma chicken. Oversized chicken with feathers on their legs and feet.

Those I wanted since then.

When we moved into our new house, it was too cold to get chicken and the birdflu was going on. Following all those restrictions is too stressfull to start your journey as chicken owner. So we waited and took our sweet time to build our own chicken coop.

Building it from materials we already had at home. We were fortunate enough to have the big garage/workshop. All the building/painting happened in there.

But then…

…we had to get it out of there and over to the spot where it was supposed to be…

We definitely didn’t think that through. It was stressful and funny. Still in the middle of a pandemic, you don’t just call over friends and family to help you carry it.

NO, you do it all by yourself.

Luckily my boyfriend is a good problem solver. 🙂 and of course we made it.

Having a lot of foxes and big hungry birds out here where we live, we had to built a cosed off chicken run as well.

We had many ideas, but after moving houses and creating a vegetable garden out of nothing, not so much energy. So we bought a kit.

Taking it in our own pace, we put together the chicken run. Hopefully now all predator safe, we were ready for chicken.

We bought our four ladies and named them:

So exciting! The first three weeks we were just getting to know each other.

I trained them to come running when they hear a certain sound. I filled a tin box with sunflower seeds. I always shook the box right before feeding them. So now they can run free in our garden while we are outside as well. And when its time to go back to the chicken run, we don’t have to chase them down. We just rattle the box and they come running. They learned quickly and it is too funny to watch them.

Those chicken make us so happy and eating eggs from your own happy chicken is incredible.

Project “Köksträdgård”

It’s almost fall. Time to recap our first year as “farm owners”.

We moved here in December. Anxiously anticipating spring…and spring came and with it a lot of work.

We have a huge garden, but half of it was just a big meadow where the previous owner had the horses.

Already in winter we marked an area close to the house where the köksträdgård was supposed to come to life. “What the heck is a köksträdgård” you might think. 🙂 That is swedish for kitchen garden. Simply a garden where you grow vegetables, fruits and herbs that you can consume.

The first piece was the herb spiral I built out of bricks we found in the bushes. I always wanted to make one of these and now it is the center piece of our vegetable garden.

I filled the whole spiral with soil and planted herbs according to their needs. Or let’s say, according to what google says. 🙂

Going from there everything just fell into place bit by bit.

We planned to keep it as low-budget as we could, using materials we already had. Since the ground is very dense out here (many years of horses tramping on it) we went mainly for raised beds instead of digging plant beds in the ground. Bottom layer is cardboard, topped up with branches and half rotten wood and then filled up with good compost soil mixed with planting soil from the garden center.

Hard to imagine that this would be a flourishing garden in summer. It was a lot of work, but I enjoyed every minute of it.

Some plants we precultivated in the house. Rookie-mistake: We started way too early with that which caused, that in March and April we shared our living room with a lot of plants.

Will do better next year. 🙂

Considering that this was our first year as gardeners, we didn’t expect too much. But now in September I can say, we did good!

We grew a lot of delicious food ourselves. Not the amount that would make us self-sufficient, but enough to give us some fantastic home-grown meals.

Things we successfully grew this year:

  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Squash
  • Leak
  • Carrots
  • Corn
  • Beans
  • Sugar Snaps
  • Potatoes
  • Marigold
  • Tomatoes
  • Chili
  • Bell pepper
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blueberries
  • Big variety of herbs
  • Spinach
  • Pak Choi
  • and more…

We learned a lot this year and have quite a few things that we want to improve next year. Already excited for next spring.

But this year is not over yet. We still go strong, having daily small harvests. Pure bliss!

New chapter

In December it’ll be a year since we moved into our new house.

A big step, moving from an fancy apartment in the city center to a small farm 20 mins out of town. My dream.

12.000 qm of land with a little red house (the one we live in now), a small white house (that one is rented out), a big garage with workshop, a little shed which houses my atelier and an open stall for animals.

SO.MUCH.SPACE.

The house is a lot smaller than our apartment was. But it’s all we need. We spend most of our time in the garden.

Since I started living by myself, I was dreaming of buying an old farm to be able to rescue animals.

But also to give those animals we already have a nice living space. Our little zoo grew quite a bit this past year. And all of our animals have their very own area.

Well, Mimi is still all over the place. And so are the cats. Yes!! We got cats as well. They actually kind of came with the farm. A package deal. 🙂 The previous owner was about to move into the city, where those two beautiful and independent boys would have had to be indoor cats for their own safety.

That seemed wrong since they grew up out here. So we agreed to take them and they are fantastic in keeping the mice away. Win-Win-Situation.

On December 1st we moved in. We spent our first christmas here. The winter felt long since we were extremely excited to start growing vegetables. Farmlife at its best.

I did what I always do. I planned. I wrote lists. I got antsy.

So here we were now. In our small swedish house. Waiting for the cold and dark winter to pass…

…waiting for spring…

…ready for new adventures…

The “new” secretary

We remodeled the guestroom a bit. It’s a tiny room. But now tthere’s (somehow) room for a secretary. I’ve ALWAYS wanted one.

So I started searching online for cheap used ones and of course in our local thriftshops. I was a bit restricted by the measurements since I have only limited space.

At Erikshjälpen (of course! 🙂 ) I found one for 275 sek.Ridiculously cheap. Standing in the store, it didn’t look like much. But that would change.

Taking off the feet, we just managed to fit it in our tiny car. 🙂

The next day I went to buy paint. I decided to go colorful. Like a lot. So for the outside I went for this:

And for the inside I had a specific idea in mind. Turned out that none of our local stores had something like that in stock. That’s what it said online at least. Not acceptable for me.

I went to our craft shop “Panduro”. AND there was this one tiny little can of Vintage Paint left. I wasn’t sure if it would be enough, but it was exactly the color I was looking for, so I had to.

First step was taking the secretary apart as much as possible, sand it, wipe it off and cover everything with a basecoat. This is important to make sure that it will be an even result in the end.

After the basecoat was completely dried, It was time for the first coat of that incredible yellow. That one has to dry out for at least 24 hours until it’s ready for the second layer of paint.

So back at it the next day. This time I started with the inside though. The vintage paint only needed 1-2 hours until it was ready for the second layer. While waiting for that to dry, the second coat yellow was done.

The colors were exactly what I wanted them to be like. ( The pictures don’t really show the green undertone in it) But it was a bit “naked”.

It was missing the new drawer pullers I purchased on sale.

Screwed on by hand, took a step back and was the happiest. My personal piece of designer furniture. 🙂

Going through the materials I used, I calculated through what the whole project cost me. Costs for the secretary and the materials add up to 614 sek.

Not too bad 🙂

Chalkboard art

After we bought our summerhouse I made a little chalkboard out of an old mirror.

Right after that I wrote with chalk “Home sweet home” on it and that’s what it said until now.

Now I found nice chalk markers. So it was time to change it and this is what I decided to write this time:

True words Miss Audrey Hepburn!

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