"The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest."

Thomas Moore

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

This n that...

Winding down from last week's 'squeeze two years into five days' family time didn't happen as I'd hoped. Life just keeps rolling along, you know? Design work piles up, groceries need to be done, meals to be prepared, an unexpected termite issue in the front yard to be attended to, emails to answer and then one of the worst migraines all year on Monday.

My fault on the migraine though. By Sunday night I was so exhausted I could barely put one foot in front of the other so Mr E said don't worry, we'll go buy some dinner. I suggested this Thai place near where we used to live a couple of years back. It has the most delicious Chili and Basil Fried Rice ever and I had been dreaming about going back there for months. I'd just forgotten why we stopped going there.

Well Mr E said no, that's not a good idea, you always get a bad migraine after we eat their food. I reply (taste buds talking) that it may have been a coincidence. He warns me again, and again...and I  keep pushing. So off we go and the food was as delicious as ever. 
Shame about the subsequent migraine. That was one of the worst ever.
Lesson learned, listen to my husband and not my taste buds.

But let me backtrack to Saturday.

I had some gorgeous fabric to play with and in between sporadic bursts of housework I made this gorgeous churn dash block from the next Tilda range, Apple Butter, due in stores next January.
I am so blessed to receive pre-release fabrics to design with, it's definitely a designer perk and I don't take it for granted.



Being a stitchery designer with a monthly schedule that requires at least five new patterns every month I lose the opportunity to partake of much patchwork but I have to tell you I love the precision of piecing fabric and as I was making this block that desire to indulge more often came flooding back.
And something else happened, I was inspired to use my Apple Butter fat quarter bundle to make a quilt. And not just any quilt. It's vintage inspired applique and patchwork blocks and if all goes to plan I'll release it early next year as a Block of the Month.
But let's take a deep breath and not run away with ourselves, okay? Pacing myself  is not a strong character trait but I'm working on changing that so for now the sketches are drawn and Fiona at 2 Green Zebras (our Australian Tilda distributor) is sending me the background fabric for the applique  blocks so I have no choice but to wait. Or draw the quilt layout, something I find challenging.

In the meantime, back to the sewing room I went and put together a sweet door hanger using one of my new November patterns, Welcome Friends...




I love door hangers and always have a number of them displayed around my home on door handles or cupboard knobs, but when my daughter Anita was here last week I remembered just how much she loves them too (especially ones I've made and used) so into her suitcase went a special one and I'll be sending her some others in the future.

This of course meant that I needed more for our home so I began with the welcome design.




For those who are new to sewing, let me assure you that a nice gathered frill across the bottom isn't as difficult as it looks. In fact a number of years ago I made a tutorial to show how it can be done using leftover quilt binding so if you'd like to try this technique you'll find it here.




The frill on this door hanger is longer than the quilt binding one shown in my tutorial and I think it works well to balance the bold aqua applique on the stitchery.




I left an opening along the side for filling. 




I wish I'd remembered to add some dried lavender to the filling but I can do that with the next one. You don't need to over stuff a door hanger so just a bit of poly toy filling works well. 




This will hang near our front entrance as soon as Mr E attaches a lovely shelf to the wall. I bought it at a garage sale years ago for our 'one day' home and it has four hooks under the shelf for hanging keys, charms or a pretty door hanger. 
Should I have called it a shelf hanger, do you think??




I don't often design 'friend' patterns but focus mostly on home and family. Next year however I'll be writing a series of posts on friendships - nurturing them, investing wisely into them, and learning when to step away or draw closer. My introvert personality is such that I have just a handful of close friends and only one lives in my town, but I sense the Lord is going to teach me about making more friends in the months to come -  just a few more. Close by. 




I've started attending a small craft group on Tuesday mornings and am loving it. The girls are gorgeous, so friendly and kind, and as it's only a small group I'm not overwhelmed. My attendance has been sporadic during this season of looking for/buying/settling in to a new home but now that life has begun to find a nice rhythm again I can enjoy those morning more often.




I still had to add my favourite word. HOME. As I read this back to myself my hand went straight to my heart...yes, home holds my heart for always.

The pattern for this stitchery and the door hanger is in my November Stitchery Club issue but membership for this month closes on Friday 16th at midnight so if you'd like to know more you can read about it here and see the other designs everyone will receive.

Other things at home are the beautiful flowers I find in the garden, like this little stunner which bloomed by the front door and caught me quite by surprise. I'd almost ripped it out weeks earlier but was distracted with the back garden and the building of Mr E's noise/privacy screen.




And the purple-grey-pink in these flowers is simply breathtaking...






My hot pink Kalanchoe has decided to burst forth in a second flush of flowers just as I'd thought it was done for this season...




...and the first of our eight pineapple plants is fruiting!






On the table we're indulging in fresh mangoes every morning at breakfast, a perk of living in the tropics. We can buy buckets full of fresh mangoes on the side of the road for around $9, but some of the teachers at Mr E's school have mango trees and bring bags into the staff room for others to take home. Until March we shall be enjoying them daily...




Still eating a 90 - 95% plant based diet has definitely been good for us and I'm finding it much easier than planning meals with meat. With so much vegetable variety to choose from, and wonderful recipe books and bloggers who share their recipes freely, I am finding this style of life a delight.




Of course I'm still baking. How can I not?
As the postmistress Dorcas Lane (from Lark Rise to Candleford) would say, "It's my one weakness!"




Blossom and the girls have come down with a nasty head cold this week so tomorrow I will head over there and take some love, some baking, and more vitamin C.

Ghastly things those summer head colds. You just want to wallow in your favourite flannie pjs and wrap a snuggly quilt around your shoulders while you drink hot lemon and honey tea and watch Pride and Prejudice...but it's so darn hot this time of year so you just yearn for a winter cold and curse the summer one.
Bloss would appreciate your prayers.

And really, you must be quite ready to close your web browser about now. 
What a chat we've had! Thanks for listening, looking, leaving a comment, being my sounding board on life. I am very grateful that you visit me here and hope you know that.
((hugs))

Now to go trace Friday's alphabet letter and make a pincushion...I'm so behind.

Bless you heaps,


Sunday, November 11, 2018

Contentment...


After a few years of striving to eliminate debt before buckling down to save a good deposit for our first home, the drive we had to push harder, work harder, give more, and put money aside for future security did not alter. 
In late September we moved in to that home, we still have no debt other than our mortgage, and there is nothing urgent on the horizon. Yet until a few days ago this compulsion to save, to feel financially secure, to be extra generous and to work harder for the future was still with us. 

Earlier this month the Holy Spirit had begun nudging me into particular passages of Scripture and in my prayer time I sensed changes afoot in the area of finances so I shared this with my husband and together we prayed about it and sought the Lord for more understanding.
Well, every day for the next week a particular aspect on how to manage our finances came to mind until when we considered doing otherwise a heaviness fell on our spirit. So we agreed to trust God and pull back a bit, again waiting on His direction to become clearer.

Now you know, Blossom and I have a saying we use a lot - "God is in the details" - and this morning as my man and I discussed further revelation the Lord had made clear for us we kinda wondered if we could have some confirmation from Him, after all, this change of financial direction we were being asked to allow God to make in our lives was very different from what we've had for the past four or five years.

We sat outside with our coffee and turned on the radio to listen to a Christian program we have supported for a long time. And you'll never guess what the topic was? Finances.
Never before has this ministry had a sermon on finances so believe me when I say our ears pricked as the teaching began!

In fact the sermon was about being content with what we have right now, putting our trust in God to provide our needs tomorrow and not putting faith in our bank account or other assets. 
It touched on the need to pour our lives into relationship with Christ above all else and not allowing the desire for financial security to drive us, cause us anxiety, lure us to work harder than we need, or be a temptation to climb the career ladder because this is us building security in our own strength apart from the Lord. This is us putting confidence in our bank account, our position, our own talents and what we believe we need to be happy and secure.

Afterwards Mr E and I sat and pondered just how much God loves us that He would expand and confirm with us through a radio sermon everything He had been gradually placing on our hearts this month. I was able to acknowledged how years ago when my husband was at university and we had small children that I homeschooled, the very tiny budget I had to work with each fortnight never caused me anxiety. I trusted God with my whole heart and would be excited to see how He would provide each week during those four years of my husband's teaching degree...never did I fear, never did I see us begging bread, never were we in lack. We had what we needed and felt incredibly blessed.

It wasn't until the children left home, I was designing and Mr E was teaching, that a subconscious element of 'we can provide for our needs/wants' slowly took hold, and it was insidious because if you asked us who our provider was we would instantly answer GOD. We really did not notice the big shift in our attitude, so slow was it to manifest and take root. We worked harder and were able to give more, again outwardly we would say it was God providing for the recipient, but there was also a sense of personal satisfaction too. 

I sit here today and marvel that we did not see all this along the way, but I marvel more at our Father God who gently took hold of us and revealed in His mercy how our faith in Him had become mixed with our faith in self. 

I am humbled to be loved so much that He never leaves me where I am but at the right time molds and shapes me to be more like Christ and less like worldly Jenny. Knowing who I am inside, only God can take on such a big challenge, but boy I'm glad He's doing it.

Warts and all...that's His mission for me. 
"Tell them your life, warts and all, so as you grow and change they can see what I am doing and that nothing is too hard for Me if only they will let Me in."

God bless you wonderful human, and remember, God is in the details. Every one.
hugs,


Friday, November 9, 2018

Oh - K...



We're stitching K this week and the mini pincushion I've sewn around it is quite simply the cutest one yet as it fits snug inside the palm of my hand.

The background fabric for the embroidery is white hanky linen (you can read about it here) and I've used a lovely bright orange, lime and beige print for the borders.

First I traced a 1½" hexie shape onto the white fabric and then I traced the K design inside the shape before cutting out the hexie along the traced lines.
Next step was to sew 1" wide strips of the floral print around all six sides of the white hexie before fusing some Parlan behind what was now the front of my pincushion.




Embroidering the K and sewing a line of backstitch in the ditch between the white and floral fabrics completed the front of the pincushion.

I trimmed away the excess floral fabric lengths to give me one even hexie before finishing the pincushion.



IDEAS:

1. Choose threads which blend with your fabric or consider stitching in a variegated colour.
2. Make the pincushion larger by sewing wider floral strips of fabric around the white hexie.
3. Sew two borders around the hexie.




Download the K pattern here or here.

Go to last week's pincushion post for the links to download J, and you'll find the A-E set and the F-I set here in my shop.



As you know, I have had my middle daughter and 4yo granddaughter visiting this week and it's been two years since we last hugged so emotions and chatter and hugs were high for her, me, Blossom and all the granddaughters. 

Anita and Aminah stayed at Blossom's house and each day we'd be there or here just being mum/daughters/granddaughters. What a priceless blessing it was, especially with so many littlies to love on.

Cully May (2), Rafaella (8 months), Aminah (4)...







We spent Wednesday in the pool so I made a quick dash to Big W early that morning for unicorn floaties. Oh my goodness, these were such a hit with the girls!
I also got a shaded baby floatie for Rafaella and she giggled and splashed for ages. 




Anita and Aminah flew home today and their plane landed safely about half an hour ago where daddy/husband Tek was waiting to meet them. We're all hoping he can come too next visit.

All of us are exhausted emotionally and physically but so grateful for five days of memories and moments that will carry us over till next time. God really blessed us.

Our gorgeous little Rafaella, with a smile that lights up the room...



May your weekend flow with goodness and grace, laughter and joy, kindness and care. I shall be resting up so I can catch up on Elefantz work next week. 
This nana is soooo tired. LOL!

Bless you heaps,


Sunday, November 4, 2018

Hospitality...


Hospitality is a big deal in the Bible. There's not too much to say about being a guest, but there's quite a lot written about how we treat guests, strangers, family and even our enemies, and in Romans 12:13 we are instructed to 'practice hospitality' so there's no out clause.

The Proverbs 31 woman in verse 15 "gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls" (notice the servant girls are being served here?) and in verse 20 "she opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy."

In Genesis 18 Abraham is visited by three heavenly visitors who tell him that Sarah will bear a child within a year, but before they tell him this news Abraham runs to his herd and chooses the best calf to be prepared as a meal for his guests and then stands by under a tree as they eat.

In Hebrews 13, Paul writes "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it."

In that ancient Jewish and then the post-Calvary first church cultures, and indeed in other cultures throughout the world, extending hospitality to strangers as well as those they knew was normal - indeed, with no family nearby and no motels or hostels or a campervan or caravan park many travelers and their families would have starved if not for the natural extension of hospitality through food and lodging.

I am also reminded of a different hospitality, that of the Good Samaritan who stopped and cared for a man badly beaten, a man of a different faith whom he should not have had anything to do with, but with compassion and mercy took the man to a safe refuge and paid for his ongoing care. 
(Luke 10:25-37)

There are many more instances of hospitality being shown through the Bible and I hope you look for them, but today I'd like us to fast forward to 2018 and what hospitality means now.

Over the past twenty years or so I've noticed a huge increase in the awareness of food intolerance and allergies, dietary choices such as vegetarian or vegan, and some cultures and faiths which have restrictive diets. So at times, when it comes to having guests over for a meal or to stay for a few days, a hostess (or host) can feel quite overwhelmed with the task of providing suitable and tasty meals if the guests require a diet different from their own. For some, this will be reason enough not to extend an invitation - "It's too hard". And you know, I have felt this way too. 

But then the Lord opened the eyes of my understanding and placed a warmth and compassion in my heart to let go of that fear of overwhelm and failure (yes, it was a fear) and instead of looking at our differences to focus on our commonalities. Epiphany on a large scale for this gal!

Every day I make different meals, every few weeks I'll try something new. I've done gluten free, dairy free, paleo, vegetarian, sugar-free and vegan among other things ...and much of that without putting a label on it, that's just the way the meal came together or the recipe ran. So now I'm always able to look at the big picture, to focus on what my guests, Mr E and I have in common. Truly, it's so much easier than creating specific meals with ingredients I may not have confidence in. 

Tomorrow my middle daughter Anita will be flying 2,100 kilometres with her 4yo Aminah to visit with us. We have not seen each other for two years and the excitement is high in our family for this reunion. 

We will be together every day either at Blossom's or my home, and all meals will be prepared with love and joy - but the challenge for Blossom and I in this area is new.  You see, Anita is a Muslim and her religious dietary requirements are strict. At first Bloss and I felt that familiar sense of overwhelm take hold and panic began to creep in, shadowing the joy of our family reunion. We were Googling and praying back and forth, texts and concerns flying between our phones.

But then - GOD.

A reminder, what do you have in common? We had forgotten that Anita eats a predominantly plant based diet and so do Mr and I. We had forgotten that in a week of  my recent menu planning there was nothing that Anita could not enjoy, and that Blossom is herself an accomplished cook of healthy vegetarian fare when it is needed. We had forgotten that this visit was a gift from God (believe me) and we were not to be put off by fear of what to eat. We were to relax, trust God, and with open arms and hearts receive our daughter/sister and her own sweet child in simplicity and kindness and hospitality, not allowing the unimportant to become important, but resting in our commonality and allowing the Holy Spirit to provide everything else.

So I guess what I'm trying to share with you today is not to let fear or overwhelm hold you back from opening your home to others; do not stand back from offering a meal invitation to those who eat differently to you. 
The key thing is to "do all to the glory of God" and remember in sharing that meal or offering that spare room you are doing the same for Jesus.
How incredible a thought is that?

May your day be blessed and your heart made wise, as only Christ can do.

hugs


Saturday, November 3, 2018

Pincushion Stitch-a-long - the next pinnie...



Can you guess that I've been waiting to stitch my own J pinnie since we began this stitch-a-long?
A piece of extra special fabric had been set aside, a beautiful gingham style floral fabric from the 2015 Flower Sugar range by Lecien which I hoped to embroider directly onto. 
Cherishing the small piece still in my scrap box I wanted to feature it in a project I'd see every day and a pincushion is exactly that.

Now let me show you around my pretty J pinnie. 



If you have the same fabric, wonderful, but if not you'll need to choose a print that features a floral motif but has enough space between the motifs to stitch an initial.

As with all my previous alphabet pincushions I trace the design onto my background fabric first (and sew borders around it if that's the pattern I've chosen) before fusing a thin wadding behind the front of the pinnie. For this series of pincushions I've chosen to use Parlan as my wadding but you could use scraps of cotton or wool quilt wadding, or even thin Pellon. 
Next I stitch the initial.

The J design sits in the space to the left of a floral motif and instead of adding a colonial knot inside the flower petals I've sewn a small glass bead instead. For that added touch of sweetness a trio of the same glass beads was then sewn into the centre of the floral motif's main flower.

Sew two pieces of fabric together for the back of the pinnie, but leave an opening. Machine sew a line just beside the seam for added security. Lay the front of the pincushion onto the back, wrong sides together just as though  you were sandwiching a quilt. Sew the front to the back around all four sides with a scant eighth inch seam.




Now just as though you were adding binding to a quilt, sew 1" wide cotton lace around the front edges of the pincushion, mitering the corners as you go.




Fold the lace over to the back and slip stitch in place.






Fill the pincushion through the back opening and whip stitch it closed with small stitches close together. 



Do you think there's a suitable print in your fabric stash for this pincushion?
If not you may need to take a trip to the fabric store...LOL!
Any excuse, eh?

Download the free J pattern here or here until December 6th.

The October patterns for F, G, H and I are now here in my shop as a $2 purchase for the set, along with the September A - E set.

Consider using lace for binding on any project, though the bigger the project, such as a quilt or mini quilt will require lace a bit wider but no more than 1 1/2" as you can get a nice firm binding with that size.

Here's a redwork mini quilt pattern of mine which has cotton lace binding. It really adds that something extra to the finish of "Summer Mellow".




This pattern is here in my shop along with Winter's Fellow...




...or get them both as a gift over here.




Now, on a whole 'nother topic I thought  you may like some Christmas ideas?
Two blogging designer friends have projects that will get your heart racing, one is simple, the other two may require a bit of time and concentration.

Xanthe from WifeMade created a gorgeous free wreath pattern which you'll find in this blog post.
This project is foundation paper pieced, something I've never attempted, but the end result makes me want to try.




Kerryanne of Shabby Art Boutique shares Christmas printouts every year and this week she began with a November checklist.
You'll find it in this blog post...




Now something else Kerryanne has started is a Club for papercrafts and fabric printables and the first month expires soon, but just in case this hobby is your thing you may like to head over here and see the gorgeous planner pages and extras she has for her members.

( I receive nothing for sharing these links...I just LOVE what Kerryanne does and wanted you to see her planner!)






Okay, enough from me today.

I have just a weekend to bake, sew, garden and generally get up to date so that when my blessed daughter Anita and 4yo granddaughter Aminah arrive on Monday my attention can be wholly and solely on our four days together with sweet Blossom, Cully May and Rafaella. I'm so excited!
Photos will indeed be shared.

In the meantime, may the Lord God fill your beautiful heart to overflowing with happiness, hope, contentment, courage, kindness and love.

If you want to keep in touch between blog posts simply head over here to my Instagram page, or here to my Facebook page.

hugs