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

Thomas Moore

Friday, September 21, 2018

Week 4 and 5 alphabet pincushions...

It's settlement day for our first (and last) house purchase, and we are just hours away from being handed the keys, the title, the ownership, of our forever on earth home.

A calm excitement is slowly filling every part of me, and I know that sounds odd, but it really describes the emotions within my soul. 

Having waited all my life for this event and knowing that later today such a heartfelt and often heart-weary dream is about to come to pass, brings praise from my lips for our God who is faithful beyond measure, Who's timing is perfect in His great plan for our lives, Who has never failed me and never left me without hope.

Two more sleeps and we move in.
Two more sleeps and we plant ourselves in holy ground, for this new home has been covered in prayer for as long as I've known Jesus and the three times we have walked through it's rooms during the process of purchase we have sensed His hand on our shoulders, His joy surrounding us. We are wrapped in His grace, beneficiaries of His provision.

So as we face a pretty big week or two ahead of us, moving and unpacking, setting things up the way we like them, and the much needed rest and recovery afterwards, I'm going to share two alphabet pincushion patterns today and then step away from the blog until October bids us welcome.



When I chose the fabric for 'D' I could see this pincushion being made for a child, perhaps a little girl's first sewing set?

Stitched on white linen I've added a narrow border down the left side and a wider border to the right, then stem stitched in the ditch between the embroidered centre and the borders.




I've used lazy daisy stitch for the flower petals and the leaves but you could also backstitch them if you like. The flower centres are made with a colonial knot. 
The D itself is a mix of chain stitch and backstitch, as are all the alphabet letters in this stitch-a-long.

Download the 'D' pattern here or here.

And now the 'E' pincushion...



Can you guess who I gave this one to? 
Perhaps you do not know but my sweet Blossom's 'real' name is Elizabeth and this very tiny pincushion now sits on her ironing board for it is perfect for holding little pins as she presses seams and sews fabric together when making outfits for her little girls.

'E' was stitched onto white linen and I trimmed the block to 4¼" before adding flying geese style corners all around. You could cut the corner squares any size you like for this effect and then trim the excess if they're too large, but mine were 2" squares. 




Download the 'E' pattern here or here.

Hope you have fun with these two newbies! Your basket of pincushions will be filling now and soon there will always be a sweet gift to give friends who stitch or post off in swaps, or simply to use yourself as the mood strikes if you're making them all in different fabrics and styles. 

The five patterns shared so far are only free to download until October 5th.

In two weeks from now (October 5th, Australian time) the five patterns I've shared so far will have their download links expire and only be available as a purchase set from my shop - so please go through the Alphabet Pincushion blog posts (here) and download the A, B, C, D and E patterns as a free gift before then.


So that you don't miss any of the free patterns for this 26 week stitch-a-long sign up to my free newsletter. It arrives knocking at the door of your email inbox each Friday, though I shall skip next week due to our move.  



Now I'd best get back to packing these final boxes, hanging the last of our washing on the line, and gathering all the pot plants together. Then it will be time to visit my dear Blossom and her girls for a much needed cuppa and lots of warm and cuddly 'huggles' before I meet Mr E in town to collect the keys to our new home. 

I think we're having Thai takeaway sitting on the floor in the empty house tonight...how very special that will be.

God bless you and keep you,
May His favour be upon you,
May His arms hold you close to His heart,
And may you never, ever doubt His eternal love for you.

hugs
PS: If you need anything else to stitch while I'm on leave from blogging have a wander through my shop over here...there are lots of lovely freebies that may tickle your fancy, but I'd best let you know that in October I'll be updating the shop and removing quite a few older patterns. Another fresh start. xx

PPS: I'll be able to post day to day moving and settling stuff on Instagram because I only need my phone and a few seconds for that kind of stuff. You'll find my IG page over here. 
Leave a comment and say hi! 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Even in the turbulence...



Blossom said to me today, "Mum, your mind must feel like it's in a cyclone at the moment." And I stopped to ponder that. 
She was right. Mentally and emotionally my mind is whirling.

We've had a couple of setbacks with our move this week - or perhaps I should say one set-back and one set-forward?




We had booked the moving van and the moving men for Tuesday 25th. All good. We knew we could pace ourselves with the packing with that as our end date.

But... then the moving company informed us they have staff off injured and would have to bring the moving date forward to Sunday 23rd. Oh dear. Need to pick up the pace with packing now.

Then there was the September 17th settlement of the house purchase - the owners had to delay it until tomorrow, Thursday 20th. Fair enough, we could manage that, though it meant we would not be able to do a few things at the house before moving day.

But...then the owners needed to delay again before settlement. 
It may be Friday 21st, and it may be not. 




So life is a bit up in the air at present.

Packing up a house is exhausting physically, mentally and emotionally. My body keeps threatening to give out, but I do take a rest around morning tea and early afternoon for a snack and lots of water. 
By late afternoon though, I need to lie down and just do nothing for an hour or so until Mr E arrives home from work. Then he does a bit of packing, and just before the sun sets we drive down to the next suburb and buy dinner. 

Gotta tell you, not having to think about cooking a meal right now is a blessing.




So, yeh, my mind is a bit like a cyclone at the moment with all sorts of concerns and thoughts swirling and churning away, a sense that others have taken control and are directing our course...but there's also this very real calm right in the middle because I can feel Jesus' arms wrapped tight around me and I know it's all going to be okay.

This morning He led me to Psalm 37 and as I slowly read through each verse my heart lifted and hope was renewed.

Everyone has a storm season, perhaps many of them, but if you can rest your mind on Jesus and trust Him to wrap you close and walk with you through the turbulence, you will manage the stormy season and come through the other side. 

"You will keep him in perfect peace, 
Whose mind is stayed on You,
because he trusts in You."
Isaiah 26:3

The photos above were found on Google images when I went searching for a beautiful desktop wallpaper for my laptop today. It's Spring in Australia and as this season signifies new life, fresh beginnings and hope, I thought I'd share a few with you. 
Makes the heart smile, yes?

May you know what it is to be held in the arms of Jesus, to be assured that even in the storm you are never alone and need not be afraid.

hugs


Friday, September 14, 2018

Week 3 - alphabet pincushions...



A strange thing happened when I was making the first "C" pincushion (yes, there was a second).

The purpose of these 26 alphabet pincushions is that they are made to be small and fairly quick to sew - all of them. But I got  a bit carried away with the first "C" one...adding an extra border and then I thought "ooo, how about some quilt binding too?!"...you know how your mind just keeps on going past the point it should? 

When it was complete I realised the finished size was not in keeping with my plan so I drew up a new "C", stitched it and made a smaller pinnie. Big smile. 




Very simply it is a rectangular shape with two pretty strips of Tilda fabric on one end and a lovely loop of cotton lace at the other. 
I machine quilted straight lines down both sides and added a row of hand embroidered purple chain stitch in the ditch between the "C" block and the first fabric strip.




I've been asked what fabric has been used for the embroidered alphabet letters in each pincushion so far. It is unbleached flour sack, very soft and beautiful to stitch on. 
The quilting fabrics are always from my scrap box because you only need small pieces for these pincushions.

Would you like to see my larger "C" pinnie?

I did not reject it due to it's appearance as I very much liked the marriage of these orange and green fabrics around the white linen C block...




....and I know in the big scheme of things it's not really a huge pincushion, but it was definitely too big for my 26 week stitchalong.

Of course, you now have two ideas for a pincushion and may well choose to sew one with extra borders and binding! That's the nice thing about this weekly stitchalong - you can mix and match any of the pincushion ideas with different alphabet letters.  Win, win, right?




I always fuse a piece of scrap cotton quilt wadding or Parlan behind the completed front of my pincushions before embellishing/quilting and attaching the backing and filling.

It's easier when adding binding to a pincushion if you use this type of opening along the back.
Sew two pieces of fabric together with a 1/2" seam, but leave a 2" opening in the middle.




Pin the front and back of the pincushion together, wrong sides together (imagine sandwiching a quilt but without the wadding). Sew around the outside edge with slightly less than a 1/4" seam to secure the front and back together.

Again, as you would with a quilt, sew your binding around the outside edge before turning over to the back of the pinnie and slip stitching in place. 
Once the binding is on you can fill the pincushion with whatever filling you have chosen.

As I mentioned last week all my small pincushions have been filled with crushed walnut shells and in case you have never seen them here's what it looks like...


I use a funnel to slowly fill my pinnies as the crushed shells are fine and will spill everywhere if not contained. Stitch the opening closed with tiny whip stitches to prevent the grains from slipping out later.


In case you prefer one colour palette over the other, in the pattern this week I have included the thread list for both versions of "C".

Download the pattern HERE or HERE.



SALE!!

Would you like to see exactly what members receive in an issue of The Stitchery Club?
Or perhaps you're already a member and would like the chance to grab one of my older issues?

 For the next week I have the April 2018 issue of The Stitchery Club on sale in my shop!

This issue contained not only sweet embroidery patterns but tutorials as well...







I'll have the April 2018 issue on sale in my shop until next Friday, September 21st. 
After that it will be gone from my shop shelves.

Shop "Jenny of Elefantz Designs" HERE for instant PDF patterns you can be stitching today!



Okay, that's it from me today. 

I'd hoped to blog more this week but time has gotten away from me as attention was needed for important things like finalising our move preparations, taking Blossom and the girls over to see our new home for the first time, writing the September issue of The Stitchery Club and managing a rather nasty migraine...and did I mention the everyday joys of homemaking?

It seems the days are counting down quickly now and imagining within two weeks we shall be settled in our very first 'own' home has given my heart a flutter more than once. 
Ever so grateful to our Loving Father who has carried us every step of the way and will continue to do so.
Very excited!!

Enjoy your weekend stitching and if you find yourself in need of a kitchen table chat with lovely like-minded ladies consider joining our Gentle Domesticity Group (here). You can even share photos of all your homemaking endeavours because our girls are the best encouragers in the world. Honest.

Stay in touch...

If you'd like to see what I'm up to day-to-day you can follow me HERE on Instagram and HERE on Facebook. Oh, and if you do follow along please be sure to leave a comment and say "Hi" cause I'd love to greet you!

hugs


Sunday, September 9, 2018

Doing him good...


Many years ago Proverbs 31:11-12 stamped itself on my heart and mind, birthing a desire to fulfil that role in my day to day life as a wife and homemaker. With regularity this verse comes to mind as, I am sure, a prompt from the Holy Spirit to stop and consider whether I am indeed fulfilling that desire.

At times I rejoice because there’s a certainty in my soul of a good attitude and daily loving care being offered to my beloved man…but sometimes there is a check in my spirit to examine more closely the cracks which have begun to appear in my character.

I knew that living this out would not be easy because of my own humanity with its pride, selfishness and numerous other character failings, but also because my husband is not perfect and came into our marriage with his own strengths, weaknesses and rough edges. After all, marriage is often a series of balancing acts when two quite different individuals make a commitment to live ‘as one’ for life.

Marriage is a page by page story you write from the heart, moment by moment decisions and choices that will build the union stronger or tear it apart until only shreds remain. Over the past 27 years my husband and I have faced more valleys that mountaintops, faced crises which according to statistics tear apart more couples that draw them closer, but here we are, more committed, more loved, than ever before.

You see, many times over those years we've been pulling in opposite directions, not walking in our God given roles, seeking to be the one who was right and to have our own way. There are many tears, sorrows, losses and grief scattered along the highways and byways of this marriage, but I made a decision when Proverbs 31:11-12  stamped itself on my heart to always let him have the last word, make the big decisions, and to be held responsible before God for those choices and directions.

We stayed committed. 
We chose to forgive. 
We learned to listen to each other’s point of view and really hear what was being said.
I show him genuine respect and he loves me as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25-33), and always takes into consideration my thoughts before making a big decision.

When dissention threatened our peace of mind or our relationship we sought Jesus to show us a better way, and often it would be Proverbs 31:11-12 which the Lord would bring to mind again for me and I always took it to heart.
 Honestly, the teaching in those two verses has led me through seasons of pruning, planting, blooming, and hibernation (especially when my views had been totally warped by selfishness) They have changed me for the better and will keep changing me as the years go by.

“The heart of her husband safely trusts her,
So he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good and not evil all the days of her life”

I love my man, and therefore I want his heart to safely trust me.
I want him to have no lack of gain.
I want to do him good and not evil all the days of my life. 
So I take one day at a time and praise God for the opportunity to be that wife, knowing there are days I'll fail and days I'll soar. The most important thing is that I keep this close to my heart and do my utmost to live it out. 

Marriage is the relationship above all else which needs the most work, the most love, the most compassion, the most forgiveness, the most humility - and for most of us it will be a relationship which will last for many decades until the Lord takes one of us home.

Now, it's not my place to stand over my man and critique his husbandliness, that's something he and God work on together, though there have been occasions when I wanted to point the finger in his direction (and did) to my disappointment, but God is watching me be a wife, so that's the role I try and keep firmly in mind when different views arise. 

Taking our eyes off what we perceive to be our husband's weaknesses or failings and putting them firmly on what WE need to be, what WE need to change, how WE should respond, is God's way. (Matthew 7:3-5)

So have I given this marriage the time and prayer and care it needs?
I have to ask myself this on a regular basis and that's a good thing because only by honestly examining my role as a wife can I improve our marriage relationship so that it will last the distance; after all, Mr E is my best friend, lover and champion, and most definitely worth the effort.

I pray the Lord pours out a great blessing upon your marriage and widens your understanding within it that you may gain an increase of love, joy, respect and fellowship with Christ.

hugs


Friday, September 7, 2018

Week two - alphabet pincushions...



Did you make an "A" pincushion last week?
I have seen a few completed stitcheries and pincushions being shown in our Gentle Domesticity facebook group this week and love the different colours and trims being used!

One problem which seemed to crop up via email and also on my FB page was a few ladies who did not know they could download the pattern from my Dropbox link without signing up for their own DB account.
When you go to the page via the link I shared you'll be asked to join but at the bottom of the page there is an option to say no...click that and you can still download the pattern. Okay?
I am adding a second download option this week just in case some of you still have trouble.

This week we're stitching "B"...

Again, the pincushion is a simple one, but is made to look rather elegant with the addition of a few buttons and some chain stitch sewn between the stitchery block and the border fabric.

Note: Sew the buttons in place after filling the pincushion.




Perhaps a few pearls or crystals would be a nice addition, replacing the buttons?

As with the "A" pattern I've chosen my embroidery threads to blend with the pretty floral fabric and I encourage you to do the same. It's something I do for every one of my designs and helps enormously later on when I want to use the completed stitchery in a project. 




You'll notice the little flower bud is embroidered with satin stitch.
Look closely and you can see that I've sewn the satin stitch in two directions to separate both sections of the bud. 
Begin with a vertical satin stitch for the top of the flower bud and finish with horizontal satin stitch for the base.




I have filled the pincushion with crushed walnut shells and a few ladies have asked where to purchase this. Most pet supply shops will have bags of it in the reptile section as it is used as a base inside lizard tanks.

Crushed walnut shells are great for keeping your pins and needles sharp but you need to sew the back of your pincushion closed with tiny stitches to avoid spillage.




DOWNLOAD links...

Download today's "B" stitchery pattern here or here
Download last week's "A" stitchery pattern here or here

Please note - the links will expire at the end of the month.


ON SALE THIS WEEK!

There's been a lot of positive response to these small alphabet stitcheries so I thought I'd offer you a much larger set of alphabet designs, a pattern which has been my best seller for years.
Each letter of the alphabet is a unique design and measures around 5" square.

For the next week I have the full pattern set on sale for $7.50 here in my shop.

Grab this fabulous bargain and you'll have a variety of beautiful designs at your fingertips ready to stitch for gifts!





The lawyers have changed the date for us to take possession of our new home so rather than it being on Mr E's birthday it will in fact be three days after. Still, it's only 13 days from now...and then just 18 days until we up and move in. 

The days are flying by and yet not one box has been packed...but fortunately we're not hoarders nor do we own a lot of 'stuff' so realistically we could pack up a house in a day if we had to, though at our age we'll begin doing a little each day from next week. 

Mr E still has two weeks left of the school term (he's a teacher) and I need to get designs stitched and patterns written before the 17th, so doing a bit here and a bit there should in the big scheme of things have us ready to roll when the movers arrive.

We're eating healthy and staying true to routines in order to keep as relaxed as possible, though in the days before the move dear Blossom will be our cook as she wants assurance her parents are looking after themselves, bless her.

I'd best be off here and go back to preparing a new set of Christmas designs for stitching.
Goodness, it's creeping up fast isn't it?!
May your day be blessed, your heart lifted in delight, and your weary arms refreshed...

hugs


Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Balancing life in storms and seasons...

When I was little it seemed the days would drag on forever if I was waiting for something special to happen. Christmas may have been only two weeks away but it felt like two months. 

Now I'm all grown up and find the opposite happens. Two months feels like two weeks. 

Time passes faster than I can keep up most days, and right now, with a house to pack up and applying myself to getting at least six weeks ahead with my business and The Stitchery Club, I feel as though I'm trying to catch the wind. And we know that's not about to happen.  

Ah well, life really can only be fully lived one step, one moment, one experience, one conversation at a time. So rather than be anxious about everything I settle my mind by reminding myself of this. 

Normal every day tasks are still in play and I find their rhythm helps during times of change, just the routine mechanics of doing what you know without much thought required is in itself very settling.



Each morning the washing basket greets me with a new load for the machine, lunch is packed for my husband, the table is set and breakfast served with fruit and coffee. These small rituals usher in stability.

The Monday morning review of my refrigerator to see what I need at the supermarket or fruit shop may not be exciting to you, but it's a task I thoroughly enjoy.




And as weary or tired as I may feel at the moment, strolling the aisles of our local supermarket and being mindful of what we need for a week of healthy meals, soothes me. Again, it's the comfortable ritual of doing things that come naturally which helps me balance the new with the old, the immediate with the non-essential, the stress of our packing/moving dates with a delight for the day at hand.

Restocking the fridge, writing a menu plan of what to make on certain days, whilst also 'shopping' from the pantry so we don't have much to move with us, offers great satisfaction to my homemaker heart, a sense of being in control even within a whirlwind of change.




Another thing I'm doing during this season of change is to keep meals simple and to stretch them out so there's less cooking time needed during these full weeks of September. The other day we had a roast dinner with lamb, veggies and lashings of gravy. The leftover roast lamb then became sandwich filling for a few day's lunches (with a generous spread of mustard or pickles) as well as the base of a family favourite, Shepherd's Pie, which we enjoyed over two nights. 
The lamb bones would normally have become base for a broth but as we're emptying and not filling the freezer right now it was dear Bob-the-dog who made the most of them.




Still making time to bake for Blossom and her little girls brings more joy, as do the snatched hours here and there I spend with them. 




Blossom and I may be eye to eye deep in conversation about motherhood, good books, simple meals, what's the best vacuum cleaner to buy or which Bible verse touched our hearts lately, but chubby little arms are never far away and often find themselves wrapped around this happy Nana's neck vying for my attention. 

You can never underestimate the gift of a moment in time given to the people you love. I'm so grateful to have learned this lesson because I'm daily reaping the blessings which flow from it. 




During my morning tea break I sit out on the back verandah and either catch up on some embroidery or do a little crochet whilst listening to an inspiring podcast. At the moment I'm working on a dishcloth in a lovely purpley/blue which will be bordered in either tangerine or lime. 

The other day I shared a number of links for dishcloth patterns and had decided to knit a few myself, but after beginning one I was quickly reminded how painful knitting is to the arthritis in one of my fingers - yet embroidery is soothing to my finger and crochet causes no pain. 




Discovering there are ways to balance daily routine with stressful activities, and in doing so finding myself able to cope better than I have during similar times in the past, has been such a blessing. I hope you didn't mind me sharing about that? 
I'm just so at peace in my heart, mind and thoughts, despite having a number of new stressors to face each day, that I wanted to share how it had come about.
Through prayer.

"And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7

Thank you for your prayers over our family as we've traversed this often rocky road to finding and then purchasing our first home. I believe it was your precious prayer covering which helped me look beyond the overwhelming onslaught of so many unexpected legalities during this house purchase and all the anxieties which came with it, to what matters most in our everyday life.

Time each morning in the Psalms has also helped my sense of peace to increase, guiding me to attend to the tasks which must be done day by day, the balancing of a comfortable homemaker rhythm with the unexpected things I had no previous experience of. 




If your own life has become a series of new or unexpected events which are wearing you down and robbing your peace, is there a natural routine at home which you can follow to restore some gentle rhythm to your day and add balance to your emotions?

I'm sure as time goes by I'll learn more ways to manage living each day with peace even during seasons that may rock my boat in stormy seas, but for now, this epiphany is my lifeline - to continue being a homemaker who confidently goes about her daily tasks in peaceful rhythm, and learns new and sometimes overwhelming things as the need arises.

Well, I hear the kettle about to boil which means my beloved is making us an evening cuppa to have with a few pieces of the strawberry jam filled matrimony slice I baked yesterday, so I'd best be off here and go sup with him. It's those moments, you know...don't want to miss them.

bless you heaps,


Saturday, September 1, 2018

Block 9 in the BOM plus playing with yarn and colour....



A new month, a new pattern and a new season.

In Australia we have four set seasons which run for exactly three months each - rather different to the US I think?
Our spring begins on September 1st, summer on December 1st, autumn on March 1st and winter on June 1st. All very easy to remember. Most of the country will be joyfully bidding farewell to winter and hello to spring today, whereas I living up in the northern tropics rather lament winter's passing as it's a relief from our incessant heat and humidity with it's wonderfully warm and clear moderate days.

Still, my beloved and I agree we'd rather dwell in the heat than face icy cold weather elsewhere, which is a jolly good thing seeing as we just bought our first and last home and shall be putting down deep roots here.




This month's "A Year in the Garden" block is really a salute to springtime with it's trowel at the ready and beautiful blooms in flourish.  It's also my husband's birthday this month and in fact we take possession of the keys to our new home on that very day! Quite the celebration to be had let me assure you, and a day we shall doubly celebrate each year after. 

The pretty blooms in this design are made using blanket stitch and the centres filled with satin stitch. I love the effect, don't you?

The pattern is waiting for you now HERE in my shop as a free download until September 30th.
Enjoy!

The previous month's BOM patterns can be seen here.




But then the idea for a rather cheerful colour palette I could incorporate which would save the blind came into play...inspired by (of all things) a kitchen tea towel and a stitchery from last month which work beautifully together.




Overnight I have continued to ponder this plan and whilst we were out this morning buying new pillows for the bed I browsed the yarn aisle at Spotlight and decided to purchase some balls in that same tea towel colour scheme...




...with the intent of knitting some dishcloths.

The yarn is a 50/50 cotton and acrylic mix and the colours are exactly what my kitchen needs to lift it from neutral to joyful. In fact that green yarn is the same colour as my blind.

Here's just a few of the new tea towels, freshly laundered but not ironed (my Nana would iron hers, but I shall not), that are inspiring my colour scheme...




The towels and the yarn are a bit brighter than these photo suggest and will nicely lift the very pale and boring beige of the kitchen.




I've also seen lovely inexpensive coffee mugs in that same peach and teal blue so six of them hanging on a mug tree on the kitchen bench will definitely add more splashes of colour as well as being right on hand for welcome morning and afternoon cuppas should you be dropping by. 

I've made some in the past but always give them away because not only are they great dishcloths, they also make wonderful flannels (face washers) and all my grandies have one from me...mmm...actually I haven't made one for Rafaella yet. Oops. 
knit, knit, knit....

Are you a knitter (or crocheter) of dishcloths?




Here's a few delightful patterns I found online should you want to join me in a knitting/crochet frenzy. The links are above the photos and each pattern is free.





















I think the bonus of these small yarn projects for me is that I may just get them made.
My hands can be a bit temperamental when it comes to working with knitting needles and crochet hooks, which is why I rarely indulge in those crafts - but over coming weeks as we pack and move and unpack, an hour here and there with pretty yarn will be sweet relief if I just go slowly and don't push my hands to do more than they'd like.

Funny thing though, hand embroidery has the opposite effect on my hands...it gently soothes them.
Very blessed that's how I make a living.

Bless you heaps, and may the weekend be a time of soul unwinding, of gathering close the people who matter, of resting in joyful contentment and being washed and restored by the presence of God. 

hugs