Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Closed for Remodeling...

I am really excited for the changes to my blog that will be coming soon!  Sorry but it will be "closed" for a while - but be sure to "tune in" when I am back with major improvements!  Look for a re-opening in late July... 

Thanks for all who read my blog, you will not be disappointed. 

Till then, have a blessed and awesome summer!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Necessity is the mother of invention.

Necessity is the mother of invention.  That's what inspired this. 
I have a small bathroom that really needed a nice makeover.
And a nice towel rack. 
We have been shoving all our towels on an over-the-door kind of towel rack.  It worked, but it wasn't attractive and it took a while for all our towels to dry.  So we needed something new and an idea was born...

So from a pile of wood in our backyard I grabbed what I needed and went to work.

I cut my pieces to a size that worked.

Sanded - a lot!

Painted them white.

Sanded again to distress.

Added hardware and letters.

Hung on bathroom wall!
One top piece for the letters (Devon, Noah, and Gabe's spots for towels!) and a hook for their soap sacks.

The bottom piece for their towels.

I think it turned out pretty well, it's personalized and unique, and anyone can make it! 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Fairy Gardens!

If you know me, you know that I've always had a "thing" for fairies.  I am so excited about this new fad - Fairy Gardens!

These are incredibly fun to create.  I have a few for sale, some for indoors and some for indoor/outdoors.  Here's my favorite one up for grabs...

I also have created my own "hobbit home" and my own outdoor fairy garden with a mint plant...

Love shopping for these miniatures at Bowman's and Joann's.  They are adorable and a really fun thing to make!

Friday, June 3, 2016

I just love a good before and after!

Been working hard on redoing pieces I have and pieces I've bought.  This is just too much fun!  I now daydream of taking a vacation driving up and down the east coast stopping in antique stores and thrift stores and flea markets...  Anyone else with me?

And I really do now appreciate a good before and after...  Here's mine!

Here's an old handmade wooden step stool I found
After I painted and distressed in grey and white

An old not-so-attractive find from the antique mall

After I refinished and distressed in white

Our old kitchen stool in need of love

After painting, distressing, and putting on a new fabric

Learning is so easy thanks to things like YouTube.  Whatever you want to do there is a video telling you and showing you exactly how - so get to learning!  I am just baffled by people who say they are bored; there is so much to learn and do!  Now on to the next project and some more fun...

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

So many things to do with mason jars!

So many things to do with mason jars!  As I look for how to make a specific project with them, I find more and more ideas for things to do.  Who knew?

Love putting these jars with flowers around the house, giving it a nice spring and summer look.

I also like my newest creations that my hubby inspired me to make - a patriotic, flag set of jars with lights in them.  Great for a table centerpiece, especially out on the patio table with all the Memorial Day and Fourth of July parties coming up!

Here's what I did on my dining room table

Plus you can put in a nice colorful potpourri and put a crochet doily on top...

Or just add a collection of buttons! 

Enjoy coming up with many more simple ideas.  They can be used for anything!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Looking with a new eye...

Another addiction - making old new, and then old again!  LOL!

I have always loved walking into antique shops, indoor flea markets, and thrift stores and finding diamonds in the rough.  Now I look with a new eye - what can I make new, and then make it look old again?  I am really into the Shabby Chic/ Farmhouse Chic look, and I am grabbing up inexpensive furniture and décor items and refinishing and distressing them, and I am loving it!  I am just having trouble parting with the things I am redoing and wish I could keep them all for my own home...  Like my newest one...  An adorable chalkboard shelf with a painted apples tile...

This one had old beat up orangy colored wood before I refinished it.  Now I have told my husband that if it doesn't sell by the middle of June it will go in my kitchen!  How cute would it be to write a to do list, or events going on that week, or your current favorite Scripture verse, or a little note to your kids?  I've even included a little painted jar to hold chalk! 

Making old new, then distressing to look old again.  My newest obsession.  Trying new hobbies has really been a blast for me - you never know what you can do, and will LOVE, until you try it!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Never buy Swiffer Duster refills again!

I am learning that I get the most satisfaction out of making things for the home, whether it be a crochet blanket, or refinishing furniture.  I also really like making and sharing about useful items that can save you money!
Like these.  You will never have to buy those Swiffer refills again. 
I have been using a ribbed crochet Swiffer duster cover made from acrylic yarn that can be thrown right in the washer when I am done using it, then putting another one on to use next time (sometimes that next time is an hour later with my boys and their messes!).  Switching between 2 of them, I don't need to buy another refill, ever.  I also have used my Thieves cleaner spray from Young Living on floor spots and spills and cleaning it up using this crochet cloth.  Now that's useful!
I will be adding these on my Etsy shop, selling them in groups of 2. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

DIY Country Shelves!

I found an amazing way to make what I will never have enough of in my house - shelves.  They are simple and inexpensive to make; they just take a little time and effort.  And I love how they are turning out.  What are they?
Pallet shelves!
Here's how to make them:
Step 1 -  Retrieve a pallet from the many areas around town where businesses lay them out for people to have for free!

Step 2 - Cut the pallet.  You can make 2 shelves from each pallet, one from each end.  For my first shelves I enlisted my hubbies help, though he is teaching me to do this part myself too.  You then need to remove a board from the middle and use it as a bottom to your shelf. 

Step 3- Sand it till it's smooth.  You will be amazed how nice it looks after a good sanding. 

Step 4- Stain or paint it.  I choose to paint mine white, though for variety when I am selling these (yes you can order one from me~ though they are too heavy to ship if you can meet and pick it up I can make one for you!) I will stain them as well. 

Step 5 - Distress it or finish it.  I love the distressed look, so after painting mine I sanded it again to give it that old vintage country look.  If you have stained it, you would want to put a nice coat of varnish on it now. 

Step 6 - Fill it up, hang it up, and enjoy!  I am still working on this step, as it is a heavy shelf and I will need help finding studs and using wall anchors to put it up.  But I am liking playing around with the possibilities of what to put on it! 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Upcycle! Redo! Refinish!

I have learned that upcycling and refinishing is one of my favorite things!  I am loving finding things around my house and just figuring out new ways that I can use them and redo them to make them what I want.  This used to have a mediocre pic of a farmhouse and trees on it, and it was cute but not exactly my taste.  But painted the colors I love for my kitchen and added the F and it's like brand new.  I am having so much fun doing this and this hopefully (when I am done refinishing and upcycling things and my furniture I already have) will help my home be so much more reflective of my taste and a more cohesive style! 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

In the past, I have not been a very adventurous cook.  In the last few years though, I have gotten much braver, and had a little more fun cooking.  I am a nut for Italian dishes, so one of the things I really wanted to conquer was making my own spaghetti sauce.  I know myself though, and I do not have the time and patience it takes to stir a pot on the stove for hours on end.  So I decided to come up with a recipe that could be made in my crockpot.  I also included my love of Young Living Essential Oils!  They give it a wonderfully more robust flavor than just the dried herbs I was originally using, or even the fresh herbs I tried.

And it turned out fabulous!

It was really best when I used the canned tomatoes we had from our garden, but since I don't always have that option, this was the next best thing...

Also amazing with Young Living's Taste Of Italy Essential Oil, 1-2 drops

Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Quilt part 2

The strips for the top are finished!

Now for the next step, putting a border around my strips to finish out the top.  I am going with a dark blue border.  On my list of to do's for this weekend.  

Monday, April 25, 2016

I cannot turn back time.  I cannot slow time down. 
But I can try to make a space where we can block out some of the fast paced world, where we can relax and try for some peace.  Try to slow down. 
I have become obsessed with making my home a bright, pretty place filled with things from an older time.  Or things that have that old vintage farmhouse look.  Things like the crochet blankets and new pillow I've made.  Things like the quilt I am working on.  I can't return the world to older values.  But I can try to make my home reflect what I value.
I blame this on my friend Debbie J. (Love you Debbie!) for introducing the show "Fixer Upper" to me.  I just LOVE the look and vision that Joanna has for her farmhouse and some of the houses they remodel.  And though I am not able to remodel my home and do the things that Joanna and Chip can do on this show (I am in AWE of their talent!) I can do a little here and there to redecorate my humble home. 
Obsessed.  I have such a vision and such ideas for my home in my head.  I want white.  Lots of white.
So I am starting with small things since I am learning as I go (thank you YouTube!) and then hoping to work up to bigger projects later. 
A cute little start - distressed this old napkin holder to make it so much nicer!

I will show you the bigger project I am working on when I am finished.  I am super excited about it - Distressed shelves made from pallets.  So far so good!  And I will show you how you can do it, too! 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Quilt

I have finally started it.
The Quilt.
The quilt that I have been contemplating for the past 6 months, ever since a friend of mine told me that a strip quilt using a jelly roll was easier than I thought.  That if I didn't sew perfectly straight it would still turn out ok, it would still look fine.  I had always wanted to try making a quilt, but I had thought it was above my skill range.  Now I've finally found a quilt pattern I could attempt!
Just in case it is the only quilt I ever make, I decided to go all out and cut up some baby clothes into strips to put in the quilt.  I saved the clothes in a box with the idea that someday I would make them into something, so it was great to finally find their purpose.  Then I found a jelly roll with some matching flannel colors to go with it. 
On a rainy Saturday morning I laid all out all my strips and squares on my dining room table, and arranged them and pinned exactly where I wanted them.  I am not sure of a rhyme or reason to my arrangement, I just put them where I thought they worked. 

My baby quilt layout

Then I sewed each individual row of strips and squares together and numbered the backs in case my 2 yr old (or let's face it, any of my kids or my husband) got into my basket and messed up the order.  Next I started sewing all the rows together.  That's where I am in my work right now.
I had a lot on my plate the past couple of weeks and haven't been able to get past this step, but each time I go to work I am eyeing the material I want to use for the border and the back.  I am quite determined to finish this project, and am excited for it!!!  I will update you on my progress as I go along.
I want everyone who thought that quilting was way too hard for them to see that it can be done, even by a person who doesn't know much more about sewing than how to thread their machine.  If I can do it, so can you!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Let the projects begin!

So I started my new part time job at Joann's this week.

And I resisted.  I have not bought any new yarn...  or many of the other things I now want...  yet...

But as I am working I am looking at all of the things around me and thinking to myself, "I can make that...  oh I could definitely use that!...  I think I need that...  I could use that for ____..."

It has inspired me to get cracking on the projects I have on my mental list, because I vowed not to start anything before I finish those.  Period.  Some I have been looking forward to making (like my first batch of cold process soap) but haven't set aside time to do it, others I have been nervous about trying (like the quilt I have stripped out but haven't started sewing together) but now am ready to give it a go! 

So being a cold and yucky weekend (it actually snowed here in MD this morning), let the projects begin!

Monday, April 4, 2016

The cool thing about custom crochet...

One of the cool things about being able to crochet or ordering custom crochet is that you can make things or buy them in any color scheme you can come up with.  I have many times come up with an idea in my head about a pillow or bedspread that I want, only to not be able to actually find it in those colors.  Now I can imagine and create anything I want! 

(Of course I had to promise my husband I wouldn't be an old lady with her whole house covered in crochet.)

I have been crocheting and creating so many different things lately, that I completely forgot that sometimes it's ok to make something just for me!  We are awaiting our new couch, which we are so excited about since our current couch was very inexpensive and now after 8 years and 3 small boys is very beat up.  So now I am finally taking a break from making things for others or my shop, and spending a few evenings making something just for me - a pillow to match our new couch and new rug in our living room, and coordinate it with our paint colors.  And I don't have to shop for it or spend hours on the internet searching for what I want, I can simply imagine and create!

Need something new for your new home, new room, or just want something to update your current décor?  Visit my shop to get pattern ideas, and then simply imagine!  Or have you seen something online that I don't have in my shop?  Send me a link to check it out and let me see if I can create it for you.  I love learning new patterns!

My basket weave stitch pillow started!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

They're here!

They're here!
My monsters are finally done!

I worked until I had the pattern the way I liked it, and my newest additions to the shop - Ooof and Devilooof are complete.  They also come with certificates of adoption, which I think adds a little fun, too.  I love how they turned out, and I think you will, too. 
Love the pattern and want to try making one for yourself?  It's all crochet in the round, so it's not too difficult to make.  Email or fb message me if you want to give it a try and I'll give you the pattern for my Ooof. 
Click on the link right here to check them out ~ My monsters!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Yes that's right. You can find Essentially Melanie in a store!

That's right folks.  You can now find all natural products from Essentially Melanie in a store.

My table at Bowman's Home and Garden

This feels pretty awesome.  I know it won't make me a millionaire, but it is a wonderful start!  They want to sell my afghans in the fall, so I am excited to learn lots of new, original blanket patterns and have them ready.

  Better get to work. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Happy Dance!

This.  Is.  ME.
I just checked the tracking number on the package I am expecting to arrive any day now with my lip balm safety seals and my soap supplies.  Yes Canada.  I have an uncanny ability to order things from other countries that take forever to get here (just ask my husband about the tub seat I ordered for my son that was from Jerusalem~ it took WEEKS to get here, and arrived in a beat up box covered in a trash bag!  LOL!).
 But today is the day says the UPS site!  I may just do this dance when the UPS person stops by...Then my package being delivered will make both of our days.

Don't you just love the UPS guy?!?!?
It's like Christmas morning!

Don't get me wrong, I do love shopping.  After all, I am a girl.  But there is just something about getting a package delivered to your doorstep that you have been waiting on with anticipation!  It's one of the reasons I love Amazon.  It is also one of the reasons I love my monthly packages from Young Living's Essential Rewards program. Getting a package is just glorious...

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Not a brain surgeon.

When my bathroom is clean and spotless, no one will notice.  But if it was dirty everyone would notice.  When my kids have clean clothes in their dressers, they won't notice.  But if my laundry basket is overflowing with dirty clothes, it will certainly get noticed.  Sigh. 

I was reminded of something very important this morning, and I wanted to share it with you. 
My home work matters.  Our work matters.

In the mundane task of making breakfast this morning, I can do it 2 ways.  I can make my little boys their breakfast and tell them to keep it moving because they need to finish getting ready for school and they still need to feed the rabbits.  Or I can try to be a blessing to them, make them breakfast with a smile on my face, maybe a little I love you note written on their napkins, and remind them that they are important and loved. 

Later, when I am continuing to work on the little flower headbands that I am making for my online shops, I could choose to just try and get a bunch of them done while my 2 year old is occupying himself for a little while.  Or I can take my time and make them to the best of my ability, possibly only getting a couple finished, and remember that maybe it is being worn by a little girl who wanted to feel pretty that morning and wanted someone to notice her beautiful new headband with the big flower that her mommy bought for her.  

I am not a brain surgeon, and I will not be saving a life or impacting the rest of someone's life if I don't make breakfast with a smile or do my best when I make a headband.  But what I do does matter to those around me.

Our home work matters. 

Monday, March 21, 2016


Packaging up the soaps

So years ago my awesomely crafty sister in law gave all her sister in laws and sisters wonderful handmade soaps for a gift at Christmas, and has done so almost annually since.  I didn't know when she gave us that first soap how she made them or how long it took to do it.  I honestly didn't even know that people made their own homemade soaps!  But I thought it smelled amazing and was a really neat gift.  They were so cute with their country look and wrapping that I couldn't bring myself to actually use them, so I kept them as a part of my bathroom décor. 

In recent years I have been trying to eliminate chemicals in my home in an attempt to help keep my family healthier, though I am by no means a "crunchy/granola mama."  So I decided to break down and actually use these adorable soap bars that I knew had much less unreadable chemicals in them.  I loved them!  But only getting one at Christmas time every year meant that I didn't have enough to use for very long (and still wanted a couple of bars for decorations - they are so darn cute!).  I then looked into making cold process soap myself.  I mean, I was already making my own liquid laundry soap and dishwasher detergent, I figured it couldn't be that big a deal. 
Whoa (read that as Keanu Reeves!)
A little more in depth than I was looking for.
Um...  No.  I was not going to make soap right now.  Using lye and needing eye protection?!?  Waiting 6 weeks for it to be ready?!?  Not for me.  I will just have to wait till next Christmas to get more from my sister in law that I was in awe of at the moment for taking on such a daunting task, or order some from Etsy.

Well it's now a few years later.  I am helping to run an essential oil of the month club, where each month we send out a top secret oil, a recipe card, and most if not all the things needed to make the recipe (let me know if you are interested in joining in the fun in our spOILed club!).  For March it is actually 2 awesome oils, and the recipe was for melt and pour soap using Rosemary oil.  I.  Love.  It.  I love researching the soap recipes to make, getting the supplies ready, making the actual soaps, everything!  I think it is so neat to make my own soaps, and my kids just love to use them.  I want to do more.  I want to make more.  I want to try my hand at packaging it and selling my very own soaps, so I'm selling mini soaps in my Etsy and Scott's Marketplace shops and putting them out for sale at Bowman's Home and Garden Store.  And now I am ready to make the cold process soap!

So I ordered all the ingredients and supplies I will need to make my first batch of goat's milk soap.  My package should arrive in the mail any day now.  I will show you pics from my first batch and let you know how it goes! 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

You just jumped in with both feet... now what?

I am so new to all of this, that sometimes the amount of learning I have to do is overwhelming.  Especially when you have to run your house, take care of all your kids, and actually research, make, package, and sell your products while doing it. 

You know the feeling, you just jumped in with both feet, and now you had better figure out how to do it!
Learning about SEOs, boosting your site and page, how to optimize hashtags and label and keywords, trying to use both graphics online and then learning you need a completely different way for print material (God bless my friend Leigh for coming to my graphic design rescue this week!), how to word the titles on your products to get the most views, what time should you post your blog, how you should pitch your business to others effectively, etc.


But learning new things is also something I thoroughly enjoy, too.  I like new.  I like change.  I like different.  I like finding out how to do things I've never done before.  And when I feel particularly challenged, I've found some awesome people out there that though they gain nothing by it, are willing to help you when you ask. 

Don't be afraid to try something new and jump in with both feet.  Do a little learning yourself.  You never know what you will fall in love with or be totally amazing at if you don't give it go!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A no go...

Another day of trial and error, as we discover more recipes that we don't like.  Yes my whole family is getting involved in this one, as we are trying and perfecting a new shop idea to make the perfect "Melanie's Mash and Mush Soap."  We are still working on it to get it just right, and as you can see we are having a lot of fun working with it!

It is so awesome that my kids love getting involved in my business.  They get excited to help, and it is really helpful for me to get their point of view for some of the products I am making that are geared toward kids.  Working together on these projects is just another bonus to being your own boss, working your own hours, and being able to work out of home!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Grand Re-Opening!!

So after much internal debate, I decided to redo and re-open my Etsy Shop!  I like that Scott's Marketplace is new and small and ONLY for handcrafted items, but Etsy just has so much more feedback and features since it's been around for a while and has such a big online presence.  So now I decided to  have a store in both!

I am all fired up and have worked tirelessly to get it up and running (ok, that's a lie, I AM tired) over the weekend.  It was worth the work; I am really happy with how it turned out.  "If you build it they will come..."(did that date me?) 

Check out what I've got goin' on!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

What I learned through mistakes...

I love learning new crochet projects to make!  I also love that each one I make teaches me at least one new lesson because something didn't come out as nice as I liked or it doesn't look right, or I made a mistake.  This makes for much better finished products and each one I make is closer to perfection!

For example my Foximilian project...  With my first fox (and first ever amigurumi) I learned that I liked making it (important!), I can finally trust myself to follow a written pattern and adapt it to my own specifications without relying on a youtube video to teach me how, and that you truly need to count your stitches well for it to turn out how you want it.  With my second fox, I learned that you can't just change the hook to make your project a little bigger, it just doesn't turn out the way you were hoping for.  I also figured out a better way to make the elusive "magic ring" and a much nicer looking way to sew all the pieces together when you are done crocheting.  My next fox (already started) is going to be really amazing, and my kids are enjoying the ones that aren't to my liking yet!

I am just so excited about amigurumi projects, they are so much fun, don't take too long, and there are a million different projects that you can adapt to make them your own style.  I will share my patterns when I get them all just right! 

And I found my next project in amigurumi...  MONSTERS!!!   

Friday, March 11, 2016


I think I love him. 

He turned out adorable, and even though I absolutely hated trying to stitch with the tiny little hook and the black yarn (I could NOT see the stitches!), I am going to continue to make him.  I started another one last night using a bigger hook, so he will also be a little bigger.  Hoping using the larger hook will help me see the stitches better, and that he will still come out just as cute! 

Providing both are the case, you will be able to see Foximilian in my store soon! Though my kids have claimed the original...

Thursday, March 10, 2016

My first store presence!

Oh.  My.  Word.

Maybe a small step, but a step that made me infinitely happy. 

I have my first store presence!  I am an excited consignment vendor at a local store, Bowman's!  I am going to have a few items for sale in their store, possibly more in the future (we even talked about crochet items, too). 
Now I do realize that I won't make a living from selling my lip balms and soaps at Bowman's.  But it is a first step, something that has given me confidence to approach other locally owned shops in my area, confidence in my product (she tried my lip balm and loved it), and confidence in myself. 

Ok, time to get to work!

Example of my lip balm display

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The day feels full of promise...

Don't you just love days like these?

I woke up at 4:45am, just like usual. 

But it doesn't feel like a usual day.  I like it.  The sun is shining, it's going to be 75 degrees, and the day feels full of promise.  Perfection.

Some days when I have a million and one things to do and my head is so full of to do lists that it feels overwhelming and I have to remember to breathe and take time to not just do mom things but to be a mom.  But not today.  Even though I have so much I want to accomplish and I am sure I will still go to bed late tonight with things left undone I am excited for the day.  And excited for all my new projects!

And I have big plans to push my little boy on the swing, too.

How about you?

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Try Something New for Tuesday!

So I am trying something new.  I like the idea of making something completely different than I have made before, and I think this is absolutely adorable!  But I DON'T like using this tiny little crochet hook with black thread...  It's making me blind!  So next one I am going to try with a bigger hook, and it will be a larger fox.  Thinking of adding some of these to my shop when I get the hang of it!  :)

What does the fox say?

Monday, March 7, 2016

Just a little space I can zen out in...

Sometimes I have too many projects and things going on at the same time.  You too?
Total chaos (and I'm adding a blog to the mix). 

It's ok though, with 5 kids you get kinda used to the chaos.  I think maybe that's why I fell in love with crochet - it brings a little peace to my chaos.  And with 4 out of 5 of my kids being boys, doing something relaxing is just what I need.  A simple and pretty little blanket doesn't require much in depth thought, just some muscle memory and time.  It's a hobby that doesn't take up much space to do, a little spot on the couch left just for me to sit is all I require.  A little space I can zen out in while the chaos swirls around me, at least until my 2 year old discovers that I've gotten out my yarn...

Maybe this is you.  Well, maybe not exactly you, but maybe you need a peaceful hobby too.  I can't help you with the chaos, but I sure can try to help you with some fun hobbies that don't require a lot of money, space, and commitment.  Just some relaxing fun; a little zen in your day. 

This is my goal.  To share my eclectic loves with you, and have a little fun doing it.