happiness is home-baked...

 I've been feeling overwhelmed lately.
Which is rare for me... I'm pretty chill about most things in life, usually.
Call it a convergence of all those issues that face most of us on any given day:
relationships. finances. parenting. time-management. finances. cleaning/purging the house etc.

 I've even been feeling extra neurotic lately... you know, that 'special' part of the female brain that says everything you're doing just isn't enough.  All your hard work just isn't enough.  All the attempts at good-parenting, good-friending, good-wife'ing... just isn't enough.

So, since I was set on having such a big.fat.pity-party.. I figured the best step was to make cupcakes!  (My daughter even said 'happy birthday'.. to no one in particular).

 Nothing like chasing the gloomies out of my head, with a yummy chocolate.orange.fudge.coffee cupcake stuffed into my face.
(This is the part where I probably start to sound like an emotional-eater..).

For what it's worth, it did make me feel better.

Life is a beautiful. messy. wonderful. painful. glorious. torturous. full journey isn't it?
Sometimes I see the big picture of it all and get overwhelmed.
Sometimes I see all the itty bitty details and get.. overwhelmed.

God grant me the eyes to see every moment - good or bad - as just that... a mere moment.
 These too, shall pass.

May I simply savour the sweetness of the souls I share these days with.
The delight in a cupcake together.
The warmth of a home.
And, be overwhelmed by His grace that carries me. 

Oh, and the fact that we got Azriel on the potty in time today!
 That was pretty great.  Gross, but great.

That is all.
Mel ;o)


thrifty & nifty threads: upcycled fashion. 12. {BLOOPERS}

 Well we are up and running again here... the laptop works(!), the sewing machine is whirring, the camera clicking, and this was the result:
A cable-knit catastrophe
A doily disaster
A vexing vest...
Yes, today's edition of taking something thrifted and sewing it into something nifty narsty is all about the blunders I encounter while creating.

 I was hoping to get two outfits for the slice of one sweater here: a sweater vest, and a cozy shrug.  Hence, the full circle cut-out of the back of this cable-knit sweater I had.
I soon decided to shrug the shrug, because I could only laugh at the thought of pretending to wear it seriously.  (Don't worry it goes to other uses...)

 Anywho, back to this vest thing... it was originally just going to be an exposed back.  But after hemming it for that purpose, it stretched way down past my posterior (you'll have to trust me, it looked silly).  My doily-brain then kicked in and said "hey, slap a doily in that hole for a real pretty back feature!".  So I did.
This is probably the point in the story where you start to think "didn't she just post last time about how her Ben hates vests?"... and yes, he took one look at this and went: 
"Seriously?  A vest.. and a doily??  Are you trying to torture me?"
At which point I used my stunning logic and retorted:
"No, no, it's not a vest... it's a sweater-vest!"
(He wasn't convinced either).
 We laughed.  This whole project has been a blunder from the start, really.
The cable-knit went all puckered out around the doily... so that was silly.  My gal there thought it was worth pranking the photo-op too, more bloopers!

 Now, back to that 'shrug' section.. I took the sleeve of the sweater and cut it into thirds.
The top (larger) piece was quickly edged with fleece for a funny lil' knit hat for the Hud'.
The wrist cuff became a simple 'cup-cozy' (not that I'm giving coffee to a baby).
The middle could easily make an infant toque... 
(For more ideas of how to upcycle a sweater you can check my previous projects with them here!)

So there you have it, full discloser from this nest.
Not everything I touch turns to gold... sometimes it just plain sucks.
Right now I'm just glad that my other cable knit sweater survived the chopping block.
It's keeping me nice and cozy on these crisp Fall mornings.
The moral of the story?
Experiment. Fail. Try Again.
Creativity will fly from these ashes.

Mel ;o)


You are here:

You know that moment when you're travelling in a new place and you stop to look at one of those billboard maps... and they have a big red arrow saying: "You are here"?  
Well, consider this post to be that arrow.
I wanted to do a bit of looking (and linking) back to where this blog has journeyed, point out a few of the signs along the way, and even look ahead to a few more destinations here.

If you're relatively new to this blog, I want to extend a special welcome ~ glad to have you perch at this nest!  You can learn a bit more about who I am/why I blog by peeking in here.  Or, if you'd rather watch/hear me ramble via video (vlog) you can hop here and here
Or, if you've been here for quite a while ~ thanks for still coming back again, I hope it's starting to feel like home for you!
Now, if you look to the right (you'll miss everything on the left.. baha! sorry...)...um, where was I?  Oh right, the right side-bar --------------------------------------------> is where you'll see some fancy new buttons to make 'finding' and 'following' this blog easier for you.  I also finally caved, and added that "Google friends" gadget for those of you who want to join the nest of fine feathered friends.  Lovely!

Another feature on that side bar is called Popular Posts... which is pretty self explanatory, but I bring it up only to point out this staggering fact: having written 490 posts (to date) the most popular one is still that blasted "D.I.Y: upcycle shirts into toddler harem pants"!!  I'm now convinced that 1/4 of the world has viewed this post (who knew so many want to sew harem pants?!).  Actually, 4, 255 people to be exact.  What kills me is that this was the very first in-depth d.i.y I ever posted (since then I've done over 60 new projects).

I love creating.  I love inspiring others to create.  I love my Creator.
I photograph. I ponder. I pontificate.
I sew. I style (upcycled fashion). I stay-at-home-mama it.

I'm currently storing up the photos of upcoming d.i.y's, upcycled fashion (bloopers) and more sentiments on parenting... while we still wait for our new laptop cord to arrive.
(I can't load pictures on to this fossil I'm currently using).

But I just wanted to say I'm glad you are here, I'm honoured to be part of your journey.
I'm also curious what brought you here?

For those who have the time/desire to comment, I'd love to hear what the first post was you read here was... and/or why?  (I already know many of my favourite readers/blog friends first arrived via those harem pants!) hehe.

Creatively yours,
Mel ;o)


an enchanting place...

Hey there friends, hope you all had a lovely weekend?
One place we always enjoy spending part of our weekends at is the Ecology Park here in our city.  Not that we get there every weekend... but it's always a beautiful place to explore.
Whether we walk over the arched bridge, or through the 'forest maze' entrance... it always feels like we're entering an enchanted spot - a secret garden - if you will.
The days that the eco park is officially open are extra fun... since they do a great job of putting out lots of interactive props/toys/projects for kids to engage with.  We have a hoot dressing our daughter up as a life sized house-fly/fish/bunny/beaver with all the costumes on hand.
She loves hiding in the giant 'log' tunnel too.
(Last time we were there I felt a bit weirded out when she grabbed her water bottle and ran to the tunnel saying "Mama, come drink with me in the cave!!")

Another favourite family activity amongst the greenery?
Hide-and-seek of course...(the above left shot was supposed to show Azi peeking around for me)... and as you can see, she's super skilled at hiding herself, too.

Now, don't tell.. but she still loves to pick us a flower here and there.
Or if we're real lucky, we find a mushroom!

Speaking of which, we just fried up some mushroom slices tonight that came from the wild.
Ben's folks brought back a puffball mushroom the size of a basketball... so we all got a chunk to take home and fry up in butter/garlic/salt/pepper... mmMMmmm!
 In other news - our laptop cord got torn asunder this weekend... so we've been off radar here... but I've just discovered that our ancient relic of a computer can still heave us online for a bit.
All that to say - the posts may be sparse until we get the new cord shipped to the nest!

Just wanted to pop in and say hello though,
annnnd... ba-bye for now.

Mel ;o)


sunbeam and shadows...

A hike through the woods is always enchanting.
As autumn sends a delicious shiver along my bones and the tree branches.
While everything creaks, cracks and sparkles around us.

 My lil' red riding hood, white wolf dog Hazel and I, darting amongst the sunbeams and shadows.

 I try to capture that sunlight as it dances along the water, our hair, the leaves, the fur...

I also want to capture the shadows... so I've been experimenting with 'underexposing' my shots lately:

I find these shots only work well if there's a bright element within the composition... otherwise they just look dark and dull.  Maybe I'm missing some feature to compensate with on my camera (?)  Usually I'm a 'stick-with-one-setting' kind of photographer, so it's rare for me to play around with my camera too much.  I'll likely be staying with my sunlight saturated shots overall.

In other news, I realised afresh what outfit I feel most 'me' in (that's normal right? To feel like the moment you put on an outfit that it may as well be part of your skin, your core fibres.).  It was this outfit for hiking:

~thick knitted toque~
~long hooded sweater~
~old canvas bomber jacket~
~cozy wrist warmers (homemade)~
~ripped, faded jeans (Ben's actually)~
~warm brown leather boots~

I'm not sure what that means... but I think cozy and comfortable far outweigh any desire to be cool or chic for this mama.

Have a beauty weekend chasing sunbeams, friends!

Mel ;o)



There he is, the great hunk of handsomeness, Hudson.
Doing what he does best... crying, pooping, burping, cooing, chillin' like a cucumber.
Now this is the part where I have a small episode of hyperventilating over the fact that my boy is over 8 months old all of a sudden!  Do your kids just start getting exponentially bigger, faster, the more offspring you have?

Seems like 'the Big Hud' is going to be catching up to his big sister in no time at this rate.
She's turning 3 in just over a month... and they're still sharing the same diaper size (though I'd love to say she's potty-trained by now... ).
Anywho, the excuse for over-saturating the blog with all this cuteness today is so I can link up with lovely Morgan over at Mama Loves Papa for her Small Style reunion!
Loved connecting with many mamas from there last year... and just wanted to jump back aboard to say hello today - and look: there's two in our nest now!
Azriel & Hudson's outfits are thrifted/gifted/second-hand mixes:
His knit sweater:: Old Navy
paint-splattered jeans (ha!)::Sears.

Most days I don't try to sweat how stylish these two are.. so much as, 'are they wearing something that fits anymore?!'

Azriel sometimes 'sweats' the little things a bit too much... like, what does a penguin and cheese have in common?
What caption would you give this shot? ;o)

Cuties' mama,
Mel ;o)


thrifty & nifty threads: upcycled fashion. 11.

Yes, friends ~ I'm still upcycling my wardrobe over here.
This week's edition is a fun spin on wearing something from the bottom and putting it up top instead...
...turning old pants, into a vest, that is.
So, I had these super saggy, frumpy, tan pants loitering around my dresser for years.  They seemed too fancy to toss because they were 100% silk  (looks/feels like smooth cashmere).
I wanted to selvage the pockets, which inspired me to make a vest with them.
Using a vest I already had (much to my guy ben's chagrin)... I made a pattern to use the legs of the pants for the vest front.  I also chopped off the waistline to use as a 'belt' section on the vest... which made me feel quite clever.
While I dream of looking like this in it... I still wonder if it's not just a feminine spin on a vest more often seen on a fly-fisherman/ safari-guide/ or photo-journalist (?!).
I used some floral denim fabric for a fun pop of colour and pattern on the back (and inside liner).  I forgot to post pictures of actually wearing a belt (or two skinny belts) around the waist to mix with my bohemian beads style (d.i.y here).

My Ben couldn't decide which side he found more repulsive on this project: the floral pattern, or the frumpy front!  I'm still trying to convince him that wearing vests is like, totally cool, man... but he doesn't buy it.  When I remind him that I love lace - and floral - (and it just happens to be trendy too)... he simply states that it looks 'Grandma-ish' to him.  Much like the 'cat-eye' glasses I threatened to buy one time!

What to do?
Wear with flair the craziness I craft... and kill the libido of my husband?
(These are the times I really need a sarcasm font).

Maybe I should just keep it around in case we don't want to have more kids.
That, and a pair of Crocs should do the trick.


What about you?  Do you keep things in your wardrobe even if your partner gives it a thumbs-down?
 I'm curious...

Mel ;o)
*(Note: For those who don't know my Ben, he's not some jock-headed masochist that requires me to dress a certain way... he's a very kind.sweet.husband who embraces most of my wild wardrobe choices... he even thinks I look 'elegant' in jeans and a t-shirt...he just draws the line at vests).

P.S: You can find the past projects of upcycled fashion here!


confessions [of a Mel] part.8.

Remember how in that last post about our 'stay.cation' I was saying how wonderfully quiet it was?
Confession: silence hasn't always been my friend.

Now most of us probably struggle with some form of social awkwardness, right?  Some are too outgoing and overwhelm everybody... some are too quiet and befuddle everybody... and some are extroverted-introverts who are stressed by silence - so they just can't stop talking (yep, that ones me).

If admitting the problem is the first step to change... I've had a number of years to work this 'kink' out of my system.  But, boy you should have seen me in my prime.  
Back in my late teens, early twenties.. I was a piece-o'-work!  Put me in any social setting and I was instantly steering the conversations with a whole barrage of blathering.
My relatives used to tease me about being in training as an 'interrogator' when they would receive the full force of my awkwardness.  See, I used to work with them, and every day I would start up: "Hey, how are you? How was your night? What did you do? What did you have for dinner?  How was your sleep?!" {shudder... I wish I was joking here}.

I just couldn't handle silence.

 Ben got a good dose of this dysfunction while we dated too.
We'd be out on a nice nature hike... and I'd be chattering away like a chick-a-dee... and eventually, he'd gently say: "You know, it's ok to not have something to talk about every moment... silence can be nice too". Love that guy.

So, I'd agree, apologise, fidget ...while my mind was still racing as to what the next topic of conversation could be.
Sometimes I'd wonder what the heck was my problem.  Especially when you have those 'out-of-body' moments in a conversation and you're trying to yell: "will somebody just shut ME up?!". 

Finally, an epiphany did just that.
Not years on a psychiatrist's couch, or episodes of Dr.Phil... or any other intervention.
Just a drive in the back seat of my parent's car.

They were having a wee 'spat'.
Nothing too serious, but enough to strike to my very core.

(See, growing up my dear folks used to argue like cats and dogs.
One would yell, the other stomp off and slam things.
But always, always it would culminate in the 'silent treatment'.
Thick, oppressive, cut-it-with-a-knife silence would suffocate our home).

In that car seat, as a young adult, it hit me.
Silence in my world was not neutral.
Silence meant something is wrong, or, someone is mad.

I unknowingly would run from silence in any/all interactions for fear it meant the other person was upset with me or uncomfortable.

This epiphany was a HUGE breakthrough for me personally.

I'm still a work-in-progress of course.
I still love to interrogate ask meaningful questions of others.

But, I'm also learning to breathe on the other side of silence.
That allowing room for quiet in a conversation can be a beautiful thing... it can even draw others out when they feel comfortable (not squashed by the awkward factor).

I'm learning to be still.
To listen better.
So, to all you friends and family who endured my manic-questionings over the years... thank you for your patience, and I'm sorry for being such a dweeb.
To my parents, thanks for being such a shining example of God's grace that restored and revitalized your marriage.

Shhhhhhhhhhh, can you hear it?
I'm not even breaking out in a sweat anymore!

mellow mama,
Mel ;o)


Where we hung our hat:

 We flew the coop here this week.
Nothing fancy like the Bahamas, Disney world or Mars...  just the in-laws house.
Yep, they took off for a holiday, so we had another stay-cation at their place!
We do love it here...

 Their house is full of character.history.art.antiques.memories...

 ...everybody got a room to themselves, which you may recall from yesterday's post means a better sleep for all.

 ...we built a fort on the back porch overlooking a huge yard that goes into the woods.

 ...we took care of Hazel the white wonder dog, a.k.a.. the hornet-hunter: she will chase, chomp and chew those wee nasties all over the yard!

 ...Azriel loved to run around the gardens and collect yet another flower for me 
(sorry Nana, your garden is smaller, but my heart is fuller!).

...we hiked through the woods, dipped our feet in the cool creek, and listened to Azriel holler after the dog - "Haaaaaaaaaaaaazzzzeeeelll!!".

But, our very favourite thing about being here?


Beautiful, relaxing, delicious, golden quiet.
The noise of traffic is replaced with crickets.
The loudness of neighbours (no, not our housemates!) is exchanged for bullfrogs. 
While the wind dancing through the towering willow tree is our music.

Gosh, I think we need to move to the country real soon.

That's the beauty around here lately,
hope you all have a beautiful weekend!

Mel ;o)


...a mama can dream?

 One of the biggest hurdles in parenting babies/toddlers has got to be sleeplessness... amiright?
We day-dream (because we sure don't get that luxury at night!).. of what a full 8-10 hours of uninterrupted sleep feels like.

Granted, we were pretty spoiled with our first child.  Azriel was happily sleeping through most nights by her third month.  Then came the big Hud, you may recall what a fitful start we had with him.  Co-sleeping, then bedside bassinet, then playpen... always stuck in our room, always squawking throughout the night.  We just kept waiting (for the last 7+months), hoping he would get 'good enough' to share a room with his big sister.
He could inherit her crib, she could have the 'big girl' bed... (though, she doth protest).

 Currently we're in transition mode.
First step: bring the good sleeper Azriel in our room (playpen).. let Hudson get used to his new space in her room (he's already sleeping longer now!).

Next step: figure out how to get them both to share the space and slumber time.  I've already tried to prepare Azi by saying: "If your brother wakes up crying in the night, you can sing him a song"....she's been practising in the day now. Ca-utie!

 Ben and I are dubious of having much sleep-success to start... but I'm still optimistic it will work... eventually.  Any tips?

The only part that worries me most is the impish nature of our gal.
Though she loves him, I fear her expressions of that s-mothering while left alone with him.

See?!  I rest my case.
I wonder how good those crib bars are at keeping the wild things outside of the cage?

I guess I'll just wait for when they're teenagers... then we can all sleep IN together.

A mama can dream, right?
Mel ;o)


D.I.Y: layered fabrics scarf.

 If you love hoarding collecting fabric, mixing patterns and wearing scarves...
...here's a do.it.yourself sewing project to enjoy.

I love how this lets me unite a variety of colours, patterns, and fabrics together.
And, it's a unique statement piece that combines with any style of wardrobe.

 Supplies Needed:

+ 5-6 various strips of your favourite fabrics 16" long x 3" wide, roughly (cotton.jersey.knit.silk... anything goes).
+ fabric elastic - 4-5" long.

+sewing machine

 1.  Fold your strips of fabric lengthwise, with the edges folded in for a clean seam.  Run each strip through your sewing machine.

2. Overlap each strip slightly and run one end through the machine to attach them all.
(Don't worry about the unfinished edge, and sew your elastic to the end of it).

 3. Test the length of the scarf around your neck - with the elastic included - and mark the loose side of your scarf with a pin for where you would like it to attach.  Sew elastic to the other end, where the strips are also now sewn together... and trim off excess.

4.  Now cut a spare piece of folded fabric that will cover your elastic at the back of the scarf.
Make sure this piece is either 'stretchy' fabric or cut to the length of the extended elastic size.

 5.  Fold this piece of fabric around the elastic but make sure it's inside out.
Sew along the top edge of it to create a tube.

6.  Flip it ride side out, tuck any raw edges back inside.

7. Sew the finished 'tube' over the edges of the scarf strips on both sides of the elastic.

A colourful cuff that stretches at the back to fit over your gorgeous melon.
Hope you have fun mixing and matching your own version!

happy sewing,
Mel ;o)