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

Thomas Moore

Friday, June 15, 2018

Gratitude in the moments...

Truly, I'll be so pleased when our house hunting days are over and life can step back into a gentler routine, a routine I thrive in and which fills my homemaker heart with pure satisfaction and delight.

There have been four very different homes which 'almost' prompted us to sign on the dotted line, but sleepless nights followed the viewing of each of them and we both agreed they just weren't right for our needs now and in the future.

That's the thing. 
We're buying our first home but it will also be our last, so it needs to serve us this year and also in twenty years from now. This means that even though there are certain styles of home we really love, those same homes will become a burden sooner rather than later and that's just not wise at this time of life. With the end of lease on our rental home looming closer it's easy to feel anxious and consider certain houses just because we want the search to end and decisions to be finalised...but then we pray and listen for that still small voice. God soothes our anxieties and suddenly we feel brave again, and even a tad more patient.

Though our winter is still quite warm with 28 C (82 F) days the mornings are brisk and refreshing so I've begun sitting out on the patio for my bible study and second cuppa after Mr E leaves for work. 

It's very relaxing out there with different birds singing a tune every now and then, reminding me that they too prefer these pleasanter winter days.

On Tuesday morning Rosie dropped by for a visit and rather than sit inside as we normally do we made coffee, filled a plate with Matrimony Slice, and took our sewing out on the patio. I do hope our new home will have a similar place to sit, pray, read and enjoy time with friends.   

I've been working on a birth notice for Rafaella...

...which is the same design as I did for Cully May's birth notice but in different colours. 
I'll have this pattern ready in July for Stitchery Club members as it's such a joyful one to stitch and looks lovely in a child's room. 

Blossom came by for the day yesterday with her little sweethearts and what a wonderful time we had! As soon as Cully May arrives she heads to the spare bedroom calling "Thomas!" and seconds later scoots passed us on her Thomas the Tank Engine ride-on. After that she found her tea set and was intent on pouring pretend cups of tea for mummy and I before settling next to me on the couch with a handful of books for story time. 

We enjoyed breakfast, morning tea and lunch together, Blossom and I chatting about homemaking, prayer, cooking, moving house and the 1950s. She'd asked to see photos of me as a baby and we imagined what life was like for my mum growing up in the 40's and 50's. I have a few black and white photos of mum (she died aged 21) taken in the late fifties and very early sixties so we spent a good hour holding photos up against Rafaella and Cully May to see the family resemblances.

Afterwards we settled down with a cuppa to watch the first episode of "Back in Time for Dinner" which was about life for a housewife and her family in the fifties. This led to much discussion about making do, gratitude, simpler meals, less ingredients, raising a family, fashion, opportunity, modesty and how it all compared with life in 2018.

I've now caught up and watched the episodes which covered the 60's and 70's, but I'm looking forward to the 1980's because that was my heyday as a young wife and mother so I have clearer memories of that era than the previous ones.

Sweet Rafaella loves my Shabby Roses quilt so I have told Bloss it is to be hers when Jesus takes me home one day...

Cully May is a girl of many expressions, all of them fun and beautiful...

Today I wrote patterns and took photos of next month's designs, but in between I took a couple of hours to enjoy some baking.

Because our weekends are taken up with house hunting and the workaday week has so much which must be crammed in to run a business, design, sew, spend time with family and keep house, there hasn't been much time in the kitchen apart from the needful simple breakfasts and dinners.

As much as my body prefers a grain free menu, it is just too time consuming right now so I decided to put up with achy joints a few months longer and return to cooking simpler (cheaper) meals with a few treats we've been missing.

We've been in need of a treat lately and unfortunately chose to buy a few bags of lollies, though we both agreed that much sugar wasn't the best idea.  So today I baked an old favourite, Blackberry Swirls, for dessert tonight, and also a Pineapple Fruit Cake to have with cuppas over the weekend and in to next week. 

Served with custard these swirls are delicious...

...and will last us four nights. Much nicer than lollies and a lot less sugar too.

You'll find the recipe here in my shop with a free stitchery inside.

Don't think I've ever shared the recipe for Pineapple Fruit Cake but its an Australian favourite and there are many recipes online. THIS is the same as the one I grew up with and the only difference for me is that I bake it in a large loaf tin for easy slicing.

I hope your weekend is not as full as mine, but if it is be sure to stop every so often and just breathe - long deep breaths of life giving air that will gently slow you down and clear your mind.

It's too easy to get on that treadmill of busyness and keep running without any thought of what this is doing to your health, your life and your relationships. I'm becoming more conscious than ever that I must make time to potter around, listen to some music, take deep breaths, sit out on the back step and watch the birds flitting back and forth...even for five minutes. 

Those small breaks from work, homemaking or scrolling through houses online, ground me in the moment. They draw my thoughts back from a tendency to run forward, and let them settle in the now, the very present and precious moment I am in. 

Every day is a gift, you know.
Receive each new morning, give thanks, and make time to really appreciate the day you have been given as it will never come again.

Love and hugs

Friday, June 8, 2018

Mountain women...

Blossom and I have a love, a yearning you may say, for relaxing winter mornings spent up on the mountain. We've driven up there for many years now, often with friends, many times just the two of us. 
A few years back when another daughter, Aisha, came to visit from Sydney with her precious little Frankie (who was just a toddler at the time) it was the one place I wanted to take her and since then she is the first person Bloss and I tell when we're heading mountain-ward because she 'gets it'...she has experienced the peace and tranquility of that beautiful place herself. 

Yesterday Blossom packed up her two girls with all the baby and toddler things required for a day out, and I packed a quilt. Coming from different directions we each drove a thirty minute trip excited to spend time together and have a few unwinding hours away from the busyness of home life. 

The Heritage Tea Rooms are high on Hervey's Range (outside Townsville) and set within a homestead built more than 150 years ago. Ownership changed a couple of years back but the atmosphere is the same - relaxed, quiet, simple, beautiful.

Cully May ran here and there and everywhere while Blossom and I tag-teamed catching her.

The flourishing bird life was all around and that's exactly what caught our little one's attention.
Distracted by all the bush turkeys who wandered here and there, she was not at all interested in her colouring book and crayons. 

The blue-faced honeyeaters were in abundance and waited impatiently for us to finish breakfast so they could enjoy the leftovers...

Totally unafraid three of them had sat right on the back of our seats until we gave them leeway to 'feast'. Of course Cully May thought this was wonderful!

More play, more coffee, more chasing of the toddler, plenty of baby cuddles, and lots of wonderful heart-felt conversation between Bloss and I made this a blessed morning...

Taking time to stop and reconnect with nature, to soak in the peace often found in the countryside, to honestly listen to the ones we love in an un-distracted environment, these are moments we usually have to plan for but what a rich reward is gained when we do.

The emotional and spiritual rest we drank in over those four hours up the mountain will refresh us for many days to come so we have decided to head mountain-ward every couple of weeks during the cooler months our tropical winter affords and make memories together with these two precious little girls.
Perhaps they too will come to love this mountain as they grow?

Fresh air certainly agreed with Rafaella...

Jokingly, Mr E suggested there may be a home for sale up on the mountain.
I laughed.
He found a few, well out of our price range.
But then he found one right in our budget.
So guess where we're going for an open house this weekend?

You never know. 

May the peace of God lead you to a place of rest and refreshment too,

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Seek first...

In the seasons of life when you're being tossed to and fro, when time seems to be at an all time deficit and you long for breathing space to rest, refresh and find clarity, too often those quiet times with God in prayer and in His Word are pushed aside or not given over to Him with un-hurried attention.

This is where I found myself this week. 
Too much going on, big decisions to make, voices from every direction (and many real estate agents among those voices), weariness and deadlines that keep drawing closer. 

My prayers felt weary. My time in the Word fell to a few verses each day. My hope was draining away and I wanted to throw it all in.

Then I read one verse which made me sit up and take note. 

"But seek first the kingdom of God..."

Ah, what had I forgotten amidst the mental anxieties of the previous month? Seeking Him first. 
Why was I struggling for time, for rest, for clarity? Because my mind was set on things of this world and not on things above.
Why could I find no peace? I had yoked myself to fretful thoughts and things I could not control instead of letting Jesus carry my burden and resting in Him.

But God is God, my Father, the lover of my soul, a never ending help in time of trouble - and He put the remedy for this distress before me from His Word. 

"But seek first the kingdom of God
and all these things will be added to you."

Message received, heart adjustment made.
Thank you, Lord.


Friday, June 1, 2018

Block 6 - A Year in the Garden BOM...

It's that lovely new day, the first of the month, a fresh start.

In Australia we begin our longed for winter after record breaking summer and autumn temps left everyone weary and in need of rest, whilst many of you in the northern hemisphere are welcoming summer after a long and frosty start to the year. 

Regardless of where we are or what the season or weather brings our way, beautiful blooms are a delight to the soul, the gift that always lifts a tired spirit, and God's hand of creative delight in gardens far and wide.

The June block in this year's block of the month is truly one of my favourites and I think it may become one of yours too.

The embroidery focus for this design was an abundance of overlapping lazy daisy stitches surrounding a little blue bird perched on the window sill. 
When you first see those peachy pink fronds you might think I've used a variegated thread, but in fact I've used two solids.

Most of the fronds have the darker thread beginning along the lower edge of the stem and the lighter thread is used near the top. 
Occasionally I stitched a whole frond in lighter thread for a dimensional effect. 

If you're unsure about how to overlap the fronds when using the lazy daisy stitch here's a section of the pattern where three stems overlap...

You can see the order in which I embroidered them. 
Backstitch all the stems before you start the lazy daisy leaves and just remember to keep your concentration on one stem at a time and use the pattern sheet for visual aid if you need it. 

If you're new to lazy daisy stitch or backstitch have a look HERE at my tutorial.

The pattern for the June block is free until June 30th and available now as a PDF download from my shop

To see the previous month's blocks they're here on the BOM page.

Yesterday I had a wonderful morning of sewing, chatter, laughter and friendship here at home.

The table was looking a little forlorn the afternoon before as the last of my white chrysanthemums had wilted away so I ducked out to the local supermarket for blooms to refill a favourite vase in preparation for my visitors. I just love flowers on the dining table, no matter the season or the occasion they remind me of God's hand upon my life in a very dear and personal way.

I even found the perfect coffee mug to hold the smaller stems...

My dear friend Rosie came to visit as well as Marci and her sister Fay. 

I've known Marci for a few years having met when I took two of  my completed quilt tops to her to be long-arm quilted. Both quilts were to be featured in Australian sewing magazines that year (Homespun and Country Threads) and honestly, Marci's machine quilting of them was simply beautiful. 

I'd not met Fay as she lives down in Brisbane, however being up here for a short holiday at her sister's it was the perfect opportunity to plan an impromptu morning of sewing and friendship.

We had such a fun visit as all three ladies are genuine, kind and lovely to be around. 

And look what Marci and Fay brought me...

More gorgeous blooms!
How blessed was I?

Today I'm about to head out and visit my sweet Blossom and her wee girls for my weekly dose of love and cuddles, thoughtful conversation about homemaking and parenting, and coffee. Always coffee for Bloss and I...unless we decide to brew a large pot of tea which usually happens when deep thoughts need lots of pondering.

May your end of week be a good one, a time of reflection and gratitude for all the good things you have and all the miracles in your life you never see.


Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Learning new things...

I was watering our potted herbs out by the washing line yesterday and this little green tree frog popped up from under the parsley fronds. Now that the weather has finally begun to settle into a cooler almost-winter pattern the herbs are flourishing and these cute frogs can come out to play.
Our tropical winters are like spring and it's evident in the flourishing of both flora and fauna around our area.
I'm considering a trip to Bunnings tomorrow to buy some more herbs and then we can refill our empty pots with a variety of flavour-full culinary greens. I'd love to plant them directly into the garden but as we'll be moving on in about four months it's best to keep them in pots for now.

We spent another exhausting weekend walking through open houses and driving around various neighbourhoods to look at other homes for sale which weren't open. 
I honestly did not think this endeavour would be so stressful. The weighing up of building our own place and carrying a big mortgage well into our 70's, as opposed to buying a small established home on a decent size block for around 40% less mortgage may seem a no-brainer, but with the royal commission into banks at the moment (here in Australia) it's actually easier to get finance to build than it is to purchase established if you're a first home buyer like us. 
But, we're fairly determined to go the established route and not be saddled with a mortgage that will see us do nothing more than pay it off for the next 25 years. We just have the find the right house within our budget so if you pray, please offer a little prayer for us about this. xx

Blossom loved the embroidered cardigan I made for her birthday!
Ross was away with work so Mr E and I took fresh baked lemon and raspberry muffins along with our gift to her house early Saturday and spent the morning chatting, playing with Cully May, cuddling little Rafaella who is goo-ing and gaa-ing all the time now, and checking out her new slow cooker/pressure cooker. 
All of us were so relaxed that the hours passed quicker than we'd planned and as we hugged goodbye near morning's end dear Blossom declared it one of her favourite birthdays ever. 
Driving away to begin our new list of homes to view hubby and I thanked God for the gift of our youngest child and the love, respect and honour she shows us every day. We are indeed blessed to be her mum and dad.

A surprise parcel of the new Tilda range 'Sunkiss' arrived in the post last week from Fiona at Tilda Australia. At first I felt a bit overwhelmed designing with the fabrics because free time right now to 'play' with quilting or machine sewing is rare (I have a few tunics still waiting to be hemmed after many weeks) but my husband reminded me that in the midst of all this time consuming house hunting, the embroidery design business, family responsibilities and home making, I needed to make time to have fun...and sewing is fun for me, so I am working on a new embroidery design for July which will feature some of the Sunkiss prints.
I'm also working on a project for later in the year and found I could use Sunkiss in that as well which fortunately mixes business with pleasure. Yay! Win win.

Healthwise we've continued following a grain and dairy free menu, although I did have bread at the weekend to 'test' my body's response and there definitely was one.  On Sunday morning (after two pieces of bread the previous day) my joints were aching again and my feet were so painful that walking was not fun at all, especially when we had seven open houses to view that day. 
Back to grain free for me. With all that's going on right now it's best that I stay as pain free as possible.

Not sure if I've mentioned it before but hubby and I have been using mega-vitamin therapy for almost a year now and it has honestly kept us going when nothing in the past had worked. We have seven specific supplements each day which includes 3000 mg of vitamin C, 2000 mg of magnesium and 750 mg of niacin among others. The thing we've noticed most is recovery time from illness or wounds is very fast, especially head colds which we bounce back from within 24 hours. 

Balancing our year long mega-vitamin intake with this recent grain/dairy/sugar free diet has given us the added physical benefits of reduced join pain, better sleep, dramatically reduced incidence of migraine and increased clarity of thinking. 
If we were doing this house-hunting/business/teaching/family/homemaking life without those health changes we'd be flat on the floor - just like we were for many years. Obviously not all health issues are eliminated but by not having as many to deal with I'm able to function better with the ones I still have.

In the kitchen recently I've made the most delicious raw cherry ripe slice (here's the last piece!)...

...and cherry, almond and amaranth rock cakes.

Being time poor I haven't been able to write up any new grain, dairy or sugar free recipes yet, and as I'm still experimenting that's a good thing because I'd like to refine them first, but the rock cakes (above) are a tried and true recipe I've shared in the past.

The only difference with these ones is that I used dried sour cherries last week instead of my usual dried cranberries, but you could use whatever you like. They also have a small amount of coconut palm sugar which is way healthier than refined sugar.

You can download the recipe HERE or scroll through my old food blog for more ideas over here.

I've made a good supply of beef bone broth and divided it into a few 500 ml containers for the freezer as this makes a nutritious base to soups, stews and casseroles.
Hubby loved this spicy Beef and Chorizo soup I made in the slow cooker. It was loaded with fresh veggies, crushed garlic, grated ginger and grated turmeric, chilli and herbs. A powerhouse of nutrition...

Most days for breakfast now we make a bowl of fresh berries with a big dollop of coconut milk yoghurt and 1/2 a grain/sugar/dairy free cacao flax muffin (which I make in a coffee mug in the microwave and takes just 1 minute). It's delicious, filling and healthy. Can't ask for more than that!

Mr E 'loves' kombucha tea and whenever we're out and about he buys a bottle, but they're not cheap. I don't mind him getting them because it's gut-healthy and a far better option than bottled soda, but I thought there's a better, more budget friendly way to do this so...

...I went to our local health food store and purchased a kombucha scoby and have my first 2 litre jar of kombucha tea brewing away. Once I get this under my belt I can have 2 or 3 jars brewing at a time so my beloved can drink kombucha as often as he likes. 

You know, there's a lot of things I'd like to learn, techniques I want to hone or improve upon, but basically I've been lazy in pursuing them.  

Whilst watching Masterchef Australia the other night something a contestant, Hoda, said really resonated with me about learning to do things ourselves. It was in regards to a particular ingredient (kataifi) which she had always purchased premade. She said one day as she was using this ingredient to make Kanafeh (a middle eastern dish) she thought to herself  'it can't be that hard to make' so she watched how it was done on YouTube and ever since has made her own! Even the judges who came by her bench as she made the kataifi were impressed.

I couldn't stop thinking about the simplicity of learning things these days through thousands upon thousands of varied blog or YouTube tutorials which cover everything from crochet to bonsai to watercolours to making kataifi...and that's when I decided to make my own kombucha.

Some of my friends use YouTube for tutorials all the time, in fact my dear friend Fee has even started sharing tutorials on her YouTube channel. My husband uses YouTube tutorials at school and for those many Jeep repairs, and I'd even uploaded a few stitchery tutes in the past when I was hosting a Christmas sew-a-long.
However, it's a new thing for me to actually watch things there apart from the odd music clip but I'll slowly begin to explore once I've compiled a list of the skills that interest me.

What about you? Where do you go online to learn new skills or to improve on the ones you have already?

I've always liked the quote "God is nearer one's heart in the garden than anywhere else on earth". 
It's from a poem by Dorothy Frances Gurney and inspired my new set of designs for the next issue of The Stitchery Club.

We'll be stitching a beautiful garden sampler along with four other designs.
Touches of applique appear here and there, even a heart of lace, and a few golden seed beads bring summer sparkle to a wheelbarrow of blooms.

Which is your favourite?

Last year I designed a garden themed issue as well and it was very popular so I've decided all new members who join The Stitchery Club before the 16th June will receive this March 2017 issue as a free gift, emailed to them within 24 hours of joining.

They can be stitching garden delights while they wait for the new June garden issue to arrive!

Would you like to know more?

Each issue is a PDF file emailed to your inbox on the 17th of each month. 
You can join and leave whenever you like - stay a month, a year...that decision is yours and there are no penalties.

I'd best be away now. 
The washing is ready to be hung on the line, my floors are in need of a thorough vacuum, the back patio needs some attention and I have a chicken to thaw before roasting it for dinner tonight.
And after that there's some stitching waiting and part three of a new Agatha Christie mini series to watch while I embroider. A jolly productive day I'd say.

I hope yours is too.


PS: Blogger are not forwarding comments via email at the moment so I haven't been able to reply to comments from the last blog post. Decided that's just not on, so I've added the 'reply' option below and I'll respond there until this glitch is resolved. xx