Our Week (so far)

A fairly regular, if not weekly, post to share photos of random moments in our lives. No particular rhyme or reason to them, just things we’ve done, or small bits of our lives I’ve finally taken notice of. Thanks for popping by and taking a peek into our week, so far:

Mother's Day breakfast with my boy. I cooked up special beet & apple waffles with blueberry sauce. Super yummy! We both gobbled them up.
Mother’s Day breakfast with my boy. I cooked up special beet & apple waffles with blueberry sauce. Super yummy! We both gobbled them up.
Just chillin' outside with my boy on Mother's Day. Love his sunglasses! I need some!
Just chillin’ outside with my boy on Mother’s Day. Love his sunglasses! I need some!
May 12th would have been my oldest brother's birthday. Sammy & I took a little trip up to the cemetery for a visit. When I told Sam we were going to the cemetery to see Uncle Blake, my sweet boy asked if we could read a story with him. So we brought one of his Berenstein Bear books with us and sat there reading a story together. When we were just about ready to leave, I wished Blake happy birthday. Sammy heard me and starting singing Happy Birthday to Uncle Blake. Just another truly precious moment to get me through the week.
May 12th would have been my oldest brother’s birthday. Sammy & I took a little trip up to the cemetery for a visit. When I told Sam we were going to the cemetery to see Uncle Blake, my sweet boy asked if we could read a story with him. So we brought one of his Berenstein Bear books with us and sat there reading a story together. When we were just about ready to leave, I wished Blake happy birthday. Sammy heard me and starting singing Happy Birthday to Uncle Blake. Just another truly precious moment to get me through the week.
Sammy was a big help this week with all sorts of tasks. We did some watering at one of the yards for hubby and he was happy to try out his new watering can (I know he doesn't look too happy in the picture, though).
Sammy was a big help this week with all sorts of tasks. We did some watering at one of the yards for hubby and he was happy to try out his new watering can (I know he doesn’t look too happy in the picture, though).
Finally got to enjoy several meals outside this week. Loving our old blue bench (painted it last year, but barely got to use it).
Finally got to enjoy several meals outside this week. Loving our old blue bench (painted it last year, but barely got to use it).
Sammy helping Auntie Tina dig one of the many holes out on our "big farm" for the hazelnut trees that we are planting out there. It's a big task (over 400 hazelnuts to go in, 400 raspberry bushes, and a handful of pear & apple trees). Mark your calendars, the official tree planting day is May 24th! Contact me if you're interested in joining us!
Sammy helping Auntie Tina dig one of the many holes out on our “big farm” for the hazelnut trees that we are planting out there. It’s a big task (over 400 hazelnuts to go in, 400 raspberry bushes, and a handful of pear & apple trees). Mark your calendars, the official tree planting day is May 24th! Contact me if you’re interested in joining us!

A shirt story

Upcycled Tribal Cuff Bracelet by Bubblegum SassVictorian Upcycled Cuff Bracelet by Bubblegum Sass

I thought it was time to share my inspiration for the current collection of accessories that I’ve been making (and making, and making). The full unveiling is coming up at Make It on Thursday. Some of the items have been for sale in the Etsy shop this past year, but other designs, like the Upcycled Collar, will be on sale for the first time. I’m actually a little nervous, but hopeful, in how they will be received.

I started sewing the Upcycled Cuff Bracelets over a year ago, but my inspiration actually came a little over two years ago. I was facing the saddest moment in my entire life, the sudden loss of my oldest brother Blake. Through the course of that sadness, one of the tasks we took on was cleaning out some of his personal items from his house, to make room for a friend to live there until we could bring ourselves to sell it. My mom and I found ourselves cleaning out Blake’s big walk-in closet, folding up each shirt & pair of pants. My big bro loved clothes. He loved being fashionable and as such, he had an amazing collection of outfits. There were several items that we couldn’t bare to let of. My mom and I each kept a pile of things. My pile mostly consisted of dress shirts, some of my brother’s favourites & some that I simply adored. At the time, I kept thinking that I would make my soon-to-be-born baby a teddy bear out of various shirts, in memory of the uncle he would never get to meet.

Months past, and the pile of dress shirts remained untouched in my sewing room. They sat partly because I wasn’t ready to deal with them, partly because I didn’t have the time to sew (hello, newborn baby), but mainly because I couldn’t decide on the perfect project. Then one day, out of the blue, I found myself standing in the sewing room unfolding & re-folding the dress shirts. The next day, I took a pair of scissors and cut a off a cuff from one of the shirts. Then I just started grabbing bits & pieces of things from around my table, made a small pile and began to “play”. Before I knew it, I had a colour theme going and sat down in front of the sewing machine with that cuff and a handful of scrap odds & ends. I hadn’t felt that creative in a long time! I was so satisfied with the end result & eager to make more. Of course, it would be a while before I could really sit down to sew much, but gradually, as I gained more “mama time”, the designs started to flow.

Shabby Chic Upcycled Collar by Bubblegum Sass, Sea Foam GreenShabby Chic Upcycled Collar by Bubblegum Sass, Sea Green

Shabby Chic Upcycled Collar by Bubblegum Sass, RaspberryShabby Chic Upcycled Collar by Bubblegum Sass, Olive Green

When I first saved my brother’s shirts, I was keen to make something crafty in memory of him. Hence the teddy bear idea. But the more time the shirts spent sitting there in the sewing room & in the back of my mind, I had this nagging desire to make something funky out of them that I could wear. Something to capture my brother’s fashionable style, but with my own twist. I’m not too sure where the idea of using the cuffs & collars came from. It just sort of popped into my head. In the end, they have become the perfect way to pay homage to the shirt they were cut from, and an interesting canvas to design on. I love being able to use lots of scrap fabrics & notions & buttons! I try my best to use supplies I have on hand, since, let’s face it, I have a LOT of crafty odds & ends that have accumulated over my many years of sewing, but sometimes I see an interesting notion at the fabric store that I can’t resist. My fave find is coming across vintage doilies at the thrift store. All of these things get incorporated bit by bit into various cuffs & collars.

Some shirts get donated to me by friends, but most I pick up at the thrift store. There is one cuff sitting unmade from my brother’s shirts, the rest were used up long ago. I like the idea of being able to wear something of his, keeping him close to me. I often find myself wondering about the person who previously owned a shirt, when I’m making a cuff or collar. Did they give the shirt away because they were tired of it, did it no longer fit right or was it donated by their family after they passed away? I like to think that I’m giving new life to these shirts, but often wish I knew their story.

Shabby Chic Upcycled Collar by Bubblegum Sass, AquaShabby Chic Upcycled Collar by Bubblegum Sass, Plum Purple

Shabby Chic Upcycled Collar by Bubblegum Sass, Dusty PurpleShabby Chic Upcycled Collar by Bubblegum Sass, Dusty Pink

First steps

I started my first day of the 30×30 Nature Challenge with a short trip out to the family cabin. I needed to check on things out there and took some time to go for a walk.

It was in the isolation, listening to the trees creak, that I realized just how much pain I’m still learning to let go of. The cabin originally belonged to my oldest brother. When he was still alive, I only had a handful of happy memories out there. The rest were clouded by anger. Once he passed away, it was easy to let go of some of that anger and forgive him. The pain that still lingers these days is in the wish that he was here to forgive me. I miss him.

With each strong breeze that blows out there, with each swaying tree, the cabin becomes more of a comfort. I wrap myself up in all the things that he touched, while making new memories with my little family. The cabin is becoming a place where his past and my present can live together in some kind of harmony.

I can’t wait to see the memories that Sam will have of this place.

Alberta forest and mountain scape

Prayer flags

Cloudscape

Old log fence

Rusty horseshoe

The longest month

Blake Summer 2011
Blake, Summer 2011

I’ve been absent from this space for quite a while. Absent from a lot of things, actually. And yet, I can’t believe it hasn’t even been quite a month since my oldest brother passed away. Every week feels like forever.

Our small family gathered yesterday to bury him in the Queen’s Park Cemetery. A chilly autumn day, fitting for such a solemn task. No speeches were said. Not many words left at this point. Just tears and hugs, and photos. My family can’t do anything without taking photos. I suppose it will be a way to remember his urn and the collection of things we buried him with. We each had items to put inside his urn vault, symbolic things to keep him company as he goes forward.

I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so weary. There’s been plenty of challenges and hardships for my family in the past several years, many of them revolving around Blake, and I was weary then. This, though, is so very different. In previous years, there was the weariness of the unknown, the worry of what may or may not happen, trying to brace ourselves for different possibilities and outcomes. But now, the outcome has been determined, our worse fear has come to pass, and he is gone. Just like that. Sudden in so many ways, though not completely unexpected. And not without some relief mingled in all the hurt. Maybe that’s why I feel so extraordinarily weary… the crazy mix of emotions… missing him and yet glad he no longer suffers, grieving a death while anticipating the birth of our first child, looking back at so many memories while needing to look forward… it’s tough to say the least. I’m sure anyone who has lost a loved one can relate.

I’ve had to make a few changes lately to keep my health and sanity. First off, I’m no longer working at the doggie daycare. I’m missing all the pups like crazy, but there was just no room in my schedule to continue doing that, while we deal with everything else. There is now just two and half weeks until my first Christmas craft fair! That alone feels insane and overwhelming. There is a lot of crafting that needs to happen and I’m tempted to enlist help (one of my big weaknesses, but I’ll may need to overcome it if I want to get enough inventory made). Hubby and I are also on a mission to get the nursery set-up and get a bit more organized for the arrival of baby. Who really wants to go shopping for all the basic baby things during the Christmas craziness?! Certainly not us. We’ve even started looking into hiring a postpartum doula to give us a hand. Given the year we’ve had, we thought it might be a good idea to have the extra support while we learn to take care of baby.

As busy as it all is, I’m also very aware of breathing in each moment a bit more. Taking the time to watch my belly and marvel at the kicks baby can already produce. Not wanting to miss the glowing yellow trees during this lovely autumn we’re having. Even just enjoying that fact that hubby and I get to eat breakfast together most mornings and many, many, more blessings.

Hoping that in the midst of all of life’s craziness, you’re able to stop for a few moments each day and marvel at just being here.