Monday, August 3, 2015

Reclaiming and letting go...

Eight days ago we handed Charlie-the-dog back to his owner. 
We've been his caregivers for eight months while his master was deployed to the Middle East and over that time we got quite attached to him and he to us - but never could we have imagined such a joyous reunion between a dog and his master as the one we saw when Charlie and R were reunited. 
Charlie whimpered, barked, and cried with joy, R cried with joy, Mr E and I wiped away our own tears and found we could not speak. When we drove away our hearts sang with praise for the love R and Charlie share, even though we felt a hole in our own hearts at no longer having him. 

As soon as he'd arrived to stay with us Charlie had taken up complete residence on our back deck so it was no longer a place where Mr E and I could sit and share coffee, read or relax at the end of the day. 
Now with Charlie back in his own home once again, and cradling our loss of this lovable fellow, we decided to put all our efforts this weekend into reclaiming the deck and spending time on our individual gardening pursuits - Mr E with his bonsai, and me with a few new herbs and flowers.

We've also been part of a Dengue Fever Elimination trial in our town which meant the past four months our home has hosted a mosquito release container - believe me when I say you could not move outside without walking through a wall of mozzies!  Last week the container was removed and though we still have a lot of the stinging blighters around they are far fewer day by day...



...so returning to what little bit of gardening we can achieve in this rental home was a blessing. 

Mr E's first attempt at propagating azaleas for bonsai a couple of months ago has been quite successful with new shoots appearing on his cuttings. They've been in an artificial 'greenhouse' for about 8 weeks now so they're almost ready to be planted in ceramic bonsai pots very soon...



On Saturday he began the propagation process over again with another azalea plant...



...a white one this time.



Meanwhile I refreshed my old pots and filled some new ones with herbs and flowers. The basil I'd sprouted from the seeds of last spring's harvest, and I purchased small punnets of of parsley, thyme, rosemary and mint at Bunnings for potting.



There's so much green from all the palm trees here that I thought I'd nurture some colour in pots - things like succulents, lavender and petunias are now on our front steps. I planted some petunias in an old tea pot without any base holes using a drainage idea that seems to be working for now...



 Kalanchoe...




 French lavender and a petunia seedling in the tea pot...



Last year when Mr E took me up to Cooktown I saw the most gorgeous purple flowering shrub and hoped to find it someday so I could have it in my garden. On our wandering through the Bunnings garden centre on Saturday afternoon I found it! 



Geisha Girl (Duranta Repens) now sits on the back deck where I can admire it while sipping my morning coffee...



I placed more pots of petunias on the deck as well as a few of the herbs...



...and planted plenty of coriander seeds around the aloe vera that grows in an old styrofoam box under the palm trees. More coriander seeds (we eats loads of coriander) were planted in a second foam box which also holds a broken stem from the Kalanchoe that's been planted in an empty tomato can. You never know, it might just strike if I look after it...



Final step was to scrub down our white cane chairs, buy some bright new seat cushions, and carry our round garden table up the stairs to the deck. I added a vanilla citronella candle and my much-loved-$1-from-the-op-shop-chicken-table-topper before Bob-the-dog settled comfortably beside the table on his hessian mat as though we'd been doing this for years...



From the deck we can see the mango tree which is already laden with new fruit. This time next month we'll be able to pluck some of these lovelies - though they are very early this year due to our region having it's driest wet season in history ...



My friend Heather told me there's a saying up here that if the mango trees flower early it will be a bumper wet season. I hope so. We really need rain...



As you can see, in the front yard there is no grass at all. In fact it's so dry (and hot, even now in our tropical winter) that our bird bath split in half...



...and our pineapple plant will not bear fruit.



But with plenty of regular and patient hand watering (the owner of the house refuses to fix our garden watering system) the Mock Orange tree I showed you back here is still soldiering on and has new growth...



 The sun was going down so I quickly dug out a project of mine from 2012 that I'd never used and made notes on all the things we'd planted during the day...



"My Garden" journal...



Mr E and I ended the day sharing a glass of French red and a platter of nibblies out on our deck watching the sun set...



We still miss Charlie, but life goes on. Moving forward, even by reclaiming the deck and planting some flowers, was the best thing to do, and now we have a place to take in the view every sunrise and sunset.


Would you like to make a garden journal?

Please enjoy this pattern (which includes a tutorial) as a free gift from my 'garden-lover-heart' to yours.
You can download it HERE.


hugs


Sunday, August 2, 2015

Mending - Ecclesiastes 3:7...



 I'm often asked "How do you keep your stitches so tiny and neat?", and my answer is quite simple. 
I don't mind unpicking and re-stitching if the result before me is not as pleasing as I'd like it to be.

Messy sewing usually comes about because of rushing from one project to the next and not taking time and delight in one lovely piece of handwork at a time, but daydreaming or dwelling too deeply on life's concerns may also be a culprit.

My mind sometimes wanders when I have needle and thread employed in the beauty of bringing a plain piece of linen to life with colour and design, then when my thoughts pass and my eyes focus on the stitches before me it's obvious this lapse of attentiveness will now result in some unpicking and re-sewing. 

And isn't that like life?

We can get so caught up in the rush that we forget to really 'look' at what and who is in front of us.
We let the worries and concerns of life rob our peace of mind and the result when we finally stop to examine our lives is a mess of neglect.
We spend so much time yearning and day dreaming about what we want that we miss enjoying and tending what we already have.
We dwell on wrongs others have done and find that an ugly knot has formed on the tapestry of our life and the picture we're creating lacks the beauty we'd hoped for.

Is there anything in your life right now that needs unpicking?
Take the time to do it.

Re-stitching and mending with your whole heart reaps a blessed reward.
I know this because it's been one of my most valuable life lessons.

hugs

Download the printable Scripture card HERE.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Block 8 of My Vintage Kitchen BOM...



This month I'm celebrating the homeliness we create in the kitchen by filling an old or new vase with fresh cut blooms.....


Flowers are my weekly luxury. I budget $10 each grocery shop for a bunch of roses from the local supermarket. Our rental home is bare of flowers for cutting, though I'm working on some pots of seasonal blooms at the moment, so my weekly indulgence brings our home a wonderfully inviting scene when you first come inside.


Enjoy stitching this little vase of tulips and daisies!
The free pattern can be downloaded HERE in my shop right now.


hugs


Friday, July 31, 2015

The Hussif Tutorial - day 5...

Here we are at the final day of the Hussif tutorial!
How have you gone so far? Have you found the steps in the tutorial easy to follow? Your feedback will assist me when planning future tutorials for the blog, so please consider your answer carefully and leave it in the comments.  Thank you!

Today we're adding the final touches to the Hussif and I have two slightly different binding options for you to choose from. But before we look at them, let's sew some ribbons in place.

Cut two, 12" lengths of pretty ribbon (mine was old and stained which added to the whole vintage effect).

Sew one piece of ribbon just above the top of the scissor scabbard and secure with a button...



You'll be able to tie a bow through the handle of your scissors to keep them safe when your Hussif is complete. You'll see I also added a little mother of pearl button as a pretty embellishment beside the scabbard. You might like to add your own special embellishments? 



Sew your other length of ribbon to the middle of the six-patch section of your Hussif with a couple of cross stitches...



You will wrap this ribbon around your pincushion at the completion of your Hussif...




Now is the time to lay your Hussif onto a larger piece of fabric - this will be the outside cover.



I sprayed a little bit of quilt basting spray between the Pellon and the cover fabric to keep it from slipping during the next step.

Cut around the curve at the top of your Hussif along the traced line...



Sew a length of binding around both sides and the base of the Hussif, leaving the curve bare. Trim away the excess Pellon and outer cover fabric...



Sew a line of running stitch just inside the edge of the curve...



 Trim the excess binding away at the edges of the curve.



Cut a piece of lace 2 inches longer than the curve...



Sew the lace around the curve  (on the cover side of the Hussif) the same as if it were normal binding, folding in the edges at both ends.
Turn the lace to the inside of the Hussif and pin in place...



With a thread the same colour as your lace hand sew it to the inside edge of the Hussif.  I used a tiny running stitch...




Sew a pretty button to the cover, just above the curve...



Measure 10" down the Hussif cover from the centre of the curve and sew a 14" length of lace in place with a cross stitch. Don't sew right through the Hussif, just into the Pellon/wadding...





Insert your scissors in the scabbard, and tie your pincushion in place with a bow. Fold your Hussif up and tie it closed! 


 In my second version of the Hussif I decided to use lace all the way round as binding. This gives a gorgeous vintage touch and is very easy to do. Follow the same steps as attaching a regular cotton quilt binding, but don't fold the lace in half as you would with cotton binding.




And there we have it - you're all done!

This is my completed Hussif made with Tilda fabrics, vintage lace, ribbons, and embroideries...

And this is my second Hussif made with Lecien's Antique Rose, lace, ribbons and fussy cut patchwork piecing...

...which yesterday I gifted to Mr E's second cousin (and my very dear friend) Heather, for her birthday!

It was a couple of weeks early but as we were spending the day together at her home to sew and chat I decided she shouldn't have to wait. Boy, was she surprised!

She had no idea I was making this Hussif for her, but as soon as I saw the Antique Rose fabrics they had her name marked on them. Her face glowed all day...

Sewing a gift for such a special friend gave me immense delight, but her friendship means way more than any gift.
We supped on fresh brewed coffee and nibbled on Heather's yummy cornflake cookies while we stitched...

...all the time watched by Saruman and Gandalf the cats.

What a good day we had.
As we said our farewells later in the afternoon both of us were contemplating a quote she'd recently read - "Find joy in the simple things."
I think this beautifully describes our outlook on life - but more on that another time. 


 I hope you have enjoyed following along with this epic tutorial!
It was labour of love for me, and it's been my pleasure to share it with you.
Please email me photos of your completed Hussifs for a special Show & Tell on the blog later this year. 


As I was formatting the last photo in today's final steps of the tutorial my plan was to have a blogging holiday for a few days as I could do with a breather ( and a few good coffees on the back deck watching the mangoes growing on the tree ) but then I remembered it will be August 1st tomorrow and time to share the next free block of The Vintage Kitchen BOM...
 

 If you're new here at Elefantz you can easily catch up with the BOM as the previous seven free blocks are still available for download HERE in my shop.

So I guess I'll see you here again tomorrow, right? 

Have a blessed day everyone! 
I'm off to brew a cuppa and put my feet up for a while, with a view to the mango tree.

hugs